Tuesday, 29 June 2010

When the Elephant Falls on the Banquet Table

     During the past few days we have had one situation after another, and I have abandoned my several readers.   Some have inquired about this absence.     To start, the daughter came down with her daughters and husband for a pleasant stay.   Almost immediately upon departure back to Central Texas, my father-in-law began a decline in health.   he is ninety years of age, a veteran of the African Campaign....Rommel, Patton, and so forth.   He is a virtuous and industrious man who has left the wood-pile much higher than how he found it.
     In any regard, he became very weak and a bit feverish.   During an interview with a nurse who is contracted to my in-laws' GP, his symptoms became more marked.   Finally, it became obvious that he could not be treated at home, and an ambulance was summoned.    We literally could not un-stiffen him sufficiently to fit him into any of our autos, SUV's, or any conveyance.    In short order he was transported to emergency in our hometown.
     Then began the vigils, of course, with my mother-in-law providing most of the vigilance, followed by my wife, and then, least of all, your humble servant.    The service at the hospital has been mediocre to excellent.
My father-in-law, however, because of attorneys, has been poked, stabbed, radiated, irradiated, and otherwise subjected to discomforts to the extent that it makes one wonder if it would not be best just to let him rest with a bit of some kind of synthetic opium.   He is ninety years old.   He helped save the world from a madman.   Let him rest.
     In the meantime, the cartel thugs murdered the candidate of the centrist Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) for the position of Governmor of the State of Tamaulipas.   He was one of the closest chums of our frequently cited neighbour who owns the Hacienda de la Vega pictured in our webpage article.   Although our neighbour is a member of the conservative Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN), he and his friend Dr. Rodolfo Torres Cantu' remained good friends up until the day before yesterday when the Doctor was gunned down as he was leaving Cd. Victoria on his way to a last campaign swing in the northern cities of Reynosa, Rio Bravo, Valle Hermoso, and Matamoros.   The election law requires that all campaigning stop three days before the "comisios", which take place beginning at 08:00 on Sunday, the 4th of July.
      We are now waiting to see what is going to happen.   The Doctor was very much in the lead...6 to 3 to 1....and his election as a PRI candidate in a very PRI State was all but assured.    Perhaps the election will be held and the State Congress will name a governor from an internal selection by the State and National Executive Committees of the PRI.   For right now, it is in the air.
     Our neighbour is bereft, as is his family.   He is one of the main celebrants of the "actos funebres"....rather much like being a pall-bearer in the US.   He is also a Godfather of one of the Doctor's children.
     For those who read  Spanish, this is my neighbour's  eloquently worded advisory about the next matter,

      "Efectivamente antes del fin de semana acudio con Ciro para fletear una madera, simbro y coloco un nuevo cargador que se habia vencido..no hubo mas problema. Estamos en espera de la tormenta o Huracan para este jueves, por lo que era necesario reparar..se que Paco fue su asistente le avise del deposito que le haras y en la mediada de lo posible acudire a visitarle...hoy todo el dia me tomo los servicios funebres de mi Amigo, pero si el tiempo me da marcho para alla...tu no te preocupes..Saludos!"
      While this disaster is taking place, we also have a hurricane bearing down on the entire area where we all are.   We were conducting a bit of repairs on the Quinta which were just finished.  My neighbour supervised the matter from a close distance so as not to offend my mayordomo, Alvaro.   They get along quite well, thank goodness.   It is worth noting that my neighbour had time to give to me even as he was mired into this assassination matter and the attendant funereal duties.    The preceding Spanish-language paragraph speaks to these issues. 
       My brother-in-law, his wife, and my sister-in-law have now all arrived on the scene here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and that will go a long way into helping my father-in-law, and spelling my wife and mother-in-law.    Both my brother's wife and my wife have considerable medical experience and this has be very helpful, as well.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Another Trip Back Up to Texas

     Yesterday had me driving through the rain again, going through the checkpoints, making good time until arriving at the McAllen bridge.   Therein followed an hour and a quarter snail's paced crawl to the inspection station.   Each time this happens I am more disposed to enroll in the "quick-pass" program.....which allows a person to go through for an annual fee and after passing a fairly rigorous investigation.    The fee is about 250 dollars, I believe, and my life's history is boring enough to kill a dead rock, but I guess my "thriftiness" keeps me from taking the step.

     During the past few weeks there has been quite a bit of activity at the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre.   We have had a few clients.....a new phenomena is the client who come with his family and wants to use the grounds as a base for visiting the Rio Corona....for having a parking place on the grounds.....access to our barbeque.....and access to our guestroom for his family.....for the better part of a day.   I require a reservation, a guest-list not to exceed nine persons (no exceptions) and a prepayment of 500 pesos.   Prohibited is any excessive drinking, any loud music  (anything that I can hear inside the house), any aggressive posturing, arguing, or disturbance.   The client has to provide everything he intends to use for the day.   I provide the place, privacy, parking, and a comfortable base for a small group of friends or family group.     He also has to return the place to its original condition in terms of litter and order.
     Our house/property manager (called 'mayordomo' in Spanish) had a couple of entries for this blog submission...and he is unaware.    First, he had a lightning bug fly into his ear about three weeks ago and nothing worked to induce the insect to leave, nothing worked to extract him.   Finally, Alvaro had to go to the doctor in Estacion Santa Engracia, where during a one day - two visit process the doctor finally extracted the hapless beast.    Since it happened on our property during a time when Alvaro is normally expected to be there doing his "projects", I am expected to pay the freight.   The bill came up to about 38 dollars at the current rate of exchange, so I felt a bit lucky.
     Then, he also invited the owner of the Hacienda de la Vega and me to a lunch featuring real pit smoked "borrego" (ram) along with a lot of other nice things.   We had to drive to a place just outside of Xicotencatl, about 70 miles to the south, where Alvaro has an "official" residence and is a known person to many friends and relatives.   It  turned out that we were the honorees, and about 40 people attended including various dignitaries, Ejido officers, and political office holders, etc.    We were honored for being Alvaro's "away-from-home" employers and for generally being important and wonderful people...(explanation mine).   The affair lasted for about three hours and was actually quite pleasant. 
     It was a really hot day.   The muffler fell off of the old Dynasty in the middle of Victoria when I was arriving to meet Rafael (the owner of the Hacienda de la Vega), and when I circled around to retrieve it, the people all around said not to worry with it;   the city would pick it up shortly, and besides it was too hot to touch.     They were right, because when I went back it was gone.    It was probably a 12 year old muffler.

     A close friend of my  now-departed older brother and I crossed paths on the internet about six weeks ago and she made several nice references to my memories of things that occurred over a half-century ago.   She caught me up on her family and sent some very nice pictures of their homestead in Indiana, all decked in Winter's white.   She liked our web-site and our running account about life in Mexico, and of course, asked about the social and civil conditions.   She had lived in McAllen during the better times, and like almost everyone, had gone to Reynosa with friends and family just as a matter of course.   In those years it was just a normal ritual.
     My answer to her questions about such things is that it was, truly, better then....when Mexico was much poorer.
Later tonight, I shall attempt to style a more comprehensive answer.

Right now I am very grumpy because the service I use for design and formatting of my blog had a bit of news....a free offer of a better template and modification format.   My mistake was that I clicked up a couple of alternatives just to see what improvements could be made....and voila!   There was no going back to my crummy, rustic comfortable page.    It's really not nice to take an old tomcat out of his smelly, crummy place and force him to live in Buckingham Palace.....he really would prefer his old dump.

BACK AGAIN....and returning to a "more comprehensive answer"....The lady in question (my oldest brother's high school chum) was and is one of the top five most important personalities that affected anyone in my family during my youth and childhood.   My mother spoke of her often throughout her life.    So, it is said here that it is true that the Mexico we knew, with all its imperfections, anachronisms, contradictions, etc. was a different, perhaps more pleasant place than the Mexico of to-day.   I have been stunned by the wantonness of the criminal element and the ends to which they will reach in order to control turf & territory.   However, my situation remains more secure than were I to live in any middle-sized or large city in the United States.   The physical plant continues to improve to the point where any modernity found in the United States is almost always found in Mexico at the same time or shortly thereafter.   The highways, water systems, and general public and private situation continues to improve markedly.     BUT.....IT IS TRUE THAT AT ANY GIVEN TIME there might be a chance of a close encounter with a full-scale gangland shootout between cartels.....or the more disciplined military response of the Mexican Army or Naval Infantry against groups of cartel members who are foolish enough to engage the military.  
     That being said, and remembering that I pretty much live full-time in the interior of Mexico.....I have never been at or even close to such engagements at any time during the past 10 years.    BUT, Back in the late 1960's and 1970's I WAS involved peripherally (as an accidental observer) in such engagements when there were active urban and rural communist insurgent groups, (actually mainly upper-middle class "students" [bandits] living the Vida Frida).    Some of my readers will remember the Universidad Politecnico student "massacre" just before the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968....as well as our own disorders during those days in the United States....prompted mainly by nihilists, communists, and Che Guevara-type thugs and criminals.
     Next to lastly, it should be pointed out that the press likes to point out that Mexico has had 27,000 killings during the past four years....mainly related to drug violence.    When compared to the 125,000 killings (drive-by's, gang wars, home invasion, murders by drug addicts, etc.)  in the United States during the same time period....it is still statistically safer in Mexico.    It is all a bummer no matter which side of the Rio Grande one finds himself.
     Finally,    considering the kind of press coverage that exists,  anyone who has lost whatever desire to visit Mexico that he once had, is being reasonable.     Anyone who has cancelled any thought of going to Mexico for any reason needs not apologize to me or anyone else.   One must stand at bat in the manner that makes his swing with the bat the most powerful and accurate for  the batter.   I am not going to judge how you or any other of my readers wish to stand in the batter's box.     

Thanks to everyone for your attention to my mad ramblings.    I have had one complainant during the past three or four months due to my hot headed rightwing nature.....and about 90 messages offering support and agreement.  Still it is not my desire to offend anyone, but rather funnel the life experience of an old man who has seen the failure of almost every government program....almost every secular humanist "reform" that the intellectual class has foisted upon society.    I remain a friend to all, especially the traveller, the prisoner, and the infermed and to the Earth granted to us by a Kind Providence.