Well, a cold has slowed me down -- it's about time something did! Maybe my social life has been fuller than my body can stand.
On Saturday afternoon we went to Bellas Artes, which was built in the 18th century as a convent and is now devoted to art exhibits. The annual chamber music festival is in town, and in addition to paid concerts there are several free concerts as well as students practicing around town in various places. We sat in the courtyard and listened as two young pianists played four-handed Grieg. This is what the courtyard of Bellas Artes looks like.
The dome is part of the building. It's very beautiful.
In the evening we went to a party at the home of people we met a few days ago. There must have been thirty people there, and it was quite elaborate with hors d'oeuvres and a full dinner. The hosts engaged a mariachi orchestra to play. They were six or eight men -- always men, by the way, never a woman. Can you imagine how loud it is, trying to hold a conversation over six or eight men singing at the top of their lungs against a stone wall?
As it happened I fell into conversation with a woman named Megan, and liked her immensely. She and her husband had been coming to San Miguel for many years part time, and about five years ago they decided to leave their jobs and move here permanently. It isn't often that I go to a party and only talk to one person, but it was obvious she was special. In an email yesterday, Megan told me more about the winters here:
"I wanted to make sure I told you about winters in San Miguel so that you'd be prepared when you came. It's cold. Very cold. Not so much outside as inside. It's those cement walls. Freezing.
"I finally got rid of my Chicago fur coats when we moved here - yes, kept them for 30+ years in Houston (never wearing them for multiple reasons). After we moved here and had gone through one winter, I asked my mother if I could have her mink coat if she wasn't using it (she wasn't) so I could wear it IN the house (definitely NOT on the street - again, for multiple reasons). It's quite cozy with that coat on (a little cumbersome though).
"An electric blanket is absolutely essential. Heating pads are helpful too. We don't use an electric heater because electricity is expensive here - we are very careful with electrical usage because of the availabity of government subsidies if you keep your usage at a certain level (I'll tell you about that later). We have propane heaters but they can only be used for short periods of time or else one might die (we have propane gas detectors). You should have warm clothing to put on in layers."
Who knew it would get so cold here? After all, how bad could it be with the temperature in the 70s outside? This is wonderful information.
After a while the mariachi orchestra decided to move inside next to where Megan and I were sitting, and at this point conversation really became impossible.
At 9 o'clock I was relieved when they ended their stint for the evening: the quiet was delicious. Megan and her husband, Harry, are people we will be seeing more of.
Rick and I walked home in a light rain, which was delightful. To round off the superb evening, at 11 PM we heard explosions and realized they were fireworks. They were bursting almost directly over our house. We went out to the roof patio and in the light rain ooh'd and aah'd over the fireworks.
Yesterday, though, I had a fever. Nothing to do with the rain but everything, I think, to do with the pace of activities in the life here. So Rick went by himself to "comida," the main meal of the day, at 2 PM at Fabiola's, the Mexican woman we met two weeks ago. I was very sorry to miss that. Just as he was leaving Fabiola's house the sky opened up and he arrived here soaked through and through. He loved it.
As is his daily habit now, Rick went out this morning and through the afternoon, meeting people right and left. He now knows many more people than I do and is speaking Spanish much more than I am. He brings home stories to me about the people he meets, and I gobble them up. I in the meantime stayed home and read, and the fever is now gone and the cold is getting better. These couple days off (!) are what I needed. But I'm eager to get back to San Miguel. This week we have appointments to see three houses for rent for next year. That is always interesting.