Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Month in Mexico - Village Vignettes

Do you remember the kaleidoscope you played with as a child?  You looked through one end of the tube and twisted the other end to see an ever-changing medley of glass particles that changed shape and color with every twist.  You rarely saw the same colors or patterns twice, but you were never disappointed with the picture.

Mexico is that kaleidoscope.  At every turn there's a new scene that delights with vibrant color or enchants with novelty.  It's a whirling, occasionally unsettling, series of vignettes that startles you out of complacency and forces you to look at the world in a different way. Here are just a few of those scenes.

One wall of the living room in the house David and I are "sitting" is glass overlooking the garden.  The house itself is very comfortable with graciously-sized rooms, two en suite bedrooms, and every amenity we could desire, but it is the garden that is the focal point.  This is where we watch the hummingbirds buzz the two feeders.  Where lavender orchids bloom against rough tree bark, plumeria (the flowers used in Hawaiian leis) line the slate path, and purple bougainvillea tumbles over the walls.  White and red roses cozy up to cactus, startling in their juxtaposition.  A bunch of bananas is almost ready for plucking.

In the village, we visit the Lake Chapala Society, a complex of buildings and gardens catering to the needs of expatriates with Spanish classes, blood pressure and hearing checks, lectures, a film aficionados group, and video service, while a Mexican man outside in the cobblestone street peddles water jugs, shouting, "Agua," to one and all.

Along one of the main streets, the carretera, where four stoplights have sprouted in the past few years, (My village has changed after all.) peddlers offer peasant-loomed Oaxacan rugs and hand-hewn furniture while Walmart beckons with its promise of convenience products.  We hate ourselves for going to the superstore, but we go anyway.

At Super Lake, the small grocery store catering to expatriates, we buy just-picked blackberries--25 pesos per pound.  They make the blackberries in the States taste like plastic in comparison.  For lunch we head to a little Italian restaurant owned by a couple from Tuscany.  The chef offers us lasagne with made-that-morning noodles and focaccia bread that just came out of the oven for 65 pesos.

Back home again, we think about changing the five-gallon water jug in the dispenser, but decide instead to catch the BBC news via satellite. Later, we'll sit in the garden and watch the birds preparing for nightfall. We will talk about all we've seen and wonder again at our luck in finding this bit of paradise, this kaleidoscope of delights that is Mexico. 

Practicalities - 

25 pesos equals $1.93 US   The price for our quart of blackberries.
65 pesos equals $5.01        The price of lunch.

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