May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Long Lost Home: San Juan Del Rio


Sue with Anita (my sister-in-law) Cristina (my niece) and brother Lalo on the right

Memo (my Mexican nephew), "Papa" in the background and Sue
Lalo, my "Mexican brother," and his wife Anita

March 3—We got up and went to the bus station. 
Bus Station San Juan del Rio

The first bus to San Juan Del Rio was full so we waited for the next by having bread and juice and coffee.  Little did we know that the ETN line was a luxury line.  They gave us a plastic bag that said, “LUNCH” on it with a sandwich in it and a drink.  
 Seats were huge, reclining seats that could be made into a ½ bed.  
San Juan del Rio market with the familiar smell
 I kept trying to use the phone card I bought from the hostel, but it wouldn’t work, so I ended up buying another at the SJ station to call Lalo, who picked us up and took us on a memory tour.  We passed the home where I lived in 1973, the home I visited in 1986, the market, the place where Papa worked in the wine refinery, and the local market to buy carnitas-pork.  Wow, the smell of that market brought nostalgia back!  There were mariachis playing and people eating, and the pork vender gave us each a steaming hot hunk of pork to eat while she filled the order.
Kitchen corner
Beautiful colored tile
 Finally, we arrived at the hacienda that has been in the family for a while, with the brand of the grandfather on the entrance, a large courtyard with 4 dogs, and a beautiful open layout for their home.  The living room used to be a small chapel, and I remember the kitchen from one of our visits out in the country, with its high, long cement table.  Memories of celebrating the new year by eating huge seedy grapes with each dong of the midnight bell, and singing ranchero songs at the tops of our lungs and Socorro gritando ahhhh, haaaahhh, haaaaaa.” 
Memo, my nephew

We sat around and swapped stories and met prima Cristina and her baby, and primo Memo while Lalo’s wife, Anita, took me under her wing in all regards.  We had some nice carnitas with home made salsa, beans and rice, and tortillas that are just right, and took a little tour around the place.   
Tequisquiapan square church
Brother Lalo and Les

That evening, the four of us drove to a cute town named Tequisquiapan.  We circled around the outside and walked around the center.  Anita bought me a little opal (my birthstone) that I hope to hang in a sunny window.  We watched the birds flock before they roosted for the night, looked into the beautiful church and had iced cream.  We stayed the night in Cristina’s lovely bed while she was at the in-laws. 
Cool Chino
Puppies Botas and Chuby
Pelos tries to escape the dog house
Craziness in the house

3 rabbles and one focused dog
March 4—Our morning was full of playful dogs.  We loved imagining that each had a role: Chino (named for his hair like a Chinese person) was the serious and droll older dog that kept things in order.  Pelos (hairy and blond) was the reckless dog who jumps up on people a lot, and who went out one day and didn’t come back for 5 weeks—meanwhile they bought two puppies.  Botas (boots; he has white feet and black coat) is the follower who adores Chino and obediently sits at your feet to be petted.  Les’s favorite is Chuby (Chubby), a brown and white pit bull mix who is waggly and cute, who pees when you first pet him, and he loves to roughhouse in the doghouse with Pelos.  Memo spent some time correcting Pelos’s rowdy behavior, and then the puppies would pounce on him until he couldn’t stand it anymore.  Nice having dogs around!  Meanwhile, next door, there’s a man who raises roosters for fighting.  They crow and sound all day long.  Les thinks they are practicing their war cries.  We had an excellent breakfast with nata (cream off the top of boiled milk) and leche dulce (caramel syrup). 
A man selling stuff at the gas station
 Then we got in the car and left for the bus depot.  Soon we realized we were going farther, to Queretaro; and then we passed Queretaro!  Lalo and Anita drove us all the way to San Miguel de Allende!!!
We found our hostel room and loaded in, then went to the center to look at the cathedral, wander the center and have a meal.  I love those guys.  We had such a good time catching up and telling stories.  Les is really getting good at speaking in Spanish.  He’s sometimes better than me with reading the language.  We made our way back and looked for internet in case our friends who will meet us here had any news, but alas Sunday night was pretty closed.  

Chino overlooks the mayhem in the house

Saucedo Family

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