Wednesday, April 3, 2013

AZOTAR (that's "Flog" en español)

Several weeks ago my daughter, Debbie, called to invite me to go with her to visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law at their vacation retreat in San Miguel de Allende.
“It’s so nice of you to invite me to somebody else’s home. How do you know they want me?” I said.
I called my unsuspecting hosts, to be on the safe side.  Susan and Jim said, "si si!” con mucho entusiasmo.
It’s nice to be wanted unless you’re on the FBI’s list.
How could I turn down such an offer from people I love? They’ve been spending March in San Miguel de Allende for ten years; five in the same charming genuine Mexican home.  
SMdA is four hours northwest of Mexico City, one-mile 1,220 feet high, a quaint 64 city blocks surrounded by a typical Mexican town that goes back more than 1,500 years. The name of the town was changed in 1826 to San Miguel de Allende in order to honor Ignacio Allende, who was born there. Today the main attraction of the town is its well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. This and the nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco have been declared World Heritage Sites by Unesco which I understand provides financial support.

Roosters, crickets, noisy vehicles on uneven cobblestone streets, sidewalks installed by Orthopedic Surgeons, church bells ringing on an unscheduled schedule manually operated by muscular men pulling a couple of ropes throughout the day. The ringers can’t tell time.

One of the highlights for me are all the fabulous doors, some ornate, many distressed, others dilapidated and many elaborately embellished. One home had a frog motif with frogs on the doors, a frog door knocker and larger frog sculptures lining the flat roof. The name of the family who lived there was apparently Rana, which of course means …. Frog in Spanish. Toad is Sapo. Somebody said a toad is a male frog. Not so. Toads and frogs have many similarities, but they are different amphibians. And I doubt the family’s name is Rana.

The air is dry, the temperature reaches the low to mid ‘80’s Fh, most days in March, starting at about 40. Wikipedia says “16,000 gringos from north of the border make up 16 percent of the town” (pop. about 100,000). I thought gringos to be a dirty word, but was told by “experts” that a gringo is “a foreigner from a different culture, particularly English-speakers, and especially from the United States.” I thought that was an ex-patriot.

“If what they said is true (about the definition of gringo), what is an ex-patriot?” a friend asked me. “Randy Moss, the great wide receiver was traded by the New England Patriots,” I said, “making him an ex-Patriot.”

Then I found out that the word is expatriate (commonly abbreviated expat); a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing and is not spelled patriot.

The highlight of the trip was visiting with Jim and Susan and listening to Debbie habla español to vendors, cab drivers and tour guides. She was MAGNIFICO. I was speechless (ish). Of course I haven’t yet tested her writing.

When I was in junior high school, I was one of the students chosen to take Spanish. After school I had to sit through the Girls’ Club meeting administered by my Spanish teacher, Miss Rapport, so she could tutor me in both seventh and eighth grades. I took Latin in high school and Spanish again for a quarter in college from Señor MacDonald, who passed away after I graduated. I may have been the cause of his death. I still know more Yiddish than Spanish.

Continuar mañana por favor!

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