Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mexican Days - latest good read

I recently finished reading beautifully written Mexican Days: Journeys into the Heart of Mexico by travel author Tony Cohan. More like a novel than a travel book, Mexican Days chronicles Cohan's travel assignment just months after 9/11.

"I wrote about the high mountain idyll of the Sierra Gorda- its lazy rivers and tropical valleys, Franciscan missions and surreal jungle gardens; Mexico City's intensity and cultural turmoil; efflorescent Oaxaca and the guiding figure of Francisco Toledo; Guanajuato's twisting, tunneled dreamscapes, its phantoms and ghosts. I wrote of Veracruz State: Xalapa, with its coffee and orchids and mists; sweet Tlacotalpan's wide river and pastel buildings and son jarocho pulse. I wrote of the Mayan regions I'd visited: languid Mérida, the jungle retreat of Katanchel, Palenque's singing ruins, the weaving women of Chiapas."

... The more I looked, the more Mexico appeared fathomless. Yet as Francisco Toledo was showing us in Oaxaca, it was impossible, maybe meaningless, to separate Mexico today from Mexico yesterday: it was upon the stones of Monte Albán, not the shopping mall and the parking structure, that a meaningful Mexican present would be found, a future built."

Most enjoyable and available through - hard copy or Kindle.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Our neighborhood church

In 1729  Governor Antonio de Figueroa y Silva had the iglesia de Santa Ana constructed, supposedly over the foundation of a Mayan edification. The church was completed in 1733 and a plaque on the facade ( in old Spanish) indicates that de Figueroa y Silva is buried there. Not a grand cathedral, it has a simple beauty and stands proudly overlooking the neighborhood of Santa Ana. 

A mass in progress inside Iglesia de Santa Lucia, just a few blocks from Santa Ana.
I edited this shot in iPhoto with an antique effect. It made the texture of the facade really pop.

A not-so-good night shot of the much grander  Cathedral of San Ildelfonso (1556-1599) in the central plaza, the oldest Catholic Cathedral on the American continent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't pawn your silver & gold jewelry

This was just forwarded to me from my sister in Atlanta.

 I have always cringed when politicians of every stripe hail the US as "the greatest country on earth." In my opinion this relegates every other country in the world to, well... "not as good as us" status. It is certainly true that we are the most powerful in terms of weaponry, and the wealthiest, and the most influential in foreign relations. Could it be, with the HUGE mess we are in right now, power and wealth aside, that we are also the dumbest? I mean, three wars, a financial crisis unparalleled in my generation and caused by greed, a government that has lost all civility, and a clown who has forced the POTUS to publicly display his birth certificate to prove that he was born in this country!

It looks like take-out Chinese will replace Starbucks on every corner and our barbecue will be flavored with hoisin and/or rice wine vinegar (bye-bye Heinz).  And forget about french fries at your McD's. Fried wonton anyone?

Any financial advice out there for transferring more of the nest egg to Mexico?

P. S. OK, I lied. I will occasionally, on this blog, vent my frustration with US shenanigans.
As my sis said - Lord help us!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More construction photos

These are the hand painted pasta tiles used throughout the house.   They are  concrete and appear to be  about an inch thick. Once in place they are polished to a high gloss and are really beautiful.

Laying the tiles one-by-one and in perfect alignment!

Because the tiles do not line up from room to room, this interesting transition works very well and looks great once the grouting is finished.

Pattern in the two front salas. The architect's renderings show terra cotta tiles throughout, but in the end the pasta tiles were thankfully used.

Clay tiles don't work well with all the moisture that comes up from the ground, so these are actually cement slabs that have been expertly formed  and finished with a terra cotta color. Small white stones have been placed between the pavers for a really nice effect.

Built-in shelves for computer, printer, etc. with wires and cables recessed into the wall. The holes were later be filled in, smoothed over and painted.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

29º on Monday

No, it wasn't cold yesterday. It was 85ºF here. A welcome warm day after weeks of chilly weather. I'm trying to become efficient at converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius, but let's face it, without a calculator, there is no way for this gringo to get it exactly right. I mean, I can do the subtraction part in my head (Temp in Fº - 32). But then you have to multiply that by 5/9.  5 divided by 9 is 0.55555556.  If I round that to 0.5, then it's possible for me to make the calculation in my... ummm, senior citizenized head. No offense to you geriatric brainiacs. But if I round 5/9 to 0.5, then the temperature in C. will be off by a few degrees. In other words, if it is 104ºF, I might tell someone that it is 36ºC ( 104-32 x 0.5 ). The correct answer would be 40ºC.  36ºC would be 96.8ºF, much cooler than the actual 104ºF! The difference between copiously sweating and more copiously sweating.

Now, if you want to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit, here's how: (9/5 * Tc) + 32 = Tf.  So, if it is 40ºC you multiply 9/5 or 1.8 times 40 and add 32, which =104ºF.  Forget about rounding the 1.8 up to 2.0. That would come out to 112ºF and I would most likely submerge myself in the pool for the entire day in an attempt to avoid most copiously sweating.

Here's what I have come up with.  Between 21ºC and 27ºC is perfect (70-80ºF), between 28ºC and 34ºC is warm (82-93ºF) so dress appropriately. Between 35ºC and 39ºC (95-102ºF) is hot, so be prepared to sweat and ALWAYS walk on the shady side of the street. When the thermometer tops 39ºC, I plan to stay in or near the pool whenever possible. Oh, and 20ºC and below (but not too much below) is ideal for sleeping sin A/C.

Finally, if my body temperature is greater than 37ºC (98.6ºF), I will need to take some acetaminophen because I have a fever. If it hits 40ºC or higher I should probably visit the servicio de urgencias.