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Parade Central
Sep 28th, 2010 by Les

Erma Bombeck, American humorist and author, wrote: “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

 

I love a parade, the tramping of feet,
I love every beat I hear of a drum.
I love a parade, when I hear a band
I just want to stand and cheer as they come.

Arden & Ohman Lyrics

Aren’t parade’s great?  I honestly think we live in “Parade Central”.  We will have been in the little town of Ajijic Jalisco Mexico one year next month.  One of the things I remember most about our first months here was what I thought were an inordinate number of parades for a town this size.  Not that I’m complaining. I grew up in Wisconsin.  Milwaukee had the Great American Circus Parade each year as well as the obligatory Santa Clause parade, St. Patrick’s Day parades, etc.  I love parades!

Having lived here almost one year now it seems to me the parades start, for the most part, in September.  To be more exact on September 16th Mexico’s Independence Day (Dia de le Independencia) and continue through Holy Week.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, we live on Hidalgo.  Hidalgo seems to be on the route of all parades.  We have finally learned, if we exit our gate and see absolutely no cars on the street, we know there is going to be a parade.  There are, obviously, easier ways of learning about planned parades…we could read the local papers, watch the bulletin boards in the town plaza or simply pay attention to the vendors who are selling items for the celebration.  Lots of vendors and most stores had flags and other paraphernalia displayed for purchase prior to Mexico’s Independence Day parades.  I think in some way we both enjoy what we perceive as the spontaneity of these celebrations.  Consequently, though we purchase or pick up the local papers and read the local bulletins we are still “pleased as punch” when we stumble on yet another parade.

The exuberance displayed by literally everyone – those participating in the parade and those on the sidelines watching the parade – is contagious.  Your first clue is the wonderful marching band-type music played with such enthusiasm by, well anyone who’s in the various types of bands.  Drummers marking cadence helping people who are fleet of foot (not watching the cobblestones at all) keep pace with the forward motion once the parade begins.

The laughter of the children is one of the things I most enjoy when watching the parades.  Running along side of the various bands, their little legs going 50 miles an hour keeping up with cadet corps, school children (it seems like all the schools are represented), donkey powered floats as well as charros and so much more.

Charros are traditional horsemen from Mexico.  They are said to track their origin from the central western regions of Mexico and, in particular, the State of Jalisco.  We live in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, apparently a hot bed of charros activity.  These horsemen are known for colorful clothing and participating in coleadero y charreada, a specific type of Mexican rodeo.

There is of course the sweet humor of these parades, as well.  David was able to capture a picture of one young man portraying an elderly Mexican gentleman.  In an effort to convey the age of the gentleman someone had placed a stocking cap upon his head and glued cotton balls around the cap creating this delightful caricature captured in David’s photograph.

Music, gaiety, shouts of greeting, laughter and family oriented fun.  Could one ask for a better way to greet the day in this land of perpetual spring?  I think not.  And again I say, viva Mexico.

(Note: There are many photographs with this post.  David did such a great job of capturing the mood of the parade I had a hard time deciding what to post.  Though long, I think you’ll enjoy these great shots!)

All girl drum corp.

All girl drum corp.

School children were represented well in this parade.

School children were represented well in this parade.

The girls had material braided within their hair to create an amazing look.

The girls had material braided within their hair to create an amazing look.

He is the delightful "elderly gentleman" of whom I spoke earlier.

He is the delightful "elderly gentleman" of whom I spoke earlier.

One of the floats.

One of the floats.

Parade royalty.

Parade royalty.

Our local celebrity burro provide power for this float.

Our local celebrity burro providing power for this float.

Charros

Charros

Mini Charros with sister.

Mini Charros with sister.

Charros and daughter.  Such beauty.

Charros and daughter. Such beauty.

A parade observer I couldn’t leave out!

A parade observer I couldn’t leave out!

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.

The Law of Inverse Excuses
Sep 26th, 2010 by Les

“I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.”  Annon.

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The firs-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”  A. A. Milne – British Writer – best know for his character Winnie the Pooh.

My inverse excuse (this is the insignificant part)…I distinctly remember thinking or, more accurately hoping, the theme song for my life would be something akin to “Born to be Wild”.  There are, in fact, some tiny skeletons in my closet (as it were) probably dying to get out and attest to the above mentioned theme song.  Who knew I’d end up plummeting through my life at break-neck speed only to suddenly live to out grow the very wild streak I based my life upon.  I was in such a hurry to “get there” I sped through some life-stations I should have pulled the break cord on and stopped to enjoy.

As kids we, by nature, test our limits…constantly.  Ask any parent with toddlers and grade school age children.  No skeletons left in the closet as we haven’t learned there are things we’d rather not share with any audience.  The skeletons are, therefore, eager to appear in our teens…chomping at the bit even.  Hormones raging, mortification a constant companion, we begin our bid for the freedom of adulthood.  Heck, everyone knows teens are a fonts of all knowledge…just ask…we’ll tell.

Then we hit out twenties.  Beyond the “test” phase and suddenly out there in the real world expected to function, succeed, contribute, enjoyment governed by moderation and mind, hopefully, focused on the present and the future at the same time.  Able to walk and talk taken for granted with nary a look back.

Here I am, I’ve outgrown my “Born to be Wild” phase (well, not completely, tempered with memories of those skeletons still lurking in my closet) and I have a lot of time on my hands to think.  I am not a third, second or first-rate thinker.  I do, however, think a lot…I think.  Honestly.  My thoughts at times seem destined to collide with reality.  I would not want to be a traveler in my mind because “boggling” would be the word used often to describe such a journey.  Locking in on any given topic or subject can sometimes take more energy then it used to take me to control my life which would have been like trying to hold water in a sieve.

There are so many things to see, do and experience in life, in particular, in Mexico I have trouble deciding what I’d like to do first.  The gift of freedom, something I longed for as a teen until it dawned on me that responsibility comes arm and arm with freedom, can be really distracting.

It’s taken us, for some unknown reason, a while to experience all of the things we want to experience here in Mexico.  I believe our delay in doing most things could be called procrastination.  It is said time is money.  Therefore, if we are to believe money is the root of all evil, and knowledge is power we can then assume procrastination is the key to world peace.

Let’s face it, if you procrastinate enough you will never become bored, because you have all kinds of things you should be doing.  I know this because I’m a list maker by habit.  I do not create lists to mark things off that I’ve accomplished; I just like to make lists.  Generally speaking, if I make a list of things I need to pick up at one of our abarrotes, similar to what I’d call mom and pop stores back in my hometown, or at the Wednesday market, I inevitably forget the list.  In some ways the whole experience takes on a humorous flavor as I say, confidently, I remember what I had on the list…no problem. Upon returning home I make a dart for the list and check off all of the things I remembered.  As the years pass I seem to remember less of what was on the list I should have taken with me.  I look at this as a positive.  I wholeheartedly believe it means I’ve already gotten another list started before I set foot out our front door, and therefore it is a good thing.

The greater task…..we had been planning on visiting Soriana’s Market for some time and actually got around to it the other day.  Soriana’s is the second largest retail chain in Mexico.  It is, for all intent and purposes, a mega-store.  It did not have the feel of a Costco or Sam’s, more like a Wal-Mart Super store.

Below are some pictures we took of our Soriana’s experience.  The one picture I really wanted to get, but was unable to do so, was of a white-coat clad fish purveyor moving octopus from a cold chest to the ice-filled display counters.  Sorry folks, I do not mean to pass judgment on types of food people eat, I simply can’t bring myself to even try octopus.  Each time I see people preparing them for sale I remember why.  Octopus is simply not, and I know this is just my opinion, the George Clooney of the mollusk family.

Other than the octopus experience, you will note Soriana’s has a lot to offer.  Many items piled high on shelves or hung neatly on racks with foods of all types, bakery, meats, anything you’d want from a grocery store with many larger retail items, as well.  I’ve always had this weird thing in regard to vending machines.  I like buying snacks from vending machines because for some reason snacks taste better when they fall.  I’ve become a secretive food dropper, prior to putting the food in my cart, so that it can achieve its maximum flavor potential.  Although Soriana’s was too crowded for me to achieve an unseen “food drop” the total experience was both interesting and worthwhile.

I leave you with this thought:  Even the grocery/abarrotes/super stores can be a Mexican adventure!  Viva Mexico!

Sorianas in Chapala.

Soriana's in Chapala.

Retail

Retail

A little of each.

A little of each.

Produce

Strange Produce

There is a strong Canadian presence in Mexico.

There is a strong Canadian presence in Mexico.

Ajijic has had some heavy clouds and rain probably connected to the storms in the gulf.  Though David has taken a similar photograph in the past, this turned out so well it is worth sharing.  He caught the sunlight on the church steeple with the dark storm clouds behind capturing the contrast so well.

Ajijic has had some heavy clouds and rain probably connected to the storms in the gulf. Though David has taken a similar photograph in the past, this turned out so well it is worth sharing. He caught the sunlight on the church steeple with the dark storm clouds behind capturing the contrast so well.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.

Body by Nautilus/Brain by Mattel
Sep 19th, 2010 by Les

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong, is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.”  Douglas Adams

“I suppose you should listen to your heart and not the voices in your head.”  Marge Simpson – TV cartoon character.

I have a mind like a steel trap.  Stuff gets in there and WHAM it never gets back out again! (Bill Austinism).  I am going to attempt to tell you a story about our neighbor, Roberto, who is building a new home…for lack of a better description…behind our home.  Lots in the towns, villages and cities in Mexico, those I’ve seen anyway, are not laid out in the same somewhat anal order as they seem to be in the states.  I would venture a guess supported by absolutely no research, information what-so-ever or fact, they might be something like the settlers faced when traveling to the left side of the US.  Squatter’s rights were observed and land delineation was accomplished by whoever happened to be the strongest and could hang onto their land the longest.

Consequently, here in Ajijic, the streets travel much like a “mouse in a maze” by virtue of the fact most of the streets; unless they are heading toward Lake Chapala, have what could be considered a pattern.  They wander around, traveling hither and yon (very much like David and I) ultimately getting a person where they want to go or at the very least affording them an adventure of sorts.

Directions are another absolutely fascinating conversation if one were involved in either trying to assist someone else in finding their home.  Or, trying to get to that very someone else’s, previously mentioned, home.  (The aforementioned sentences made sense to me when I first wrote them.  Consequently, I decided to leave them in to totally confuse the reader…you!)

I have not figured out the numbering system here if, in fact, there is one.  Most of the time directions seem to be given in such a way if a business were to, lets say, go out of business people would be unable to direct others to their home.  For instance, we live down the block from the big burrito stand.  However, if you are coming during the day, the stand is closed, as it is an evening establishment.  During daylight hours you should look for the abarrotes that is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and then again from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. though other then the sign on the door (which you only see when it is down – the door, that is – and therefore closed) you would not know it was an abarrotes.  If you get as far as the picture of Jesus and the small altar at the end of our block, this is supposing you are coming from the plaza, you’ve gone too far.  Now, if you are coming from the other direction (Jocotepec) you must look for the guy selling barbequed chicken, although he only sells it on weekends or holidays.  Bottom line, carry a cell phone and learn how to use it.  That’s a whole other story!  Call the person whose home you are trying to reach and they can go out, stand in the middle of the street, jump up and down, wave their arms and not only catch your attention, serve as entertainment for the entire neighborhood.  Don’t laugh.  I’ve done it.

Lots run willy-nilly in all directions.  As usual I’ve lost tract of where I was going with this – I think it’s called the piñata experience.  You see, the human mind is kind of like a piñata.  When it breaks open there are a lot of surprises inside.   Once you have a piñata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a fabulous peak, dare I say it, the ultimate in mind-blowing experiences.  Again, I digress…

Oh, I remember Roberto and his new home.  David and I have been watching the progression of this new home for months now as we can see it each time we go up and down our stairs to our studio and mirador.  The home is being built by hand…and I do mean by hand.  No machinery of any kind has been pulled into this lot.  Man power is everything here.  Literally… “man power”.  Men cleared the yard – no easy task as it looked like a dumping ground for all things no one knew what to do with. Once cleared they began to lay bricks and cement, after manually digging holes to shore up the pillars they built with flat brick to hold up the entrance, a small guest house, etc.  I know nothing about what goes into building a home in the states, however I do know there seems to be a lot more machinery involved.

Which brings me to the jest of this blog, I love terra firma.  As long as my feet are planted firmly on the ground I’m pretty much stable – at least physically.  I, for instance don’t like carnival rides that go up, like ferries wheels or roller coasters.  Carnival rides that go in circles but hug the ground are fine with me.  I’m used to running in circles.

David and I had just gotten back from a trip to various markets in the village and he was heading up to the studio.  Let me back track a bit, there is a huge, and I mean gargantuan tree in the middle of Roberto’s lot.  An avacado tree that has to have been here when the Aztecs were present.  Sadly, unless he wanted to build the house around it (something they actually looked at) it would have to come down.  David first saw the guy on the ground with the ropes tied to the tree which, of course, being David and being as logical as he is, led his eyes to scan the tree way, way, way above his head for whomever might be in it.  He was, at this point on the top step of our UPSTAIRS studio and mirador.  There in the middle of this humongous tree was a man with a machete.  David hollered “Buenos Dias” and the man responded with “Como esta usted?” (how are you).  “Muy bien” (fine) responded David.  He in turn asked the guy in this humongous tree how he was “como esta usted?”.  To which the guy responded “Es un poco peligroso aqui arriba”.  Translated means, it’s a little dangerous up here.  Obviously, a man with a great sense of humor, quick wit and someone who has mastered the art of under statement.  He was chopping down this tree with, folks, a machete!!  I kid you not.  Not only did he have a great sense of humor (which I really love) he had his feet planted on a tree limb way above terra firma. The guy below was shaking the tree with the ropes he had attached to said tree and this guy was hacking away at limbs the size of normal merely big trees, with airborne avocados flying everywhere!  Amazing!

There is a Chinese saying that goes: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”  My suggestion…don’t let go now or you will become squash(ed)!!  Viva Mexico!

We'll start with the machete.  A simple tool used for most everything here in Mexico.

We'll start with the machete. A simple tool used for most everything here in Mexico.

The flying avacados.  Needless to say, however I'm going to say it anyway...we tried not to get hit by these flying fruit.

The flying avacados. Needless to say, however I'm going to say it anyway...we tried not to get beaned by above flying fruit.

First glance at our daring tree removal expert.

First glance at our daring tree removal expert.

Take a look at the mountains in the background.

Take a look at the mountains in the background.

Another view of our fearless, wize and humorous tree removal expert.

Another view of our fearless, wize and humorous tree removal offcianado.

David's version of finding Elmo!

David's version of finding Elmo!

Nearing completion.  Sad to see though they assure me there was no other way.

Nearing completion. Sad to see though they assure me there was no other way.

The sun sets on yet another adventure here in Ajijic Jalisco Mexico

The sun sets on yet another adventure here in Ajijic Jalisco Mexico

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.

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