It’s always strange when something changes unexpectedly here. There is never any warning, you just walk out one day and something has changed completely. I have been waking up around 6:30 for work for more than a year here, and suddenly there is a mariachi band playing every morning. They play outside the church a couple blocks away, but loud enough that I can hear them through my open window. I took a different route yesterday just so I could see what was going on. It was nothing, just an empty church with a ten piece mariachi band playing at 7am on a weekday.
It’s strange that it seems so ordinary, and yet there is something so strange about it. I’m used to the changes being surprise construction zones, bus routes vanishing, businesses vanishing or relocating, and an endless variety of shifting in the infrastructure. Even a surprise mariachi band is not such a strange thing normally, but this city is usually a tomb before sunrise. At least this tells me that I learned to enjoy mariachi enough that it doesn’t aggravate me when I hear it first thing in the morning.
I down to Chapala and Mazatlan over the weekend with the Diplomat, but there was nothing really surprising there. The lake was beautiful, but I find it hard to get past the pollution. I tried to believe that the garbage came from other places, washed into the lillypads and reeds from upstream, then a man finished his food and threw the spoon into the water. No one said a word to him, no one else seemed to care that he had done it. The Diplomat shook his head and we moved on, walking through the small town.
It is a beautiful old town, but far too crowded for my taste. Construction had taken most of the good parking spots and the streets are just as narrow as Guadalajara. It reminds me of Sag Harbor in some ways, the small town feeling, the smell of the water, the fish cooking in the distance. Some of the old brick buildings reminded me of New England construction, so rare in earthquake prone San Diego. I wouldn’t mind spending time there, but during the week when no one else is around.
Mazamitla is on the other side of the lake, up in the mountains. It’s cold, and the pine trees set off my allergies, but it’s a beautiful little town. It feels like Julian, but with less apple pie and more random Mexican sweets. I don’t call it candy in this case because there was no chile or lime on any of it, just the caramel-like sugary goodness and churros. The Diplomat bought me something called ropompe, or something like that. It tastes exactly like eggnog with brandy in it, but he said it wasn’t alcoholic. We ate dinner and headed back down the mountain before the darkness made it dangerous.
There are a lot of places here that I didn’t get to see, like San Sebastian de Oeste. I hear that you can see Puerto Vallarta from the mountaintop, when the cloud cover is thin enough. I’d like to get a cabin there for a night, just to see the sunset from up there. Might be a good trip on the way out of here, but I think I’d still rather hit Melaque, spend a few days on the beach. Still, it’s more interesting to wonder what will come next.