Christmas When I Was Nine and Even Older
I am not religious. Never have been. Despite my Italian-Catholic upbringing, Jesus and all the saints in heaven never took.
But what did stick was Christmas as a time of giving and forgiving. A time of making room for one more place at the table because someone we knew found themselves alone on Christmas.
There were always extra gifts wrapped and ready to give “just in case”.
Singing songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World were no different to me than singing along with Mr. Beau Jangles, Me and Bobby McGee or any Beach Boys or Beatles songs. Just songs that I loved to hear and sing, in my terribly, flat, toneless but enthusiastic voice.
Christmas at our house was noisy. There were four of us. Four kids with arguments. With friends. Four kids trying to wrap presents for each other in secret, but making heavy hints about what might be in the boxes.
My mother was baking, baking, baking. She was making gingerbread and her famous date nut loaves. She would often be swatting my farther with the towel torn from her waist. NOW I know why she was swatting him. Back then I had no clue. I was nine.
My father would bring in the tree from the garage. I was asthmatic and no number of specially treated trees kept me from wheezing. Family photos of us on Christmas always showed me in a blanket looking like I was taking my last breath.
So my father de-boxed the artificial tree one in a line of many that got better as artificial tree technology improved. And told us it had to “warm up” so that the cold, brittle, metal branches did not break when we unfolded them. He taught us how to string lights, and was very particular about spreading the colors around.
What is Christmas without trains? We had them, beautiful Marklin trains that Dad brought back from Germany after the war. We spent days sanding the tracks that corroded over the humid New Jersey summer. We fixed wheels, and shined up the other props. We loved it and we did not fight or argue during the train setup. Years later after his funeral, the three siblings that were left, chose our favorite trains and took them home to be part of our separate Christmas celebrations.
In the 80s, my daughter and I left an abusive situation and found ourselves alone at Christmas in Modesto, California. On Christmas morning, my sweet daughter presented me with a box covered in glitter. Inside were tapes she had made from albums she had borrowed from the library and recorded for me.
She had taken to heart her grandmother’s adage: “A gift of the hand is a gift of the heart.”
There are so many cherished moments from Christmas past, but that one I cherish the most.
The La Paz Farmer’s Market; Open All Year, Come Taste, Talk and Buy.
Come Saturday morning, after our years-old tradition of breakfast with friends, my Beloved and I head over to the La Paz Farmer’s Market. It is part of our Saturday thing. Not only are we loading up on wonderful fruits and vegetables, salsa, pesto, artisan Tequila, homemade breads, we buy plants, organic pest killers and fertilizer, jewelry, greeting cards, and healthy Chinese treats.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market is a social occasion and we spend time chatting with the vendors and the other buyers, meeting new people, and just being out and convivial. But the market is also open for your convenience on Tuesdays.
Have you tried any of Linda Shawyer’s Greek yogurt made from the milk of local, grass-fed cows, zesty Italian sausage, or any of her magnificent quiche? Linda always has a smile and kind word and scrumptious goodies. Her cinnamon rolls are dangerously addictive. Linda says that, “…I like to make food that makes people happy…”
Martin Loubet always has a long line at his produce table. My Beloved is dispatched to stand in for me and choose the goodies. Martin has land and a farm in Pescadero. After Odile, he showed up with what few things did not get blown away. And we bought what little fare he had, in praise of his efforts to pick up and keep going. Always smiling, and helpful, Martin and his wife and daughter walk the line at their table and ensure that everyone is served. You never know when different fruit or veggies that you have never seen before will pop up on Martin’s table.
When we first moved to La Paz, I whined a lot about not having a farmer’s market. Our not-so-little market has grown to encompass many different items, home grown and homemade. And on any given visit, there will be the mainstays of the market and newcomers. The presentation of goods is a rich, colorful motif in creativity and the bounty of Mother Nature.
And then there is Kayle, a laid-back guy from Pescadero that also has a groaning board of interesting and hard to find items, like luscious blueberries, dates, organic popcorn, shelled, fat, sweet green peas and the most wonderful selection of greens for salads and juicing. Kayle treks up to La Paz on both days of our market.
Cathy Smith, the Gardening Guru, also hails from Pescadero. Cathy’s products are certified by the Baja California Sur state government as 100% ORGANIC. This is not an easy designation to come by. If one could bank Cathy’s enthusiasm and know-how, they would be rich as Midus. Cathy has an array of organic pest killers, mosquito repellants, fertilizers, and is happy to advise and consult.
Not all the vendors mentioned here are out on the street. There are one or two shop owners that are important threads of this wonderful tapestry of food, plants, and crafts. The market has provided the traffic and interest in things other than the commercial and homogeneous. These shops are a wonderful addition to your Farmer’s Market visit and to the town on any day.
Got Baja? Enrique Sanchez #2 and his wife, Cecelia, certainly do. They are the owners, and creators of the gift shop, “Got Baja” and the espresso café, “Doce Cuarenta” (1240 Madero), named for their street address. This wonderful little shop, café, and garden is the center of the Farmer’s Market. My Beloved is hooked on their Ruben sandwich and I will never get tired of their signature salad, Doce Cuarenta. All things La Paz and Baja, from stunning mounted large photographs of Baja scenes, feed sack throw pillows that say “Cuddle with this pillow if you miss La Paz too much”, to t-shirts and mugs. Whether you want a rich pastry, a light lunch, hot or cold-brewed espresso, this is an important part of your Farmer’s Market experience.
Lolita Pie Boutique on March 14th, my number one daughter sent me an email saying it was Pie Day and had dispatched her Beloved to find a luscious pie. March 14 is 3.14…get it? Well, you do not need to wait for next March to experience decadent, delicious, warm-from-the-oven pies. Just step around the corner onto Constitucion near the Aramburo parking lot and visit Lolita’s Pie Boutique.
Karuna Tea House is also just around the corner on Constitucion, a charming and welcoming place to rest and enjoy. Husband and wife team Ines Garcia and Hector Jaime Felix offer private tea tastings and a few tables for you to enjoy a cup of one of their specialty teas. Ines also has a table at the market and offers refreshing iced tea and some cakes. Stop in and sip a cuppa and meet these lovely young people.
Talking on the phone to precious daughter, the other day she said she was running low on her Baja salt collection and hoped there was still someone selling flavored salts at the market. I told her not to worry.
La Parcela Productos Gourmet. Visit their booth or their shop. It is a treat for the senses. Shop owner Christian, displays his aderezos and especias (herbs and spices) beautifully and is knowledgeable about his products. He carries everything from cacao, vanilla, various salts, and Himalayan salt tabs. Visit him at the market or at his store on Allende between Revolucion and Serdan.
El Jardincito. Owned by Enrique Sanchez #1 (the other guy’s father) is the place to buy healthy, organically grown plants, herbs, and a few gifts like blown glass hummingbird feeders and some handmade fiber pots. Want a ready-made herb garden? Enrique has them. Looking for a particular plant? Enrique will try to find it for you. This spring, he had the most gorgeous, vibrant, and long-lived tulips. Enrique has two passions in life: running and raising organic plants. In fact, he came in first in his age group in the half marathon and first again in the triathalon in Cabo San Lucas.
Queen Bees owner Juana Agudo sells honey, honey drops, and lollipops (better than a cough drop). Always ready with a smile, Juana is happy to offer a sample. Her products are diverse and well-priced. Not just a pretty face, Juana is a bee expert. She came to my house, suited up in a beekeeper’s rig (scared my chihuahua) and very calmly and professionally removed a hive of wild bees.
Dora Burgoin of Organicos Cabo Natura comes from Cabo San Lucas twice a week with her wonderful, colorful, purple and yellow cauliflower, flor de calabasa (squash flowers), heirloom tomatoes, and greens. You cannot miss her in her Mexican gauze dresses, colorful scarves, and straw hat. Her produce is beautiful and tasty.
Bella. When I was a kid, my Italian mother always called me Bella. Beautiful. Well, French food at the level that Bella makes it, lives up to her name! I have heard that her gluten-free Tarte Provencal requires that you sign a release form in case you become addicted. Oh, and her lemon squares have an equal reputation. Provecho!
It is a good thing there is not the most convenient parking at the market. Hoofing it a little bit will help to burn off the calories from all of the food you have tasted. I mean, I do not want to be rude, if someone offers, I taste!
La Lei. Lei Tam, chef and Asian food genius, has caught me hook, line, and Pad Thai! I have tried most of her offerings. Her Chow Mein made with wide brown noodles and an array of vegetables is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Oh! And those Vietnamese Summer Rolls… Well, they are a mainstay at our house. Lei makes all of her own noodles and sauces. She can even make the Chow Mein and Pad Thai vegetarian and gluten free. Lei, with advance notice, will make dishes for you to pick up at the market. Or she will be the private chef at your next party. But, please invite the Press!
Dear readers: Many of you may remember the trendy Café Milano on Izquierda Street. Lei was the chef. Her husband Michel, the bread maker, helped her. We watched their beautiful daughter Asia (“Ahs si ya”) grow up. Lei says “Italian design, Chinese built!”
Grateful Bread, Michel Milano, artesanal bread maker, arrives on a Vespa. Sets up his breads, round and long loaves. Crusty on the outside, white and delicious on the inside. He tempts me every week. I have to resist, once on the lips, and boom it’s on the hips! But others give in and I see his wares flying off the table.
They started calling it “Eat Street” because so many restaurants have made their homes on Madero Street. But on Tuesdays and Saturdays, it is Meet, Greet, and Eat Street. La Paz, this Farmer’s Market is yours. These are your friends and neighbors. They are cooking, baking, stirring, and harvesting to bring wonderful foods to you. Please continue to support them. The market is open all year.
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The Secret Life of Bees
Are bees swarming your infinity edge pool? Are they making your spa their day spa?
Queen Latifah may have been able to handle bees without getting stung when she starred in the movie based on the book with the same name as this article.
But when one is lolling about sin la ropa (naked) in the pool or spa having swarms of wild bees as uninvited guests, well it makes for a less-than-relaxing moment. One of the pleasures of living here is having a pool or spa that can be enjoyed most of the year.
When we lived two blocks from the beach, we had a few bees, but a lot of wasps. Wasps are easy, just splash around and they go away. When we moved to the beach, several years in a row there were wild bees forming hives on our property. They were not much of a bother at the pool. But! wild bees have no fear of humans, and they will let you know when they are annoyed at you using the pool during their peak visiting times.
In our new house on the hill with a lot of desert vegetation and a wooded arroyo, bees are our grumpy neighbors. Last summer, our first in this house, our spa had a cascade feature, where water gently glided over the divider between pool and spa. The water glistened in the sun and was lovely to see. A few bees visited us and kept to themselves on the cascade, but they left us alone, and we didn’t bother them.
We changed the pool/spa configuration. We raised the divider between the two pools and stopped the cascade. And we added one of those blue “bubble wrap” covers on the spa. And that is how the trouble that spawned this tale began!
Bees came in numbers upwards of 30. (UPDATE: It is now closer to 100 bees on both sides of the former cascade) One early evening My Beloved and I wanted to use the spa. The bees were lined up on the edge of the cover where a little water was exposed. Some flew off and more came in their place. And they were there from dawn to dusk. We pulled off the cover. The bees were annoyed, and let us know about it. They swarmed us and buzzed around our heads and otherwise made the luxury of a hot dip a hot mess. “Just ignore them,” said My Beloved. Such good advice. How do you ignore 20 buzzing angry flying insects that will sting you? I jumped out of the spa, stomped away, and went inside to sulk, leaving My Beloved to cover the spa.
Not willing to give up my sybaritic pleasures, I researched bees and spas and pools. There are blogs by beekeepers, other spa owners, and pool companies. I tried to be scientific about the process. And I was not going to do anything to harm our precious pollinator; bees. I started with the easy stuff first:
- Soapy Water: Spray the bees with soapy water. It will kill them when they return to the hive and other bees will get the message and not return. I did not try this. I will not kill bees. And even if this worked, other bees will come. I know they will. The draw of water is too strong.
- Vinegar: Add vinegar to your spa water. I love the smell of vinegar and hot water because vinegar reminds me of coloring Easter eggs. But on my skin? Not so much. So I tried this. I sprayed the entire cover of the pool with vinegar. A whole bunch of spray blew in my face. This smells bad, and had no effect on the bees.
- Brown Paper Bag: This is a silly idea, but in the interests of research, I tried it. The theory is that a brown paper bag that has been blown up will look like a hive, and the bees that are supposedly territorial will respect their neighbor and find another watering hole. I taped a bag under the lip of my fire pit right near the spa. I did this before the sun was up, so the crafty bees would not see me doing it. A little while later, I checked my experiment, only to find 50 bees and that the bag had blown away and the duct tape was flapping in the breeze. Two neighbors weighed in on this one. One neighbor had luck using the bag to ward off wasps. Another bought a commercial version of the brown paper bag. She said the bag remains in a tree and the bees were never deterred.
- Become a Bee Keeper: One blog suggested starting a honeybee hive of your own in a far corner of your yard. This will keep other bees from coming. This is the same idea as the brown bag. Yeah, I am going to do that any time now.
- Make a Separate Bee Spa: There are several versions of this from putting a grate on a shallow bowl of water to elaborate pools with flowers and rocks for the bees to light on. Another neighbor tried this with a kiddie pool, flowers, and rocks. The bees still preferred her waterfall.
- Cloves: Surprisingly, this works, within limits, and smells like Thanksgiving! I started small. I set out two small bowls half filled with ground cloves. The bees were already enjoying their daily dips. The smell disturbed them, and they flew up and around the spa. They tried to land on the bowls but flew off immediately. Using a thick solution of water, ground cloves and lime juice, I sprayed the cover and the bees. Whoa! They did NOT like that at all. They swarmed up and buzzed loudly, hanging a few feet away from the spa. It was as if they were having an argument. But they peeled off and didn’t come back for hours. I was sitting nearby to observe. One bee buzzed my ear, and more than one buzzed the top of my head. Not one stung me. Eventually the bees came back, but never in the larger numbers, like before
One morning before the sun rose, I refilled my clove dishes. I sprayed the entire perimeter of the pool cover and literally turned my cover brown with clove spray. There were no bees enjoying the pleasures of my spa for hours. Only a few adventurers returned. And the number of bees at my spa has dwindled.
My final assessment: To rid my spa completely of malingering bees, I should remove the cover. There are no bees at the pool because there is no place to land. Since I do not want to waste hot water, my other conclusion is that a new cover that rises up the edge of the spa a few inches above the water line means no water is exposed and there is no place for the bees to light. We just did this today, and the bees again were angry, but they left. As of this writing there have been only 3 bees at my spa.
If you have a pool with an infinity or waterfall edge and are plagued by bees, I suggest a clove atomizer that releases the spray every few hours (like the Fifth Avenue department stores), or a tray of limes dredged in cloves. I went to Chedraui on the weekend to buy more ground cloves. They had none. Could it be that my neighbors bought the store’s supply.
Oh, and one helpful neighbor said that loud rock music deters rattlesnakes, and also offered a mouse deterrent!
In true Mythbusters tradition, I declare the clove cure plausible.
April 26: the bees are back and there are now 100s of them.
I asked the wonderful Bee Lady at the Farmer’s Market wht solution she could reccommend.
She thought a moment, then smiled and said:
” The solution is that the bees use the pool and spa while the sun shines and you use it at night.”
Thank you very much!
Structure Your New Life: Five Ways to Perfect Your Transition to Paradise
One of the most stressful events in anyone’s life is moving, even if the move involves giving up your workaday life and relocating to live the life of your dreams in a beachfront home in sunny La Paz. The vision you had of yourself and your spouse sipping frosty margaritas while surrounded by a group of charming new friends probably did not happen in your first weeks. Instead, you were likely feeling overwhelmed by the hard work you did in order to set up your phone and electricity, and hire a good gardener, maid, and pool service.
For most expats, life eventually smoothes out, they make friends, and they relax and start living on Mexican time, but if you want to get to “eventually,” a little bit sooner, here are five things you can do to make your transition more pleasant.
- Learn some Spanish. Enroll in a class at one of the Spanish schools in La Paz. Not only will you improve your knowledge of the local culture, you’ll also meet people much like yourself. (Se Habla La Paz Spanish immersion school (tel: 612 122 7763, email: email@example.com, web: sehablalapaz.com) and El Nopal (tel: 612 188 0577, web: www.elnopalspanish.com)
- Go Local: Take to the streets and use what you’ve learned, even if it means carrying a dictionary (there is an app for that) wherever you go. Whether you’re in the bank, the grocery store, or your favorite café, greet people with a smile and a friendly “Buenas dias.” Look people in the eye, learn their names, and tell them yours. Shop in local stores, or just spend a Sunday evening strolling along the Malecon. Paceanos are a friendly bunch and will respond in kind.
- Volunteer: There are all kinds of groups that have mixed Mexican and foreign members. Volunteer to serve breakfast to kids from the barrios with FANLAP (tel: 612 121 2166, web: www.lapazninos.org). Walk or foster a shelter dog .
- Start a Group: You came down here to have the time to pursue your interests, and many others did, as well. Tell people you want to start an organic garden, a tango club, or a gourmet club. Form a film club and trade reviews of the latest movies. People bond more easily over shared interests, and soon, you’ll be surrounded by friends. Sign up on the La Paz Gringos forum: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lapazgringos/
- Celebrate! Holidays and rituals are an important part of every culture, and taking part in local traditions is crucial to becoming part of a community. Head to the Governor’s Mansion on the evening September 15th to hear El Grito (the scream) – the annual recreation of the call for independence. Visit the Teatro de la Ciudad on November 1st and experience an authentic Day of the Dead festival. Love a parade? You can see one every day during the annual pre-Lenten festival Carnival (shoes optional, shirts required.)
These are just a few of the ways you can ease your transition from turista to ciudana (citizen). Wondering why this is on a real estate page? It’s simple: when you buy a new home, you’re not just purchasing a structure, you’re structuring a new lifestyle.
Don’t you just LOVE technology? Well when it works, and the phone rings with enough time for you to answer it. When the latest upgrade does not cause your passwords, banking info and pictures of your pests to disappear. It’s wonderful. Something we cannot live without.
Then something happens.
Then you are disconnected.
Your passwords don’t work. Your host says it’s you. WordPress says its your host that is the problem. And in Google you discover that tens of thousands of folks have been having the very same issue as you, for years. Well, except for my Darling Daughter. When I call her for help her response is
” I don’t have that issue. I don’t know anyone that does. Its YOU! And I cannot help you.”
Yep the very same daughter that I labored long and hard to bring into this world. That I worked at shitty jobs to pay for cello and tap lessons, big hair perms, and the latest Michael Jackson record.
She says that she cannot help me!
Well sometimes I will struggle with the issue and find a solution. Then I feel strong, and brave and competent.
Then there are times no matter what I read, what I try. No matter how blue my language. Or how many promises I make to the Universe, nothing works. Nothing!
So I am sorry to say dear readers, I gave up.
Since my last post i sold my beach house, lived in a rental across the street from the site of my new house.
That was wonderful, I could watch the construction all day.
When I told my very sage friend, Mary, that I was moving in across the street from the construction site. She responded:
” Your builder’s sphincter muscle just went to level 7.”
Does that mean that she thinks that I am just a tad demanding?
Anyway, things intervened.
- A killer hurricane.
- Finishing the new house.
- Shopping for things for the new house.
- Replacing many things that we lost in the hurricane.
- Moving into the new house.
- A shopping trip to Dallas to buy new computers. (Darling Daughter advised us on what to buy, by the way).
So here I am blog at all systems go.
Please forgive me for not taking care of this sooner. I found many comments from all of you asking where I went.
Well I am settled into the new house. Have a new office/sewing room. A new computer, and time!
By Susan Fogel
Back in the Old Country, when Labor Day passed and the tourists went back to the heartland, we would return to the beaches of the Monterey Peninsula. And the best part was that the weather was golden, warm and sunny.
Remember that oft repeated quote by Mark Twain:
“The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.”? The same holds true for Monterey and Carmel.
But Fall was special at the beach. The days grew shorter and Halloween items started popping up in stores and on doorsteps. The kids were back in school, and our office hours became more regular again. The rush to Christmas was on.
When my Beloved and I arrived here in August 2000, we had no idea how much we would miss Fall. We had no idea how much we would miss the crisping of the air, the turning of the leaves, rain and the smell of wood smoke in the air. We missed Fall.
September is the month I became an aunt for the first time, and I attended a wedding back in the 70s in September, where the bride and groom did not exchange rings, there was no white dress and no words like “husband” and “wife” were allowed. September was the month in 1968 when my first lover left me to drive the “Baja”. I had no idea what the Baja was. And in September 1969, as I returned to my college, the first question everyone asked was: “Did you go to Woodstock?”
But now September sings a different song for us. Today, nearly three weeks into September, Fall is almost officially here. The mornings are cooler, dark comes earlier, the threat of a big hurricane hitting increases, and the Malecon is still decked out in streamers of red, green, and white. We sometimes emerge from hibernating in our air conditioned homes. The tourists and snowbirds are starting to return. Social activities pick up, and planning committees for charity events are meeting.
Once Independence Day on the 16th of September passes, Halloween and Day of the Dead items cohabitate on store shelves. The back to school rush is over. Groups of school kids in their plaid uniforms mingle and lounge on the Malecon.
Change is in the air, I always have a sense of expectation and a sense of time rushing by. And as the song says, “…the days dwindle down to a precious few…” The year is ending, holidays are approaching.
Do you know where this is in La Paz
Chiles en Nogada, A Patriotic Dish Traditionally Served in September.
By Susan Fogel
Okay, so you aren’t going to go to the Palacio to take part in El Grito, and maybe you even decided against finding a place to watch the fireworks. There is one thing you can do the week of September 16th, and that is enjoy a truly wonderful dish called Chiles en Nogada. No worries we are not going to print a recipe here. These babies take a lot of work. And when anyone talks about this gorgeous, rich, sumptuous dish, they all say: “Oh I love Nogada, but they are too much work to make myself!”
Where is grandma when you need her anyway?
If you have ever made green chile soup, arroz verde or chiles relleno, you know what hard work is when it comes to cooking with these wonderful, beefy poblano chiles.
Here is how Wikipedia describes Chiles en Nogada:
“…Chiles en nogada is a poblano chile stuffed with ground beef, fruit, herbs, and spices, then covered in a creamy walnut sauce. The final garnish is pomegranate seeds. The three colors of the Mexican flag are represented here, green for the chiles, the walnut sauce is white, and the pomegranate seeds are red, so this is a very traditional dish eaten during the month of September in Mexico…”
Here is how I describe it: Rich, sweet, succulent with a little bite from the poblano chiles, scrumptious. One September, I ate it every day at different restaurant. I just could not get enough.
The wonderful thing about holiday specialties is that they are only served during their special holiday. They do not become commonplace.
Chiles en Nogada are not cheap as an entrée, but my friends you will not be disappointed.
My mouth is watering as I write this!
Grab your partner, a friend, or someone off the street just say “Want to go have Nogada?” and complete strangers will follow you anywhere.
At press time several of the other, better restaurants in town were not serving nogada, or were undecided .
So head to one of these wonderful, La Paz restaurants and enjoy the crowd and festive atmosphere.
LasTres Virgenes on Madero Street a few doors from Aramburo, Jesse Chavez, owner and head food designer says Nogada have been on the menu for a week already. It is always best to make reservations 123 2226
Café El Corazon on Revolucion and 5 de Mayo: starting this Friday until the end of the month for reservations:
El Rincon Gourmet will be serving Nogada all month. Theyare on Bravo near TELMEX.
“ Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere” Those are the opening words of Longfellow’s poem published almost 100 years after the American Revolution. And school children all over the nation learned the words to the poem and the story it told. As the story goes, some friends of Paul Revere were to light lanterns in the tower of Old North Church in Boston to tell him if the British were coming by land or sea(“… One if by land, two if by sea…”) He would then ride through the towns alerting the people. The story has been embroidered and embellished and Paul Revere has become a hero and super patriot, but he did not ride alone. In fact there were many back up riders that spread the word that the British were coming.
And so Mexico has an Independence Day legend reenacted in towns and villages and from the nation’s capital in Mexico City. Like the Independence Day celebrations in the US, it is a national holiday. The day is marked with pomp, parties and patriotism. And legends of epic proportions.
On September 15, 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Castillo called the people from the steps of his church in Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato. He commanded his brother and others to march on the jail and demand the release of 80 or more political prisoners. Two of those that went to the sheriff with their demands were Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo.
Those are two names that everyone reading this should recognize. Just as most larger towns in the US have streets named after Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, so are streets named for these heroes in towns all across the republic of Mexico. Here in La Paz, Calle Abasolo becomes our Malecon ( beach front promenade). And we do also have a Calle Ignacio Allende.
When we first arrived in La Paz and embarked on pool construction, I said to my Beloved; “ Beloved, there will be no workers at the house tomorrow.” “How do you know?”; he asked. And my response was that the next day would be the 16th of September, and there was a BIG street named for that day.
Clue about holidays here: if there is a street named with a date, there will be a holiday.
So at around sunrise on September 16, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells rung, and exhorted his parishioners to revolt against the “bad government” also known as the Spanish.
This exhortation to revolution became known as El Grito de Dolores or the Cry of Dolores.
The first battle fought in the war for independence occurred on September 20th in Guanajuato. Mexico would not win her independence from Spain for ten more years. The Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire was made on September 27, 1821.
No one has the exact words Hidalgo used to exhort his people to insurrection and the famous speech of Cry of Dolores is not recorded and many other people are attributed with parts of the oration.
And everyone has an opinion of what was said, and who said it. But today Miguel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest is anointed with the responsibility of calling the people to rise up against their oppressors.
In October 1825, the Cry of Dolores had an official name change to the El Grito de La Independencia, or the Cry of Independencia. And on September 15th, the president of Mexico rings the bells at the National Palace in Mexico City around eleven p.m. He then reads the following poem and the crowd responds with the last lines “ Via Mexico, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico! The president waves the national flag during the shouting, then at the end rings the bell again.
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!
The crowds in the Zocalo in Mexico City are enormous and tourists as well as Mexicans come from near and far to be part of El Grito.
It is customary for Mexican presidents to visit the church in Dolores Hidalgo on the last Independence Day of their term. President Calderon broke with tradition and visited the church of Dolores Hidalgo on September 15th, 2010 as part of the bi-centennial celebrations.
Have you noticed the foil bunting and the red, green and white décor festooning the governor’s palace on Isabel La Catolica near Allende? It is dressed and ready for El Grito coming up in a few short weeks. Red, green and white streamers are stretched across the Malecon, and street vendors have been out for weeks selling flags, sombreros and anything remotely connected to Independence Day.
There will be a huge crowd, the shout and fireworks! If you don’t mind crowds, and also hoofing it from a parking spot somewhere blocks away, it is an energetic and enthusiastic crowd, and you will be stirred to take part in the grito. Viva Mexico!
The restaurants will be starting to serve Chiles en Nogada a traditional dish served at this time of year. Look for my upcoming post about this.
My Beloved and I will watch the fireworks from our terrace on the hill across the bay from La Paz.
A picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture says it all!
In years past right about now, we would be packing, and preparing for our annual visit to the frozen north, well Dallas or Thousand Oaks to spend Christmas with one or both of our kids. For us the temperatures in Texas and California are chilly to downright frigid.
We soldier through the torture of multiple airports, and plane changes, and arrive dragged out and hungry. But the ride from the airport is always a nice re-entry. Christmas lights are everywhere, and we love turning into Miss Meliss’ neighborhood and circling the park that is ablaze with lights.
Once we get past the exuberant welcome from the million, well three dogs, and sometimes a foster dog, the delicious aroma of slow cooking food enters our consciousness. The house is beautifully decorated and the tree is lit waiting for its ornaments. Decorating the tree is something Miss Meliss and I do together.
We take our coffee and dessert to the living room and sit by the fire and plan our days.
We always have a shopping list, things like underwear and shoes top the list. For me visiting fabric stores is an absolute.
We talk about who will be dropping in, and who will be staying for dinner.
Then it is up to bed where we bury ourselves in the quilts Melissa has laid out for us.
“It’s not cold!” she says. And we grumble back that we are freezing!
One year we had snow on Christmas Eve, it was romantic and the house looked gorgeous with the lights shining on the snow and the decorated tree in the window. Earlier in the day we drove around in the snow to finish up some shopping, I was nervous. Not that my Beloved could not handle snow, he grew up in Chicago, snow he knows. And we were driving a Subaru with its famous all-wheel drive. It is all the other drivers that have no clue how to handle the snow that made me nervous.
This year? Events conspired against us. We are not going north and no one is coming south for the holiday.
We are all disappointed of course. BUT! As we watched Dallas become a frozen snow globe, and saw travelers stranded in airports across the nation, we felt relief that we are not going to be part of THAT.
Just last week I was swimming in my pool, and drying off in the sun. I sat in the sun to do some hand sewing, and had coffee outside. We have had some stiff breezes, well, okay, wind, so I have not been in the pool or done much outside. But, the winds will lie down, and the sun will shine and I will count my blessings…and have several Facetime moments with Miss Meliss.
How I met Julie
“…One door opens and another closes…” How many times have we heard that cliché?
In October 2008, I lost my job as the Director of Closings for a cross-border mortgage company. For days, I was stunned, sad, and worried.
By the end of that same week I was on a new high. The editor of the premier magazine aimed at ex-pats, International Living contacted me and asked me to write the cover story for their December issue .
Take THAT, mortgage industry and economic crisis, I was now following my dream to be a writer. And on the cover of a major magazine!
Shortly after the article ran, I received an email from someone at International Living, in it was a message from a Julia Sheehan.
She was asking if she could contact the author (me) directly to talk about life in La Paz. There was no email address for Ms. Sheehan in the message. But she had mentioned that she had studied Spanish at the Spanish immersion school. So I sent a message to Julie Goff , the director of Se Habla La Paz the Spanish immersion school, asking if she knew Julie Sheehan, and if she did, then would she connect us.
It isn’t often one receives fan mail. I wanted to be sure to meet this new Julie.
Once we connected in email, we decided to meet. My Beloved and I invited Julie to our house. She pulled up in a fiery red PT Cruiser with painted red flames licking the sides. Not exactly the Little Old Lady from Pasadena! In fact, Julie had the flames painted on after she bought the car! What an amazing woman! In her late sixties at the time, she drove the red roadster from North Carolina across the US and down the Baja Peninsula all the way to La Paz by herself.
We had a lovely chat and learned about Julie’s life and what led her to La Paz. Knowing she had come from that island of liberalism in a red state, Chapel Hill, we figured she would have our political proclivities, and she did. Lucky for us, or this may have been our one and only meeting.
We liked Julie at once, and asked her to join us as we made our Christmas visits to friends in Todos
Santos. She volunteered to drive the red rage, and off we went.
It was a lot of fun to introduce her like this: “This is my friend Julie, she is my fan.”
As time passed we learned more about Julie, and grew closer. She has been a guest at our table numerous times. She is a true and loyal friend.
She holds true to her quirky belief about extra terrestrials and UFOs. She is open minded, a seeker of knowledge and loves dogs. Guitar music fills her soul, and if you ever want a capsule review of almost any move of any era, just ask Julie.
It’s hard to believe that Julie is 72, or even much past 60.
At a time when I was flagging in hope, along came Julie…