It was a great day here in Mexico. It’s Friday and Lent so the usual breakfast choices didn’t present themselves. But it was a run morning which really makes a non-issue of the breakfast thing as I typically fuel up on run mornings with a single tamale. But then again it’s Lent, so spicy tamales verde was out so I had to settle for a meatless sweet tamale. But the good news was there was hot pinole de pina to wash it down with which turned out to have been an extraordinarily tasty beverage.

Pinole is pre-Hispanic, it dates back to the Aztecs. It is a lot like cream of wheat or oatmeal – but thinner – only  made from the indigenous ground corn. It is typically flavored with sugar, cinnamon, and/or vanilla but pinole de pina is different in that it is flavored with fresh pineapple juice. Wow was it good.

After finishing breakfast on the street, I then headed straight up the hill from the Mercado to see one of my bag designers as to kick off another version of the tote that another designer and I had been working on. It was a productive 5 minutes. Lupita is a pro and is one of those rare individuals that gets the job done without having to ask a lot of stupid, redundant or otherwise unproductive questions. (The world would be a far better place if it had more people like her in it).

On the 3 block walk home from her place I stopped to say hello to my favorite tiny parrot, Mateo and then further down the street, stuck my head into a neighbor lady’s open front door – her kitchen – as she had entreated me to stop as to tell me that she was making posole rojo tomorrow. The small kitchen was packed with 3-4 kids, 2 moms, the cook and an old man who invited me to join him for breakfast. I declined but got to tickle a baby girl’s tummy and tease her only slightly older sister who smiled shyly but waved a cute little adios when I left.

When I got home I changed my cargo shorts into running shorts, and my Colombiano sandals into a pair of my handmade leather and airplane tire running sandals. Then grabbed a bottle of water and headed down the street to catch the combi-bus which would take me out into the farming valley east of town.

Hot sun and a cool breeze made for a pleasant shirtless run. I stopped to chat with Octavio, a caballero who was curiously without his horse – the legendary horse with no name – and was piloting an old beat up Nissan truck instead. And then later down the road I stopped and had a nice conversation with Luis, a young vaccaro tending his herd, who was as usual adoringly followed by his 5 cow dogs. For the first time ever a couple of them came over to be petted. This was much in relief to other times where one in particular had made teeth-bared aggressive lunges for my ankles.

On my combi ride back in I tried to explain to my driver that the big-headed bird perched on the power line over the canal was a Kingfisher – Rey de Pescador (I guess that’s how you’d say it in Spanish) – and was not as he was trying to insist a carpenteria (woodpecker). It was a friendly exchange in that we know each other to the extent that he drops me off in front of my house, I know how many kids he has (2 boys), and that he has been helpful over these last couple of years with my Spanish.

Speaking of which. After I sluiced off on the terrace, I re-dressed in reverse swapping running shorts and sandals back into my other shorts and sandals. I took a friendly lunch in the Mercado eating well on Lilia’s fish fillets in a sweet spicy tomato sauce before heading across the plaza to drop in on my friend, Manolo; not so much to see him but to see one his employees, the lovely Gabriela. At Manolo’s insistence I ended up walking to the bank with her – which turned out to be across town – and in the doing had my first real in depth conversation with her.

I understood her and she understood me. The conversation was fluid and effortless. And she positively delighted me when I asked her the name of a large blue flowering tree and she actually knew the name of it. I told her that not a single other person that I had asked knew the name of that tree. She smiled and kind of said you’re joking, right? Then she then preceded to point out 3 other trees and name them as well.

I struggled with the next few words while trying to say we should all know more about our environment and she correctly stepped in and said ‘flora and fauna’ (which turns out to be the same in Spanish and English). I was very pleased. She is disarmingly simple, polite, thoughtful, ungirlish (yet feminine), wears no discernible makeup, has beautiful cafe-au-lait skin, bright shining eyes, dazzling smile, slim and neat and is just all around what appears to be a pretty amazing woman.

As I said, it was a great day here in Mexico…