Monthly Archives: March 2007

Cabo San Lucas

Today I am on my way to Cabo San Lucas to rendezvous with mi gran amigo, Life Long Harborite, to share with him his last visit to a time share he has had for many years and which he has liquidated.

At this moment I am sitting in the Mexico City airport waiting for my connecting flight.

The flight from Veracruz was quite spectacular as we flew right past Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico and third highest in North America.

I could also see extensive agricultural terraces on the Eastern slope of the mountains as we approached Mexico City, which in Mexico, by the way, is referred to as D. F, or simply Mexico.

Though I have been able to connect to three different unsecured wireless networks here in the airport I have been kick off each of them before I could put up this post.

Consequently, I’ll had to wait until sitting in the sun in Cabo drinking Mexican beer.

I have, in fact, had to wait to post this.

I’ve never before been to this are of Mexico; and, viewing the area from the airplane window I realized the Cabo San Lucas is locate amidst a coastal desert. The area where I am staying is the typical row upon row of expensive resort hotels. It is definitely not a typical destination for me.

Life Long Harborite’s brother-in-law has informed us that, as of this afternoon, we will have the use of a Cadillac, of uncertain vintage, owned  by a firefighter friend in the USA.  I am hoping that we will take an excursion from the tourist areas.

More later.

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Palapa

I earlier had promised to post pictures of a palapa typical of the Arroyo Zacate and Avasoslo del Valle area I visited last weekend.This palapa is in the rear yard of the home of one of Abbi’s aunts we visited.

Here is a shot of the roof structure, which is most often composed of poles rather than the dimensional lumber used in this particular palapa.

This shot shows the palm fronds laid horizontally to the rafters, which uses the spine of the frond as a structural element.

The palapas in Merida, with which I was familiar, had smaller poles or lumber laid horizontally across the rafters that supported palm fronds laid vertically relative to the rafters.

The method shown in these photos is more efficient as to the use of poles or lumber but uses more palm fronds.

The photo below shows that the leaves are removed from what becomes the upper side of the spine of each frond. The fronds are then laid shingle style to provide the roof covering.

Using this method half the frond leaves are wasted, but it provides a more water tight roof covering than roofs with the fronds laid vertically.

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Rupert Murdoch’s My Space Page

View Murdoch’s page.

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A Sad Day in the Neighborhood

It is indeed a sad day for me. Mari, to whose lavanderia I have taken my laundry since arriving in Xalapa and about whom I posted last October, died yesterday morning.

I have become quite close to Mari, her husband Enrique, and her two sons Omar and Tristan.

Omar came to my apartment yesterday to give me the bad news, which I had heard earlier, and to ask me to attend Mari’s service today.

So this morning, despite my general aversion to funerals, I walked to the Bosco de Recuerdo for the service; and discovered that I was not only the lone gringo present, but the only person not of the family, as well. I feel quite honored by the invitation.

I met and was treated very warmly by Mari’s five sisters and her ninety one year old father.

There was a Catholic service, involving prayers led by a woman to which the others present responded, which seemed to go on for a half hour or so. But being a Pagan, probably a fallen Pagan at that, and unfamiliar with Catholic prayers, I suspect it seemed longer than it actually was.

I will miss Mari, who always treated me very kindly and always had a number of questions ready for me whenever I visited.

I was thinking while waiting for the service to begin that in my six months in Xalapa I have become close to four local families, while in my nine months in Merida I became close to only one. I suppose the explanation for such has more to do with my overall comfort level and my improving Spanish than with differences between the folks in Merda and here.

None-the-less Xalapa is becoming more and more to feel to me like home.

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More Arroyo Zacate

The roosters of Arroyo Zacate commence their cantata about 2:00 in the morning, I discovered, while here in Xalapa the chorus begins about 4:00.

Having gone to bed earlier Saturday night than the rest of the household I arose Sunday morning before all except Perfecto’s mother, who, amongst other kitchen chores, was kindling the tortilla fire.

Ivan had told me of a sulfur spring (fuente azufre) at the far end of the pueblo. He pointed down the road in front of his store and indicated “todo derecho”, which means straight ahead all the way.

So, with my camera in hand, I tip toed through the house, quietly bidding la senora “buenos dias” as I passed through the kitchen, and set out through the still sleepy village to find the azufre, in hope of a morning dip.

A couple of blocks from Ivan’s store I cam upon an older gentleman working at preparing a large pile of plam fronds for placement on a roof. I quietly asked if he would permit me to take a photo. He didn’t understand my request so called to his son to come out and speak with me. The son assured me I was welcome to photograph his father at work.


A bit further along I came to a wire fence stretched across the end of the road, with a narrow, wooden, swinging gate along side. A young woman sweeping the yard in front of the house adjacent to the gates instructed me to “pase por favor”. I thanked her and after passing through the gate I was approached by a smiling, older gentleman in a straw hat who directed me to just follow this path traversing a rolling pasture. I thanked him, bid him a good day, and continued on my way.


I turned the final corner in the path and saw there was a woman and her daughter washing clothes in the river into which the sulfur spring flows. I announced myself , so as to not startle them, and asked their permission to approach. The woman bid me to “pase pro favor” and I stepped down to the spring. Departing with their arm loads of clean clothes, the woman encouraged me to take a dip. I responded that I had no swimming suit but she assured me that I would most likely be alone that early in the morning.

They disappeared around the bend in the path, I disrobed, and stepped into the very clear, slightly warm water in the small pool where the water, with only a slight sulfur odor, emerges from rocks just above the level of the river. The water cascades a couple of feet over rocks at the far end of the pool and flows on to the river.

The rocks over which the sulfur water flows are covered with what appeared to me as pure white algae. I was later discussing the white material on the rocks with some of Abbi’s family and was told the white material is skin shed from the many folks who bath in the spring, as the sulfurous water cause the skin to shed. Though the explanation sounded implausible to me I certainly did not argue the matter.

A couple days after my return to Xalapa I visited Javier, the shoe shiner in Parque Juarez I visit every couple of weeks, and told him of the shed skin explanation. He laughed and assured me the white material on the rocks were aquatic plants.

Having completed my refreshing bath and redressed I headed back to town. Not very far along the way I ran across these turkeys and a brood of chicks. I returned to Perfecto and Laura’s home for a breakfast of fruit, cereal, and yogurt and then prepared to depart for Avasolo del Valle to visit Abbi’s father, a bunch of her other relatives, and to attend her niece’s birthday party.

More later.

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Hospitals Are Dangerous Places

Did you know that Each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,two million Americans acquire an infection while they are in the hospital.” and “Ninety thousand die of that infection.” I didn’t.

And to think politicians across the USA, encouraged by their generous benefactors at the Merck pharmaceutical company, are clamoring to spend billions of dollars vaccinating young girls to prevent 3,670 cervical cancer deaths per year.

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Arroyo Zacate

The prayer for a safe journey that Abbi’s mother insisted she say before we left was apparently effective as we arrived safely in pueblo Arroyo Zacate at about 3:00 and pulled up in front of a small store operated by Ivan and his family. I think Ivan is Abbi’s cousin but I met so many of Abbi’s relatives I couldn’t keep track of who was who.

Abbi went off to visit relatives while I chatted with Ivan who had lived in San Jose, California for four years and was quite interested in my story. A bit into my conversation with Ivan I asked if he sold beer. He answered no and made it quite clear that he didn’t approve of beer. So a bit later, telling Ivan I wanted to explore the pueblo, I excused myself and went off in search of a beer, which I found at a small store a couple blocks away.

Next to Ivan’s store was the beautiful out building with a palmed thatched roof which you may see in the photo at the left. Located at the rear of most of the homes of Abbi’s relatives I visited had palm thatched palapas housing open air kitchens and dining areas. Each included a small wood fire pit over which was placed a large round, clay platter upon which tortillas are cooked.

 

The palm thatching technique used in the area is different than that used in the palapas with which I was familiar in Merida, in that the fronds are placed horizontally to the roof structure, while the fronds in the Merida area are placed vertically. I will post close up photos of one of the roofs in the next couple of days.

To sit for a while, drinking beer and chatting with the woman proprietor and her very cute and talkative granddaughter was a very pleasant respite from the long drive. The woman suggested that I should buy her brother’s house, next door to hers, and promised she would take care of me, promising specifically to do my laundry and cook my meals. I told her I needed a house with garden space, which her brother’s has not. Having downed a couple of the small Sols I continued on my exploration of the village.

Arroyo Zacate is a pueblito, a few miles up a dusty dirt road from highway 147, that is home to about 250 folks living within about a 4 square block area. The village is fully electrified and enjoys both telephone and cable TV services. The inhabitants are members of a few different extended families, with the members of each family sharing a particular part of the pueblo. Abbi’s family lives in an area of town encompassing perhaps ten or twelve houses.

The town has many little stores which folks operate out of their homes; three churches of Catholic, Episcopal, and Evangelical persuasions; a tidy, freshly painted primary school; many new houses in various states of construction; and lots of brand new galvanized metal roofs. One of the homes under construction sports the intricately carved front door seen in the photo at right.

 

 

 

The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent moving from house to house visiting various of Abbi’s relatives. We settled for the night in the home of Abbi’s cousin Perfecto, his wife Lauara, and their four boys (with another child on the way) who may be seen in the photo at the left. The older woman at the left in the photo, holding a photo of her very recently deceased husband, is Perfecto’s mother who lives in Xalapa.

 

Late in the evening the boys of the house, and a couple of their cousins, had warmed up to me so I spent the last hour before going to bed about ten, a couple of hours before anyone else in the house, in the living room with the kids. They asked if I would take their pictures and each tried to outdo the others in striking the most comical pose. Here’s Gabriel.

It was an entertaining end to a very pleasant day.

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