martes, abril 22, 2014

Easter Eve in Garcia

Unlike most people, I don't like to travel during the Semana Santa long weekend. Also, I've been a little tired, bored, and for this reason I had made no plans... until Rodolfo asked Saturday morning "Aren't we going to go out somewhere"?
I had thought of Bustamante, a little village in the northern part of my state where there are caves, a natural spring, a canyon and other sites of interest. But I've never been there and, since it's located in the north, very close to Tamaulipas (where violent incidents are now reappearing), I just didn't want to try that route driving my own car. The buses to Bustamante departed very late in the afternoon, so that wasn't a choice.
And then I remembered that we had long been postponing a visit to Garcia, the city right next to Santa Catarina, the place where we live. It used to be a village, and for that reason many people still call it by its original name: "Villa de García". But it has grown so much in recent years that it has been declared a city.
The territory of Garcia is very vast, but only a small part is populated and, like many other little villages, in has a pretty square in the old center, just opposite to the San Juan Bautista church. There are many vast properties in the streets of the old centro, with orchards and lots of tall trees like pecan trees and avocado trees as well. The old houses are big and impressive, and as you drive by you can see the adobe walls surrounding them. It is a pity that many of them have been abandoned and left to decay.
One of this properties, built in 1835, was purchased by Mauricio Fernandez, a wealthy businessman who ran for the Government of the state of Nuevo Leon in 2003, but was defeated; he continued his career as a politician and became the major of San Pedro Garza Garcia in 2009. Between the two campaigns, he had the house restored by architect Jorge Loyzaga who maintained the original style of the construction. In April 2000 the works were finished and the museum called Museo El Ojo (The Eye Museum) ws opened to the public.
Rodolfo and I first visited the main square of Garcia, where we had some tacos and visited the few stands prepared for that day. In one of them I purchased a nopal beer at $35 MXP, that, according to the woman in charge, was made right there in Garcia. I later found out that it's made in Czech Republic and imported by a company located in Garcia.
It made me remember that, a few weeks ago we visited an interesting market in Monterrey that sells mainly organic produce, non-industrialized food products, and vegetarian dishes,and I was surprised to find there two or three varieties of Don Ramiro, a brand of wine that is proudly produced in Garcia, Nuevo Leon. There will be a grape harvest festival in June which I will not miss.

Museo El Ojo shows the collection that was reunited by Televisa on occasion of the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was the first exhibition of Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, composed of ceramic pieces from Oaxaca, Jalisco, Estado de Mexico, Puebla, and Michoacan. Well, it seems that Mr. Fernandez purchased that collection and, together with some other works of his property, put it on display at Museo El Ojo in order to promote art in Garcia.
After a short visit to the piece of land that I purchased a few years ago (it's only that, a small piece of land, but I have some plans for the future...) we headed to Grutas de Garcia, the striking caves inside the mountain called Cerro del Fraile, which reportedly were formed between 50 and 60 million years ago.
Normally, we would use the cable car to reach the entrance of the caves, but the place was packed (well, this is really an understatement) because of the holidays (holy days) and we would have to wait close to two hours for our turn. So we had no option but to climb the mountain... fortunately I like exercise and I'm not too overweight.
I've visited these caves several times in my life, so I can't say that I was much impressed. But Rodolfo was, it was his first time and though he was a little tired and the crowd made the tour very slow, he enjoyed it a lot.
After the caves, we returned to the main plaza anticipating a great meal at Icamole restaurant: flour tortillas, fresh hand-made corn tortillas, and a variety of typical dishes of the region, all of them delicious. But, much to my surprise and disappointment, it was closed. This is another reason that will make me come back to Garcia.








domingo, abril 20, 2014

La Tragedia de la Familia Botero (A Mí Me Has Puesto Una Celada)

Hace ya algún tiempo me desvelé viendo por televisión la impactante película mexicana "Principio y Fin" (1993), dirigida por Arturo Ripstein y basada en la obra del premio nobel egipcio Naguib Mahfouz. La adaptación cinematográfica estuvo a cargo de Paz Alicia Garciadiego, talentosa esposa de Ripstein.
Recuerdo que había encendido la TV buscando quedarme dormido viendo unas cuantas imágenes, pero este largometraje (188 minutos) me cautivó desde las primeras escenas, y aunque ya hacia el final el cansancio después de un largo día prácticamente me vencía, sencillamente no podía dejar de verla.

Hace un mes vi que en cierta tienda tenían a la venta el DVD de la película, pero no lo compré. No obstante, luego descubrí que un tema musical que me gusta no existe más que en esta cinta, de modo que decidí volver por ella. Y una vez ahí me invadió la desesperación al no encontrarla, pues recordé que sólo había un ejemplar... afortunadamente la descubrí en un pequeño anaquel de remates, rebajada a un precio ridículo. Por supuesto, la compré inmediatamente y ahora es una selecta integrante de mi colección.
La historia de "Principio y Fin" retrata la vida de los Botero, una familia mexicana de clase media baja a partir de la muerte del padre, suceso que los deja al borde de la ruina, pues el hombre no dejó herencia alguna por no haber ahorrado nunca, y al haber sido un empleado de muy bajo nivel y sin reconocimiento legal toda su vida, tampoco alcanzó el derecho a una pensión.
Ante el desamparo y la miseria que se avecina, la viuda doña Ignacia (Julieta Egurrola) muestra una férrea entereza y en un acto de desesperación decreta que será el hijo menor Gabriel (Ernesto Laguardia) quien saque adelante a todo el clan, de modo que el Guama (Alberto Estrella), Nicolás (Bruno Bichir) y Mireya (Lucía Muñoz) deberán sacrificar sus sueños y aspiraciones y ponerse a trabajar muy duramente para costear no sólo los estudios de Gabito, sino un tren de vida que le permita estar a la par de sus adinerados compañeros universitarios.
Nico y Mireya obedecen dócilmente, pero el Guama, la oveja negra de la familia, se resiste, pues nunca ha trabajado. Y sin importar que haya sido el consentido, doña Ignacia le pide que si no va a aportar dinero mejor se vaya de la casa. Desconcertado y dolido, acude al Polvorón (Ernesto Yáñez), quien accede a emplearlo como cantante y saca-borrachos en la cantina-prostíbulo TíoVivo de su propiedad.
Aunque a su muerte el señor Botero no les dejó dinero a sus hijos, sí les heredó su pasión y conocimiento de la música clásica, especialmente de las óperas, y es precisamente esta herencia la que sirve al Guama para subsistir, en tanto que a Gabriel le permite ganarse la amistad y simpatía del rector de la universidad, quien lo remomendará para que obtenga una muy ansiada beca.
A medida que se desarrolla la trama, el riguroso plan de doña Ignacia para salvar del naufragio a la familia Botero la dirige precisamente hacia el desastre; la presión de conseguir más y más dinero, a costa de renunciar al amor, a vivir su propia vida, hace mella en Nico, Mireya y el Guama. Se  pensaría que las cosas son más fáciles para Gabito, pero la presión por ser la salvación del clan es extenuante.
Presas del desamor, el abuso, el sometimiento, la injusticia y el maltrato en todas sus formas, las vidas de los hermanos Botero son arrastradas irremisiblemente hacia un trágico final.


La Celada

Veneno enrarecido en la noche son tus ojos

Cual  perlas con oscuros resplandores

Con ellos me encadenas a tu escote

Me trastorna, me trastorna aquel veneno de tus ojos

Es que tú a mí, me has puesto una celada

El no poder librarme a tu mirada

Cuando de madrugada me despierto

Anhelo la fragancia de tu cuerpo

Fragancia de jacinto misterioso

Fragancia con sabor a tu mirada

Es que tú, a mí me has puesto una celada

El no poder, el no poder

Librarme a tu mirada.

Letra: Paz Alicia Garciadiego
Música: Lucía Álvarez Vázquez

En una escena de "Principio y Fin", un elegante y seductor Guama interpreta con una recia y viril voz que me encanta el tema "La Celada", una canción que me fascinó desde que escuché los primeros acordes de piano. Su letra melancólica se me quedó dando vueltas en mi cabeza, nunca la había oído y pensé que se trataba de algún antiguo bolero poco conocido.
Sin embargo, las búsquedas que intenté por Internet en los días subsiguientes no arrojaron ningún resultado. Intenté con el título de la canción, parte de la letra, la referencia al título de la película... pero nada. Luego lo olvidé, pero la semana pasada volví a investigar y descubrí que la autora de la letra es Paz Alicia Garciadiego, la guionista y esposa del director, mientras que la música es de Lucía Álvarez Vázquez.
¿Y quién es ella? Pues es una eminente compositora orgullosamente mexicana, Licenciada en Piano y Composición por la Escuela Nacional de Música de la UNAM y ganadora de seis Arieles. Desde sus más tiernos años mostró grandes dotes para la música, y a la fecha ha compuesto innumerables obras, principalmente para películas, obras de teatro y telenovelas, así como solos, cuartetos de cuerda, música de cámara, poemas sinfónicos y otros.
Aparentemente, la canción "La Celada" solamente se puede escuchar en la cinta "Principio y Fin", y es una lástima, estoy seguro de que si se editara comercialmente sería un deleite para muchos oídos. Si desean escucharla busquen "La celada" en Dailymotion , o mejor aún, consigan el DVD de la película.

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.