Saturday, April 6, 2013

A summer love affair

Cousins, adored and missed



The slip'n slide method of reorientation and re-exposure

The foreign service bible of regs, aka the FAM, dictates that we spend a vacation stateside every couple of years in order to "ensure that employees who live abroad for an extended period undergo reorientation and re-exposure in the United States on a regular basis." In other words, they don't want us to stay out for so long we forget who we are and "go native." For the girls, all it took was a little slip'n slide action in the company of their expert cousins to re-integrate. For coach Mike, a frosty mug did the trick.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And this is how it felt....

So this is how I felt about getting out of Guadalajara. I think you feel this way after every tour, whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. Sometimes it's just time to be back in the good ole US of A, which is why the State Department insists on home leave, a mandated vacation within the borders every couple of years. That's me below, inaugurating ours. It's a lot of moving, packing, organizing, pulling up roots, and saying goodbyes. By the time we got the dog out on the overland route via Tijuana, with Mike picking him up at the border to drive north all the way to Seattle to fetch me and the girls, it was a relief. And not really because of "la violencia," as they say, although that was pretty stunning at times.


Leaving Mexico was bittersweet for us, as both Mike and I have put a lot of time into Mexico between this tour and our life before the foreign service. Guadalajara had been his first pick job-wise, and the girls thrived there. It was hard to see Mexico living through the current moment, and hard to do that in Guadalajara, which is a strange, strange town. That's not to say there's not a lot to recommend about it, dreadful air quality aside. It's considerably more toxic than Mexico City sometimes these days, thanks to Mexico City's green mayors and Guadalajara's conservative ones.

Guadalajara's famed narco-towers, as every taxi-driver will tell you.

This time of year makes me long for the city's verdancy, especially its gorgeous flowering trees. Once, when trying to identify them, I googled the name of one (the famed tabachines), and much to my horror, the image of a mutilated body popped up, in the neighborhood of one of our housekeepers, along with many pictures of the tree in question. That's how the narco violence felt, something awful that cropped up out of nowhere, on beautiful sunny days when you least expected it. It never affected us, but it was there, just under the surface, along with the fascinating and creepy devil's compact between Guadalajara's ultra-conservatism and narco-culture.


Parque Colomos was a daily pleasure, from the jacarandas to the endlessly amusing exercise routines of its patrons.

This couple was doing a mobile Kundalini-ish routine. I did not laugh out loud on this day.

Everyone longs for Tonala and Tlaquepaque and the shady patios of the restaurants on a Saturday afternoon once they leave.


And then there's the artesania, which some say is among the best in the world, but I'll have to verify that as we go along in this life. This one's for Red Bonya.

Cocktail stick gardens.

The tree of life, always fascinating in the details. 
A little Sergio Bustamante on display on the main drag of Tlaquepaque.We can't afford him.

And then there was PV and the Riviera Nayarit. Fortunately, we're going to live on an island in the tropics.

In the end, it was a great tour. The girls thrived and Mike loved his job. But I was still jumping up and down for joy to hit home leave. More on that to come.