Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Artists in Chacala

Looking down the hill in Chacala,
from the paved road toward the beach road.
Concha's Techo de Mexico rental is on the right.

I was just sitting down to do some blogging, here in Chacala heaven. Sun shining, breeze blowing, and surround by green. Then I heard a different noise outside. Sometimes that means someone has arrived and is letting me know she is here. Other times is some surprising activity going on within hearing distance.

Like the day the absentee owner of the lot next door brought men in from Las Varas to herbicide his lot, which includes palms and shrubs and trees and bananas and mango trees, and my bouganvilleas and other plants. Managed to stop him that time, and he only killed one bouganvillea. Anyway, I never know what is happening when I hear new noises, and I always investigate.

This time it was Butcho. It turned out he was planting melons along the other side of the driveway. Using a tall stick, and carrying his melon seeds in a half a coconut shell, which had a string threaded thru holes in the side, so he could carry the seeds with his hands free. The string was some kind of fiber he had twisted together to form a string. Butcho is always making something out of nothing. I love hanging around his and Maria's place, seeing all their different things. They actually have a little cement block house, about twice as big as a double bed. But they really live outside, under a crummy-looking ramada that seems to work for them.

They used to be spread out all over two lots, one Maria's and the other belonging to another absentee owner, this one from Compostella. I think maybe he is related to the gringo who is building just south of the Chacalilla gate. Anyway, about six or eight months ago the owner came and told them to get their stuff off his lot. And they did. Animal pens and gardens, and little structures for washing and cooking and eating and watching TV and whatever where all moved or removed. Actually it looks a little tidier now.

Anyway, the advantage of having two lots was besides having lots of space for their 9 dogs, jillions of cats, kitchens, ducks, etc etc, and three garden spaces, there was room for all their collections. Plastic bottles and glass bottles and aluminium cans for recycling and other stuff for clever, and free, inventions. Like the seed carrier. Maria is always making beautiful things, often from colored tissue paper. Like those decorations for parties that are strung from tree to tree. Of displays for Guadalupe day, or pinatas. Maria has been making bolsas (shoulder bags or purses) from whatever. Lately it's been kerchiefs. But also from fabric she has embroidered on, and scraps of this and that. She comes around every few weeks looking for artist-type stuff I might give her, and a little cash for tissue paper and glue and other things. She asks for 20 pesos.

Many of the ladies in Chacala have shrines at their homes. Everyday shrines and special shrines. Special shrines for Guadalupe or whatever. Some are just beautiful. Esparanza had a lovely shrine for about three days, and then it disappeared. Don't know what happened. Dona Lupe has a shrine in the room she and her husband and adult daughter, Blanca live in. And another one at her restaurant, Fonda de Lupita, on the beach road. Dona Lupe's is always clean and neat, with candles lit and flowers. Maria always has a shrine, but for Guadalupe's day she goes wild with decorations and embellishments. Very clever and inventive.

Now that I know about the shrines, it's easier for me to find gifts for people. Now I can look for religious photos and pictures, special candles, and little medals and boxes with Guadalupe or Jesus or Mary on them. Morelia has a street 20 de Noviembre, which has about 30 or 40 religious stores. And when I was in Patzcuaro I found some very nice religious-objects stores. One store, especially, had very artistic, with beautiful things. Some of which I could afford.

My favorite thing in one of the stores was a pin about as big as a quarter, with a little photo of Guadalupe in a gold metal frame with glass. You clip it on your blouse thru a prong on the back. Like my old Girl Scout medals. Those pins were a big hit when I got back. They were only 5 pesos (50 cents) each and I got 10. I gave five away immediately and then people asked me about them and I gave the rest away in a day or two. I wish I had gotten more.

Maria's pin ended up in one of her creations hanging in her garden. Every day there is something new at her place.

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