Sunday, August 28, 2016

Whistle Stop Tour (Part 1)

This will be a rather unusual post, in that there will be photographs, and no paintings.  It's possible there will eventually be paintings based on some of the photographs, but if that happens it will be unrelated to this post.
It's also a rather late post, because, as has been pretty standard this last year, I've been busy, or distracted, and sometimes both at once.
Finally, it's going to be a boring post, at least to the vast majority of you.  This is the blog equivalent of looking at Auntie Ethel's holiday snaps, except instead of photos of the Taj Mahal, she took pictures of a tree in the Mughal Garden.  I didn't go anywhere near India though, and the photos that follow are from Mexico.  If you're still daring enough to see what follows, read on.

So none of the following pictures were taken with a decent camera (just my phone, as it's much more portable), and very few were taken with more than a moment's thought - generally they were shot in a hurry so as not to slow people up on the way to somewhere.  Those times when I might have had an opportunity to take a more interesting picture, I was too busy being distracted by the thing I should have been taking a picture of.  It is therefore a rather eclectic set of pictures.  There are better pictures of a few of these things, but they were not taken by me, and therefore should have no place on my blog.  I'm also trying to avoid photos specifically of people, as inevitabley they'll ask why I posted that photo where they look terrible, even if they don't.

Back in June I was sent to Monterrey in Mexico for work related reasons, to instruct our contracter there on some work related things.  I was a trifle concerned about this, since I had never been to Mexico, didn't know anybody there,  can't speak Spanish, and Unlike my trip to St. Petersburg (for similar reasons) I was making this trip alone, rather than with a co-worker who had been before.

I was quite pleased to make some new friends rather quickly, many of whom spoke exceptional English, and ended up having a wonderful time, both in relation to the work (bar some inevitable technical issues), and the personal time that came after.  One evening led to my having the best steak I have ever tasted in my life for example, and on another I was invited to the practice session of a local band, Circulos de Nada.  I wasn't entirely certain about this, knowing nothing about them beyond having heard some of their songs, quietly, on an i-phone in an effective echo chamber.  It was actually an awful lot of fun though, and their music was much, much better than the stereotypical mariachi band my subconscious had supplied for expectation (not that there's anything wrong with mariachi band's you understand, but Circulos was fantastic, not merely tolerable).  More on this in the next speedpaint post, as I realise we haven't had an image yet and should probably get to them in short order.

This view from my hotel room looked almost like a painting as it was.  I rather like the juxtaposition of the highrise surrounded by relatively low lying buildings.  The effect was somewhat marred in person as there are more tall buildings to the right of this shot.

On one of the first days of my trip I was taken to a little Enchilada  place for lunch.  The dining area seemed to effectively be someone's front room that had been converted into a cafe.  I suspect that this is because that is exactly what it was. The food was delicious though, and I insisted we return there another two times before I headed home.  Given the lack of resistance to my insistence, I suspect I was not alone in my enjoyment. Anyway, behind the eaterie, the rest of the house had been turned into a sort of museum, with each room sort of representing a different slice of time in a Mexican home over the last century or so.  It was both fascinating and beautiful.  The shot above is the alley way leading from the cafe to the museum.

And this is the courtyard at the rear of the house.  To the right we see Chuy, of whom there will be more information in another post.  To his right are the rooms of the exhibit, leading off the courtyard.

The inside of one of the rooms.  I took quite a few pictures in there, but the lighting was quite low and very few of them came out well at all (mostly blurry).  On the one day after this where we didn't eat lunch here, we went for Goat.  It had never occurred to me really that goat would be something you'd want to eat, but I suppose a lot of Americans feel that way about Lamb, and lamb is absurdly delicious, so I thought I'd go give it a try.  

Usually goat is served as individual pieces, but my host Sergio asked for it come come 'Family Style', so that everyone could try a bit of everything (fortunately, by everything he did not mean testicles or head, as both would be a little daring for my first go).  Goat is pretty hard to eat it turns out, at least off the bone, as it's shown here on the right. It's a little like eating a chicken wing in the required dexterity, though the meat is slightly chewier.   Tasty though.  The cut meat on the left of the skillet is much easier to eat, and extremely tasty, though still more chewy than I'm used to.  Would eat again.  Sorry goat lovers.

These three photos of were all taken on the same day, the early evening of the night I went to the Circulos rehearsal.  Two are just things I thought looked nice, and might want to paint at some point, and the third is of a whole heap of Animal themed Money-boxes placed on an island in the street - at least I think that's what they were.  Why were they there?  I'm not actually sure, but my Mother collects money boxes, so I thought it would be of interest.

I took more photographs of course, but these were the most interesting.  There's another set I've done a painting from (which you'll see next speedpaint post if you haven't already), and at least one other I plan to - but since I have yet to paint all my planned paintings from my trip back in December, I wouldn't hold your breath there just yet.  Oh, and on the last night there I tried Mexican pizza on a night out.  I don't know if it was representative of all pizza in Mexico, but holy crap was that good pizza.  One thing I never expected on a trip to Mexico was that the food was going to be so consistently delicious (though unfortunately the stereotypical effect on my stomach was much as I predicted based on trips to Spain).

The return home was a decidedly unpleasant trip, with a 2hr stopover in Texas spiraling into an all day affair, and my arriving back home at around 1am, rather than 5pm, but I made it intact and in relatively good spirits.  Three days later it was my Wife's turn to leave the country; off for a trip to France with our son.  This trip preempted another of my own two weeks later, where I met up with her again in my hometown, and ended up in London before heading back to the US.  The UK part of the tour is where part 2 will pick up, hopefully in just a few days (realistically, sometime next year, but I rather hope not).

1 comment:

  1. Place look good and must visit, Thanks for sharing pictures with us, food look delicious. Looking for more blogs like this