Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fernando Castro Pacheco Feb 2011

"They're inviting us over to their house,"
my husband whispered covering the mouthpiece
on the payphone.
"Get me a pen!"
We had been in Yucatán for a couple of months and had spent that morning
examining the murals in the Governor's Palace
on the main plaza of the sultry city of Mérida.

After Yucatán comida under the portales,
we found a small art museum with a disorienting string of 
colonial rooms 
that seemed to go on forever.

There were elaborately embroidered Mayan dresses and 
huipils on display,
as well as paintings, carvings, sculptures, prints,
and drawings.

We were drawn to one artist over and over again,
room after room, medium after medium.

As we left, my  husband noticed a small office with a man
working at his desk.
We knocked and were cordially invited in.
My husband handed him a piece of paper
with the name of the artist jotted down
and asked if he knew anything about this artist.

What did we know—it was the artist of international
prominence who painted the murals in the
Palace of the Governors on the plaza.

"Sí, Señor, el artista Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Aquí es su número de teléfono,
si te gusta, puedes llamarlo."
(Yes, sir, the artist is Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Here is his phone number, if you like you can call him.)

Next thing we knew, we were being whisked by taxi
the few blocks to his home.

His gracious wife invited us in and made us a cold liquado.
Fernando was still working out on his treadmill
and would join us shortly.
We chatted, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

He arrived!

He was handsome, regal, down-to-earth, 
witty, gracious and—incredibly sexy.
I was instantly smitten.
He was also 80.

We hit it off. 
My husband spoke Spanish fluently and we had no trouble communicating.
He and his wife couldn't have been more charming.
We laughed and responded to their curiosities
about our lives and asked about his.
He took us to his studios and showed us what was laying around
and what he was working on.
La Dueña gave us a tour of the home which was studded
with his magnificent artwork.

He never tried to sell us a thing, but we pried a book 
and a print for my husband's 50th birthday present
from them before leaving.

La Escalara 1956

We lost track of time and were leaving Mexico
in the morning,
so when the sun started to go down
we excused ourselves and I asked if I
could take a photo of them to remember the day.
Of course, they said.

 On our way to the gate we walked through the garden.
They pointed out their favorite flowers
and Fernando picked a handful of jasmine
blossoms and put them in my  hand.
I kept them until they turned to dust.

To this day, that afternoon in Mérida remains
one of the highlights of my life.
And, I am still hopelessly smitten with
Fernando Castro Pacheco.

Flash forward about 15 years. . .
. . .the husband is now 'ex'. . .
Don Fernando continues to live in Mérida
and should be about 94 years young.

I hope to get back to see him again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dolores Sanchez Feb 2011

A Personal Story. . .

Seven years ago, almost to the day,
I first arrived in the Lake Chapala area
to determine if it would be a good place to live
- but much more importantly - 
a good place for my 94 year old mother to live.
I met Dolores Sanchez.

I had been working in a local Bay Area hospital as a float,
which meant I floated from department to department as the
staffing needs arose on a daily basis.

 One day I was working in a department I didn't normally work in, 
on a day I didn't normally work, when one of my hospital buddies
swooped by and said:
"Hey, hows it going?"
"Good!  I'm going to Mexico for a couple of weeks tomorrow!"
"A place called Ajijic, looking to see if moving there would be a good thing."
"You know, I think that's where my mother lives,
would you take some things to her for me?"

I arrived in Ajijic with a reservation for only the first night at one of the
B & B's thinking I'd wing it for the rest of the week.
It was smack-dab at the beginning of Semana Santa week!
I should have known better. . .

The next morning when I got the boot from the B & B,
I gathered up all my bags and thought since I'd be mobile now
I'd better drop off my friends presents to lighten the load.

I called the phone number I was given.
"Oh, I'll come right down!" Dolores said.
"Why don't you come back to my home with me and visit,
after all you are a friend of my daughter."
I agreed.

Later, after visiting with Dolores for some time in her amazing
and beautiful Mexican home and looking
at pictures of my friend as a child, Dolores said
she had 2 rental units in the building and one of them was empty.
"Why don't you stay in it while you're here?"

Every morning Dolores would bring down cookies, or fresh fruit,
or some other treat for me and ask if I wanted to ride along
with her while she did her marketing, or looked for a book,
or visited her lawyer.
Then she would send me on my way for the afternoon to investigate
and explore on my own.

Dolores patiently answered all  my questions, and there were MANY!
When I determined this would work for my old-lady mom,
I asked about cost of living and rentals.

The following day Dolores took my by the house she had rented
when she first arrived - it was empty.
She called the rental agent
Agustín Vasquez who came right over and showed it to me.
I rented it on the spot.

I took numerous photos of the house and things I thought my mother
would like about the area — including Dolores!

I returned to San Anselmo and some weeks later, amid all the packing
and boxes and piles of stuff,
my aunt (mom's sister) and uncle from southern California arrived.

I gave them my moving-to-Mexico-dog-and-pony-show
and answered each and every question.
They were understandably very worried.

Then when I pulled out the pictures of my trip they were delighted.
My aunt flipped through them and studied them all.

Then she got to the photo of Dolores.
I watched the color drain from her face.
Finally, she looked up at me and said
"How old is Dolores?"
"I dunno, maybe 70s. . ."
"How old is her daughter?"
"I dunno, maybe 40s. . ."
Then she looked up and said
"Oh my God, this is Gabby's sister!"

Dolores Sanchez had been a friend of my family for over 50 years!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

El Maestro del Pollo Feb 2011

You might  as well stop.
There is a tope there anyway,
so you have to at LEAST slow down.

If you don't know Dani, or his pollo asado,
now you do!

Great guy and killer-good chicken.

And blackberries,
and jugo de blackberries,
and raspberries,
and jugo de raspberries. . .

. . .and rabbit asado,
and Cornish game hen asado. . .



 Dani is very entertaining and speaks fluent English.

On the south shore of Lago Chapala,
coming into San Luis Soyatlan from the west,
directly to the right at the first tope.
Can't  miss him.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Descanse En Paz, Miguel - Rest In Peace Feb 2011

Last month one of our brave Jocotepec firefighters
stopped to help a motorist on the highway. 
He was struck by a vehicle and killed.

He was OFF DUTY!

On his days off from the fire department, he was also a volunteer 
medic on the Cruz Roja ambulance.

Miguel Tonatiuh Ribera Torres died the way he lived - 
helping strangers.

Gracias, Miguel, for your life of service.

Miguel was 24 years old and leaves behind a widow and a three year old son.

 There is a memorial for Miguel in the Joco fire station.

Donations for Miguel's widow and son
may be made at the Jocotepec Fire Department.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm. . . Feb 2011

I have a friend, here in Jocotepec, who is wheelchair bound.

Mike and his wife Cheryl live about a block from
the Bodega Aurrera - which is mini-Walmart.
Fortunately, Mike has a great sense of humor. . .

Easy access from the street to the pedestrian walkway.
Nice big smooth ramp up.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'. . .


Brought to you by the same folks who provide
safe, obstacle-free parking.