Just a Bit of Mexico

Store on Calzada de la Estacion, San Miguel de Allende.

Store on Calzada de la Estacion, San Miguel de Allende.

Just a corner in San Miguel. One of thousands of the exuberant storefronts here.

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Grasshoppers, Yum

Chalupines on sale in San Miguel

Chalupines on sale in San Miguel

Chalupines is what the Mexicans call these tasty little creatures. They are in season now and here a couple of guys from the campesino have brought a bunch in to sell in our street. They’re crunchy with a toasty, yeasty flavor almost like potato chips. The chile-lime kind, which is what these little guys are seasoned with after a quick deep-fry. Or so I am told. I am looking forward to trying some, but would like an expert in attendance to show me the finer points of this particular kind of bug ingestion.

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Never Rains But it Pours

Rain in Centro, San Miguel de Allende

Rain in Centro, San Miguel de Allende

Mexico is always sunny with blue skies, unless it rains of course. And when it does it is usually a torrential downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. Most fun are the Canales, the gargoyle-like tubes that are intended to project roof water into the street. Most of them however seem to be more accurately aimed at any passing pedestrians. Historically these were carved stone spouts, but nowadays are often just a piece of plastic pipe.

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Many Faces of Mexico

Street scene, San Miguel de Allende

Street scene, San Miguel de Allende

Mexico is a country of extremes. Traditionally dressed folks from the Campo, and the young and cool. Things are changing very quickly here, much regretted by some who would like to see things remain old and quaint. But given the choice between a burro or a Honda, I know what I would pick. This is a dynamic society, continuing progress with respect for history and culture will hopefully be the way.

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Stoned

Man carrying landscaping stones, San Miguel de Allende

Man carrying landscaping stones, San Miguel de Allende

Unable to even lift one of these bags off the ground on my own, our friend here at the local vivero, hoisted these two without hesitation. One cannot help but be reminded of the statue at the entrance to San Miguel of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, El Pipila, who in 1810 carried a paving stone on his back to shield himself from the Spanish guns as he approached the door of the Guanajuato granary and set it afire so that Allende’s troops could fight their way in. Unfortunately, the statue of El Pipila here features a paving slab of such exaggerated dimensions and thickness that I was confused when I first visited as to why a statue of a man with a queen-size mattress on his back should welcome visitors to the City.

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Avocados

Fruit and vegetable seller in the Mercado, San Miguel

Fruit and vegetable seller in the Mercado, San Miguel

Another of the many gifts from Mexico to the World. This lady sorting through her collection of avocados for sale in the mercado here. The name comes from the Spanish aguacate, which which in turn comes from the Aztec Nahuatl word āhuacatl. Interestingly, the same word also means testicle, which if you see them hanging from trees (Avocados, that is) makes sense. Whether the fruit was named after the body part, or vice versa no one knows. In Michoacán, you can find mountains and valleys covered with nothing but avocado trees as far as the eye can see. The other things on her table are cactus fruit, confusingly here called tuna.

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Carnitas on Mesones

The Carnitas store, Mesones, San MIguel de Allende

The Carnitas store, Mesones, San MIguel de Allende

Carnitas, literally translated as “Little Meats”, are what happen when you take large chunks of pig and slowly deep-fry them for four or five hours in a giant bucket of lard. Normally chopped up with a small machete and served in a tortilla with some cilantro and pickled onion with some salsa on top, it is a stable for many folks here for comida and is delicious. Our favorite place here is on Mesones next door to Super Bonanza (our local everything market). Our favorite are costillas (ribs) which are particularly succulent and juicy. Smartly, the carnitas Lady uses her hands for the food and the metal tin for the money which she never touches without a plastic bag on her hand. Meticulously hygienic.

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Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

The Bishop of Guanajuato entering the Oratorio, San Miguel de Allende

The Bishop of Guanajuato entering the Oratorio, San Miguel de Allende

You don’t often bump into a Bishop, but yesterday evening we did at the Oratorio at the end of our street. And he had his official Bishop hat and everything. We think this one is the Bishop of Guanajuato or Celaya, but aren’t sure as they aren’t labelled or anything. I don’t know if they are infallible, like the Pope, but with a load of bodyguards and a massive shepherd’s crook, I’m not going to argue with anything they say.

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Chritopher Street Subway Station, New York

Christopher Street Subway Station, New York

Christopher Street Subway Station, New York. May 2015

Uptown platform, Christopher Street subway station, New York. One of a series of images of everyday life in the City.

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Union Square Market

Union Square Market, New York, Jun 2005

Union Square Market, New York, Jun 2005

Produce seller, Union Square Market, New York. One of a series of images of everyday life in the City.

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