A Mexico Quiz Question

Q: In Mexico, what does it mean when there is an orange emergency triangle on the roof of a parked car or truck?

(scroll down to read the answer)

A: The vehicle is for sale.

Lunar Eclipse Makes Us Grateful to Live in Mexico

Cuernavacan skies were crystal clear for tonight’s spectacular lunar eclipse. There was even a stiff breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. We sat in our patio furniture, binoculars trained on the dusty golden orb, watching the light recede and return. Words really can’t describe how lovely it was, but it hung there as if strung from two bright stars.

I found it interesting to imagine how I might feel about the eclipse if I didn’t see it as a relatively simple, but gargantuan mechanical phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m duly humbled by this reminder of my teeny tiny place in a vast and wondrous Universe. For me, though, this evidence of the motion of the Earth and Moon is a safe reflection of a higher power’s unfailing harmony. What if I were seeing it as a sign from the gods or an omen? Would it feel like watching a loving parent’s face turn from a smile to a frown?

My husband says that traditional Mexicans put red flags in their fields and crops so that strong energy from a lunar eclipse doesn’t cause loss of flowers or fruits. Some people still fear the energy of a lunar eclipse and tonight’s event makes me want to know more about the views and feelings of Mexico’s various traditional groups toward eclipses.

When you retire in Mexico, make special note of lunar and star events because they are often visible. You can live it up in Mexico by doing things such as setting your alarm to get up in the wee hours of the morning to see meteor showers or planning trips out of town to see the milky way.

Driving Long Distances in Mexico is Demanding: From Cuernavaca to Zitacuaro and Back Again

This weekend we took three days and drove to a small town “near” Zitacuaro. I put near in quotes because Michoacan is a little like Montana in that places one or two hours from a larger city are considered “near” that city. This trip reminded me how darn hard it is to get around in Mexico and I decided that my readers might benefit from this information. When you retire in Mexico if you choose to live in a place that is a little out of the way you have to consider the increased difficulty involved in traveling.

We took family members from the U.S. with us on the trip and one of them was joking that Starbucks on every corner would be a bad thing for drivers in Mexico. You can’t afford to loose your edge for one second.

My husband was the family driving hero for this trip, as he is for all of them. He claims that it’s all just in a day’s drive, but here is what he dealt with between Cuernavaca and Zitacuaro, Mexico:

-narrow, curvy roads that climb and climb and climb, then drop and drop and drop, changing thousands of feet in elevation

-only one lane going each direction, or, if there are two lanes, dead-locked traffic (in Toluca)

-about 1000 meters of shoulder on the entire trip

-approximately 400 topes (speed bumps)

-huge trucks grinding up and down the steep grades and not a single passing lane

-bathrooms with no soap and sometimes no toilette paper (oh, whoops, that’s me that that bugs.)

-corrupt police officers that pull you over and invent reasons to take your car away to try to force you to pay them a bribe

-restaurants in which you aren’t completely sure that you or your family you won’t get sick

-sales people who give you less than they say they are. (They fix their scales or don’t put all of the fruit displayed into your bag, etc.)

-free range animals next to the road

-patched, rough roads that go on for kilometers

-inadequate sign-age for navigation

-no place to pull out in case you need to stop for some reason

-unmarked speed bumps

-unrelenting sun that burns your skin and wears on your eyes

Still, it’s worth it to travel.

In Zitacuaro we ate the delicious local bread that you just have to try to believe. My favorite is called mestizo, which is a woven combination of white, salty dough and brown, sweet dough. We ate mole with family that went down as quickly as parfait. And the tortillas! Hand made, soft, and flavorful.

On the way we saw countryside that makes you want to stop and snap photos–but you can’t because there are no shoulders and no pull outs, so we just tried to to burn each perfect view into our memories. We admired wooded mountains with patchwork fields covering their flanks. We were captivated by small towns snuggled into valleys bordered by towering mountains. We took in landscapes with backgrounds made up of layer after layer of peaks, each successively more blue, as if they were cut from paper in a shadow box. We saw children cantering on horse back, old men herding sheep, women in large brimmed hats leading uniformed children home from school.

We were reminded just how lucky we are when we drove past groups of women knee deep in a creek, dirty laundry piled nearby, clean laundry spread in the bordering pasture to soak up the sun. We saw men lumbering behind wooden plows pulled by teams of horses and wanted to linger to see how it’s done. I grew up with my head full of “Little House on the Prairie” but I’ve never seen how “Pa” did it.

When you live in Mexico or are just enjoying extensive travel it’s a little rough, but if you plan extra rests and breaks for yourself you’ll be able to keep up with the demands. Pack as if you were camping–bring your own soap and T.P.– drink lots of water and don’t be a whiner. Other people have it worse than you.