Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Nothing Fancy
Just my very best wishes for all of you!  
May you have a joyous Christmas!

Love, Dona

Here's a Christmas Memory for You.

Illinois.  Snow.  Ice.  White!
Shuffle to Aunt Carol's house.
Back to Aunt Ann's
Watch Joseph.  He's into everything!
Where is Philip?  Where is that boy?
"You know, they really aren't my boys.  Remember?"

Christmas Eve:
Coats.  Scarves.  Hats.  Mittens.
Bone Chilling Cold Outside.
The church stifling hot.

Back at Aunt Ann's.
"Boys, you better calm down.
Mom's in a BAD mood."

How will Santa know we're here?
So tempting to say, "He probably won't know."
Oh, but he knows.  He always knows.

Christmas Morning
Presents.  Toys. 
Too Much.  Too Little.
Too Late.  Too Early.

For me . . .
A baby doll, my last.
Nylon hose, my first.

Next Day
Pack up. Early Start.
We're Going Back Home.  "Thank God."

Stuck in the middle.  LONG TRIP!
One brother old enough to know better.
The other, obviously to young to discipline.

Illinois.  Missouri.  Arkansas.  Oklahoma, Texas.
You never looked so good.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parras, November 2012 Waiting for the Visas

In spite of all the stress while we were waiting for all the paperwork to clear in Torreon, we had some good times in Parras.  Tops on the list was a visit from a good friend, Enrique Sada and his friend Liliana Uribe.

Just a word about Liliana - precious.  She is a published poet, mother, model, advocate for women - especially in the production of Native crafts, She is an example to all of us.  Besides that, she's drop dead gorgeous.  Thanks, Enrique for bringing her into our lives.  We are richer for having met her.  

We exchanged books about Parras - the book I gave him is in English which he will consume in an afternoon - the book he gave me is in Spanish and it will take forever and nine days for me to finish it.  Oh, well, all in good fun!  We took wine glasses out to the back garden to watch the sun set as we talked about books and travels and grape/wine production.  We finished off the evening with dinner at the Hostel Farol.  Always a treat!

Next morning after breakfast we went on a small tour following the aqueducts

from Perote

to downtown Parras.

We all enjoyed the visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, one Stanley and I had never visited.

Details on the inside were very interesting.
The object in the lower left hand corner depicts the archangels in all their glory.  An unusual piece.  All of the art is old and much of it is crumbling.  I'm so glad we saw it before it deteriorates more.

After a tour of the Santa Madero Chapel and a quick look at the Plaza del Reloj, it was time for lunch
When I suggested Casa Vieja I had no idea it was one of Enrique's favorite places.  Happy coincidence.  And a happy end to a great day.  

Other note-worthy items:
November roses.  Still blooming and fragrant.  The lucky roses that bloom in November last a lot longer than the ones blooming in July.  And, we appreciate them even more!
Okra, gone to seed.  I just thought it was interesting!
The vineyard at its unruly best!  

A world of lemon grass.
Living several days in a world lit only by fire - always a good experience.

New pavement both on the entrance road and almost all the parking lots.

No pictures to share, but other highlights were all about wine.  We had plenty of time to rack all our wine from 2012 and complete the bottling of 2011 wine.  We also had the privileged of helping Ernesto and his family rack their 2012 wine.  

We took a couple of barrels to the shop for repairs; had nice meal with Catherine and Roberto at the Enoteca; got to know Paco, Monica, and Alien a little better (thanks for the pumpkin pie - it was delicious); missed seeing Nacho when he flew through town; had some great coffee at the coffee shop with Monica; and celebrated Thanksgiving with a thick grilled steak a la Narro.  Aside from the visa situation, it was a pretty nice November!  

International Day of the Migrant

We returned to Torreon on the 29th arriving at the office before it was even up and running.  It seems there was another reason for this second return trip.  The visa application had to be signed and fingerprinted.  Now I understood.  The official paperwork had not been completed when we were in the office two days before.

Oh, well . . . it was done quickly enough.  And with our crisp Permisos de Salir in hand, we felt as free as . . . well, as free as Americans in Mexico with FM3 visas. Now we had time to kill before the celebration  beginning at 12:00 noon.
We wandered through the newly renovated Plaza Major 
and admired the art work.  This sculpture collection is called "Winged City."  Torreon is trying to rework its imagine, but it has a tough road ahead.

Then, a five block walk to the Marriott - a stunningly beautiful hotel.  Festivities were to start promptly at 12:00 so we hurried right along.  

Everyone was to take something representative of their home country.  Without salmon, moose, or caribou Alaska was pretty hard to represent.  I thought these people could probably make Mexican food much better than I so Tex-Mex cuisine was out.  I took a salad.  It was very good, but I must admit it was not a shining star among all the delicious food prepared by other migrants.  Recipes from all over the world, exotic spices, bread made from every grain you can imagine and in almost as many shapes.  It was a very impressive display.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The table decorations were fun and very well done.
At 12:00, there were only four seats taken.  At 12:30 the crew showed up to make adjustments to the dance floor. 

Finally, about 1:15 the welcoming speeches began and many seats were occupied.  However, as the festivities continued people trickled in.   My stomach was growling, but I soon forgot how hungry I was as I watched the dazzling dance performances.
First, a ballet from Japan.
Then a tango from Argentina.
A hip-hop group representing the United States.
Several dances respresenting countries from all over Latin America.

A fantastic belly dancer.  She wowed the audience.

Then the matachines.
And finally, the Mariachis.

Dinner.  Did I mention the food was delicious?  In addition to all the food brought by the migrants, the hotel prepared a beautiful Mexican buffet.  I'm sure it was as good as it looked, but I couldn't pass up the chance to try all those new foods.  

We had to leave as soon as my salad bowl was empty in order to catch our bus back home.  It had been a fabulous day and left me with a much better view of the Mexican Immigration Department than I had had just a few days before.

Now, to get this Permiso de Salir signed and stamped.  Will the troubles never end?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Visa Saga Continues

Almost exactly two weeks after we turned in our renewal paperwork, we received notice that we should appear at the Torreon office as soon as possible.  Stupid me . .. I actually held out hope that our visas were ready.  Miracles do happen, right?  Well, the visas weren't ready, but the powers that be had decided it would be OK to pay at the bank like we had always done.

Given the cynical nature of my thoughts regarding Mexican bureaucracy   you may think we were only called back to Torreon for the money, but there is a shining gold star in all of this.  For the very first time we were given the opportunity to pay for two years meaning we would not have to repeat this process until November 2014!  What a gift!

Also, we were told that buried deep within the new manuals just received from Mexico City, there was indeed a form called Permiso de Salir y Entrar.  For a small fee (about $35.00 each) we could have one of those so that we could leave the country before the new visas appeared which we learned would not be before the 15th of January.  I swear they read my last post about Christmas in Texas and decided they should get high behind.

We made a dash for the bank and spent about an hour getting our money together.  With no warning we would be able to pay for two years, plus the fee for the Permisos de Salir, we were on short notice to come up with a significant amount of cash.  We managed!

Back to the office just in the nick of time.  You aren't going to believe what happened next.  We were invited to attend a luncheon and show on November 29 at the Marriott Hotel in Torreon.  The theme:  International Day of the Migrant.

I really didn't had no desire to attend anything put on by Migracion.

Thanks, I said.  I'll just take my Permisos de Salir now and skip the party on Thursday.

Lo siento, he said.  The permisos will not be ready until Thursday.

I sighed.  Can you hear the sigh?  It was long and breathy.

See you on Thursday, I said.