Thursday, February 19, 2015

Las Mananitas

Edna and Larry are leaving tomorrow so they wanted to make sure they fit in a visit to Las Mananitas before they left.  We all decided to meet at Sonia's - a wonderful little shop that sells beautiful silver which is located just across the street from Las Mananitas.  I had vowed not to buy any more silver.  It is very beautiful and very inexpensive, but over these many years I have bought enough of it and it sits in my jewelry box at home unpolished for the most part.  But then I tried on a very unusual necklace and everyone oohed and ached and said it was "so Nancy" that there was nothing I could do but get it.  Loren wasn't there,  and I only had a credit card to pay for it.  The shop keeper asked for cash so he wouldn't have to pay taxes on it, so Mac loaned me  some pesos.  Take a peek at the picture below to see the new purchase!

Las Mananitas is legendary in Cuernavaca.  As a matter of fact, when we first started coming down here I discovered that my ex-husband Tom's grandmother Lacey came to Las Mananitas on her honey moon many,many years ago.  It is a beautiful hotel and restaurant, but the most unusual facet is that is has peacocks and flamingoes strutting around the grounds as we enjoy our very strong margaritas!

Can you see the new necklace I bought?

Conversation here is perhaps the most precious gift of all.  It is quite lively and varied and is aided by one of Fred's "Rules of the House."  There are three rules that are announced every time a new couple arrives:
  • You may talk about your health only on the day you arrive, then it is off the table.
  • If you ask a question you must listen to the answer
  • There can only be one conversation at a time- no side talk
It is this third rule that really makes for interesting conversation, but I am also extremely impressed with the experiences and the sagacious minds of the participants.  Judy informed us that she took the challenge to immerse herself in the early 20th century ex-pat writers in Paris.  Among those she read were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.  Although I don't presume to be in the same category as those luminaries, I do feel Fred and Kat have created an atmosphere here in Cuernavaca similar to a Paris Salon.  

Our discussions have ranged from travel to sports to politics to fashion.  One guest is a law professor about to go to Prague to teach a semester on emergency medical law.  "What is emergency medical law?" you might ask, as did we...  It is at the forefront because of the Ebola epidemic and deals with questions like Can a State legally demand that someone be quarantined?  Or can a country bar people from crossing their borders.

One couple determined many years ago that they were going to go to a National Park or a National Monument in every state in the Union.   They have completed that task with the exception of Montana and Idaho which they plan to visit after going to London to spend some time with their son who is over there revamping the public school system.  Their tales and adventures were fascinating and I'm wondering how long it might take and whether I have enough time left to put that on my bucket list.  

We have someone here who is a lawyer who works for ESPN and can tell you anything you want to know about sports in the courts and then some.  He says watch out for the Cubs this year;  Tiger is over the hill; and if you read something in the Enquirer...believe it!  They have a terrific cadre of reporters and they usually get it right!

Great stories pop up one of which concerned David Brooks and how he got his start.  As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, Brooks wrote a parody of William Buckley for the school newspaper.  One day Buckley came to speak on campus.  He walked up to the lecturn and loudly asked, "Is there a David Brooks in the audience?"  David sheepishly raised his hand.  Buckley pointed to him and said, "You're hired!"  Brooks went to work for the New Republic and the rest is history!

Often times one thing leads to another.  After dinner, over coffee, we got on the subject of the OJ Simpson trial.  Someone mentioned Dominique Dunne who was a reporter who wrote about the trial.  That segued into a discussion of his sister-in-law Joan Didion and someone said, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem..." a novel Didion had written.   We all had heard that phrase, but our collective memory could not determine from whence it came.  So we had to consult Google which brought up the Y.B Yeats poem The Second Coming:  

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;  
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...  
.... And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards bethlehem to be born?.  
which of course we read aloud and decided it was time to turn in for the night as none of us could make much sense of it!!

Before retiring we were all given a print out of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Thurber which we plan to discuss over margaritas tonight. 
  Gertrude Stein must be smiling upon us!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Another stay in Paradise - Back in Cuernavaca

I wasn't going to do a blog again, this being our 25th year of coming down to this wonderful "City of Eternal Springtime."  I thought things might be a bit redundant.  But just being here one day of our three week stay,  I realize everyday brings new things.

We arrived last night just in time for margaritas with Fred & Kat and Edna and Larry and Jan and Bill.  The cocktail conversation covered Brian Williams where we had a number of different takes to female musical composers.  Dinner, much to my delight, was chili relines.  Natalia, the cook, knows that is my favorite and had made it specially for my arrival.  Needless to say, it doesn't take very long to be transported to paradise where life just doesn't seem to be able to get much better.

Today we went to the Gardens of Mexico- an amazing place that covers 51 hectors which is close to 125 acres of gardens.  It is about 30 minutes south of Cuernavaca;  about 2 hours north of Acapulco - in the middle of nowhere.  Four years ago there was nothing there.  Now it is a cornucopia of delights.

We were greeted by a very large peacock topiary and later found his mate, the pea hen.

Our distinguished group in the Italian garden

There is an Italian garden replete with marble white statures of Neptune, David, the Madonna and others.  

There is a Japanese garden with flowing waterfalls, bridges, serene pathways, a tea house and a huge assortment of Koa swimming among the lili pads on the pond.

Bill taught us that if you clap your hands the Carp will come;  sure enough it worked!

                        Then there is a sculpture garden with a wide variety of different sculptures positioned along pathways.  In the middle of this space is an art gallery with a delightful assortment of art sculpture.

This was one of my favorite:  a small figure outside with a huge shadow painted on the wall.  It was titled "Shadow Box"

The place is so extensive we took a golf cart around to get from place to place although there was a lot of walking involved as well.  It was a feast for the senses as we wandered through mazes and arbors.  Looking up we saw strange fruits hanging from trees or bright colored flowers.

And there we're plenty of benches and seats along the way where we could stop and enjoy the surroundings.

Next up was an orchid exhibit;  the colors were gorgeous!

Bill and Jan
There was even a water moat around them.  Loren clapped his hands and carp appeared!

Edna and Larry

Near the orchids was a building where monarch butterflies were kept.  We learned there are two kinds of Monarchs:  One kind migrate from Canada and live about 9 months.  The ones we saw in Las Jardines de Mexico only live for two months.  A guide showed us a Monarch laying eggs on a leaf, tiny little caterpillars, as well as cocoons ready to hatch.

Our next stop was the cactus garden.  Looking at these pictures, just imagine that four years ago NOTHING was here.  They had to bring in all these cacti- the large one weighs more than 50 tons!!  (I know you think I embellish but that is what I heard!!-  At any rate it was VERY heavy.  I would have loved to see the cranes or whatever they did to get it here.)

This is the blue Agave plant where we get our tequila for our margaritas!!

We were parched and ready for lunch by the time we ended our tour so we went to the restaurant that is part of Las Jardines. . . and what a grand place it was!  It was a huge space covered over with a bamboo dome.  We chose an assortment of dishes, and the plating was beautiful.
Tomato Tuna Salad

Eggplant Parmesan

Stuffed Calamari


We came home exhausted but enlivened and most of us went up for a short siesta.  Bridge at 6:00 was followed by margaritas at 7:00.  There was more lively conversation through dinner as we pondered what composers after the nineteenth century might be worthy of our attention.  We also weighed in on  some Oscar nominees with critiques ranging from no stars to five stars.  That's what I love about this place - no one is shy about giving an opinion and the opinions are multi and varied!  This was a grand first day of our 25th year, and I can't wait to see what follows!  BUENOS NOCHES.