Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Logistics Day

Street scene in San Miguel.
Today (Tuesday) we traveled via bus from Patzcuaro to Queretaro and then on another to San Miguel. Trini and Fidel took us to the Camionera Central and we rode on a super deluxe double decker to Morelia. Too bad it was only for one hour, it was fantastic, by far the nicest bus I've ever ridden on. A sign on the door said it also had WiFi, but if it did, it wasn't working.

My friend Barb calls the days when you change cities "Logistics Days". That was today. Constant toting, standing around, strapping, unstrapping, and surveillance of our luggage while one or the other hit the can. We got onto buses fairly quickly without a lot of sitting in bus terminals, but all the same, we left before 9:00 and arrived in San Miguel well after 6:00. The ride took us up out of the verdant lake region into a countryside resembling Santa Fe and northern NM. Except for the tree sized cactus forests, the landscape appears very similar. Along the way there were farming regions and a few swampy lake areas where cows stood 'udderly' immersed in shallow water eating water lilies. In other 'campos' sheep and goats held sway. I had heard that the Mexican corn industry had been wiped out by NAFTA, which allowed the US to dump super-cheap corn onto Mexican markets. That is probably true. I did see a number of fallow fields with weeds interspersed with corn stalks that sprouted on their own, but I also saw many fields with what is probably a second crop of corn since most of the ears are not quite fully developed and it's pretty late in the season if this were in the US. The markets are loaded with sweet corn and vendors sell corn roasted in its own husks then slathered with mayonnaise and chile powder all over the place. 

Teenagers dressed up for Independence Day.

It was interesting to come into San Miguel from Queretaro. I had only gone as far as the Tuesday Market, up on the flat area east of town last February. This time we came across that plain and down into San Miguel. Because of the Bicentennial there are fairs, carnivals, and festivities all over. The town is decorated with plastic red,white&green flags bearing the likenesses of Allende and Morelos stretched across the streets at intervals of about 10 feet. The Mexican flag is flying everywhere, and as we left Queretaro, there was one that must have been the size of a football field flying near the bus station. 

We had no trouble finding our little apartment, it's right across the street from Hotel Real de Minas where I spent a week in February at the Writer's Conference. There's an OXXO store right next door. It's the equivalent of a 7-11 in the US, only bigger with more real food available. The only problem is that we are at the junction of two major streets so there is a lot of traffic noise and party animals shouting and carrying on. I suspect much of that is due to the holiday. 

The neighbor, Bill, who had the key for us, came in and visited for a while. The woman we have rented from lives here, so I raided her fridge and fixed us some tea and cantaloup. The back wall of the kitchen/living room is painted blood red, and that color is reflected in some picture frames and a table top. Other than that, the house is fairly bland with dark wood furnishings and neutral fabrics. Tiny but comfortable. Bill recommended a Chinese restaurant down the street so that's where we went. The waiter spent much of his childhood in Pittsburgh, so a job waiting tables in a heavily ex-pat American town is perfect for him. 

I'm looking forward to the celebrations. Tomorrow evening the re-enactment of El Grito, the call to arms by the insurgents, will start at 8:30 pm and go on till two or three in the morning. There was an article in Atencion about the men playing the hero rolls. The choice of actor has more to do with horsemanship skills than with how much the man looks like a particular Hero. There have been several horse/people accidents in the past and so excellent skills are needed to keep the spectators alive. I expect the Jardin in the center of town will be packed solid. San Miguel was where the wave of machete armed peasants and a few guys on horseback came when they left Dolores Hidalgo at the start of the revolution. They quickly subdued the Spanish here, but not for long. Eventually all the Heroes were captured and executed, their heads displayed in a plaza in Guanajuato. The names proliferate in streets and towns: Hidalgo, Allende, Morelos, Aldama. It's going to be a blast. I'm so glad to be able to experience this rare occasion.