Salsa de Piña

When one is cooking in Mexico (or anywhere) it is very handy to have a brother who happens to be a salsa master. While living in Brooklyn, Matthew was making batches of salsa regularly and one of his friends said, "you should seriously bottle this." And they did. The result was The Brooklyn Salsa Company, aka BK Salsa which over the next several years became a foodie favorite and eventually hit the shelves at Whole Foods. Christian and I gave jars of it to our wedding guests.

Despite accolades and a devout following, the company ended up being a labor of love as the margins never paid off to make the enterprise sustainable. Matthew moved on to other projects, got married, left Brooklyn for Los Angeles and continues his work as an actor, something he did all the while serving as CTO (Creative Taste Officer) and Co-Founder at BK Salsa. Looking back again at the write-ups like this one on Forbes.com about BK Salsa and all the photos I'm reminded of how proud I am of him for this and for all his creative endeavors. He's a cool cat.

Matthew texted me this recipe off the top of his head:

"10 tomatillos, raw
half a pineapple
juice of three limes
1 or 2 jalapenos,
half an onion
avocado optional

Blend it up or chop fine."

And I did.

Not knowing my peppers very well, I grabbed a serrano, which gave this batch the best tingly-tongue action ever. 

Some mistakes end up being just right.

Matt added this:

"Replace pineapple with 2 or 3 pomegranates if you can find them for my favorite salsa ever."

It is granadas season. This batch is up next...


Las Tortugas de Sayulita

The kids and I kissed Christian goodbye in the Queretaro airport as he boarded his flight back to Vancouver and we boarded ours to Puerta Vallarta - he will be joining us in a few days after meetings. After driving up the coast and a not-so-quick shop at Mega for provisions, we arrived at our Casa Rubi in Sayulita after dark, tired but happy to hear the waves crashing. We awoke this morning to meet our neighbor, 6-year-old Macy from Bend, who gave us her recommendations for town, including the best paletas (popsicles) at Wa Kiki and the do-not-miss Campemento Tortuguero Sayulita - the Sea Turtle Sanctuary. She proudly told us she herself was a volunteer at the sanctuary and that we should definitely go check to see if any Olive Ridley Sea Turtle hatchlings were being released at sunset just down the beach.

I told Xavier and Georgia about the time Christian and I released turtles near Puerto Escondido a few years before they were even born and showed them pictures here on my first travel blog. (The D.H. Lawrence poem about baby turtles is worth reposting - see below). That was one of the best moments in a life of many good moments. 

And here - que milagro! - I got to experience it again with my kids. Xavier was a little nervous after hearing about poachers (part of the reason there is a sanctuary for this threatened species) and Georgia was extremely upset she couldn't hold a baby turtle in her hand (I had told her she might). Regardless, we cheered the tiny turtles on their way with about 30 other people and it was a magical experience, once again.

Xavier wanted to know how the baby turtles knew how to swim and I wasn't sure how to explain about instinct and the marvels of nature other than, well, they just learn by doing it, like we learn to do a lot of things just by trying to do it. This very morning, both of my kids had shouted, "I'm swimming!" in their orange water wings. But to think of them walking directly into the intimidating waves for the first time, all alone, just going for it and not turning back, made me feel awe-struck over these one-day-old turtle hatchlings.

Baby Tortoise

You know what it is to be born alone,
Baby tortoise!
The first day to heave your feet little by little from the shell,
Not yet awake,
And remain lapsed on earth,
Not quite alive.

A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.

To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would never open,

Like some iron door;
To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base
And reach your skinny little neck
And take your first bite at some dim bit of herbage,
Alone, small insect,
Tiny bright-eye,
Slow one.

To take your first solitary bite
And move on your slow, solitary hunt.
Your bright, dark little eye,
Your eye of a dark disturbed night,
Under its slow lid, tiny baby tortoise,
So indomitable.
No one ever heard you complain.

You draw your head forward, slowly, from your little wimple

And set forward, slow-dragging, on your four-pinned toes, Rowing slowly forward.
Whither away, small bird?
Rather like a baby working its limbs,
Except that you make slow, ageless progress
And a baby makes none.

The touch of sun excites you,
And the long ages, and the lingering chill
Make you pause to yawn,
Opening your impervious mouth,
Suddenly beak-shaped, and very wide, like some suddenly gaping pincers;
Soft red tongue, and hard thin gums,
Then close the wedge of your little mountain front,
Your face, baby tortoise.

Do you wonder at the world, as slowly you turn your head in its wimple
And look with laconic, black eyes?
Or is sleep coming over you again,
The non-life?

You are so hard to wake.

Are you able to wonder?
Or is it just your indomitable will and pride of the first life
Looking round
And slowly pitching itself against the inertia
Which had seemed invincible?

The vast inanimate,
And the fine brilliance of your so tiny eye,

Nay, tiny shell-bird,
What a huge vast inanimate it is, that you must row against,
What an incalculable inertia.

Little Ulysses, fore-runner,
No bigger than my thumb-nail,
Buon viaggio.

All animate creation on your shoulder,
Set forth, little Titan, under your battle-shield.

The ponderous, preponderate,
Inanimate universe;
And you are slowly moving, pioneer, you alone.

How vivid your travelling seems now, in the troubled sunshine,
Stoic, Ulyssean atom;
Suddenly hasty, reckless, on high toes.

Voiceless little bird,
Resting your head half out of your wimple
In the slow dignity of your eternal pause.
Alone, with no sense of being alone,
And hence six times more solitary;
Fulfilled of the slow passion of pitching through immemorial ages
Your little round house in the midst of chaos.

Over the garden earth,
Small bird,
Over the edge of all things.

With your tail tucked a little on one side
Like a gentleman in a long-skirted coat.

All life carried on your shoulder,
Invincible fore-runner.

~ D.H. Lawrence



One of the best things about traveling is finding out about new places to travel. Guanajuato wasn't even on my radar and yet it gained UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1988, has a pedestrian-only city center, a funicular, one of the best universities in all of Mexico and happens to be an hour bus-ride from San Miguel. We fell in love with all the little plazuelas during our three-day stay. Georgia has taken up pigeon-chasing and Xavier played footbal in the streets. I just wanted to stroll, people-watch, drink jugo verde in the cafes and pretend to be a student again.




with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

~ W.S. Merwin


Murals of San Miguel de Allende

One of our favorite things to do in San Miguel is finding murals. A few favorites...

At the Bellas Artes:

At the Instituto Allende:

At the Biblioteca Publica (done by the same artist as above, but after he'd been to the coast and tried peyote):

In the Children's Room at the Biblioteca Publica:

Inside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel:

Outside Fabrica Aurora:

And at the playground at Parque Juarez:


El Dia De Los Muertos

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende just in time for El Dia de los Muertos. I love how death is viewed here in Mexico and embraced as part of life. What may seem macabre is actually an ancient Aztec ritual melded with Catholic traditions which has evolved into a three day party for people to honor and spend time with their departed loved ones (the Aztecs set aside a whole month for these festivities). Family history is passed down, elaborate altars are made and friends and family are reminded to live life to the fullest. Marigolds, the flowers of the dead, are everywhere and decorate arches for the deceased to pass through to return to this world. Families set out photographs and offer the favorite drinks, foods, sweets and possessions of their dead - these ofrendas are remembering spaces. We saw one ofrenda with a photo of the band Kiss and when we asked about it, the daughters laughed merrily and told us their father loved their music. People dress up as Catrina, Lady Death and her male escort, Catrine and stroll the streets. We've enjoyed the fireworks, mariachi bands, stilt-walkers, sugar skull peddlers and face-painters for the past two days and today, November 2nd, we will go to the cemeteries with everyone else in town.

True Love Never Dies
(For when I'm dead)

Please come play at my grave site,
oh how I love annual parties
and now that I'm dead
this one most of all.
Let's celebrate all the things
we love in this life: family,
friends, romance, toasts, food,
laughter, nostalgia, memories,
everything, everything!
Let's talk about every single moment
I was alive and savor each one.
Bring a picnic and armfuls of flowers,
light candles, sing, chat,
tell stories, read poems,
look through photo albums, see my
many loved ones with me
when I was young and beautiful,
and here when I was old
and elegant, all my
grand babies in my lap.
Bring cold bottles of champagne
and hot chocolate in thermoses.
Laugh until you cry as you take
turns doing impersonations of me.
Snuggle children, hang out,
wrap yourselves in blankets,
be comfortable and happy.
Write in my commonplace book -
may there always be blank pages
for jotting notes, love letters, quotes
to add to our conversation into eternity.
Light more candles,
open more champagne
Stay all night long and please
come again next year.

Enjoy and live life!