Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can the Tour Guide Always be Perfect?

The Cooper Week (Part III) – Week 7: In recollection you might think we are eating gourmet meals all the time. Au Contraire, we are doing that just most of the time. Actually, we try to limit ourselves to two meals a day, making the third meal just a snack or an ice cream cone in the afternoon. We are just trying to be culturally sensitive with the ice cream thing, as everyone else in town is also having ice cream. We are just blending in. Most mornings we do have a light breakfast at the casa rather than going out for breakfast. One breakfast essential is the fresh squeezed orange juice you can buy here. It was one of our first discoveries upon arrival in San Miguel and you can buy it in gallon jugs. This of course, is purely medicinal so we do not catch a cold in the 80 degree heat.

The big event for today was the Home and Garden Tour sponsored by the Biblioteca. This is an amazing effort which happens every Sunday afternoon. I have mentioned it before but it bears repeating, that this event, put on solely by volunteers, raises thousands each year for the charitable efforts of the Biblioteca. The tour probably requires 30 to 40 volunteers each week, working as ticket sellers, bus guides, and room guides in each home. There are two or three casas that are visited each week out of an inventory of some 250. The event costs $15 per person and when you multiply this by the thousands who attend (about 4,000 this year up through the second week of April) you are seeing a significant fund raiser. Besides, it is just a lot of fun, both the start with mariachis at the Biblioteca, the bus rides with the guides giving you insights into life in San Miguel (and their personal lives as expats), and then viewing the beautiful homes. Seeing these homes gives you quite a look at the architecture of this colonial city, and how the rich and famous live. For a virtual tour of the second home on the tour check out http://www.casa-san-francisco.com/.

Following the tour, we naturally had to have cappuccinos and lattes to satisfy Les Cooper’s need for caffeine. No Starbucks here, so we go to real cafés. After this pick us up, off to shopping as the shopping days for the Cooper’s were running out. How come then they only bought some children’s T-shirts, and Mary Ann ended up with candle sticks, table cloths, and other assorted stuff. This must be how she maintains her famous reputation as the “World’s Greatest Shopper.”

It is now somewhat of a tradition that on the last full day of a visit, our guests are encouraged to return to those parts of San Miguel where the may have seen something they wanted or thought they wanted to purchase. In the Cooper’s case it turned out to be a very nice Mexican tin and tile mirror that looks like about the length and width of our car! This required some negotiations about what they would take back of our stuff, while we would take the mirror. I was advocating the tire chains, but we ended up with their agreeing to take our winter coats and sweaters. For the remainder of the day we felt the Cooper’s were safe to be out on there own without chaperones or guide dogs, so we all went our separate way for the day. I explored a couple of different neighborhoods, Mary Ann went (of course) shoe shopping and the Cooper’s seemingly tried to emulate mountain goats.

For the final dinner we planned to go to Villa Santa Monica but they were closed on Monday night. The travel tour guide was a total failure. As a back up we went to Hecho en Mexico and saved a lot of money. We finished off with Santa Clara ice cream, a walk to the Jardin and then up the mountain.

Quirky Living Note: Who would ever figure that if you were a dedicated bridge player, San Miguel is the place to come? On the other hand, it might be expected when there are thousands of retired Americans, all of an age who grew up when bridge playing was a required social necessity. In the English language newspaper there are weekly notices for the organized duplicate bridge clubs, which are seemingly operating every day. There are two locations available, one in a bridge dedicated room in one of the large hotels, and the other in there own club house. I even found out that our next door neighbor, Fred, is a regular duplicate player. Need a partner? No problem, they will match you with someone.

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