Monday, September 30, 2013

Soon, soon ...

Hola, friends

Well, if technology won't let me do this one way, I'll try another.  I may keep trying for the next few years at this rate.

Some months ago I got a new idea:  there is a possibility, a very small possibility, that I may not live forever.  Mind you, I don't really believe this, but like Pascal's bet I thought I'd better make choices on the side of caution.  I have read dozens of books about China:  it is time to go and see for myself.  Accordingly, I will be leaving for China in a little over a week, and will be there an entire month.

Many of you know about my life in San Miguel de Allende since I moved here nearly three years ago.  I am retired, which in my case means "work for no pay but much satisfaction."  Here's a quick run-down.

LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAM.  I actually did start my program!  It's affiliated with the Instituto Allende (, the major educational institution in San Miguel that has served three generations of expats.  It is perfect for me:  I do the courses (= line up the instructors and publicize for students) while they do the hassle stuff (= legal and financial).  And being a school, and a prestigious one, they have lots of classrooms and AV equipment.  The program is nearly a year old now, and my third term at the Instituto is about to start on Wednesday with a course called "Perspectives on Evil."  Doesn't that sound fascinating?!  You can read about the October and November courses on the Instituto website — click on Lifelong Learning.

PRO MUSICA.  Since my favorite music is classical, this is a natural.  Pro Musica imports a number of chamber music soloists and groups from all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere from October through March, and puts on a professional, fully staged opera in February.  My job is housing coordinator:  every year I arrange housing supplied by resident music lovers for 25 to 30 musicians.  When I put some up myself I get free tickets to their concerts, which enables me to take low-income friends to concerts.  Otherwise I get to meet interesting San Miguel people as well as musicians.  It turns out the classical music scene in Mexico is a LOT more vibrant and popular than in the U.S.!

LIBROS SIN FRONTERAS (Books without Borders).  A friend and I cooked up a project to encourage Mexican kids to read -- the level of readership in Mexico is abysmal.  In Spanish class we were reading an autobiographical book, The Circuit, by Francisco JimĂ©nez, about his childhood as an illegal migrant worker in California.  He is now a dean at Santa Clara University:  quite a trajectory!  We invited him to San Miguel and he will be here in November, shortly after I get back from China.  We are having children read the book in schools, orphanages, and families, and it will soon be read to the entire town over the radio station many Mexicans listen to.  Our goal is to give every kid who reads the book their own copy, which in most cases will be the first book they have ever owned.  We're arranging for all these kids (we don't know exactly how many there are) to meet Francisco and talk with him when he is here.

SOCIAL LIFE.  It is extraordinary.  I have never had as many friends anywhere as I do here.  At my 70th birthday party in February there were easily 50 people, expats and Mexicans.  We go to concerts, plays, movies, lectures, parades, fiestas, and restaurants, multiple times a week. 

CLASSES.  I go to Spanish conversation class four hours a week and virtuously go to water aerobics twice a week.  My Spanish is progressing to the point where it is crowding the French out of my head, but like riding a bike I'm sure French is still in there somewhere.  I can now say all the easy things in Spanish correctly and fluently, most of the medium things sometimes correctly and not so fluently, and we won't even talk about the hard things.

CHIEF INDULGENCE.  The Sunday New York Times, delivered in paper to my door every Sunday.  A fortune, but hell, I don't buy jewels ...

DIVORCE.  Rick and I were legally divorced a year ago and we are now doing much better as friends than when we were married.  He lives about six blocks away and we see each other several times a week.  It was a very good thing to do.

KITTEN.  The new love of my life is Carita la Chiquita Gatita (= Carita the cute female kitten:  sounds better in Spanish, doesn't it?).

Carita, about four months old now, recognizes the sound of my car when I come home, to be picked up and snuggled.  She almost melts into my neck.  When I read, she is usually on my lap.  At night she sleeps next to my pillow and sometimes crawls under the covers to snuggle next to my body.  In the morning when I wake up, she licks my fingers:  a kitten kiss.  She chases balls and bugs and loves to wriggle into the pendaflex folders next to my desk, which soon she'll be too big to do.  She flops on her back for a belly rub.  She gets tangled up in a ball of yarn.  She zooms up and down the multi-level cat tree, pouncing on the toys dangling from strings.  Completely irresistible.

Okay, that takes care of the last couple of years!

I'll be leaving for China October 9, visiting a friend in Los Angeles, flying out of LA on the 10th, and because of the international dateline arriving in Shanghai on the 11th.  I'll be going by myself to Hangzhou and Tongli, two places not on my Overseas Adventure Travel itinerary, and then will meet the other 15 members of the group in Shanghai.  Then on to Suzhou, Beijing, Xian, Dongan (a village near Xian where I will stay overnight with a family and visit the school), Chengdu, Tibet if possible (due to weather and/or politics at the moment) or if not Lijiang, Baisha and Kungming, then Chonquing, a 3-day cruise on the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges, Wuhan, Hong Kong, and then home on an endless November 9.  Isn't it thrilling???

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