Monday, September 19, 2016

Churros In The Plaza—Snakes On The Doorstep

Churros In The Plaza—Snakes On The Doorstep
            My friends are back home in British Columbia. I signed up for three days of depression, lonely following our whirlwind of explorations and excitement. A vibrantly green lizard perches on my wall, staring down at me, as if to say, “I’m here. Don’t cry.”

            Each day brought choices, where to go, what to see. We drove to Tonola twice for the tianguis (open-air street market). Twice we plucked fruit and vegetables from huge piles at the Friday tianguis in Etzatlan.  

Under the guise of signing Kathy up for phone/internet service, we went to Tequila. Yes, Tequila is the actual name of a town.

            Etzatlan, in the valley rich with black volcanic dirt, is purely farm country. Tequila, in the red-rock volcanic hills, surrounded by blue agave fields, is home to Jose Cuervo Tequilas. The beautiful town, clean and festive, lured us into the museum, gallery, shops and a restaurant, of course, where I had shrimp in Tequila sauce. No, I did not have to go to a meeting afterward.  

            We staunchly resisted temptation though we could have been lured into imbibing tequila every ten meters. People here laugh at Americanos who drink rotgut bar tequila in slammers or sinkers or some weird thing—as quickly down the hatch as possible because it is so bad. Tequila is meant to be sipped and savored. Distilleries guard their secret recipes. Each brand has different strengths, flavors, and ages.  

            Oops—there goes my lizard, Verde, straight down into the giant philodendron, head first. I’ve been abandoned again!

            We saw Magdalena, famous for opal mines. We yielded to temptation, mea culpa, in San Marcos, where artisans make clay pottery dishes and cookware.

            Our favorite baker had a severe stroke so his (the 4:00) panaderia is closed. In our minds his baked goods are the best. So we had to search out other bakeries. We have settled on the 12:00 bakery for fresa (strawberry) empanadas, the 2:00 bakery for the most delicious Mexican cookies and the 5:00 bakery for bread rolls and other melt-in-your mouth goodies. Times refer to when the goodies emerge from the ovens.

These are very small bakeries, no signs over the door. Bread is made fresh daily and often sold out within a couple hours. It’s hard to justify baking when an empanada is 3.5 pesos and a bread roll is 3 pesos.

            About a half hour drive from Etzatlan, in the hills of Teutchitlan, archeologists uncovered ancient ruins of the Guachimontones pyramids. As early as 300 BCE an ancient people built a complex society around circular stepped pyramids. We were allowed to wander around these ancient sites, only a few of which have been restored. This is a “must” trip for everyone who visits me. No argument.

            On the way back from the pyramids, we dined at the three hundred year-old Hacienda La Rivera. I don’t mean we ate. We dined. There is a difference. We savored our choices over three hours. It seemed fitting. Nothing should be rushed after a day in the spiritual ruins.

            One Sunday evening we sat in the Plaza just to watch people and munch churros. There is something which must be respected in a society in which the entire family strolls around the square after church, enjoying one another, enjoying their neighbors.

            Every day brought new experiences, special times. My friends did not want to leave. On the last day we were sitting on my patio when a coral snake curled into view from around a flower pot to the right of my door. Kathy and Crin jumped on chairs. I knew it wouldn’t attack. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t afraid like I was with my first coral snake. But I wasn’t going to embrace it.

Josue and Erica ran over with shovels and dispatched the slinky bugger. What happened with “You’ll probably never see another one”? In Mexico it is against the law to kill the snakes. Don’t tell.

            You might think all we do down here is gallivant around. My everyday life is simple. We over-filled the few days Kathy and Crin were here. It was Crin’s first visit and we had ulterior motives. We wanted to convince Crin to buy a house and come frequently. Will she? A strong “maybe,” “probably,” “almost a done deal”.

            I’ll miss them terribly. Here comes a three-day depression. Three days of rest. My neglected garden is crying for attention. Working in the dirt will pull me together. Oh, another lizard on my wall—this one gray.

            Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 15, 2016

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