Friday, September 27, 2013
england swings like a pendulum do
I woke up Friday morning thinking I was in the London apartment on Charles Street. In August.
The weather was right. Warm 60 with a sky the color of a white refrigerator door in a household filled with five-year-olds.
I got up ready to prove I had not landed in Europe in my dreams.
I started by wandering in the garden. And discovered a number of interesting finds. Nothing the conquistadors would have admired, but they were a rather shallow lot.
Take these angels. They stand in a group inside Babs's gate to welcome guests with as much grace as any hostess at a Houston eatery. (I will confess the sunlight is from another day. As are some of my other shots. Your correspondent prizes his credibility.)
I have been watching two giant buds grow in the garden over the past two days. On Friday, they exploded into these hand-sized blooms. To me, they look like Christmas cactus flowers on steroids. The aloe on the right is ready to horn in on this extravaganza.
Even though not quite as showy visually, the two jasmine vines are the perfume queens of the garden. Babs says she loves the scent coming through her kitchen window.
And then there is this statuette of a child in the garden. The light and shadow play off of it -- changing its shape depending on how it is lit.
A bit more whimsical is the metal bird. Not to mention colorful. But, I guess, I just did.
Babs's grandson pretends her garden is a jungle. Maybe he is not pretending. There be tigers here.
And fascinating walking sticks. The kind that walk on their own.
I could have spent half of the day wandering through the garden. But I wanted to have lunch at one of San Miguel de Allende's noted restaurants.
So, off I went. Quite positive I would not run into a Beefeater heading off to the Tower.
Instead, I ran into knots of children, dressed as Indians, walking along with their parents. If you look closely at the photograph at the top of this post, you will see one in the far left corner. I led with that photograph because I like all of the small stories it tells.
The gringa -- just as surprised as I was. The police officers smiling at the mini-parade -- oblivious to the beautiful woman who seems a bit nonchalant about the whole business.
But, sure enough, something was breaking up. You seldom see a mojiganga separated from its herd. It had just left a wailing young boy in its trail feeling as if he had just been spared -- what? death?
The boy should have walked a few steps to his left. He could have been comforted by, and had his photograph taken with, a princess.
I hear people comparing San Miguel de Allende to Disneyland. They are a bit off the mark. This is Las Vegas.
But I came down the hill to eat lunch. And eat I did.
We have nothing like this in Melaque.
A restaurant decked out in the style of New Orleans. The type of place where you can sit next to two gringo couples who are debating which level of sponsorship they wish to buy to some local music group. They settled on $500,000 (Mx).
My lunch? French onion soup and a plate of duck.
This place is well-known for its homey ambiance, its impeccable service, and being the type of place where you wish to meet friends and pretend you just might bump into the next Ernest Hemingway. It is all that.
But the food? Every time I have eaten there, the food fails to live up to the promise of the place. The menu choices are stunning. But they fail in execution.
The soup had a vaguely metallic flavor-- probably from using Mexican cheese instead of Gruyère. The portion of duck was more than generous. And tasty. But, rather than a slight glaze, it was awash in what tasted like sweet and sour sauce from a jar in a second rate Chinese buffet. All for $430 (Mx) -- with tip.
If I return in the future, I will simply order a plate of atmosphere with a bit of duck fat on the side.
Could it have been London? Sure. Gardens. Flowers. Costumed children. Over-priced mediocre food.
But it wasn't. As I write this, I can hear the distinctive sound of cohetes bursting in air. A sound that could only be in Mexico. Or small arms fire in Damascus. But certainly not London.
There is a celebration somewhere. And I need to find it.