Monday, September 20, 2010

The Bicentenario Celebrations in Pátzcuaro

We don't usually attend nighttime events in Pátzcuaro, as we live way out in the country and don't like to drive at night. I'm also in the habit of going to bed early and arising very early.

But as this was Mexico's Bicentenario year, we decided to attend both La Noche del Grito on Wednesday, Sept. 15 and the next day's Independence Day celebrations.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Gated Community

Following up on my previous post "Don't Forget To Take Out The Trash", here is the latest news on the trash dump news front.

Wednesday evening saw the first known garbage truck dump its load in the new basurero. We weren't there to see it, as we were in Pátzcuaro to celebrate La Noche del Grito and El Día de La Independencia.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things That Go Bump In The Road

Not a bra! Slow down!

Full stop!
Anyone familiar with driving in Mexico knows what "topes" are: speed bump barriers to excessive velocity as well as tranquility. There are various forms of topes, ranging from the basic raised ridge to metal plates set into the pavement and the elegant "reductor de velocidad" along Morelia's Avenida Camelinas. Then there's the racy "vibradores", a series of corrugations sometimes known in the U.S. as "rumble strips". In ritzy Montclair, NJ, they have "speed humps".

But there are lesser known variants of topes, which I'll describe. Poor communities, which don't have the funds to install raised barriers, sometimes just make a short and steep ditch, a negative space I dubbed a "nope". That's pronounce "NO-pay". In the hardscrabble outlying burg of Tzurumutaro, the back street sports concrete tank barriers that could be called "golpes", Spanish for "hit" or "blow" in the hurting sense. Those are best negotiated by flanking maneuvers when possible and when that's not feasible, a slow aproach at an angle may allow your vehicle to pass without damage. In pleasant contrast, the highway bypassing Tzurumutaro to one side has two of the most gradual and gentle tope mounds ever seen. Crossing them is like eating Mallomars candy.

In a labyrinthine colonia in lower Pátzcuaro, the not recommended route to the Panadería La Espiga includes a horrendous tank trap with a vicious, protruding reinforcing rod. Other routes are advised, or foot travel only. I recommend hiring a knowledgeable guide for your first visit to the Panadería. Contact me.

Possibly you like topes; maybe you want to experience the "Real Mexico". If that's the case, I recommend a drive to Morelia's International Airport, close to the town of Álvaro Obregón. There are something like 27 topes between the turnoff from the main highway out of Morelia and the Airport entrance gate. What's not to like?
After a reckless encounter with topes, you may need this Tope's Auto Repair.

I have now found what I think is the ultimate topes nightmare.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Don't Forget To Take Out The Trash

Sometimes changes take place quickly, and one's point of view changes just as fast. That happened this week, all within a very short time span.

Lately there has been an unusual amount of public works activity here in our pueblecito. There's a crew of citizens, both young and old, working on widening the road near where it meets or roughly paved street. All that cooperative community work gladdened my heart. Perhaps our street would be the next to be resurfaced?

(Doña Cuevas says that if it were improved, vehicles would be racing up and down it. In my opinion, God gave us topes for that very purpose.)

Click to go to video

But as the work progressed on the road widening below our house, there came the disquieting roar of heavy rock and gravel hauling trucks passing our house and returning empty. We live a few meters from the end of the pavement, where the gravelled stretch inclines lazily up the ridge.

Geni Certain photo
There are some nice views from there. Until a few years ago, the gravelled road was a horrendous bog of cow paths wandering from boulder to boulder by way of mudholes. Now, it's a nice walk.

You have to look out for the odd, dead and rotting animal just beyond the picturesque stone walls. This month's special is a smelly, dead cow. But these carrion are ephemeral. Given a month or two, they are reduced to bones by decay and coyotes.

The other evening, rumor flew to us via cell phone that the enterprising gentleman who'd improved the road, and late last year had 7 power poles installed and extended to his property up the way, was planning to have the municpal trash dump placed up on his terreno. It's entirely possible. Our informant told us that all the other local inhabitants are against the plan. A petition was circulated among the local gente. I was asked by an expat amiga whether one person's will could prevail against a majority of popular opposition. Sure it could. Depends.

Don't forget to take out the trash

We await the outcome. Updates will surely follow.

UPDATE September 10, 2010: We have been unable to drive in or out of our street for 2 days, while the concrete sets at the foot of the street. Yesterday, we used the combi vans to go out and into Pátzcuaro. It was easy going out, but we had to wait nearly an hour coming back, arriving in a deluge of rain. We walked up in a small graywater rapids to our gate.

It occurred to me that the street improvements might be in a large part for the benefit of heavy trucks that otherwise could not pass the "nope", my neologism for "negative tope" at the foot of the narrow street, and the widening is intended for waiting trucks to layby until their turn to haul their loads upward.

UPDATE September 12, 2010: we didn't have our regular trash pickup last Wednesday. I assumed that that was because the new concrete was being poured at the foot of our street, and the trash truck couldn't cross it. But now it seems as though the trash collectors are boycotting our pueblo in protest of the proposed new trash dump up the road from us. The new dump might cut into their regular routes. I don't know exact details, or what, exactly, is going on.

Power to the people!

New gate to the proposed project area
                                        The Fine Print:
I am forbidden by the Mexican Constitution and the laws governing my migratory status to engage in any political activity, sign petitions, and perhaps even comment negatively or positively on such issues. I've gone over this post with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, looking for any indications that might reveal my sentiment on this subject. I'm sure that none can be found. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Glorious Anniversary of Five Year Plan

We arrived to live in Mexico on September 14, 2005.
We now approach the Glorious Anniversary of our first Five Year Plan.
Last week, we completed our applications for our second FM3 visas.
On Wednesday we went to pick them up. Now they are laminated cards instead of passport like booklets.

We celebrated the beginning of our second Glorious Five Year Plan with a nice seafood lunch at La Jaiba.

Five years ago crossed the frontera just before dawn on September 14, 2005, and got to to Morelia a couple of days earlier, and not without some car problems.

We obtained temporary housing over the cold winter of 2005-2006, then house sat for 4 months in the spring of 2006. Then in June 2006, we found our present home waiting for us. It was outwardly unattractive but inside it was a gem. Since then, it has been variously improved by the owners: new roof, paint and rewiring. Our rent has risen only 500 pesos in the 4 years we've been here. Knock knock. Recently, the monthly charge for pueblo piped water rose from $50 to $70 pesos.

The rancho/village in which we live has recently gotten funding and a community effort public works project is under way right now. The hub of the pueblo at the crosswalk has been widened.

We felt the spirit move us, and with a gift of utility shelving from dear, departed friends, we reorganized or garage! ¡Que milagro!

Could be turned into a guestroom or a small store!
A couple of years ago, the rough, upaved cowtrail that was the upward extension of our street was bulldozed and graveled. Last year, seven concrete poles were placed to carry current upward to a projected house site. We don't like the poles, as the spoil the view, but hey! It's not our land.

Pole Land

A new tienda opened at the entrance to the pueblo about 6 months ago. It's a progressive, modern store, allowing the customers to come inside and actually see and perhaps handle the merchandise before buying. The other tiendas here have little windows where you knock, ring, push a bell and you ask for whatever dusty, out of date article you desire. This should quiet and calm (but it won't) the critics of Big Supermarkets who fear that those threaten the small, Mamá y Papá tiendas. We have at least 5 tiendas in our pueblecito. Some are hidden away on side streets, serving the neighborhood.

The 3 kilometers of paved road in from the main highway has had its potholes patched a couple of times. Keep up the good work. We like being able to drive in and out without swerving to avoid potholes.

This is a good place for us, and we hope to enjoy at least another 5 years here.