A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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April 14, 2005 — Every Sunday morning, there’s a small market in a plaza in the village we’re living in, Bernal, Queretaro, Mexico. I (or Kelly and I) grab a tote bag or two and some pesos and head over there around nine or so. If we arrive much later, the produce has really been picked over. Once I asked the lady who runs it with her family what time they get here and she said very early. She said that they leave their own town around 4:30AM to get the produce in the city of Queretaro and then come here, an hour away. No wonder her teenage son is often yawning. I doubt he goes to bed early on Saturday night!

This last Sunday, I was alone and the produce was exceptionally good, so I loaded my bag to the very top and had to carry my half kilo of eggs in their plastic bag in my other hand. So I skipped my usual stop at the tortilla place, where half a kilo of fresh-ground corn tortillas would have set me back 3 pesos, about 27 cents. I also skipped the plastics lady with her son who appears to have Downs syndrome and is always very friendly (I meant the son but the mother is too), the used-clothing vendor, the CD vendor whose wares are likely not made by the original music companies as they cost about $2US each, and a couple of other vendors. Like I said, it’s a small market.

The cost for all this food was 71 pesos, which is about $6.45 US. And here’s the receipt:

It seems to be a large family who runs the produce stall, sprawled out over several tables. I didn’t think to bring my camera, not knowing I was going to be blogging! Any one member will weigh each item and put it carefully in a plastic bag if I have left it loose, while telling someone else what the item is how much it cost. This Sunday, the teenager was weighing and a plump boy (amazing how many kids are plump here nowadays) of about nine was writing things down.

This teenager likes to try out a little English on me. Once when our bill came to 60 pesos, he said “sixteen” — this is a common pronunciation problem I’ve encountered before. At the end of our transaction, as usual I said “Thank you,” and as usual he said “Very much.”

It’s about a ten-minute walk from our house down to the downtown area and then back uphill several blocks in another direction. It takes me longer to get back home with my load. As I walked along this time, I thought how nice the fresh papayas and mangos would be with pancakes, one of Kelly’s specialties on Sunday mornings.

Then it occurred to me that my loot would make a nice picture, so here it is:

That’s a papaya next to the bananas, and the funny looking thing next to the broccoli is a root vegetable you may be familiar with, jicama. Tasty in salads and often served here as a snack with lime juice and hot sauce sprinkled on it. The dark green thing in the top center is a slightly spicy green pepper, the kind used in making chile rellanos, which we also use in cooking or even salads. You don’t see any tomatoes, cucumbers, grapefruit, or carrots because we had some at home.

After the photo op, I did my usual produce washing. Bananas I just rinse off, and I don’t do anything to onions except peel their outer layers off before cooking, but just about everything else I rinse and then dump in a bath of tap water and MicroDyn, a form of colloidal silver widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies. (There are other brands but this is the one I always seem to see.)Everything sits there for about 20 minutes, and the things that float I turn over about midway.

I am more careful than some people, since I had pretty intense training in self-protection from 3rd world bugs both from my father, who grew up all over the globe many years ago, and from a summer I spent on a work camp in Africa when I was in college.

I keep two basins, bought from the friendly plastics lady and probably made in China, just for my Microdyning projects. Here they are. What looks like it could be soap on the first basin is just the flash glittering off the wet broccoli.

Once the time is up, I drain the produce and it’s ready for use. In the sink to the right of the bins you can see our homemade way of keeping the smell of the drains from coming into the kitchen, a little plastic bottle we happened to have with us that we jam into the drain. But we still get smells pretty often, because we have to take the bottle out to let water go down the drain. It’s a funky kitchen and we may redo the whole thing eventually.

It so happened that Kelly had had the same Sunday morning thought that I had, and here is the result, complete with a little lime on the side, a very Mexican touch:

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