Sunday, July 21, 2013

San Miguel de Allende, MX - Week 7

The blues' concert we went to last Sunday night was pitiful and we left early. The evening was too beautiful to go back home immediately so we walked slowly and stopped in the Jardin (park) to people-watch.

Mexico is a "pluricultural" country. Spanish is not the only language of Mexico; there are over 62 indigenous languages spoken by the 12 million indigenous people (11-13% of population) of Mexico. These people were pushed out, down, and away into undesirable lands just like we did the Native Americans.

Tuesday, July 16, we had an appointment to tour the mask museum. This was a private collection of over 500 masks by the owner (Bill) of the B&B, Casa de la Cuesta  (house on the slope). These were masks that were actually used in dances/ceremonies by the indigenous people, the majority living in extreme rural areas where tourists do not travel.

View from Casa de la Cuesta

Masks were mainly introduced in the post-conquistador era and their role was social and ceremonial. The ceremonies, or festivals, were (and still are) performed on the feast day of a village's patron saint, major religious holidays, and other major holidays for Mexico.

The sales area of the Mask Museum

All of the masks were hand crafted (wood or paper-mache). Jamey had been wanting a mask (not to wear but to display) and, luckily, Bill had some for sale. We did not leave empty handed.

How do we know something special is coming up in MX? First clue, the band practices in the evenings; second clue, the fireworks and church bells wake us up at 6 a.m. on the day of the event. We had no idea what made this Tuesday special until we were walking home from the mask museum. We saw a gathering of people along the sidewalks and in the streets. There was a procession of people carrying a statue and banners; the band was playing; people were singing. Jamey asked a couple of people and was told this was a celebration of Virgen del Carmen.

Procession through the streets of San Miguel

The procession marched around the square and as they entered the church, boys in the belfry started ringing the bells. Hopefully, they had ear protection because those were big bells and they were loud.

After some R&R and a brief afternoon thunderstorm, we walked to the nearby Ten Ten Pie (pee ay) restaurant for dinner. All their meat was grilled. Ken had arrachera and Jamey enjoyed a kabob of beef and shrimp. Jamey started with a glass of red wine and then switched to a top shelf mezcal (Jaral de Berrio Reposado). She insisted she had to have some chocolate with it and so we did - delicious chocolate cake. Just after we returned home, it started raining again.

Lupe, a wonderful and dependable young woman, came Wednesday to clean the condo. She does the laundry first so she can hang it on the line (no dryer) early in hopes it will dry before the afternoon thunderstorms begin. However, on this Wednesday, the 17th, the thunder started earlier than anticipated and boomed loudly and repeatedly, warning us of the imminent rain. Jamey dashed out and hauled in wet sheets and towels. We had bannisters, chairs, and other surfaces draped with wet laundry.

The rain continued through the afternoon and dinner time. There was a brief break so Ken went for a walk. The Jardin is the place people gather. This night there were people dressed in costume, performing living history tours. The tours were in Spanish so he did not follow the troupe but sat in the park and listened to mariachis perform, watched children play, and observed people strolling around. Raindrops roused him and he got home before the heavy rain began once again.

Templo de la Tercera Orden

Rain continued through the night and Thursday morning began as a gray day; but the sun was shining before 10 a.m. - the time most people come out to begin their day and work. (2 more weeks left in SMA) That evening we ventured out, clutching umbrellas, to try pizza at El Grotto. The chorizo sausage and mushroom on a cracker-crisp crust was delicious and there wasn't even a crumb left behind. As we ate, we could watch the street below from our upstairs table in a quiet corner.

The rain returned for most of the night and Friday's forecast was a little "iffy". That afternoon we walked back to into town to The Pocket (or The Petite) Theater. There were only 20 seats and the price of a ticket got you a bag of popcorn and drink of your choice (mixed or otherwise).

The Pocket Theatre

The foyer of the Pocket Theatre

Ken had noticed that a British "comedy", Sightseers, was playing. What he didn't notice in the review was that it was a "dark" comedy. After the first hour, Jamey got up and walked out; there was too much brutality. Two others (there were only 4 in the theater to begin with) had gotten up and walked out earlier. Ken was the only one to watch the movie to the end and he didn't reveal the ending. Thunder and rain returned while Jamey was waiting on Ken and we, carefully, walked home on slippery stone sidewalks.

Beggar woman, San Miguel

The elote (corn) man was walking up our street as we neared home so we bought an ear of corn to have with our homemade tamales for dinner while the rain continued.

Saturday, July 21, we had reservations for dinner at La Zarzuela Restaurant, for paella. This restaurant was located in what was the stable area of the 300-year-old Hacienda de Landeta. This was a beautiful setting. Even with the insectos buzzing around, the paella, a bottle of Spanish wine, and the chocolate volcano dessert were wonderful.

Hacienda de Landeta

Paella & Vino Rioja

Because of the location of the restaurant, we had to take a taxi. On our way up to el mirador (the overlook) we noticed how the hillsides had turned a vibrant verde (green) from the marron (brown) they had been when we arrived, June 1. The rain has been doing its thing, giving life back to the earth

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