I am not sure who started painting rocks and leaving them on our walking trails but it was a lovely idea for young and old. Children must be so bored staying at home – so much so that I saw my neighbor’s toddler swimming the breast stroke in the street puddle (where the sprinkler water gathers)!
JOY AND LOVE TO EVERYONE
I recently had the good fortune to travel to Brenham in the Texas hill country for work. It is a small country town, German in origin, north west of Houston. The last time I traveled for work was in the UK, to grim industrial towns in England. This trip was much better with perfect spring weather in Texas (hot summer weather in UK).
I used to be terribly frightened of railroad crossings but since moving here, I have had to get used to them. Most of them around me have no barriers so the train uses the horn for miles – a sound I love. Sometimes on a quiet night I can hear them at night about 4 miles in the distance. Now I just stop briefly at the railroad and check there are no trains (not everyone stops…) The crossing above was right in the middle of the old section of town.
These train company names immediately bring nostalgic memories of old American movies and I dream of jumping on a wagon to travel across country.
Or at least I think it is abandoned – it is sometimes hard to tell out in the countryside. As I child I would have constantly been on these train lines imagining the destinations.
This is just one part of a very long train that had dozens of wagons. They sometimes are so long that it takes 20 minutes for one to pass.
As I was leaving the Super Walmart I noticed this field of bluebonnets, followed by red wildflowers and finally yellow. The sky was very overcast and it gave a surreal feel to the field. I attempted a photo watercolor below.
I closed my wonderful hotel door in Merida and looked around my room. There was a four poster bed, patio doors opening onto the small pool outside. Even though it was now dark, there were little lights illuminating the pool, columns, archways and muslin curtains outside. The room was simply furnished in typical Spanish/Mexican style but had a large flat screen TV and Wifi. The bathroom was commodious and modern with wonderful limestone tiles. It was chock full of prehistoric critters and I remember thinking that Teddy could have written a thesis about the tiles. There was a tiny bit of black mold in the corner of one ceiling but it was an old building prone to leaks in rainstorms – much like our house (and it’s new).
The hotel was very quiet and it was incredibly hot. I put on the air conditioning unit and the large fan. At home I keep the temperature at about 78 degrees for most of the year so I am used to tolerating hot weather. We lived in Egypt for two years with minimal air-conditioning. My flight didn’t arrive until almost 9 pm so now it was well past my normal bed time. The bed was comfortable and despite the heat, I drifted off to sleep under the sheet.
My dreams were all about sound and light shows and later I realized that this was because the power was flickering in and out all night creating a light show with the little outside lights. Both the air-con and the fan were generating a crescendo of noise from going on and off. Ah, the joys of foreign travel. In the morning, one of the staff came to my door to explain that the power would be going out so that an electrician could work on the hotel.
“Not a problem,” said I, blithely, and thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast before lights out. There was real natural yogurt, honey, local fruits, jellies, toast and granola. A virtual feast. Since the power was going to be off, I decided to set off to see the city even though it was early on Sunday morning. The local residents were busy setting up the main Plaza with market stalls and half of the old town was barricaded off for a bike race. Race is too strong a word – perhaps a meander?
Merida was exactly what I expected and a little more. It was a regular city not dominated by tourism with many beautiful Spanish colonial buildings. Not everyone spoke English but I was able to communicate with my bad Spanish. I admired some beautiful cotton drindl skirts in vivid colors and the white haired Señor asked me if he could help. I remembered the words for just browsing – “Solo mirando, gracias!” and I received a smile with no pressure. All of America was enduring a heatwave and I noticed the local people, many of whom were indigenous Maya, were struggling to keep cool. I was already getting over-heated so went back to the hotel to change into something lighter. The electrician was still hard at work. It was difficult to see in the closet with no power but the room was naturally cool.
I set off again to take more photos and enjoy the city sights. I was feeling a little weary but I metaphorically shook myself in anticipation of a wonderful vacation. Oh, I spoke too soon….
I wonder if the artist realized that his sculpture would have well-polished boobs when people sat on the seat? It certainly stood out and probably makes more people sit on it. One of the many aspects of Mexico that I love is that art is available to all in the form of murals, architecture and sculpture. Puerto Vallarta has the most amazing collection of sculptures along the promenade. The views of the beach and mountains are spectacular alone but the art adds a quirky touch.
There is a thriving ceramic industry in the town and I particularly like the situation of this simple tile.
These tiles were on a simple building in the old town but added to the art.
Even the street signs were beautiful – this was the name of the street where I was staying at the Hacienda.
Inside the Plaza was a treasure trove of hand-made goods from embroidered clothes, locally made rugs and ceramics. I really do not need another ‘artifact’ in my house but it is still nice to browse, “Solo mirando”
There is something about this group of sculptured seats that just captures my imagination. They look like something out the movie Fifth Element and I could have looked at them all day. Art soothes the soul and the more accessible it is, the better.
One of the best aspects of the Hacienda Escondida, where I stayed in at Puerto Vallarta, was that it was a short distance from the river leading down to the beach. My zodiac sign is Cancer and despite my fear of deep water/small boats, I just need to be around water. Ponds, rivers, lakes or the sea – they all make me happy. The first morning, I got up early and wandered up to the bridge crossing the river. It was too early for tourists so I met many of the local people coming from the hillside down into the town to open shops and start work. On the first trip, I felt there was a distance between the locals and tourists but perhaps it was all in my panic stricken head. I greeted everyone I met with Buenos Dias and received such smiles and responses. In Texas I live in a town that attracts tourists and sometimes we get irritated with their presence but they bring in tax dollars…
Puerto Vallarta is flooded with natural beauty and it seems to encourage marvelous creativity. The outhouses above were located on the river bank. I liked this Maya/Aztec mural on a riverside building?
It was blissfully quiet early in the morning and enjoyed having most of the river to myself, with a few friends.
I guess they were lucky that the cat was looking for smaller prey.
Eventually I reached another road bridge where I admired this lovely cafe which was serving breakfast.
I finally reached a culvert at the end of the river and there was a mermaid!
Just after Thanksgiving last year, Teddy and I went on a lovely trip to Puerto Vallarta…except it wasn’t. What I didn’t reveal is what really transpired. We have been seriously considering a retirement move to Mexico because of the cost of health care in the US. Our first trip was to Baja – wonderful but some current cartel problems in the state. Puerto Vallarta always seemed like a low possibility because it is a tourism town but it also has very good medical facilities and is safe. Nonetheless we were looking forward to a vacation. The first problem was at customs where the officers wanted to look inside the Pelican case containing photography equipment. Silly Teddy had locked it but didn’t tell Bunny the combination… One was a little brusque but generally they were just doing their job. When we left Customs the timeshare people attacked… sigh.
Our driver from the hotel was waiting for us (wondering why there was a delay) and things got much better. We arrived at the Hacienda which was utterly beautiful in the heart of the old town. It was surprisingly ‘real’, busy with buses taking workers in and out of the city. The cobbled streets amplified the noise of the traffic, open market and other businesses. It was a short walk to a beautiful beach and we had a lovely lunch with perhaps too many margaritas. There was a water feature running into the pool next to our room (the noise was making me anxious) and something just clicked in my brain. A panic attack was starting and Teddy had gone off for a couple of hours. By the time he came back it was fully fledged panic attack and I HAD TO GO HOME! This happened once before in Scotland and I seem to have no control over it.
After much reflection, I think there was just too much riding on this trip and I would really prefer to stay at our home in Texas if we can afford it (and we likely can). In February I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Vallarta on a solo trip and this time it was so much better – Mexico, take two. I could even envision a partial retirement there, if needs must. I stayed at the same Hacienda where I made some new friends and got to know my host a little better. They have many repeat guests who enjoy the familiarity of a real home from home. Within moments of entering my guest room, I tripped and twisted my ankle. WTF? Are the Gods out to get me??? Fortunately, I had been practicing my Farmacia Spanish and I strapped it up. More posts to come with some wonderful photographs.
My previous field of work was community mental health care and when we were downtown I spotted this prescription sticker stuck onto a bench in the park near the ‘before I die’ chalkboard. I instantly recognized the drug which is an anti-psychotic medication commonly used to treat illnesses like schizophrenia. When I was working it was a new wonder drug and very expensive. I expect it is generic now but still a useful medication.
Then I noticed the David’s surname which was Spanish and that the prescription was printed in Spanish. Mental illness affects people irrespective of income, ethnicity and circumstances but I suspect from his mother’s address they were first or second generation immigrants on a low wage. The script was issued from a hospital near the downtown area so it suggested that perhaps they could only afford to go to ER or it was an emergency situation.
David is not even 20 and my experience tells me that it is more likely the onset of schizophrenia rather than bipolar. It commonly presents in young men between the ages of 17 and 25. It can be sooner or later and slightly different for women. So why did he put the sticker on the bench? In retrospect I should have ripped it off because all his personal details were on it and made him a potential victim.
Was it a cry for help or a passive aggressive statement? More importantly, did he take the drugs? I wondered if his mother was sobbing, wondering what happened to her beautiful son and what to do next. The homeless people in Houston are often mentally ill and many self medicate with alcohol and drugs. I get angry and frustrated that there is so little community mental health care for parents or their adult children. When I volunteered at a local psychiatric hospital I was shocked by how many patients were brought in by policemen, sometimes at gunpoint. There has to be a middle ground.
Osyth commented in my last post that she was touched by the comment, ‘be happy’ (on the before I die chalkboard). Maybe David wrote that, in the hope that his illness would stabilize and he would be happy. I hope that he was still able to stay in his family home and not have to sleep in the parks, no matter how pretty they are.