Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blossoms in February

This has been an exceptionally mild winter in Ohio.  This past week temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s.  I noticed a few days ago that a few of my crocus are already blooming.  Crocus are, of course, the first flowers to appear, but never have I known them to begin blooming in February!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Adding to the Collection

I have written before that I have a video program on my computer, and that for the past five years I have been creating DVDs of my travels.  I organize my best pictures and videos and make a slide show complete with background music.  I now have a collection of 38 discs.

However, in the last year I have been rather remiss in keeping up with my travel pictures.  This month I have been remedying that.   

First I made a disc of the trip to Mérida that I took with my cousin and her husband in this past January.  I made an extra copy to give to them, and last week we got together for the premiere screening of "Our Yucatan Adventure".  They loved the DVD, and hope to return to Mexico sometime with me.

Going farther back, I still had not organized the pictures from the trips that I took to Mexico City last April and again in October / November.  I did not have a lot of photos from April, so I combined the two trips onto one disc.  This past weekend I went down to Columbus to visit family, and I showed that DVD to my sister-in-law, Phyllis.  We have traveled together to Yucatan and to Spain and France.  She wants to come visit me in the new apartment that I will be renting in Mexico City.  After seeing all the pictures of the Day of the Dead decorations there, she is giving serious thought to taking a trip in late October.

I still have to organize my photos from my time in Mexico City in January.  That will be my next project! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

It's Not Funny Any More

Several days ago, Alejandro sent me this picture that he had found...

He simply thought that it was a funny picture.  I had to explain to him that it was a parody of the popular TV program from the 1960s, "The Beverly Hillbillies".

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it was an insult to the characters of that old show.  As much as we laughed at the "Beverly Hillbillies", they were likeable and honorable people.  There is nothing likeable nor honorable about the Pendejo-in-Chief and his crew.

This week there have been revelations that seem to confirm the suspicions that many of us have held that the Pendejo is in cahoots with Russia.  And his first solo press conference yesterday was a rambling, incoherent mess of misinformation, deflections, non-sequiturs, egotism, rudeness, racism, and, of course, more attacks on the media.  This is the leader of the free world?  A frightening thought.  How can anyone in their right mind support this lunatic?  Even FOX News is turning against him.

Although I hope the late night shows continue with their biting satire, It is becoming harder to find humor in it all.  It is becoming terrifying!  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What Will They Think?

Regular readers of my blog know that I have frequently played "tour guide" to friends and relatives in Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. 

I have always thought of the charming, laid-back city as the perfect introduction for first time visitors to Mexico.  My traveling companions have heard me talk about Mexico and have seen pictures of my trips, so they knew enough to not believe the media image that Mexico is a dreadful place where danger lurks at every corner.  Still some have admitted that prior to the trip they were a bit apprehensive.  However, without exception they came home thoroughly delighted with Mérida.

Now that I am going to spend an even greater amount of time in Mexico City, a number of  people who went with me to Mérida have expressed an interest in seeing the Mexican capital. 

Now don't get me wrong.  I think that Mexico City is one of the great cities of the world, a place filled with incredible art, architecture and museums.  But I can't help but wonder, "How will they react to this monster of more than 20 million people?"  It's not that they have never traveled to big cities before, but Mexico City is more than big.  Will they be overwhelmed, intimidated or exhausted?

In my mind I am already planning an itinerary for prospective visitors.  Of course we would have to spend a day walking around the historic center of the city, visiting places such as the National Palace with its Diego Rivera murals and the Metropolitan Cathedral.  The National Museum of Anthropology, one of the great museums of the world, is a must.  On my last visit to the museum I actually did a quick run-through, trying to pick out the highlights that I would show them.  (Trying to see the entire museum is just too much.)  I would want to get tickets for a performance of the wonderful Ballet Folklórico.  Hopefully their stay would include a weekend, so that my friend Alejandro could drive us out to the impressive ruins of Teotihuacan, with its pyramids that rival those of Egypt.  Out of the myriad of restaurants, which ones would I choose to give them a taste of the city's culinary wealth?

The one aspect of Mexico City which I hate is the horrendous traffic.  Will my guests be traumatized?  Even when I am in the car with Alejandro I often let out a silent gasp... not because of his driving, but because of the crazy people on the road.  Other times I want to jump out of my skin because of the snarled traffic traveling at a snail's pace. Public transportation, the Metrobus and the subway, are very efficient and inexpensive, but can be very crowded. 

Maybe I should just stop worrying, and remember the phone conversation I overheard as I was waiting for my luggage at Houston airport at the end of my last trip.  There was a businessman talking on his cell phone.  He obviously had been very frightened about the prospect of traveling to Mexico City.  He said, " I just wanted to let you know that I was totally wrong about Mexico City.  It was great!"


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Timely Quote

I am currently reading Ken Follett's historical novel "Edge of Eternity", the final book of his trilogy which chronicles the events of the 20th century.

One of the fictional characters in the novel is Jasper, a successful TV newsman who is fired for his criticism of the popular but scandal-plagued Reagan administration.  He gives a farewell speech to his colleagues which is eerily timely given the Pendejo-in-Chief's hostility to a press which is calling him out on his innumerable lies.

"Leaning against the bar, Jasper made a speech.  Wounded, sad, and defiant, he said: 'I love this country.  I loved it the first time I came here, back in 1963.  I love it because it's free.  My mother escaped from Nazi Germany; the rest of her family never made it.  The first thing Hitler did was take over the press and make it subservient to the government.  Lenin did the same.'  Jasper had drunk a few glasses of wine, and as a result was a shade more candid. 'America is free because it has disrespectful newspapers and television shows to expose and shame presidents who f*** the Constitution up the a**.'  He raised his glass.  'Here's to the free press.  Here's to disrespect.  And God bless America.' "

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Time to Paint Again

My hobby of landscape painting for quite a while has taken a backseat to my busy travel schedule.  However, regular readers of my blog know that every year there are two occasions when I get out the paints...  one is for my annual Christmas card, the other is to do a painting to donate to the spring auction of the Ohio chapter of "Los Amigos de las Américas."  "Los Amigos" is a non-denominational organization which each year sends high school and college students to various Latin American countries to do volunteer work.  It is my favorite charitable organization, not only because of the good work it does in our neighbors to the south, but because of the life-changing experiences it provides the young volunteers.  For a number of years I have donated handicrafts which I have picked up during my trips to Mexico, as well as a painting.

This year I was actually thinking about being a lazy bum, and simply donating a painting which I had done some years ago.  But then I was reading the blog "An Alaskan in Yucatan" written by Marc Olson.   (You will find a link to his blog in my "Blog List" to the side.)  Marc is an ex-pat who has been living for some time in Mérida, and I had a chance to meet him on one of my trips to Yucatan.  A couple years ago he bought an abandoned "rancho" in the Yucatecan countryside, and he is in the process of making the place livable again.  In his latest entry, he posted a picture of the little ranch house.

(photo by Marc Olson)

There was something about the light and the simple composition of the photo which appealed to me, and I thought that it would be a great subject for a painting.  I asked Marc's permission to do a painting of it.  I knew that he would approve because when he was in high school he spent two summers as a volunteer with "Los Amigos", giving vaccinations to children in rural villages in Colombia and Nicaragua.

I have made a good start on the painting, and hope to be finished with it by March.  Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year's auction because I am leaving for Mexico City just a few days before the event.  But my painting and the bunch of Mexican handicrafts that I have for them will hopefully raise a nice sum of money for the group.

If you are interested in this fine organization, here is a link to their website...

Los Amigos