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Back in Texas

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

It was a better trip than my best dreams of what it could be. Ansie and Gallo and I had a great time exploring one little piece of Mexico and getting to know each other better, and while it is good to see my young adult daughter again, it’s hard to come back to the mundane world of laundry, grocery shopping, brushing the cat, opening the mail, etc. Driving home from the airport I was struck by how colorless all the buildings are–beige, gray, white. About the most colorful thing we have around here is red brick. Blah. But it’s a glorious spring day and the leaves are unfurling, so I can’t be too grouchy. I’ve posted my photos of Guanajuato on my photo site. I didn’t take many photos, and many of the ones I took were useless, but Gallo and Ansie outdid themselves. As soon as I get theirs, I’ll post the link on here so anyone who reads this can really see what it was like!

Raw Snippets from Gallo

Friday, March 16th, 2007

From his journal:

The albino pigeon turns circles while her black and gray brethren go about the business that pigeons pursue.

Tourists flash photos of a pilgrim walking on her knees toward the altar for lost children.

Pop music echoes off the Guanajuato mountainside as men and women return from work, hang out laundry and look toward the darkening sky.

The potted cactus stands tall and healthy despite blue spray paint that has found its way onto one of its arms.

Last day in Guanajuato

Friday, March 16th, 2007

I have the sickness of heart that all travelers get when the trip is almost over, and yet each moment is sweeter than the others. I spent the morning on my own, visiting churches, feeling the ways that faith manifests in this place. [read on]

Guanajuato: pure joy

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Travel-time is its own phenomenon. We were here–what? A day and a half. And when we came back after two days away, it felt to me as if I´d lived here for a lifetime, gone away for a decade, and was coming home. The streets, alleys, smells, and sounds were familiar. The faces of the vendors were familiar; the park benches were familiar. The people in the hostel were dear old friends. The constant swirl of life, youth, energy, laughter, dogs, taxis, buses, and color is all exactly as it should be. Of all the trips I´ve made into Mexico (something between a dozen and fifteen), this is the best. This city is my favorite in all of Mexico. Here are some of the reasons why. [read on]

Traveling Companions

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Quick, before we leave SMA, some priceless comments from my traveling companions.

Ansie, listening to some beautiful folk songs on a CD Gallo purchased from the musician, a young man named Jorge Rodriguez, “He makes me miss people I’ve never even met.”

Gallo, quoting an Italian he met yesterday, a fellow who has lived in SMA 20 years or more and is a farmer: “Yes, there are many gringos here. Not all from the USA. We have people from Europe, Asia, and of course USA. But they are not all Texans. They are good people who come here, not Bush people.”

Gallo, observing my outfit for today (maroon slacks, yellow Tshirt, pink overshirt): “You look like a whole block in Guanajuato.”

And we’re off to the bus station, heading back to Guanajuato.

San Miguel de Allende

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Here´s a slow day, a quiet day, a day for me to catch up with myself. Gallo, Ansie, and I are each taking a day to ourselves, going off in three different directions. It´s time. Much of what our trip has been is conversation, much of it stuff that doesn´t belong in a blog, so blogging on this trip has been completely different from blogging in Portugal, where I was alone. We talk almost non-stop, laugh, walk in tandem on narrow sidewalks, take pictures (sometimes of the same things), eat together, learn about each other and about ourselves in relation to each other. We didn´t keep our commitment to communicate only in Spanish, as Gallo is the only one with sufficient vocabulary to do that. I´ve been feeling overwhelmed with so much to see, feel, notice, and respond to. So last night we came up with this idea: split up for a day. [read on]

Guanajuato More and More

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Ansie and Gallo have been taking some incredible photographs which I hope to link to the blog in a week or so. Words will never do this place justice. It’s color, movement, texture, sound, smells, energy, a quality of LIFE that transcends words. Today was especially miraculous. Today was ART day. We found exhibitions of the work of a turn-of-the-century studio photographer named Romualdo Garcia and then two phenomenal Mexican women artists: Elva Garma and Lucia Castaneda (sorry, I’m in San Miguel de Allende tonight, and it’s a US keyboard, no proper accents). [I’ll save San Miguel for tomorrow.] First, about Garcia, Garma, and Castaneda. [read on]


Monday, March 12th, 2007

We´re here, and it´s spectacularly beautiful. My eyes can´t take it all in. It does seem MUCH more prosperous than it was in the 90s. Guanajuato is alive with a civilized bustle, some avant garde art exibitions, students milling in the streets with books and backpacks, and a lively international crowd at the hostel: a Swiss guy, some people from the USA (besides us), a Dutch guy playing his guitar in the bar, Mexican couples on vacation from the south, a terrific woman about my age from Oregon who has been traveling alone and staying in hostels all over Mexico since last September. After a lunch with flavors that changed four or five times before they were done (dried pea cream soup, cilantro chicken), Gallo and Ansie went wandering this afternoon while I took some time to be still, look, and even lie on the bed breathing. [read on]

Mexico: the plan

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Gallo, Ansie, and I leave early tomorrow morning for Guanajuato/Leon airport. I can’t quite believe it. The idea was born in a Sugar Land, Texas coffee shop as Jake, an artist buddy of mine, talked about how hungry his eyes were for color and texture. I told him he should feast his eyes on Mexico; he said he doesn’t speak Spanish; and despite the fact that I speak it so badly it hardly even counts as speaking it at all, somehow we were on our way. I told Gallo (who really DOES speak Spanish), and he looked at his calendar and said he could go; and then I had lunch with Ansie (who took a course in conversational Spanish last semester), and she said she could go–and so, magically, we were four. Then Jake changed his mind. About a week ago I paused long enough to wonder what the hell I’m doing. I sat with the question for a little while and lapsed into a blank state of wonder. Life keeps on bringing surprises. [read on]

Ellen Willis & Janis Joplin

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

I’m packing for my little five-day spring break in Mexico, laying out clothes, cleaning house, deciding which shoes to wear, wondering if I will have trouble taking hand-cleaner on the plane, and grading mid-terms. To keep myself company as I ate my dinner of green beans and Mexican cheese, I opened my latest Netflix envelope and tossed a little documentary in the DVD: Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin: Nine Hundred Nights. I’ve always felt close to Janis Joplin. One of the characters I performed in my one-woman show in the 70s and 80s was a Janis/Kendall composite: neurotic and wild, fierce and needy, burning herself to a crisp, wanting to amount to something. If I had been less responsible, more talented, less fearful, more abandoned; if, in other words, I had been someone completely other than I am, I’d have been her. Maybe. Anyway, forget the documentary. What shocked me into a whole new state of attention (abandoning grading mid-terms and packing) was Ellen Willis, cultural commentator, writer, thinker: interviewed for the documentary. In the Special Features on the DVD there’s about an hour of Ellen Willis talking about Janis Joplin, the 60s, utopianism and its dark side, feminism in its early years, and other fascinating topics. I fell in love with Ellen Willis. I could never have been her. I’m not that smart. But I’m drawn to the sharp edge of her intelligence like a battered chrome bumper to a massive electromagnet. As soon as I’d watched these outtakes, I raced to the computer, googled her, and found out she just died this past November. [read on]