Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sanding walls.

Eziquio, Jesus and Franciso are construction workers. Their faces have become familiar over time. They have been building a house next to my moms for three years, yes! Three long years of agony, listening loud noises and dealing with dust, since the demolition of the previous home. The new house is huge! I hope they finish soon but I'm going to miss them when they leave. They have witnessed how the health of mom has declined and therefore they asked discretely how's her health in numerous times. I though it was nice they did that. 

Yesterday I sketched them sanding by hand the quarry stone wall that faces the street.

A5 Hand.Book, pen, ink and watercolor.

I asked them why don't they use electrical equipment. It seemed like my inquiries reflected my urgency for this home work to be over. They told me they did it already to the interior walls made of the same material. It turned out that the tool was so abrasive that left the walls' surface uneven and with marks, that's why they were doing it by hand. They asked me if they could buy a copy of my sketches to keep them as souvenirs. Of course I did prints of my sketches for free. My models don't pay. 

A5 Hand.Book, pen, ink and watercolor.

I really liked the corduroy jacket that Francisco was wearing, it's the first time I try to draw such fabric. My favorite part was his shoes, dusted aqua color shoes, but I really took a good close-up to figure out the color and color them as new. It's hard, after all, to find a construction worker with such fashionable color shoes!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mom's minigarden

A5 Hand.Book, pen, ink and watercolor.

I'm having mix feelings lately about mom, happiness and sadness. Walking around her house I find things that she used to do and not anymore due to health issues. I thought I would record this little Eden. I made it look nicer than it is, but to me anything related to my beloved mother it's beautiful just because it's hers. She planted these plants in these little pots and the one behind. She has a green thumb you see. I don't know where she got that little frog that many of you seem to like, and the little sign "My Garden" was a gift from my husband to her. She cannot take care of her creations anymore. Someone else does it. As long as this Eden is alive I will treasure it, and so this sketch.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Real de Catorce Mexico Part 5 of 5. The people.

The people of Real de Catorce is humble and friendly. Maricela works at Meson de la Abundancia, highly recommendable hotel. That evening she was making some floral center pieces at the bar for the  dining tables of the restaurant, made with fresh flowers, roses in deep color peach and small yellow ones. She was enjoying a friendly conversation with the barman Rodrigo, who seemed to be aware of me sketching him and moved away. I think I made him uncomfortable. Maricela’s attitude towards visitors was friendly and polite. She always had a smile on her face. She seemed to be always doing something and best of all, she looked happy doing her job. We enjoyed the flowers arranged in little green pots made of clay during several meals. To Maricela and Rodrigo, we enjoyed meeting you both. 

A5 Sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolor.
Benito Ramirez Tovar is a stableman and it was our tour guide to Cerro el Quemado. We met at the bridge Puente de Jesus, built in 1894, now Zaragoza Bridge. He brought his three horses Travieso (Naughty), Gorrion (Sparrow) and Duvalin (a brand name of the 70’s, a chocolate and vanilla marble soft candy), the best fed horses in town. Benito was extremely thoughtful and patient with us. He helped us in any possible way. His knowledge in the area and the Wixaritari Indians made our experience one of the best we ever had with local people. Next day we ran into him by a grocery store, we greeted each other and asked him to join us for dinner. He accepted. That evening we met his family Margarita and his two sons Angel and Alexander. We talked about horses among other subjects. They told us how they got Travieso, the most beloved one. They got a mare they didn't know it was pregnant, yes I wondered the same that you wonder now. She was in bad health when they bought her. Few weeks later Travieso was born. He is a handsome healthy horse, taller than the horses in Real de Catorce. The native horses have shorter legs and are perfect for walk / ride the rocky hills. Travieso on the other hand had a native mare and a purebred father. He grew so handsome someone wanted to buy it when the prices of horses rose but they rejected the good offer and kept Travieso. Prices of horses were once affordable for the people of Real de Catorce. Then a long drought came and the horses started to die or become unhealthy, they ate grass in the hills, you see. That's when prices dropped and horses started to sell by dozens at a time for a cheap price, for a certain industry, I was told. The few lucky horses that remained in town gained their weight back when the rain returned to Real de Catorce, and the prices of horses rose. Benito and Margarita, his wife, made the right decision. They kept Travieso, the beloved horse that grew up with their kids.   

Benito Martinez Tovar
Stableman and guide tour
Cel phone +52 1(488) 111 2944
Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

We talked about that among other subjects. We had a wonderful relaxed dinner. Because he is the best, I highly recommend Benito. He authorized me to post his cell phone number to be contacted in case anyone who comes by this lands is interested in his services. I'm thrilled we came to Real de Catorce, where local people who didn't leave town, stayed and still live in the town they love, offering their services to make it a better place. Real de Catorce is denominated as Pueblo Magico, it is indeed a place where its people make it magical.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Real de Catorce Mexico Part 4 of 5. Wirikuta

Wixaritari Indians, or Huicholes as we the rest of us call them, have a ceremonial center outside Real de Catorce, up in the hills they call Wirikuta. For Wixaritari it’s a sacred land, they believe it is the center of the universe. They march from the states of Nayarit and Jalisco for about 43 days every year to perform a ceremony  and come to this place to make offerings to their Gods. Just because it is not well known it doesn't mean it lacks importance. For them this place is like the Vatican to Catholics or Mecca to Muslims. Given the importance for this tribe, the state government has protected this area declaring it the Wirikuta Reserve.  

There are tours to Cerro El Quemado (Burnt Hill) where the Wirikuta ceremonial center is located, and it is accessible only on horseback from Real de Catorce. This is not the route the wixaritari follow. This road is for us the curious tourists who crave to satisfy our thirst of adventure. This is Cerro El Quemado.

I’m posting a photo instead of a sketch. During the ride there, my survival instinct completely overshadow my determination to sketch this trip. My hands gripped the head of the chair, I was in fact gripping my body and soul to the noble horse. -Just trust the horse- I told myself constantly during our way up there. Over an hour later we reached the top, the reward was incredible. The amazing view left us breathless. And there it was, the Wirikuta Ceremonial Center which consisted in 4 circles formed with stones. Each one had an opening that means an entrance for the Wixaritari. Benito, our guide, explained the way we should enter the circles and so we did. Once in the center we tried to ignore the music of the radio that a family who reached the top brought with them, despite our hopes to find the place empty, since it was the low season. Each of us prayed and thanked the Wixaritari Gods, we stood there respectfully for about 5 minutes in silence, aware of our own existence and the noise of the radio disappeared. It was brief spiritual moment. 

Benito knew I wanted to sketch. He insisted in me making a sketch. It took me only 15 minutes, including the coloring. It's the only sketch I did that day, but it was meaningful. Ahead, another 70 minutes of ride were waiting for us. The next day, to sit would be a challenge. Click here to read part 5.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Real de Catorce Mexico Part 3 of 5. Transportation.

There are horses and few old Jeep Willys in Real de Catorce. Bob and I had to choose between these two means of transportation to take a tour. I asked at the hotel if this Willy was in used for tours but they said it is only available to transfer guests between the bus station and the hotel. I saw some others Willys in town, but I liked this one because it was next to cafe tables and chairs outside the hotel. I always try to find myself comfortable when sketching since you never know how much time a sketch is going to take, am I the only one who thinks that way? 

A5 Sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolor.

Right across the street from my cafe table there was a group of men peeling and eating peanuts. Turns out that this men were stablemen who offer tours on horse. Bob and I chose the horses since it is the only way to go to the Cerro el Quemado (Burt Hill) which I'll talk about in my next post. We met Benito Martinez Tovar, a stableman native of Real de Catorce. He was our guide and became our friend. Benito told us there are around 52 stableman in Real de Catorce. Each stableman has two or three horses, which makes a population of over a hundred horses for such a small town. Stablemen belong to an association and have to be accredited/certified to work as a guide tour. They have rules, like it is mandatory to wear hat, long sleeve shirt, boots and show their I.D. During weekends Real de Catorce is packed with visitors and there are not enough stableman to satisfy the demand, but during week days, they are more relaxed, like shown in the image below. Well, an advice for my dear travelers, if you like to visit a ghost town that feels like a ghost town, avoid coming on weekends or holidays. Click here to read part 4.

A5 Sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolor.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Real de Catorce Mexico Part 2 of 5. The cemetery.

A5 AMI Sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolor.
Bob and I arrived an afternoon. We walked to the furthest part of town which is the cemetery. It’s divided in the new cemetery use today by its population and the old cemetery which has graves from the late 1800’s. The two cemeteries are divided by a chapel devoted to the Virgen of Guadalupe. Inside we could see there were left some balloons from the festivities of December 12, date in which the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated. 

A5 AMI Sketcthbook, pen, ink and watercolor.
A curious fact about the chapel is that there are graves blocking the entry path to the chapel. Bob and I had to skip the graves carefully to not step on the graves and to keep our balance! Once we reached the chapel we sat on the steps of the entry looking away downhill. We loved the magnificent view of the hills and the faraway Altiplano valley. 
Click here to read part 3.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Real de Catorce Mexico Part 1 of 5. A ghost town.

Lanzagorta Street. A4 Moleskine, pen, ink and watercolor.

Real de Catorce is a town located in the highest hills of the state of San Luis Potosí in México. In 1700’s this town produced enough silver to become one of the most important towns then. It reached the splendor of big cities and its citizens wanted to match the luxury. It had a hospital, a theater, fashion stores, a rooster fighting ring that Mexicans call Palenque, and a bull fighting ring as well, even its own Mint. 

Mint Museum. Made in 2013. A5 Fabriano block, pen, ink and watercolor. 

When gold became valuable, silver lost its value and all the mines in the area closed. Most of its inhabitants left the town and it became a ghost town. In the 90’s the Mexican government designated this town as Pueblo Mágico and now the main income for the population left  comes from tourism. 

A5 Sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolor.

Real de Catorce was so inaccessible that the town remains in its original state. It’s a live snapshot of the past. The newest construction is the tunnel which was an old mine that goes through a hill to reach the town. It was open to the public in early 1900’s. It’s 2.3 km long and wide enough for one car only, so two persons remain at both ends of the tunnel and communicate by radio to control the traffic. They charge $ 20 MXP to cross the tunnel to come into the town. The day we left we had to cross the same tunnel to get out town. I pasted the ticket of the payment on my sketchbook and sketch this side of the tunnel while we waited our turn for the other cars coming through the tunnel. Click here to read Part 2.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Making up the mess.

A5 Hand.Book, pen, ink and watercolor.
This chimney and others not shown in this view belong to a mining company. For many years people and workers living next to this area complaint about the pollution generated in every possible way, air, soil and water. I myself could felt my lungs itching and caughing during my workouts in a park near this area back in the 80's.The company was closed in the 2000's. It is visually obvious that some changes are happening now. The vast soil is being leveled and covered with round river stones. Part of the design includes some pyramids made with the same finishes, they are quite beautiful. What is a fact is that this company created a small park with a hiking trail. I heard is the initial stage of a huge project, I truly believe they are building a public place, a recreational park to make up all the ecological damage and who knows what else. About time.