Simplicity

22 09 2015

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We’re in Mahahual, Quintana Roo – practically the southern-most point of Mexico before entering Belize – working with a little piece of beachfront bliss I’ve had for over 20 years.  (Tales to tell once this project is complete.)

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There’s a reason August-September is “low season” in Mexico’s Riviera Maya and Costa Maya areas – hot, muggy with an abundance of mosquitoes and other biting insects. But the peace, beauty, tranquility, and lovely people are unsurpassed.

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This charming chapel sits at the town’s exit to the south….

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It seats 10 – 12….

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Rather than gilt and gold, this chapel of the people features pottery and plastic.

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Gifts from those who have few possessions but much devotion and love….

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Clare Boothe Luce





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….





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.

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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.





Brown

7 10 2013

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine,

but because people refuse to see it.

James Michener

If I lived in this dreary town I’d invest in paint.

Me.

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Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Capital of Mexico’s second-largest state: Sonora

Eight hours south of Phoenix

June.

112 °F ~ 44°C

Summer, I’m told, has not yet arrived.

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Desert. Dust. Adobe. Dirt. Bricks. Rocks. Cobblestones. Concrete. Boulders. Heat waves. Grit. Grime. Muck. Chaff. Weeds (dead). Dreary. Desolate. Bleak. Barren. Gloomy. Wasteland. Hot. Hot. Hot. Dry. Dry. Dry.

Brown.

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I’ve been a bit reticent to walk Hermosillo’s dimly lit streets at night. This is a “city,” not a village like my home of Puerto Morelos or even Morrison, Colorado.

But Hermosillo, like cities everywhere, is constructed of “neighborhoods.”

At dusk, I reluctantly ventured out my El Centro apartment as the day cooled to approximately 110 and a dusty breeze swirled an errant plastic bag from the curb. My camera captured adobe breaking through cement and crumbling bricks. Tired, hundreds-of-years-old buildings. Ancient arches. Graffiti. Dead weeds. Cactus. Brilliant bursts of bougainvillea. Neighbors filtering into the streets. Sitting on curbs. Leaning against trucks. Chatting. Relishing the “cool” of the evening, the descending dark, the ascending nearly-full moon.

There’s something going around the corner?? A pig. On a leash. Named Chuletta.  Chuletta, translated: Pork Chop. I do love Mexico.

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Chuletta – Pork Chop

This, however, is not a tourist town – and in the night, I’m not totally comfortable as the Lone Gringa. At the upcoming corner sits a gaggle of men about my age, beers in hand — one perched on the tailgate of his pick-up-truck, picking guitar. Should I turn back? Question answered as they clown for my camera. Conversation ensues. Well — with my barely-Spanish, it kind of ensues. But I accept their offer of a cervesa –  international symbol of camaraderie — and enjoy the one song my musician is obviously pleased to know in English – Hotel California.

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This is the oldest neighborhood in Hermosillo, they proudly proclaim. Most of these guys work at the University of Sonora – an engineer, a doctor, a couple lawyers, citizens of the World. We dance. My partner, however, was born with that Latin Salsa gene of which I am sorely lacking. Laughter, however, is universal.

They ask if I like Mexico. “Mexico have good people,” the musician proclaims. “And you are good people,” he adds, touching my heart.

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Brown.

Eyes. Faces. Hands. Hair. Smiles. Laughter. Kindness. Joy. Understanding.  Delight. Friendly. Helpful. Honest. Warm. Welcoming. Bronze. Beautiful.

Brown.

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Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.

Carlos Castaneda

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Mujer de la Verdad

25 08 2013

My friend and I are vacationing where we are possibly the only non-Latin American faces on the crowded malecón, the tourist walkway beside the beach, when I discover that I’ve lost my wallet.

Near-panic ensues — I practically carry my life in that wallet.

Cell phone rings.

¿Es esto Maria Jordan?

Si.

Fast deluge of Spanish I don’t understand.

Working together, we figure it out and meet.

I have named my anonymous caller, Mujer de la Verdad — Woman of Truth. She found my number and, using her own phone minutes, called to return the wallet and its contents.

My friends tell me I’m crazy to live in Mexico. Drug wars. Beheadings. Murders.

I continue to find Beauty. Joy. Peace. And honest, caring People.

I am grateful.

“Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them. They warm you right through.”  ― Michael Morpurgo, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea

“Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them. They warm you right through.”
― Michael Morpurgo, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea