Posts Tagged Guanajuato

Random Thoughts

Posted on April 23, 2010 by 6 Comments

It’s official – we’ve moved back into the bus and are on our way again. Here are a few random thoughts until we figure out where we’re going:

Our Spanish teacher told us about her husband’s love of cockfighting. He raises his own cocks and everything. It’s illegal, but apparently not uncommon.

The family atmosphere is something we really love about Mexico. The babies don’t cry, the bigger kids take care of the littler kids, and the teenagers walk arm in arm with their grandparents down the street in the evenings. It’s supposed to be this way.

When we’ve been to the local park, a group of kids of all ages welcomes Bode and starts playing with him regardless of the language barrier. It’s not something unique to this town, but a general attitude of inclusion among the kids in Mexico.  At the end of an hour playing with this particular group, they had given Bode a plastic helicopter toy and a ball. He was thrilled.

Countless restaurants have turned on cartoons or put in movies for Bode when we arrive (during sushi he saw the first half of Avatar…they even changed the settings from Spanish to English for him). Everyone is open-hearted to the kids. It’s supposed to be this way.

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On weekends (and all through Semanto Santa) mimes and clowns performed for tips to a huge crowd that sat outside in the heat on the steps of the historic Teatro Juarez. Bode was delighted with these performances, as were hundreds of Mexicans.

I think of all the times we brushed pass the ‘silver guy’ or Bush Man in San Francisco scoffing at the handful of tourists watching the shtick. But here, it’s so different. Pure joy. And it isn’t just those in the crowd. If the mime tries to make fun of someone passing by, he gets into the act. I’ve seen bald men chase him in jest for a hair joke, ice cream vendors toot the horns on their carts just as the mime bends over, and women pretend to be in love with him. It’s just amazing–daily life- it’s theater–and all part of the show.

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The apartment worked out to about 15$ USD per day. Camping on the hillside was $12.

Our apartment was a steal – but we found out why. We had to deal with the occasional poo smell wafting through. After much discussion, some finger-pointing and further investigation we figured out that the shower drain was probably installed with no trap – connected directly to the sewer. We made a make-shift drain plug and kept the door closed and that seemed to take care of it.

The next order of business was the poop paper basket. If you’re flushing your paper, you’re just not in Mexico. This hasn’t been (too much) of an issue so far, but now we had our own apartment and were in charge of emptying out the trash ourselves. You have to really love somebody…

Our tiny studio apartment was right above the street vendors – we literally had to push our way out the door between ladies cutting up cactus, bakers selling bread on boxes, the plastic-ware lady, the veggie guys, etc. If we were ever hungry or needed anything, it was just right outside our door.

We ate from just about every cart, but settled in with one of the gordita ladies as our favorite. We could barely walk by one lady cooking up cabeza in a huge pan. She was fortunately positioned towards the end of the block and could be avoided. Our friend Ane is pregnant and we had a quick discussion about how her sense of smell is heightened… Mexico could be a tough place to be pregnant if only for that reason.

There is a complete absence of cooking utensils at all the food carts. Doesn’t seem to matter. Need to flip the tortillas, carne, or whatever? Just grab it and flip it. Go ahead and touch the scalding cooktop – doesn’t hurt a bit. Need to move those coals around underneath?  Just reach in and poke them around with your hand.

Giant fried pork skins. Gotta love ‘em.

On the way up to our door we would walk right by the open window of our neighbors kitchen, where we could look right down into her pots to see what was she was cooking for dinner. It’s an intimate town.

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On our last night in town, we went for a walk to the big Jardin and had dinner and soaked it all in. There were dueling mariachis every few steps and lively activity everywhere. The edificios and gardens are even more beautiful at night. This is just a great place. We usually tire of places quickly, but even after 3 weeks we don’t feel like we’re finished with Guanajuato. We’ll be back some day.

And, no, we’re not interested in selling the bus.

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Bode’s Perspective

Posted on April 22, 2010 by 3 Comments

We’re packing up and getting ready to move back into the bus today. We really love this town and we know we’ll be back some day. But, for now, we’ve pretty much decided to get out of the cities and head back to the beaches and keep moving south. Well, maybe just a few more colonial towns. As always, we’re open to suggestions.

We finished our 2 weeks of language classes here with mixed reviews. We learned some things, but really aren’t significantly more proficient at speaking the language than when we arrived. Practice, practice, practice I suppose.

Bode’s has been trying to learn Spanish too – enough to ask the waiter “¿Tienne azucar, por favor?” last night at dinner when his limondada wasn’t sweet enough. He’s learned the important stuff.

He was pretty much running the show in the classroom, so we’re happy they were able to teach him anything at all. One day he took the camera to class and took some photos while we conjugated irregular verbs in past tense.

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Just Another Day

Posted on April 21, 2010 by 2 Comments

Today I was out on the street with my head under the deck lid. This is actually great place to meet people. Aside from the kids that wanted to chat, the first guy that came along wanted to tell me about his bus. He’s actually got two of them (of course,) but is trying to make one complete camper.

He knew about the blue VW bus up on the hill where we had been camping. Apparently he’s even tried to buy it with no luck. It’s a chocolato… or illegally imported/hot… so the owner is wringing his hands trying to figure out what to do with it. Ocatavio said this is very common – workers that cross the border into the US, buy a car, and then drive home without bothering with any paper work. The result is a car nobody can do anything with.. and when they do sell, they go for cheap.

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Next, was a guy who told me about the local béisbol game. After I finished digging for vacuum leaks, I went back to the apartment and grabbed Bode. He said he didn’t really want to watch baseball,  but would go for the snacks.

We paid 10 pesos total (0.80$ USD) and took our place among the smattering of fans on the cement bleachers. I rooted for the Cardinales (local team) while Bode took the visitors. Some were wearing mis-matched jerseys, so it clearly didn’t really matter.

It was an unintentionally impressive stadium – a mostly dirt lot with the rock base of the mountains serving as the jagged outfield wall. A wooden scoreboard 20 meters up the rocks above center field contained someone barely visible who was keeping track of the action. An occasional foul ball would clang on the tin roof and Bode quickly realized that there was someone up there running around collecting them and immediately dropping them back into play.

We didn’t have to watch for long to understand why we only paid 10 pesos for our boletos. I was reminded of the first baseball team I ever played on when I was a kid. The guy in right field for the Cardinales was an obvious sorry target for the opposing team and they took full advantage. The visitors also realized that aggressive base-running will beat sloppy fielding on any day. I was hoping the Cardinales would make some similar coaching decisions, but they didn’t.

There was some solid baseball too. We saw a few snappy double plays and some defeated base-stealing. A few collisions at home plate livened things up and reminded us how badly each team wanted to win despite the low stakes. A stray pitch bouncing off someone’s noggin’ got our attention too. It doesn’t matter what league it is – it hurts.

The whole thing made me wonder what it must have been like in the US back at the turn of the (last) century when barnstorming baseball teams of dubious talent played on sandlots across the country for almost nothing. You have to love the game.

Oh, and the baseball game snacks? Gigantic fried pork skins – chicharones. Eat them whole or break them up and put them between bread with some lime and chili powder.

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Later we took and evening stroll through town. The shoe-shine guys all over town are another anomaly in Mexico that hearkens back to an earlier era. There’s an endless supply of customers, too.

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To cap the evening off was a grand wedding at the bug church in the middle of Centro. There are an endless supply of these too, with brides and guests lining up for their slot at the big chapel on a Saturday night.

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Neighborhood Battalions

Posted on April 20, 2010 by 2 Comments

We were sitting in the apartment thinking about the things we want to do before wrapping up our time in Guanajuato when a parade literally marched down the street. We looked over our terrace and didn’t see much, but there was no mistaking the sounds of drums and trumpets getting closer and closer. We put on our zapatos and ran downstairs to the park just outside.

When we got down to the street, we saw several folks hopping off a bus with more trumpets and drums (either late-comers or cheaters) and running down to the other end of the park. We followed and found groups of costumed participants playing or waiting their turn to make some noise. There really didn’t seem to be much organization. Multiple bands would be playing as loud as possible immediately adjacent to each other, apparently trying to drown each other out.

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After looking a little closer we noticed that each group had some sort of “Battalion” banner with a possible indication of neighborhood affiliation on it. Some were dressed casually with only matching shirts and some were festooned in feathers and full warrior regalia, swinging machetes wildly.

Being in a band only seemed to require desire (or possibly obligation) and the ability to play loudly. Actual musical ability seemed to be less important.  The bands consisted of all ages too – no one was too small to clang cymbals together and march down the street.

We’re still not really sure what the occasion was, but there were some sort of pall-bearers carrying statues of Mary and Jesus. Even the kids had smaller versions to drag down the street.

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Less than twenty minutes later, everyone had played and danced and already began marching back down the street. Our neighborhood had been entertained and they were off to spread more merriment as quickly as they arrived.

Also, we just started an experiment with a Bodeswell Facebook page. If you’re a Facebooker, go ahead and “Like” us or “Friend” us and let’s see what happens…

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(?!)

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Birthdays and Bullis

Posted on April 19, 2010 by 4 Comments

We had been sending occasional emails back and forth to Ane, Andres and Luca since October. We unknowingly met some of their friends while camping with Jim in Oregon and they contacted us through them. We figured we’d connect somewhere down the road.

A few days ago we heard they were close, so we decided to finally meet up at our place over the weekend. It’s a good thing we did.

I sent them some directions and we planned on meeting at the bus. I told them “You can’t miss it – it’s the only bright red bus in GTO.” Amazingly, they found it with no problem. Even more amazing was that they made Bode a vegan cake for his birthday – it was awesome!

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We are always saying that the highlights of the trip aren’t the places we visit but the great people we meet. Once again, this is the case. Ane and Andres are great folks and it took less than 2 minutes for Bode and Luca to become best friends. They were inseparable all weekend.

The kids explored the city and we followed.

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We heard about a star-gazing event outside of town, so later we went looking for the special Noche de las Estrellas bus to take us out to the mountains.

It was all set up for kids. First, there was excellent story-telling (Spanish, of course) from a costumed neanderthal with groovy musical accompaniment. Later, I tried to ignore the presentation on Einstein’s theory of relativity. We need to learn way more Spanish.

We were given star charts and were waiting for it to get completely dark so we could look through the 20 or so telescopes when a cold wind picked up and storm clouds started closing in. This is the danger of astronomy events, I suppose. Within 10 minutes, the sky was covered and it looked like a torrential downpour would begin any minute. The rest of the event was canceled, and the free bus that brought us out there wasn’t coming back any time soon.

Ane made the right call to hike up to the main road and flag down a bus. We finally caught one and made it back to town just in time for the weather to clear up. We sipped cheap wine on the veranda and looked up at a clear starry sky. At least we had some star charts.

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Ane and Andres are interesting folks. She’s a master stone carver and he’s a furniture maker who both decided to take some time off and travel long-term. Luca is learning his third language at age 3. They left from Wisconsin in a ’75 VW Riviera pop-top and headed for the West Coast while we were going the other way.  Not surprisingly, they have had a few mechanical problems along the way ;)

Unfortunately, they have some looming issues bigger than the VW. She’s a dual-US/German citizen but he is not, which is turning out to be a major issue for their trip. We continue to hear stories about complications non-US citizens have with the US immigration system and it truly seems ridiculous. Hopefully, it will all get sorted out soon and we can keep crossing paths as we head south.

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We swapped stories and it seems like we’ve had some pretty similar experiences and have actually met some of the same people.

They met Jim and the Portland VW bus crowd, coincidentally sold a bike rack to our buddy Peter (maybe?) in San Francisco, met some folks in San Diego (?), ran into Fred in Baja – who all told them about the BodesWell family… again and again.  It was a little strange to hear them recount all the people they had met and the times they had been told about us. Apparently, they were even mistaken for us a few times. We kinda feel bad… and weird. Sorry – small world.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Posted on April 17, 2010 by 19 Comments

Happy 5th Birthday, Bode!

Bode is laying in the bed next to me as I write this. Sprawled legs and arm wide, taking full advantage of the king size bed we have til next week. He seems so much bigger than when we left 8 months ago (has it really been that long?). Yet he still seems too young to send off to kindergarten, or to trust with any sort of sharp object.

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He’s grown since the onset of the trip, not just physically (we’ll have to compare that on the old growth chart when we get back), but emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. He continually questions us, always surprises and never…never wants to sleep.

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He’s often asked his favorite part of the trip, and I’m always amazed by his answers. There are many.

The Ghost Town named after him

Vegan donuts

Moe’s place

Visiting the place where they make the laws, Victoria BC

Anytime there was snow

Crazy Horse

Yo-yo and Wolfie’s house (he wants to move next door) because they have Lego Star Wars for Wii

The Empire State Building

Full Moon Camping

Seeing shooting stars

Video games with his cousins

Holidays with the family

Carnaval in La Paz, Baja California

Boogie Boarding in Sayulita

I was often asked if I thought he’d remember this trip, and yes, I don’t think he’ll ever forget it.

Happy Birthday kid, to know you is to love you.

With all my love,

Mom

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Textures and Layers

Posted on April 16, 2010 by 2 Comments

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I’m not sure what else to say about this city that hasn’t already been said.

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Each day you can peel off a new layer and discover something new.

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Each day everything just seems a little bit different than it was before.

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All of our senses are happy here. There’s barely time for Spanish homework.

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