One of the perks of this house is that it came with cleaning help, once a week, in the form of Ana Maria and her husband Luis. Both Ana Maria and her husband live up the street at the corner of our block and are the head of our Neighborhood Watch and our command post. They feel it is their job to watch out for all the neighbors who live here, and their family helps in this effort along with their dog Negra. We are so blessed to have them.
I enjoy the afternoons when they spend a few hours with us, helping us with basic cleaning and garden work, because I get to speak with them about the history of this place. Luis is originally from the lake and Ana Maria moved here 26 years ago when she and Luis married. Most of the local history is spoken...and is handed down from one generation to another via spoken word...not much has been written, so to have the opportunity to hear local stories is double-plus-good.
Yesterday's topics of discussion were Jack Fruit and legends of the lake. As we swept and cleaned, both Ana Maria and Luis noticed the huge fruit on the kitchen counter and asked what it was. I only knew a bit about Jack Fruit because I had You Tube'd a few videos on how to cut and eat the fruit, that same morning.
On our way back from Puerto Vallarta last week, we stopped at one of the beautiful fruit stands along the highway to purchase some produce and picked up a Jack Fruit, thinking originally that it was a huge Guanabana. When the saleswoman said it was Jack Fruit, I remembered that my friend Debra had brought some of the fruit to work once for us to sample...and the taste was so unique...so why not bring our own Jack Fruit home? The fruit still had a few days to ripen, so we let it fragrantly mature on the kitchen counter. From the aroma, I decided that today would be a good day to cut it open and eat the fruit.
Luis, not being a fan of Guanabana, decided to pass on tasting the Jack Fruit, but Ana Maria and I dug right in...and the taste was just as exotic and delicious as the first time I tried it years ago. Only this time I had the rubbery, Jack Fruit remnants on my hands. The aroma stayed with me throughout the day.
So while we feasted and cleaned, Ana Maria told me stories of the lake and the mountains. It seems that in the early 1950's a science team was sent from China to visit the lake and investigate it as a sight for future investments. The popular idea was to turn it into some sort of resort/Disneyland for tourist. While scuba diving in the lake, the scientist searched for the bottom. While diving, they saw a murkiness that surprised them, and realized that there was oil leaking from the bottom of the lake. Just as they were investigating, a huge pair of white eyes startled them and they saw an enormous mass, the body of a huge dragon that had been still, suddenly move. Fearing for their lives, they desperately swam to the surface, never to return for fear of the dragon in the lake. According to folklore, the dragon ensures that the lake never needs water. The dragon somehow makes sure that water continually flows to the lake, even in dry seasons. This is the belief.
Wonderfully entertained, and done with our chores, I said goodbye to Ana Maria and Luis. Ana Maria had a birthday comida to attend, it being her cousin's birthday...and she was anxious to gather with her family to celebrate.
Brad and I spent the afternoon at home and then attended a choral recital last night at the Centro Cultural Gonzalez Gallo, the old train station turned culture center in Chapala. The choral festival is happening throughout the state and is entitled "Jalisco Canta" and last night's performance was part of this statewide endeavor. The choral group, Camerata Coral, is a 16 member choir from Puerto Rico. Their repertoire was beautiful, a historical sweep through their country's rich heritage and history told in song. The director was classically trained, and the group very talented and enjoyable to watch and hear. And the best part of the concert was that it was free, open to the public, so the crowd was mostly Mexican, with a few ex-pats thrown in for good measure.
As is so often the case here, we sat next to Bob, a gentleman who has lived in the area for over 40 years now, originally from Manhattan. His wife is a choral director and she had invited him to attend the concert. Bob is a lovely, warm, older gentleman who took a fast liking to us, generously telling us his story, all the while stroking my arm or touching Brad's shoulder. As we left I noticed that he had his arm around Brad's waist, saying goodbye...or "hasta pronto"...since we will undoubtedly be running into he and his wife soon somewhere in the area. This is how life happens here.
We will have many more splendid evenings here...I'm sure of this and told Brad the same.
May your evenings be splendid where you are.
Fco. y Brad