Showing posts with label San Miguel De Allende. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Miguel De Allende. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Without A Map

“When the baby looks around him

It's such a sight to see

He shares a simple secret

With the wise man

He's a stranger in a strange land” -Leon Russell

Sometimes the best experiences happen for me when I am lost. 

The other day I set out walking in a new direction from my apartment in Cuenca, Ecuador. Usually I head toward the city center with its bustling streets, shops, cafes, grand cathedrals, and corner parks. This time I went in another direction. I went exploring—like Columbus when he set out to navigate the Atlantic Ocean without a map. He charted a course as he sailed.

Cemetery, San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

 The streets were mostly residential and rather unremarkable. Traffic whizzed by in each direction. I came to a corner and spotted a high wall that seemed to go an entire block. In the middle stood a tall gate. On either side were stalls selling flowers. I guessed it was cemetery. I like visiting graveyards in foreign lands. A few weeks ago I ambled about for more than hour in Nuestra Señora del Cementerio de Guadalupe in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. It was divided between a large part for Mexican interments and a smaller closed area for mostly American ex-patriots. Now I had found a vast, much larger burial ground with three times as many graves. It is called, Cementerio Patrimonial De Cuenca. 
Tombs, Cuenca, Ecuador

  As in Mexico, most of the crypts are stacked in cells of concrete, in blocks perhaps fifteen feet high and hundreds of feet long. Sometimes there are two levels and stairs to reach the top. Each burial site is marked and decorated in front, often with a glass pane protecting the contents. It is by far neater and more orderly than the Mexican graveyard.

I am fascinated by what remains after a person dies, and how they are remembered with fondness. I lost my daughter when she was nineteen and had to find a spot to bury her. She lays at rest in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. A simple grave marker of marble is decorated with roses and bears her name, dates of birth and death, and the inscription Blessed By The Glory Of God. 
As I walked slowly and thoughtfully, sometimes I would stop to take a picture. Turning a corner, to my surprise often a vista of tombs would spread before me. And almost nobody was there but me and some attendants working the grounds. The air was perfect on my skin and blue sky with occasionally fluffy clouds overhead. I could almost hear myself think.

To my surprise, at one point I found a block of grave cells slightly smaller and noticed they were for the pequeños niños, little children. Stuffed toys were seen in many with endearing notes. Some didn't have date of birth, only death.

An old horse drawn hearse. Cuenca Cemetery.
In the afternoon, I set off in the familiar direction of downtown but angled onto a street I had not been. A long wall two stories high without windows had a small single entrance. A couple were coming out the door. They looked like tourists. I stopped and peeked past the threshold. It seemed the museum was full of religious objects. I was not sure I wanted to pay for entry. It was cloudy and about to rain. Perhaps because I was exploring and not in a rush, I entered. 

Staging of a nun, at work with textiles.

  Immediately I began relishing the place—formerly called Convent of the Immaculate Conception, begun in the year 1599. There are two stories surrounding an inner courtyard open to the sky above. The second floor has an open hall with railing that goes completely around the courtyard and you can look down upon it, with the trees, shrubs and flowers and tidy order of it all. The wood floors and stairs are smooth and polished from wear, as well as the stone floors on the ground level. I imagined all the feet that tread there, and the footsteps of the nuns and sisters. So much devotion had occurred in the spot that I felt blessed being there, as if absorbing spiritual vibrations where the closely knit devotees of Christ for hundreds of years dwelled their hours, years and sometimes, lives. I imagined their tight bound community and the rituals they obeyed in sisterhood. 

San Rafael and Tobias sculptures

The collections are made up of 64 paintings of religious themes and about 250 religious and costumed sculptures, as well as toys, furniture and handicrafts. What particularly struck me were incredible sculptures depicting saints. Made by mostly anonymous artisans, they all had great feeling and conveyed a master touch to bring out devotion in the viewer. A few were playful. Some figures were wood, others fired clay and painted to be lifelike. They might even have human hair and glass eyes.

By the time I left, I had gone slowly throughout the former convent, and taken many pictures. Fully satisfied, I made it home before the rain.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

No Hay Problema

Television has disappeared from my life entirely in Mexico and I don't miss it. Time is spent being creative—painting, shooting street photography and processing the pictures, studying Spanish, writing, doing inner practices that are transforming. 
If I want news, I go online and read the New York Times.

The local produce is great. For breakfast, eggs, bacon and toast with fresh coffee. Usually no lunch, maybe a pastry with coffee after nap, and dinner is whatever I pick up fresh during the day.
I went out for “desayuno”, breakfast, today for the first time in over two weeks. The little restaurant across the street beckoned me and I had huevos rancheros, toast and coffee. Then I came back to my apartment and did laundry in the kitchen sink. No hay problema. 

The weather has been sublime, and each day as I walk the city streets the air touches me with gentle warmth as slight breezes play. I love the light. Especially splashed across the brightly colored walls and cobbled walks and streets.

Today is Saturday. Yesterday I stopped painting since I leave on Monday for Ecuador and the panels need to dry, which takes a few days. I have more time to walk about. This morning I found arts & crafts fairs, street festivals, farmers markets with live musicians . . . so much going on and people in festive moods. I bought a hand made leather journal with blank pages to write my “notes to God”. I had the good fortune to purchase it from the man who made it. It is leather and embossed with stylized dancing figures. My current one began September 8, 2009. It is a little red leather bound book with strap. Just for inner talk with God. Other journals are for anything.

At the farmers market all sorts of fresh organic foods were being offered, along with native home made Mexican cuisine, hand made salsas, jams, breads, and such.

Back at the apartment, I got into a text conversation with Therese at my gallery. At that moment, a woman was considering purchasing a painting. We typed a couple texts about price and shipping, and then the woman bought the painting. Satisfying, especially since in Santa Fe it is the slowest tourist part of the year and the Boone Gallery is only open part time. Also because the painting was made during my stay in Venice, Italy, last year. This confirms for me that I am blessed to be able to go anywhere and paint the scenery. People enjoy this.
Venice painting

A nap, then out on the streets again—walking for miles. I have become familiar with and know major landmarks like Plaza Principal at the city heart where the big “Templo” stands. I try to walk places I have not been. This afternoon I found a marvelous old church, Templo de San Juan de Dios. The place was empty and I had it to myself. Light was pouring in from stained glass windows high above, casting soft glowing colors on the warm white walls. Jesus figures, created lovingly and given great feeling were there, along with Mary sculptures. The floors under the humble wooden pews are marble and decorative. I lingered, shot photos and felt holiness.

Later, on the street again, aroma from a shop selling rotisserie roasted chickens over wood fire stopped me. For about $2.50 I bought half a chicken, with roasted potatoes and green chile thrown in for good measure. I tied the bag to my belt and walked on. At Plaza Principal, great festivities were in swing. Mariachi musicians, balloon sellers, children playing, a clydesdale horse, and a donkey decorated with flowers. Flower garlands were popular with the females who put them on their heads with smiles and laughter. Muy bonita! 
Flower garlands, waiting to crown a head.

As I was heading home, a little girl was suddenly by my side. Her poor peasant family was at the curb. She pointed to my bag of chicken and sheepishly held out her hand. No hay problema. I gave her part of my supper. 

And that is the way of life down here in Mexico.

Link  to paintings by Steven Boone

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Travel Is Surprise

A great joy of travel is surprise. For instance when I decided I wanted to visit Egypt, it was not long after 911. Several of the terrorists who hijacked the jet planes and flew them into the world trade towers were Egyptian. There was some hysteria about flying in airplanes, let alone going to Egypt. Thoughts came to mind that as an obvious American I might be kidnapped, tortured etc. I decided to go anyway because it is practically the cradle of the world. Surprise! Great kindness and appreciation awaited. Strangers on bicycles would wave as they passed by on the street, shouting in English, “Welcome to Egypt.” Now, when people ask what is my favorite place of all the countries I have traveled, Egypt is with a couple others at the top. I still have friends in Luxor who are like family.

Father and son musicians, Guanajuato City, Mexico
"The Note" 16x12 inches, oil on board

I am at present in Mexico, a country that has had bad publicity up north. President elect Trump has promised to wall off the entire border. Names have been called. Some people, including a Mexican friend, advised not to visit for fear of harm.

In Guanajuato City and now San Miguel De Allende I have met with nothing but warmth, good will and welcome. The cities remind me of Spain, especially Granada where I have lived. People are earthy, and of practical nature. They seem genuinely interested in me, and want me to like their homeland.

In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, I had the trust and surprise thing going, but several times as I wandered the streets, locals would grab my arm and tell me it was dangerous to walk about as I was. So far in Mexico, at least in the towns I have lived, I can step in THE DREAM safely.

Typical street, San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Sunday, December 11, 2016

With My Heart Clear

I have a one-way ticket out of the United States. I decided to leave on my daughter Naomi's birthday, January 11. She watches over me from the next world. When I journey, I go without fear and she extends my heart to wonder. With my heart clear, the world opens like a rose.

I have known I would be going south soon, especially to Ecuador and Bolivia. Ecuador is famous for being a destination country for American people seeking comfort, beauty and less expense in living. As for Bolivia—years ago someone told me about a carnival there, full of heart in the poorest country in South America, in a town called Oruro. (See web article) It is a much smaller version of carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I went in 2010.

I take my work wherever I go; painting, photographing and writing, and doing some business on the internet.

Two Latin fellows came into my gallery recently and we got to talking, especially about travel. Both men were warm, but Oscar was especially exuberant. He told me about a city in Mexico, Guanajuato City, where artists live amid colorful buildings in the mountains.“I guarantee you would love it!” he exuded. Oscar left me his card and info before leaving, promising to help me if I wanted. It is near another Mexican town that is famous for art and artists: San Miguel De Allende, where I have friends living full time.

After looking it up on YouTube, I could see how I just might love it like Oscar promised. (See pictures) I will go and stay for awhile. After that I will visit San Miguel De Allende and then Ecuador and Bolivia.

I look forward to getting “lost.” Then, I will search for my true brothers and sisters, my mother and father, Naomi and those dearest to my heart. I will seek and find my true family and burst with love when I do.