Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Greetings from Puerto Vallarta, the beach resort on the Pacific Ocean where I'm "chilling out" for five days before heading back to Mexico City for two nights and then on to Buenos Aires for the South American part of my trip. The weather here is absolutely fantastic, and I've enjoyed swimming in the Pacific and in the hotel's swimming pool. Lots of Americans and other tourists here. It's not at all the "real" Mexico, but I'm certainly enjoying the luxury beore continuing "on the road".

Here I am standing in front of a statue of Humphrey Bogart on the island in the Rio Cuale. The statue was dedicated by John Huston, who directed "the Night of the Iguana", the 60's film that made Puerto Vallarta so famous.

Artisans' shops on island in the Rio Cuale, Puerto Vallarta

church on main square of Puerto Vallarta's Old Town

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I arrived in Puerto Vallarta this morning by bus from Guadalajara. It's sunny and warm. Here are some small photos of my sightseeing yesterday in Guadalajara

This is the Orozco mural on the staircase of the Palacio de Gubierno

This is the front of the Instituto Cultural Cabanas

This is the Orozco mural on the dome of the Instituto Cabanas

This is the Plaza des Armas in Guadalajara. Notice the French music "kiosk". Apparently, Maximilien had it built.

Pilgrims on their way to San Juan des Lagos near Guadalajara to worship the "Virgin" there. I knew I would probably being seeing them along the road as I traveled to Guadalajara by bus. They come from all over Mexico and pass through San Miguel every January 24th.

Saying goodbye the last night at the house: Diego, Tim, Patrick and Jessica

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Marina and her family have a new lodger. Jessica (on the left in the pink sweater) is a Japanese-Canadian from the Rocky Mountains who has returned to San Miguel to work more on her Spanish. In the photo next to Jessica, you see Sandra (Marina's daughter-in-law), Marina, son Juan Carlos, and Marina´s two granddaughters (Cynthia and Fernanda). I've really enjoyed living with the family and may return, just as Jessica has! Such warm and generous people. And so good at correcting our mistakes in Spanish!
I leave for Guadalajara tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. by bus. Will then travel on by bus to Puerto Vallarta after visiting Guadalajara. Tonight, my last night, I´m invited out for dinner and a concert. As usual, I'm finding it a bit sad to leave and to go on the road again.

Some Tallavera tiles in Dolores Hidalgo, the city which is famous here for "azuelos". Nancy and Dennis brought us here after we saw the Haas Collection

Works from the Haas Collection

Yesterday, I visited the private Haas collection of Mexican folk art. Friends Nancy and Dennis drove Lucille (in foreground), Patricia and me out to the house, which is on a hacienda on the way to Dolores Hidalgo. Mrs. Haas has been collecting Mexican art for about 40 years. You see her here explaining various pieces to us.

Dan is a pianist and composer. The apartment Dan and Barbara rented has a Yamaha piano, and Dan played for us the other night.

Young Canadian friends from habla Hispana School: Dan, Barbara and Patrick. Dan and Barbara invited Patrick and me for dinner in the apartment they'd just rented.

Friend Nancy and I sitting in front of the Parroquia church.

The Parroquia church in San Miguel. The concert and fire works last weekend took place on the square between the church and the Jardín.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What a weekend! On Saturday afternoon, I went out of town to La Gruta, where I swam in thermal hot springs! (My family drove me there and I took the bus back). Then yesterday, I took the bus to and from Guanajuato, a lovely colonial town an hour away from San Miguel. Here I am on top of the hillside looking out over the town. I spent 6 hours there and visited 5 museums, the university, the Juarez theater and the basilica. What were the museums? The Alhondiga (or former granary and later a prison), where there are famous murals by local artist Jose Chavez Morado and monuments to the heroes of Mexican independence. Also the City Museum, where there was a great exhibit of miniatures, as well as paintaings and murals by Morado. A museum of mummies (grusome!). A museum devoted entirely to depictions of Don Quixote. And finally, the house and birthplace of Diego Rivera. All this, PLUS a ride up on a funicular to the top of the mountainside. Then, in the evening, some friends and I listened to an outdoor concert and watched fireworks in front of the Parroquia church in San Miguel. These were in honor of the 238th birthday of Ignacio de Allende, a hero of the Mexican revolution.

A "landmark" in San Miguel that appears in many paintings that have been done. It's on calle Insurgentes

One of the main streets in San Miguel: la Calle insurgentes. I live just off of here, up near the church at the end.

a cobblestone street in San Miguel. You can imagine how hard it is to walk sometimes!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yesterday, I moved to a new place. I'll be living for a week with the Lopez family not far from "my" school. The room is very simple and rather noisy compared to the other one I had, but the family is delightful and Marina is a fantastic cook! Sons Diego and Juan Carlos are both in university. The older son and daughter ( Luis and Claudia) are both married and no longer live at home. They've had people from all over the world stay with them over the past 11 years. My young French Canadian friend, Patrick, has been living with them for three weeks, and he was the one who told me there was another room at the house.
Tomorrow I'm going to Guanajuato for the day. I'll be leaving San Miguel next Saturday, Jan. 27th. 'Will take the bus to Guadaljera, which I'll visit for several hours before continuing on by bus to the Pacific coast. A friend and I will be staying in Puerto Vallarta for 5 days. I then return to Mexico City for one night before leaving for Buenos Aires on February 4. I'll be a bit sad to leave San Miguel. I've really enjoyed it here and have made some nice friends. Maybe I'll come back again. Who knows?

Marina, Diego, Ernesto and Ernesto's brother

Sunset over the San Miguel reservoir. This photo was taken from the rooftop terrace of the home of Randy, Ann and Donna, who invited me to a cocktail party last Sunday.

I wish I'd had my camera on Wednesday night, as I was invited to the lovely home of Shirley and Tony, who live on top of a mountain outside of town with an unobstructed view of the whole valley and the mountains beyond. No wonder so many people want to settle in SMA! Tony and Shirley have done wonderful work here. They founded a NGO called "Feed the Children" which provides 3000 meals a day to poor Mexican children in 27 schools in the area. Apparently, if it weren't for these meals, the children wouldn't stay in school.

Part of the unfinished mural by Siegeros at the Bellas Artes.

The Bellas Artes Cultural Center in San Miguel. It was once a convent.

Schoolmates at Habla Hispana: Kenny, Barbara and Mike. Kenny and Mike were in my class for two weeks. Today was their last day. They're both from Colorado and will be working on organic farms for two weeks near San Miguel. The name of the international program they're involved in is something like "Volunteer Workers On Organic Farms." Barbara is Canadian--a former dancer and teacher of dance. She and her partner Dan have invited me for dinner next week.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

This is me in the street after the "House Tour" which I took today. It's organized by the Biblioteca and is run by volunteers. Various local residents (mostly Americans) agree to have their homes shown to some 150+ people every week--all this to support local Mexican charities. The homes were indeed beautiful--most of them looking like something out of "House and Garden". In typical American fashion, we were told the price of one of the homes: $2.5million. It's owned by some Texans, who are selling it to build another home here in San Miguel. I've been told that because of all these wealthy North American "snow birds", San Miguel is the richest city in all of Mexico! A good sociological study could be done here. A book I was told about is "Living in San Miguel on Social Security". Apparently, this used to be possible, but prices are rising quickly and it's not as easy these days. This morning I also attended the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. It seems like a nice, socially-responsbile group, but I was the youngest person in the room! The talk was given by a woman who spoke about growing up in the Bronx during the 1930's. Later this afternoon I'm going to a party hosted by a couple from San Francisco who live down here part of the year. I was given their name by Diane, my new friend in SF who took me to the writers' party in November. Tomorrow, it's back to school and to speaking Spanish! As in Paris, it could be very easy to live here all the time and not speak a word of the local language! And this is obviously NOT why I chose to come here.

View from roof of one house

View of Parochia Church from terrace of one house.

This is a Mariachi band that was playing in the courtyard of the Biblioteca this morning.

Local policeman Sunday morning

New friends Lucille and Pamela at restaurant last night.

Here's the Plaza de Civilitad of San Miguel about 9:30 on Saturday morning. Notice the blue sky. Although it's still cold in the mornings and evenings--the altitude being about 2400 meters here-- during the day it gets quite hot. My Spanish is getting better, thanks to my class and the fact that I speak with all the local merchants. I won't be going to Guanajuato tomorrow after all, as I've been invited to a party at 4 PM at someone's home. So I plan to go to on a house tour from 12 to 2 PM. Tried to find a swimming pool that was open today without success. However, I've heard there are hot springs outside town with pools, so next Saturday, I plan to check them out. The days are flying by.

Men standing outside the market. It's nine in the morning and they're hoping people will hire them to work for the day. The big "scandal" here among the Yankee residents is that a new Mega Store has opened up on the outskirts of town and that a Walmart will soon be coming. The fear is, as everywhere, that these types of stores will put the small shops--which are everywhere here--out of business. I checked out the Mega Store yesterday and bought a few things. Lots of hitches in paying, etc. They're not quite used to selling this way yet and kept apologizing. I told them it happens everywhere when a new store just opens up, not just in Mexico. They smiled and thanked me profusely. The people here really are very friendly.

This is the entrance to the market near where I'm staying. The market is open every day and sells fruit and vegetables as well as clothes and crafts.

Locals sitting in the Jardin

Close up of the Parochial Church, which is right on the "Jardin", the central square of San Miguel

Close up of the Parochial Church, which is right on the "Jardin", the central square of San Miguel

View of the Parochial Church from the terrace of the Instituto Allende.

view in the courtyard of the Instituto Allende