A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Oct 2, 2006 –  The other day, some Mexican neighbors invited us to the baptism of one of their granddaughters, a baby of about 8 months. It would be held in the church here in San Juan Cosala, and then there would be a party to celebrate both the baptism and the second birthday of her older sister.

Kelly and I walked down to the plaza yesterday, arriving there just after noon. The church was already completely packed for mass, so we stood outside with dozens of other people. An all-day fundraiser to complete the renovation of the church towers was already going on in the plaza: different musical groups would play all day and into the evening, and stalls were selling snacks and miscellaneous items.

We saw our neighbors arriving by the front of the church, so we went to join them. Maria explained that the actual baptism would be after the mass. We stood near the front door of the church and admired the stalks of corn just inside the doors. I enjoyed the combination of sounds: now the church service dominated, now the music from the plaza just across the street.

I also reflected on the soul of Mexico as we stood there. Going to church is done here in a very casual way — children run around quite freely — and yet to spend even a short while among this people is to feel the devotion palpable in the air. I enjoyed the tattooed young father wearing a muscle shirt and brightly colored shorts, his face radiating kindness to the child in his arms. Young and old stood together, responding to the service, singing at times. When it was time to shake hands with the people around us and say "la paz," or peace, everyone moved around a bit, so we each shook hands with at least a dozen people. That’s one of my favorite parts of the service.

When the mass was over, it was amazing how many people poured out of the church. We made our way up near the front, where three babies were being baptized. We sat a little ways back from the activities, next to another Mexican lady we knew. I asked her if the church was always so crowded for mass, and she said the noon one was always popular, but today was special because the people were giving thanks that the rain had been abundant this year. So that’s why there was corn in the church. I felt the ancient, pre-Columbian history of this place when she told me that.

After the baptism, we went home and got our car, then drove a short way out of town to a home with a large yard where the party was to be held. We were among the first guests to arrive, and sat down at a table with a Mexican couple I had seen at the church. It turned out that they are from Guadalajara but have a weekend place in San Juan and are friends of the family. We chatted with them quite a lot. The lady came to the conclusion that I could understand a lot more Spanish than I can, and she spoke quite rapidly. A good workout for my ears.

Another American couple joined our table; the four of us were the only foreigners (not that anyone cared) among the dozens of people of all ages who arrived in waves. The kids ran around and played, the teens were cool but in a much more family-friendly way than you’d see north of the border, people sang along to the music playing on a big CD player. We chatted briefly with a realtor we knew slightly. The other Americans have lived here for some ten years and know many members of the family well.

Eventually, full plates of delicious stewed meat, rice, and refried beans appeared, with tortillas and salsa. Beverages had been offered numerous times already. Kelly and I had something else to do and we left before the piƱatas and the desserts, the happy sounds of the party wafting out into the street as we walked down to our car. It was overcast, there were even a few drops, but there was no downpour till the evening.

What a delight!

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