The alley of fondness

Entrance from Carranza Avenue

I’ve used El Callejon del Carino dozens of times. It’s a narrow pedestrian path, not more than 4 meters wide. I like it because of the evocative name and as a shaded respite on hot days. It’s only a block long, located between Francisco Madero Avenue and Venustiano Carranza Avenue, two major thoroughfares. But it was only recently that I noticed a sign at one end with an English translation. I translated the name as “the alley of the dear one” and an online translation called it the “alley of caring.” The sign called it the “alley of fondness.” I like them all. Continue reading “The alley of fondness” »

Christmas in San Luis Potosi

A tree in one of the small Malls downtown.

As the year winds to a close, it’s time to celebrate Christmas! Last year I was in a predominately Muslim country, so I saw few Christmas decorations. This year, I’m in Mexico and it’s overwhelmingly Christian, so lots of holiday cheer. On the other hand, it’s a nice warm mid-70’s F each afternoon, so it doesn’t really feel like winter. Personally, I love the weather, but it’s like there’s two seasons. Warm and a bit cooler. With no chance of snow or even frost, the flowers are in bloom and the leaves never change color.

Plaza Fundadores (Founder’s square) has turned into a winter wonderland, minus the snow.
Winter Festival entrance.
Santa’s house
The big tree–obviously sponsored by Coca Cola, as was the winter parade.
Even ice skating!
One of the lovely old homes is lit up at night. It’s much prettier than this photo.
Plaza Del Carmen is still packed–a place to rest between shopping.
The main branch of the school where I teach has un arbol de Navidad (a Christmas tree). We were even given a very nice Christmas dinner–paella!
In the mild weather, flowers continue to bloom.
…even some flowers I don’t recognize.
This is the tree at the downtown branch, where I’ve been teaching for the last 8 weeks. It’s near my flat, but I’m the only teacher most days, so it’s a tad isolating.
The churches are always ready for Christmas, right?

Too depressed to post

Did you know these were native to Mexico?
Did you know these were native to Mexico?

11/21/2016

I’ve been too depressed over the election to post to my blog. I continue to journal, but it’s all negative, with a few rants. I don’t think anyone wants to hear it and I don’t believe my opinion will change anyone’s mind. I’m sure many believe that I am overreacting. I hope they are right, but I don’t see anything positive coming out of this next presidency. I’m trying to be patient (not my strong suit) and wait to see what will happen. I am using the time to rethink my priorities in light of this immense change in the direction of politics, humanitarianism, poverty and world peace. We will just have to see what the new Trump presidency does, but if his cabinet picks are any indication, it’s not good. For the time being, I will hold off on considering coming back to The States or working for a US supported agency, such as the Peace Corps (Of my two top picks, one program was canceled and the other postponed).

In the meantime, here are a few things that have happened.

Saturday, we ended another 4 week session at school. Some of the grades were VERY low in my weekday classes, but I only failed one student. Several others got notes from me indicating that they had fallen behind and needed to catch up or they would fail next session. All my Saturday students are great. I will continue the next four weeks at the downtown location, where I’m the only teacher through the week. The original receptionist, Veronica, will no longer be working there. It seems some money is “missing.” She was not nice to me, so I won’t miss her. Fortunately, Poncho replaced her, so the place doesn’t seem so lonely.

I'm still at the smaller, downtown school location. It's a nice place, but a it isolating, since I'm the only teacher through the week. The students simply aren't as serious about learning and attendance is terrible.
I’m still at the smaller, downtown school location. It’s a nice place, but a it isolating, since I’m the only teacher through the week. The students simply aren’t as serious about learning and attendance is terrible.

Today, I moved to a smaller, upstairs bedroom. The pluses are that it’s less expensive, has a great closet, will be much quieter (I was wrong on this point), and my neighbors are all nice. The best perk is that I’m now sharing the best bathroom with much better roommates. Unfortunately, I just took a shower and the water pressure is much lower and there’s hardly any hot water. Also, I have only one electrical outlet and it isn’t grounded. That’s going to make it impossible to use my electric kettle or space heater, unless I can find adapters (I did). You can’t have everything.

Today is a Mexican holiday, Revolution Day. This past weekend, I had planned to go to a party but it was changed from Sunday to Saturday and I didn’t find out until the last minute. If it hadn’t been for the room change, I’d have gone out of town this weekend since it’s my first 2 day weekend since I got here. I kind of feel the opportunity was wasted.

I’ve been hand washing my clothes for the last month. It’s not much fun, but the woman at the place I liked quit and the owner doesn’t keep regular hours, nor does he do a good job. I tried a second place, but it was more expensive and they lost a black sock, a bra but gave me a pair of men’s underwear. Ick. I’ve been too depressed to give another place a chance. As the weather gets colder, I’ll be forced to find a new laundry place.

We’ve had nice sunshine for the last two days, but it was cloudy and rainy for 2 weeks before that, the after effects of Pacific hurricanes. It was so depressing.

Ana Maria brought me to a new restaurant just off Armes Plaza. It used to be a private home.
Ana Maria brought me to a new restaurant just off Plaza Armes. It used to be a private home.
I got the variety plate with many SLP delicacies.
I got the variety plate with many SLP delicacies.

I continue to worry about the school. Enrollment seems lower than when I came in July and I don’t see anything being done to change it. Last session I had 24 hours per week, a schedule I like, though many would consider “light.” This coming session, I’ll have only 19 hours a week—which is the bare minimum to pay rent and eat.

I finally get private Spanish classes two days a week. Orlando has announced he’s not returning after Christmas break. While he could continue to take classes, he’s lost motivation and will drop out. Marc and I were sharing a class, but are several chapters apart in the book. Learning Spanish is a high priority for me, but not for him. I’m grateful we will get separate lessons now.

I continue to learn Spanish, but seem to be at a mental plateau. With the depression, I’ve continued to force myself to move forward in the text book and on DuoLingo.com, but retention has been poor. I’ll have to keep reviewing these sections.

The Spanish word for brownie is "brownie." See, you know some Spanish!
The Spanish word for brownie is “brownie.” See, you know some Spanish!

slp-mexico-november-2016-5

Ana Maria's dinner was veal. We splurge once a week on a nice dinner after Saturday classes.
Ana Maria’s dinner was veal. We splurge once a week on a nice dinner after Saturday classes.

A day in historic San Miguel de Allende

Meliza and her mother shopping in the huge artist's district.
Meliza and her mother shopping in the huge artist’s district.

I am lucky to be meeting new friends, generous friends, who help me see this lovely country. Meliza and her family too me to San Miguel de Allende, the day before Halloween. The city was all decked out for Day of the Dead, too!

A view of San Miguel de Allende from high atop an overlook (mirador). You can see the central cathedral.
A view of San Miguel de Allende from high atop an overlook (mirador). You can see the central cathedral.

San Miguel de Allende is a city and municipality located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. It is part of the macroregion of Bajío. It is 274 km (170 mi) from Mexico City and 97 km (60 mi) from the state capital of Guanajuato. Historically, the town is important as being the birthplace of Ignacio Allende, whose surname was added to the town’s name in 1826, as well as the first municipality declared independent of Spanish rule by the nascent insurgent army during the Mexican War of Independence.

Entering the city.
Entering the city.
A statue to Cristos Colon (Christopher Columbus)
A statue to Cristos Colon (Christopher Columbus)
A closer view of the central church--there are many churches!--from ground level.
A closer view of the central church–there are many churches!–from ground level.
This well groomed park is a shady spot in front of the central church and is part of the main plaza.
This well groomed park is a shady spot in front of the central church and is part of the main plaza.

According to Wikipedia: “The main attraction of the town is its well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. This and the nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco have been declared World Heritage Sites in 2008.”

The city was decorated for Dia de Los Muertos, day of the dead.
The city was decorated for Dia de Los Muertos, day of the dead.
The flower for this holiday is the marigold, a native flower of Mexico.
The flower for this holiday is the marigold, a native flower of Mexico.
But there are MANY flowers to see and buy.
But there are MANY flowers to see and buy.

From Visit Mexico: “San Miguel de Allende is a city that manages to be both quaint and cosmopolitan at the same time. Once an important stop on the silver route between Zacatecas and Mexico City, its historic center is filled with well-preserved buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. With its narrow cobblestone streets, leafy courtyards, fine architectural details and sumptuous interiors, San Miguel de Allende is arguably the prettiest town in Mexico.”

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-10 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-11 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-12 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-14 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-15 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-17 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-20Lots and lots of shopping! This is a tourist area, so prices were higher than in San Luis Potosi. I was also shocked, pleasantly so, to hear so much English! It’s not only American and Canadian tourist, but ex-pats, too.

The tree of life.
The tree of life.
Selling necklaces
Selling necklaces

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-22

The central plaza.
The central plaza.

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-24 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-25

These dolls are called Catrinas--elaborately dressed skeletons, usually wearing a large fancy hat.
These dolls are called Catrinas–elaborately dressed skeletons, usually wearing a large fancy hat.
This woman sold mostly necklaces. Her traditional costume was bright and lovely. It looked like silk.
This woman sold mostly necklaces. Her traditional costume was bright and lovely. It looked like silk.
Lunch--my favorite
Lunch–my favorite

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-38 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-39 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-40 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-41

These are made completely of sugar and are used on the altars for Dia de los Muertos. Most of these are to remember children who died too soon.
These are made completely of sugar and are used on the altars for Dia de los Muertos. Most of these are to remember children who died too soon.
More sugar!
More sugar!
...and also bees! They liked the sugar, too.
…and also bees! They liked the sugar, too.

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-47 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-48san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-50

Fresh fruits and vegetables. Notice the green cactus in front (nopal), cleaned and stripped of those pesky spikes.
Fresh fruits and vegetables. Notice the green cactus in front (nopal), cleaned and stripped of those pesky spikes.
Beadwork
Beadwork
Metalwork
Metalwork
I thought this particularly efficient--a place for a candle for most common concerns.
I thought this particularly efficient–a place for a candle for most common concerns.

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-56 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-58 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-59

Talk about a hat trick! This takes strength and balance.
Talk about a hat trick! This takes strength and balance.

san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-64 san-miguel-de-allende-oct-30-2016-65

The city was particularly busy, probably because of the holiday. Plus many had the day off Monday. It would be a great place to spend a few days. I hope to visit it again.
The city was particularly busy, probably because of the holiday. Plus many had the day off Monday. It would be a great place to spend a few days. I hope to visit it again.

Dia de los Muertos

Interested in this fascinating holiday, celebrated throughout Mexico? Here’s some info. altar

From Wikipedia: Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, especially the United States. It is acknowledged internationally in many other cultures. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. In 2008 the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The holiday is sometimes called Día de los Muertos in Anglophone countries, a back-translation of its original name, Día de Muertos. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually it was associated with October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian triduum of Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.[4][5] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed within other deep traditions for honoring the dead. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools. Many families celebrate a traditional “All Saints’ Day” associated with the Catholic Church.

Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20th century because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the church rejected it as a day related to synchronizing pagan elements with Catholic Christianity. They held the traditional ‘All Saints’ Day’ in the same way as other Christians in the world. There was limited Meso-american influence in this region, and relatively few indigenous inhabitants from the regions of Southern Mexico, where the holiday was celebrated. In the early 21st century in northern Mexico, Día de Muertos is observed because the Mexican government made it a national holiday based on educational policies from the 1960s; it has introduced this holiday as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous traditions.

The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is similar to other societies’ observances of a time to honor the dead. The Spanish tradition, for instance, includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.