Tuna Anyone?

I was at the store one day and spotted a bottle of shampoo that was tuna scented. I wondered, “Why would anyone want to smell like tuna?”

Then I was served this fruit:

THIS is tuna – the fruit of the cactus. It tastes a little like a kiwi crossed with citrus.

When I told my Mexican friends that in America, tuna is a fish, they thought that was pretty funny. Everyone knows the fish is called atun!

Well, now you know too.

I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

In Annie Get Your Gun, Annie Oakley sang about all the things she did not have, but she had the sun and the moon to brighten her day and was glad of that.

Life really is not about how much money we have or the things we accumulate, it is about the intangibles like love and friendship and of course starting the day like this.

Sunrise over Taxco de Alarcon - PanoramaWant to watch this morning’s sunrise unfold? Here it is

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And what day would not be complete without the moon at night.

Moonrise over Taxco

The Four Amigas

OK, I know. You are thinking I have that title wrong, it’s Three Amigos, right? (The movie with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short)

Well that was a funny movie but no, I mean Four Amigas, the Mexican chickas who adopted Blue Bear for a day of Taxco adventure.

Four Amigas, MontetaxcoBeing a gringa, with a poor command of the Spanish language, it can get rather lonely at times. One might be surrounded by people, talking, laughing, and having a good time, but you are all alone because you do not understand what anyone is saying. AND because they think you do not know the language, no one makes much of an attempt to speak to you other than to kiss you on the cheek and ask, “Como esta?” (How are you?) After the mutual “Biens,” they do not know what else to say, and since you do not have enough Spanish to ask a question that would start a conversation, which you probably wouldn’t understand much of anyway, that usually puts an end to the interaction.

So imagine how pleased I was to be invited to join my friend, Vanessa, and mutual friends from Chilpancingo (all of whom speak English) on an afternoon on the town. Just what I needed – eye candy views from the top of town and ear candy — English conversation!

Though I am nearly twice their age (it’s the blue that keeps me looking young), we had a great time laughing and joking and just enjoying being together.

Thanks for a great day amigas!

No preocupado

Everybody here is always saying, “Don’t worry.” “Don’t worry.” And I always think, what is there to worry about? I finally figured out that “No preocupado” (Don’t worry.) is used in the same way that we say, “No problem.”

So don’t worry, be happy!

Fanciful frogGo ahead and smile. You know you want to.

No worries! Now doesn’t that feel great?

Mexican Traditions — Funerales

An acquaintance died yesterday. That means that today everything stopped, as family, friends, and acquaintances dropped everything to attend a gathering to comfort the family, followed by a funeral service, and a long walk to the cemetery (panteon) bearing the remains.

I am always amazed by the differences in cultures. How births are celebrated and deaths mourned are especially unique to each culture and even location within that culture. Some cultures raise the body high in the air and let the natural processes take care of the remains, others place the body on a boat, set it afire and let it drift across a lake or downriver. Here because it is a hot country, the tradition is to bury the body fast, and if you are Catholic mourn for 9 days afterwards.

Visitations are held in the sala, or front room, of the deceased or a family members house. Furniture is moved to make room for the casket, and all pictures, mirrors, etc. are removed. If there is no room inside, perhaps the casket is placed in the yard. People come at all hours of the day and night, from early morn to well past midnight, expecting the deceased’s family to provide food and drinks. Thoughtful guests bring something — a kilo (almost two pounds) of sugar is a common choice — to sweeten the coffee or fruit water the family is serving, or possibly some bread or cookies. Others bring flowers, traditionally only white. Sometimes people who don’t even know the family come for the free meal or “professional mourners” come to cry over the deceased for a fee.

There are no open caskets here, perhaps again due to the climate, the deceased is seen only through a glass window. I find this very eerie, as if the person inside is not really dead at all but like Sleeping Beauty, just waiting for their prince or princess to come and awaken them with a kiss. For the family it is difficult, they want to touch their loved one, hold their hand or stroke their face as they talk to them, but they can’t. Only later at the grave site will the casket be opened and the family allowed to “say their goodbyes,” which, as you might expect, becomes an extremely emotional time with all those pent up feelings finally allowed free expression.

After a funeral service, the casket is put into a hearse, and all the mourners, bearing the white flowers, walk behind, clogging the street for any motorized traffic. Since there is pretty much only one way through town and the cemetery is on the far side, it can be a long, slow, frustrating time for drivers trapped behind.

When my hostess’s son died recently, the funeral process only lasted for about 36 hours. It seemed much longer and we were all exhausted by the time it was over. I cannot even imagine repeating the process day after day for nine days.

Sky Candy

If you have followed my adventures for any time, you know that I LOVE sunrise. Sunsets are awesome, but there is something about a dark sky evolving into light — sometimes with riotous color and sometimes soft pastels — that just makes my day!

Taxco being a mountain town with many ups and downs, there are many vantage points for overlooking the city. My room though, located on the fourth floor overlooking the valley to the East, offers the perfect vantage point for viewing the sunrise over the surrounding mountains.

I could lie in bed and watch the sun come up, if I wanted to, yet stepping out onto my terrace balcony, where I have an unobstructed  view of the “puesta del sol,” while breathing in the fresh morning air, is almost a spiritual experience. Each new day is a fresh palette, painting a new masterpiece never to be seen again. How can I miss even one?

I share with you here some of the more spectacular daybreaks. Grab a “cuppa” and sit back and enjoy the show.

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Mucho Frio

I know it is nothing like the weather back home where snow, ice, high winds, and bitter cold are blasting the northern tier of the country, but we are in the midst of a  cold snap of our own. Usually sunny and high 70s or 80s, the last few days have been cloudy and overcast, with highs only in the low to mid-50s during the day and rain — cold, incessant rain. (I’d rather have 20 degrees and snow.) That is frio, our own version of an arctic blast.

I woke up this morning and looked outside to find a cloud hanging off my terrace balcony. I could almost reach out and touch it, that is, if I even wanted to go out there. With no heat in houses here, I’d rather not let the cold air in.

This weather reminds me of being in Cuzco, Peru, one January. The bed was piled high with about 6 alpaca blankets. They were heavy and scratchy. I thought who wants to sleep under all these? Yet in the middle of the night, I would add another, then another, and another, until by morning I was burrowed under all six with only a breathing vent. Since inside it was warm and cozy, and outside I could see my breath, I was staying put until it warmed up a little.

This trip, I did not bring my winter coat or hat because, due to an unusually warm fall, I did not need them before I left. And, I “never” need cold weather clothes here; it’s always 70 degrees or more and sunny.

Never say never right?

I did bring my raincoat and fleece, and layered they are enough, but I miss my hat.Now where is that extra blanket?

Blue Bear in RedPssst. Let me know when it warms up out there.

Home is…

“Home is where you hang your hat,” according to Leon Redbone. Which is a good definition, since as a musician, I am sure he has hung his hat in quite a few places.

Rachel Brosnahan has a different take on home; to her, “Home is where your butt rests.” As an actress there may be plenty of butt resting going on between takes.

Since I have hung my hat, and rested my butt in quite a few places in my life, I think that Pliny the Elder hit the mark when he said, “Home is where the heart is.” By that definition home can be here, there, where you are, or where you wish to be.

At the moment, I have come “home” to Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico.

This beautiful city, “The Silver Capital of the World” — all cobblestone streets and white washed buildings with red tile roofs, tumbling up and down the mountainside — captured my heart the first time I saw it. And it continues to do so.

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What a beautiful sight — morning, noon, and night.


Landing in Mexico a month earlier than ever before, the first thing I noticed as the bus rolled along amid the steep bluffs and deep valleys from Mexico City to Taxco was how green (verde) everything was.

The hills were green, the crops were green, and the rivers were filled with water, an unusual site.

Though I have traveled this road many times, it was a whole new experience.