Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26

Holá, everyone!

You haven't heard from me for a week because I had to go back to the U.S. for work, to Baltimore, where it reached 105 degrees in a heat wave and and was really humid.  Unspeakable.  I came "home" -- it will be a while before I can ditch the quotation marks -- Saturday night.

Sunday, yesterday, we spent most of the day waiting for Continental to deliver my lost suitcase, and then went out for a mediocre dinner.  On our way to the Jardin, we ducked into a theater where Daniel Ellsberg was speaking.  We hadn't gotten tickets to the documentary film about the Pentagon Papers (a benefit:  fairly expensive) and his appearance afterward, but no one stopped us from entering.  The place was overflowing with U.S. lefties who were cheering him on.

Then, of course, we went to the Jardin.  It's been raining here, lightly or heavily, pretty much most of the time for the past two days.  Today someone told me this is quite unusual and due to the fact that there's a hurricane on each coast (there is?  I don't even follow the news here:  very bad habit).  Through the drizzle, though, I took this picture of the Parroquia all lit up, as it is every night.

You can see an umbrella at the bottom of the picture.  I looked up Parroquia (pronounced parrOHkia) in my iPhone translator (thank you, Joan!!!) and it means "parish church."  And then I took a picture of the top of the Parroquia and the church next door that chimes out the time:  the quarter-hours first, and then the hours.

As you can see, the Jardin is quite beautiful at night.  I love the public life here.  There is an open space between the Jardin, with its trees and the benches and the gazebo in the center, and the Parroquia.  The open space is constantly used for public spectacles or events of one sort or another.  Last night, in spite of the drizzle, the space was one of several in town being used for the International Short Film Festival, free to everyone.  Families were seated there under big umbrellas waiting for the start of the show.  Honestly, all the public life here feels very much to me like "of the people, by the people, for the people."  I love it.

Today we went to the Biblioteca for a meeting of a small women's chorus at noon.  As many of you know, I haven't done any real singing since I left the St. Cecilia Chorus when I moved to Seattle in 1996, but it turns out that sight-reading music is sort of like riding a bike.  There was a guy accompanying on the piano and a guy conducting the total of eight women.  The two men were Mexican; the women were various nationalities.  Much of the music was Spanish songs but they did Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart, which made me extremely happy.  The chorus costs 300 pesos a month, about $25 or so, which pays for the accompanist and the conductor and I guess the space in the Biblioteca, and for this I get two 1.5-hour sessions (hard to call them rehearsals) a week, so what is that, $2.75 a session?  It's a real joy to sing again (even though I'm singing second soprano instead of first alto because that's what they need), just for the pleasure of doing it.

We went for a bite to eat at a little restaurant we'd been to before, and the owner told us she was leaving to accompany a friend by bus to a doctor's appointment in Queretaro, a town an hour away where we've never been.  What the hell, we took them there in our car, and learned a lot about health care in the process.  Aida, the patient, has melanoma and told us she has had better care here than in Los Angeles, where she also went.  We have many, many more questions to ask about health care because there seems to be no common conclusion about what's best.  Some people return to the US for surgery, some skip the US entirely and have all their health care here.  While in Queretaro we stopped at Costco (!) and it was nostalgic seeing the familiar Kirkland products.  On the way home we stopped at our local BIG supermarket and bought two big bags of excellent groceries for less than $25.

So San Miguel keeps feeding us what we need:  community, culture, and economy.  It's good to be back.

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