Completely wordless. Damn. Every time I sit down at the computer, I mostly see a blank screen. Try as I might I can’t get my brain to synthesize the last nine weeks and what they have meant to us. It’s the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever encountered, and it’s really starting to piss me off. How do people write for a living? I want to describe so much to you and my words just seem so trite!
This morning I woke up with a continuing horrible cold, and I’m not at my very best, but I really wanted to try to share with you what these last nine weeks have been like.
The last nine weeks have been the best nine weeks of my life. Andy concurs. We are having an absolute blast. Most mornings we wake up and the day is ours, with the exception of the two days a week Andy works. We like to start each day with coffee out of the house. We sit on beautiful colonial squares, we bask in the sunshine, we listen to music pouring out from the windows of the local music academy. We read. We pinch ourselves and ask, “Did we really make this happen?”
We return home for a simple lunch of egg salad or tuna, or eat a $1.35 quesadilla out. And we wander, and wander, and wander. Falling, falling, falling for each colonial church, for each child we see selling trinkets, for every schlocky vendor vying for our attention. Perhaps we’re still in the defined “honeymoon phase,” when everything about a country seems new, fascinating and jaw-dropping. I’m certainly not discounting this as a possibility. What I can say is that I have absolutely zero regrets about making the decision to do this. We’re completely enthralled with Mexico and we are slowing falling more and more in love with the Mexican people.
This country is about the people. A people who rarely stop smiling and who exude warmth. This country is about people who love to party and who don’t need an excuse to celebrate life. A large part of Mexican life revolves around town squares with restaurants, bars and park benches outlining each perimeter. We love watching Mexicans enjoying their squares. They celebrate life by having coffee on the square, and by taking their families to enjoy free musical celebrations. By drinking beers with their friends, and by packing local bars and restaurants. We feel happy to be among them and we are greeted with warm hospitality that goes above and beyond the treatment we would receive in many other places.
Let me give you just one example about Mexican hospitality a la sparkling water. I like sparkling water and I order it often. Three times out of five, the sparkling water takes forever to arrive. I chalked this up to slow Mexican service. Then one day I looked down the street and I saw that our waiter had walked down the way to purchase a can of mineral water from a local tienda. The restaurant didn’t have sparkling water, but since I ordered it, they went out of their way to make it happen. This has happened time and time again. If a restaurant doesn’t have something, the staff will go out of their way to get it. Always with a “no problema.” Talk about feeling welcomed! As a tourist, can I get this type of hospitality in Paris? I think not!
Sometimes I wonder if I’m waiting for the honeymoon period to end so I can start missing the states. And I do miss it. I miss having lunch with my friends, and taking walks around Oakland. I miss meeting girlfriends for cocktails at the local watering hole. I miss store-bought hummus and artisan bagels. I miss listening to the top-of-the-hour news on the radio. But both Andy and I agree that this has been the best nine weeks of our lives. We feel free. We feel deliriously in love. All of these beautiful colonial cities have turned us back into hand holders (plus the pavement is so uneven, I’m doomed to trip if not holding onto Andy tightly). We feel liberated and we feel SO blessed that my health continues to allow us to continue this adventure. I finally found an oncologist that I love! His name is Miguel Flores and he speaks great English. His office can administer the tests I need every three months and out out-of-pocket costs are low. In fact, both the test and exam cost about $70 USD. His office is 3.5 hours away from Zihuatanejo in Morelia, so we’ll mosey to the big city once in a while for a weekend outing and stock up on things we can’t find in Zihuatanejo. The toll road is a straight shot and it’s an easy journey.
We’re now in Patzcuaro, Mexico, another beautiful colonial city with a population of 52,000. It’s simply beautiful. It’s near Lake Patzcuaro, and the many indigenous Mexican communities around the lake produce local crafts. We arrived on Friday and we’ve been sick with colds for most of the weekend, so we haven’t had much time to check it out, but we’ll be here for the next two weeks, plenty of time to wander. In the meantime we spent July 3rd at a fun ex-pat party and on July 5, while Andy worked, I tutored two ex-pat senior citizens on how to use their iPads and cellphones! Patzcuaro has way more ex-pats than Morelia. We often see them walking, shopping and sitting at a cafe on the plaza everywhere; in Morelia, would could spend all day walking all over the city and not see one gringo.
In Patzcuaro, we’re staying in a funky two-bedroom, two-bath casita located out the back of a furniture store/art gallery. Our only access to our little front door is through the shop! It’s unlike any place we’ve ever stayed. And the best thing … it’s only $11 USD a night! A very low price even by Mexico standards. We found this place by happenstance. When we were here two weeks ago having coffee, we met a Canadian couple that lives here. Asked by us if they knew of any local rentals, they told us about this art gallery, and even led Andy there (in a rainstorm) as it was too difficult to describe the route to two people who had no knowledge of the town. After the storm ended, we went there together and stumbled through some Spanish with the shop worker, who led us through the store, out the back door and into a tiny, little courtyard. There stood a lovely, free-standing, two-story casita with wood beams, a fireplace and a decent-sized kitchen. It’s a bit worn around the edges, but good enough for two weeks. Especially at $3,000 MX for two weeks, a steal (from our perspective) for something just 1.5 blocks off the main square! It has a fridge and a stove and an oven (rare in many Mexican rentals), but when we moved in, I was disappointed to find it so dirty. A few waste baskets had some trash in them, the bathroom mirrors were dirty and the floors looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks … not what one expects when starting a rental. There were even a couple of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Disgusting!! So we inquired about a housekeeper and signed one up; she arrived with one helper, then suddenly another appeared. The three of them scrubbed and mopped and wiped down everything, and three hours later the place was gleaming. And the total cost? The pre-arranged price was a mere $200 MX (about $11 USD), but we gave them $300 because they did such a bang-up job. Now our little casita, with its slanting roof, tiled floors, and little wooden doors that look like they’re at least 100 years old, is both cute and clean! We’re happy campers.
We are finding the “real Mexico” via living in these colonial towns, and we are so mesmerized by their beauty. After Patzcuaro, we’re going to meet up with my mom, sister, and her husband, Paul, for a week back in Zihuatanejo. Then Pam, Andy, my mom and I will travel to the state of Guanajato and one of its well-known cities, San Miguel de Allende, where some 10,000 Americans and Canadians live. On our way, we will visit and stay in Patzcuaro and Morelia, and explore other “pueblos magicos” as they are officially designated … magical towns, indeed.
Here’s a link to some photos of our pad that Andy posted via Facebook.
So much to look forward to and so much to share with you!