Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our Neighborhood: Pedro Infante

One of the unique things about our neighborhood that a lot of people probably don't know about is the tributes and statue to Mexico's idol of the 40's and 50's, Pedro Infante.
 (Most of the text below was gathered from The Yucatan Times and Wikipedia)

 José Pedro Infante Cruz (November 18, 1917 - April 15, 1957), better known as Pedro Infante, is perhaps the most famous actor and singer of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and was the idol of the Mexican people, together with Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís, who were styled the Tres Gallos Mexicanos (the Three Mexican Roosters). He was born on November 18, 1917 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico. He was raised as a child in Guamúchil.

His film career began in 1939 with him appearing in more than 60 films, and starting in 1943, he recorded about 350 songs. For his performance in the movie Tizoc, he was awarded the Silver Bear of the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival for Best Actor and also a Golden Globe in Hollywood, for 'Best Actor in a Leading Role', awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Though he made millions, he always represented the common poor carpenter he once was. Infante was a symbol of someone who had worked himself up from nothing. To many Latin Americans, he wasn't just an actor and singer, but much, much more. Fifty five years have done nothing to erase his influence and to this day, flowers are taken to his grave in Mexico City.
Since 1945, Pedro Infante chose the city of Merida as his getaway from fame, the ideal place to relax and have fun as he could not do in any other part of Mexico. He was always surrounded by fans that never let him rest.
In Merida, the citizens saw him as a Yucatecan, they would greet him but never bother him for autographs, or ask him to sing for them. He was free to go to public and popular places with no problem, whatsoever. The Yucatecan food was one of his favorites.
He had a home on Itzáez Avenue, where he used to bring his fellow actors, and even Ismael Rodriguez, his head manager used to stay there to work on new scripts for their upcoming films. He also liked to tour around town on his powerful Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The city where he chose to relax and have fun, years later would become the place where he lost his life in a plane crash on property at Calle 87 x 52 y 54.
The death of Pedro Infante on the morning of April 15, 1957, was announced by radio personality Humberto Rodríguez, of radio station XEMH of Mérida, after one of the firefighters discovered the bracelet engraved with the name "Pedro Infante", plus the winged insignia that symbolized his aviator license. This was around 8:15 am; at 11:12 am, Manuel Bernal, of Mexico City radio station XEW, gave the news saying: "this Monday, April 15, 1957, Pedro, our beloved Pedro...this has been confirmed, has died in a tragic accident in Mérida, Yucatán".
Calle 87 x 54 y 52
There is a plaque bearing his name on the exact site where his charred body was recovered from the wreckage. Also killed in the crash were Marciano Buatista, Capt. Victor M. Vidal, a young woman named Ruth Rosell Chan, and a young child named Baltazar Martin Cruz.
The corner of Calle 54 y 87

Calle 62 x 91

Every April 15th, there are festivities and celebrations at the corner of Calle 54 x 87 and also at the small plaza with his statue at Calle 62 x 91.

Below is a small part of the investigation and probable cause of the crash:

The aircraft climbed to a height of 100m and made a 65deg left turn. The aircraft continued to climb to 150-200m and made another turn. The Liberator yawed left, lost control and nose dived into the ground, killing a child on the ground. Among those killed aboard the plane was Pedro Infante, a famous Mexican singer, actor.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was due to a maneuvering error which consisted in making two turns onto the Mexico City heading without conforming the distance and procedure specifications and below the prescribed altitudes and speeds. This error was aggravated by a probable shifting of the load due to improper securing."

To this day you will often hear the music of Pedro Infante playing in the neighborhoods of Mérida.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Our Neighborhood : Cocina ''La Casa De La 60''

Where we live is not unlike most neighborhoods in Mérida. Our address is considered to be in ''Centro'' but, just barely. We live in far South Centro (Hence, ''Casa Sur''). We're proud of our neighborhood and have made some good friends here. In an ongoing series, we'll tell you about some of our favorite places here.

Of course, we have many cocina economicas in our area. One of our favorites is ''La Casa De La 60''. It is just up the street from us and boy do they serve up some good food. We usually get our food ''para llevar'' (to go) but they do have a few tables where you can ''comiendo en nuestra casa'' (eat in our house), as they say. Good food and good people, come give it a try!

                                       No big sign, just a small family run business

      The name of the business and the menu are posted on the front door. Three different meals per day.

                                A peek inside, you won't find a cleaner place to eat anywhere.

The prices. 35 pesos for a full serving (entera), or 20 pesos for a half meal when you get them to go. 3 pesos for the disposable plates, but they've never charged me the 3 pesos. The prices to eat there are 40 pesos para entera and 25 pesos for the half order.

           Today Sara ordered the Tortitas de Carne with rice and a stack of warm tortillas and it was excellant.

I ordered the Pollo Empanizado, breaded and fried chicken with rice, a nice salad, and some great macaroni soup w/ chicken livers and hearts mixed in. It was very good!

Meet the good people that own and operate this fine place, from R to L, Mirium (the owner), her daughter Gisela, and the grand daughter Fatima (age 10).

They are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday thru Saturday. They are located at the esquina of Calle 60 and 85 (or, El Iris).

I almost forgot, Sara and I ordered the 1/2 meal and it was almost more than we could eat. The total price,with tip was 60 pesos (a little over $4.00 usd, Que bueno).

They don't have drinks but, not to worry......There is ''Tienda Iris'' right next door where you can get a couple of sodas for 10 pesos!

                                                                        Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

J.D. Ware, Artesano

''Hecho A Mano''...... Made by hand.

There is just something about those three words that tells you that what you are looking at is something special. In Mexico, it can be something as simple and satisfying as a good cigar or as complex as a finely woven Yucatecan hammock. Here, a lot of things are ''Hecho A Mano''.

We first met Jeff Ware at the AANY Show last year in Mérida. He had a display of pocket knives, kitchen knives and hunting / camping knives that were beautiful, sturdy, functional and sharp. They were all made by him, by hand.

Before Fathers Day rolled around that year, I knew that I wanted to get my father something special. Something from Mexico, our new home. Something ''Hecho A Mano''.

I contacted Jeff and told him what I was thinking about. A single blade pocket knife with a wood handle, engraving on the blade, and of course the silver escutcheon pinned to the handle with nickel silver pins (hammered and polished 1920's silver 10 centavo pieces that Jeff finds locally). I mentioned that my father was 80 years old and that it was a Fathers Day gift.

A couple weeks later I went to Jeff's shop to pick up the knife. I was amazed at the craftsmanship, how sharp it was, and just the feel of it in my hand. The handle was made from local Dzalam wood. Jeff explained how he had made the handle a little more slender so that it would be comfortable to carry. Noting my fathers age, he made the spring a little thinner so that it would be easier to open, the thumb notch on the blade was a little bigger and easier to grasp. He gave me a tour of his workshop and showed me the tools that he uses to make his knives.
I was very pleased with his work and I'm sure my father was as well.

Fast forward almost a year........When Sara was constructing her kitchen in Casa Sur, I knew that I had to get Jeff to make her a set of kitchen knives. She is quite the cook and a good set of knives are important.

It is a lengthy process to make these knives and I couldn't begin to explain it but you can read about it here. It is an interesting and informative read.

Here are some pictures of the process:

Jeff has quite an interesting and inspirational story about how he came to be a knife maker in Mérida, learning from a matchete maker in the mountains of Oaxaca years ago. You can read his story here .
Our knives will see alot of use and we are very proud to own them, as will our grandkids someday.
Thanks Jeff.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Testing, Testing.......Is This Thing On?.........Can You Hear Me?

Yesssss, We're still here. We have been inconsistent bloggers lately (our apologies to the people that commented and their comments were not published for a couple of months. We appreciate you.)

We have been busy enjoying our home, this great country, and most of all our family and friends.

I'm sure Sara will write more in detail about what's been going on the last several months but, in a nutshell we have:

1.Finished the reconstruction on the inside of our home.

2. Sara went to the States for a couple weeks and got our ''stuff'' shipped to Mérida (with great help from her sister, thanks Jerr.)

3. With a lot of help from friends, We got everything unpacked and Sara got it looking like a home.

4. My parents came to visit for a week, they're first time to Mérida.

5. Of course, we had to have a party while they were here, complete w/ a great mariachi band.

6. Spent a week of enjoying some of the local attractions.

Here are a few pictures we hope you enjoy:
Loading the shipping container in Texas

Headed to Mérida via Panama City and Progreso

 Mariachi's at the party

Yes, it was a good party !!

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

My parents 

Old hacienda outside of Mérida

Flamingos at Celestun

Only in Mexico


Progreso beach and pier

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If It Wasn’t For Texas

It has been a year today since Ty and I pulled away from the curb of our daughter’s house in Midland, headed for Mérida. This morning we talked about time and the fact that in Texas time raced by and here in Mérida the pace is slower and much more relaxed.
I have taken some ALL IN FUN ribbin' here for the way we talk and to tell you the truth it makes me proud. In light of all the good-hearted FUN, I decided to help my new friends out and fill y’all in on a few “Texasisms”
It’s not bad grammar; it’s just how we talk in Texas.
Dun - finished “cook until dun”
Fixin’ - going to, “I’m fixin’ to cook supper”
R -  ‘’ We really miss R family’’
Sumpin’ – You gonna fix sumpin for supper?
Mera – mirror
Tal - towel
Tak’n’ta - (take-un-tuh) “ He’s tak’n’ta’ drinkin’ “
Thang – thing
Up – a state of being “she’s all gussied up” (she is dressed up) “he’s all bowed up” (he’s mad)
Nuther – another
Warsh – wash
Off - The doctor says, “He’s pretty bad off.”
In Texas it is perfectly ok to shed syllables such as: Flor’da (Florida)
You can also forget about g’s at the end of any word: goin’, comin’, fixin’, takin’.
L’s are optional, as in light bub.
You can also stretch out a word by adding several more syllables Sheeeeeeit (s#@t)
Coke is any carbonated drink.
Conniption is a fit “When she didn’t get her way she threw a conniption fit.”
Dinner is any meal other than breakfast
Supper - the evening meal
Dumber ‘n’ durt – really stupid
Prolly - probably - Prolly gonna rain today.
Id’n’it (isn’t it) - Id''n' it a purty day?
Every Texan either knows a Bubba or has one in their family that also goes for girls called Sissy.
We have both in our family (I know, but it’s the truth)
From the list, you might be safe in concluding speaking Spanish with a Texas accent is like a whole ‘nuther language. ‘Cause we talk a little slow in Texas. Por Favor sounds more like Poooour Faaaaavooooour!
If ya haven’t had enough……. here is some Texas trivia:
If you ask “How far is it to Dallas from Midland” the answer would be five hours (mileage is irrelevant we count mileage in hours)
It is a sixteen-hour drive from North to South and sixteen hours East to West.
Texas is not just oil, cotton and cowboys (or cowgirls). Today’s Texas produces award winning wine’s, olive oil and Dell Computers. Lavender and sunflower fields rival the Tuscan countryside. You can eat a Gourmet meal at The Riata in Alpine or have a perfect steak at Tom Perini’s Ranch in Buffalo Gap. You can dine on Tex-Mex in small Mom and Pop Café’s in any town or Chuy’s in Austin. You can walk the beach and dine on fresh shrimp, oysters, crab and flounder. You can row your canoe down a bayou and have a Cajun style crawfish boil or fried catfish.  For Couture’ fashion visit Dallas Market Center. If your hankerin’ to scoot a boot head over to Billie Bob’s a huge honkytonk at the Fort Worth Stockyards. You can enjoy East Texas’ piney woods and Caddo Lake with Spanish moss draped cypress trees.
You can climb a granite monolith or lazily inner tube on the Guadalupe River then dine on authentic German Cuisine. Eat the sweetest peaches from Fredericksburg in a pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream and of course the world famous Pecos Cantaloupe. You can trek around the “Caprock” in the Panhandle dropping down into Turkey, Texas, the home of Bob Will’s. You can hike the Chihuahuan Desert and visit Langtry, home of colorful Judge Roy Bean. You can visit small farming towns and cosmopolitan cities. You can visit Austin, Music Capital of the world for Texas Country, Blues and Rock and Roll or check out The Nutcracker at Bass Hall in Fort Worth. You can visit my hometown of Uvalde, home to Matthew McConaughey!  You can visit citrus groves and two international lakes. You can explore Spanish missions and see Aggie’s in action.
Ok, I could go on and on and on. Guess you can say we are proud to be Texas transplants to Mexico.

Monday, January 2, 2012

We Have Changed Our Minds

After living in Mexico for a year, Ty and I have changed our minds. Life here in Mérida is well…. Not exactly as we thought it would be.
In this last year, we have of course been thoroughly engrossed in restyling this wonderful old house. I have commented several times I will be glad to be finished with construction and START my life in Mérida! While selecting photos for a “Year in Review” video to email to family and friends I realized we did a lot more this last year than live “under construction”.
Our year started with scrambling to tidy up the details of moving south of the border, visiting family and friends and saying goodbye to everything familiar and comfortable. In the “Honeymoon” stage of our move, we were enthralled with the little things that make Mexico different from the United States. Women riding side saddle on the back of a motorcycle in a dress and flip flops, women in white embroidered dresses with tubs of flowers perched on their heads, music spilling over the stacked stone walls and street vendors at your door with fresh tortillas, breads, pastries, fruit and dirt!
When your mind changes it is often painful, the stretching, the tossing out of what you had thought for your entire life, the grasping of new concepts and then REALITY! I have said, “I spent an entire lifetime learning how to live only to move here and find those skills absolutely useless”.
The seasons have changed in the year we have been here and so have we. We have changed our minds; we no longer feel we must have the latest gadget, the most stylish clothes or a microwave. We have changed our minds and sometimes our minds are thinking in Spanish first! We have stood in awe at the foot of a Mayan pyramid and stood in awe at the beauty of a colonial building. We have heard the melody of a folk song and the bark of a roof dog. We have watched men in flip-flops build our house. We are not living the life we dreamed ……. We are living the reality of a much richer life than we had dreamed possible. When you meet people who are writers, artists, chefs, photographers, small town attorneys and history teachers, you cannot help but be enriched by the experience of knowing these people. When you meet people who have little income and few material possessions but live a simple and fulfilled life you cannot help but see the richness of their lives and re-evaluate your own priorities.
We have lived through the heat, the dust and the mosquitos, a language barrier, and missing our family so much we ache. We have worked through the challenges little by little and shed a lifetime of preconceived ideas. This brings us to the realization WE HAVE CHANGED OUR MINDS!
Ty, Gringa Dog and I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and we hope for each of you a life where you too will have the opportunity to CHANGE YOUR MIND!
Stay with us this year as we continue our adventure of living in Merida!