Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas comes to chez von Zaurunyon

On Friday we realized that it was only a week until Christmas! We hadn't done anything around the house to prepare for the holiday, so this weekend was massive preparation mode! Now the tree is in the living room and the turkey is thawing in the fridge. We'll be totally on top of things by next Friday!

We got a beautiful noble fir. It's the good kind of noble - not the shelfy kind. Ian made them knock 150 pesos off the price. He's a master bargainer. When he speaks more Spanish he's going to be unstoppable!

Sammy didn't violently object to the reindeer antlers this year!

But he fought with the Santa hat pompom!

The Santa hat didn't make Hugo happy, even when Ian was hugging him!

Reindeer antlers weren't fun either....

But happily an unused luggage tag saved the evening!


On December 11, Ian and I attended the annual railroad workers end-of-year party. It was everything I'd been promised: an amazing location; excellent food and drink; lots of important people; and pretty girls, dressed identically and imported for the event. The event was in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a 1930s-era museum of Mexican art and culture in the heart of the central historical district.

The party opened with about 90 minutes of music. There was a small orchestra with one of the best conductors I've ever had the pleasure to watch, a very talented Mexican mezzo-soprano, and a Cuban quintet. They performed a great selection of music. I don't think there were more than three songs from any one genre.

They also took photos of guests as part of the swag, but I can't get them into the right format to post. We looked awesome - you'll just have to take my word for it until you come visit, then you can decide for yourselves!

The invitation arrived like this. Keep reading to see what the actual invitation looked like. Anybody planning a wedding might want to take note.

The invitation itself is a 3D photo of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the site of the party. On the base is a plaque with my name and title engraved on it.

The back of the invitation box: it's a train, lest we forget the reason for the party!

And the invitation itself. It's a book with a ribbon tie and hand-written invitation.

And they gave everybody a crystal-and-mirrors train as a souvenir. It's quite heavy. STFRM stands for Sindicato de Trabajadores Ferrocarrileros de la Republica Mexican - Union of Railway Workers of the Mexican Republic.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Taxco, Guerrero

This is the lovely little silver mining town of Taxco de Alarcon in Guerrero state. Ian and I drove there (first time driving in Mexico!) to finish our Christmas shopping. It's a great place: lots of silver, lots of artists, lots of pink rock, and lots of tiled roofs. It is just as steep and narrow as it could be, and the streets are better suited to donkeys than to Beetles!

Taxco cathedral seen from above (from the Cristo in the photo below).

Cristo Monumental looks over the city from above. The statue, like the cathedral, is in pink stone. It's a great view.

A narrow street away from the center of town. The white line is the lane divider. That's part of why VWs are such popular cars! (See the taxi photo below.)

A street in Taxco with the cathedral at the end. Most streets are two-way, and drivers are really civilized about each other and about pedestrians. It was tight, but we never felt ourselves in danger!

Street in Taxco. We were there at the end of the Feria de la Plata - Silver Festival - and the whole place was hopping!

Our hotel, Los Arcos, was a converted 17th century monastery. Its courtyard was like something out of a movie with irregular stairs, a giant tree, fountains, and unexpected arches. It was a very nice hotel for our purposes.

A sweet and serious little boy enjoying his lunch near our hotel.

Ian had the camera all weekend, so he documented the fire out of me (as they'd say in Alabama) buying stuff from vendors. I was not in haggling mode, so the process was painless, regardless of the look on my face! Here I'm buying straw finger toys that the cats will love until they destroy them.

Also not haggling over the price of ceramics in the street. They're lots cheaper in Taxco than Mexico City....

And finally, not haggling over a cute straw bag from one of the many men in many hats.

This is a car-bus taxi, locally called a combi. Most (if not all) public taxis in Taxco are VW Beetles (the old kind) or car-buses. It's a great town.

There's a lot of funny ideas in Taxco about how best to use all that silver. This saddle weighs in around 20 kilos (according to the salesman).

Ian's job

Ian's new job here is not as nice as he thought it might be.

Ian mixing the freshly ground rocks, potting soil, and sand for the cactus garden. Believe it or not, there were three trees in this space before we took them out, and one was a cedar!

Ian working in our jail-like front garden. We hope it will someday be filled with cacti!

After a long silence....

We're back! It's been very busy here Molly's work picks up and Ian's language classes get going, but we're still here and having fun!

First we have a cat update. Hugo is a feline Hoover and sucks up all the loose hair and lint off the floor. It's all four brain cells on full fire. And so his bad habits caught up to him: he got his belly shaved for an ultrasound! He's mostly fine but is on antibiotics for a UTI and will get special anti-hairball meds for the foreseeable future. Let this be a lesson: don't eat garbage off the flor even if it moves!

Sammy, on the other hand, is doing just fine!