Thursday, April 26, 2007

texas - could i live here?

so, some of you may know that we have been offered a free place to live in texas. a three bedroom, two bath log cabin with a huge front porch across the street from my parents. ok, so that might be a little strange. but texas is a little strange. when most people think of texas, they imagine northwest texas - all dust and sagebrush. the only thing taller than the barbwire fences are the occasional cow or oil derrick. but southwest texas is totally different. texas in high summer is one of my favorite places in the world. Why?
1. the nighttime - fireflies flash from the grass as they rise into the trees, cicadas buzz and crickets chirp. the stars are dizzyingly bright and numerous. the air is warm and soft and smells like grass and warm earth. we take the ranger on night runs with a big flashlight - last summer with matt and effie and my brother, we saw the usual herds of deer bedding down, whitetail and the exotic axis, a skunk, a family of raccoons, and two armadillos. last week when we drove into texas, the road was covered with huge rattlesnakes, soaking up the heat from the blacktop as the air cooled.

2. the river. my folks live about a half mile from the frio river. it’s not that cold and it’s clean, clear, and beautiful. you can innertube or kayak, swim, or just feed the fish.

3. the people. everyone acts like people in the nw are so friendly. But if you say hi to, or smile at someone you don’t know in the nw, you have about a 75% return rate. in texas it’s right around 99.9%. when people say “have a nice day,” the mean it. as long as you're white.

4. blue bell ice cream – nothing compares.

Monday, April 23, 2007

america at last

it was with serious doubts and with a few tears, that i sat in the long line waiting to cross the boarder back into america. i missed the obvious conviniences of home. mexico has a major lack of well-made consumer products. we lived on a steep hill in a sleepy mexican neighborhood with cobbled streets. walking without turning your ankle could be tricky. you had brush your teeth with bottled water (i never did), no phone, no computer. america held the material dreams of my heart. but sitting in line to cross the boarder i was already missing the mexican children, the families, the smiling abuelitas, the warm evenings and cool mornings, views of the pacific and long walks through little neighborhoods full of scrappy dogs and crowing roosters. i'm gonna miss that place. but man did i miss my friends. and being able to flush toliet paper down the toilet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


i've never been to europe. never seen france in the springtime. never paddled around the waterways of venice. but i've been to guanajuato, mx. i liked vallarta a lot - i'm a born beachbum i can swim in the ocean for hours without growing tired or bored - but i'm not sure i could live there for more than a year at a time. guanajuato is the city for me. if it was closer to the ocen, i would do everything in my power to move there. first, it's a university town of 70,000, about the size of bellingham. after living in vallarta it was so refreshing to see college-age students with their shirts on and with out giant cups of booze in hand. second, the city is beautiful; look at the pictures. third, all above-ground city traffic moves from east to west. all other traffic moves through a massive maze of tunnels underneath the city. it's unbelievable. the central plaza is a shady tunnel of trees, filled with wandering mariachis. no more words.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the long road home

we woke up early and loaded the truck. had a last minute breakfast at the casa de hotcakes and hit the road. on the drive to vallarta we chose to travel along the main route. it was beautiful, lots of stunning views of dormant volcanos and lush hills and pretty little valleys full of corn or banana trees. on the way home we wanted to try the road less traveled. while it was quite stunning - the pine forests amd cool air made you forget that you were in the middle of mexico, the road was insanely twisty with steep cliffs and no guard rails. it made folks a little nervous. we passed through the town of mascota and was reminded that we were deep in the heart of mexico. the sleepy sunday town was full of picturesque alleys, dilapidated buildings, and cathedrals. we had the chance to explore the ruins of one of the cathedrals and got a lot of pictures. no one else was there but us and the lizards. even with the trecherous roads, it was worth the drive. it's a little hard to describe the countryside there. it's almost like a perfect, fictionalized west. we saw some cowboys and old men with burros laden with firewood, mesquite and scrub oak. makes you want to sleep under the stars and make coffee over roaring fire and listen to the coyotes cry you to sleep. that evening we pulled into ajijic totally exhausted. the folks had reserved us some rooms at a quiet little b&b and we settled in nicely. in the morning we woke to a new sound - for almost three months in vallarta we were woken by barking dogs. on this morning it was birds. the b&b had seperate little houses in a jungly yard that was filled with lush gardens. now we have a day to shop in tonala and visit with my grandpa and then it's off to guanajuato.
mascota cathedral ruins
mascota new cathedral
cowboys (yes those trees are purple)
blue agave = tequila!

Monday, April 16, 2007

mamma, i'm comming home

so my folks arrived in vallarta and we took them around town. had some great dinners and took them to see our favorite beach. it was a little sad - some crazy storm way out in the pacific blew violent currents and punishing waves into the bay and really stirred up the beaches. our favorite beach close to town (playa gemelas) was totally changed. the soft slope of the beach and gentle waves and clear water were replaced with a huge drop off, a six-foot shore break, and strange rip currents. our other favorite beach (destiladeras) was changed as well. the sandy beach and perfect waves were replaced by rocks and huge, dangerous breaks. must have been a good time to leave vallarta. while i am a little sad to be leaving, tricia is ready to get home. i'm sure that once we start seeing family and friends agaiin, i'll be more than happy to get back. while my parents were here we went to the botanical gardens -very nice.

Monday, April 9, 2007

that's it

our time is up in mexico. my teaching is done and we spent the last week relaxing, reading, and walking around. everyone has been talking up the semana santa weeks - fear and terror of the thoudands of mexican tourists who arrive for the craziest week of the year to camp on the beaches and empty out the grocery stores. most people from the american school leave the city and everyone has stories of muggings ect. we prepared as we were told to - we shopped for groceries and filled our fridge with food, we checked out a dozen books from the library and bought some cheap pirated movies. but it really wasn't that bad. yes there were a lot more people in town. when i walked around the city in the morning the biggest difference was that all the main streets in the centro were lined with cars filled with sleeping families. sleepy-eyed little kids wrapped in tatty blankets sat drinking juice and eating donuts on the tailgates of rusty pick-ups while parents slept in the cabs or in the truck beds with their feet dangling off the sides. on the corners, small bands of young mexican toughs dressed in jeans and sharp, button-down cowboy shirts, and white loafers drink modelo from sweating cans. other groups of of young mexicans, obviously from the city sit along the malacon, drinking coffee, and harrasing joggers and women. we avoided the streets at night when things seem to get a little out of control when the huge crowds of mexican tourists face off with the shirtless, sunburnt and wasted springbreakers from the states. we still hit the beaches and it really was nowhere nera as bad as everyone made it out to be. on thursday my folks come from texas and we eat a little, swim a little and then adventure back to the states. i can't believe the time went this fast.