Saturday, April 25, 2009

I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind

I have been sitting on my hands, or folding them over my head. I have been unsure of which way to go. Should I go? Should I stay? It is a very expensive endeavour to say the least.

Go where? Do what? Go to the International Rally in Madison Wisconsin. What was my deciding factor?

... that guy right there, the guy wearing a Frank's Trailer Works T-shirt. Dale Schwamborn sent me over the edge to a point of no return. When he said he was going, I said me too! Honestly the caravan out with my unit is also a big factor too. I am honored with the job of Wagon Boss and plan to take the job very seriously. It is looking like we will have a professional scout on the caravan too. Yes, a professional scout, one that may have been able to blaze the way for a caravan from Capetown South Africa to Cairo Egypt. I have invited Dale to come along with us and he has said he would love to. I will probably fly him into Pittsburgh for our first day of the caravan and he will stay with Ava and I. I will let him sleep on Anna's gaucho. I had better get it upholstered before the caravan. Dale has met Kings and Queens, he has shaken the hand of the Lion of Juda Haile Selassie. I think he deserves the best bed in my trailer. I have been extremely fortunate to become friends with Dale and look forward to spending more time with him. Ava is very fond of him too.

But to prove I am not BSing, I wanted some to see the registration slips and their required fees before I put them in the mailbox. I wonder if the International Board of Trustees know what is heading their way. I wonder if the cheese in Wisconsin is as good as they say. Soon enough we will find out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

special devilery

I apologize for the blurry photo. I should have taken a few shots instead if just the one.

I eat the best eggs there are. They are hand delivered from Central New York by Bakers Acres. Unfortunately this service is not available to the general public, well at least not yet. As Rob and Zoe build up their farm perhaps they will have a farm stand. Maybe Uncle Don will start to carry them at his farm stand in North Norwich. Who ever gets the franchise rights is going to be a lucky guy, because these eggs are exceptionally good. I don't know if it is the feed, the freedom the hens have, the water of Plymouth, or just that they are produced by people I love. I do know that Baker Acres Eggs are my favorite. I love them so much that I actually lick the plate clean.

Bakers Acres Eggs are the official egg of Frank's Trailer Works.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Everyone is ripping on Marcus

And we wouldn't do it if we did not love him so. I am actually inspired by Marcus and this post is to prove that very fact. Marcus is a BBQ wizard. He is from Texas and in Texas they fix the finest BBQ there is. Now as a primer, I want you all to watch this video clip to learn you a few things about what exactly BBQ is...

Now when you say BBQ my dog Cash gets excited, so please do not say the word around him. But in that video you will notice no mention of Maryland. Maryland is a southern state to say the least, but here our version of BBQ is called pit beef. It is a huge beef roast cooked over a oak fire then sliced and served on a roll. It is traditionally road side fair. I like mine with mayo, horseradish, onion, and a slash of salt. But this is not about pit beef, this is about Marcus.

Marcus is from the land of brisket and there is nothing I like more than brisket. I went to the store looking for one and found that the butcher had already trimmed most of the fat and because they only got in two this morning they cut them in half so other customers might get some. I took two halves and chastised the butcher for butchering their brisket in such a way. I used some rub from a true yankee spice company, Penzeys Spice of Wauwatosa WI. Their rub called Galena street is very good and I use it often. I spread it in a nice thick coat and slide it into the refrigerator for a few hours.

I do not have a fancy pit or smoker. I use a Weber gas grill. I have a iron box that I fill with oak that goes between the flavor bars and the grate and I stack a few pieces on top of the grates. I light the grill and set it on high until the oak starts smoking pretty good.

The brisket goes on and the front burner is turned off. The rear burner goes down to low as to keep a temperature of 180- 200 degrees. I also had to put some bacon on top, for as mentioned earlier, the butcher butchered it.

I cook it like this for about five hours. I did add some more oak chunks after three hours. Here is what it looks like at about an internal temperature of 170 degrees. It will come off with in about ten minutes and rest for about twenty minutes.

So here is the meal we put on for my parents. You see the sliced brisket with it's beautiful crimson smoke ring, the red beans, corn pudding, Marcus's fathers not famous and not secret BBQ sauce, and a stiff margarita. The white bread is there to dip into the sauce. Sauce never goes directly on the meat.
Marcus, wish you could have joined up for this one. I did toast you before we ate this meal . My parents didn't know who the hell you were, but raised their drinks regardless.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A drive in the country

Saturday was our last full day in Mexico. I could not think of a better way to spend it than going for a drive in the country.

We walked down to the center of town and bought a ride on, yes, a local bus. This bus was your typical 1970's retired American school bus. The music was loud and the conductor was the drivers 10 year old son.

The bus took us way up into the mountains through little tiny villages. People were picked up and dropped off in what appeared to be the middle of no where. Now the roads were like those found in the backwoods of West Virginia, just with very few trees. We twisted and bounced and twisted our way through some very dramatic scenery. Beth made me sit by the window so she could not see the bus tires inches away from the edge of the shear drop offs. I put my faith in fate when making these journeys. The bus driver has a family to go home to also...

After an hour, we arrived at Christo El Rey. This is the second tallest Jesus in the world.

The site also is the geographic center of the state of Guanajuato. We were told it is also the geographic center of Mexico(untrue) and the geographic center of the world(true if you want it to be).

At this point most of you are probably thinking I have found religion or something. My last few posts all involve churches and religious services, but here in Mexico you cannot turn your back on religion. It is just part of daily life here. The statue was very impressive to say the least. Many Pilgrims travel great distances to get here. Some even do it on their knees.

Some walk long distances in groups to come here. Some like us come by bus. We were the only gringos here though.

Can you imagine coming here on foot? What about on your knees?

The views and the altitude were breath taking. Not sure how high up we are, but it is high up.

We enjoyed our stay here in Mexico. I feel as though it was a trip to the heart of the country and the culture. This part of Mexico is not frequently visited by Americans, for there is no Club Med or all inclusive resorts. English was spoken by very few and it presented a challenge to communicate, a challenge to get around, a challenge to my everyday life. I feel this is the way to travel to another country, it certainly works for me. I hope one person reading this will be inspired to step off the beaten path and see a place they never have seen before.

Saying good bye has always been hard. I prefer to just slip out and say see you later, or earlier....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

Our day began with a local bus ride. The local buses are often referred to as chicken buses, though disappointingly no chickens on this one. This is how the locals get around. The half hour ride cost about $.40 for the two of us. You pay when you get off at your destination. If you want to see the country without the feeling of being on tour, this is the way to do it. We wanted to see Valenciana. Valenciana is the site of the biggest silver strike in the New World. Most of the silver has played out, but a few mines operate still today.

We went on a tour of the Boca Mina. This mine was abandoned in 1927 and then reopened for tours ten years ago.

We went down fifty meters and saw the various veins that were dug. On top of the main product of silver, significant quantities of gold, platinum, manganese, and lead were mined.

This mine actually went down to one thousand five hundred meters when it was abandoned.

Can you say gringo? I stick out like a sore thumb down here. No one looks like me, and I find people staring all the time. Guys that use to work in the USA will strike up a conversation and young kids are always trying to learn about who we are and what brought us here to this part of Mexico.

It is the beauty of the place. This is the church of Valencia. The mine owner spared no expense in building this one.

That is gold and silver from the mines of Valenciana. Religion is a mighty strong force here and it being Good Friday, we were treated to a procession like one I had never seen before.

At Churches all over the stations of the cross are acted out. For those that do not know what the stations are, they are the events in the final days of Jesus Christ's life. Good Friday is when he was crucified. This is him carrying his cross to be crucified. Mary will be following on the next float.

The bearers are wearing course cloth and hoods are worn as a sign of penitence.

I was deeply moved by this act of devotion.

This was like nothing I have ever seen before and I was totally unprepared by the experience. We have seen religious processions before while on other trips, but nothing as stirring as this one.

After Valenciana, we made our way to the Mercardo Hidalgo for the comida corrida. This is a fixed price lunch that gives you fruit drink, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. This costs twenty five pesos. That translates to about $1.85. We splurged and each had an Indio beer.

Most Americans would never trust this kind of meal. Most think they will get sick. Those that think this way are truly missing out, for food like this is really something special and the women cooking it are so happy to have us try it and actually enjoy it. After this huge lunch it was back to the room for a nap.

We caught wind of another procession taking place in Guanajuato. Earlier in the day Jesus was lead to the place of his crucifixion.

The procession began with him dying on the cross.

He was then taken down and lead to the place where he was placed in the tomb. This acting of the stations involved a great number of people. Many parts to be played for kids and adults.

The bearers in their hoods have me most captivated.

These floats are very heavy and the devotion it takes to carry them is very great.

The procession has been walking about two miles through the streets by this point and has about a half mile to go to get back to the church. Mind you they are all doing this bare footed and the city is very hilly.

Not very sure of which saint this is. His reverence is frozen on his face as he follows in the procession.

After a day like today, the only way to wind down is with a few tacos. Tacos bistek this time, five for $1.40...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Obie got competition....

Some of you know him, and some of you are missing out. In our Unit we have a clown... I should re state that, for we have many clowns... in our Unit we have a professional clown. He is the kind of clown you like, not the kind that scares the hell out of you. Obie is one funny guy both as a clown and as a person. His blog Airstreamhobo is to the left on my list. We are very fortunate to have him in our Unit Perhaps I will convince him to join up on the caravan to International this summer so he can have the entire Club rolling. This post is for Obie. Thank you for all you do....

"Soy el mejor payaso, bien, justo detrás de Obie. El es el payaso más grande... " I swear thats what he was saying...

Here in Mexico they like a clown. We have seen more than a few.

Where ever a crowd has formed, we find one standing in the middle of it. None have asked if we want to see their box of tricks though. That gag may be lost in translation. They do some great preformances to say the least.

The balloon man is always near by the clowns here. We need to find Obie a balloon man...

A good clown has the young and old laughing. This guy had us rolling even though I only understood about half of what he said. I swear I heard him saying "Complace a Dios, me da la habilidad a hacerlos se ríen como Obie, los mundos payaso que más grande hace... Esto es todo pregunto de usted".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Muy Mexicano. Muy...

Yesterday morning Beth and I boarded a first class bus from San Miguel to Guanajuato. Taking the bus in Mexico is awesome. All the airlines should come down and see how it is to travel comfortably. Clean spacious seats, beer served for free, a sandwich, ultra clean bathroom, a movie, and no stress. We paid $8.00 for the hour and a half ride.

Guanajuato sits in a steep valley and was founded by the Spanish. It was where the revolution started and also the site of the richest silver lode in the new world. This is the most "Mexican" feel we have experienced. Thank God I have been learning spanish from the the Guatemalans I work with, for with out it I would be dead in the water. Very few people speak English here. Only a few guys that were deported for not having proper documentation speak English. They seem to seek me out so they can tell me about their former lives in Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, and Milwaukee. They all want to go back, but until the work climate changes they all stay put.

Churches are on every block and like in San Miguel they are cathedrals. Due to Santa Samanta the churches are very active and people are bringing offerings of camomile flowers that are laid at the alter. I do not know the significance of the camomile. Perhaps I will ask the next guy that seeks me out what it means.

The Mexican people have a love affair for the dead. We went to a museum that houses mummies. Something about the soil mummifies the bodies. The museum was packed with with families coming to see them. There were about 70 on display.

The babies were a bit hard to take, but we found this place fascinating.

Wally and the caravan came here in 1952. I have seen a photo of them with the mummies when they were lined up along the walls. Now they are all in cases.

I have been behaving myself. Fortunately I am not the subject of this photo... I will after posting this go make Beth and I some margaritas though.

The old world and the new world are never far apart here. The original pick up truck and gang sign graffiti side by side

We have been eating well. This has been my favorite spot to eat... 5 tacos pastor for $1.00. They are so good it blows my mind. I had 10 for brunch just before starting this blog post. All you wimps that worry about eating something scary would walk right past, but I go back over and over. The $1.00 Corona tastes mighty fine too.

Now if you were to own a silver mine this is the sort of house you would build. It now houses the state museum.

We love to shop and always find going where the locals go to be the most interesting places to do our shopping.

Mercardo Hidalgo is just the place to find anything you might want.

looking around is the best part.

Being the only Gringo was interesting too. Hope you enjoyed our trip so far. I will try and post again in a day or two.