Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Here in San Miguel restaurants were running ads in Atención, the weekly bilingual paper, for Thanksgiving dinner for three weeks in advance.  Depending on the restaurant, many owned by gringos, the cost ranged from 200 pesos to well upward of 1,000 pesos. (The exchange rate lately is terrific, about 13.75 pesos to the dollar.)

We had company this past week -- our friends from Seattle Marja, her partner Rob, and two of their kids, Anja and Peace.  The place is so roomy that we could have slept even more people than that!  Of course there was a parade, as there often is.  Here's Marja and Anja at the parade, camera in hand.

Our adventure of the week was to go horseback riding.  I hadn't been on a horse in 25 years, but no problem!  It was the very best way to see the countryside, which is pretty dry now that the rainy season is over, but very beautiful.  At one point we were way above San Miguel, maybe 1,000 or 1,500 feet higher, and the altitude of San Miguel is 6,500 feet.  We passed just a few feet from the nose of a fierce-looking bull, past lots of cows,  pigs, chickens, and at every house several barking dogs.  In each case our horses said "Ho hum, so what's new?"  The woman who owns the service -- get this, an escapee from corporate life in Hoboken, New Jersey --  called the saddles "Western" but they had handholds in back as well as in front:  is this a Western saddle?  Such an expert I am.  Here's rough-rider Jo!

Marja sure looked comfortable on her horse.

We passed several old chapels, naturally, this being Mexico.  One of them, more than 200 years old, was in ruins.  Several of us were led inside on horseback, to look at the paintings still on the walls.  Here is Anja.  The cowboys who accompanied us were thrilled to have such a good-looking girl on the trip with them:  she sure had a great opportunity to practice her Spanish!

It was close to a four-hour ride and let me tell you, horseback riding at age 68 isn't quite the same as at 43.  Stiff doesn't begin to describe it.  But I am glad I went:  it was such beautiful scenery, and the way the campo (countryside) smells at twilight is extraordinary.

And the palapa (paLOPa) on the roof is finished, except for the dumbwaiter.  Marja gave up trying to pronounce it and called it the papaya, which sounds fine to me.  I am absolutely thrilled at the color, a sea green/turquoise.

This is what it's like inside the palapa.  It has three sides and the fourth side is open to the view.

And this is what you see if you turn around, a 180-degree view of San Miguel and the hills beyond.  For those of you who know San Miguel, the pointy orangish thing in the top center is the Parroquia, and the round dome to its left is the church on Canal at the top of Zacateros.

The iron work around the entire roof was a bit pricey, but it was essential.  The "wall" was 8 inches high and this is after all the third floor.  Although I guess it would have been possible to dive off the wall you see in the picture and make a soft landing in the pool below.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was marvelous fun, although I have to say that without Marja who helped so much with cooking and cleaning up it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.  This being San Miguel we had friends and friends of friends.  It nearly was a disaster.  I picked up my turkey (fresh, 22 pounds, a gringo price of about 850 pesos, about $65, but hey, it's once a year) that morning:  the store has a bigger refrigerator than I do so I asked them to keep it until the last minute.  When I got there the store owner, a sweet Israeli guy from whom I get my Passover seder foods too, told me that the electrical circuit the refrigerator was on had died the day before, so he put the turkeys in the freezer.  No problem, he assured me:  it's not very frozen and it will thaw out in an hour.  Well, it was a lot more frozen than he thought.  We defrosted it in water in the sink for hours but it was so big that when we put it in the oven the insides were still colder than the outsides, so it didn't cook evenly.  Oh well, there was Marja's good gravy for the dry parts.

Natalie, the friend with whom I went to Mexico City for a few days last month, invited me to spend two weeks with her at a timeshare apartment she has in Mazatlan, a city to the northwest of here.  On the beach!  With shade!  And just when I think nothing could be better than this, she tells me that this place is at a five-star resort.  We leave tomorrow morning.  How many different pictures of the ocean and the sand and the sunshine can I take, do you think?  Happy November and December, y'all!


  1. Great photos of your funon horseback. Love the palOPa.

  2. Hi Jo,

    I don’t know if you remember me, but I believe we met on Camano Island some years back when I was dating Chuck Durland. That ended after three years, but I have remained close friends with Chris and Pam Fredericksen, as well as Neva Sullivan (who I assume you know). When I told Chris and Pam that I was going to be spending two months in San Miguel this winter, they mentioned that you had moved there, and they thought it would be fun if the two of us got together.

    I have been in SM since November 18, and will be here until January 17, so hopefully we can figure something out. I am staying at my friend’s magnificent house on Ojo de Aqua, and you are more than welcome to come by for lunch or dinner one of these days. I go to La Biblioteca several times a week, so who knows, maybe we saw each other without evening knowing it!

    Chris and Pam also sent me the link to your wonderful blog. It’s clear that you have found your slice of heaven in SM.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Terry (Smith)