Monday, May 7, 2012

Whiling away another Sunday afternoon in the Countryside

Life in Mexico is tough with a capital "T". That’s what people who don’t reside here would like to think anyway. The drugs wars continue to rage on in close proximity to the border (stimulated by the ever-increasing number of drug users in the U.S.).  Americans’ fears remain fueled by the un-remitting chatter of the” larger than life” newscasters who blather on about the dangers of living outside the safety of the good old U.S.A. but , at least for me, life in Ol’ Mexico is consistently and utterly idyllic.

I remember the glorious day, approximately four years ago, when it first became clear that I was going to be able to quit my job and move to San Miguel de Allende. I just couldn’t stop smiling. It was as if the happy fairy had tapped me with his magic wand. I felt this way for a good reason. Life here is just plain first-rate. It doesn’t get much better than this.

 Let me share a recent Sunday afternoon. It all started when my dear friend, Marsha, extended an invitation for Sunday lunch at Patsy’s Place in the campo (campo is just another word for countryside)
Sixteen fun-loving, adventure- seeking folks responded and we all made the leisurely drive to Patsy’s. The thoroughfare to Patsy’s Place is a bit rocky, potholed, and rutted. It drops to one narrow, dusty lane in places (forcing the driver to play hopscotch with oncoming traffic) and goes on for miles with no end in sight. You feel a bit like  Lewis and Clark exploring uncharted territory. One can see nothing but dried-up tufts of grass and cacti. The road meanders through a little concrete and brick village with one little store that sells nothing but cigarettes and coca-cola. Just when you are beginning to think you might be lost, you spot another sign for the ranch. You realize that you are almost there when you can see the large herd of cattle, grazing in their pasture with the purple mountains as their backdrop. Patsy’s boasts a huge fuchsia colored sign that greets you as you pass through the rickety fence posts.
 The lengthy driveway is lined on both sides with gargantuan century plants, one bigger than the next. Patsy’s ranch goes on as far as the eye can see, made up of acres of gardens exploding with various succulents and exotic grasses. There are rosemary bushes the size of small elephants, walls swathed in bougainvillea and trumpet vines, flowering pomegranates bursting with ripened fruit, and water features chock full of lively, vividly colored fish. Various trees are decorated with small, glittering globes of colored glass. The site contains the main house, Patsy's personal residence, and a large banquet facility, ready to host bigger events. The banquet hall is in stark contrast to the rest of the property.  Modern in design, the banquet hall sports a playful, purple coat of paint. In the very center of the property stands the main ranch house, low to the ground as it hums with activity.

Patsy greets you warmly with a big hug, making everyone feel welcome and home at last. Her accommodating and neatly clad staff take drink orders. Wine, beer, and homemade lemonade with a slice of lime are some of the offerings.

Entering the cool, covered veranda, you can’t help noticing how thoughtfuly everything has been arranged. Long tables have been dressed with colorful Mexican glassware and jewel toned napkins. Cooling fans whirl overhead.
Vases of fresh orange and yellow nasturtiums, freshly-plucked from the garden, adorn the dining tables. In the rafters above, Patsy has strung reams of paper streamers in a variety of festive hues.

 Lush green ferns are clustered in pots throughout the space. A charming Chickering piano, a fond reminder of my dad’s old piano back home in Buffalo, sits beckoning in the corner, seducing more than a few in our party to play a tune or two.

Patsy summons everyone to join her in her brightly colored kitchen, prettily decorated with Mexican pottery and vibrant artwork, where preparations for lunch are in full swing.

                                                                 owner, Patsy

 Her servers circulate with tasty hors d’oeuvres such as stuffed squash blossoms lightly fried in a tempura batter and lettuce cups filled with an herbed tabbouleh.

 The guests peruse the offerings for sale in Patsy's Pantry. Jarred dill pickles, dried herbs, and tomato flip are just some of the homemade goodies available for purchase.

 The guests stroll around the grounds, even getting an opportunity to tour Patsy’s private quarters.

Her home is decidedly special, lovingly filled with Mexican crafts and quaint furniture, the rooms painted in bright tones of red, orange, green, and turquoise.

Her veranda is cute enough to take your breath away, filled with plenty of cozy equipale chairs, caressed by the filtered afternoon light, the walls decorated with little birdcages and even more sumptuous ferns.

 Native bees have constructed a large hive in the eaves; they fly furiously past me on their way to their quarters.

 Patsy prefers not to disturb their happy home. Her response to a guest’s query about why she hadn’t gotten rid of the bees. She countered with, “I don’t bother them and they won’t bother me.”

Lunch begins with a cool cucumber gazpacho, followed by teriyaki- marinated chicken,

 a fresh fruit salad includes luscious mangos, sweet pineapple, and cantaloupe,
crisp garden greens with a vinaigrette dressing, garnished with more nasturtiums,

 a chilled, herbed pasta salad, and marinated grilled vegetables.

 Dessert is a crispy meringue topped with a mango compote and juicy, ripe strawberries. The conversation is lively.

 Some people are meeting other people for the first time. Others laugh and joke with old friends (although “old” is a relative term when it comes to friends here, as we are all newcomers to Mexico).

 Many treasured photographs are taken.

 No one wants to forget this afternoon. Life is good. In fact, it is very good.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is nice and interesting :)
    ps: I would like the flag of your beautiful country on my website :))
    thank you