Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18

Sorry, everyone, it's been a while since I've written.  I haven't leveled with you completely:  I've been worried about my lack of energy.  I started to get seriously worried two days ago when I found myself not doing things I wanted to do because I was just too pooped out.  I posted a question about it on the San Miguel listserv, asking if this could be an altitude issue as San Miguel is about 6,100 feet above sea level.  I got half a dozen responses, nearly all of which said no way, not after five-plus weeks here, and to see a doctor.  Then yesterday as I was about to call a doctor -- miracle!  I finally started to get my pep back.  I guess the person who told me it was still the illness I had last week turned out to be right.  I wouldn't have believed that bug could last a full ten days, but I guess it could.  Today I talked to someone who mentioned her husband was so ill with it last week he had 103 degrees of temperature.  Since we didn't bring a thermometer with us, who knows what my temperature was?

At any rate, I now feel much better and am back in blog mode.  Since I last wrote, despite feeling lousy, much has happened.  Naturally.

We saw a play, I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick, that was performed by community players.  It was originally produced on Broadway in 1991 and was pretty good.  We've also gone to see a few more rental houses for next year and found one we liked a lot.  There is a website with photos of it, but I'll wait until it's all sewn up to tell you more.

We had a conversation at the Jardin with a Mexican couple from a nearby town, an engineer and a doctor, half in Spanish and half in the English they wanted to practice.  I have noticed that the Mexicans with whom I've had extended conversations have no trouble at all refusing beggars and vendors hawking their wares.  The beggars are almost always old women and small children.  The old women in particular are striking:  their faces are so deeply lined.  Rick and I have been thinking about this.  One can't give money to all of them:  there are so many, and a little money wouldn't make any difference anyway.  It bothers him in particular to say No to them, not so much because of the money involved, although of course there is that too, but because it's hard to find a way to say No that does not deny their full humanity.  He has been carrying small plastic bags containing a couple of pieces of bread each to give to the beggars, and has received big smiles in return.

Monday night we had two people for dinner whom we met a week or so earlier at the party with the mariachi orchestra (you may remember).  I planned an easy dinner, given my low energy level, and it was a fine evening:  nonstop conversation.  Megan and Harry told us about the electricity here.  There's no heat or air conditioning in these San Miguel houses.  The thick stone walls keep them cool in warm weather, and gas-powered space heaters are used in the winter.  Cooking, hot water and space heaters are all fueled by gas from a tank on every roof, so it's possible to use little electricity.  There are three usage/price levels.  If you use more than limited electricity -- up to 600 pesos worth over two months, about $50 -- the cost per kilowatt goes up.  If you use a lot more than that it goes up even farther, to the point where you can be paying well over 1,500 pesos per two months.  If you reach this level you're not allowed to get back down to the lowest cost per kilowatt for six months regardless of your usage.  Very smart as a way to conserve energy!  The two of them have consequently become extremely sensitive to electricity usage, and it's clear we will too.  They also told us about something made of colloidal silver they put in their water tank that purifies the water for two years, making the five-gallon garrafons of purified water unnecessary.  We're hoarding all this information!

Yesterday Rick had his weekly writer's workshop.  He's written two stories so far and has read them to the group.  He came home brimming with their critiques and suggestions, and spent much of today revising his second story.  I am not only so happy for him but also impressed at the talent and sensitivity I hear in his writing.  He has a distinctive voice when he writes that I haven't heard before:  it feels like I'm witnessing the birth of a serious writer.  As many of you know I've written a number of books about gender equity in science and technology, but I have always believed I didn't have the talent to write fiction.  Rick urges me to try.  One of these days, I will.

Today after chorus I sat in the café at the Biblioteca with several chorus members and we talked for an hour or so.

The woman who took the photo, whom I like very much, is leaving for New York later this week.  That happens a lot in this town.  Her parents live here, and as a staff developer working in the NYC schools she and her husband have spent every school vacation here for years.  They count the days until they can move here permanently.  Even the people who do live here permanently make long visits to family -- often a month long! -- once or even four times a year.  Coordinating schedules can be tricky, and it's hard saying goodbye to people you've come to care for.

By the way, the bruise you see on my arm in the photo is from blood drawn several days ago to make sure I wasn't anemic.  (I'm not.)  Would you believe, it costs 30 pesos, about $2.75, for a complete blood workup with results ready in a few hours.  The wonderful news is that Rick's hematocrit level is now totally normal, finally!  He is feeling much stronger.

And I couldn't resist this next photo.  I watched a young woman climb the tree in the middle of the Biblioteca café.  It was about time, too:  the tree is eminently climbable.

Well, it's hard to believe, but we've already passed the halfway mark of our summer here in San Miguel.  I've started a list of things to bring with us when we return in early January!

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