Saturday, February 22, 2020

venn in rome --

We all have them.

Those moments that instill a sense of optimism in us. That things really are not as bad as we often think they are.

I had one yesterday. Mine was a simple conversation. But a conversation that reminded me of the value of frank and civil exchanges between people with different perspectives.

A couple of years ago I met with a woman who has had cultural connections with Mexico and Central America for more than three decades, and currently lives on a lake in the Mexican highlands. She contacted me last week to let me know she was going to be in town and asked if I wanted to get together for lunch.

I did. I recall our last conversation as being rewarding. But finding a mutually-agreeable lunch date proved to be more difficult than usual. I spent most of this last week having the suspension in my car repaired -- an adventure I will discuss later. But we managed to finally find a time yesterday afternoon.

In Blood Will Out, Walker Kirn discloses one of the dark secrets of all writers: "A writer turns his life into material, and if you’re in his life, he uses yours, too." For that reason, let me call my lunch companion Sarah. It is not even close to her name.

Sarah and I share a few important characteristics. We are retired lawyers from the Pacific Northwest who have chosen to live the rest of our years in Mexico.

And that was our starting point -- Mexico. As immigrants, our perspectives of life here is a bit different than other foreigner's. I suppose that perspective would be even more different if we both elected to move one step further into Mexican citizenship.

That exchange was interesting because I learned some new things about Mexico from her. But most of the time we were simply reinforcing our own viewpoints, especially our mutual (and continuing) battle of divesting ourselves of colonial attitudes.

Like most conversations, the opening exchanges needed to weave a mat of mutuality and confidence before venturing into the minefield of more controversial topics.

I have friends and acquaintances here where some minefields need not be approached. I was at a gathering last week and made a rather mild jest at the expense of one of my political opinions. A woman I have known for years snapped at me: "I don't need to hear your boorish thoughts." And then there are the people who I do not see very often anymore because they feel very uncomfortable with opinions other than their own.

It was different with Sarah. Our political views are not polar opposites. However, if I drew a Venn diagram of our political positions, the area of mutuality would most likely qualify as another San Marino or Monaco.

We did plop our views on the table. But, rather than indulging in the political prejudices of hysteria, we took the time to analyze why we disagreed with one another -- and what the source of that disagreement was.

I thought I had an explanation for why we were able to do what my other acquaintances and I cannot do. The obvious answer was that we were trained as lawyers and we fully-understood that any good advocate must be capable of arguing the other side of a case as easily as they advocate their own case.

And I think there is some value in that argument. But it is far too facile. I am aware of an acquaintance here who is law-trained and could no more discuss politics rationally with me than fly to the moon in bedclothes.

The reason Sarah and I could share our ideas without rancor is that we realized the political position Venn diagram did not define our discussion. Early on, we knew that even though political positions had the power to divide us, our political interests (what we would like the world to look like) were almost synonymous. It is an old trick of mediation: move the parties away from their divisive positions to the interests they share.

That is what made me so optimistic about what was a charming conversation. If it was solely the art of thinking like a lawyer that Sarah and I share, that would create an exclusive paradigm. If people would be willing to discuss interests in politics, and set aside their positions, I honestly believe we could once again start talking civilly with one another.

Or maybe that is a pipedream. At least, for yesterday and today, I think it is worth a shot. And I am going to try it.

Even if I have to share my boorish thoughts with others.     

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

fusing my cuisine

It is morning in Mexico, and it is time to cook something I have not eaten before.

About two years ago, I decided that life was too short to get stuck in the routine of eating the same food day after day. The number of potential dishes are almost limitless. Why imprison our tongues in the handful of recipes that constitutes most cooking at home.*

My goal is to never again eat a dish that I have eaten before. That is not as difficult as it sounds. Simply altering an ingredient or two will completely change the dish's taste.

The most difficult meal should be breakfast. The first meal of the day tends to be a rut-setter. But it is not a problem for me. I dislike most traditional breakfast fare, and end up eating leftovers in the morning. (Yes. There is a Leftover Exception to my variety rule.)

This morning, the leftover spot in the refrigerator was bare. So, I needed to improvise something new.

I was craving a combination of beans and eggs. I do not know if I have had a similar dish in the past, but I could envision exactly what I wanted. Flourless egg pancakes topped with beans and meat. The concept is so simple, it must be part of some nation's cuisine.

The filling for my eggs was a rather basic combination of meats, beans, and vegetables. I cooked up some bacon and used the grease to sauté onion, serrano and habanero chilies, tomatoes, ginger and garlic as aromatics, combined with black beans, chopped bacon, some leftover ham, and pepperoni. Touched up with fresh lime juice and sriracha.

While the bean mixture was simmering, I made two flourless egg pancakes. They are simple to make. I whisked two eggs in separate containers with seasonings. Today I used cinnamon, star anise, cloves, garlic, Szechuan pepper, ginger, and fennel seed.

I melted some bacon grease in a large skillet and poured the egg mixture in the center. A large skillet is necessary to let the egg flow out as thin as possible. I baste the egg to ensure speedy, thorough cooking. It takes mere seconds for the pancake to cook.

While the second pancake cooked, I put the first pancake on a plate and seasoned the egg with white pepper, and then topped it with the bean mixture. I slipped the second pancake on top with a little more white pepper, and finished it off with a salsa of golden plum sauce and Thai fish sauce (for that elusive umami) and a generous dose of Tabasco with a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Here is my question for you. Does that dish sound vaguely familiar? Or a variety of it? If it does, please let me know. I am still racking my brain -- and, even under torture, it is not confessing.

Wherever the idea came from it, the result was a very pleasant (and delightfully spicy) way to start my day.

* -- Studies have shown that dinner in the average American home is limited to twelve recipes; in Britain, it is nine.

Monday, February 17, 2020


I am a law and order type of guy.

I report all of my income and pay taxes on it. I would not even consider taking a pencil from work. And I would no more be tempted into using illegal drugs than I would be to split an infinitive.

Sure, there are some laws that I bend beyond their flexibility -- like, speeding. But, on the whole, I comply with the laws just as my mother and father taught me to do.

That is why what I had to do today was something of an adventure for me.

On Saturday I stopped at Rooster's for a quick chat. For the past month or two finding a parking spot near the restaurant is next to impossible. So, I drove a block away from the beach to a street that does not have much traffic. And it had even less traffic than usual because a house was being constructed and the workers' motorcycles were parked higgledy-piggledy where I would normally leave my car.

Instead, I parked across the street with my car facing toward what would be the opposite direction of travel -- if there was the possibly of any car traveling from that direction. And I dashed over to the restaurant.

Of course, I did not stop briefly. I chatted. I ate breakfast. I held court with the waiters. Two hours later I wandered back to my car.

When I rounded the corner, I saw a large piece of paper on my windshield and knew immediately what it was. I have seen the traffic wardens wandering up and down the street in front of Banamex and Rooster's handing out citations for illegally-parked cars.

That is exactly what it was. A parking ticket.

It was the first one I have seen up close. They are wonders of details. The two sections of the traffic code I had violated were clearly marked. And I could have read the code language on the back of the citation if it had not been printed in a font so small that not even a Mexican eagle could have read it -- even if he had borrowed my glasses.

As fortune would have it, I had just talked with a Mexican acquaintance about traffic infractions last week. He had been cited for riding his motorcycle without a helmet. I asked him what he had done with the citation -- meaning where he had paid it. "You are suppose to pay it in Cihuatlán, but I threw it away."

I decided that it was bad enough that I knew I had violated the parking rules without exacerbating the situation by ignoring the citation. So, I was up early and off to Cihuatlán (at the same office where I had renewed my car registration last month) to wait in line for about a half hour to pay the citation.

Other than the lost time, the full penalty of 86 pesos (reduced by half to 43 pesos) -- or $2.30 (US) --was hardly an incentive not to become a parking pariah.

Though I doubt I will be tempted to park that way again. After all, there is plenty of space to park here as long as you are willing to walk an extra block or four.  

Sunday, February 16, 2020

the circle grows tighter

Jane Lokan
10 September 1921 - 11 February 2020

This morning I was reading the newspaper over a warmed-up chimicanga and a pot of Zen tea.

All of the usual suspects were there. Taxes. Failing levees (and levies). A peace deal with the Taliban. And, of course, more news about the coronavirus and a group of entitle-minded Americans complaining that they were being treated just like any other group of people potentially exposed to the disease.

I always look forward to reading the obituaries. I have lost track of most of the people who I have encountered in life. The obituary page is an opportunity to meet for one last time.

The Sunday Oregonian has the largest number of obituaries. Probably brecause the Sunday edition of the newspaper has the greatest number of readers. At least, that was the case when I had a paper route during the Taft presidency.

My habit is to read down the list until until I see a name I might recognize. That happens once or twice a month. I then read the full obituary. Otherwise, I just skim the names.

This morning I got to the last name on an unusually long list -- and stopped. Jane Elinor Lokan. It was a name I had not seen in a long time -- and I had not seen Jane for an even longer period.

And that is a shame. For almost a full year in 1988 Jane and I were tied together closer than man and wife.

I met Jane for the first time when I returned to Oregon after leaving the Air Force. She was heavily involved in the 1976 Reagan presidential campaign. We would then regularly run into one another at various political functions over the years.

When I decided to run for the state legislature in 1988, Jane and her friend Marjorie Hughes volunteered to take over the nuts and bolts of my campaign. Jane would manage and Marge would find a treasurer and help me with fund-raising.

They also brought along voluteers from the local Republican women's groups -- most of whom I had worked with for over a decade. Within a week, we had a full army of women volunteers who adored Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Dole, Jean Kirkpatrick. I had my work cut out for me to live up to those role models.

Jane ran a marvelous campaign -- doing her best to keep me on message. My mother was already very active in the campaign, but Jane realized what an asset she was. She said Mom was like "a movie star," and we needed to keep her up front at all events. We did. Jane was correct.

Without Jane's skills, our campaign would have been strapped for cash. But she was able to cut deals with providers that I thought were imopossible. A friend of hers told me I had never seen a Finn in negotiating mode. "They make Scots look like spendthrifts."

We squeaked by in a very hard-fought primary and then spent over a week waiting for the results against the two-term incumbent. Eventually, we lost -- with a handful of votes separating the candidates.

Jane was ready to mount a second camopaign. I wasn't. I had once dreamed of being a United States Senator. But the campaign had tauight me I would spend a frustrated life if I had taken that course.

Eventually, Jane won the seat for herself and served in the Oregon legislature for three two-year terms where she became an advocate for some of the same issues of our campaign together: controlling government growth and taxes, improving public education, reforming mental health and domestic violence programs, and creating a healthy climate for small businesses and job growth.

Jane had no delusions that it was possible to take Oregon back to the days of her youth in the Finnish community of Astoria. But she knew that some virtues are not diminished by the passage of time. Family. Discipline. Caring for others more than for yourself. Virtues she learned in a life-time in the Lutheran Church.

During her terms in the legislature she would use the dining table in my house to meet with some of her colleagues to develop tactics and strategy. On the surface, Jane could often seem distracted. I quickly learned that was a Columbo disguise. I know at least two lobbyists who underestimated her wiles, and paid a price for their gullibility.

There is a tendency when we speak of dead friends to turn them into something they were not. That is a shame. By idolizing them, we strip their humanity from them. And I fear that is what I am about to do.

The photograph at the top of this essay is from Jane's obituary in the newspaper. That is not how I remember her. After I left Oregon for my permanent home in Mexico, I did not have any further in-person contact with her. So, the dignified lady who almost reached her century mark is not one of my memories.

But this is the way I like to remember her.

Jane in campaign mode. Trying to make a difference. Interested in an Oregon where things could be better for everyone.

Of course, she played other important roles. Mother of six children. Bread winner. Political consultant. Public servant. Proving to others that it was possible to have both an active public and private life -- just like her role models.

And now, To the refuge of the earth, we entrust our friend's body. To the protection of our God 
in Heaven, we entrust her soul. To ourselves, we entrust her spirit and the principles she lived by. 

We are going to miss you, Jane.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

driving adventures -- part 2

About half-way through My Favorite Year, Peter O'Toole tells the other television cast members, "This is the most fun and the hardest work I've done since the world was young."

That is what I felt about my California adventure with my friend Stan (driving adventures -- part 1) fifty years ago. That day has almost been pushed out of first place by another road trip this past Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon Omar sent me a message that we needed to drive to Tepatitlán de Morelos. He had an appointment at 2 in the afternoon to submit his application (and to pay the associated fee) for dental school.

I have become accustomed to these last-minute notices. My old northern nature would have peppered him with a volley of questions -- starting with "How long ago did you know about this?" But I have done my best to tamp down those instincts because, in the end, they do not matter. If he had to go, so did I.

My sole concern was that I had scheduled a trip to the mechanic because I had been experiencing some odd handling problems with the SUV. On rough road, it felt as if it was floating from side-to-side. But, when I took my hands off of the steering wheel, it drove straight. And the 
drive to Tepatitlán would take about 6 hours. One way.  

But I put all of that aside. Every father I know wants to spend more time with his son. With our schedules, I often go for days without seeing Omar. The idea of talking and enjoying life with him for a full day completely extinguished any concerns I had about the drive.

He then told me that his girlfriend, Yoana, and her father, Pancho, would be joining us. Yoana was applying to the law school at the same university.

That was fine. I knew both of them very well. But it would mean that my Spanish skills would be put to a test. As it turns out, having Pancho along was a God-send.

Omar wanted to leave at 5. I suggested we had plenty of time if we left at 8. We settled on 6, and, after picking up Pancho and Yoana, we were on our way.

For the first hour, we chatted and laughed -- completely enjoying the drive in the early morning. Until about a half hour past Manzanillo. We all heard an ominous thumping from the right rear tire well. A thumping that soon crescendoed into a flapping.

I stopped. The source of the noise was immediately obvious. One side of the tire was disintegrating.

I pulled out the spare, the jack, and the lug wrench for a little road-side surgery. But I could not find the lug lock anywhere. 

I knew where it was. The service department at Manzanillo Ford had twice failed to return it to me after my car was serviced. Apparently, they had failed a third time on my last visit.

Just like the Bakersfield trip, we were lucky enough to be within two blocks of a small tire shop, where I quickly learned the uselessness of locking lug nuts. The mechanic broke off the lock within five minutes.

A quick look at my car from the rear disclosed what I should have seen earlier. Something was amiss with the rear suspension. Both rear tires were as pigeon-toed as a Jerry Lewis character. The tread was almost entirely missing from the inside of both rear tires.

I did a quick calculation. We would not have enough time to buy a new set of rear tires and get Omar and Yoana to the admission office on time. And the mechanic did not have an old tire that would fit my rim.  My plan was to stop in Guadalajara on our way back to Barra de Navidad in the afternoon.

The effect, of course, was similar to a general using up all of his reserves in the opening minutes of battle. That is exactly when the commies hit you from the left flank -- and you have no reserves with which to respond.

So, off we shot again. About three hours later, we were on the new ring road that skirts Guadalajara to the south. The road cuts off at least an hour of travel time on trips that used to require driving through the city.

Omar had just told me the name of the lake north of us (Cajititl
án -- a name I can never remember) when we heard a loud pop. Not so much a pistol shot as the sound of a cork leaving the neck of an indifferent Champagne).

Of course, it was the left rear tire. I was in the left lane with a truck on my right when it blew. I slowed and drove to the shoulder.

I had just told Pancho of the complete lack of exits and services on that stretch of road. And services we now needed.

Under normal circumstances, I would have replaced the flat with the right tire we had earlier removed. But that was not possible. We still had the lost key problem. 

I pulled out the service telephone number on my toll receipt. The green angels are a marvelous and convenient benefit on Mexico's toll roads. Omar called the number. We waited. He called again. We waited. He called a third time and was told the road we were on is not under the jurisdiction of the green angels.

He called a taxi. They would not come. Pancho called a series of tire repair shops. Unsurprisingly, they would (or could) not come to us. We had to go to them.

Pancho suggested that we slowly drive on the flat to the nearest service spot. Against every bit of advice I have heard from my father and brother, I drove on the flat at 20 kph for 28 kilometers.

We stopped at a tiny tire repair shop at the Chapala toll booth. The mechanic broke off the lug lock in 30 seconds, put the dying tire on the left, and we were off to find a someone who could sell us an old tire -- armed only with the type of directions that never quite get you where you need to go.

But we found a shop that had a serviceable tire that would fit, and we were ready to head off -- having lost three hours of driving time. We made it to 
Tepatitlán in good time. And then the drive had to add one last jest.

On Monday, I told Omar that I would not make the drive unless he gave me an actual street address to put in Google Maps. I have been on several trips with Mexican friends where our destination is somewhat chimeral, and we end up wandering through strange towns with no idea where we are or where we are going.

He could not get an address, but he entered the name of the University of Guadalajara branch. I thought that would be good enough. It wasn't. It took us to a four-way stop with nary a building in sight.

So, we starting putting new words into the search function. After wandering around the city aimlessly for a half-hour or so, Omar managed to get a destination in Google Maps that actually took us directly to the campus.

And a nice campus it is. While Omar and Yoana spent about five minutes submitting their applications, Pancho and I took a quick look around the place. It is a long way from home, but I think Omar and Yoana may enjoy going to school there.

We then piled back into the car and had lunch in a serviceable Italian restaurant before we jumped back onto the toll roads home.

The drive back was anti-climatic. We had lost too much time to stop in Guadalajara for tires. But I could buy them in Melaque or Manzanillo -- as well as getting the suspension repaired.

The only interesting layer to our adventure on the way back was the Google Maps voice in my telephone. I have long called her Carlota. When she was mis-directing me in 
Tepatitlán, I must have hurt her feelings -- or drove her into eponymous madness.

I knew exactly how to get home, but, for fun, I filed a flight plan with Google. Even though we were on a straight toll road, she would erratically blurt out irrelevant directions. "Turn right." "Head north." "Make a sharp right turn." It was almost as if she had recently contracted a severe case of Tourette's.

But she did not deter our return home after a fascinating day. We pulled into Barra de Navidad around 10 PM. It was sixteen hours of adventure and bonding. The kind of event that builds bonds and character.

And now you can see why, during Tuesday's drive, I thought of my trip to Los Angeles with Stan Ackroyd. If my Scottish genes hold up, fifty years from now, I will be telling both tales as a double feature at dinner parties.

Fun comes in various packages.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

driving adventures -- part 1

Some days are larded with memories.

The year was 1972. I was stationed at Castle AFB in California's San Joaquin Valley. My university friend, Stan Ackroyd, had stopped by and suggested that we should drive to his cousin's wedding in Los Angeles.

With little more thought than that, we piled into my 1967 Olds Cutlass Supreme convertible and hurdled south down Highway 99 toward Los Angeles. I say "toward" because the car did not get there.

Just south of Bakersfield and short of the much-storied grapevine, oil started forming on my windshield. My oil pump was in the midst of a major failure. But fate was partially on our side. The failure happened near the shop of a shade-tree mechanic.

He could fix the problem, but not then. He did not have the part; it would need to be ordered. It might take a week or so.

That did not deter Stan and me. Even though we were dressed in our wedding finery, we headed out to the highway hoping we could hitch a ride further south. We were lucky. A rather ratty Chevrolet pulled up driven by what seemed to us as an older guy. He was probably in his 30s.

Through a cigarette clinched in his teeth, he told us he could only take us a piece down the road. We accepted the offer -- both of us sliding across his front bench seat. After all, what could go wrong?

We exchanged pleasantries and were only a couple of miles on our way when, between swigs from a beer bottle that rested between his legs, he volunteered the fact that he had recently been paroled from San Quentin. He came home from the war and found his soon-to-be-ex-friend and soon-to-be-dead wife in bed together. He shot them dead.

Now that tale sounded a bit like a bad movie script. I did not know what to make of it until Stan used his eyes to give me the universal look-at-the-floorboard look.

Behind the driver's feet and tucked only partially under the seat was a pistol. A revolver. I cannot tell you the make, but the image of that gun is burned in my memory.

I knew Stan was thinking the same thing I was: "How do we end this journey?" We need not have minded. Within a couple of minutes, he stopped the car and informed us he was heading a different direction. We should be able to catch another ride on the freeway overpass.

And away he drove. To a bank robbery? To discipline another friend or girlfriend? I could only imagine. But he was no longer a character in the tale.

If I remember correctly, a family in a station wagon gave us a ride to the nearest little town where we bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Los Angeles. I guess we had had our share of Hitchhike Bingo.

And I have as little memory of the bus ride or where it left us in Los Angeles -- other than the young woman across the aisle from me, who was a baker's dozen of oranges short of a full crate, and insisted that President Nixon was actually Nikita Khrushchev
 in disguise, and wanted to share her life insights with me.

My next vivid memory is Stan and me walking through the oil fields of Los Angeles looking like two forlorn figures that had just fallen off of a gay wedding cake. Fellini could not have filmed a better scene.

We missed the wedding ceremony, but we arrived in time for the reception to dance with the bride. And that was enough for us to declare the trip a full success. I suspect both of us have been dining out on this story for years. It is one of my favorite memories.

But it does point out the oddities of how our minds store memories.

Why do I remember the chatty woman on the bus, the details of the driver who picked us up, and dancing with Stan's cousin? And yet I cannot remember any other details of the bus ride, what the rest of the driver's car looked like, or anything else about the reception?

Or how Stan and I managed to get back to Castle AFB? Or how I retrieved my Olds? I have no memories of either event.

And speaking of questions, why am I telling you this whimsical piece of fifty-year old nostalgia? Where is the Mexico hook?

I cannot answer the memory questions, but I can answer the last two. And I will later this week. It is about Tuesday -- a day that will undoubtedly be one of my favorite Mexican stories for years to come.

Monday, February 10, 2020

tipping into chapala

Things have changed in Barra de Navidad.

When I moved to this area in Mexico eleven years ago, I would often refer to it as a "small fishing village by the sea" -- shamelessly lifting from the tales of Lake Woebegone. But, even back then, the description was anachronistic. Navidad Bay was a magnet for more tourists than fishermen. Mexican tourists in the summer; Mexican and northern tourists in the winter.

I cannot tell you when, but it seems about two years ago, we hit a tipping point. More so in Barra de Navidad than in Melaque. But something had changed.

The little villages that arc around the edge of the bay were famous for providing a basic Mexican beach experience for tourists. It was not Cancun. It felt more like the little town I grew up in the mid-1950s.

What changed was not the mix of tourists. In the winter, the ratio to northern tourists did not alter. But, the marketing to northern tastes did increase.

Local businesses and government officials made a conscious decision to attract more northern dollars to the area. Events were created that would meet the never-ending desire of northerners to "do something."

The plan worked. Last week I opened one of our gringo-run Facebook pages to discover fourteen events directed at northern visitors. I felt as if I was on a cruise in -- well, almost anywhere.

That is not a criticism. Mexican business owners are simply doing what any good businessman would do. They are maximizing their profits.

It has come at a price. The pleasure of simply enjoying a relaxing day at the beach is still here. But a more frenetic layer of activity has been laid over the top placing Barra de Navidad in the same league as other northern playgrounds like Ajijic and San Miguel de Allende, where a minority northern population has set the cultural feel of the place.

On Saturday, I wrote an essay on the irony of having a solar-powered water heater in tropical Mexico (not in hot water). As often happens, the conversation in the comments section took a sharp left-turn from the topic.

I had included a footnote about a new lunch place in our neighborhood run by a northern immigrant couple. A reader, who immigrated to Barra de Navidad from The States over 30 years ago and raised a family here, asked and commented: "Do the owners stick around during the lean months or do they just take advantage of the gringo season and diminish earnings for the locals? What a shame."

His comment is representative of some northerners here who will not eat at any restaurant who is not owned by a Mexican. Some of them extend that rule to art created by non-Mexicans and houses for rent owned by northerners. That group is, at least, consistent with its boycott-mindedness.

I understand their position. But I do not agree with it. Entirely.

There may be an exception or two, but the non-Mexicans who own restaurants here are immigrants. They have chosen to make Mexico their permant home. As immigrants, they do exactly as immigrants to Canada or The States do: they try to survive financially by providing a service that would not otherwise be available. And I appreciate the service just as I appreciated the Mexican, Lebanese, and Ethiopian immigrants who were brave enough to open restaurants in my neighborhood in Salem.

The xenophobic argument would make far more sense if the few restaurants owned by non-Mexicans were driving Mexican-owned businesses out of customers. Restaurants are not a zero-sum economic enterprise. If I want a supper of beef stroganoff, I can go to Out to Lunch or I can make it myself. A purveyor of chicken mole loses nothing in that transaction.

The health of Mexican-owned businesses is hearty in my neighborhood. Five new restaurants have opened, and all seem to be doing well -- even after the northern tourists leave.

I will confess that I preferred the much simpler life of a decade ago here. But it was inevitable that change would occur. And not all of the change dynamic has been caused by northern tourists. The increase in middle class Mexican tourists has had its own effect. There will be no going back.

Perhaps that is why I find myself spending more time in my house and talking with my local neighbors. I have managed to create my own far-simpler time bubble.

And, for now, that is good enough for me.