Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Shine On Me Sunshine, Walk With Me World

Shine On Me Sunshine, Walk With Me World
            Back in the day, I loved that song. I suspect it was my “whistling past the graveyard” attempt. Believe me, I was anything but the “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA”. I was full of pretense and misery, unemployed and broke, a single mom, newly divorced.

            In those days women bore the onus and responsibility for a “broken marriage”. Men were simply labeled “single and up for grabs”. It was not a pretty place for a woman to be.

            So I had a bit of an internal giggle at myself when the words of my once-favorite song looped through my thoughts on the bus from Mazatlan to Guadalajara, and this forty some years later. The monster of fear I faced was an eye appointment, which turned out to be positive in all ways. I am cleared for cataract surgery, but…I’ll think about that later.

            My thoughts on the bus took me to a realization of how content I am. Who would ever have thought a farm girl from Harlem, Montana would one day live in Mexico? I could not have imagined my life, the places I’ve been, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met and come to love.

            Take this week, for example. Ariel met me at the bus and became my guide through the streets of Guadalajara, to the doctor’s office and back to the chickens-and-goats bus station, around the corner from the station with the posh cross country buses

We boarded the bus to Etzatlan, a small farming village, to be met by his wife, Lani, my cousin Nancie and her husband, Pat.

            The very next day Nancie and Pat made a decision the buy the house in which we were staying. That’s exciting stuff. It is a beautiful brick casa, built in the old Mexican style. Lani has been trying to talk me into buying a casa here these last three years.

            Life is not all business. The following day we women drove to Tonala for the tianguis, a huge open-air street market. Tonala is known for handcrafts, especially pottery. With a new house to furnish, Nancie geared up to poke around every stall. It is simply not possible. Four hours of shopping filled Lani’s car. I wanted a clay tea pot. I have a specific pot in mind, found it, but left empty handed since the pot came only in a set. Still on the search.

            Every village celebrates Carnival, the Mardi Gras. There is no lack for activities. We’ve watched the dancing horses, the bull riding, fancy roping, precision riding with the young girls in full regalia, the “ugly women” contest, and, ah, the parades, the bands, the costumes, the clowns. We’ve listened to music and munched crispy churros in the plaza. Much of the fun is watching people, especially the children.  

We drove to a mountaintop restaurant which overlooked the valley, sampled churros in the evening at the plaza, bought chocolate croissants from our favorite panaderia. Each village has a day for the city tianguis or market which can take up several streets. After Friday market we ate birria in that special place along the highway. Not that the place is so special but the birria, a goat soup, is the mouth-watering best.

            Now Lani is leaning on me from one side and Nancie from the other, trying to convince me to move to Etzatlan. Being the ultimate tourist is great. Carnival Week and visiting friends and family are only a tiny piece of life. Everyday living is another matter.

            I told Nancie and Lani that moving here would be like moving from Seattle to Harlem. Big city—small town. I’ve done both.

            I’ve lived in enough places to know that place isn’t as important as the person living inside the body I take with me. Most days I’m content with her.

            Most I get out of bed and I can say, Hello, sunsine. Good morning, morning. And if I look in the mirror and see an old grump, well, she is part of my life too. Meanwhile, it’s a skipped-doo-dah day.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

February 11, 2016

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