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Painter David Villasenor…….. Cafe Manana Art Gallery, San Pancho, Mex.


So we are beginning to pick up some special pieces of art for the gallery aspect of the our to open in the fall coffee shop ……. Cafe Manana. Years ago we fell in love with paintings by the Mexican Artist David Villasenor. We would see his paintings in our travels throughout Mexico and were captured by the ones of indigenous people, the traditional clothing, the colors, the faces………. I have always been captivated by the colorful clothing and the satiny ribbons that woman braid into the waist long hair braids.

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Cafe Manana will consist of 2 stories. On the first floor will be the main coffee shop that will spill out into the garden where we’ll put a couple of tables for the nature lovers. I know when we used to only be down here for a week I almost hated eating inside, I always wanted to be outside. Clearly that’s apparent to anyone who has been to our house Casita Cielo Azul here in San Pancho as only our bathrooms and bedrooms are fully enclosed. All the rest of the living spaces are open-air. The second floor is being built so it can also be another living space should we need it. There will be a main room, a second room that can be used as a bedroom and a full bath. A balcony will cantilever out over the sidewalk in front of our property. The main house, sitting at the rear of our house will remain private due to the way we’ve designed the new building. We’re furnishing the second floor with art that we love enough to keep should it never sell.


David Villasenor died in 2007 but his daughter has kept his art alive through the talent of artists that were handpicked and hand trained by David himself in his studio. She came to visit us the other day in San Pancho to talk about the art we’re interested in carrying in the gallery. She brought along some paintings as well. Now the image you see of the girl at the top of this blog posting is that of a painting that we already own. It’s hanging in our dining room back in Evanston. It is STUNNING! A real show stopper! It’s a rare person that doesn’t walk through our dining room and stop….mesmerized……..and go “WOW!”!













Well this one, the one just above is our newest addition but this one is for the gallery. We new as soon as they unwrapped it, that this was the one. It measures approximately 48″ x 71″. These are no little paintings. For scale purposes you can also see it just below. Now I think we only have one full wall in the gallery space big enough for this piece so that’ll make hanging it simple and it’ll be sooooo easy on the eyes!


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Okay so I couldn’t help myself I had to give you a bigger view, isn’t she something!

A rooftop garden in the sun!

So our garden has gotten so full and lush that there was no more room for all of my herbs and edibles. We removed some sections of railing that we’ll recycle and use on the second floor terrace of the coffee shop/gallery. We had them replaced with long rectangular planters that I promptly filled with herbs, some vegies, edible fowers……. everything grows so quickly here and now that our kitchen garden has been  relocated to the rooftop of the house the plants and the sun are working so well together. We’re installing the irrigation system so these little beauties can get their liquid nurishment as well. So cool, it’s set to go on at 5:00 in the morning just like the system for the ground floor garden. This means the watering work is being done before we eeven get up. Man this is the life!













San Pancho Music Festival

Horns could be heard throughout town, guitars, keyboards, English, Spanish with a bit of Drama tossed in. Each evening the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February we would pack up our beach chairs, grab a bottle of vino and head to the plaza. The San Pancho music Festival had started and we would add our chairs to end of a line of a already attentive concert goers. While I  set us up Linc  would wander on over to buy a couple of plates with warm tacos, quesadillas and chile rellenos, yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

So clearly the chances of any of you knowing any of these names is remote at best but I thought I would post the schedule so ya’ll could see the  diversity of the line-up. At Casita Azul Folk Art in Evanston we used to cell cd’s by Jeff Oster and Latch & Andrea “The Blond Gypsies”.


Friday 2/24

5pm – Nuiwarika (Grupo de Danza – Folklore Dancing)

6pm – Olivia de La Cruz (folk, contemporary, soulful ballads)

7pmFrida’s Eyebrow (blues, folksy ballads)

8pm – No Walls (progressive jazz)

9pm – Steve O’Connor (jazz, guitar)

10pm – Jeff Oster (smooth jazz, trumpet & flugelhorn)


   Saturday 2/25

    5pm – Jeff Oster and Chas Eller

    6pm Werther Ellerbrock (jazz, pop, guitar)

    7pmThe Coolerators (rock-n-roll, pop, ballads)

    8pm – Banderas Bay Jazz Allstars (smooth jazz)

    9pm – Jam Session

  •     Jeff Oster, trumpet
  •     Chas Eller, keyboards
  •     Bryan Savage, alto sax
  •     Steve Goldberg, flugelhorn
  •     Werther Ellerbrock, guitar
  •     Dov Schiller, percussion
  • Tom Lillienthal, bass
  • Lazaro Poey, drums
  • others to be announced

Sunday 2/26

     5:30pm – Los Compas (Musica nortena)

     6pm – Awacero (trova Mexicana)

     7pm – Sons of the Beach feat. Jodi Moran (swing jazz, blues)

     8pm Latcho and Andrea (gypsy flamenco)

     9pmTatewari (flamenco, fusion)

      9:45pm – Jazz Tubo w/ Beto and Carlos Gonzalez (jazz)

     10:30pm – Atrakadero (Mexican banda)



The weather here had been cloudy and overcast for most of the last couple weeks but the sun broke through to shine down for the music fest. The streets were actually bustling and in San Pancho that’s a rarity. Some of the bands came from other pueblos nearby so their fans made the trek to watch and support them.

…………………….. time for a road-trip to San Miguel de Allende where we’ll be meeting up with Jill’s mother.

Hasta Pronto

Evanston to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I guess we timed our Evanston departure just right. We kept delaying our departure due to projects we had going in Evanston and were tempted to do so one more day but didn’t. The first of 2 nights we spent in (Texas) hotels, while watching the news we heard how Chicago was in for one of the 5 worst snow storms EVER!  Texas itself was bracing for storms and record breaking cold. As Chicago Bear fans we did laugh when we heard that the Packers and Steelers would be met with snow & freezing weather when they probably thought they were going to get a chance to catch some warm rays. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa it was 1 degree there with the wind-chill factor on Tuesday. Yup we made it passed Dallas before that set in as well. Going as far south as we could to spend our second Texas night in Laredo Texas, in WARM Laredo, Texas we might add.

Each time we’ve changed not our route but where we stop, how long we drive per day. We’ve noticed that no matter how long or short it’s the last couple hours that drag on. Anyone who has actually talked to us about driving from Evanston to Mexico has heard us complain about how blasted long of a time it take to get from the north east corner of Texas down to Laredo in the south. As I’m always saying, “It’s like their rolling the state up in back of you and rolling it back out again in front of you, you just can’t get out! But finally we did yesterday morning. We crossed into Mexico at about 11:00 a.m., a bit later than we had planned, thanks to the extra comfortable beds and rooms at the good old Hampton Inn. We keep suggesting that with our last name they should give us some kind of break, they laugh and then smack the full charge right on the plastic.

We know there is great concern about safety in Mexico but we have never had any problems or seen any.  After taking care of paperwork at the border we enter Mexico and drive south on what they call Quotas (Toll Roads) in Mexico. They’re rather pricey but very safe and cut lots of time off the time it would take driving the free roads. Now when I say safe that doesn’t take for account the cows that here and there break through the wire fencing along the way, or the horse that jumps the fence. These quotas are also traveled by the Green Angels. The Mexican Tourism Ministry operates a fleet of some 275 pickup trucks that operate similarly to AAA in the U.S.. The Green Angels provide mechanical assistance, first aid, basic supplies and if need be towing. We had one experience with them last year when we were driving on fumes and they got us to a gas station so we could fuel up and continue on. As we so often find with people here in Mexico they were friendly and so happy to help. Linc drove in our van withone of the guys while I got to drive in the Green Angel truck with the other and learn all about his family. Now it’s a weird thing that we were driving on fumes to begin with because throughout the years our experience with finding a gas station in Mexico has kind of been like finding a bar in Wisconsin, they’re on every corner.

So now we’re in San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel sits at about 7000 feet and was originally founded by a Franciscan monk named Juan deSan Miguel in 1542. In September 16th, 1810,  the Mexican War of Independence began nearby in the town of Dolores (now known as Dolores Hidalgo).  General Ignacio Allendejoined the army in San Miguel, as chief lieutenant to Padre Miguel Hidalgo and led the army to several victories. Allende was captured during a battle and beheaded. General Ignacio Allendeis now a national hero, and San Miguel (el Grande) renamed itself “San Miguel de Allende” in 1826 in honor of his actions.

San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful city with it’s colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. If you’ve ever been in our store, the colors of the walls were inspired by the buildings in San Miguel, in fact so was the color of our home Casita Cielo Azul, in San Pancho. It’s those deep pumpkin burnt orange and red tones. It’s home to a large community of expatriates both from the USA as well as many from Canada who come to enjoy the mild climate though it can get very chilly here in the winter months, especially nights and early mornings.

Off now to explore the streets and markets of San Miguel, back later!

Hasta pronto! Jill (& Linc)

To Taxco we go

We were at the airport at 3:30 this morning, even Frankie, our little Mexican kitty who now resides as Queen of Sheba in our Evanston home looked at us like we were nuts. How dare we upset the well worked out routine we’ve all fallen into.

Fast forward sparing you the plane delays….. the relatively new airport in Toluca, Mexico is beautiful and so easy to navigate. On to the bus station and southbound to Taxco.

Snacks for the road anyone?

Once you get south of Toluca and Metepec this is a very beautiful drive. 

The road winds and dips bringing you in and out of the rolling mountainous terrain. Peoples homes often seem to be barely teetering on the side of each new mountainside.

Today is Independence Day here is Mexico. The celebrations marking the countries independence from Spain will most likely keep most of the country up to the wee hours tonight. Linc & I on the otherhand are so tired our snoring may just disturb the festivities.

On the road again

So, were heading to Mexico bright and early tomorrow. Well maybe not too bright as our flight leaves Chicago at 5:35 a.m. yup that puts us leaving the house by 3:00 a.m.. We’re heading for 3 nights in Taxco before we change directions and end up at our home in San Pancho. Taxco is a fabulous old silver mining town. So picturesque as it appears to literally have been carved out of the side of a mountain. It’s steep and very narrow roads clearly were set in place long before cars came to Taxco. It’s amazing watching the VW bug Taxi’s working their ways through the narrow maze of cobblestone streets. Often meeting another VW coming towards them resulting in one or the other having to back down (or up) hill to let the other pass. Linc’s more than a little relieved to be leaving the driving up to a bus driver once we’ve flown into Toluca. From Toluca it’s about a 2 1/2 hour winding, winding, did I say winding? trip.

In Taxco, our favorite place to stay is Mi Casita at least when we’re not driving as they don’t have parking and parking is laughable in Taxco, maybe laughable is in retrospect. When you’re actually dealing with it, it’s more like an extreme headache, ’cause it sure causes one.

If we could shrink the earth’s population….

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 would be Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth
All 6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
(ONE)1 would be near death;
(ONE)1 would be near birth;
(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;
(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore . . .

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all. As you read this and are reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are!

………………….figures found on the internet.

Huichol Indian Artist @ Custer Street Fair, June 19/20 2010





      Please stop by and meet Cilau and his mother Susana, who founded the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival in the 1980s. She did this in an effort to rescue and conserve the Huicholes stories and symbols. They will also be bringing with them many beautiful pieces of Huichol Art and Jewelry that will be available to purchase.

If you have any questions please call us at 847-424-8180 or email us at