Category Archives: apartment

Aqui estamos!

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The airport in the daytime.

This evening, we arrived at the Xocotlan Airport in Oaxaca.  There were quite a few of my colleagues on our flight, and we were met at the airport by Dr. Stephanie Wood and Yasmin Acosta-Myers.  We all climbed aboard a couple of collectivo taxis and made our way into town.  The airport is about a 20 minute drive from our part of town.  I can’t wait to see everything in the daylight.

Last time I was in Oaxaca, it was 2003 and I came with my father and my husband.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, and mostly stuck to the center of town – with one trip to Monte Alban.  I look forward to living here for a month as a resident!  Our apartment is very close to where most of my classes will be, and that is why I chose it. There are, I think, two other NEH fellows staying here, too.

It’s a nice apartment, but there are a few things we found out this evening when we got here:

  • There is no microwave – that’s okay, but it’s strange to see when most hotels these days (I know, in the U.S.) have them.  The stove is gas.
  • The first big bottle of water is free.  After that, we pay by the bottle.
  • Same thing for the toilet paper.
  • If a third person uses the futon in the living room for sleeping, it costs $10 per night outside of the $695 we have already paid.  (I actually found out about that before we came)
  • There are no screens on the window, and you should close them when you are gone to avoid “visits by the cat”.

Here is the floor plan – we have one of the one story apartments in the little complex of 6 apartments.  Isn’t it cute?  And that little closet looking thing between the bedroom and the kitchen?  It’s just a “hole” in the building where they put the water tank, I think.  I had thought it would be a pantry.

Tomorrow, my husband wants to go right out and find a way to get cell phone service here.  A lot of other people have done it, so it is possible and supposed to be not too expensive.  We also are going to the market to stock up on food and supplies like toilet paper and Diet Cokes.

Our opening reception is on Sunday evening, and apparently Dr. Wood (call her Stephanie) and Yasmin are doing a lot of cooking for it!  Can’t wait!  On Monday evening, my nephew from Louisiana is coming to stay with us for a week.  He’s been taking Spanish and has only been to Cozumel, so I really am happy to be able to welcome him here in Oaxaca!

My dog is the one on the right. But they will both miss me!

Oh, our dog is being cared for by my in-laws in Atlanta, who have a great back yard and two children who are excited about having a dog visit.  That is so great of them, and they were awesome to offer.  It really makes a difference, knowing that she’s in such good hands.

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By the way, we’re going to Spain!

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My husband got a technical writing job – he must go to Spain to document the software.  I am going with him!  We will be traveling to Barcelona, staying there one day, then taking the train to a town north of Barcelona called Palafrugell.  While my husband is documenting all day, I will be entertaining myself in a borrowed apartment in nearby Llafranch, on the coast.   We will spend one or two days in Barcelona before returning home.  Woo hoo!

I have visited Barcelona once.  It was 23 years ago.  I imagine it has changed a bit!  I went with one of my co-students when I was living in Angers and I really loved it.  My husband has never been – so, although he will be working most of the time, I hope that he gets to see stuff.

I have not blogged in a while – I have been very busy with school and with designing more Milagros for my CafePress shop!  I didn’t get to do the tin ornament Feliz Navidad t-shirt, but that’s okay.  Check out my shop – I have added two designs with La Adelita, and one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I also have put together two new calendars:  Milagros and Quilt Loteria No. 2.

Got to go to bed – I shopped until I dropped yesterday, then had no energy to wrap.  We went to my Mom’s this morning to give her the gifts for my sister’s family and my Dad.  She is going to visit today.  I somehow managed to wrap all 13 packages in 45 minutes – ouch!  I took a nap and then got up and made pizzas, quiches, and peach spice cakes.  Time to go to bed!

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!

Pain in the neck

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My neck hurts – It has all day. Maybe I slept on it wrong. Our double bed is outfitted with one big long pillow that we both sleep on. Not that I’m blaming the pillow…

This was one of those days when Wheat and I decided to get something done besides sleeping in the afternoon. There are a couple of museums in Morelia I haven’t visited. Today, I thought we might visit the Museo de Artes Regionales (Museum of Regional Arts) and see if there were any new crafts I could report on. First, we went downtown to Subway (yes, Subway – the little nook had a mini McDonalds, a sushi shop, a subway, and a coffee shop) and halved a BMT on garlic loaf.

Then, after consulting my map from the apartment (a former Baden-Powell student left it there), we set off to find the museum. We got to the block where it was located, according to the map. We went to a likely entrance – a double iron gate that looked on a courtyard garden. There was a lady cleaning the tiled floor of the courtyard, and she came to the gate. I asked if this was the Museum, and she said it wasn’t. But she urged us inside anyway.

Like I said, it was a beautiful courtyard, be we still needed to know where the museum was. The lady told us to go upstairs and into a room across the way. It was a chapel, and the other rooms seemed to be piano practice rooms. We decided to just thank her and leave. We asked at a couple of places, and even went around the whole building, and found nothing! It started to rain, so we sought refuge in the waiting room of a hospital. Then we made it to the Centro de la Cultura and stayed under cover there for a while.

We then headed home via the Casa de las Artesanias, where I bought an issue of Artes de Mexico on Huichol Art to study up on for our trip to Guadalajara. Then Wheat went to Baden Powell to wait for the Conversation Club to begin. I went home to take a Tylenol and lie down.

Oh, last night, we finally went to the REAL Lupita Restaurant. It was very nice – with a good menu. Very bright and clean, with an open kitchen so you could see the cooks (all women) work. I took advantage of the opportunity and ordered a plate of four fried tacos in all flavors: picadillo, beef, chicken, and sesos (cow brains). As if I were not a mad enough cow as it was! They felt and tasted a bit like cooked oysters – okay, but I don’t have to have them again!

Wheat ordered flautas, and then we decided to have dessert. I ordered chongos Zamoranos, a regional pudding made with curdled milk and sugar. I had already had them in paleta form, and really liked that, but the real thing was too much. It was like eating cheese that was floating in a pool of syrup. Put that stuff in a blender and put it over cake or something! Wheat had the bunuelos, which were fried flour tortillas soaked in honey or syrup. It was good, but also very sweet. I can’t wait to go back for the enchiladas.

Got to go get ready for our trip to Guadalajara tomorrow. We finally got tickets through the resources office at the language school and leave at 2:30PM. It will be fun, I know!

Just another day in Morelia

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I haven’t spoken too much about what we do during the week here in Morelia.  That’s because we don’t do a whole lot…  Wheat has classes that begin at 9AM, so he gets up and eats breakfast, then gets ready for class.  I have classes that begin at 10AM, so I often don’t get up until he’s gone.  Then, depending on how late I want to sleep, I have breakfast or I don’t.  I have a bowl of Raisin Bran if I eat breakfast at the apartment or I have a Diet Coke and a Polvorone (okay, it’s a cookie.) if I don’t.

I have explained to my teachers that I am not a morning person and this is why, when asked the question “How are you?” early in the morning, I will usually answer “tired”.  After I get out of classes – at 2PM, Wheat has already been out for an hour.  He can usually be found in the computer lab, and we usually go back to the apartment to eat lunch, which is often a sandwich, or leftovers.  Yesterday, I made Philly Cheese Steak sandwichs – the beef here is sliced really thin.

Then, quite often, we take a nap (siesta)!

Sounds pretty exciting, huh?  When we wake up, I will usually start preparing dinner.  We do have a small kitchen in our apartment, and I have whipped up simple foods, like spaghetti and (Classico) sauce (adding chopped bell pepper, onion, and poblano with whatever meat we have on hand.  Last night, I had leftover rice, so I just opened a can of black beans and we heated this up in the microwave.  I had meant to go to the market to get avocado and other nice chalupa-y things, but didn’t have time.  I have also bought shrimp, fish, and even carnitas in the market and made something with them.

We have done some things, though.  Last week, when we went to Walmart, we ate lunch at KFC! I know its cheating, but at least we didn’t have McDonalds (yet). Also last week, Wheat was invited to go to a little gathering at the offices of the Church of Christ missionaries(one of which was in his class), so I went with him.  We went in a taxi, through flooding rain, and arrived before the conversation club began.  It was pleasant enough, and we did meet some Mexicans!

Now, yesterday, we did NOT take a nap. Instead, we decided to try out a restaurant that was highly recommended by the school.  It is called Lupita, and is very near to our apartment.  We had gotten directions from our landlady and her husband, but when we got there on Sunday, it was closed.  So, we went back yesterday.  What we had thought was Lupita (cocina mexicana) was actually another Lupita (cocina economica), but we didn’t quite know that at the time.  I entered and asked what was being served, and understood half of what the old woman at the stove told me.

We went ahead and sat down, because it would have been rude to just turn around and leave.  Just like the cocina economica where we ate last week, there is a fixed menu.  We were served the “agua del dia” – which was flavored with jamaica (hibiscus blossoms) – and a sopa de pasta.  Which is – you guessed it – soup with pasta.  It had a lot of pasta shaped like little flowers in it, and not much else.  When we finished that, we had a choice of beef stew (Wheat chose that) or mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese and ham (I had that).  We were also served a side basket of tortillas, but we really didn’t have anything to wrap in tortillas – and I was on the high carb lunch plan as it was!  For dessert, we were served cups of red Jello.

We were very disappointed, to say the least.  At least two or three people had talked about how good the food was at Lupita.  Also, I was hesitant to ask whether this was the Lupita they were talking about.  What if it WAS?  But, of course to answer the daily question (to practice our past tenses): “What did you do yesterday?” I had to ‘fess up.  I found to my relief that is was not the Lupita they were talking about.  Next time we will not just assume that there is one place in a neighborhood named Lupita!  We are going to try to go to the actual restaurant tonight.

After our lunch, determined to see more of Morelia, we set off in search of the big park, called El Bosque (de Chapultepec?).  When we got there, we found a lot of renovation going on!  Part of the park was off limits as workers repaved and repaired.  There was a new playground and also a new Fitness Trail.  That was pretty impressive.  I also forgot that the Aqueduct is found parallel to the eastern end of the park.  We crossed the two lane street straddling the Aqueduct, and found ourselves at the Plaza Morelos.  Morelos was the man that Morelia was renamed after.

Wheat took a lot of pictures of Morelos and the rest of the monument, and then we finally found the Sanctuario de la Virgin de Guadalupe.  The outside is fairly unpretentious, but the inside is decorated in high Baroque style.  There was gilt everywhere.  It may have been too much for some people’s taste, but I loved it.  Somehow, two pigeons had gotten inside, and I wondered how they were going to get out!

After all of this exertion in the hot sun, I insisted that we stop at the cafe of the Hotel Plaza Morelos and have something cool.  I ended up getting a bowl with one scoop of mango ice cream and one of lime (more like sherbet) and Wheat got an Italian soda with peach syrup.  Then we completed our big square tour by going down Madero, which is the main street of El Centro Historico.  We got rained on a little bit, but made it home without getting drenched. Wheat went to the Club de Conversation at the language school and that is when the rain really started coming down!  I took a short nap (I know, I lied!)

Weekend in Patzcuaro

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Yesterday was very full of activity as Wheat and I attended classes, went to the bank and prepared for our bus trip to Patzcuaro. We decided to eat at a cocina economica recommended by one of my Spanish teachers. It was only $2.25 per person for two courses and a drink – flan was 40 cents extra. The food was unremarkable – I had a soup made from what we translated as swiss chard and pork in a green sauce with beans and rice. But, hey, what do you want for $3 (including tip)?

While we were there, we heard a blood curdling scream and lots of loud weeping. Several people ran out of the restaurant to see what the problem was. One of the people pulled a chair from our table and set it in the entryway. A young girl was brought to the chair. She was still crying – apparently, she hurt her foot. Someone produced some alcohol, so maybe it was a cut. Finally, someone either collected her or escorted her home.

The proprietor of the place was an older gentleman who manned the pots and pans and yelled things out to passers by. For example, he yelled out at the Coca Cola truck that he didn´t need any Cokes. Then, a beggar came in and started asking for money. The owner very firmly, but politely, intercepted the guy and told him to leave.

I haven´t spoken that much about begging – it exists, as it always has in Mexico. Mostly it is old women or grieviously handicapped people sitting on the sidewalks soliciting funds from passersby. When you are in a restaurant, eating at one of the outside tables (and sometimes at the inside tables), a whole host of people come in. Most are trying to sell candy, baskets, tablecloths, and roses. Some bold little boys just come by and demand money, staring you down. I am used to being cajoled by cute young Mexican boys, so I am unfazable, usually. I had to laugh last night at a young boy who came cartwheeling along behind us. He almost hit us, so I laughed and said to watch out. He got to his feet and said, “Dame un moneda!” (Give me some money!) Of course, I said no, but while I was standing out on my balcony, he came cartwheeling under my window. He didn´t see me, but if I had had money handy, I would have tossed him some.

The last times I have visited Patzcuaro, I have read signs in the hotels counseling against giving money to children beggars. The literature explained that the money usually doesn´t go to them, anyway. They often have adults pimping them and demanding the money from them, or they are being bullied by older boys or members of their gangs for the money they accumulate. It´s still hard to see.

Yesterday, on our way from the second trip to the bank, it started to rain. By the time we got home, the clothes I had planned to travel in and my hair was soaked. Of course this would happen when we didn´t have our umbrella with us. As we approached the door to our apartment, I was as angry as a wet cat. I prayed that our landlady would not be waiting for us at the bottom of the staircase, as she often is. I did not feel like making conversation, and I could just picture our interchange. I would probably make some grammatical mistakes, she would feel obligated to correct me, and then, I would have to kill her. Luckily, none of that happened.

After circuitous taxi ride and an extended bus ride and another taxi ride, we arrived at our hotel at about 6:30 pm, just in time for cocktail hour. We did a little browsing, and I was very impressed at the wares in some of the shops. Of course there is the usual share of mundane folk crafts, but some of those shopkeepers are on the ball. Retablos are big, tin hearts and milagros are plentiful, and some shops have gotten their hands on some Alexander Henry fabrics to make purses and other things from. One or two stores stocked things from Gusano de Luz, a company I saw selling in Paris. I even found a shopkeeper who has taken to painting ex-votos.

Speaking of which – why am I sitting here, typing? I must go shop!

By the way, I was too full for a paleta of the day yesterday. We did go check out a La Michoacana that looked very promising, only there was no menu on the wall of flavors. When I asked the lone salesgirl, she shrugged and said there was none. So, next time we go, we are bringing the video camera and are going to ask her to recite a list of flavors.

I was just reading about the ice creams of Patzcuaro, and apparently they are very good. A town favorite is a flavor called “pasta“. I´ll have to check that out!

Paleta Man

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This was written yesterday evening!

I am not sleeping well – have I mentioned that? Last night was difficult, even with the fan. I got up and went into the living room, where two windows stand wide open. This is a safe neighborhood, but I wouldn’t care anyway. It is too muggy in my room and in the other bedroom. So I slept on the couch for a while. Maybe I will bring the fan in with me tonight. I know, I am such a gringo. But I get cranky when I can’t sleep.

This morning, I have to say, was so much quieter than yesterday morning. I slept in a little bit, then took a shower and got the trash together. I am supposed to put it out on the front step and there are guys that take it away. I also was told to put money out – like one or two pesos – for the trash guy, but I couldn’t figure out where to put it. Surely someone else would just take it? When I returned home after classes, my landlady explained that I was supposed to listen for the guy ringing the bell. Then I was supposed to gather the trash and take it down and wait for the picker-uppers to come. She said I could put the money underneath the trash. Interesting.

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a whole parade of service people who pass by your house in the morning. Unfortunately, we are in classes when the tortilla lady passes – that explains why I have had so few tortillas. I have had a lot of bread – I bought chicken, ham and cheese for sandwiches. I have had my lettuce two days in a row with no ill effect.
At six this evening, we went to the lavanderia to pick up our laundry, which was washed, dried, and folded for about $6.00. I had forgotten to bring the receipt with me, because I had already stashed it with my expenses. That was no problem, however. After one mistaken bundle, we received our own clothes. My husband wondered aloud if we should have had her re-weigh it to make sure we got 6 kilos of clothing back. I explained to him how rude that would be…

Tonight, I cooked the shrimp I got the other day at the mercado – I wonder if I could make gumbo one day and invite some of our teachers over for dinner along with our landlady and her husband. My father made gumbo from ingredients he gleaned from a mercado in Atlixco four years ago – with crabs in it, no less. I also was surprised to see pecans in the market. I guess I shouldn’t have been – Mexico is, after all, on the same continent as Georgia. I think I was channeling France then – there were no pecans to be found there. I thought about making a pecan pie, but I don’t make crusts. Maybe the WalMart has crusts. Also, I wonder if it would be difficult to find corn syrup.

After dinner, I scanned the TV channels and came across The Gilmore Girls (subtitled), CSI: New York (subtitled), The Simpsons (dubbed), Trading Spaces (dubbed), and that Ghost Whisperer show (subtitled, I think). Pretty cool. There is also a subtitled E! Channel so that we can keep up with Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. I like their Gourmet Channel – I got to see a cook make Eggs and Soldiers with an ostrich egg and fiddle head ferns. I know that will come in handy one day.

Of course, we went to get a paleta. I tried to find a different paleteria – just for variety, but we ended up at the one around the corner from the school called La Authentica Michoacana. Not to be confused with all of the other ice cream places with La Michoacana in the name. I ordered a water-based paleta this time – zarzamora (blackberry) – and Wheat chose a mango/chile paleta. My paleta was very good – with seeds and all. I knew I would not like the mango with chile – I tasted it and it was like eating frozen Tabasco sauce. I thought wistfully of the fresh mango I had for lunch – I know that eating sweets with chile is a Mexican thing, but why would anyone want to mess with a mango – the world’s greatest fruit? After eating part of it, Wheat put it in the freezer. I have no idea why.

A little extra note on the whole San Antonio thing. I was reading one of the PDFs I found of an article first published in National Geographic magazine. In it, the writer speaks of a restaurant called San Miguelito. I plan on visiting it as soon as we get back. Here is a preview discription of the restaurant’s “special room”:

I wander beyond a bar designed to look like a bullring and through two casual elegant dining rooms into a small space where nearly 250 images of Saint Anthony — made out of everything from corn husks to silver, and ranging from about ½ inch to 2½ feet high — hang upside down. San Miguelito owner Cynthia Martinez explains, “Saint Anthony is the patron saint of single women. If you pray to him, he’ll bring you a husband.” She laughs, “My father started collecting these saints for me, before I got married.” Why is he upside down, I wonder? To pressure him to act quickly, of course.

We’ll get a picture of it if we can!

Fiesta de San Antonio

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Today started just as I described yesterday: first the church bells, then the trash bells, and I left out the LOUD herald of the gas refill truck. But then, suddenly, I heard an explosion! Then another – and another – and another… They seemed to be coming in groups of four or five. I tried to guess what it could be – it sounded like a cannon, or a backfiring vehicle. As I laid in bed, I wondered if perhaps there was some construction going on… After a while, it stopped.

Wheat went on to school earlier than I did, while I went to the mercado Independencia for a grocery refill. I bought tilapia, shrimp, and ham. I also bought honey, nopalitos (already chopped), avocados, eggs, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Feeling adventurous, I decided to buy some Romaine lettuce and some cilantro. I planned on washing these VERY thoroughly soaking them in Microdyne.

FYI: Microdyne, the most commonly used biocide, in the blue bottles, is actually silver! Both silver and copper have been used for centuries in water purification, where coins were thrown into drinking wells. Silver ions bond to the proteins in the cells of microorganisms, making them inactive. Though this method is quite effective, it needs long exposure time—yes, they do mean wait 15 minutes—and may not kill all organisms on vegetables, especially when you use it with tap water. Silver imparts little taste in water, and as far we know has minimal effects within the body. (from Centro Ecologico Akumal website).

So you CAN eat the veggies! I had my first lettuce in a lovely ham and Chihuahua cheese sandwich along with tomato slices. We’ll see how it all comes out… if you know what I mean.

After lunch and classes, I took a little nap. I was pretty groggy when I got up, but we walked to the school – lured by the internet. I did a little research on the Ex-Convento San Francisco, which is a museum of arts and crafts and found out it would be open until 8PM, so my husband and I went there. While on our way, MORE cannon fire erupted. This time, it was a lot louder and closer and was setting off car alarms right and left.

I found out from Tere, the woman who runs the Baden Powell Cafe, that the explosions (still don’t know of what?) were in honor of San Antonio de Padua. I sighed with relief and asked hopefully: “So they will stop after today?” She said, no, that they would go on tomorrow, too! Thanks, Saint Anthony – first you don’t help me find my passport, and now you are making me jumpy!

I found this other tidbit about Saint Anthony while researching this phenomenon:

In Portugal, Brazil, and some parts of Latin America he is recognized as the marriage saint. In some places, on his feast day (June 13) single women may buy a small statue of Saint Anthony and place (or bury) it upside down for a week, blackmailing him to only put him upright after he helps them find a good husband.

Are you listening? You know who I’m talking to… 😉

There was also a big demonstration in front of the Palacio Governial. We witnessed a long and quiet one last weekend, but this one was loud – with chanting. We exited around it and made our way to the museum.

San Francisco has exhibits of local crafts from different towns in Michoacan. On the second floor, there are small rooms set aside for artisans to sell their regional wares. There is a room for Paracho (Guitars and other thing), Tucuaro (masks), Santa Clara (copper work), etc. We peeked in and I tried to get one guy to make me a devil mask, but painted blue (Marietta Blue Devils!). He did not seem open to custom orders.

I will return to the museum later. I am particularly interested in the embroidery work of San Felipe de los Herreros. They create embroidery pieces telling stories. I will find some samples later.

Got to go – the internet is about to be cut off! The paleta del dia is chongos (a frozen form of chongos zamoranos.

Estamos en Morelia

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Well, we got here yesterday without a hitch – oh, once I retrieved my $660 passport.  It also turns out that the young lady at the airport office was a former student!  I taught her 6th grade Exploratory French or Spanish.  She´s 20 – no, I don´t feel old… 

We made our connection in Houston, customs in Mexico City took no time at all, and our taxi got us to the Poniente bus station in time for the 2:00 bus to Morelia.  We arrived there at about 6:15, after taking a nap during an old TV movie about the O. J. Simpson trial and watching another movie called Shattered Glass (it was in English with Spanish subtitles – we are not officially in Spanish mode yet). 

When we got to the address of our apartment, I couldn´t get anyone to answer the doorbell, so I was afraid we would need to go to the Posada de la Soledad after all.  Turns out I wasn´t pushing the button in hard enough.  Wheat rang and the son of our new landlady finally answered and showed us to the apartment, which has a separate entrance.

The apartment is fine, with two bedrooms, a large kitchen/living room/dining room area, and a bathroom.  Originally, we wanted to bring our dog, but there is no way Lupita could have made it up the iron spiral staircase that leads to the apartment!  The steps are strips of metal with 1/2 inch to 3 inch spaces between them! Crazy!  There is also a little rooftop terrace, but we haven´t taken advantage of that yet.

Today, we woke up and met our landlady, Rocio (either her first or middle name is
Celeste).  She took us to the mercado, which is very near us.  We looked around a bit
with her, then separated.  We went to eat a big breakfast in the square – we had
dinner at another restaurant last night. We decided to go to WalMart to get a lot
of stuff, like cereal and tequila, and went back to the market afterward.  It was
about closed down, but we bought some fruit and vegetables. 

Sra. Rocio told us that there is a solution to put in the water you wash vegetables
in – it´s basically iodine.  We have a big bottle of water which is changed by someone
else.  It´s all pretty cool.  At the moment, Wheat and I are at an internet cafe
– wireless is free, but I felt we needed to buy something.  I am on an 8 peso/hour
computer while Wheat is on my computer.  We were told by the Baden Powell people
that there is no wireless internet available at our apartment, but there is a wireless
connection.  I asked if we could gain access to it, and Rocio said yes, but she
didn´t sound very enthusiastic.  My husband has this whole speech prepared (that he wants ME to deliver) about how trustworthy and computer savvy he is, but I don´t think we will have to go that far.  It sure would be handy, though.  We start classes tomorrow morning and will have internet access and wireless there, but it would be great to be able to write and blog from the apartment.

I will try and post tomorrow – time to walk back home and get ready for our first day of school.

About the new neighbors

Standard

Okay, I have been living in apartments for years, right? And I have really enjoyed living here. The next-door neighbors on our level (there are three floors, and we are on the top) are an older couple, and we love them! They have been here since we moved in, and are very cool.

We have had a series of families living in the other apartments here, and have had few problems with them. There was the young black man on the bottom floor, two levels below us, who has a bass level problem, but that bothered my husband and the middle neighbors more than me, because I am deaf to low level noise.

Okay, back to the point. A little over a month ago, while I was in the middle of printing out/reassembling/grading my students project (the day before grades were due…), this black woman was moving in with her two daughters. As I was coming in from running errands, I thought I would be polite and neighborly and introduce myself. After the intros, she said, “I’ll be up after we’re finished down here.” Okay…

Sure enough, as I was waiting for the pizza man, they came a knockin’. My first thought was, “Oh God, they’re Jehovahs Witnesses…” But they were also, I suppose, being neighborly. I just had to tell them that I had a lot of work to do. The girls ooh-ed and ah-ed over the dog. She really wanted to know if I knew where the bus stop was. Well, she’s out of luck there.

The next morning, as I was getting ready to go, I ran into her coming out to walk to the Cumberland Mall bus stop- not quite a mile away. I went back upstairs to get the printer, she was coming out again. I wonder if she was hoping that I would give her a ride to the bus stop, but I really didn’t want to get started doing that. I assume that, by now, she has found the nearest bus stop.

Since then, I have run into the girls after school every once in a while, but have not seen her much. But their presence is still felt in two ways:

The yelling and screaming

The lack of hot water

Yep, the worst of the yelling and screaming (fights, I assume, between her and her teenage daughters) was at 2AM (in the morning, in case you didn’t get that…) and it was so loud that It woke us up.

Since then, we have heard them occasionally. I am writing about it now because there was a lovely Sunday morning altercation yesterday. Now, I am sympathetic to a single woman who has two teenage daughters, but what to do? Will complaining even help? How do you not yell at your kids? I yelled at one of my students the other day, and he’s not even my son!

Did I mention that there are 3 women living down there? That must account for the first ever shortage of hot water. The water coming out of faucets has been notoriously steaming hot, so hot that we often wondered about posting warnings over our sinks so that guests would not scald themselves. Wheat complained to the office, and it is possible that they actually heeded our words, and turned the thermostat down.

I am assuming, because there is no hot water tank in our apartment, that we share our water source with our neighbors. But we have never has a problem with luke-warm water until now, and that was with the two apartments filled below. So, another call to the office.

Maybe all of this is a sign that our next abode needs to be a detached house, and not a condominium. After all, if you are living in a condominium, it can be like living in an apartment for life! My mother likes her condominium, but she is blessed with having good upstairs neighbors.