Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Crayon Drawings

It's an indulgence, I know, but...

sometimes a drawing catches what a photo can't -- even an amateur drawing...

Ah!  But this last one....
Omar did this when he was about 15.
It's the best!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pix: butterflies abounding

En route home, we caught THE perfect day to watch the monarch butterflies -- in the Rosario preserve of Michoacan, a chain of low mountains of central Mexico.  They have just reached their winter destination -- by the countless millions!  The constant, soft whir of their wings overhead, the wing-laced air all around us as we walked, the sheer number of their presence all around....  They flew here from Canada and will head back in the spring...  No room here to tell their whole, amazing story.

Here is a close-up view of their spotted selves.

And in previous blogs I described "our" butterflies, long-wings who live in our jungly backyard.  Here is one group, coming to bed for the night.  As many as 17 would crowd along this dead hanging vine... the number varied.  When their wings are open, they are brilliant black with beautiful, filigreed horizontal yellow/cream stripes.

This is the other major species of butterflies that live in our jungly backyard.  Brilliant colors.  These guys are also settling in for the night.

Pix: work around our casita

This was a brilliant idea, thanks to Roverto.... and all the villagers he hired to help.  We now have a cistern right by the road, which can be gravity-filled from the town water system. Our casita is on a hill, so getting water has been....

 We've since built a roof over the cistern, and a casing for a pump which will pump the water up the hill to our house for kitchen and shower uses.

And this view gives a feeling of another project, now complete...  Sara (Guillermo's wife) sits on our porch and in the distance is our, um, Pavilion:  a shade roof with a fine cement floor.  Perhaps we'll use it for hanging more hammocks;  perhaps it will serve as an outdoor kitchen;  or perhaps it will be a place for YOU to  set up your tent when you visit.  

And here is the "Before" photo of our back porch.  This roof and its four posts were put up in a previous visit, and the place has remained a funky catch-all...  Check it out in the next photo!

(But first, notice the jungly backyard... this is where our butterflies live... see the post of butterfly photos)

Men at work!  The guy in the foreground is another of the Mayor's brothers, the youngest.  He is nicknamed Momo -- a romantic, poetic guy now married with a sweet young daughter.

And here is the finished floor, all shiny with cooling water poured on it.  Very shady, cool place.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pix: some of our many friends!

Here is Evi, standing at the mouth of the river where it once was all jungly, and where we camped that first year.  All that land has been cleared now.  Evi lives in the village, and runs a simple restaurant down here on weekends.  She saw some of my humble crayon drawings (future blog entry) and asked if I'd make a portrait of her, so here is my muse/portrait to work from.

Ah!  A village wedding.  Mind you, folks here don't seem to like to smile for the camera.  These two ARE happy!  Gerardo (very youngest brother of our Mayor) just returned from some 6 years in the States in order to find a village girl to marry. He found a lovely, sweet young woman.  Big village-wide dance, food for all, live music, dancing and games!  And they had many truckloads of sand hauled in, to pour over the dirt road in front of their home which is where all this took place!  Made for soft, clean, and smooth dancing.

Here the Mayor, Guillermo (eldest brother of the groom), dances with the bride, while his wife Sara dances with the groom.  Very joyous party.

How I love these kids.  That's Ariana, front and center (the Mayor's youngest, now 9).  She has been my shadow for lo these many years, curious about everything and wanting to be everywhere.

This is the front yard of Guillermo's home...  A comfortable, welcoming place right in the dead center of the village.  Note that the home is "wattle and daub" -- cool in summer, warm in winter, free, and easy to repair and expand.  It is one of the most ancient, world-wide construction styles.  Cement is the new style, but is it an improvement?

Mirna and Litzi -- our first friends, from back in the days of camping by the river-mouth in the rainy jungle among the biting ants and burrowing frogs and... well, our decision to find a way to LIVE here (see future entry of "pix from the early days").  It was Mirna who arranged for us to buy our casita from her brother who lives in Fresno, CA.  In this photo, little Litzi is celebrating her 9th birthday.  We arrived the year Litzi celebrated her 3rd birthday.

These guys grew up on us, too!  
Raul and Benito (Mirna's son) are the fastest runners in the village...  At a recent school event, their race against each other was a tie.  I know.  I was there.  It was a nail-biter and these boys put out all they had in them.  It was beautiful.

Here is little Luis, lookin' at you.  His t-shirt says in English, "MAJOR TROUBLE."  Look at that hammer action--a blur in this photo.  He does not speak yet (since he lost his mama), but has graceful, meaningful gestures to indicate what he wants to say.

These three are regular visitors... Luis, Damian(cito), and Gloria Estafani.  Inside, I have several shelves filled with toys for all ages of kids, and the kids just waltz in to choose what they want. Then, they put it all away again when they are ready to leave.  

A National Holiday.......
Little Pancho Villa's roaming the countryside!!!  All the kids paraded past our home in traditional costumes from days gone by, including sombreros and flowing skirts and some on horseback.  

Photos from around our humble casita...

Here you see Spiderman celebrating Obama's victory!
....and the jungly growth that greeted us on our arrival, all to be cut with machetes,
...and a view of our newly finished carport/shade-roof, which cools our home dramatically. Note that all the jungly growth has been cut back by this time.