miércoles, abril 16, 2014

Once in a Red Moon: First Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014

Here and there, on the radio, TV, and social networks, there was a lot of excitement about the first of four lunar eclipses that would be observed on the edge of the eve of April 14. I'm not a big fan of observing the sky and I'd never buy a telescope, but this time I got excited too and the night before I decided to set the alarm on my cellphone at 2:30 and go to bed as early as possible.
I wasn't so sure that the sky would be clear enough for the eclipse to be visible -- the day had started clear and warm, but around noon the temperature dramatically dropped and a lot of wind-chased clouds covered the sky. I was a bit too tired and slept like a baby.
Suddenly, I heard Rodolfo getting up from bed, complaining that Chucho was trying to sleep on top of his head and pressed his paws on his face. The eclipse! I exclaimed. What time is it? Why didn't the alarm go off????
Oh, no. It was already past 3:30 a.m. -- I had forgotten that, thanks to the Google Assist app, my smartphone goes silent at 11 p.m. and sleeps and lets me sleep until 7 a.m. Nevertheless, I ran to the front door and carelessly snatched a towel to cover myself from the chilly air outside. Rodolfo and Chucho came running after me.
I wasn't prepared for the beautiful sighting I put my eyes on when I looked up to the sky. My jaw dropped and I got speechless, admiring the red crescent that would soon disappear altogether. What an excellent timing... The vision of the eclipsed moon and some very bright starts in the clearest sky I simply got lost in rapture.
The night was cold and silent, everybody sleeping, and I just couldn't believe why there were no other people admiring this wonderful gift from the sky. Well, never mind. I enjoyed my gift. And I gave thanks for it.

lunes, abril 07, 2014

48 Abriles

Ya pasó mi cumpleaños: el día 3 llegué a los 48 abriles. Un día antes estuve un poco pensativo, a ratos deprimido, a ratos inquieto. Muchos me dicen “estás muy joven”, pero de sobra sé que la primavera ya pasó, y el verano, o ya terminó o está llegando a su fin. Ahora es el momento de prepararse para el otoño.
Tal vez porque en nuestra sociedad se rinde culto a la juventud y se menosprecia lo viejo, lo antiguo, desde hace algún tiempo veo a los hombres y mujeres de veintitantos años y anhelo volver a vivir esa dorada juventud, tener ese cuerpo esbelto, firme, tantos planes por delante: el primer auto, la primera casa, el primer gran trabajo, el primer amor de verdad.
“Juventud, divino tesoro…”, dice el poema de Rubén Darío. Evoco esos años cuando mi libro tenía tantas hojas en blanco, carreteras por recorrer, tantas alegrías por experimentar y alguna que otra tristeza también. Los años pasaron y con ellos llegaron innumerables experiencias a mi vida.
A veces, al recorrer las calles, las tiendas, restaurantes y paseos de la ciudad en la que he vivido toda mi vida, me pongo a pensar que ya he estado ahí tantas y tantas veces, de niño, de joven, de adulto, en tantos y tantos momentos de mi vida, solo y con diferentes personas, con lluvia, con sol, con frío; noto que el paisaje ha sufrido cambios superficiales, pero en el fondo sigue siendo el mismo, y de pronto la sensación de ahogo es tan fuerte que quisiera alejarme, alejarme y hacer la segunda parte de mi vida en un lugar completamente diferente donde no haya tantos recuerdos. Sé que esto último ya lo he dicho en otras ocasiones, pero de alguna manera todavía no ha llegado el momento adecuado. Sé que llegará.
Estoy melancólico, pero creo que es natural cuando uno llega a cierta etapa de su vida; no, no me voy a suicidar tirándome de un puente, ni tampoco voy a vivir amargándome el resto de mi existencia. Simplemente quise expresar en palabras lo que está pasando por mi mente. Mañana será otro día, y me olvidaré de todo esto.
Lo bueno es que también he aprendido a ver el lado bonito de las cosas, de modo que si me pusiera a contar todas las bendiciones que he recibido a lo largo de mi vida, necesitaría mucho espacio en este blog… hay tanto que agradecer. Primeramente, haber podido llegar a este momento de mi vida, pues hay otros de mi generación que ya no están aquí. En más de un sentido, tomando en cuenta ciertos sucesos que han puesto en peligro mi existencia, soy todo un sobreviviente.
Doy gracias porque todavía tengo a mi mamá, a quien quiere mucho; además, porque formo parte de una gran familia en la que por encima de todo prevalece el cariño y el respeto entre sus miembros. He tenido la oportunidad de viajar a lugares muy hermosos en mi país y en el extranjero, he tenido empleos que me han hecho crecer mucho, he conocido a muchísimas personas buenas que han aportado experiencias muy bellas a mi vida, algunos se han quedado para siempre conmigo y son mis amigos más entrañables.
En una etapa temprana de mi vida aprendí a hablar inglés, y esto me ha abierto muchas puertas y me ha permitido tener más amigos, pero sobre todo me ha dado la fortuna de dedicarme a un empleo que me apasiona: la traducción. Tengo un talento y una facilidad para aprender lenguas extranjeras, y esto me ha dado grandes satisfacciones. Aún recuerdo cómo la expresión severa, inclusive beligerante de los parisinos, hartos de las hordas de turistas que preguntaban las cosas en inglés, daba paso a una sonrisa feliz al escucharme hablar en un titubeante francés.
Soy afortunado por tener un espíritu de lucha, de ir siempre hacia adelante, de levantarme de las caídas una y otra vez, de poseer una insaciable curiosidad de saber más, de aprender a ser mejor, de mejorar cada día. Y eso es lo que haré, con los años que me quedan.

domingo, marzo 30, 2014

Driving Into Mexico The Thelma and Louise Way

Traveling to another city in a foreign country to meet a fellow blogger whom you only know by email isn't a very common thing to do. And crossing the border into Mexico on that person's car is an even more.. peculiar thing to do. "Are you crazy?", a friend said. Be very, very careful, you never know. And that's true, you never know, but I've learned to listen to my own body language and the only message I received was "Go ahead and have fun!". And boy did I have fun.
The moment I met El Gringo Suelto I knew that he was a very sweet and kind person, easy to get along with and, above all, an excellent travel companion with whom you can spend hours and hours talking about a million interesting things, exchanging opinions, and having fun all the time. We shook hands and our own particular road movie got rolling, both of us feeling like we had known each other for many years.
The first stop was the Mall, where I bought a new pair of sunglasses that I needed badly. Then we stopped at WalMart, where I bought a beautiful bicycle for Rodolfo. The moment I saw it, I knew he'd fall in love with her at first sight, just like I did. We managed to put it inside Kim's truck and off we went, since we wanted to travel into Mexico while there was still daylight.
But choosing the wrong border crossing and then being thoroughly inspected at the right US border crossing took almost two hours of our time. When he saw our faces, the officer must have thought that Kim and I were a couple of dangerous criminals smuggling drugs and weapons concealed in secret compartments of the vehicle, but after a meticulous search that made him and us feel frustrated and sick, he wasn't able to find anything.
We were luckier in the Mexican side. The traffic light gave us a green smile and we could have proceeded without stopping, only I got confused and directed Kim to the wrong lanes, where the vehicles are inspected. "Didn't you get a green light?", the officer asked. I mumbled "Yes..." feeling an asshole, and he then told us he just couldn't let us go without inspecting the car (there were cameras all around), and after a 30-second search he waved us good-bye. A little later, at the second point of inspection, the Mexican soldiers just looked at us and gestured a "go ahead". Viva Mexico, cabrones!

The rest of the trip went without any incidents and we arrived in Monterrey in the early hours of the night. We picked up Rodolfo and then had dinner at a very traditional restaurant, where Kim was able to taste the cabrito -- the famous dish of my hometown. There was a mariachi band in the place, whose leader politely asked if we wanted a few songs sung at our table, just for us.
And yes, they came and sang Puño de Tierra, Motivos, and Mexico Lindo y Querido. "Want more?" "No, that's alright, I said. And thank God I said that, because only then the crook informed us that we owed him 450 pesos! I got very angry and complained with the waiter, but it was no use. We had been the victims of a ripoff.
I was very, very upset, but then I decided that it was best to calm down and not allow those idiots to spoil our dinner. After all, the food was excellent and the three of us were having a wonderful time. It had been a long day and it was getting late, so I invited Kim to stay at our house. He accepted and Rodolfo and I were very honored to have him as our guest and did our best to make him feel at home.

The next day I dedicated my second day off to show Kim around: we enjoyed a great view of the city from the top of Hospital Zambrano Hellion, admired the high-rise buildings in San Pedro Garza Garcia, walked the streets of Barrio Antiguo and the Macroplaza in Monterrey and then boarded a boat in Paseo Santa Lucia that took us to the beautiful Parque Fundidora. Rodolfo met us there and then the three of us mounted the elevator that took us to the top of the furnace called Horno 3. What a magnificent view of the city! None of us had visited this attraction before (shame on me!), so it was just as thrilling for the three of us.
The whole day was very cloudy and I resented that Kim had not been able to admire all the beautiful mountains that surround my city, especially the renowned Cerro de la Silla. But I hope he can come again when it's sunny and clear.
Being a tourist guide for Kim made me appreciate all the beauties that Monterrey has to offer and made me look at it with better eyes. Monterrey is very different from other Mexican cities, but it is also beautiful and unique.
Early the following day, Rodolfo and I got ready to go to work while Kim was packing his things to continue to trip. Then we got in the cars and I led the way, with Kim close behind. Soon afterwards, Rodolfo rolled down the window and pointed to the right. I honked the horn and waved him good-bye, feeling the same emotion I had felt so many times at airports and train stations,
seeing off the people I love.