Bien Canta el Burro, Para la Manana
Jul 24th, 2011 by Les

From the New York Times: As a former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, is said to have declared when she opposed the teaching of foreign languages: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”

“English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin, a language with which it has precious little in common.”  Bill Bryson

Sweetly sings the donkey at break of day or the literal translation…well sings the donkey, for tomorrow.  Bien can also mean “good”.  Confusing, and thus it begins:

There are those who believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.  I personally believe it’s a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you in hot water.

Let’s take freedom of speech, for instance, it is no time more precious than when a man has hit his thumb with a hammer.  And who is it that said if you can speak three languages you’re trilingual.  If you can speak two languages you are bilingual.  If you can speak one language you are American?

Tennyson was heard to say: “Words like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within”.

And then of course, having interned in a hospital, the many interesting “chartings” one reads such as: “The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.”  Or, “The patient presents with no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was hot in bed last night”. Or one very observant doctor was heard to say “The patient has two teenage children but no other abnormalities”.  And, as I’m sure you realize, I could go on and on.

I’m still learning the language of Mexico.  It is coming to me a bit more quickly now and I actually find myself, even when talking to David, using common Mexican phrases.  “Si” doesn’t come as often as David would like but “gracias” is a given and automatic as is “thank you” in the states.  It is also followed by “de nada” as opposed to no problem.

The morning is a special time for me, as I’ve mentioned, it usually finds me in front of our casa, broom in hand sweeping away the night time leavings and having the wonderful opportunity to share “buenos dias” with the many people who pass by….children on their way to school, mom’s and dad’s walking with their children, people hurrying off to work, vendors selling “café y todo terreno” – whole and ground coffee – or “frutas y verduras”- fruits and vegetables.  And everywhere you hear “como esta usted” – how are you – quickly followed by “bien, bien gracias, y usted” – good, good thank you, and you”.

I have attached a “Possibilities” ad, of sorts, to this blog.  Many people we meet share thoughts, ideas and “possibilities” with us that I would like to share with our readers currently living in our village of Ajijic.  As you will read, one of our friends made the comment her housekeeper understands sign language.  That is so true and, I would imagine, the same the world over….if all else fails and you are unable to get your point across using the language of the area…wave your arms, gesture wildly (I think Italians have a great handle on the whole gesture thing) and you can surely come to some understanding…you would hope.

For instance, it took me a while to learn to say “la cuenta por favor” – the bill please – when visiting a restaurant.  That is when I began using the left hand palm flat and the right hand pointer finger writing on the hand gesture…which not only was understood by the wait person but, politely, didn’t interrupt any conversation.  As Mae West said: “I speak two languages, body and English”.  So true.

However, in the end the universal language of a smile, it would seem, is the most important.  No matter what may be happening, where one may be going (and for me, dear reader I rarely end up where I’m going anyway), where one would like to be, when you attach a smile everything falls together.

With my usual ineptitude and while my mind was wandering somewhere other than on the cobblestones I was sweeping, my feet took on a life of their own and I ended up ass over tea kettle, spread eagle on the road one morning.  It happened because I was trying to sweep, think and talk at the same time.  That is never a good idea for me as it takes full concentration just to locate my shadow.  BTW, do you know where I can get a new shadow?  I have to get rid of the old one as it simply is refusing to do what I do…go figure.  Any who, I digress as usual, there I am laying on the cobblestones.  Once my eyes began to focus I looked up and found myself surrounded by friends I saw ever morning.  The group began to separate and our neighbor’s little girl (who looks amazingly like Dora the Explorer) walked up to me, took my hand and said “M&Ms”.  At the age of six she is just learning English and we all know about my fractured Spanish, yet we have been able to communicate via my ever-resent M&M’s which I give to little ninos who visit our yard.  Knowing the M&Ms made her happy she thought, rather quickly, they would help me as well.  Talk about a universal language!

Viva Mexico!

Photographs of the People of Ajijic and Jocotepec… David Perry Lawrence

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Pastafarian and Such
Jul 20th, 2011 by Les

Bilbo Baggins, from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.


There is an amalgam of many types here in Mexico.

Though I haven’t, as yet, seen a Pastafarian from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  And no one is walking around with a colander on their head.  I kid you not.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a small sect of Pastafarian’s lived lakeside.

No one has come up and asked, again, as yet: if I follow you home will you keep me.  Upon occasion I’ve been known to utter the words: excuse me, I think I’ve dropped something, my jaw, when coming upon yet another idiosyncrasy afoot here.

For instance, we had seen a new pizza restaurant, located on the carretera between Ajijic and Chapala, open several months ago with a sign advertizing open for lunch and dinner.  Our salivating glands working over time, we decided with some good friends to meet for lunch at this new place.  12:30 was the designated time and arrive we did only to find out they hadn’t turned their ovens on as yet…the “oven turner onner” apparently hadn’t arrived and, consequently, we were welcome to wait for an hour … that’s how long it would take to warm the oven up. (Heck, I warm up faster then that!) Then we could order our pizza and wait another 30 to 45 minutes for it to bake…or not.  All of us, being used to oddities having lived here, collectively, for several years…decided to let our stomachs and their loud growling decide for us and sauntered down the road to a wonderful, British run establishment with fabulous fish and chips.

Not too long ago and if we had been back in the states we would have celebrated our independence with fireworks.  Having never actually lived in a foreign country before…only visited…I missed the 4th of July fireworks.  I did know, however, it wouldn’t be long before I heard them going off at 2:13 a.m., 4:52 a.m., 11:37 p.m. etc here and wonder what our celebratory Mexican hosts were again, well, celebrating.  And, quite honestly, the Lake Chapala Society did have a get together for people from the US and Canada to celebrate both Independence Day and Canada Day so that no one would suffer from withdrawal and many local charities would receive much needed funds.

And on the eighth day God created bagpipes.  Now why was this day never acknowledged again…until now…I’m sure it is celebrated here…somewhere.

Let’s face it folks, I’m a little confused….oh heck…a lot confused.  I have for decades wondered why men and women’s shoe sizes are different.  Heavy thoughts like that.  Much better then when I was young.  I had someone once ask me how I walked in those shoes (3” heels).  To which I replied I can do it on account of I’m a balanced body type.  I have perfect weight distribution between by boobs and my booty.  Simple yet concise answer.

It is safe to say it is human nature to celebrate.  That is what is so beautiful about human nature.  Never more welcome then in a country that receives so much negative media attention.  We, those of us here, talk about the media attention often.  It comes up at our Meet and Greets when readers of our blog visit, trying to decide whether this is the place for them to live.  People who have lived here for only months to mega years get together to answer questions, share thoughts, bring suggestions and laugh uproariously about life here in Mexico.  What a grand group of people and how much we enjoy meeting all who visit our little corner of the world.  (Remember, if you are planning a visit to let me know as we will plan a get-together around your schedule.  We’ve heard from many who have visited they hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time…you don’t want to miss that opportunity.)

Yes, Mexicans are a celebratory people.  They are also a welcoming people.  Full of smiles, energy, customs, traditions, love of family and a truly different way … then most of us are used to …living their lives.  When in Rome….

It is rainy season here in Mexico.  I haven’t written for a while because life overcame me.  There is beauty all around.  Mountain ranges shrouded in clouds of every shape and kind imaginable.  Sun dappled cobblestones become tiny rivers all heading toward Lake Chapala and the mind wonders….if  you don’t pay your exorcist will you get repossessed….is it possible for a narcoleptic to have insomnia….do ducks sneeze…you know, heavy things like that.

If confusion is the first step toward knowledge, I must be a genius.

Viva Mexico!

A salute to clouds…David Perry Lawrence style…

A toast to Mexico!

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