Set in Chocolate Stone

pan regio guadalajara

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. – Carl Sagan

This morning I went back to Pan Regio, the bakery near my house, and since there was no budín and also because I felt inclined to mix it up, I got a piedra, a chocolate biscuit type thing whose name in Spanish means “stone.” It cost five pesos.

I’m not crazy about starting my day with so much sugar. I would rather gnaw on a handful of raw spinach, or fill my cheeks with salted avocado. But I’m trying to keep things cheap, and also I’m a little bit in love with this bakery. The woman made a joke to me today but I didn’t understand , and when I said, “What was that?” she said, “Have a nice day.” In Pan Regio you get one chance to understand jokes. If you don’t get it the first time, you’re toast (or other baked good).

The piedra is aptly named, though I’ve ever seen any chocolate-covered stones in the natural world. It’s not as hard as I would’ve thought, though it is brittle. The piedra of the pastry world, then, might be something like the shale of the geologic world. If climbing legend Alex Honnold was free-soloing a beautiful wall in Yosemite and came upon a patch of piedras, he would probably be disgusted and/or in great danger (and/or sated). But if the only thing you have to do is walk through the streets of Guadalajara and enjoy the mercifully cool morning temperatures, the muted light on the buildings, the smell that for some reason reminds me of Bakersfield, California, a piedra is not a bad companion.

I’m not sure what this day holds for me, and I like that. I woke up this morning and meditated to a 15-minute long video of Alan Watts, the famed British pop philosopher, telling me not to judge the sounds I was hearing, to not control my breathing, to simply observe the thoughts that came into my head the same way I observed the hum of the refrigerator, without judgement. At one point during the meditation my neighbor walked into her courtyard, i.e. directly next to my window, and I wondered if she was watching me. She might’ve been. I wouldn’t have judged.

What would I like this day to hold for me? Well, I was supposed to teach Spanish classes from 10am-12pm, and then an English class from 12:30pm-1:20pm. All of these classes have been cancelled, but I’ll still be paid. To celebrate, I may go to my favorite cafe, El Terrible Juan, and get a green or black tea. I’ll talk to one of the waitresses, who always seems happy to see me, and be earnest yet polite with the other waitress, who seems to regard me the way you might regard an insect that’s just collided with your windshield and is still somehow alive. And then afterward, of course, I’ll get a lonche from Doña Marta.

Today is all about being centered, which should be easy given the contents of my stomach. Yesterday it was a compact object, today it’s a chocolate-covered stone.

I would like to take a small trip with my February Patreon earnings. So far I’m up to $20. Today is the last day to sponsor and have your pledge counted for the month of February. Thanks to all who’ve pledged so far.

Support this blog:

Become a Patron!


Sunday Night Thoughts #2

Ordinary Nomad has now been in existence for almost a month. The first week it got 14 views, the second week 11, the third week 220, and this week 310. Where’s Wetzler, my old site, no longer exists. Well, that’s actually a bit misleading. It’s backed up somewhere, but it’s not accessible anymore. You can’t go to the page and read old Where’s Wetzler content. You are forced to become a fan of Ordinary Nomad.

I would say my goal for this next week is to eclipse 400 views, but unless I write something that is of New York Times quality and it gets shared in many different outlets, I don’t see that happening. The reason last week got quite a few views was because the Airbnb post did pretty well. I think my sister shared it. My sister probably has about 16 times as many friends as I do on Facebook. I’m not surprised that post did better than the other posts, since worked on it a couple times throughout the weekend and thus didn’t rush it and also did several revisions. That post made me realize that short, quick attacks while writing, and then long periods where you just leave it, followed by another short, quick attack or a revision, can be the best way to write articles. I doubt it’s the way to write novels. Writing a novel is like writing an ultra marathon. If you walked and then sprinted and then walked and then sprinted, the guys and gals keeping a steady pace would overtake you. But when writing a short article, spastic attacks can be the way to go.

Other stats about the site so far:

  • Only one person has commented (two if you count my reply)
  • Two people have donated (including a more than generous $20 donation from Peter Leslie) (two others donated but since I don’t have PayPal Pro I can’t accept recurring donations which means the only place to make a recurring donation is on Patreon, where I currently have one Patron, a woman I don’t even know!)
  • I’m now on my third WordPress theme. First it was Sight, then Hitmag, and now it’s one called Writee. I still think it looks hideous. I have no idea how to customize WordPress themes. I can’t find good information about it online. I can’t even figure out how to change the site title (where it says, “Ordinary Nomad”) font.
  • I had Maruchan spicy chicken Cup o’ Noodles for dinner tonight.
  • My rent is currently 170 pesos (just over $9USD) per night. I hope to get that down to about $5 or $6USD.
  •  I’m up to 12 knee push ups on my once broken wrist.

But enough about all that. The highlight of today, by far, was taking a walk.

Usually when I leave my house I take a left on the street pictured at the beginning of this post. I don’t know what this street’s called. It’s ugly. Or at least I used to think it was ugly. Tonight it looked kind of beautiful. But even more beautiful has been to witness how this street’s meaning for me has changed in the last week. When I first got here it was just an ugly street with dirt sidewalks and trash and pieces of broken glass on the ground. But now it signifies home, now it signifies that in just a few minutes I’ll be in a cool courtyard, sipping a glass of water, aimlessly surfing on my phone, relaxing.

But today I didn’t take a left. I took a right and headed toward the centro. I’ve been reluctant to go to the centro, because my few brushes with it have left me with the impression that it’s chaotic, dirty, and loud. I don’t like the downtown of any city except maybe Bainbridge Island, and even that’s a little too chaotic for me sometimes. But today I had the idea that I needed to “expand my horizons.”

I was quickly rewarded. After only a few minutes of walking I got to the plaza pictured just above. What a wonderful plaza. Pigeons, people sitting on benches, flanked by restaurants with people enjoying Sunday afternoon meals. It was quiet. And then I headed north a bit and go to another park with some kind of cathedral. Downtown Guadalajara is where you really feel the Spanish influence. The further you go west the more you feel like you’re in Los Angeles, but the further you go east the more you feel like you’re in Spain (albeit a slightly dingy neighborhood in Madrid save for a few nice plazas, churches, and pedestrian streets).

I ended my walk back in familiar territory, by the Parque de la revolucion. And I was happy to be home again, happy to walk down the street that I used to think was dingy, but in a week has been transformed into something else altogether.