Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Webbers' Visit and Pixie's Ankle

Wildflowers on the road from Lake Chapala to Mazamitla last week

We have had a couple of busy weeks since my last post. In a nutshell, Pixie fell and broke her ankle, and Curt and Judy Webber visited us from Auburn.

The accident occurred Tuesday October 16. Pixie and I were returning from picking up some groceries and she needed to stop and order a birthday cake for our friends' (Donna and Trudy) birthday party. We were on the wrong side of the main drag, and Pixie suggested that I pull into a parking spot and she'd run across the street to the bakery. I had my Spanish book in the car and decided to work on my homework while I waited. The next thing I knew, a Mexican woman was knocking on my window saying something about "su esposa." I looked and saw a Mexican man helping Pixie hobble along towards the car. She had slipped on some sand on a pavement incline and landed on her ankle. In typical Mexican fashion, the woman insisted on massaging Pixie's ankle for several minutes, presumably to reduce the swelling: very kind. On the way home we picked up a cane, which was pretty much useless, and I had to carry Pixie into the house when we got home.

Now, I married a very stubborn woman, because she refused to go to the doctor for two days, claiming that it was "just a sprain," and that "he'll just tell me to do what I'm already doing." Finally, when she had an X-Ray on Friday, she learned she had fractured the leg bone just above the ankle. She'll be in a cast for at least three weeks, until November 9, at the earliest, the day before her birthday. She's now in a wheelchair and getting around okay by herself, but she'll be very glad to get back on her own two feet. She claims she's sick and tired of being "pushed around" by everyone else.

Here is a photo of both of us on our recent trip to the not-very-handicapped-accessible town of Mazamitla last week.
We have learned how difficult it can be to get around in a wheelchair in Mexico, where most buildings are without ramps. As Peggy Seegar said, we are each only "temporarily abled" anyway, so we should be mindful of those who struggle with mobility.

We were very anxious to have Curt And Judy Webber, our very dear friends from Maine and from our Auburn UU congregation, come and visit. They were the first visitors we have had from Maine since we made the decision to move down here, and we were looking forward to demonstrating that we were healthy and happy, and that we indeed we were not insane to move down here. As an additional benefit, we had the pleasure of watching the Red Sox win it all again with some fellow New Englanders to cheer them on (although "cheer" may be an exaggeration in Curt's case who, although raised in Maine, is, inexplicably a Baltimore Orioles fan.)

We were planning a trip to Guanajuato over last weekend, but, because Pixie cannot walk around, it didn't seem feasible. Guanajuato is basically a pedestrian city. But, as it turned out, we didn't mind not going because it gave us more time to have a leisurely visit, and Curt and Judy got to meet so many of our new friends. We visited Janice and Teo's house and studio, and they bought a beautiful weaving by Teo and got to see their very unique home. They saw the original wall art and mural at Steve and Sue's house and Bebe's beautiful village home. They had margaritas at Jeanne and Paul's home and saw the magnificent view from their mirador at sunset. They saw the beautiful Lake Chapala Society Gardens. We heard some great music at La Tasca with Bebe and our friends from church, and they came to Bob and Kathy's service on Sunday. I took them to Guadalajara yesterday before they left, and we had a chance to see the colonial architecture and many of Orosco's dramatic murals. We kept them very busy, but they got to see how we live and why this place is so special to us.

In the photo below, Pixie enjoys lunch with Curt and Judy, soaking up some sunshine.

The weather was colder than we had anticipated, but to these hardy Mainers, it didn't seem to be much of a problem. The temperatures have been dropping into the high 50's at night, but with the end of the rainy season, the sun is strong in blue skies every day.

Everyone in Mexico is getting ready for El Dia de Muertes (Day of the Dead) celebration this week. In Mexico, people celebrate the lives of their dead family members on November 1 and 2. November 1 is for children who have died, and November 2 is for adults. They decorate their graves with flowers and bring food and drink that their dead relatives liked when they were here with us. Many families stay in the graveyard all night with candles celebrating this annual rite. Here is a photograph from such a grave decoration in Oaxaca (Geri Anderson):

In addition to the celebrations in the graveyard, people make many crafts to commemorate this holiday. Here are a couple of photographs published in Judy King's magazine of such artistic expressions. On the left is a Catarina, a skeleton wearing Victorian clothing. Our friend Bebe has a collection of these Catarinas in her house. The other photograph is of a sugar skull which are made and sold at this time of year. Our friends Sue and Steve brought Pixie a sugar skull to cheer her up!

Now that we are almost in November, we are looking forward to our children, Eric and his wife Crystal and Cassie and her partner Alana visiting over Christmas. In January, our daughter Wendy and her boyfriend Troy will be spending two weeks with us and spending two additional weeks traveling around Mexico on their own. We can't wait to see them all!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Guadalajara Zoo and Other Matters

Last Thursday, we had a chance to visit the zoo in Guadalajara. We joined our Mexican friends, Dora and Daniel, their children Jesus and Yoselin, and Obert, their nephew. The zoo is excellent with many typical zoo animals and many not found in northern zoos because of the tropical climate here. Pictured here are giraffes, which we were able to feed carrots to on the African safari ride.

To the left, the kids are fascinated by the polar bear who was somewhat uncooperative and slept the entire time we looked at him. Below is a marvelous Toucan, native to the coastal areas of Mexico.

At the end of a long day, the kids were ready for more, while all the adults were exhausted!

We are enjoying the warm October weather, which ranges from the high 60's at night to the 80's during the day. It doesn't really feel like fall to us, except that I have been able to watch the Red Sox in the ACLS on our Canadian satellite TV. (They are losing to the Indians in game 3 tonight!) We are told it's been a beautiful fall in Maine, and we do miss the colors and the apple picking. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Curt and Judy Webber who will arrive next week: our first visitors form Maine. We are looking forward to showing them around our new hometown and introducing them to some of our friends here. It will be a fun week!

Pixie has been involved in the Sunday Service Committee at church, and is planning to lead our Thanksgiving Service. She is planning another service in January as well. I finally read some of my poetry at the writer's group, which was a good experience. I will have some poetry published in a local magazine in November.

We have been looking at some real estate; last week we looked at seven houses, all in the Ajijic area, all in our price range. We are in no hurry to buy a house because we're not sure the market is as good as it will be later, and we will be able to find many rentals in the spring. It was interesting looking at the houses, though. Since all the homes here are behind walls, you can't really tell what they're like. Every house seems to be very different with different layouts, colorful tiles, gardens, and terraces. Here is a house we liked the best, but it had a few problems which made us decide it wasn't THE ONE.
We are finding the prices of houses in Ajijic to be quite high, and we're wondering whether we might get more house for the money if we rent. We might eventually decide to buy a house in another town, like Chapala or Riberas, but, for now, we like it in Ajijic. We'll see what turns up in the spring, when there are more houses available to rent after the snowbirds leave. We're also wondering if prices may decline as a result of the mortgage problems in the US. If people can't sell their houses there, they can't buy them here.

An update on the mudslides: the situation is much better. The people of San Juan Cosala have received much support, and most are back in their homes. They are having a big fund raiser fiesta this weekend with food, mariachi music, crafts, and other events. Many people will be going, including us.

I will probably do the next blog entry after our trip to Guanajuato with Curt and Judy. It is supposed to be gorgeous, so I should have some great photos.

Here's a short poem about Mexican houses:


Far from the hollow wood-frame walls

Whose siding I painted and caulked all those years,

These houses were built brick by brick

With cement mixed by boys with shovels,

Stand against the sun, thick with color.

Some grow back from walls and gates

Unseen garden spaces, stone, and water

Spilling over fountains. Iron, glass, and

Leather tables, chairs, sit inside, outside, inside

On covered terraces, quiet among succulent leaves

And rainbow blossoms.

Giddy tiles: mustard, indigo, crimson

Join in patterns like ceramic quilts

Cool and permanent.