Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tournament Time

At 1:00 PM the area in front of Esmeralda's looked like a Costco aisle on a rainy Saturday. People lined up to get checked in for the big Cribbage Tournament in Melaque. They all had there game faces on and were trying to hide their nerves by gathering around the front of the restaurant.  A four wheeler slowed and the Mexican driver yelled "What, are they giving away free food?", she laughed and roared off.

Linda took her ticket forward and then entered the venue.  80 tickets had been sold to players and all the proceeds were going to the Melaque Animal Clinic. Linda had looked forward to this event for the past week.  Cribbage is in her blood and she had set a goal to make it into the second round.

With everyone at their table, the rules were laid out.  Larry, our friend, was the rule official and made sure all the points in question were covered.  Linda's first match was against a fellow named Wayne.  The format of the day would go like this.  Everyone plays three games against three opponents. Whether you win or loose you must report your final scores to the head table.  Once these scores are collected the top 16 players out of 80 would move on.

In Linda's first match she was dealt terrible cards and scored 90 points total.  In the big picture this meant that she was basically out of the tournament.  She played on and ended her three games on a win.

The tournament went on with out her.  The group of friends that we have here that had entered the tournament numbered seven.  Out of the seven players from our hood, Berry, was the only one to move on into the next round.  We were there when he came out of the venue, "I ran into a card shark in that round,
she kicked my ass!"

We really had a great time at the event.  Linda was disappointed in her performance so at the end of the day, in our screen tent, she skunked me twice and went to bed.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Up the Spiral Staircase

Sometimes you embark on an adventure with a destination in mind but as the day unfolds, your adventure changes directions and ends up being a wonderful experience without coming close to the original plan.  This is what happened today.

Fluffy stuff in the trees along highway 80.
Barry and Leigh Vincent picked us up at the lot and we set out up highway 80, the back road to Guadalajara. Our plan was to drive to La Huerta and contact a fellow named Eric at a granite quarry. Eric was the key holder to a gate that would let us access a road leading to some petroglyphs. Barry and Leigh had heard stories of the existence of these rock carvings and we all wanted to find them.

The unused church in La Huerta.
We entered La Huerta and drove around the city centro exploring the many streets. We did a short search of both sides of the highway. During our exploration we found a small fabric store where Linda and Leigh did some quick shopping. As Leigh bought some beautiful fabric, I looked about the area near the shop.  I found a church and took some photos and later Berry asked the fabric store owner about it and found out that it was no longer used and that there was a newer church that the people attended.

We continued our search and found the granite operation. Barry and Leigh talked to a 14 year old young man and he tried to find Eric, the keeper of the key.  He talked to one of their truck drivers and the driver called Eric who said he would be back to the plant in about a half hour. This young man tried so hard to be helpful. How do you show your appreciation for this?  Leigh gave him something any 9th grader would love - Oreo cookies!

Barry and Leigh returned to the car with the information and Barry smiled and told us that a Mexican half hour could be quite long and that we should continue on to Villa Purificación where we could eat lunch and gather more information.  Barry had been told that there was a pizza shop that was run by a fellow from Chicago and he spoke perfect English and would be able to tell us much more about the area.

Off we drove.  It became apparent after a several miles that one tool we could have used for our trip was a map. None of us had thought to grab the numerous maps we had laying around at our places.  Barry turned into a Pemex station and he and I went in to see if we could buy a map or at the least get some directions.

Three young ladies tried to help us. The first thing they asked was "Habla Español?". When Barry said "si", all three of them started talking at once, very fast, in Spanish. Barry's eyes got big and he raised his hands and laughed. They all stopped and laughed also and then one started speaking in both Spanish and English as they drew a map to Purificación.
Gotta shop!
In Purificación we drove around the jardin and Barry leaned out his window and in his best Spanish asked directions to the Pizza restaurant. A Mexican fellow on a four wheeler replayed" Straight ahead on the corner." in perfect English.  We all laughed because you never know how the answer will come.

Remember at the start of this blog that I said some times you have a plan for an adventure and during the execution of the plan the adventure goes a different direction? Here is where ours starts to change and become classic Mexico.

We got our selves a table at La Hacienda Restaurant. We were greeted by the owner Abraham Pelayo who gave us menus and a big smile.  We all ordered pizza and Abraham said "Oh, so sorry we only serve pizza on weekends."  Then Berry explained that we had heard about his pizza and had also heard that he had learned to make the pizza in Chicago and that it was the best around.  Abraham laughed and told us that he had learned to make pizza in California, but that at one time a famous person from New York had been in Guadalajara and drove down to his restaurant to have New Your style pizza. We all laughed at the amount of miss information Barry had gathered.

Rock cutter at the granite property.
We ordered our food and chatted with a couple of Canadians who were living full time in Purificación. they were very nice and seemed to know everyone in town.

We asked Abraham about the petroglyphs but he didn't know anything about them, however, he said he had one petroglyph on his property and would love to show us it. We all agreed that it would be a great addition to our day and made arrangements to meet him back at the restaurant after we explored the jardin and visited the church.

Looking for Eric.
After a delicious lunch we walked over to the church.  Barry and Leigh said that this church was the oldest church in Jalisco and the second oldest in Mexico.  Abraham told us that this church was 481 years old and that they had painted it just over a year ago for the 480th birthday. The paint they had used was bad and so they were in the process of doing a complete renovation using federal moneys.

We walked around the structure and took photos.  It was amazing! We asked one of the workers where the entrance was and he led us to the side directly across from the jardin.  Linda and Leigh went in the sanctuary and I noticed a small doorway on the side of one of the towers. I looked at it and said to Barry "I bet this leads to the top of the tower!" One of the workers said "Go ahead, es ok!" I looked at Barry and said "I can't pass that up, let's go!"  So we climbed.

The staircase was a tight spiral that twisted its way up to the top of the cathedral. Along the way there was a doorway that led to the balcony above the sanctuary. It was never intended to be used by anyone and was just an area that accessed the churches front windows.

La Hacienda Restaurant
At the roof we were able to see the two bell towers and walk around the entire structure taking pictures. It was amazing! One young worker came over and answered the questions we could ask in Spanish. You could really see the pride he had in showing us this treasure.

The jardin and 481 year old church.
I was in seventh heaven the entire time in the cathedral. One of my favorite things is to get on the roof of big structures in the various cities I visit. Many years ago I climbed out on the roof of Las Hadas in Manzanillo with my friend Mike Anderson.  Las Hadas is a huge expensive hotel and we were there for two days.  The roof views were fantastic.  I have also been on the roof of a very tall hotel in Chicago and one in Boston. I don't know why, but I love to explore those heights.

Once on the ground we walked back and found Abraham. He then led us to his home where he showed us numerous artifacts he had collected over the years. Abraham is a collector.  Once we looked at the items in the house he showed us his garage and the many things he had collected and stowed away.

We finally followed our friend to this property where he was growing mango, sugar cane and other agricultural goods.  On this land he had found a large rock that had carvings on it. The carvings were indents in a circle that he said formed a crown. Abraham had brought in an archaeologist and he had used chalk to show the form of the crown. In the photo you can just make out the indents of the ring.

We must have stayed an hour or more out at Abraham's property.  He picked a fruit called Gyuava (sp) and we tasted the sweet flavors it produced. Abraham told us the history of his property, we could see the pride in his eyes as he spoke.

We drove back to Melaque, our adventure twisted into the stairs of a 481 year old church and out into the fields of a proud Mexican entrepreneur.  We never found the petroglyphs we set out to find but we found much, much more!

Back side of the church.

Door to the spiral staircase.

Thought this would be a great photo, but the composition went bad.

The young man who showed us the project.

Going down!

Barry chats with the worker who said we could climb.

Our friend says good bye!

Abraham's collection of finds.

More of his collection.

The mango trees and Horse Saddle mountain.
The rock with the petroglyph.
Note the circular dimples.
Gyuava (sp)

The gyuave (sp) flower.
Stream on Abraham's property.