I’m sitting in Benito Juarez Park (Parque Juarez), a place newly fashioned into a prime venue for Sunday afternoon lounging. When we first came to San Miguel this park had a ragged, abandoned look. Those features were pronounced in daylight and truly intimidating at night. Now, thanks to the determined efforts from friends of this park it has been reanimated: new paths, benches, greenery tended with care. As a result the life has returned. The young lovers cling to each other on park benches as before, but now their furtive glances are placed appropriately, towards the interest of their affections and not towards the old gloomy surroundings.
Today is Revolution Day and as a result the park is busier then normal. During the morning I watched parades of school bands, cheerleaders, small boys dressed as armed campasinos, young girls in prime early-century senorita dresses, fill the streets heading for the Jardin at town center. Now it’s afternoon, the brass has stopped blaring, the drums are silent, and the park is full of loungers like me. Groups of young people talk and laugh as they stroll. Families do what families do in parks everywhere; sit, talk, eat, play. I noticed the food kiosks were more numerous today, many providing extended food service with a hot grill on the side for making delicious-looking stuffed gorditas. It’s the middle of November, and the air is cool, but fresh, not chilly. The crisp night air this time of year is banished every day by the salubrious Mexican sun.
This placid setting provides a moment for me to report to you about our recent eventful weeks. We closed on our purchase of land in Alcocer about two weeks ago. That marked nearly a year since we first made the decision to build a home here. Stefanie and I are very happy with the result, about a half-acre of land by a small lake in the old rancho of Alcocer, four kilometers or so from San Miguel. It’s really an odd turn that brought us out there. Earlier prospects fell through or were non-starters. A moment came last summer when we began to re-think the whole plan. That was right after the piece of land we waited to buy for six months disappeared in a cloud of dust on the heels of some high-rolling Houston developer. We picked ourselves up though and got back on that horse. It took us to Alcocer.
We were really fortunate. The land we now own is much better for us. I’ve been spending a lot of time out there recently. Last week began by getting the boundary lines marked out and finished with eight hours of backhoe work, digging the trenches for the wall and holes for cistern and septic. I get to be county road crew supervisor. They work, I watch. For some reason I come home dead tired every day. Early in the morning by the lake I watch a solitary Great White Egret feed by the shore, or else track a group of cattle egrets as they swoop the lake, settle, then start again. One morning a formidable herd of cattle lowed and trooped to the lake to drink, chasing about ten horses who had had first dibs. Every day flocks of sheep and goats head through the creek valley that traces the now dry gully down from the Picacho Mountains behind Alcocer, as they make their way up the slopes to feed.
Tomorrow we start building. A crew of four will be there to begin at around 8am. The first project is to build a small shed for supply storage before they begin with the masonry on the wall and other infrastructure projects. It will be a real treat to finally see brickwork appearing, after a wait that sometimes seemed eternal.
The other main event these last weeks has been our two-person show at the gallery near town center. We opened “ìencounters/encuentros” on Friday, November 4th. We had an evening of wine and conversation, surrounded by friends enjoying the artwork we’ve created, most of it in the last year and a half. We met so many enthusiastic people that night who were generous with their support. Sales have been somewhat slow but Stefanie and I both feel this early period will be one of getting exposure and recognition and it would be a mistake to assume that massive sales will result immediately. If I’m saying the same thing two years from now I might need a reality check. Now is time for patience and more work. We take turns during the month-long run of the show, sitting in the courtyard full of bougainvillea and orange trees outside our gallery door. The gallery itself is above the old stable in the former home of Ignacio Allende. Where horses once fed we can offer to humans a treat for the eyes.