Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feliz Ano Nuevo

December 26, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Wishing all of you a healthy, happy and prosperous holiday season.
Feliz Ano Nuevo!

The markets are bursting with holiday decorations, oranges, candles, hand painted figurines, do-it-yourself nativity scenes, complete with, of course, the traditional figures, animals, trees, little houses, and with moss piled high like mountains. To me it is a visual feast of color, craftsmanship and spirituality all wrapped up in one.

As many of you are aware, Mexico is a very religious country. For them, the holidays are very spiritual, unlike our gift-driven commercialized American holidays. One of the many special opportunities that Mexico affords us is the opportunity to volunteer, to give back to the community, not just with Gringo money but with physical contact with the many people who are poor and in need of a good meal. On December 24, we spent the afternoon feeding the hungry. More than 50 gringos volunteered; everything from making sandwiches, tearing up chicken, putting rice and beans in little cups, cutting cake, and on and on. We served almost 650 people, many of them elderly and handicapped. Multi-generational families came, dusty, tanned faces reaching out to hold our hands and show their appreciation. The priest and many volunteers led a service first with much singing and lots of movement. (Similar to our hand-jive dance from the 50's). Even the people who could barely walk stood joyously to sing and raise their arms to sway with the music.

Our next good deed today was to take Mari, our housekeeper extraordinaire, for our annual Christmas shopping trip at Mega, the big grocery store. It is a treat for her since it is far from her home and too expensive for her to shop there regularly. When we picked her up at her house, she had changed her clothes, put on a little makeup and looked radiant (so I knew it was reallya special trip for her) An hour later, a ham, a bottle of tequila, cerveza (beer), and a million other things (marshmallows, peanut butter, cereal, ice cream, soft drinks, rice, etc.), our shopping cart was full and she was very content. She invited us to come to her house at midnight for the Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) dinner of posole (a chicken and corn hominy stew). Carlos made it, but I was too exhausted to go. It was an honor to be invited to share in their family festivities.

Carlos continues to work with Eric and he is busy photographing. Still very shy, he is a very nice young man, and now, he reaches his hand out to me to say, “Buenos tardes” ("Good afternoon")! I think that’s a big step. Carlos continues to do a wonderful job with him. Last week the two of them went to the El Charco del Ingenio, the botanical gardens, where they took many pictures. As before, Carlos spends his days having breakfast with the guys every morning, going to the gym, and riding his moto.

At right is Roger and Doc Severinson (Johnny Carson's old sidekick) at Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant where Doc plays with Gil & Cartas, our favorite local musicians.

We’ve had company - Marcia and Roger Fenton (Carlos' sister and brother-in-law), as well as our friend Jane Steinger, who kept us both busy shopping, overeating, but laughing a lot. We took a day trip to Pozos, a nearly abandoned mining town, and enjoyed our time in the country. We had a terrific comida (lunch) at a new hotel that recently opened there, La Posada de las Minas (Inn of the Mines).

The weather has been beautiful - high 70's and low 40's. Most days are warm and sunny. A little rain has fallen, but has not dampened our spirits (although it did overflow one roof drain).

We have seen old friends and made some new ones, eaten many excellent meals, saw Doc Severinsen with our favorite Gil and Cartas - (outstanding), cooked a lot, and saw Avatar, which we both enjoyed.

As for me, it takes a while for me to get going on my art. While we have been busy, I have started doing a little in my studio and am mentally prepared to take off running with my new ideas. We are going to Buenos Aires in February as I will be doing my artist residency there for two weeks. We will stay an additional week or so and undoubtedly have the time of our lives. Maybe we will come back doing the Tango! It is a very exciting prospect, but I admit that I am a little nervous about what I'm going to do!

I also have started working with Dona, Mari’s 14 year old daughter, and we are doing cooking, art and English lessons... My Spanish is still a struggle but getting better. She speaks no English. You try teaching in another language! I was exhausted after making brownies, working on the computer with her, showing her how to paint a flower, all in Spanish! She is very bright and so happy and appreciative that I am spending time with her.

As you can see, our life here is very full and exciting. Life in Mexico is indeed a beautiful way to retire. We are so thankful to be able to give back a little to the community, and to share with Mari’s family.

In these difficult times, we encourage all of you to do the same. It is guaranteed to be a feel good experience.

To our dear friends and family, we miss you all and wish you a brighter and better 2010.


Linda and Carlos