Showing posts with label international. Show all posts
Showing posts with label international. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2023

Night of Carnival

I was slightly fearful of creating this particular unforgettable experience. I spoke with a psychologist about going to Rio de Janeiro for carnival, explaining I knew how hedonistic the trip could be and how my nature was sort of wild with some chaos thrown in to the mix. He smiled, confirming what we both knew. I booked my trip and went to South America for three weeks, including a night of carnival in the sambadrome February 14, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio indeed becomes quite a swirl of exuberant activity during carnival. Millions take to the streets and of course the main event is samba parades in the sambadrome. Five nights of parades.The parade starts at 9:30pm and it goes until 5-6am. Each of the six Samba Groups have 82 minutes to parade. Each group includes up to 3000 participants. 

There are also balls preceding the samba events. Each ball is based on a theme. The one I attended was called Red & Black, the colors of a favorite Brazilian soccer team. I had paid my fee before leaving the US, so had time to shop for clothes that were red and black. In particular, I found an awesome black shirt with red lightning designs.

The ball began at 11 PM and went until dawn. I took a cab from my hotel and arrived as other international people were stepping into the cavernous ballroom; dressed in red and black of course. The music and dancing was incredible, and because people were also getting inebriated the floor swirled with bumping and grinding. I got in the middle of it all, just feet from the stage where along with the band playing salsa and samba, scantily clad girls made shimmering ripples with their bodies . . . I had never seen flesh quiver like that.

The sambadrome holds perhaps 90,000 people and some carnival nights include higher ranked samba groups. I went on one of the best nights: Sunday. I also paid for one of the best spots to sit. The most I will ever pay. Not saying how much . . . but it got me an incredible view where I took pictures all evening and morning until my battery gave out just before dawn.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

No Address At All

It is one thing to move and find a new address to receive mail, and another to have no address at all. My brother was incredulous when he learned we had not an address. He was against me moving to Mexico from the start—for several reasons but especially crime that he imagined and also climate change studies. Brent is my “survivalist” brother. He married a woman from Mexico about five years ago. L
ast we spoke, he said he would be coming down soon, “Well, how am I going to find you?” I replied that I can give him a GPS location. Actually, it will be easier to meet him at the village church, next to the mayor’s office.

There are inconveniences we face everyday here in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Mexico. But because of the house, and having each other, along with a few good people we can call friends, we are hopeful and happy. The house is the most comfortable I have ever lived in. It has further possibilities—and is paid for in full. Cost of living is a fraction of what we were spending in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. We have all we need.

I can’t speak or understand Spanish. Amy does to some extent. The climate is indeed hotter . . . with only two seasons: wet and dry. We are now at the end of the dry season, and have had a couple rains. Thank God because the landscape has been brown. Now some leaves are coming out on trees that I thought to be dead. 

The other surprise is insects. I have been spoiled by Santa Fe where there is hardly a fly to speak of and no mosquitos—only some garden pests, yes. But here I have killed three scorpions in the house so far. We have both been bitten by mosquitos and maybe some other critters. Oh well, I remember coming home to a rattlesnake coiled up in my front hall in Santa Fe.

Another thing is some inevitable culture shock. The main one being poverty and a sense that beautiful surroundings are not necessary. I have experienced this before in world travels. People have little to satisfy basic needs. Homes outside the center of Oaxaca are often merely pasted together sheets of tin, or unadorned cinder block houses without adornment or beauty. 

There are trees blooming here now that are simply divine. Especially the jacaranda. We have two—one in front and the other out our back door. If I were to make a painting of them, I would use a color called cobalt violet light. It’s my favorite color.

Sunday, April 04, 2021


Our house is magical; it drew us into itself. All the way from New Mexico USA to Oaxaca, Mexico, near Central America. 

We have met neighbors who know the history of this place and of the couple who built it. Everyone in these parts knows it as a landmark. Standing around a bend, on a hillside—unlike every other house for miles.

A Mexican architect designed it and his wife financed construction. Alfredo Figueroa was married to a German agronomist. There are stories about him. It seems he was a tall man with a long beard and something of a mystic. Our neighbor, who is a talented artist and craftsman, knew Alfredo and said that he made this house as if designing a sacred cathedral. And this is the way we feel living in it.

Our art work now adorns the walls. The neighbor Mayolo, has designed a magnificent wrought iron railing for our stairs rising from the front entry to the flight above. He built us curved curtain rods to go above the vaulted windows in our bedroom. We can see Mayolo’s house down below the hillconvenient because he can do so many artistic tasks for us, and knows how to help us with our new culture. The problem is he only speaks Spanish; like almost everyone.

We live among poor people. Dwellings are very humble compared to ours. Mexico reminds me of other developing countries I have lived in, like Egypt or India. Infrastructure is problematic, and being surrounded by manicured beauty is an unaffordable luxury. Amy commented that not many of our friends would like the conditions apparent in our villagei.e dusty roads, hardscrabble little dwellings that are hastily built . . . lack of sophistication.

I like that we often hear singing from the neighborhood evangelical church nearby. There are birds in the trees at our home that make remarkable songs . . . the best I have ever heard. Days are hot but nights are sublime. People are friendly and many have gone out of their way to insure our well being. Our magnificent cactus is beginning to bloom and attracting hummingbirds. We have bought a sturdy comfortable car—a Honda CR-V four-door with plenty of space.

There is a large paper wasp nest outside our bedroom window. It is at eye level hanging from an eve. To me, a thing of beauty—and I respect wasps because they help control insect pests.

The house is built of adobe blocks. Adobe consists of earth and straw. It is excellent at insulation and moderating temperatures. That is why it is commonly used in countries that are typically dry. We knew beforehand that this home has no heating or cooling systems. It is self modulating. We installed a ceiling fan in the bedroom and it is perfect.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Poco a Poco

Oh boy, what a wild and crazy ride it has been for the last three months. And now we are in Mexico, living in the house that brought us here. Many years ago I came to the conclusion that one has to accept the chaos that is part of life. Certainly in our experiences moving, there have been surprises that felt like setbacks. The big truck we thought would take our belongings turned out to be much smaller. Many of our possessions had to be sold or stored away and left behind. The ever present covid-19 pandemic made everything more difficult. The border between Mexico and USA is the busiest and most frequently crossed international border in the world. When our belongings reached the border, an official said our paperwork was not correct. Our driver paid the fee which seemed to be a bribe—and got through. Meanwhile, we flew ahead. All the while, our house beckoned us.

Moving to another country is far more difficult than finding a home within the boundaries of one nation. Amy and I applied for “visas permanente” and Mexico granted them to us based upon mostly financial factors. The little green cards with our photographs on them are protection and privilege yet do not ensure everything always goes smoothly.

We live in a little village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, just outside of Oaxaca. It is rural, and lively in its own way. The drive into town takes far longer than we would have dreamed. 9 miles takes up to 40 minutes.The road is two lanes both directions and marked with frequent speed bumps called “tope”. The closer it is to the center of Oaxaca the more traffic becomes snarled. 

Mexico is also the largest consumer of bottled water in the world. Amy and I cannot drink the tap water, fortunately purified or filtered water is readily available in large quantities.

In our short time here we have met wonderful individuals who are eager to make friends with us. I only wish I could speak and understand Spanish. "Poco a poco."

Our house was built lovingly by a couple who were international. The woman was German and married to a Mexican architect. All the corners inside and out, are rounded. All the finishes are organic. I feel we are here to carry forward creatively. We have already begun.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Silver Lining


I may be frustrated by the pace of our move, but there is a silver lining—we can be more deliberate in our decisions. I haven’t even decided yet how to get our belongings 1700 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Oaxaca, Mexico. The border is closed. We have to have a permanent visa first and it is taking far longer than expected, partly because Amy decided to get a new passport with the name she took after we married.  

Antique for sale

What moving company does this sort of trip? I haven’t gone into the details yet since we have extra time I had not planned on.

The house is furnished, so we could go there and wait for normal times 

to return. Meanwhile rent more storage space.

We have been giving away and selling belongings that had meaning in our lives. I gave to my daughter, who lives an hour away, two large sculpted marble vases I bought in Vietnam, and my beloved 40 year old jade plant. We sold a wonderful, hand carved totem figure Amy bought years ago. As I was driving it to the buyer, it was laying on its back in my van and I felt sacred energy in it and thought, why aren’t we taking this with us? 

Amy was going to sell a masterpiece wood carving made by a Hopi artist. I put my foot down and said, no, that comes with us. But, yes, we are selling eight finely engraved holiday dinner plates (she is keeping three of her favorites.)

It goes like this every day. Fortunately we are getting much done before frigid weather strikes.

Mask from Venice, (has sentimental value to me).

But we know it is coming and we will have to move then.