Monthly Archives: July 2007

All that Glitters

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Sorry I havenulteriormotivesfront.jpg‘t written – I have been a little out of sorts lately. I have been keeping strange hours trying to fill last week’s orders – meaning that I have actually made it to the Carson Daly show (on after Conan), which I hardly ever have seen. Then, when I do get to bed (around 2AM), I lie there, wide awake. Wednesday night, I also could not get comfortable, because my arms were feeling weird – like I needed to shake them out.

So, I got back up at 4:30 AM and went down to my studio and listened to the CraftyPod. I could not go back to sleep, so I was luckily able to get in a massage appointment at 10:45. That seemed to help – but I still was not able to fall asleep easily last night. At least I got most of my shrine orders and cross orders finished, and got a head start on a couple I have on auction this week.

So, a quick review of what I have done over the past couple of days:

Anniversary Dinner at Bluepointe

Tuesday, the 24th, was our 8th anniversary. We had not really planned anything in advance, since we are both still chilling from our trip to Mexico. At about 6PM, Wheat came in and asked if I wanted to use the Buckhead Life Group gift card that his brother had given him for his birthday to go somewhere. Even though I had just been one and a half days on my new diet, I said yes. We were able to get 9PM reservations at Bluepointe, a beautiful place that serves Asian-inspired seafood recipes and sushi.

After reading this review, I chose an apple martini to drink while we waited to be seated. Tuesday nights are Martini Nights, and I had to push through a crowd of beautiful people to get to the bar and order. I then had to carefully make my way back to my husband without sloshing any of the precious ($10) liquid. Yes, it’s obvious that I haven’t been out in a long time. Dinner was a bit of a drawn-out affair. I ordered the foie gras with toast points with a glass of cava – I had planned on eating an appetizer and salad for my meal. The foie gras was too awesome to describe. My husband munched on edamame and didn’t get his pork loin until 10PM, when I got my Kobe steak salad. The food was delicious, and as much as I would have liked to try the coconut kaffir ice cream for dessert, we passed and went on to Brusters. I had the key lime pie ice cream instead.

Crafty stuff:  Loteria and story boxesulteriormotivesopen.jpg

I am working towards getting my craft supplies better organized.  I am really excited about the new Loteria games I collected while in Mexico.  One in particular looks like it may be a good match with the Don Clemente images and will add a lot more options to my story box work.  I spent some time scanning the images into my computer so that I would “allow” myself to open the games I got and cut into them.  I have two regular sized games and one large one (I haven’t opened it yet, but I wonder if it is also printed on recycled Downy box cardboard…).

I stopped by Garden Ridge on my way back from grocery shopping.  I had not been there in a long time, so I did a thorough sweep of the store.  Although I think that they have gotten out of the craft supply business, they still have a great supply of party decorations that lend themselves to my work.  I picked up two rolls of gorgeous wrapping paper, many MANY packets of table confetti (everything from tiny horses to dollar signs and dice),  some napkins (I know I have too many, but I could not resist), some ribbon, and a garland of thin plastic pink flamingos.  All of that for a song –  I had to steel myself as I left because they were having a 75% off sale on silk flowers.

So, that’s it for now.  Got to go and put varnish on my work so that I can mail it out!  I have also taken baby steps towards the organizational process – I don’t have much time, though – school starts on Tuesday!

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New Assemblage Piece on Etsy

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virginmaryblue.jpgI finally got this piece on my Etsy.com site.  This piece started out with a Virgin of Guadalupe that I encrusted with sequins. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I had a large piece of canvas board that I put inside of a frame.  I put the sequined piece smack in the middle, and was stuck for a while.  Then, I added a background of different papers with a serape striped border.   Actually, I started with the border, which came from a set of Fiesta party napkins from Garden Ridge!

I then decided to use a patchwork design of various papers to frame the Virgin.  In the foreground, I added some painted flowers that I made from the bamboo flowers on my chicken baskets.  It makes a little platform for the Virgin to stand on.  The pink roses add another unexpected element and they break up the regularity of the patchwork background.

The frame is hand-painted in two colors of turquoise – originally, I had the whole background in light blue, but I didn’t like it.  The frame was originally antiqued gold, but I painted it turquoise blue and highlighted the flower and leaf border.  I am very pleased with the result.  I know that my work is not everyone’s cup of tea – but I like color.  It makes me happy!

Today,  I got started on my new diet.  I have a blog for it – I recycled the one I was going to use for Mexico.  I don’t remember exactly when it was that I picked up an article called “The Frozen Food Diet.” I am pretty sure it was while I was waiting in an examining room during my physical – about 6 months ago. I picked up an old issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and came across the article.  At the same time as I was reading this, the Jenny Craig program was getting a lot of publicity with Kirstie Alley as a spokesperson.

I did look into the program, but am shy about committing that much money at the moment. I also visited a lot of other sites that provide calorie-controlled meals to people who are dieting – there are quite a few, and they have some very attractive food. Some of it gourmet-quality, organic, etc.  So this is a try at keeping my own regime using purchased entrees.  You can go to the site if you are really interested – I won’t bore you here.  This will mean that I am going to try not to be cooking so much – I am going to try and channel that creativity into my art.

I am also working on getting my E-Bay auctions settled and mailed out.  The Coolceras (the Distroller-style bracelets that I purchased in Mexico.  I sold a whole lot of bracelets (pulseras, in Spanish) and a couple of the scapulars already.  I also have orders for crosses, Blue Dog shrines, both kinds of Guadalupe shrines, and fabric.  A pretty good week, but I have to get organized now!

My husband just got finished organizing all of our photos from Mexico.  He spent hours on Flickr.com, figuring out how to work out the hierarchy of sets and groups and collections.  He has a couple of panorama shots that are great!  I still have to go in and write comments, but go and check the pictures out!

Forget Harry Potter, I’m waiting for Magic Tree House!

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Yep, Monday with a Mad Genius is coming out at the end of August! Last spring, I began developing a project incorporating books of the Magic Tree House series and the Time Warp Trio series. I noticed at first that a few of my students were choosing the Magic Tree House books as library books. I was hoping that they would find something more challenging to read, but then I started looking into them. I had already bought some of the Time Warp Trio books for one of my nephews, so I was familiar with them.

As I started reading them, I noticed that there were a lot of historical themes in common – both series are designed to spark children’s interest in history (MTH also covers scientific themes – I could do something with that later.).  In my typical anal retentive way, I did a lot of charts, matching books and themes, but I didn’t have time to implement the plans last year.  I did do a short unit using the TWT’s book “Me Oh Maya!” and a videotape of the TV series episode to teach about the Maya.

Anyway, with the new MTH book, I can match it up with TWT’s book called “Da’ Wild, Da’ Crazy, DaVinci.”  Cool, huh?

Oh, we did go see the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie, and then we drove by a Barnes and Noble to watch the people queuing up for their Harry Potter VII books!  I know – we are one wild and crazy couple!!!

Today, I drove over to North Point Mall in Alpharetta and did a little shopping.  I went into their JoAnn Fabrics just to make sure I had hit that looking for my Alexander Henry Virgin of Guadalupe fabric.  I had.  I was still able to find a little bit more of the Kathy Hall Tree of Life fabric – a beautiful fabric with angels in the trees.  I can only seem to find the yellow.  The black also seems to be available to buy online.  I wish I could find the blue!

I also bought some kind of sticky wax used for scrapbooks and to hold candles in place.  I am looking for something approximately like the cera de campeche used in Huichol yarn and bead paintings.  We’ll see if it works.  At Michaels, I bought a bunch of Martha Stewart fiesta decorations on clearance.  I’m all ready for a birthday party now…  My birthday in August 14th.

Lazing on a summer afternoon

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Well, it has been one week since I returned from Mexico.  I have to admit that I have not been up to much.  My father visited for a few days, forcing me to be semi-social, but he is gone and I am trying to create a happy little rut before school starts.  I have done some things:

put up some items on E-Bay
-kept a few medical appointments
-gone to the bank to deposit checks
-stopped by school (but did not go in)
-eaten sushi at RuSan’s (despite the Dick Cheney motorcade)
seen a movie and eaten buttered popcorn
-unpacked my suitcase (but I need to do laundry still)
made a cake (but from a mix, of course)
-gone to Walmart to see if Zarela has brought back the Loteria shower curtain (she hasn’t)
had a massage
-visited JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby (the one near my house CLOSED!)
-ordered a Pizza Hut pizza (one Meatlover’s and one Veggie)
-obtained a Gwinnett County library card and checked out a book on CD
-picked up my mom’s dog for the weekend
-shopped for immediate food requirements
-slept (a lot)

Wow!  That’s a lot!!! I’m tired just thinking about it! (I have left out some things like washed hair and shaved legs… that would be considered an over-share by some!)

I realize that I still have a few more parts of my trip to document – in particular my visit with our friends in Atlixco and our return trip to Atlanta.  Those are coming, I promise.  In the meantime, we do have some photos up on Flickr – check them out!

Distroller Update

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One of my goals in going to Mexico this past summer was to visit a Distroller store, if not actually contact the founder of Distroller.  Now, while many people are not aware of this fashion phenomenon, I did run into some that were.  My conversation teachr, Paloma, had actually been interested in opening a store in Morelia.  Unfortunately, she had the same experience that many people have:  She contacted the company through their website, and no one got back to her.

While I am pretty sure I don’t want to open a shop, I have been reading as much about Amparin Serrano as the Internet will allow. I finally got to visit a store in Zapopan, a tony suburb of Guadalajara.  I bought a variety of items, including bumper stickers, pulseras (bracelets made of custom loomed ribbon), scapulars (without any medals inside), bookmarks, folders, wrapping paper, a notebook, and an agenda.  I considered myself pretty restrained – I got out with spending under $100 USD.

Now, I spoke to the manager of the store, who happened to be a man.  I asked him for ideas on how to contact the company for franchise information.  When he suggested that I go to the website, I explained that I (and many others) never got a response to our inquiries.  He said that he would look up the main store (the first store opened in Mexico City), but I would have to call him back for the number, as he couldn’t contact them on a Saturday.  I did try to call back once, but he was not available.  Still, I have the number should I need it.  Anyone else interested might try going to the Distroller website and finding the number of a store to call for information.

I don’t know why they are not answering – I have no inside scoop on the Distroller company.  Maybe they are just overwhelmed with interest and are trying to keep quality control tight.  I didi read that they were planning on designing a line for WalMart, and that it was possible that they would be opening the first U.S. store in Los Angeles.

I have come across many other variations on the pulsera trend.  Many have nothing to do with Distroller and its mock/serious religious symbolism.  Many are made to represent soccer (football) teams.  Others are made to promote political candidates and humanitarian causes.  I came across some at San Miguelito, a restaurant in Morelia, that were souvenirs of the place and of the Rincon de las Solteronas (the Spinster’s corner).

In the flea markets of Guanajuato, I came across scads of Distroller copies.  Some had no trademarked brand name.  Others were made by a company called Blessed Bands.  I have looked up Blessed Bands, and have still not found an actual website for a company.  There is, however, someone from Jalisco selling them on the Mexican version of E-Bay at 15 pesos each (minimum order of 100).

There is another company called Chic-Wave.com that actually has a website.  I bought a couple of their pulseras in Guanajuato.  They are good quality, and yes, they can be ordered through their website.  The minimum order was about $250 USD for 1000 bracelets, but they were not very clear on whether they could be a variety or if they had to be the same.

Finally, I got in touch with the maker of Coolceras – a man who is also from Jalisco.  I bought a small amount from him and have them currently on E-Bay.  If they sell, I may buy more!  Check them out!

Now I’m back!

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It’s good to be home again. I have mainly been sleeping, although yesterday my husband and I went to pick up our dog, Lupita, and then waited around on the other side of town for Mom’s dog to be ready. While we were there, I went to Wendy’s and ordered take out (Wheat is not eating right now – more about that later.). Then we went over to the polo fields out by where we used to live. Then I went to Bruster’s for ice cream.

Lupita seems none the worse for being separated from us for 5 weeks. In fact, I was kind of disappointed that she did not erupt in yelps and fling herself at us. It’s sort of like worrying about your child’s first day of school, only to find that they didn’t really want to come back home afterward!

We had just gotten home, and I had settled down on the fold out sofa down in my office (with the dog), when my Dad showed up. I was expecting him to come back on his return trip from Virginia, but I did not expect him so soon. In his defense, he did call my cell phone and our home phone and leave messages, but Wheat and I are so used to being without phone that we didn’t bring one cellphone with us when we went out. It was all I could do to make myself get up and be social.

I love my family, but there are times when I have to just be alone and vege out. It is part of the gift and curse of being tri-lingual (even bi-lingual). I am usually the person put in charge of communicating with the outside world in a Spanish or French-speaking country, so the past couple of days of travel have been very busy for me. I really want nothing more than to stay alone in my house and be silent.

I am also fortunate to have made two more sales from my Etsy site – so I need to make those crosses. I plan on hitting E-Bay pretty hard, too – selling some things that I bought in Mexico, as well as my own art. I have two more weeks until school starts!

Heading Home

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As I am writing this, Mom, Wheat and I are on an Estrella Roja direct bus from Puebla to Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City. The “Davinci Code” is playing on the drop-down TV screen right beside me, but I am not in the mood. I am really tired, but I can’t seem to get comfortable, even though the bus is only about 1/7th full and there’s plenty of room to stretch out. I am going to try and catch up on the past past couple of days, starting with Saturday, the travel day from hell.

On Saturday, Wheat and I were leaving Morelia and going to Mexico City to meet Mom at the airport. We packed – well, I packed – the night before and had our landlady call a cab to be there for 7:30 AM. We were traveling a little bit heavier now, because I bought an extra duffel bag to carry my purchases home. Wheat was great about helping to carry that, and we also just went ahead and tipped a guy with a cart at the bus station to lug it for us to the ticket desk and out to the platform. We got there in time for the 8:15 bus, scheduled to get into D.F. at 12:30.

The ride was uneventful – we rode ETN, which has the biggest and fewest seats, so I was able to doze a little during the first movie. I think it was called “Fly Home” and was about a girl who nursed a flock of orphaned geese. I may rent it later. We arrived at the Poniente bus terminal in good time, and went out to take a taxi to the airport. Mom’s flight was coming in at 2:09, and plan A was to try to find out what gate she was exiting from and meet her. Then we would all take an Estrella Roja bus to Puebla.

Well, I checked on the flight and the only flight from Atlanta was a Delta flight. Mom’s reservations said she was coming in on AeroMexico. Since both flights were Delta partners, we assumed that the Delta flight was hers. In that respect, we were right. I located on the arrival screen what gate out of customs she would be coming out of. Gate E3, the monitor said. So, I left Wheat with the bags, and set myself up at the gate, jostling for a good view with the scores of other people waiting for arrivals.

I looked for too long, because people kept coming out, and I was transfixed – I was so sure that that was the right gate. But, I finally saw a lot of people asking the gate guys questions, and went to ask them what was up. They said that the monitor was wrong, and that the flight was exiting from E2 – way out of sight from where I was waiting. I returned to Wheat, who was wondering where I was. Since plan B was for my mother to meet us at the Estrella Roja counter across the street in ground transportation, we headed there. Yes, she was there, and had only been waiting about 20 minutes.

We were able to get on the 4:30 bus, but I had to pay 30 pesos for having one bag too many. Was this a sign of things to come? We were happy to be on the bus. The only sour note was that we were supposed to call our friends from the bus station in Mexico City so that they could be there to meet us at the bus at 6:30. Wheat had this phone card he had purchased for just such an occasion. But, after a couple of unsuccessful tries, and an angry conversation with a customer service agent, we just had to get on the bus. We could just try and call from Puebla and wait.

Then, the traffic jam happened.

We were headed slowly out of town when our bus came to a complete stop. What we thought would just be a small delay turned into a two hour crawl that covered no more than 10 miles. We watched while cars stalled and pulled to the side of the road. Road sales people got rich off of the slow moving traffic to hawk everything from pistachios to Shrek headbands. People hung out of the windows of second and third class busses, reaching for drinks, fruit, and chips. Of course, since we were in an air conditioned elite bus, there was no window opening for us. There were only movies, the on-board toilets, and our snack pack, with consisted of a package of cookies and a drink of our choice. As I witnessed a woman running with her little girl to the side of the road, then holding her while she squatted and relieved herself, I guess I should have felt lucky!

We didn’t arrive in Puebla until 8:30 – and by then we were all fighting to get off the bus! Wheat, by some miracle and a sequence of numbers he did not think he could re-create, was finally able to use the phone card to get through to the Maurers (our hosts). A decision was made for us to take a cab, since it would take too long for someone to drive out, collect us, and return to Atlixco.

There was one problem – we were really hungry, and we didn’t know exactly what kind of food would be waiting for us. Mexicans generally eat a very light dinner. We decided to go and get a bite to eat before going to Atlixco. I went to ask whether or not the station had a Guarda Equipaje, which is a place to leave your things while you were away from the station. We found out that there was only a bank of large lockers outside of the building. You had to go and pay 30 pesos for a token. Then you put the token in a slot on the locker. This released a key that you kept until you returned.

Alas, there was one tiny drawback. If you put a coin in a locker that didn’t work, you could not get your money back. Since we were going to need at least four lockers, this made things difficult. We finally had to enlist the lady who sold us the tokens to help us find a four functioning lockers. She also was the snack counter lady, so she had to leave us periodically to make sure that she didn’t lose any customers. After finding one locker that worked, we spent a frustrating 20 minutes trying to find another. One coin got lodged in the slot. Finally we made a group decision to hire a taxi and pay him to wait outside a restaurant with our luggage in his trunk while we ate. Then, he would drive us to Atlixco, which is about 20 minutes from Puebla.

I immediately told our driver, after we had negotiated a price, that I needed three things in a restaurant. It needed to be fast, close by, and accept credit cards. He suggested a couple of restaurants, and we decided on one called Los Sapos. We piled into the cab, and breathed a sigh of relief. Then, it took 20 minutes to get to this nearby place. All the while, we passed KFC’s and other fast food restaurants. But, we had a plan, and I did not think we should waver from it, so I stayed silent and did not tell the driver to stop at Burger King.

When we finally arrived at Los Sapos (the toads), there was a band with live music playing outside, for which we were charged a 25 peso “cover” each. We moved inside, even, and the charge held. I ordered a hamburger, Wheat ordered chicken fajitas, and Mom ordered Caldo Tlalpeno, a soup. My hamburger was laced with jalapenos, Wheat’s “fajitas” were basically chicken fingers, and I am sure Mom was being nice about the soup. After our meal, it took another 20 minutes to leave town and head toward Atlixco.

Then, we had a flat tire.

Luckily, our driver was a pro at changing tires, and got it done quickly while we waited at the Pemex station. After wandering around Atlixco for a while, trying to find our friends’ house (San Mateo is famous in some circles, but most taxi drivers don’t read “Casas y Gente”). When we got there, it was about two hours from when we had called Pablo and Lisette to tell them we were coming. They had waited up and had dinner waiting for us. Por supuesto (of course!).

Hold on, I´m coming…

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Sorry I haven´t updated lately, but we have been so busy and our current location does not have internet access.  I am writing this from an internet cafe in Atlixco, Puebla.  Tomorrow, we are leaving for Puebla, where we will walk around for a little while before taking our bus to Mexico City.  We decided to spend the night in a hotel there because we don´t want to count on the bus system to get us there on time for our flight on Thursday.

I will try to catch up when I get back.  If I have time, I will write some on the plane and during our connection in Houston.  I will be very happy to return home to my (air-conditioned) home in Atlanta.  I will also be soooo glad to see my doggie, Lupita!  I hope she hasn´t forgotten us!!!

I can’t stand the rain…

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Okay, I am aware that the southeast of the U.S. may still be in the drought it was in when we left, but here in Morelia, it’s the rainy season.  It didn’t rain that much the first few days we were here, but now we can expect at least one shower of varying length and severity every day.  Sometimes, we are out in the element when it happens.  Other times, like yesterday, the shower happens when we are eating lunch or are inside.  Sometimes, we return home to large puddles sitting in our kitchen.  I thought that it was because we had not closed the windows, but that is not so!

This afternoon, while coloring my hair (I know, it’s about time!) and blogging, the skies opened up!  The windows are sheltered by overhangs, but the front doors/windows are not.  I heard one of the doors slam open and ran to close it.  I took our only two towels and tried to mop up the water, then I put them against the bottom of the windows to staunch the flow coming underneath.  Well, our towels are soaked (I am sure Wheat will be happy to hear that – maybe his will dry by tomorrow morning.)  Oh, I made sure I had finished coloring and hand drying my hair before I used my towel.  Of course.  Then, I went and got a broom and attempted to sweep the accumulated water down the hole where the iron spiral staircase descended.  That was very little help.  Oh, well, we’ll just have to go out for dinner!

Today, I made it my mission to find the perfect extra suitcase to buy to bring home my treasures.  As I mentioned before, the biggest problem I was going to have was getting the large cow head mask with real horns home.  It did not fit in my large suitcase, and probably would have gored it anyway in transport.  I told Rosy, my grammar teacher that I had the perfect container visualized.  It would be a duffel bag with square ends that would equal the height and depth of the horns on the mask.

We went to eat lunch at El Piccolo Italiano, a really good and economical restaurant recommended by our school.  There, we had panini, which were not cooked in an iron, but were made like European sandwiches.  A really good Italian/French bread was used, and there were thin slices of meat and cheese inside.  Unlike French sandwiches, mayonnaise was used, as well as lettuce.  We each got a 11 or 12 inch sandwich, sliced in two.  Awesome, huh?

Rosy had suggested that we try to look downtown for a suitcase instead of going to WalMart. Morelia has a Woolworth’s, which I don’t thing exist any more in the U.S.  We went in and refused to be tempted by offers of THREE suitcases of different sizes for 890 pesos and 790 pesos – and even the set of FIVE suitcases for 449 pesos.  Finally, I spied my suitcase – a large duffel bag with enough space for the mask, and lots of pockets – two on each end and two double pockets on the front.  It was 179 pesos – about $17.  I didn’t seriously check out shipping the mask by DHL or FedEx because I knew that it would be outrageous.

Now, the bag is home, and everything will fit – until I get to Puebla and buy more stuff!  I also need to make sure my tin items are protected.  Yes, it is a possibility that the horns may go through, but I am going to try and prevent that as much as possible.

I also bought some chocolates for my teachers as a going away present.  Last time I was here – seven years ago – all of the classes were one on one and it was customary to give your teachers a little present upon leaving.  Now, a lot of the classes are group, and I don’t think that applies.  Especially since I have witnessed my husband’s revolving door of teachers and fellow students at the beginning of each week.  But, since I had private classes and kept the same teachers every week – and I really like my teachers – I want to leave them something to say thank you.  I should have brought some Pour Deux Bakers or some of my art, but I ran out of time before I decided to do that.

By the way, the reason that we had no hot water was that the last storm blew the pilot light out on the water heater.  Mexican homes have these big tanks on their roofs to hold water and propane.  The containers are refilled regularly, but it is still a strange system for Americans.  On the other hand, I guess that you could live out in the country and be fairly self contained, as long as the propane and water trucks came by!  I guess that rain fills the tanks, too – thus explaining the need for disinfectant for the water that is used.  All I will remember is that when the propane truck passes, it plays the same annoying song and announcement, and the two Cocker Spaniels next door commence to howling.

Okay, the rain has stopped, and the power – which had gone out briefly – has returned.  Time to scrounge something to eat and see what’s on TV!

Art and Culture in the Big City

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So, Saturday afternoon, Wheat and I took a taxi to Tlaquepaque, which is the arts and crafts mecca of Guadalajara.  The first thing we did upon arriving was to look for a place to eat.  There was a very helpful young lady at the Visitor Information kiosk, and she gave us a map and a bunch of pamphlets to guide us.  We decided upon one of the many restaurants surrounding this patio with a gazebo.  There must have been twenty restaurants surrounding the square, and you could only tell them apart by their tablecloth colors.

We chose one at random that was called “something” Monterrey. I was a little disappointed that the “birria” was not goat.  I think that it is a method of barbecuing, and it usually involves goat, but this one had only beef. I ordered fish, Veracruz-style, and Wheat ordered some sort of beef.  While we waited a mariachi group played for different tables, two photographers brandishing big sombreros urged diners to put on the hats for a picture, and the usual vendors of crafts and potato chips (at a restaurant?) circulated.  I did stop a vendor who was selling Loteria tickets, but I will never know if I won!

Our food came, and it was unremarkable.  I found that I could tolerate Diet Pepsi if it was on ice and had lime in it, and I used the tortillas to eat my fish.  While we were eating, the “floor show” started on the gazebo.  A different group of mariachis took the stage – forcing the wandering mariachis to search for a new place to play.  The new mariachis featured two different female singers, both dressed in charro costumes.  I remarked to Wheat that most women who sing with mariachis seem to be altos – I guess it blends better.

After we ate, it was still afternoon, so we circulated among the galleries and artesania shops.  I didn’t buy anything then, but ear-marked several places to return to.  There were a lot of sidewalk vendors, mostly Huichol Indians selling a variety of beaded jewelry and masks.  There were also beggars, and singer busking for money.

We stopped by the station of one man who was in the process of making a yarn painting.  Since we had the video camcorder with us, I asked if it would be okay to shoot some video.  He was very nice, and agreed to let us record our conversation with him.  His name was Rosendo Lopez Garcia, and his son was working with him – making change and filling in the backgrounds of the yarn paintings.  We bought two of his paintings – one large one, and another small one.  He explained that the paintings came from his dreams.  Each had a piece of lined paper folded and glued to the back of board or canvas explaining in great detail what each painting represented. These descriptions were hand written very neatly and signed by Rosendo.  I got him to explain his process on camera, as well as to explain some of the Huichol symbolism in his work.

No, I did not ask if he had tried peyote. But I did get his cell phone number, if anyone is interested (in buying his work, not trying peyote!).

We went back to the hotel in time to go to the Teatro Diana to see the Ballet Folklorico Infantil sponsored by the University of Guadalajara.  It was the one place we went to that was within walking distance.  We were not so sure this was a good thing when we espied a couple of rough looking characters across the street.  One was shirtless and when his friend walked off in the other direction, he stepped into the street – as if to cross.  Instead, he carefully shook out a load of broken glass that had been wrapped in his shirt.  Then, right in front of two lanes of traffic, he laid chest-down on the glass.  We crossed hurriedly, and did not wait around to see the results.  I did wonder if it really hurt that much if you did not actually fall on the glass.  See how cynical I am?

When we got to the ticket window, we were told that they only accepted American Express.  Ironically the event was sponsored by VISA…  We made a quick trip down the road to an ATM and still had time to buy tickets and be seated before the event began.  Just like any dance recital, the littlest children led off.  And, just like any dance program, the majority of the dancers were girls.  They were precious, of course, in their white dresses with embroidered flowers and their hair up with ribbons and braids.  The boys wored white also, with red and yellow bandannas tucked in the waists of their pants.  This became a liability as some of the boys legs were shorter than their bandannas!

The first half of the program spotlighted folk dances of the Yucatan and Veracruz.  The little children were replaced by older children, and then by young girls and a couple of boys.  Several boys in their jaunty white fedora hats came out and recited poems that were introductions to the various numbers.  The only adults on stage were the men in the back playing live music to accompany the dancing.  There were several dances with props, including a fake pigs head for the “cabeza de cochino” dance and a boy under a bull costume for the “el torito” dance.

During the intermission, we stayed where we were.  The second half of the show focussed on regional dances of Jalisco.  The costumes were very beautiful and colorful, and the girls were really working those skirts!  They had quite a handful, having to hold the skirt and their rebozos while they danced.  They were accomanpanied by an all-female mariachi band that was really great.  Occasionally adults came out in costume and sang in the background. There was a “bottle dance” where the dancers danced around a bottle of tequila, and a machete dance, where boys wielded two (fake?) machetes.  They did the “jarabe tapatio” as the big finish.

When it came time for the curtain call, I was surprised at how many children had participated.  I had just assumed that there were costume changes involved.  Maybe there were, but at least 150 dancers filed on stage.  It was a great time, and the audience, the majority of which must have been related to the dancers, were very enthusiastic.  I wish that there were more groups like this in our city, but they tend to come with a second generation of Mexican-Americans.  Also, by the time kids get to middle school, their most fervent desire is NOT to stand out from the other students.  Costumes and pageants featuring national costumes are usually the territory of elementary school, unfortunately.

We returned to our hotel without any harassment, stopping by an OXXO convenience store to buy a snack before bedtime.  I bought a Diet Coke in a glass bottle and bag of Sabritos (Lays Potato Chips) with lime flavoring, Wheat bought a package of peanuts and was able to snag a non-alcoholic Cerveza Sol (just when we were wondering when Mexico would get on the non-alcoholic beer bandwagon!), and I chose two packaged flans for dessert.  The Lime-flavored potato chips tasted like, well, lime candy and potato chips, which is not an attractive combination.  I then cranked up the A/C and we went to sleep.