Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding My Way

     Having landed in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a full year and eight months ago, I feel it is finally the right time to share the richness of my experiences here. Time has literally flown since leaving my good ol' hometown of Buffalo, New York. I think the thing I miss the most about home, besides my friends, is the green growth of Spring, the leaves just starting to appear on the trees and the tulips breaking through the the remains of last fall's leaves. I miss the first hint of the summer to come, when the snow begins to melt and the temperatures are just starting to be a bit less frosty and all the youngsters put on their shorts and sandles, in hopeful anticipation of what's to come, while the rest of us were still sporting our cold weather gear.
     Life is certainly different here. I hardly notice the change of seasons. One just runs into another.  People complain that it is chilly here in the winter and I just giggle.  It is apparent that the complainers have never experienced the numbing cold of a "true" Buffalo winter. For example, I was attending a party at a friend's house last night and the temperature dropped to 66 degrees. Everyone on the patio ran for their jackets while I toughed it out in my shirtsleeves. I thought back to the days when I was rowing competively with the West Side Women's Masters Crew. We were in Boston in late October, rowing the "Head of the Charles."  My crew and I were on the river in our scull preparing for the race, wearing only our unisuits (one-piece jumpshorts that are made of light-weight  spandex) with our team colors and a pair of cotton socks. We believed that excess clothing would only slow us down. A women's crew from California rowed up next to us and were clearly astounded at our lack of clothing (note that they were all bundled up like Eskimos).  They asked us where we were from and that information seemed to satisfy their curiosity. So, Buffalo winters  have certainly prepared me for the small range of temperatures in San Miguel.
       Daily life is simple here. San Miguel brings back so many fond memories of my childhood back in Buffalo. It reminds me of a time when people were comfortable letting their children play outside, back before malls and superstores, back when mom and pop stores were where people shopped, back when people went to church on Sunday and family life was the most important thing in everyone's lives. The elderly were revered for their life's contributions and their knowledge.  Surprisingly, that lifestyle still exists here in central Mexico. Unlike back home, I know all my neighbors on my little calle. I can walk to the corner and buy farm fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs and bread each morning. Conveniently, the local butcher is two blocks away. I can buy a roast chicken, potatoes, tortillas, and salad for less than the equivalent of four dollars without getting in my car.  Every evening, people knock on my door selling warm, homemade gorditas, nopal salad, and crisp, fresh rolls without preservatives . The plumber, who lives a block away, will come to my house and make a repair for  ten dollars.  
     People are clearly happy here despite leading very simple lives. Everyone doesn't have a big car and a grand house yet, they love life. Every weekend brings a new cause for celebration. It seems that there are just a lot more saints here in Mexico. The rich sensory experiences one encounters daily enliven  the spirit.

The Mojigangas joyfully dancing in the streets, the enticing aroma of pineapple and pork wafting from the local taco vendor's cart, the rousing bursts of ranchero music streaming from people's homes,  the exploding rounds of fireworks bursting in the air, the handsome strolling mariachi in the jardine, and the parades of people dressed in  colorful indigenous costumes are the norm here.

That joyous and robust approach to life is what I find most compelling.  It is what makes me love Mexico and it's people.