[Click on blue links for further information]   You already know that Alebrijes Make Me Happy.  All of Mexico makes me happy.  It’s a large country (760,000 square miles) but smaller than the contiguous 48 states of the USA (3 million square miles).  Thankfully you can find almost all of Mexico in a mere 400 square feet on Basilio Badillo street in Puerto Vallarta.  Those cozy 400 square feet constitute Lucy’s CuCu Cabana.  I make a point of visiting the proprietors, my friends Lucy and Gil, every year. lucys-1   They have some of the most unusual, eclectic, and interesting alebrijes I’ve ever seen, and, believe me, I’ve seen thousands scattered all over those 760,000 square miles from their state of origin, Oaxaca, to Zihuatanejo, to Vera Cruz, and beyond.  And, the prices at Lucy’s are so reasonable you will have plenty of money left for tacos and margaritas.   double   Some of my most cherished alebrijes include a Lion whom I’ve named Lucy of course and Gil, my “burro completo.”  I must also mention Hugo, my dragon, named after our wonderful friend who worked at the shop for several years.   l-lion   donkey   hugo   Hugo gave me the best advice I’ve ever received from a fellow reader:  “the second most foolish thing to do is to loan a book to ANYONE.  The most foolish thing is to return a book you’ve been loaned.”  I had many wonderful discussions with Hugo.  Sadly, he died of lung cancer a few years ago.  I wrote a poem about him that you can find below.   dog-family   Today, Nancy tends the shop when Lucy and Gil are up to something creative like writing books (Gil’s books can be found HERE.)  I highly recommend reading them for the humor and the perspective on Puerto Vallarta and Mexico).  Nancy has become a new friend that we often see walking with the dogs on the Malecon.  Everyone walks on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, gliding along like dancing ants in a beautiful panorama of bodies and smells and colors.   dancing-ants mermaid   If you walk on the Malecon, look carefully for the mermaids.  They’re hard to find.  Luckily for us Lucy and Gil had one for sale and we snapped it up like two turtles fighting over a fly. Every time I pick a book from the bookcase in my house the hanging monkeys are there to greet me. The Karate monkey on the right keeps the others from stealing my books.   monkeys spider   I’m not so lucky with the giant spider.  He often comes out of his corner to read voraciously.   A  rocking horse is too common for Lucy’s shop.  She prefers the rocking cat.   rocking-cat   There are many things in Lucy’s shop apart from the unusual alebrijes.  Silver jewelry, weavings, pottery.  I particularly like the small hand painted tins called ex votos usually depicting miracle stories.   pottery-barn ex-voto   The skeleton masks are among the favorites in my collection.  And, we have several magic cacti, I call them magic because of the animals and insects they attract and their vibrant colors.   skeleton-mask-2 tree-3   Don’t overlook the toilet art.  The metal of old style toilet tanks is hammered into shape and painted exquisitely.   toilet-art-2 toilet-art-3   Since we’ve been collecting for years, we have large and small animals as you might imagine.  Rabbits, apes, pigs, rhinos, you name it.   rabbits apes piggy rhino   I’ll close with a few pictures of alebrijes we don’t have, alebrijes in the shop right now.  If you see something you like, hurry before someone snaps it up.  Everything in Lucy’s shop is one-of-a-kind.  So, as is said, snooze and you lose. And, don’t forget to scroll down to see my poem for Hugo.  He was a great friend.  I miss him as I miss all my friends in Puerto Vallarta.  Na Zdorovie my friends.  Let’s get together soon !   fancy-cat milton-burro fancy-horse cat


For Hugo

from Oaxaca 2012


The coughing starts in the middle of the night

Deep within the lungs

Always at the darkest hour.


I’m surprised to be awake

And slightly annoyed

Until I think


How frightened he must have been

To die alone, my friend.

The friend I hardly knew.


We spoke of books.

To lend a book he said

Was crazy


But to return a book borrowed,

That was crazier still.

He laughed.


I imagine they found

A pile of books

By his bed.


The coughing resumes.

It must have been like this for Hugo

When he awoke, unable to breathe.


I heard him in the shop.

Told him he was sick.

He said it was just a cold.


He didn’t have the money,

Or the strength,

to face the truth.


“I boil some water on the stove,” he said

“Put in the herbs, drape a towel

Over my head and breathe it in.”


A gentle man,

He wrapped the alebrijes

As if they were his children.


My God, it sounds terrible.

I think it’s coming from

The house next door.


Sounds carry in the night, It’s easy to be deceived.

I don’t care

If it keeps me from sleeping.


It’s a small price to pay

To hear my friend

Speaking again.


He knew my wife loved fish

He told me about a fish restaurant

Where the crab tacos were to die for.


We got all dressed up and took a taxi.

Turns out it was a local place

We looked like a couple of silly gringos who were lost.


But, he was right.

The fish was good.

And everyone smiled at us.


The next day

We went to the shop

To pick up our stuff.


He had everything


And ready to go.


It must be about

Two o’clock In the morning

And the coughing goes on and on.


Yesterday I asked

The young man next door

And he said he was getting better


Just like Hugo.

We shook hands

I told him next year I’d be back.


Oh yes,

Next year.

I’ll be waiting for you.