The day before yesterday it finally rained here in San Miguel. The daytime temperature in most of June was back into the low 90s and you cannot believe how sick and tired I was of the weather. In addition, the house we are in has no screen doors, so if we want the cool night air in the house we also get, at no extra charge, tons of mosquitoes and flies. Do you know how revolting it is to have bugs in your kitchen??? However, thanks to the hurricane on Mexico's Pacific Coast two days ago, we had a dramatic jump start to the rainy season. The temperature dropped instantly by 10 degrees. Today it is cloudy and cool, just perfect weather for a Pacific Northwest girl. I am much happier!
The deadline for the five contractors supposedly preparing fixed-price and fixed-deadline bids is in two days. This morning we got the first bid and it is very good news. It is from the contractor many Americans here work with, and I have been told by two people who have hired him that he does excellent work but he is very expensive. I have been hoping that all this work would cost less than $100,000 -- including the pool! -- and the expensive contractor submitted a bid for about $91,000. So we will likely wind up going with another contractor for less. Think of it: two houses, a separate guest room, a pool, and two tall trees for $160,000 plus under $90,000 for renovations! Lovely arithmetic. The closing date is Monday; next week we'll go to see some houses that the top contractors built and then will choose one and start the work.
One sad thing. My friend and cooking teacher, Yurina, will be moving to Cuernavaca, a city an hour south of Mexico City (and therefore about 4 or 5 hours from San Miguel), next month to take a job there. No more cooking lessons, no more recipes! Que lastima! (What a pity!)
As usual, it's fiesta time in San Miguel. There has been a lot of discussion lately on the San Miguel Civil List, a website for people to ask and answer questions and to discuss various aspects of life here, about fireworks. San Miguelenses love fireworks. Not just fireworks, but anything that goes BOOM. Church bells are everywhere and they are augmented many times by a huge variety of noise-making devices. Some of them sound like small bombs to me, but hey, I love the cheerfulness of it. Some people have been complaining about the predilection for 5 AM fireworks, for reasons that utterly escape me. There was an article in Atención, the local bilingual paper, that said that some fireworks are from the families of people recently deceased, to announce to God and the angels that their Dear One is arriving soon. Isn't that terrific?!
The most recent festival, this past Sunday, was El Dia de los Locos: the Day of the Crazies. It's sort of like a Rio de Janeiro Carneval, a Philadelphia Mummer's Parade, and a Seattle Solstice Parade all combined. There are thousands (the paper said ten thousand!) of people who marched in it, dressed in nutso costumes either in groups or as individuals, and zillions more watching. People come from many cities within a few hours of San Miguel to watch, to say nothing of this entire town's population. They start lining up hours earlier -- and remember, it's early afternoon, full sun, and temperature above 90!
Groups were generally preceded by vehicles with large signs announcing the group's identity, often neighborhood-based.
Many small children marched. I love the brilliant Mexican colors.
And many grownups did too. I am told that some people had managed to gussy up a burro to march in high heels, and am so sorry I missed that. I think one of the abiding objects of interest in San Miguel is watching women walk in 5" spike heels on the cobblestones. It's not even a rare sight!
Part of the fun of the parade is that the participants throw dulces -- candy -- to the onlookers. Some onlookers apparently decided they wanted dulces more than they wanted to be out of the sun.
One of my favorite marchers was this woman, who from her accent was American. Carnitas are sort of pulled pork, eaten (naturally) in a taco. Que ricas carnitas = how delicious carnitas is/are!
To conclude today's entertainment, here is something I found on the Civil List recently.
An American was thinking of visiting San Miguel de Allende but he was afraid. He contacted a native of SMA, saying he had some questions.
The American said, "I'm afraid to travel to central Mexico. Is there drug cartel violence in San Miguel?"
The SMA native replied, "No, most of the drug cartel violence is along the border with your country."
"What about earthquakes, then?" asked the American. "I hear there have been some bad ones in Mexico."
"Yes," said the SMA native, "but we don't have earthquakes in San Miguel. Most of the earthquake activity is around Mexico City."
"Hmmm," said the American, "I've read about the devastating hurricanes you have there during the summer, though. I'm very concerned about that."
"No," said the SMA native, "We're located in the center of the country; the hurricanes occur along our coasts. The hurricanes bring us rain but we're are grateful for that. We need the rain."
"Well," said the American, "then you must have TORNADOES!"
"No, no," said the SMA native, "We're located in the mountains and it's very dry and warm here in the spring. We don't have the weather conditions for tornadoes here."
By this time, the American was becoming exasperated. In the States, news reports were filled with all the terrible things happening in Mexico. "Well, look," he said, "San Miguel de Allende must have SOMETHING."
"We do," the SMA native replied. "Fiestas."