Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

8.15 a.m. A loud cicada zinging like a high wire, a squirrel gnawing, my fingers pattering, and that's it for noise. For now. No, my stomach growling too. Breakfast is needed.

Now that it's winding down, I have to say - this has been a perfect summer. Just hot enough, with tons of rain for the garden, which still looks spectacular. There has been a bit of travel and a great deal of time for creative work, which for a freelance writer is what holidays from paid work are for. On second thought, no, it hasn't been perfect - I didn't get into the country or the wilderness at all, no Ontario lakes, no cottage, no hikes. My own inner-city garden has provided the tranquil vista.

But mostly - there has been a small sun-browned body to watch enjoying what summer offers. Yesterday, his mother took both of us to Sunnyside Pool, which is newly refurbished, an enormous sparkling facility on the edge of the lake. And our little man, now 15 months old, spent an hour flinging himself from the edge of the pool into the waiting arms of two women and seducing many others - so many stop to watch him and exclaim, He's adorable! He's also brave and fearless. He'd pull himself out of the water, stand for a minute and then fly. You have to watch him every second, said his mother. I realized why she is so good at this job - because she is very relaxed and yet vigilant. She lets him take risks, much more than I ever did as her mother, but she is always there to make sure the consequences are never too serious.

So we splashed and floated and then went to the nearby café for lunch overlooking the beach. Summer.  I realized then why I started to get fit at the age of 40. It wasn't that I was newly divorced and needed something to fill the hole left by the end of my marriage, no. It was that I knew, somewhere, that in two decades an extremely energetic and strong young person would be born and need a relatively strong and energetic grandma. And here we are.

Spent last night reading Neil Gaiman's new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane cover to cover, after the library kindly made it available. I've only read Coraline of his other books, years ago, finding it absolutely gripping. And this one is too - I could not put it down. Shades of Harry Potter, yes, especially in the dementor-like hunger birds, and also, like those books, perfect for mature child readers and immature adult readers. What Gaiman does so well is portray the horror of a child dealing with adults who are not what they seem. The most devastating scene in the book is not where the 7-year old hero is dealing with mythic, primeval hauntings, but where his own father punishes him blindly and cruelly. Horrifying. In the powerful climactic scene, the narrator says:

"I saw the world I had walked since my birth, and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger."

Made me think, of course, about my own book, and whether I have granted my child narrator the true depth of her fear and pain. Not sure that I have. Neil Gaiman rams that child's reality right into you. And - as perhaps I have mentioned, not that it matters or anything - he's cute, too.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

details about my memoir classes

Remember the poet Mary Oliver's words:
"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it."
If you want help learning how to tell about it, my memoir classes start soon. 
True to Life at Ryerson, CWWR 336 - first level, starts Monday September 9, 6.30 to 9.15 for 9 weeks.
True to Life 2, the advanced level, CWWR 436, for those who have worked with me before, starts Tuesday September 10, same time, also 9 weeks. 
For those who are free during the day, Life Stories begins at the University of Toronto on Tuesday October 1, 12.30 to 3 for 8 weeks. 
Links from this website under Teaching. 


Raccoon feet! All over my new deck sofa!
 Eating at the beach restaurant with Mr. Hummus, who eats it with a spoon. And his entire face.
A real beach! In Toronto! But you can't swim.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

reading about writing

First, and most importantly, thanks to Chris Cameron for pointing out that Peter Piper picked a PECK of pickled peppers, not a pint. Once, children, a "peck" was a meaningful measurement. In England, they still use stones for weight; one stone = 14 pounds. Crazy folk.

Spent hours today reading on the computer - which I spend so much time doing, it's a miracle I ever read on paper any more, but I do that too. "Creative Non-fiction" is a mag that comes out of the U.S. both on-line and on paper, founded and edited by Lee Gutkind who has been called the father of creative non-fiction, or at least the founder of the name.

Read a quote from writer Tim Bascomb that hit me where it hurts, relating it to my 74,000 word book, which I think is too long but don't know how to cut:

While a fiction writer may need to invent from scratch, adding and adding, the essayist usually needs to do the opposite, deleting and deleting. As a result, nonfiction creativity is best demonstrated by what has been left out. The essay is a figure locked in a too-large-lump of personal experience, and the good essayist chisels away all unnecessary material.
One helpful way to understand this principle of deletion is to think of the essayist looking through a viewfinder to limit the reader’s focus. The act of framing a selected portion of raw experience from the chronological mess we call “life” fundamentally limits the reader’s attention to a manageable time and place, excluding all events that are not integrally related. What appears in the written “picture,” like any good painting, has wholeness because the essayist was disciplined enough to remove everything else.
Aaagh! Not disciplined enough to cut what's not integrally related!
And here's a quote from another writer about the importance of editors. I'll post soon to tell you about my classes, and this is a good description not just of an editor, but of a writing teacher.
When you’re writing long stories, involved stories—stories that feel like a real investment—your editor has to wear so many hats to help get you through. My editors are filters, reporting coaches, therapists, cheerleaders, sounding boards, hecklers, and apparitions in my sleep. They’re also plain old editors. And I need editing. I want to be edited. I think if you aspire in your writing, if you’re striving for something, then you almost always will go too far and need someone to bring you back.
So that's it, it's not that I'm undisciplined, it's that I am striving for something and have gone too far. I like that explanation better. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

summer going going ...

A moment of contrasts - it's 7 p.m., dark and cool with torrential rain, and my mouth is on fire. Picked some peppers - not a pint, not even close, and not pickled, but my own peppers from the garden, red and green, to have in my salad at dinner. Luckily I discovered that the red one was not just red but red hot before I bit into it. I removed every bit from the bowl, but my mouth and nose are still steaming. That was one HOT mofo. And there is one MASSIVE rainfall out there right now. Happy garden.

And I am a happy writer. I had planned out the week - re-read, check resource material, cut, re-read. This morning, Kaplan's Law had come into being. I tell my students that you know your manuscript is finished, at least at this stage, when you realize that if you read it once more, you are going to throw up. This morning, that's where I was. So I re-read quickly and gathered the other materials to go with it, threw it all in a plastic bag and cycled madly to the xerox place on Parliament to get it copied. (My Cabbagetown neighbour Michael Ondaatje uses this place. Just sayin'.) Closed till September 3. Cycled to the Ryerson copy place on Gerrard. Closed forever. Is this a plot? Is God telling me to rewrite? I found a place a couple of blocks further and left it there. He did a lousy job but he did it - copied its nearly 300 pages. I tried to straighten it up at home and made it worse. Wrote a cover letter, got it in the plastic bag again, rushed to the post office, got it addressed and sent special delivery to New York for the massive sum of $33. Because it weighs 3 pounds. 74, 000 words. My poor agent.

That was the day. By 5.30 p.m., I was on the deck with a very large glass of rosé. It's like the Tour de France - you train and train, which is the research and the first drafts, and then the actual race begins, which is the later stages. So this feels like the early stage of the Tour de France. Then we climb hills and fight to stay in the race, as the next bit unravels - the agent isn't interested, or he is but there are problems etc.

As I write, my mouth and nose are still on fire and I didn't eat a bite of the pepper - this is just from bits being in the salad bowl! I'm proud of my peppers. Even as I run screaming in the other direction.

More good news today. My student Odette Foronda came this morning to give me a copy of her just out self-published memoir.
In the Philippines, Odette was a highly educated Vice-President and actuary of a large firm with 500 employees. When she got to Canada, she could not find a job at the same level or even close, and now works at L'Arche Toronto as their accountant. She's incredibly accomplished and hard-working, so she set out to write her story with the same focus and stamina. And she did. It's a beautiful, heart-breaking book about her life, incorporating the political upheaval in her country and her own brave struggles. She wrote the book for her 4 children and her grandchildren, but I'm sure it will have a life outside her family. I was moved to see that I'm the first dedicatee and that she begins with a quote from my book about writing, which she attributes to me. Only I'm sure I cribbed it from someone else.

We write to send a message to the future and shine a light into the past. Who actually said that?

Brava to you, Odette. And also to Phoebe Wright, who today sent her final project for U of T, an excerpt of a haunting memoir. Phoebe also is a focussed and extremely successful businesswoman, like Odette, who learned the hard way that writing is not like business, and yet achieved her goal.

So - successful students, a productive garden, my own opus stepping out in the world. Time to do the laundry that's been festering since Mexico, to see the Woody Allen and other stuff, to clean up the chaos of paper in this house. Another week and a half of summer, and then it's over.

Had a great summer, thanks.

Monday, August 26, 2013


It's 11.30 p.m.; my neighbour must be away, because her teenagers are in her yard having a party. Oh how the swearing, shrieking and giggles take me back to the dissolute adolescence of my own kids. The horror the horror. The earplugs will be coming out tonight.

It's a good thing I'm not ready for bed yet. Just saw the last episode of "Broadchurch." Amazing, how they turned it from a riveting murder mystery into a deeply moving exploration of love, family, community, loss, perversion, tragedy. Suddenly, a whole new level.

The people who run Showcase the channel, however, on which it appeared, should be tied up with their eyeballs propped open and forced to watch their stream of commercials non-stop for a week or two. It was disgusting; they interrupted the show relentlessly, showing the same shit over and over. The show ended 15 minutes late, there were so many commercials. Shame on you, greedy devils, destroying a work of art like that.

Just had an email from my internet friend Theresa Kishkan - my response system is not working again. She wrote to say, "Yes, rain here too -- and the last episode of "Larkrise to Candleford". (I don't get Miley Cyrus either.)

love that rain

Heaven - it's dark at 10 a.m. and pouring with rain. Great for the garden, and great for the writer who is not tempted by the sun. I missed Buskerfest this weekend, a free music festival on Bloor, have not been to Stratford, have not yet seen "Angels in America" or the new Woody Allen. Just sitting here.

Did, however, take yesterday afternoon off for a barbecue with my extended family - my brother and his wife and son were visiting, and we all went to Anna's. It was a good thing the sun was out and she has a big kid-friendly yard, as there were 4 restless, energetic boys - her son, who's 15 months old, my brother's son, who's 6, my son, who's 29, and my mother's son, who's nearly 60. All needing balls to throw and water to squirt and many, many hamburgers. It was grand.

A brief quiet moment between uncle and nephew.

Sunday morning, I also met a professor from the Department of Jewish Studies at York University, who came down all this way to pick up two large boxes of books. I have finally given away almost all the books I used for research on my Gordin tome. It was hard to see them go, but I hope they'll be useful to a new group of scholars.

And ... last night, the second last episode of "Broadchurch." So exciting! I'd gone on-line and filled in the blanks for the 3 I missed. Such a good show. Before that, watched a few minutes of a truly ghastly show - the MTV awards. Happened to turn it on as Miley Cyrus came on in a bathing suit, bumping and grinding, rubbing her crotch with a giant hand and then ripping off even more of her already nearly invisible costume - I was appalled. What is this world coming to? Do I sound old?

Today's paradise - working, eating, and watching the thrilling finale of "Broadchurch" at 10. A great day for a simple woman with simple tastes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

the joy of work

Woke up this morning to see a raccoon climbing up the ivy on the wall outside my window, going home to bed after a night of marauding. Not in Mexico any more.

The weather is beautiful here in Toronto, though last night, for the first time in weeks, I had to go upstairs in the evening to find warmer clothes - sweatpants and a cardigan. Getting chilly at night. Summer is ... what is it it Joni Mitchell sings? "Winter's comin' in. "And he gets the urge for going' when ..."

Well I'm not going anywhere. I'm working, do not disturb. I spent the whole first day after my return re-reading and going over the notes of the friends who'd read the book. I started to wonder about finding an agent or a publisher, when it's ready. And then I remembered - I have an agent! I have a New York agent, Richard Curtis, a very nice man, a fan of my Gordin book who took me to lunch in NYC and eventually was sorry he could not sell it to a commercial press. He and I did not have any financial dealings, therefore, since I was the one who took it to the University of Syracuse Press. But we've kept in touch.

So I wrote him yesterday, telling him a bit about the memoir and asking if he'd like to see it when it's finished.

He would.

This is real. Giving it to critical friends is one thing; to a New York agent, is another.

So I have a goal - to mail it to him Labour Day. On or thereabouts. I've been down this route before, so I'm not in fairyland. When Richard called me in 2006, telling me he loved my query letter and wanted to read the manuscript, and then that he loved the book and wanted to get a good publisher - well, I thought fame and accolades, and maybe just a bit of financial compensation, were just around the corner. Turned out not to be the case. He may not like it, and if he does, may not be able to sell it. But I have a goal - a pair of interested eyes, a savvy mind. That means a great deal.

My brother, his partner and son are in town, and we are having a family barbecue tomorrow. I must go out and buy groceries, must water the garden. But otherwise, I'm unavailable. Go away.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Neil Gaiman sums up my memoir

Forget Paul McCartney. I have a big crush on this guy.
Only kidding, Paul!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elmore Leonard, Modern Prose Master, Noted For His Terse Prose Style And For Writing About Things Perfectly And Succinctly With A Remarkable Economy Of Words, Unfortunately And Sadly Expired This Gloomy Tuesday At The Age Of 87 Years Old

Can't manage to upload the link, but please copy, paste and open this. It's a hilarious article from the Onion about the death of the great Elmore Leonard.,33559/

back to work

Today, as I walked around, I said a cheerful Good morning to everyone I met. Because I had just been in Mexico, where friendly greetings are automatic. I wonder how long before I lapse into my usual surly, silent, Toronto self.

However, something I was glad to leave behind in Mexico is the necessity to put toilet paper into a bin instead of the bowl.

Something I missed today - the dry heat of Mexico. God, it's muggy here, clammy.

Something I'm glad I missed in Mexico City - an earthquake yesterday morning. This puts to rest my image of myself as a light sleeper. I thought I'd had a restless night, but when in the morning people were talking about the earthquake at 7.30 a.m., 6.1 on the Richter scale, I had no idea what they were talking about! Met the usual fascinating people at the breakfast table, including a young girl, half Japanese and half Mexican, who is studying to make desserts. Desserts are my life, she said. And an American photographer and photography teacher who after a long conversation on the life of the artist went up to his room and brought back a beautiful little book of family photos he'd had printed, that he gave to me. Friends for life, even if we never meet again.

Annie and I heard that many traffic lights were out, so that coupled with the chaos of the teachers' strike made us decide to leave very early for the airport. So of course we got there in record time, no problem at all. One last shopping opportunity, at the airport - but everything was so expensive, we regretted all the chachkas we had not bought at the market. Of course. We used our last money for a shared bottle of water.

Painless flight back - Annie on one side of the aisle and I on the other, chatting like mad when we weren't watching the only decent movie offered by Air Canada, "Pollock," directed by and starring Ed Harris. Gruelling, is the only word. Thank God not all artists are that horrible, even if that supremely talented. Such glorious work; such a dark and damaged man.

We were met by Annie's husband Jim, who led us into the damp, close air. So glad to be home. "The best thing about our vacation," I said to them, "was not seeing Stephen Harper's face for ten whole days." Of course this morning, there he is, plastered on the cover of both papers, with his cold and mealy smile. Yech, as I used to say.

Happy to see my tenant Carol, the cat, the garden, my lovely bed - and the brand new Little Free Library that John built from 100% recycled materials and installed while I was away, which I filled with books that I hope will disappear, to be replaced with others. Happy today to reclaim my bicycle, which means freedom. But most of all, happy to receive an email from Jim, who had read my memoir while his wife and I were away, and who sent the most wonderfully positive report. That gave me the courage to dive in - went out to get the barest minimum needed to survive, rosé and a salmon tourtiere from Daniel and Daniel, and spent the afternoon ignoring all other responsibilities - the watering system which was broken, the plants that needed deadheading, the veggies picking, no no go away - and sat reading and making notes for the rewrite.

If I want to get it out asap, I have to keep at it. So I will. This post to you is my only break. And emailing. And a bit of TV. Jon Stewart, when are you back?

A mi casa

Some of the rooms at the Casa Gonzales.
 The courtyard that greets you as you enter.
 Some of the garden of the Casa Kaplan.
The secret statue who keeps an eye on things.
The new Little Free Library outside my house, with just a few books and a temporary, handmade sign. Two hours later, there were more.
Number one son wearing the Mexican hat I bought for his nephew. Who is considerably younger. And less well decorated.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Last night in Mexico

 He arrived in the little restaurant where we were having lunch and began to play "Yesterday", singing the words phonetically, and then played more Beatles and a few other hits. He calls himself Elvis. I had to give him some money. Yesterday!
 The market was overwhelming. There was such an array of stuff that I bought almost nothing - a shawl. And this is just one little stall in one little market. I'll have to come back.
The cat guarding the virgin.
 It was a huge relief to walk in Viveros Park, filled with cedars and sweet air.
 The yellow restaurant where we had dinner in Coyoacan, overlooking a quiet square. It's a great residential part of the city, filled with artists and young people.
Out of order - Annie in the market.
 MMMM! Margaritas, at last, divine. And Annie's new Mexican ring.
The very long subway ride home. Some stations at night have a cordoned off section for women. This is one, taken quickly as the train came in.

Chris Cameron's piece

I mentioned this in my last post, but here's the link to friend and student Chris Cameron's beautiful piece of writing in the "Globe" today:


Last day in Mexico, and it's chilly and drizzling - not what you'd expect here in August at all. Much warmer in Toronto, I gather. But I've learned always to bring a raincape as I tour this thrilling city. (Left my umbrella in a restaurant the very first night.) They have improved the internet to my room, but right now I'm here in this lovely courtyard, sheltered by the office, smiling and saying "Hola, buenas dias" to everyone who passes by. People are incredibly warm and friendly; it's important always to greet people, even strangers.

Yesterday evening Annie took a rest break and I went to dinner by myself, at a Oaxacan restaurant nearby. I was the only person when I walked in and the only one when I left, with seven waiters hanging anxiously about and the owner too. When I enquired about salads, he put on the salad movie - a slow motion video featuring what is offered there. Mostly, though, I watched the greatest moments of Mexican soccer on the blurry TV in the corner. Soccer is like hockey, only on grass with your head. I had a simple meal with, of course, guacamole, since I can't get enough avocado here - accompanied by a half bottle of something I've never had before, a good Mexican shiraz. Casa Madero. Excellent with guacamole.

Mexico has far fewer tourists everywhere, these days, largely because the American press has painted such a hysterical picture of the gang violence here. There is some, for sure, but its prevalance and effects have been hugely exaggerated. People are suffering. Annie says some long-standing schools teaching Spanish have shut down. An American art teacher at breakfast this morning said that he offered to bring a class from New York to Mexico and no one would come. They wanted Florence. "Too dangerous," they said.

I would not hesitate to come back here. Except that I'd like to take Spanish lessons first.

Note: Annie and I strolled last night, and saw an amazing number of young men holding hands. But I saw it again this morning, so it's not just a night time thing. Amazing in such a macho and very Catholic country. Things are changing.

Now we're off to a market. JOY.

PS. My friend and sometime student Chris Cameron has a superb essay in Facts and Arguments in the "Globe" today, that he wrote for our class. Beautiful writing, thoughtful, moving. I'm happy to see that the comments are all positive and some focus on the quality of the writing. As they should. Highly recommended.


 My outdoor office in the courtyard of the Casa Gonzales
 Modern Mexico City from the Turibus
 Lovely old Mexico City, ditto
 La Plaza de la Constitucion this morning - teachers on strike had camped out overnight
 I could not get through to the Palacio Nacional to see the Diego Rivera murals - and then heard it was closed in any case. Many, many police, hundreds of tents, chaos. School started yesterday.
 The French influence here - this sweet shop could be in Paris.
 There is lots of wonderful street sculpture here, including many benches. This is one.
 The Palacio Belles Artes has a baroque exterior but inside is magnificently deco, marble and brass.
 The elevator doors.
 A café. Can you see the type at the top right?
The exterior.
 Calendars on sale at a news stand on the street.
Along many streets are not just fruit and juice vendors but entire mini-kitchens. This is just outside the hotel.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mexico City

In the courtyard of the Casa Gonzales in the middle of Mexico City - the sky is gloomy, it's chilly and may rain any minute, but the internet doesn't work in the rooms so here I am. Annie and I got up at 5.15 a.m. this morning to catch the 6.30 bus, so wooziness is the word. We have left the sunny flowerland of San Miguel behind.

Had very little energy for touristing, so instead we took the Turibus, an open double-decker that tours the city - spent much of the afternoon alternately baking and cooling as we sailed about - the perfect thing to do when you had to get up at 5.15 after a mostly sleepless night. Some observations:
- Mexican women wear the highest heels I've ever seen, even in San Miguel where the streets were cobbled and treacherous. They hobble and totter about, barely able to walk. But I guess women do that all over the world. Mexican people are in general small - even in very high heels.
- A Canadian presence here - a lot of Sears stores, Ernst and Young, Scotiabank - and there's a Saks Fifth Avenue which now is Canadian, is it not? Street signs urge young people to "estudio en Canada."
- Limes go with everything. There are no lemons in Mexico, apparently at the decree of the King of Spain hundreds of years ago. But limes for days.
- Everyone smokes.
- People here love sushi. A huge billboard for a certain kind: "El sushi la mas Mexicana." The most Mexican sushi. That must mean sushi with lime.

Here comes the rain so it's indoors for me, and then off for dinner and perhaps another margarita. I realize that the one I had in San Miguel was like a slushie. I need the real thing.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Can we stay, por favor?

I get it now. Annie gets it too. We have to leave for Mexico City at dawn tomorrow, and we don't want to. It's easy to understand why people come here for a visit and never leave. It's a gorgeous little town, everything is inexpensive, the Mexican people are accommodating and kind, the food is delicious and cheap, the gringos are very friendly and anxious for company, there are tons of lovely things to buy - silver, leather, tin, embroidered clothing, stunning stuff, hard to resist, though Annie and I have resisted pretty well, a few silver earrings notwithstanding. There are artists everywhere and lots going on musically and artistically - and of course, the climate is perfect. What's not to love? Right now, we're sitting in Jim's garden surrounded by flowers, hummingbirds, birdsong and butterflies, it's blissfully quiet, and we're in heaven.

Though I was awakened at 5.45 a.m. yesterday by what I thought was a nail gun, but it was firecrackers, Jim said, that go off at all hours. Also yesterday, after a day of walking and exploring, Jim and Annie went off to high tea at Barbara's, but I begged off and sat in the silence of the garden photographing butterflies, as you have seen. What spoiled the perfection was the dogs - not just countless dogs barking, but some howling, like wolves. One had such a mournful cry, it hurt to hear it, and I wondered how many are guard dogs, left outside and uncared for.

Now I'm sounding like my mother. "Oh that poor dog!"

And also - there is such a large very elderly population here. We have been discussing health issues a great deal when we run into Jim's friends. We went to an art opening last night and talked about herniated discs. It would drive me crazy.

Anyway, Annie and I both feel uncomfortable, being the privileged oh so white gringos in this beautiful country - but ye gods, it's wonderful to be here. I can only imagine what it must be like in February. Maybe I'll just have to come and give it a try.

Domingo in SMA

 A serious lust for bougainvillea has seized me. Next summer, I'm going to give some a try. They're too beautiful not to.
 We looked around the luxury Hotel Rosewood - how the 1% lives, private cabanas at the back to retire to after a swim or soak (there are about four pools). On the left are two staff tending to two very young women in bikinis. Annie said, "It would make me physically sick to stay in a place like this."
 We went to meet our host Jim who sings in the Anglican choir. Here's the Anglican congregation of SMA after the service, eating doughnuts and drinking coffee under the trees.
 Lunch with new friends Ernie, Jim, and Barbara.
 Lunch. Our waitress made the tomato salsa at the bottom left at the table, with a mortar and pestle and grilled tomatoes. The green things are nopales - cactus leaves. The rest is grilled meat and fish that we rolled into fresh tortillas.
Another hideous crowded street.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

saturday in downtown SMA

 A boy and his father ride to town.
 Annie stops at a street stall and buys a shirt for her husband.
Jim's garden is full of butterflies, orange ones ...
... and black ones.
 A wedding party parades through the streets, proceeded by a burro covered with flowers.
Supper tonight - it looks like a pile of applesauce, but that's a tamarind margarita. We're on a rooftop restaurant with a view of the big church under the moon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

San Miguel and Guanajuato

Click to enlarge...
 Annie on our way into town - a looooong way down
Las casas - the old houses of San Miguel
 the civic theatre
 Spain? Not quite.
 The university
 A fruit stand outside the market - those are cups of pomegranate seeds, figs and green things.
 A Don Quixote sculpture and a tired tourist
Morocco? Not quite. Back in San Miguel.
 The nuns in the church Las Monjas, preparing the flowers
The altar. Those are pink and white roses and lilies, and they hadn't finished yet.