The Road Less Traveled

11 08 2015

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

 Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

Jerry Seinfeld

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Bumpy. Circuitous. Infinitely more interesting than direct-and-smooth. Through blind trust – or dumb luck – on our road trips throughout Mexico, Peter and I have experienced unforgettable gems– routes familiar only to the local farmer or sheep-herder.

Peter is addicted to his GPS. We have Gladys the Garmin – who delights in guiding us through the center of cities during rush-hour traffic — and Tobias the TomTom who directs us onto paths even he doesn’t recognize. “Unknown road” or “No route possible” should be a clue.

DSC_9848A side note to anyone using a GPS to drive in Mexico. Don’t trust it. If you don’t already know how to get where you’re going, along with a detailed paper map, you’re in deep trouble. Mexico Maps on both Garmin and TomTom are incomplete at best. Worse than its not knowing the roads is that the device will decisively turn you onto a road, then after a few miles demand, “Make a U-Turn.” Don’t trust it!

Driving home to Guanajuato from the Guitar Festival in Paracho, Michoacán (touted as Mexico’s most dangerous state according to the USA’s mass media), we’d passed through pueblos named Aranza, Rancho Seco (Dry Ranch), Carapan, and then entered a slightly larger town named Purepero.

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Ahead, I spot the green highway-directional sign for La Piedad, toward home. Tobias, in his computerized English accent, directs us to Turn Right, although the highway sign clearly indicates straight ahead.

¿Por que no?Why not?

So we turn right onto a cobblestone street, curving through neighborhoods….

and through more neighborhoods….

At last, we arrive at the edge of and then out of town.

A semi-surfaced road. Should have been yet another clue.

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We drive….

And drive.

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Bump along.

The road narrows.

According to the compass, we’re headed south.

Unfortunately, we should be headed north.

Again, the road narrows. Dirt and ruts, now.

Cross a river. Literally – the road takes us through a river.

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And into picturesque, adobe and bouganvilla-laden pueblos.

When the road improves, we can tell we’re approaching a town (of sorts).

Villa Mendoza. Then Acuitzeramo.

Again, the road deteriorates to dirt ruts.

We cross a cattle-guard.

Pastoral vistas. Cows. Goats. Sheep. Donkeys. Horses. Dogs.

We wave at the occasional vaquero/cowboy and shepherd with his flock.

And. Yes.

We eventually and safely exit onto the highway to La Piedad and Irapuato

and home to Guanajuato.

Ah, yes.

Life.

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Perhaps not the most direct route, not the most smooth, not the most trouble-free –but an adventure of challenges, bumps, and beauty – and I wouldn’t trade any of my learning-journeys for smooth, uneventful, destinations.

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The journey is the reward. An appropriate gift from my daughter and grand daughters….

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Mesa Mariposa ~ Butterfly Table

26 07 2015

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder….

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Alex in our Frieda Room with Mesa Mariposa. The wet-bar he created from antique doors is in the background

From a mammoth tree somewhere deep in the jungle of Quintana Roo — to a “discard pile” in Puerto Morelos – to the carpenter-artistry of Guanajuato’s Alejandro Vazquez — to our living room in Casa de Colores on Calle Temezcuitate….

When Peter and I spotted an unusual piece of wood among the scraps at a carpentry shop in the jungle outside the fishing village of Puerto Morelos , we knew that beneath the dirt, fungi and moss beat the heart of an exceptional table top. We felt the vibes screaming to be released — it was lovely.

But the artistry of Guanajuato’s Alejandro Vazquez took it to the next level, creating stunning art with function.

In the scrap pile....

In the scrap pile….

David, Ignacio and Gama, the wood butchers/artists in Puerto Morelos called it the Mariposa due to its butterfly shape. We agreed to their ridiculously reasonable price, which included cleaning and leveling. High-five!

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We then loaded Mariposa, other rare finds in wood, and our belongings, into Suzibelle-of-the-Jungle our Suburu (another story) to drive a highly eventful 2,614 km through Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Michoacán to our home in Guanajuato, central Mexico, so Alex could work his magic.

2614 kilometers ~ 1625 miles from Puerto Morelos to Guanajuato

Our journey: 2614 kilometers ~ 1625 miles — from Puerto Morelos to Guanajuato

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More projects are in the works – and Alex and Peter will be working together to create fine Guitars and Basses using mainly Mexican woods — but Alex’s latest creation is our Mesa Mariposa – the butterfly table.

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Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder – especially with the help of a talented artist and friend….

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Publicos Baños

25 01 2015

Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.

Kurt Vonnegut

For the past year or so, Peter and I have been traveling across Mexico – driving from Sonora, the northern-most state, south through Sinaloa and Nayarit to our home in Guanajuato in the central mountainous area…journeys to the artisans of Michoacán…Puebla…Oaxaca…through Tabasco, Campache and Chiapas…across Yucatan and to my other home in Quintana Roo on the eastern coast. Are some of these areas “dangerous”? Yes. According to “national alerts,” and certainly if you listen to USA mainstream media. We travel in daylight (usually) and stay “aware” of our surroundings – sometimes on the major highways, yet more often on the minor roads, bouncing across the frequent topes (speed bumps) through countryside and villages. DSC_5218 Most recently, we traveled from Guanajuato to the southern coast of Oaxaca: Bahia de Santa Cruz. About a 20-hour trip. Our route took us through the Colonial cities of Puebla and Oaxaca; Matatalan, famous for mezcal and pulche; San Martin Tilcajete, world-renowned for exquisite alebrijes; and mountains thick with evergreens juxtaposed against stands of bamboo and banana trees, washed-out roads, and beautiful people.

Trip Route

Trip Route

I haven’t been blogging. But now…time to share –

The beauty of this diverse country.

The idiosyncrasies.

The people.

My impressions.

I hope you enjoy these journeys, as well…. From the Only In Mexico department –- Peter and I are driving through Tlacolula, a small pueblo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, when we smell roasting cocoa beans before even seeing the Chocolate Shop….

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We’re looking for a restroom, and, conveniently, Tlacolula has a well-manned Baños Publicos. Definitely “well-manned” — three men, waiting to collect my 2 pesos (about 14 cents), dispense the allotted paper squares, and – get this –present me with a printed receipt. Building. Attendants. Electric lights. Running water. Allotment of necessary paper. And. Printed receipt. All for 14 cents.

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I love Mexico!





When Life Flows….

5 12 2014

When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.

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My Love and I are now happily creating lives together in Guanajuato — a delightful 500-year-old city in the mountains of central Mexico. Thus, as delightful as it has been –the time is right to release my beach condo and the life I created in Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo.

So. Following an afternoon of camaraderie on the beach, I’m meeting with my friend and Realtor, Kim Temple, to list my condo-home. Kim looks and is, very Professional. Business-like. Somewhat serious. Explaining procedures — when Jenine, a friend from the beach afternoon, knocks on the open door – “Mary? You here? Robert and I just met these people who are looking for a place to buy in Puerto Morelos. Can we come in?” Of course.

With great flair, enter Robert, Jenine, their two new friends Sandra and Tony – originally from Belize and now from Washington state – along with their taxi driver Cesar – all enjoying beers. Being out of beer, we break out wine. Jenine is enthusiastic and animated — showing, describing, sales-pitching my condo – ousting our friends Steve and Nelly from the guest bedroom. They join the party.

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Admist the pandemonium, washing machine repairmen arrive.

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Noisy, joyful, chaos ensues.

Poor Kim.

We decide to meet tomorrow – papers so far unsigned. Kim leaves.

The party continues. More wine. The taxi driver does a Beer Run. Music with Peter on guitar, Robert on harmonica. Stories. Laughter.

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As our new friends get up to leave, Tony collapses.

Oh my.

Too much partying throughout the day?

He’s dragged/carried to the couch for TLC, ice pack, and water.

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The party continues. Tony recovers.

The party morphs to El Bistro for homemade Italian.

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Did the condo sell?

Not yet.

But it will — with joy, ease, and grace.

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When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.





The Camote Man

9 06 2014

“Enjoy the little things in life,

for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

Kurt Vonnegut

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Peter and I had about given up on seeing The Camote Man again – when – while enjoying each other, wine, and emerging stars following a pink-sky sunset– an unmistakable screech penetrates the far-off cacophony of barking dogs and the occasional enthusiastic drummer .

“As the lights come on in Guanajuato they are reflected into the night, and we call them stars….” Dennis Pekus

As the lights come on in Guanajuato they are reflected into the night, and we call them stars….
Dennis Pekus

Each Mexican entrepreneur has his own distinctive marketing technique – The lute of the afilador who sharpens knives at your doorstep. Clang-clang on the tank by the gas company rep. “Aaaagggguuuuaaaaa” sings out the water guy. And – amazing to us – is not only listening but watching these men effortlessly heft their wares throughout the severe slopes of Guanajuato, over 6000 feet above sea level. How does that wiry little guy carry four of those five-gallon water garrafónes?

One of many callejones of Guanajuato.

One of many (steep) callejónes/alleys of Guanajuato.

This night, The Camote Man is obviously below us on a better-populated street: Calle Sangre de Cristo. We live far above, near The Panoramica which encircles this historic city. Will he venture this far? We start whistling and yelling to the universe — and anyone else who’s listening: “Arriba! Arriba! Up! Up!”

It was a couple of months ago when we first experienced the taste sensation – not to mention, the visual delight – of a camote (sweet potato) wood-fire-roasted in a Stanley-Steamer-looking device — coals glowing — pushed amidst the callejónes.

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We are in luck this night. The whistle intensifies. Adults and children emerge from darkened doors, 20 pesos in hand, to receive a steaming camote dripping la leche condensada azucarada and canela. We pass on the sweeten condensed milk but request extra cinnamon – then retire inside to slather on mounds of butter and pour more wine.

A delectable camote for only 20 pesos -- about $1.50 USD.

A delectable camote for only 20 pesos — about $1.50 USD.

 Life is grand. We are grateful.

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