Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tanks - a lot!

It's the birthday of the man for whom Morelia is named:  José María Morelos.  

He was of lowly mixed birth, he struggled to become educated and became a priest in his 30's.  In the war for independence he proved to be a brilliant general, and he is always portrayed wearing a really cool bandana around his head.  I understand it was soaked in something that helped his chronic migraines... someone correct me if I'm wrong.  

President Calderón was scheduled to be here for this holiday and the centro (the historic center of the city) has been closed down to vehicles since yesterday morning and pedestrians could only get through on a few streets.   We live just 4 blocks from the parade route, but it took us a half hour to get through the security check point so we missed all the soldiers marching... I could see their helmets in the distance and I think there were thousands!  

We got there for the tanks, which, let's face it, aren't as thrilling as floats. But we were entertained by this little girl in front of us.  Her other red bobble earring is in her mouth. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cinderella Dresses

When I was a little girl I had the big box of crayolas, the one with the built-in sharpener, and my favorite thing to draw was girls in Cinderella style gowns.  I'd make the gowns in every color.  Little did I know that there was a place in the world where my imagined creations were real -- and it wasn't Disneyland.  It's Morelia.  

There has to be hundreds of shops that make these dresses here.  I took these photos on one side street of the downtown.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not Happening

Even if we were in the market for suitors, which we definitely aren't, we would not under any circumstances accept fellows who hang out under cars.  Even ones with blue eyes -- admitedly an unusual trait -- but we're still not even considering it. 

When we found LuLu, 10 days ago, my concept was to take her immediately to the vet and have her spayed.  But the vet had other ideas. Like waiting for three weeks to make sure she was really healthy.  

So her care is being strung out (this is at the vet school clinic).  Last week was the physical exam.  Yesterday, she had the first vaccination containing five different serums.  Next week she'll get a booster.  

Then finally, in two more weeks, comes the esterilización.  Meanwhile, LuLu has gone into heat (celo) and has attracted the attention of all the neighbors' dogs plus a couple of strays who have taken up residence under parked trucks near our door.    

That's LuLu on the roof, moaning like a grounded 16 year old.    At any time she can get at least six dogs on our block barking.  Once they start it's like a scene from 101 Dalmations. Remember when the dogs start sending out the word about the lost puppies and soon dogs are barking all over London and beyond?   It's like that.  Only in Spanish.  

Friday, September 18, 2009

Independence Day

Tuesday was Mexican Independence Day -- the day the war to end Spanish rule began. The war was started by a priest named Father Hidalgo.  It was his decision to bring the Indigenous into the independence movement.  A plot to oust the Spanish had been secretly underway for some time and involved a lot of folks who would've been happy to keep the Indigenous as slaves.   But because the Spanish got wind of the independence plot and were about to start arresting conspirators, Hidalgo, who had been warned that we was about to be arrested, made a flash decision to start the revolt himself with the aid of his parish -- which was made up of poor and indigenous.  Because these folks actually began the war, they stayed an integral part of the independence movement.   If Hidalgo hadn't been involved, slavery and the caste system might have stayed in place even after the Spanish were routed.   For this reason, he's a very popular hero.  

The war for independence began 199 years ago.   

The celebration is where, at 11:00 p.m., someone (the President, your governor, the host of your party), recites Hidalgo's call to arms (the Grito) and everyone yells, Viva Mexico!  about a million times.  

We skipped the Grito, but we did go to the parade the next day.  It was mostly a show for the military and civil defense forces.  Just seeing those women marching in high heels was enough to make me feel well defended.  (Alice and I just watched the Charlie's Angels movie, so I know women in high heels kick major butt.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

It was bound to happen

I knew someday it was bound to happen -- it's just one of the well-known risks gringos face in Mexico.  And sure enough, on Friday afternoon, a street dog adopted us.   Geoff and I were walking home from the internet cafe, Alice was sick at home, and some high school students were feeding a filthy little dog, one I'd noticed living under cars for the last couple of days.  I asked if it was their dog and they said no, it was lost, but they were going to take it home.  Oh good, I said. 

Unless, Señora, you would like it.....   I laughed.  But as we walked away, Geoff said, I thought that was just what we were looking for.  A few minutes later, after consulting Alice,  I went back and got her.  She was promptly named LuLu, and I think she's come for good.  

Here are some before and after photos.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

La Escuela de Alice

Here's some photos of Alice's school and of Alice in front of our door after a long day.  If  you felt how heavy her backpack is, you'd be surprised she can stand.  

This is a typical uniform of a Mexican school kid.  Most schools, public and private, have uniforms.  She wears this three days a week, and a gym uniform two days.  She starts the day with her hair pulled back, and her sweater on... but anything goes on the way home. 

We're lucky that there's this very good school less than two blocks from our house.  Many parents drive in from outside the city and may drive 45 minutes each way.  Traffic in Morelia is a bear.  
The school has grades 1-12, with the primary, middle school (secondaria), and high school (prepa) divided off by walls.  There's a chapel attached -- it's a Catholic school.  The school takes up several city blocks.  It's all behind walls.  Alice has 39 kids in her class and 13 teachers who rotate into the one classroom where she takes all her classes.  There's recess and a food break.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Street, Rainy Season

These days, this is what I typically see from my doorway: fabulous clouds.  It's rainy season and the clouds inflate all day until it rains.  The rain can last a few hours, or all day. But most days there's enough sun to dry the laundry.  

Our street is quite narrow, which keeps out through traffic. Many residents park half on the sidewalk.  We don't have a car ourselves -- there's tons of public transportation and we can walk to everything we need.  

We know all of our neighbors except for the students.  Morelia is a college town and many of our neighbors rent space to students.  Still it's quite a peaceful street for a city.