Today was a wonderful day. We woke to the sound of the alarm at 6:30 a.m. - first alarm clock awakening since arriving here 5 weeks ago. We walked up to the Carretera to the corner where the Lloyd's bank is to meet our van for our day's outing. We were early, so we went across the road to Donas Donuts where I bought myself a coffee. We chatted with another fellow who appeared to be waiting as well and sure enough he was booked on the trip. His name was Marten, born in Mexico in Jocotopec, a couple of towns down on the Carretera and now living in L.A. where he teaches kindergarten. He's home visiting his father's family. He spoke fluent Spanish and English. Then Vivienne arrived. She is a tourist from Boston and today was her last day after being here for two weeks. She has the Lake Chapala fever and is already scheming to get back here as fast as she can. Our driver Hernandez, was a lovely man and he spoke English fairly well.
We stopped first at a Potter's studio. His name is Salvadore Vazquez and he works in a dark, cold dingy space producing beautiful work. He learned his art from his mother and his grandmother and the work he produces has been shown in galleries in Sante Fe, Albuquerque, and San Diego. Everything is hand painted, the colours are burnished and gorgeous. He has a metal tool used to polish the completed pottery to give it a glazed look, that was handed down to him from his grandmother. The home gallery where his work was displayed wasn't a very lovely space either. The ceiling was leaking and the paint was peeling and there was dog poo on the mirador......such a disappointing and very humble space for a renowned artist. We ended up buying a gorgeous plate, 22 inches in diameter - lunes et sol....moon and sun. We will hang it in our rental for now, but if we ever own a home again, I will be proud to own it. Greg took a picture of me and the artist holding our purchase. It cost 800 pesos, about 65 dollars.
No wonder his space was so humble.
Next stop, the paper mache factory. Not the kind of paper mache we all did in grade 3 although much of the process is the same. The layers and different glues produce a finished product that looks like ceramic.....all also hand painted and glazed. There were 7 foot giraffes and a lion lying on it's back so that it's feet produced a base for a piece of glass and voila, a coffee table. We didn't love this stuff and didn't buy a thing.
On to the glass blowing factory where about 20 young guys were working in scorching heat. No work place safety here. Everyone was running around with metal rods with burning globes of glass on the end but somehow they seem mindful of each other and as Greg said, they don't need government mandates, they just use common sense. It was fun to see the shapes being formed by blowing down the metal rods and rolling the blobs on metal slabs and voila all that gorgeous Mexican glass that I've always loved. In the shop here, I could have easily bought 12 drinking glasses priced at about 1.50 each and in great colours, but with no home of our own it seemed pointless. Greg bought one glass for him and one for me although we do have a set in our casita, these are our own. The "stuff" thing is a challenge. When we had roots and owned a home we were always buying more stuff. Now we don't have a home and all of our "stuff" is in storage and yet we still seem to want more lovely things when we see them. Consumerism is a hard habit to break.
We left Tonala, again through snarled traffic. We were starving at this point. Hernandez dropped us off at the Tlaquepaque and we went to a traditional Mexican restaurant called El Patio. We ate delcious lunches. I had sole diablo but told the waiter to go easy on the diablo. Greg, the carnivore, ate steak and sausage in a sauce. There was a cactus plant on his plate. We've seen them for sale at the market and haven't tried them up til today. It was interesting....a bit bitter. The setting of the restaurant was gorgeous with a fountain in the center and the lush gardens that you see everywhere here and start to take for granted. There was live music.
We walked around Tlaquepaque looking in wonderful galleries at lovely pieces made by very creative people. Greg brought his G.P.S. to enter the way points so we can now get to these places on our own without any difficulty. The square in the Tlaquepaque is delightful and the feel of the whole area is very European. We could have been in Italy.
We were like worn out kids after a day at the playground on the ride back to Ajijic, all of us quiet and tired after a day that nourished our senses.