Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day of the Dead in Chacala

The first thing in thing in the morning, I usually walk around the house, inside and out, taking a look at what's happened in the night. And opening the door to the teraza, which overlooks the ocean, about three "blocks" of jungle to the west. I putter around, fiddling with the plants, seeing what needs water (if the town water comes on later in the morning), and sweep away the debris from yesterday. It isn't raining much at night any more, maybe twice a week, so the plants are starting to need more water.

This morning, as it was just getting light, I could hear one of my favorite sounds in Chacala. The sound of the women singing a kind of slow, melodic chant as they walk through town. It was haunting and lovely. And I wondered what they were doing out walking so early in the morning. Then I remembered today is the big day of the "Day of the Dead". This afternoon almost everyone will be going into Las Varas, where the Santio (cemetery) is. They will be taking paper, plastic or real flowers to the graves of their dead.

Yesterday in Las Varas there were probably fifty fresh flower stands, and almost an many fake flower stands. I guess Memorial Day, up north, is a little like "The Day of the Dead". No religion involved, at least for me. My dad died when I was a baby, during WWII. We went to the cemetery every year to "visit" my Dad, Grandfather, and Grandmother. Well, not every year, but at least 3 times. No flowers though.
And when I lived in Zone 5 I helped clean the little cemetery for the "neighborhood" of farms where I lived. Called Mondovi. Almost the graves in this tiny cemetery there were for the original German families who settled that area in the 1880's. My favorite grave was one I helped decorate. When Mr. Ed Green died, at 91, I and a few other people helped his 90 year old wife mix cement to make a headstone. It was decorated with seashells. It looked very nice. I always wondered where the seashells came from (us being 300 miles from the ocean) and what they meant to Mr. and Mrs. Green.

But Mexico is so different. I am curious to see the cemetery in Las Varas, but I am going to wait for a few days, and then ask Prieto, the collectivo driver to show me where it is.

I am in a period of not caring much about my plants. I guess I need a little break or something. I can see cold winters have one advantage. A vacation from outside gardening. I never thought I would see that as advantage. But at the moment some time off sounds good. I don't know why.

Almost every morning Tina (short for Clementina) comes around selling freshly squeezed orange juice. Usually I don't want to spend the money. Tina's repeated returns to this house to sell me juice seem to be an excellent example of the effectiveness of intermittent positive reinforcement. She keeps coming because maybe once every two weeks I buy some. It's 8 pesos (.72 centsUS) and that adds up.But this morning Tini also had something else in mind. I have been babying some little terracita (Vinca) plants that have been volunteering at the edge of the front patio steps. Everyuone who visits have been noticing them when they approach the house. And they comment on them to each toher, although they grow everywhere in Chacala. Today Tina asked me to come outside to look at something, and she was stunned to see the little volunteers were gone.I showed her the planter I had moved them to yesterday, in preparation for my landlady's eminent return. It turned out one of the plants is an usual color, and that's why everyone has been so interested in the plants. Or at least that one.

I showed her the planter, and asked her if she wanted some of them. She wanted the odd purple one, and she's coming back later to get it, after she finishes her juice route. The plant everyone seems to be interested is in the upper right hand corner of the planter. It doesn't have a white center. You can't tell from the photo but it's a very different color of purple. I guess that's the attraction.

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