We have a great deal on our apartment here in San Miguel, and cable television is thrown in for free.  As much as I may complain about the offerings on TV here, it is nice having something to watch occasionally.

Our cable system has about 70 channels, and it’s a mix of Mexican stations and U.S., with many stations devoted to movies, several to science (this is one of our greatest frustrations – that the National Geographic and Discovery channels are invariably dubbed into Spanish, and between my still-fledgling Spanish skills and my ever-worsening deafness, it’s not worth the effort to watch them).

The not-so-good is that most of the shows are crap, and most of the movies repeat about seven thousand times each month.  Dances With Wolves, for example, seems to have played every day or so since we first arrived in October.  Sometimes the movies are so bad they’re good, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, which we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago, and if you like good old movies, it’s fairly common to find Humphrey Bogart or even the occasional Hitchcock movie.  Most of these are subtitled in Spanish, but some are dubbed, and it’s not uncommon to see a movie with English audio and Spanish subtitles on one station, then see the same movie start an hour later on another channel, but this time dubbed into Spanish.

Most of the shows seem to be either telenovelas (soap operas) or shows from the U.S.  I am fully convinced that some anthropologist exploring the jungles of Papua New Guinea will stumble across what she believes to be an undiscovered tribe, but will that night find the village gathered around a TV watching CSI Miami.  CSI, CSI Miami, and the Simpsons are on TV everywhere we’ve travelled.

What surprises me are the movies on the Mexican stations.  There seemed to have been a period in Mexican moviemaking (from the clothes and the colors, I can only assume it was during the ‘70s and ‘80s) when there were only three plots available, all of which involved men in suits making goofy faces around women in lingerie, or less.  The fairly common nudity from decades ago in this extremely conservative Catholic country never fails to surprise.

It is great, though, to flip through the channels and catch a movie like Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which was filmed largely in San Miguel and the nearby town of Guanajuato.  It’s fun to see Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp in places we’ve come to know so well.  Rumor around town has it that Banderas owns a house in town, though no one we’ve spoken to has actually spotted him.  Until he shows up in person, we’ll have to settle for watching him on TV.

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