Wednesday, June 17, 2009

university nearby

OK. I admit it. This first factor sounds just a bit odd.

Neither Jiggs nor I are going to get another degree.

So, why worry about being somewhere near a university?

Anyone who has lived in a university town will understand what I am after.

Universities are cultural magnets. Symphony orchestras. Chamber orchestras. Art exhibits. Film festivals. Plays. Lectures. Libraries. Discussions over coffee.

Not to mention the popular culture attractions. Where there are students, there will be entertainment.

Plus that unquantifiable vibrancy that exists wherever young people congregate. Just before I left Salem, I befriended a young man at our church. It was always a joy to talk with him. His energy was almost contagious. After talking with him, I almost felt a decade younger.

With the exception of two years in the Air Force, I have lived in university towns. Portland. Denver. Oxford. Salem. And I have learned to depend on what they have to offer.

Melaque is not on the list.

Even though I have never been part of the academic community, I have certainly feasted on the hors d'œuvre.

In August, I gave Melaque a "D" as a grade on this factor.

The closest university of any size is located in Guadalajara -- a day's travel away. You would think that an "F" would be a fair grade on this factor. But there were mitigating circumstances. (Please recall that I was once a criminal defense attorney.)

I have met two people in town who would qualify as intellectual stimulants: a retired French archaeologist and a professor of Rhetoric from a large Midwestern university. I am certain there must be others.

This is an important factor for me, and I have already felt its absence in the last two months. In defense of Melaque, it does not pretend to be Cambridge. It is what it is: a little tourist town on the beach.

And that is the deal I have struck with myself. Enjoy Melaque for the sand, sun, and surf. But be ready to move on to something a bit more challenging when the time comes -- if the other factors weigh in that direction. Because there are plenty of places in Mexico that draw their cultural energy from their universities -- one of them is pictured at the top of this post.

Tomorrow we will talk about another intellectual pursuit: archaeology.


Calypso said...

We get an "A" on that score over here in the Xalapa area, as does Merida -

Ron said...

The University in Guanajuato, along with other cultural institutions there, certainly help that city vibrate with intellectual and artistic energy - but there is also a lot to be said for sun, sand and surf.

As a reader, I would also appreciate a close look at Colima by someone who lives nearby :). There is a university and, I understand, a couple of other postsecondary institutions there,

Anonymous said...

We here in Michigan enjoy what Ann Arbor has to offer...a great college town.

Felipe said...

I am certain there must be others.

Don´t count on it, amigo.

Anonymous said...

beautiful architecture! which university is that?


Todd said...

When I think of a university town in Mexico, I think of Guanajuato. It very much has the feel you describe.
Morelia has universities, but not the same feel as Guanajuato. It was one of the 3 towns we were considering when we moved to Mexico.

So, when the professor of Rhetoric asks you a question, do you answer him? Does he expect an answer?


Constantino said...

You my friend have another logical postulation that evades resolution, an intricate and difficult problem !

You obviously do not want to live in GDL or MEX, but want the benefits of the areas.

Finding a match to Salem south of the border will be difficult. I am afraid you will be traveling a lot. Hope your little red truck has a new set of tires.

Babs said...

Ahh, guanajuato. We certainly get the music and cultural overflow from that, especially during the Cervantino Festival which is coming up in October.
Last I remember Guadalajara had 22 universities -someone will correct me on that, I'm sure. And San Miguel of course has Bellas Artes, the Instituto (no longer accredited with RISD), and a branch of the Univ of Leon. come see us.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Because there are plenty of places in Mexico that draw their cultural energy ...

Agreed - you would be happier in location with broader interests.

I too have missed these things in our small seaside village.

Anonymous said...

I think Colima looks fabulous - culture, history, etc and can't wait to explore it further. I don't have to live near the water if I retire there.

Holly said...

As the daughter of two former teachers (one a college professor), I understand completely. I was born & raised in several small university towns. Salem is actually getting too big. It's hard to explain to others, but you do a good job. Continue the search!

Vanya said...

Ah, Guanajuato. I'm planning on going later this summer (partly to get away from the humidity!). Like others have said, its definitely a place to consider. I was there last in 2006 and spent a day or two looking at the 'chopper' to find a place for the family. We simply didnt have enough time to really check it out. Now that the kids are in college I might take a look at it again. ...Somewhere down one of those enigmatic alleyways, within walking distance of the teatro and that lone guitar player that lured us into a hidden venue where we had a most romantic evening.

I agree, the Melaque/Barra area has its rewards. Its a great place to start the journey. Somewhat easy going and easily explained to those back in our 'other lives' who need those explainations. For me, though, its just the beginning. :-)

Nancy said...

Go check out Colima, it is a lovely town, few gringos so you will be challenged with Spanish, there are archeological sites even within the city limits. Several universities (son Adam went to Tec de Monterrey) and museums. If it's too warm for you you can head a few miles out of town to Suchitlan (famous for its masks) or Comala. And less than an hour to Manzanillo when you want the beach.

TenekTech said...

Hi Steve,
I think the closest university to Melaque would be Universidad de Colima in Colima city, many people from Barra de Navidad and Melaque have graduated from this university.

As Nancy mentioned it would be interesting to visit Colima the capital city and some other places like Comala.

Steve Cotton said...

Well, an exciting night. We had our first thunderstorm of the rainy season -- with a nice spattering of moisture. An unwanted side effect: I went without electricity for 12 hours -- from midnight until noon. So, I am a bit behind on responding to comments. There are some great ideas here.

Calypso -- Without doubt, Xalapa and Merida score high in the university sweepstakes.

Ron -- Funny you mention Colima. It is on my list. And I see it is the nominee of other readers. The owners of my favorite Mexican restaurant in Salem are opening a restaurant in Colima.

Francisco -- I just need to find the Mexican equivalent of Ann Arbor. I always thought it was nice that the nation named an entire day after the town.

Felipe -- I am an unreconstructed optimist. I guess that is why I am a libertarian.

Teresa -- Guanajuato.

Todd -- I have long had Guanajuato on my short list for colonial towns. The hills would be murder on poor Jiggs's legs, though. As for your second question, I have long thought that life was one rhetorical question that I am always willing to answer.

Constantino -- Like the sphinx, I pose riddles unanswerable. The ultimate answer, I believe, is that I am going to end up traveling from town to town looking for a grail that is not quite holy.

Babs -- As soon as I figure out the logoistics for the Professor, I am going to start looking at mountain towns.

AMM -- And, of course, there are many great answers.

Anonymous -- One of the nice things about Colima is that it is just a short drive to the beach. And I have already lived in the shadow of an active volcano.

Holly -- Thanks. All compliments are appreciated. I blushed appropriately.

Vanya -- It sounds as if we are on a similar track. So, when are we going to get together to discuss this journey?

Nancy -- Did you and Paul consider Colima? I forget. It is definitely on my list.

TenekTech -- Between Colima and Guanajuato, I have some serious visiting to do. Now, I need to measure them against the other criteria.

glorv1 said...

I like the feel of college too. Already I miss it. It took me decades just to get an AA and after all that I never thought I would want to go back. Now I'm contemplating it again because I feel more alive when I am "in learning" so to speak. No matter where you go, a man of your intellect will always come on top. Have a great day Steve, and my hugs to Jiggs.

Nancy said...


We did consider Colima but we have a bunch of family and friends there (daughter in law's family and all the people they went to school with, etc) and we thought we might walk in to too ready-made of a social group. Plus we did want to have some gringos around while we were learning Spanish. English library, that kind of thing. But it is a wonderful city, when we visited there last November we said to ourselves "now why didn't we decide to move here??" We remembered how lovely it is. Plus I will say we were not too zippy on the volcano since we came from Washington.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

If you're considering Colima (the state of), I wouldn't recommend Cuyutlán (the town of). Spent a few days there a few months ago, and it wasn't pleasant; either the town or the people. It's an easy drive from Colima (the city of) but I think I would move on down 200 without stopping.


Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- What a nice thing to say.

Nancy -- I suppose I should be more cautious of the volcano, but I may be turning into Harry Truman. I will take a good look at Colima. I need to drive down there simply to see the city. It is too close to miss -- just two hours away.

Steve Cotton said...

Larry -- Cuyutlán certainly has its advocates -- including, Don Adams (the author, not the actor). But everything I have read about the village makes Melaque sound as cosmopolitan as the Big Apple.

comitan said...

La Paz

Anonymous said...

Hola Steve,

I spent 3 or 4 days in Guanajuato (City) a few years ago and found it enchanting. Not only is it a United Nations World Heritage Site, but it has the university, theatres, music, and other interesting stuff to do. It's towards the top of my own personal list of places that I'd consider living in Mexico.

And while the hills would be tough on Jiggs, they'd probably be excellent for you.

And if you settle there, you can always drive to the beach for a break.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we are chock-a-block with universities

Steve Cotton said...

Comitan -- No Baja for me. Thank you.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- Access to a university town is merely one factor in my choice of where to settle. Otherwise, I could end up retiring in Boston. And that is not i th cards. But Guanajuato has possibilities.

TenekTech said...

While in Guanajuato you can also visit San Luis Potosi. If you have time to go this weekend there is an international marathon and some other events like this light show in June 20th

Larry in Mazatlan said...

Don Adams left Cuyutlán years ago and was last reported somewhere in Texas. The person telling me this smirked, which made me wonder what else might be involved. Although they still had his chair at the Fenix Hotel bar. The town itself is half deserted and falling down. You don't even want to know what the hotels are like. There are a few seasonal gringos who seemed to exclude themselves from the townpeople. And the townpeople ignore them. It has a clean black sand beach, but a terrific undertow.

Sorry to be so negative, not normally my style. We had heard and read about the town so wanted to explore it as a possible settling site.


Steve Cotton said...

TenekTech -- No possibilty of going this weekend. Traveling with Jiggs is always a logistical treat.

Larry -- Thanks for the testimonial. It has never been high on my list.

BoBo's Mom said...

I laughed at the "mitigating circumstances" my line of work, there are only "aggravating circumstances" :)

Steve Cotton said...

BoBo's Mom -- Life is an unending parade of mitigation.