Dec 24, 2018

Leprosy of Time and Space - Guanajuato

We don’t see things as they are,
we see them as we are.

Anais Nin

Up or down?  Hanging-like homes near tunnel
A ray of light shines through old unfinished pink begriming arches at the top of an aged temple.  I feel lavishly blessed by what our enigmatic ancient hosts have left for us to discover.  Can we continue taking care of such treasures?  Can we learn from them?

I admire myriads of decaying façades and crumbling massive wooden doors studded with medieval metal knobs, the moon a faint smudge in the background.  Thick rock walls cracking under the weight of history and secrets.  I realize that we are very ephemeral against these earliest of giants that have lasted centuries.

Statues and effigies have suffered fast decades upon slower decades, in their architectural nests.  They have endured rain, sun, birds, wind, and pollution.  Noses, ears, fingers, all fading away.  Without restauration, what will be left to see for the next generations?  Leprosy of Time.  

Templo de la Compañia de Jesús Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
One of the largest non-mine related church (Jesuit), inaugurated in 1767
Churrigueresque style façade – slowly crumbly away
Despite the city’s amazing beauty, Guanajuato is not a gallery for tourists, it is full of gritty authenticity. 

As stores barely as wide as their own doorway open, I watch pigeons tentatively enter tortillerias or bakeries, staying at the door’s edge, looking for crumbs.  Sad dogs, some with death profiles, lick walls or sidewalks, looking for any nourishment, their spirits broken.  Don’t I wish I could save them all?  Slowly, the way pets are treated in Mexico is changing but it is a sluggish process.  

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, 1671
Stands out in its robe of yellow and wine red
Ex-Convento Dieguino, San Diego Temple, dedicated to San Pedro de Alcántara, 1663
Templo de la Merced de Mellado, 1752
No history behind this beautiful plaque near Gene Byron Hacienda in Marfil
One of the 27 or so temples, churches, basilicas, in this small valley
Iglesia del Señor de Villaseca, Mineral de Cata, 1725
Pure gold inside – from the surrounding rich mines
Templo de San José y Santiago y La Purísima Concepción, Marfil, 1854
Templo del Señor Santiago Apóstol, Marfil
Templo de la Calzada de Guadalupe,
December 12th, Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Same church from behind….  Reality is sad…
We, gringos, are insipid and homogeneous by comparison to the Mexicans with their sharply developed personalities and emotions out where we can see them.  Sadly, we are all becoming more coherent and practical, it is getting harder and harder to find passion in our lives.  Mexican life and music bring a bit of that back.  Many gringos come south to live a little longer, or, to live for the first time.

Life, here, is not for the faint of heart.  Traffic rebels usually drive taxis.  To ride one can be a true test of nerves.  Buses are never ‘full’.  Filled is a function of tolerance, and Mexicans are very tolerant people.  Buses are never ‘broken’.  A noise is only a noise when it hampers the progress of the bus.  They are bound with duct tape and faith.  Traveling here is bound with duct tape and faith, it will take as long as it will take, no more, no less.  Mexicans are very tolerant people.  Time is a function of wisdom and perception, not of hours and minutes.  Public buses throw diesel fumes upon those walking near, a mere portion of the city’s dangerous flatulence.  Mexicans are very tolerant people.  Leprosy of Space.

Dulcinea La Giganta by José Luis Cuevas, 2005
Symbol of sexual duality part man (back), part woman (front)
Here in front of Christmas decorations
Strong masculine back. 
She has been ‘quixotized’ (we are in Don Quixote’s town after all)
One side is rustic, masculine, strong, toasted in the sun
The other side is endowed with superhuman beauty
Between real and ideal
Signature of Jose Luis Cuevas
Two ‘tunas’ (troubadours) in period costumes
They sing every night in various Guanajuato alleys
Under the female side of Dulcinea La Giganta
Kids playing around similar lit decorations
Can I forgive the graffities?
Can I forgive the garbage in the city or in nature?
Can I forgive the erratic driving?
Can I forgive the poor handling of the environment?
Can I forgive the treatment of pets?

The answer is yes, because.  Because people are so kind, friendly, generous to a fault, caring, warm, helpful, etc.  

Gigantic laurel trees lining La Plaza Jardin de la Unión
The heart and soul of Guanajuato
Still sweeping with palm fronds
Water bottles, what is left of a mural
On Earthquake street – aptly named?
If it weren’t for the amazing people of Mexico, I would return home only thinking of the messes I named above but because I am always surrounded by beautiful people, I remember the people and partially forgive the bad stuff.  It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want it to change but I am aware that friendships, sharing of stories and lives are much more important in the scheme of things.  A life fully lived…

Nature taking over
To Mexicans, cruelty is the way we use harsh piercing voices with our children and at times with our elders.  You never hear them do that to their kids and in return you seldom, if ever, hear a kid throw a temper tantrum.  Their elders are taken care of, not relegated to old folks ‘homes’.  We may be more evolved when it comes to environment or garbage and treatment of pets, but they are definitively more advanced in the treatment of kids, relatives, and friends.  It is still the land of personal charity and of 1000-watt smiles.

As Martin Pray likes to say:
‘Family values still exist, pleasures take on new meaning or better yet old meanings.’

We are all becoming the same – thanks to internet, etc.
We like to hop on our high horses when we see garbage, dog feces and suffering pets, thinking us superior but are we really?  As they start adopting more North American habits, their life appears to be less colorful, they start disappearing against a backdrop of likenesses.  I am glad I get to live among them before they stop being Mexicans even if that means smelly streets and a bit of discomforts.

I prefer colors, mistakes, and life…
Tools of the trade…



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