The Border “Wall,” Pelicans, Realities and more

 

If you’re living almost anywhere on the planet, you’ve likely heard about Trump’s border wall.  I hope there are still some places that have escaped news of this grand and glorious project.  My hope is slim, but since I live so near the border now, I snapped a couple of pix recently to give you a firsthand look at how it is at the Tijuana/San Ysidro crossing.

This crossing, by the way, is said to be the busiest in the world.  When you have to wait anywhere from one to three hours just to get to the U.S. side, you’ll believe that claim.

With all the news out of the White House about upgrading the “wall” and making it more “aesthetically attractive,” you can imagine from this photo what that might mean.  This was taken where you leave Mexico and roll onto U.S. territory.

Those slightly tipsy lightweight poles are intended to hold up the loosely placed rolls of razor wire.  Good job!  As we were waiting and looking at the wire and the cars and the line, Michael noticed something in the razor wire and started laughing.

Perhaps Trump’s new deal with Mexico will include a demand that itinerant clothes hangers be removed from U.S. razor wire.  Or else.  With him, anything’s possible.

I looked out early this morning to see a long and steady line of pelicans over the water.  I grabbed the binoculars for a close-up and started counting.  Several had already gone by, but I counted 68 birds, pairs and a few singles headed north.

Pelicans are amazing creatures, and we see them all the time in smaller flights.  We watch, too, for the splash when one dives for dinner.  And once in a while, one of them shows up on our beach where it sits quietly for hours before taking off again.  My guess is that it’s nursing a headache from one of those spectacular head-first dives.  Pelicans don’t drink margaritas, do they?

 

Summer is just around the corner on the calendar, but nasturtiums bloom almost any time of the year in Rosarito.  These are part of the landscaping of our favorite place, El Nido, and grow in beautiful profusion tucked in with the old wooden half-barrels and other antiques the owner has gathered.  We artists sometimes struggle to get our colors right, but Nature never misses.

Down here we walk.  A lot.  Oh, sure, we have the cars and drive to farther destinations like the new Calimax supermarket out on the libre carreterra, but our go-to transportation is our pies (not the edible kind) which are enclosed in our zapatos.  And there are zapatos everywhere – in regular shoe shops and in all the small local markets. Every shape and color.

And speaking of color, the street murals make the walks a pleasure.  This hummingbird – about 8′ x 6′ graces one of the buildings just off our main drag, Benito Juarez.  That little “non-hummingbird”  at the bottom left is an electrical box.  Everything’s fair game for the muralists, and bright paint can cover a lot of construction problems.

Sadly, there are other problems that need more than a coat of paint.  As I write each time about our pleasures here, I’ve been leaving out the realities and it’s time to remedy that.  The color brochures for the beach communities of Mexico like this one show one side of things and if you’re an occasional tourist, that may be all you’ll see.

You may not see the abandoned buildings, the humble “make do” shacks in neighborhoods “behind the scenes” with electrical wires strung catch as catch can, roofs that needed repairs long before now,  half-finished construction and so much more.

The Mexican minimum wage went up in January, and for most workers is now a little over $5 a day.  You read that right.  $5 a day.  Think about that next time you buy anything Hecho in Mexico.  Or grown and picked in Mexico.

While the lower prices here are a bargain for the ex-pats who take full advantage of them, many locals barely earn enough to keep things going.  They have nothing extra for home repairs or the amenities that come easily for the ex-pats.  Many ex-pats volunteer with nonprofits here to help provide, particularly where children are concerned.

Despite the low incomes, here’s what you don’t see – at least in Rosarito.  Homeless people begging, sometimes aggressively as they do in so many cities.  You see even the least of the people here working at one thing or another, sometimes for pennies.  People with little means don’t beg – they sell you things, small things to be sure, in exchange for a few pesos.  And these people include the elderly, the lame, the challenged in so many other ways.  And they smile.

Living in a different country is a reality check.

After a conversation recently with an American man who has made a life in Mexico for the past 30 years or so, he sent me a “dialogue” between a Mexican and a gringo who is mouthing all the Fox news kind of information about Mexico.  The Mexican takes time to inform the gringo about the history of Mexico, the art, the athletes, the inventors and scientists, the gourmet food and more, much more than news about drugs and crime which are the subject of nearly all the stories Americans and others in the world hear daily.

The Mexican closes the conversation with these words:

“Please realize that Mexico is a lot more than what the less worldly people and fear-mongering media know or choose to propagate.

“There are over 100 million good honest Mexicans and their families who love their country, climate and culture, who even without knowing you will open the door to our homes and that if you care to visit, you will love to get to know.” 

The wonderful Mexican friends we’re making are living proof of what he says.  He ends this with these ironic words, especially to someone like me who once lived in Manhattan:  “Sort of like New York maybe?”

In closing, we’ve all heard the old saw about red skies and fisherman – red sky in the morning, red sky at night, etc.  But the other evening I saw this lovely scene develop at twilight and wondered if there was a poem for a pink sky.  Sky turning pink, more time to think.  Or  Pink sky at seven, looks just like heaven.  Okay, I’ll stop now and let you come up with something better.

Michael and I are learning more and more about our new country even as we miss friends and family in the old.

Life and the world are big, so wherever you go, whatever you do, viajar bien, nuestros amigos!

Michael and Molly

 

 

 

 

A Week in the Life: Art, Exercise, Food and Sunsets

Hallelujah! The great storm is over (spread your wings and fly!)  Back in a different lifetime, I lived in Massachusetts and Maine where this old song is a favorite.  I’ve been singing it here because we did in fact have a great storm with high winds, high tides and joking wishes for a cozy fireplace.

The storm and the wishes have passed and life is back to normal with “fair winds and calm seas,” margaritas, sunshine, quiet walks, and the sunsets.  With a clear view to the far horizon, we do see some beauties.  This recent “golden sunset” gave us more than the usual pause.

Michael is the best walker around and has been out discovering new parts of this growing city several times a week.   The mix of urban and rural is without many boundaries as he discovered recently when he hiked through a densely settled section of the city and a short distance beyond to one of the hillsides we see from the condo.

Pix below show one of his artistic shots through a fence to the cuota, the whiz bang toll highway that runs down Baja and in a different shot, the proverbial chicken about to cross the road.   Urban and rural.

                     

Last time I promised a little view of the art center/library very near our place.  For an artist who believes that color is an animal that wags its own tail, Mexico is a paradise of beautiful “animals.”  Colors are in the DNA of the region and for me this speaks volumes.

IMAC is our version of Lincoln Center – the Municipal Culture Institute a block from the beach and home to all kinds of activities, festivals, arts and crafts, dances – the world of cultural and artistic expression.  A recent showing of the Loving Vincent film is balanced by young dancers (and old), art shows, the local library, and the small park where you see the kids, the parents, the abuelas y abuelos sitting on the benches enjoying the sun and a conversation.

This abuela’s favorite bench is the butterfly creation!

The building walls are decorated with lots of art including the lovely undersea series, part of it here.

The picture of the boys is a demonstration of our open air gym equipment.  It’s simple, accessible, free and it works.  Counterbalancing with your own weight is as good as a workout at Gold’s Gym.

Friends often ask me about the food here.  We’re on a hunt for the best and have a few favorites. We’ve also had a few disappointments, but the search goes on.  Of course, there’s some excellent Mexican food, but even better are the dishes Michael cooks, including his late mom’s pork chili specialty.

When we hanker for burgers and fries, we head up to Guerrero St. and Hamburguesa Joy.   For a special evening out, El Gaucho is the place with melt-in-your-mouth Argentinian steaks and sangria.  For breakfast – Mexican or American – it’s El Nido, which happens to be our margarita place as well (but not for breakfast).

El Nido (the nest) deserves a post of its own, so I’ll save more about this restaurant/museum/garden spot until another time.

Until then, adios amigos y amigas!  Vaya con dios…