Thursday, May 14, 2009

riding with roseanne roseannadanna

In the words of the all-too-mortal Gilda Radner: "It just goes to show you, it's always something."

Every community has its tourist attractions. The Black Hills have Mount Rushmore. San Antonio has The Alamo. Minneapolis has world-famous toilet stalls.

If you read the local literature, Melaque outscores them all with -- its tianguis.

Every Wednesday, a group of entrepreneurs sets up shop in a major street to sell their wares. When I visited in July last year, the owner of the house told me that it was a must-see. Not to be missed. It should be high up on my Bucket List.

So, I went. And I went again today to ensure that my first impression was not somehow tainted by comparing this travelling flea market to the other joys of the Pacific coast.

This time I took my brother.

Now, all of you have probably come to the conclusion that my bother and I us are very similar. And we are.

So, I was not surprised when he commented that tianguis must be Spanish for giant yard sale. And he was correct. Most of the merchandise had a certain better-days-will-not be-seen-here ambience.

Being part of a Niles and Fraser show can be unpredictable. One moment, you can be talking about the nuances of wild versus cultivated oyster mushrooms; the next moment, one of you is looking at hardware to fix a leaky hose.

In mid-witty sentence, my younger brother was sucked into the maw of Charybdis. He purchased several pieces of hose hardware, using his minimal Spanish -- saving at least 75% of the cost for the same items at Commercial Mexicana.

He had such fun with that experience, we stopped at a hardware store on the way home to buy a flow valve and hose clamps.

For those of you who have not been to a Mexican hardware store, it is more akin to a wholesale parts counter than to Home Depot. Like Scylla on a bad day.

Rather than wandering through rows of nuts and screws, you describe your need to the man or woman at the counter. He or she then brings a proposed solution to you. Rather like a pharmacist.

I was once again amazed that my kid brother had the temerity to ask, to be understood, and to walk away with his problems (at least, those related to garden hoses) resolved.

Having had a full day of Authentic Mexican Experiences, we decided to try Mexican pizza. So off we drove. I pulled up to the far-too-high curb and got far-too-close.

Years ago, a Mexican laborer in a quarry broke up a pile of rocks. Some became gravel. Some smaller rocks. But one piece retained a very sharp edge.

That rock was part of a shipment to San Patricio to build sidewalks around an older building. The concrete worker sifted the rocks, as carefully as he sifted his sand, but that self-same rock slipped through into the mixture.

As the years went by, the concrete began to erode as concrete does. Large pieces of rock fell out of the tall sidewalk. But that sharp rock simply became more exposed. Children broke off other pieces of rock. But the sharp rock simply stuck out of the curb -- doing nothing in particular.

If the quarryman had smashed the rock, if the concrete worker had tossed it aside, if nature had eroded it away, if the children had broken it off, when Steve drove his truck up to the curb -- nothing would have happened.

But something did happen. The new front right tire that Steve purchased just before leaving Salem struck the rock while pulling up to the curb -- and the rock won, tearing a large hunk of rubber from the side wall.

There was no flat tire. No blow out. Simply the certainty that the tire's life was over. And would need to be replaced before Younger Brother could make it to the Manzanillo Airport on Thursday.

"I want to wake up every morning and not know how I am going to get through the day," said the ever-confident Mr. Cotton when departing from Salem.

Let me introduce you to Roseanne Roseannadanna, Mr. Cotton.

Because: "It's always something."


Islagringo said...

But did you get your pizza?

Calypso said...

and now you know why there are a lot of Vulcanizer Tallers (tire shops) in Mexico.

In our area we stay close to the center line on the roadways - if you drift off to the right edge of the roadway you will likely find raw edged pavement that will destroy your tires. Where the rubber meets the road - sort of...

Felipe Zapata said...

Pizza? Pizza? What happened to the health program? There ain´t no pizza on no health program.

Regarding the rubber tire flap, get some garden shears, trim it off, and forget about it. You´ll still have a better tire than 90 percent of the other vehicles around you.


Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- Yes. We bought the pizza: a "healthy" option. It was so bad, I could barely eat one slice.

Calypso -- Great one, amigo. I will now see how much two new tires cost this morning.

Felipe -- You may have put your finger on something. We should have been walking, instead of driving. And we should have been on our way to the tofu palace. As it turns out, the pizza was bad enough that it did not come close to harming my health plan.

I have considered your plastic surgery option. But the gouge is really deep.

Chrissy y Keith said...

Oh good (or not) I thought I was the only one that thinks that the Melaque tianguis is lame. Is the Japanese restaurant still open out by the main road? I always had pretty good meals there as a healthy option.

Steve Cotton said...

Chrissy -- The Japanese restaurant is still here. I may take my brother there for lunch for his last day in town. Then we will be off to the airport.

Anonymous said...

Good story you wrote. But there are no "what ifs" in life. There is only what is.


Steve Cotton said...

Horst -- Thanks. I see that the Land of Calvinism holds sawy.

Anonymous said...

ah yes, steve, it is always something. if not in mexico, it's here. that's just art of the adventure called life although of course there are some parts we would rather not have to deal with, but deal we must. enjoy your japanese lunch. glad you and your brother have had this opportunity to share time together.

take care,

Babs said...

and, hopefully, you're NOT driving him to the airport alone! Or there will be another saga............I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tancho said...

Are you going to get your workout with a nice 2lb sledge and show the culprit who has the last word?
Felipe is right, wait until you have an issue with the tire, or do like in the old days, put a tube in it...Lesson #006, learn to improvise. You will learn as common items which you were able to get at your local Ace, are non existent.
With your skills, I expect a wood burning stove on the patio, nothing better than home made pizza anyway, and it gets rid of some of your leftovers.

Beth said...

When I visited Beijing last year, the first place our tour guide took us was the Dirt Market...a giant garage sale where she told us we could buy genuine Chinese antiques...made yesterday. Sounds like you had a similar experience.

You're certainly having an adventure. Enjoy!

Joanne said...

If you want a decent pizza in Mexico, you are going to have to make it yourself. We learned this the hard way.


Vanya said...

The best pizza I had in Melaque was at Dona Aguedas down by Arturos and Patys... Paty (norma and deb) serves a mean martini, too,(AND they stock Sapphire!) if you are inclined that way but back to the pizza... The first time we ate there we ordered it and it rivaled Round Table. the second time, not as much. I think you just have to ask for it with everything on it,todo que tenga? (my spanish is still iffy)... I find that I can get the ingredients that I want everywhere and just make the pizza myself! (with the help of my handy breadmaker set on dough settings) Just think of the friends youd make if you started making really fantastic pizza! Usually though, you cant go wrong with just pepperoni. :-) Theres a Bennedettis in Barra now, havent tried it but I plan on it when I get the chance and feel like going off the diet lol. T.I.M.! It gets better!

Todd said...

roseanne roseannadanna - Dont even get me started about Endangered Feces!

Now, pizza in mexico is an interesting concoction, IT MUST contain hot dogs, I dont know why, but it does. and in many areas the Hawaiian pizza actually has Maraschino cherries! Go figure!


Anonymous said...

Well, Steve, you can be thankful that when all this happened to you, you were not wearing your new trousers.

Felipe is on the metaphysical mark. Trim the rubber; if no tire fabric is showing, you've got some miles on it yet. And if you are not making any long arduous drives over rock terrain in hot weather at high speeds, its going out will probably not be a disaster. In short, you may have time.

But this is not the metaphysical point of Felipe. Felipe sees that you are grappling with Jalisco life through the old epistemological categories of Salem. In short, you have not yet developed Jalisco common-sense. This will take a while.

If you continue to evaluate each Jalisco situation with a Salem axiology, you are doomed to a life of frustration and misery. Jalisco knows nothing about your stinking Salem axiological universe, nor does it care to.

I am thinking of those ex-pat Brits who went to Kenya to build new lives and upon arriving struggled to build a bit of Britain in their newly adopted (appropriated?) country. Of course, such a dream was doomed to fail. Not even the upscale colonial club with its polo and gin and tonics in the afternoon could whip the country into shape.

You, Sir, are now embarked on a great Darwinian journey, having removed yourself from one geo-social set of selective pressures to an entirely new set of geo-social selective pressures.

With every breath and step you take, these new pressures are working on you, grinding down the old the points of contact, crushing the old categories, expunging the useless ideas, remaking your emotional responses.

If you are feeling a bit detached, lost in social space, and dis-oriented, it is only because you are.

That flap of rubber, come loose from the tire, is a clear image of what is happening to you metaphysically.

Best to get out your philosophical clippers, prepared to snip and prune away all the useless categories built up and articulate in a land -- nay, a world -- far, far away.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

I have no tire advice. As for pizza the worst pizza I have ever had was in a tourist place, we had the vegetarian pizza, which came with celery on it. Costco has decent pizza but generally homemade is best. Occasionally we order from Domino's Pizza, they deliver but are very pricey. The pizza tastes like Domino's Pizza which is mediocre but sometimes mediocre pizza is better than none.
I like Japanese food but the only thing available here seems to be sushi which comes with cream cheese. So I haven't even tried.

Nancy said...

If you ever pass through Mazatlan again, there are two fabulous pizza places, one wood fired and the other makes his own italian sausage.

Anonymous said...

Definitely one of your more amusing posts. Laughed out loud at several points.

Wish I could think of something witty to write about already being tired of your retirement, but, alas, I fear it might fall as flat as your fears for that tire.

Instead, I'll make a suggestion so practical, so boring, that your other readers will likely flee, screaming.

Just swap the damaged tire with your spare (you do have a full sized spare, don't you?), and the now differently-abled tire will make a fine spare, that hopefully you'll never need. And you'll save $80 USD in the process.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where, while now comfortable, we've lived closer to the edge and have learned to think like a Mexican.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

I have to second Nancy on the two pizza places in Mazatlan. I know whereof she speaks. They are both good. One is Mexican, and the other is owned by a Canadian and his Mexican wife. And you'll enjoy his Italian sausage!


Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Teresa. Darrel and I never made it to the Japanese restaurant. Instead, we went to a place in Barra -- just to add to the unplanned aspect of the day.

Babs -- We made it fine and dandy.

Constantino -- I decided to hang on and see how things develop with the tire. As for any Hemingwayesque revenge on the sidewalk, I fear I would spend the rest of my retirement dying by the sledge.

Beth -- That's what the tianguis reminded me of -- your tales of the Dirty Market. Not much there there.

Joanne -- Maybe we could use Constantino's idea: a great way to get rid of left overs.

Vanya -- I did not expect much from the pizza. After all, who comes to a Mexican beach town for good pizza? I would sound like the woman I heard yelling at a taco stand owner in Melaque: "Haven't you people ever been to a Taco Bell?"

Todd -- Once again, it is that Mexican ingenuity. Sometimes, it is brilliant. Other times, not so much.

John -- While trying to sleep last night, I came to the same conclusion, but perhaps not by tacking the sea of metaphysics. I simply decided that I am fixated on fixing. Felipe has mentioned several times that the "Same Life" phrase in my blog title is going to get me into intellectual problems. I have come to the conclusion he is correct. But it will take time to get there. Just as it will take time for me to get comfortable with speaking Spanish. A grocery clerk complimented my attempts today. More beautiful women saying sucj things will keep me plodding along.

Theresa -- I did not get to the Japanese restaurant today -- so, that report will have to wait for a later date.

Nancy -- Another reason to venture north. At least, as far norh as Mazatlan.

Kim -- I wish I had the option of switching out the spare. Unfortunately, my spare (and the space for it) is a symbol of the American auto industry -- an undersized doll cart tire. I considerd the possibility of simply buying a new tire and wheel, and keeping my scarred beauty as a spare. I can still do that. If I have anything, it is time.

Steve Cotton said...

Larry -- I do believe you and Nancy are conspiring to keep me fat and happy -- if not sassy.