Sun on old bones

I just came in from watering the plants underneath the sun of another glorious afternoon. On the second floor next door my 20-something neighbor is playing his music at boom-blast.  He’s probably dancing and cleaning his room – like I did when I was 20.  Fortunately for me he likes a kind of hip-hoppy/R&B Mexican music.  I think he has mix tapes because they’re interspersed with the occasional Rihanna or Usher.

I can definitely deal.

January 24, 2013Camilo Lara is the producer and DJ behind one of Mexico City's most unusual emerging sounds. It's an interesting hybrid of electronica & rap.

Camilo Lara is the producer and DJ behind one of Mexico City’s most unusual emerging sounds. It’s an interesting hybrid of electronica & rap.

It strikes me again how enthusiastic the music of the young remains. While I don’t understand the words my Mexican neighbor is singing along with, I’m fairly certain most of them are about going to a party AND protesting the state of the world. Going to the party being the key element because honestly, isn’t that what 20-somethings want to do all over the world? And isn’t even the pain of losing your first love after that party shot through with hope for another party, another demonstration, another chance?

God bless the young, because I don’t care how dismal their subject matter is, their defiance leaks through their music.

Of course there are young people who cherish another kind of music, this piece being one of the most introspective I’ve ever heard,

but I suspect this kind of work is more the province of the old. With enough time, we’ve truly learned about loss; now the aching guitar string just embosses our old sadnesses with the gilt of universality.

Yet we remain specific.  Each one of us is learning lessons that are individual to our temperament, and I’ve had to come all the way to San Miguel de Allende to learn something I thought I already knew.

As we say, knowing and experiencing are two unrelated topics.

What have I learned?  Wait for it.  Wait for it.

The sun feels good on old bones, and

flowers grow in a temperate climate.

Yup.  That’s it.

Of course the horrible climate in Louisville, KY., my last stop for residence, is what propelled me towards sunny San Miguel.  Don’t get me wrong, Louisville is a *wonderful* town with more going for it than the average city its size, and good friends that I miss like crazy. But it has a humid summer that over four years sapped the life out of me to the point where I felt I was bending under the weight of it just to walk to the corner.

So, now I know.  It wasn’t really Mexican culture that drew me to San Miguel, or the idea that San Miguel de Allende was some sort of hot-bed of multicultural intellectualism, though I like the former and am as ambivalent as ever about the latter.

It was the idea of living my life in a temperate climate simply because flowers and sun make everything else more bearable.

This kind of knowing makes everything else feel …. easier.  And take it from me, it is easier to be poor or alone or even frightened about one’s future when the sun is gentle and the plants on your patio are dancing their usual riot. No wonder, eh?

But it’s a wonder for me, and if I have anything to do with it I will never go back to living in a rotten climate. After all, the young sing everywhere – and sound even better underneath a gentle sun.

Thanks, San Miguel.  You’ve taught me not what I wanted, but what I actually need.










Organic Market, Mia, Pet Sterilization clinic




CIMG2205If I can get myself out of the house early enough on Saturday morning, the Tiangus Organica on Ancho de San Antonio is a truly pleasant place to have coffee

role de canela (cinnamon role) from this yummy and *busy* bakery stand.

and a ‘role de canela’ (cinnamon role) from this yummy and *busy* bakery stand.

There’s lots of other good stuff and, connected to the Rosewood Hotel property, it’s a magnet for health conscious gringos on this side of town.  That wouldn’t include moi, but I have tried the green alfafa juice.  It’s good.

Mostly I like sitting in the sun watching the crowd, and the Mexican cooperatives who bring honey, lavender, produce, and goods each Saturday.


I particularly like a really nice Mexican man who makes dog clothing and leashes out of recycled leather. He’s the first person I stop to say hi to ‘cuz he’s just so amiable – and creative!

This is one of his dogs, looking splendid in deer skin.  He has teeny dogs too, so he makes tepees:

This is one of his dogs, looking splendid in deer skin. He has teeny dogs too, so he makes tepees:


Which brings us to dogs.


I think I have a line on a new family for teddy bear Mia.

I prettier than ever ...

I prettier than ever …

An English-speaking couple is headed to San Miguel to take possession of their new home in Los Frailes (a sub-division).  We’ve been emailing back and forth about their meeting Mia, who I hope sweeps them off their feet.

… As long as they’re o.k. with a half-wild child who, instead of throwing herself at you, skitts away to run rings while she’s figuring out if you’re o.k.

Me?  I’m o.k. with Mia.

Wanna play? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Wanna play? Huh? Huh? Huh?


I got a desperate call yesterday morning asking me if I would volunteer for a pet sterilization clinic in the campo today.  My job? To put blankets on the pets when they come out of surgery and watch while they wake up from anesthesia.

So, out to the train station early to get a ride up to a tiny village called (I think) Los Feliz, about 2 miles out of town. A woman, the mayor of the community, had organized 30 dogs and cats for the day, so we waited for the mobile clinic to arrive.

The staging area for this morning's spay/neuter clinic

The staging area for this morning’s spay/neuter clinic

And waited.  And waited.  Turns out the mobile hospital broke down. The clinic has been postponed for two weeks.

These two boys were scheduled:


The red puppy, Bobby, is 9 months old.  This is probably the single moment he was quiet because most of the time he was snuggling inside my jacket, licking my neck, or nipping at my gloves.


While Los Feliz is on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, it might as well be a world away.  The fact that 30 animals were self-scheduled for surgery through Amigos de Animales gives me a lot of hope. All kudos to the organization, which literally sterilized more than a thousand animals in 2012 and is set to accomplish more this year, and to the campesinos who love their animals and want to reduce the suffering in their towns.

On a side note, the woman who asked me to volunteer, a gringa who’s lived here for more than ten years, solemnly warned me about the poverty I would see in the countryside [yet so close to San Miguel’s glittering Centro].  “This is something,” she snorted derisively, “that most gringos never see.  You will find it appalling.”

But, I’ve seen appalling poverty in the United States, both rural and urban.  In fact, nothing beats seeing the South Bronx in the early 70’s for your basic slap-up-the-side-of-the-face about generations lost – and if you’ve traveled in Mississippi (or parts of rural New Jersey for that matter) you’ve seen the campo in Mexico.


And so, the beat goes on.

I can see myself integrating more into San Miguel each month.  I’m one of the low-key gringas loping about town in jeans and boots, or sitting on the steps with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth (note to self: STOP!) waiting for my bus, looking a little like Rizzo in “Grease”,because I am after all out of New Joisey, but older.

I’ve grown to like my hood, adore my across the street neighbors, develop new friendships and, without any difficulty, bask in the (basically) eternal sunshine raining down on my spotty mind.  Life is good.

However ….

There’s been some talk the last few days via the Civil List internet group about stays in various hospitals for various serious operations and/or illnesses.  Everyone agrees there’s fantastic care to be had at fabulous prices.  Then they start tossing around phrases like ” … it was only $6,000 US for xyz” or “All totaled it was $14,000 US for abc” and I gasp.  Not because the price is outrageous.  Far from it.  In comparison to what these incidents would be in the U.S., it’s all good. I gasp because I don’t have $6,000 to go to a private hospital where the care is so very excellent.

So, I’m still scared.  Still operating on the ‘wing an a prayer’ principle. Still throwing dice and wondering how long I can stay at the table?

Still pushing my luck …

And, that’s the way it is from a 66 year old, old rebel in San Miguel de Allende.















Seguro Popular: My Triumph of the Will!

It was a long and winding road, but as of this morning I have my catastrophic medical insurance under Mexico’s Seguro Popular extended into 2015.  This is the system for basic care: break an ankle, develop bronchitis, have something gastrointestinal – your doctor visit, labs and medications are free. Be prepared to wait in line.

The short version:  I was accepted for six months when I registered in June.  In order to renew my membership for three more years I was told I’d have to be seen at the Health Clinic a few miles away and bring a mysterious paper back to Seguro Popular.

1.  I was seen at the Health Clinic and received an order for labs.

2.  I returned to Seguro Popular for the extension but I didn’t have the right paper.

3.  When I went to Hospital General for the labs I was given an appointment 10 days out and told to bring samples back with me in the little tubes they provided.

4.  I went to the lab appointment.  The results were ready that day so I went back to pick them up.

5.  I took the lab results back to the Health Clinic where I was re-entered into Seguro Popular’s system and given the correct piece of paper.

6.  This morning I returned to Seguro Popular with the now highly valued paperwork which I tucked in my boot.  Contrary to the stern advice I’d been given to show up there at 7:45 AM I entered the office at the desultory hour of 10:00 AM.  I was out in 10 minutes.

Counting the second trip on item 4, this took three weeks and fourteen bus or taxi trips.


Tra la la la la,

I hosted a sweet Three King’s Day party Sunday with (thumbs in suspenders) 11 new friends.  [That’s purty darn good for 6.5 months of residence, since they’re all people I LIKE.]  Roger made a frighteningly good cheesecake and doesn’t know I now call him the Evil Sorcerer of Desserts.

Though I intended to, I took NO pictures.


Next up is teeth cleaning for Mia.


She does her own nails



And I have to go to my bank here because they’ve locked me out of Internet banking for my own security.


Lastly, for every 10 people in San Miguel de Allende at whom I smile at on the street, 9 will return a heart-felt ‘Buenos dias”.  I am not counting gringos who, in my experience rarely make eye contact, much less let loose a ‘hello.’  [I don’t write ’em, I just report ’em.]




Lilith: The Original Bad Girl

Lilith came up today while Roger and I were commenting on a dumb law in an Indonesian province that now prevents females from straddling a moped “… because it shows off their curves.”

Yes, this is to become illegal and all females, presumably including the driver, will have to ride sidesaddle.  That's going to be a bitch with the controls.

Yes, this is now illegal and all females, presumably including the driver, will have to ride sidesaddle. That’s going to be a bitch with the controls.

Because you know … ah duh … there are so many fewer curves like this:

And, she can carry the vegetables.

And, she can carry the groceries.

Here’s my train of thought: all of these insane laws requiring women to be less free are based on the idea that women are temptresses, and that men are so weak-willed that they may innocently stumble into depravity just by seeing her face.

burka 2

Which brought me to a little something I call the”Eve Got a Bad Rap Principle.” Honestly, I lost all respect for Adam after he pointed at her and told God, “She made me do it.”

Reeeally, Adam?  You are so weak-willed you can’t take responsibility for your actions?


From whence I thought of Lilith. If you don’t know about her, her mythology (a tangled mess of contradiction) has lasted for 3,000 years, longer than Eve’s.

Because somewhere along the line she appears as Adam’s first wife.

The short version: Adam and Lilith were both created out of dirt at the same time. After Adam tells her that he will never let her get on top during sex, and petulantly reserves naming all the animals for himself, Lilith flies the coop.

Adam complains to God and God sends three angels to talk Lilith into coming back.  She refuses and says she’d rather screw a thousand demons than go through that again.

Twisting the knife: God then creates Eve out of Adam’s rib to prove that males are superior, and Lilith gets transformed into Eve’s temptress at the Tree of Knowledge.  Here’s Senor Bosch’s take on that:


But, despite Lilith’s ensuing millenia as Night Hag, Succubus (giving males wet dreams so she can steal their sperm), all-around Demon Woman, she maintains a certain allure.

In her contemporary incarnation she is now the icon for a free, powerful woman.  Go figure.

Here are some of my favorite modern images of her from the net:

Oh, she is a bad, bad girl.

Oh, she is a bad, bad girl.

A bad girl with powers!

A bad girl with powers!

A bad girl now featured in 27 video games

A bad girl now featured in 27 video games


Frequently a bad girl with red hair. What’s up with that?

Still with the snake, though.

Still with the snake, though.

And still utterly fascinating.

And still utterly fascinating.

There’s even a punk little girl Lilith:

punk little girl lilith

Who grows up to look vaguely South American.

Who grows up to look vaguely South American.

Well, she’s everywhere, if you want to look.  I say more power to her … the woman’s got juice.

I do take care though

to remember that she's the Mother of All Demons

to remember that she’s the Mother of All Demons

Which is probably why so many men are afraid of her temptress self!

I’d like to sic a few of her demons, ya know like impotence, face pustules, body lice and temporary paralysis, on the sick bastards who still claim that a woman’s sexuality drives them to rape and murder – and to make STUPID LAWS LIKE NOT STRADDLING A MOPED.

Because, who ya gonna call to smack some sense into these guys?

lilith death dealer

There.  I said it.