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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Recently we’ve begun to meet more Mexicans in the town where we’ve bought a house, San Juan Cosala, a few kilometers west of Ajijic by Lake Chapala. It feels good to be getting much more of a sense of what people are like here, specially since some of the people we met here at first were in a feud with each other.

Now, we’re meeting friendly, hard-working people with the characteristic warmth we find in Mexicans everywhere. Their English tends to be better here than in many parts of the country, I imagine because it’s an advantage in an area where many expats are living and hire a variety of things done.

We met Sergio, who has good English and like Kelly is an inventive thinker. We’ve hired him and his crew to install a chain-link fence along the two sides of our property that don’t have high rock walls. This is partly to keep our dog in — he’s run off more than once and we are now keeping our eyes on him — and also for privacy and security. Kelly noticed an attractive fence going in down the block, where Sergio was using a cane-like material called carizo to create a visual barrier. Yesterday Sergio showed us some bits of wood from a mill, the rounded ends that can’t be used for lumber, and suggested they would be more durable, private, and attractive. We agreed, and this morning he’s gone off into the mountains to get some at a mill while his crew is installing fence posts.

He also pointed out that our old water storage tank for the house is part asbestos instead of the solid cement we thought it was! So we will either hire him or get a referral from him for someone who can replace that before the fence goes on that part of the land.

I asked Sergio where I could get my hair cut here, and he told me to go see Maria who lives just this side of a place that sells plants on the carretera or highway that runs through town. One morning I set out but by the time I came to a farmacia I thought I had gone too far. So I asked there and the woman said, no, it’s a little further on. She looked around till she could show me a red-brown color and said that was the color of Maria’s door. I walked on and stopped in front of a door. The woman from the farmacia was out in front of it checking on my progress and she called out to go further. When I found the plant place and a red-brown door, I guessed I had it and knocked. A woman answered and I asked if this was the place where hair cut itself. (Literal translation from my Spanish.) She said no, that was her sister-in-law next door, down a walkway. She hollered for Maria who came out and said she could cut my hair right then. Maria and I spoke entirely in Spanish.

I followed her down the walkway to her kitchen-living room- hair salon, where two of her kids were eating at the table and things were simmering on the stove. She showed me a book of many hair styles, all of them on people under thirty years old. I put the book aside and just said that I’d like my hair to have the same cut it had now but as of two months ago. I have naturally curly hair and it’s pretty forgiving of anything. What I ended up with was shorter than it’s ever been cut on the sides and left longer on top.

I loved chatting with her. She’s a very nice person and we talked about all sorts of things. She used one saying I liked, “Querer es poder,” which could be translated “desire gives power” or “to want is to be able to,” something like that.

Later, when I showed Sergio my new hairdo and said she’d done a good job, he said, “And she’s a good person.” Mexicans will often say this of someone, or as we learned recently, they will also say the reverse when they think it’s called for! In a discussion of this with a Mexican friend one day, I quoted a saying I’ve liked for years, “The path of good and evil runs through every human heart.” He agreed with me — Mexicans are polite — but I don’t know if I convinced him of anything.

I could tell you at length about Jose, the friendly waiter at his family restaurant a few blocks from here who speaks pretty good English and wants to do an English-Spanish conversation exchange, or about Alicia, the helpful woman who told us about the bus system when we took a bus yesterday, but I’ve rambled on long enough for now!

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