Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Sinko" de Mayo

I traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico summer of '08 for 10 days. It was a great mix of gorgeous, no-humidity-golf with stunning mountain vistas, taking long walks around the old section of the city where I stayed, and poking around towns like Tonala, Tlaquepaque, Ajijic and Lake Chapala with my guide. If you want to golf, off the tourist track, I highly recommend that you contact Chuck Kinder at http://www.golfinmexico.net/ so he can set up your rounds, lessons, hotel and tours. Gringas and gringoes should note that other than "resort golf" there is NO public golf in Mexico and you can't just call and get a tee time or walk on.

I took these pix with my phone...that's my finger in the photo of the little boy next to the chilies. Yeah, National Geographic has not called to hire me.

I took some breaks from golf and on a day trip, Lilli our Mexicana/German guide was able to bargain for us. Her blonde hair and blue eyes threw off the sellers, when she started haggling "for herself" in perfect, rapid fire Spanish. The pottery in Tonala was spectacular. I saw a hand-painted Talavera ceramic sink and some cute pottery salamanders. Lilli bargained them down to $40 for the sink including the wrought iron stand (WOW!) and $5 for the salamanders. (Talavera pottery is available in the US, with the sinks selling for $150-$250+ and the stands for$179.) The shop was off the "market day tourist path" and they did not offer shipping. The shopkeeper gave us some cardboard and tape. Lilli and I high fived back in the car--I felt like a criminal. I didn't trust that the pottery would survive the baggage handlers, so I wrapped the sink basin in bubble wrap and put it in my carry on bag along with the lizards. Not that it was contraband, but it felt like an "I Love Lucy" moment-- when Lucy Ricardo disguised the prosciutto as a baby, to get it on the plane from Italy to New York.

At the airport, there was no charge to check 1 duffel bag + a golf bag. Yay for small victories. But, the ticket agent wanted to charge me $100 for the additional "baggage" which was the wrought iron stand, wrapped in corrugated cardboard and bubble wrap. $100 for a package that weighed 2 pounds? My $40 sink was suddenly getting way more expensive. I was peeved! I stepped off the line to think and then I saw the solution--a guy in the terminal wrapping luggage, thickly, in plastic film, til it shimmered like silver. We had a chat. For $9 he wrapped the sink stand onto my rolling duffel bag...cut out holes for the bag's wheels and that, was that! I got back in line and tried not to smirk. Checking in 1 bag---no charge!

When I got home, I set about transforming my 1/2 bath into a May-hee-can el quarto de bano!

I had to have this sink, no? Si!!!!!

Ok, first I repainted the bathroom---it was formerly "farmhouse colors" according to my cousin, Chris. Deep green walls and a brick red gingham curtain. The decor was dated and the old porcelain sink was industrial looking and way too big.  After checking with my plumber for the right measurement, I ordered a brushed bronze faucet and drain set from an online wholesaler.  After he did the installation, I painted the pipes glossy black to match the stand.

All I needed for the existing medicine cabinet was a new knob, how simple! White switchplates were replaced with brushed bronze. I saw a little Aztec candle at Ikea for $1. Too cute. I moved a wrought iron sun/candle holder in from the kitchen, which is really more Mediterranean...and bought some hand towels in colors taken from the sink. I found a simple lace curtain in the 'discontinued' bin at a linens store.
The sun and the salamader are happy!

And for about $600 total, including sink, stand, towels, paint, plumbing + installation...a new look for a tired old 1/2 bath.

As an aside...they make 'commodes' too...they're $900 in the US. I don't think I could fit one in the overhead...but they're kinda fun! "Hey, Lilli.....!"

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