Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday Church Views

Sunday dawned foggy, a gray so thick it felt slimy. I couldn’t even see the gate at the bottom of the property.  But by 9:00 it was burned off and there was clear blue sky without a single cloud.

It seemed like a good day to go to the top of one of the two churches that flank the town and have spectacular views. I wasn’t feeling very energetic, I’ve had a little bout of stomach-ugly, probably from eating far too many mangos and bananas.  I fixed breakfast and joined Natalia on the landing where they have a picnic table and an umbrella. As good as some of the food is around here, nothing beats my own cooking. I had lefto-over guacamole so ate that with tomato slices, a scrambled egg and (yet another!) mango. We chatted a bit and she showed me a website with all the San Cristobal activities that are going on. I have Google’d San Cristobal several times but never found that site.

Guadalupe church.

By 1:00 I was hiking up the long flight of stairs to the Guadalupe church on the east end of town. I didn’t enter the church as they were having Mass. Indeed the views from there are beautiful. One can see the entire valley, distant houses on mountainsides, and all the mountain-subsiding which indicates extensive earthquakes over a long period of time. I’m pretty sure there is a fault line just east of the house. It appears to be a rock quarry, but on closer examination, the mountainside has collapsed in several places, and people have taken advantage of the exposed rock by mining it. Further east of the city is farmland and more houses. It’s very lush and looks like it’s probably farmed year round.

At the base of the staircase, vendors sell food and lots of ice cold drinks. I saw little plastic cups with something that resembled large olives in amber liquid. It was a fruit, new to me, called tejocote, swimming in orange liquor. It had an interesting rubbery skin, a large corrugated seed, and very little “fruit”. What I paid for was the liquor!  I liked it much better than the ‘nanchas’ I got in Patzcuaro last fall that tasted like mediocre cheese. It’s no wonder some fruits reach international audiences, like mangos, while others languish in the place of their birth.

Closeup of Church
Natalia told me about a coffee museum. I found it, but it wasn’t open. Neither were the Jade or Amber museums. Walking around town, I noticed a lot of posadas, inexpensive hotels, for about $10 a night, some with private baths, some shared. All said they had hot water 24/7. Cheap hotels must have a reputation for cold showers.  Most also had TVs and Internet. They looked inviting, with clean patios, beautiful flowers, and little outdoor tables.

It was so pleasant, a bit breezy, a few clouds but certainly didn’t look like rain. I sat in the park on a bench for about an hour watching the locals peddle their woven handicrafts and strung seed beads. A cute little girl, about three years old, in a pink dress, kept coming up to me and offering me purses. I’m not sure how successful she is selling them, but she’s learning her life’s work at a very early age. 

It was interesting to wander the streets on a ‘dead’ day, when most everyone is with their families or in church. Many businesses were closed. I really thought the center of town would be bustling on a Sunday but that wasn’t the case for Saturday either. There was no entertainment in the plaza area. It’s just the opposite of San Miguel where the Centro is awash with people and music on weekends.

I wandered through a sewing store and was amazed at the variety of material, threads, and decorations available for making clothes. They even had feather boas of every color and type imaginable, gold and silver trim in dozens of styles, and millions of cards of buttons and zippers. I don’t think I’ve seen a store like that since I was a kid and we shopped for material in Denver.

Guadalupe Street

It might seem like a rather boring day, but there are always interesting things to observe. On the buses, for instance, there are the Cah-Doh boys. The bus driver is usually a mature man, in his thirties or forties. I am convinced they drive the same bus every day because some buses are decorated with a favorite Saint’s statue, fake flowers, material, beads, etc, while others have shrines to Elvis, or the Rolling Stones. Music varies from bus to bus, some rock and roll, the country-western version of Mexican music, salsa, or deeply religious songs. One fellow must have been very religious, he had the radio tuned to a preacher rambling on in that classic passionate preachy voice telling us we needed to find El Senor or we would perish. In addition to the driver, there is usually a young man or even a boy as young as 11. They are the Cah-Doh boys. They hang out the door singing Caaaah-Doh to everyone they see. It’s short for Mercado. Sometimes an elderly lady, or just a little family will be way up the hill, they’ll wave, and the bus will wait and wait for them to come down. When everyone is on board the boy will bang on the side of the bus to let the driver know. Then he swings up onto the step until he sees more people who might want the bus to stop.  As we disembark at the market, he collects the 5 peso fee from everyone. The younger the boy, the more responsible he seems to be. It’s quite a prestigious job for kids like them, and they attract a lot of girls their age.
Typical outdoor cafe

I got home just as the clouds began to spit. The evening cooled off quickly with a long cold rain, and I went to bed early after downing a couple of Pepto Bismol tablets, which, thankfully, in Mexico have a licorice flavor instead of the usual gaggy bubble gum. I don’t know what’s in it here, but it works miracles when the belly is acting up.

Flowers everywhere!

View from the Church hilltop.