Sunday, September 28, 2008
Well I got the tourista, diarrhea, the trots, GI' sand I was sick for a couple of days so there is a gap in my posts. I finally made it to pharmacy and with my bad mixed up Spanish and their limited English I got some medication. The medication seems to be working and I am able to travel. Glad I learned some Spanish it helped me get what I needed to get over whatever bug I caught.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Here is an update on San Miguel trip.
We took a private tour to Dolores Hildago, which was nice as we had our own guide and he gave a quick explanation of Mexican history and the importance of this town to the revolution of 1810.
Prior to all these visits I was confused about Mexican history and now it is coming together for me. Mexico has had quite a turbulant past and the present is no piece of cake for some Mexicans either.
The Mexican American war is clearly remembered here as they lost half or more of their territory and if some Americans had had their way they would have lost it all. In some areas there is still resentment about that war.
We had a lovely lunch at a very nice restaurant and then a tour of a ceramic factory where we got to see the artists drawing and painting the designs. We bought a couple of small items to bring home.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Some of the folks going on the tour
Stairway to the roof
The kitchen I liked
Colorful living room
We had heard about a tour of houses arranged by the local expat community for the benefit of a children's education fund and decided to attend. We caught the local bus and rode it towards the center of town. The bus driver let us off several blocks from the center of town and we had to make our way to the Library and using the map provided by the tourist bureau we had some difficulty in finding the place by the time we got there there was a huge crowd.
It seems that twice the number of people showed up for the event than was expected. The previous scheduled tour was cancelled due to the national Independence day celebrations so there was more people than usual wanting to take the tour.
I have been on these house tours before, this is the first time here in San Miguel. Usually you have a guide that gives you details about the house the owners and all the features. With this tour they were short guides and there was little information.
The first house was being used as a B & B and it had some unique features like a wine cellar / media room. The fountain and flower garden were nice. The second home was modern single story and had a lot of art that the owners had collected, this house was for sale and it felt more like an open house for the real estate agent who was there passing out business cards. The third house was more unique it was in a Mexican neighborhood and inside it had vivid colors Mexican style furniture lovely interior patio and upstairs bedroom with a huge floor to ceiling window overlooking the patio. There was a roof garden with a view. The kitchen had a huge window over the sink so one could look out to the interior patio. The most impressive part was the use of color bright greens, blues, pinks and orange. As you can tell I liked the place.
The bus let us off near the center of town but not near enough. We walked around for quite a while looking for a place to have lunch and finally settled on a restaurant close to the Jardine the local plaza.
We had heard about the scheduled Bullfight on Saturday and decided to go, neither of us had been to a Bullfight before so this was our opportunity to see one for ourselves.
The event was advertised to start at four in the afternoon. Not being sure how long it would take us to get there and what difficulties we might encounter we arrived to early for the event. So we got to the bullring about forty-five minutes early and we were some of the first customers to arrive and for a while the vendors outnumbered the customers. Eventually people started to arrive and most were Gringos/North Americans and Europeans, we were wondering when the or if the Mexicans were coming to this event. In the mean time we watched the preparations for the fight. Three men prepared the ring by wetting it down and in doing so got it to wet and had so move the water away from the over done spot. Then the men began to lay a circle using a rope and some lime and this caused some difficulty because the rope didn't move well enough so they got another rope and the three of them made two circles one inside the other and big white spot in the middle. All the photos and movies I had seen about bullfights I had never seen these white rings, did the movies leave out some important details?
At about four fifteen some Mexicans started coming into the seating areas and a band showed up and made preparations for making music for the event. The vendors started hustling their wares and it looked like something was going to happen. The parade of Matadors came out with all the other characters involved in the bullfight. There the featured Matadors and behind them the assistant Matadors the horsemen carrying spears on horses that were padded and then a team of work horses driven by men on the ground, behind them were the other workers who had prepared the arena.
Every one marched around and saluted the box where the officials were and took their places with all but the Matadors leaving the arena. Then with a music playing the gate or door was opened and the first bull came charging out into the ring, he already had a short spear like thing stuck in him and he looked ready to fight. Several of the Matadors went into the ring and with their big capes got the bull to charge them, this went on for a little while and then the horsemen came out with their spears. Eventually the bull charged the horse and while the bull was doing its best to ram the horse the horseman drove the spear into the bulls back drawing blood. The Matadors got the bull away from the horseman and the horsemen departed the ring. At this point one of the Matadors got two small spear like sticks and after charging the bull stuck them into the bull's back the Matador did this several times till there were six or more of these sticking in the bull's back. The the featured Matador came out and with a smaller cape made the bull charge him again and again. After the Matador did this numerous times he was passed a sword and the Matador faced the bull and with a swift run ran towards the bull and shoved the sword into the bull's back the other Matadors came out with their big capes and made the bull move back and forth until it fell to the ground. Then this other Matador came around the back of the bull with a dagger/knife and stabbed the bull just behind the bull's head and the bull laid down and didn't move. The fighting Matador removed his sword and walked around with it and the guys with the work horses came out and dragged the bull out of the arena. If it has been a good fight the officials award ears and rarely a tail to the Matador and he gets to parade around and show off his award to the pleasure of the crowd who if they like the performance throw things at the Matador like their hats and in one case their boot.
So this goes on and on with various Matadors showing their skills and in the case of what we saw not measuring up very well. There was one Matador who was quite the showman and was a crowd pleaser he got so close to the bull he got the blood of the bull on his costume, he actually made the performance look like a legitimate skill. The rest were less so.
The crowd was as interested in themselves and who was there and what was going on between their friends as to what was going on in the arena. A lot of liquor was drunk and the smell of cigars was notable in the air.
In the end the bull dies and gets dragged off
We arrived early and we left early. When we got outside to the street we encountered lots of police, I suppose they were there to prevent the drunks from getting out of hand.
My thoughts on the subject are; Hemingway was full of it, there is nothing glorious or metaphoric about a bull fight the bull dies, the bull is going to die anyway that is where hamburger and steak comes from, sometimes the bullfight can be performance art when you have a good bull and good Matador, most of the time in small out of the way places it is less so. I am not so sure I would go again then who knows ?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Here I am at the back door to Casitia de las flores on my way to explore San Miguel.
Here are a few of my thoughts about San Miguel. My reason for coming is two fold; one this is an important historical place in Mexico and gives some life to Mexican history anyone interested Mexico should visit, two I am looking for a place to live in Mexico and after reading about SMA I thought maybe it was for me too.
First off, when reading about SMA I got the impression that it was a small town that was growing, it isn't, it is a small city that is growing with the central portions protected from development to preserve the historical places and protect the traditions of the Mexican people.
Within this city is a modern society that has all the noise, problems and motor traffic that comes with it, then add in thousands of tourists and expats from all over the world and you have a crowded, expensive. urban setting. There is a lot to do here and some of it is inexpensive, finding it takes a bit of persistence and I am sure with time one would be aware of where to look for those inexpensive events.
The number of English speaking people from north of the border has a major effect here in SMA. English speaking assistance is available and makes it easier for the non Spanish speaking tourist in tourist areas of the city.
My first impressions of the expat community are not favorable, to me they seem cold, unhappy, and closed off to all but their own, if the don't know you they won't acknowledge you. They remind me of the same kind of folks I have met in other places like Martha's Vineyard, all of Cape Cod, and various destinations in Sonoma California, etc. to much money not enough manners or sense.
Of course my opinion is based on only a few first impressions and you have to consider my working class background. For what it is worth I wouldn't live here. I am sure there are lots of lovely expats who live here and are a credit to themselves and their adopted city, just that the snobs and ill mannered expats stand out more, they also get my dander up.
Here I am on the hill over looking San Miguel
View of the city
A view from the hill of the city showing the church and
in the for ground almost to the bottom the edge of the bull ring.
On day two we got up early and got ready for the day and fortified with a cup of tea and prepackaged donut we headed down the hill towards the main thoroughfare. Instead of walking in the same direction we did yesterday, when got to the main street we went in the other direction. Just as we were about to give up and turn around we saw MEGA which is a large grocery and dry goods store we had read about. This store is a modern, clean, well organized business. Except for the obvious language differences on the products and signs one would think you were north of the border. I think it is better than some stores NOB.
We trekked back to Casita de las flores our B&B and after a short rest we went to lunch at a local restaurant and for about $4.50 each we had a hearty lunch and soft drink; I had chicken enchiladas with rice, and vegetables Samantha had something similar with a sauce on hers.
After lunch we proceeded down town by foot and found the tourist office that gave us directions the ticket seller for the local trolley tour. The trolley tour was very informative and does give a lot of information and an idea of where things of interest are located.
After the tour we started walking about and ended up at Mama Mia's restaurant and bar where we had drinks and a pizza. After leaving Mamma's we came upon a parade; some of the people parading looked like clowns one was juggling fire sticks and there were dancers in typical Mexican dresses. We never found out why they were parading.
We called it a day and walked back to the B&B to spend the night.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Banner for Indepenence Day
Top of the church in the center of town
Samantha and Kay Julia at dinner
This was our view
This is a view of one of the neighborhoods
Sign left from the Independence Day celebration
View of the church
Miracles never cease we got to Mexico!
We got up in time, had enough fuel to get to the airport, got to the airport on time without incident, got on our plane with out a problem. We arrived at Leon airport and our driver was there waiting for us as we left the immigration and customs area and for the most part the drive was uneventful. After checking in at the B&B we went to a local restaurant for lunch and had a nice lunch; lunch was about $11.oo for two and it was good.
After our nice lunch we walked down town, I of course had the wrong shoes on and my feet hurt. We found our way to the center of town the Jardin in front of the church. We also found the bank open and we changed dollars for pesos and used the machine teller to get money (pesos). No problem, I even used my funny Spanish to ask for smaller bills with the teller again no problem. We went to a cafe beside the jardin and had some coffee while discussing our next move. We left there for a return trip to the B&B and while walking back checked out a restaurant with a great view of the church and did a little grocery shopping at a local shop, we got the essentials tea, snacks, beer, sodas, fruit juice, and goat cheese for breakfast.
Later in the evening we went to dinner at the restaurant we checked out earlier and had a wonderful dinner. I had pecan soup and baked fish with coconut sauce and Samantha had a salad with goat cheese and grapes with chili relleno with beef, everything tasted wonderful. After dinner we walked back to our room and did a little work on the computer.