oh, mexico

my mother and my sister in Mexico, 1973My family lived in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico during the 1970's. For years afterwards our houses were all filled with chipped pottery, heavy wool blankets, diaphanous embroidered dresses, and enormous baskets. The baskets came in especially handy back in Vermont for trapping and housing small animals, and those blankets were so heavy and dense that you always worried a little falling asleep underneath them, like maybe you would never be able to wake up and you might just keep sleeping forever. My sister and I loved Mexico, especially on our birthday when my grandfather sent us a pair of bored-looking donkeys, which we thought were ours to keep. We had to give them back at the end of the day, which seemed supremely unfair. You can see a drawing of one of them here.

My mother drove a little blue pick-up then, with a fiberglass cap on the back. When we drove through town young boys would climb onto the bumper and open up the window on the back of the cap and ask for a ride. If they asked nicely we invited them in. One of them brought along his Abuelita, (who at the time looked like the oldest woman I had ever seen but was probably the same age I am now), and she gave us some of the very hot peppers that she had in a big bundle on her lap and then gave us a big toothless laugh when we panicked and spit them out. 

I went back to San Miguel after college and lived there as a student for a while. Maybe its because I'm such a visual person, but I immediately felt very much at home among the baskets and pottery and peppers and embroidered cottons. Its funny what feels like home sometimes. Unfortunately, avocados were a new discovery and nobody told me that they contain about 65 grams of fat each, so after three months on a steady diet of the things (plus a stack or two of fresh tortillas and a whole chicken here and there) I had gained so much weight that had to go and buy some of those diaphanous embroidered dresses. At the end of the school term I flew back to LA, where my sister almost walked past me without realizing it was me. I had spent the last few weeks of my trip on the beaches of the Yucatan, so my hair was bleached out and my skin was very tan. That plus the forty extra pounds plus my newly glistening complexion and mink-like hair all from my four-avocado-a-day diet and I looked more like a sea lion than a sister.

I used to head south pretty frequently when I lived in California, but not since moving back east. A few weeks ago TC and I were talking about where we should go on vacation and I suddenly had the urge to be somewhere familiar, somewhere that I knew that I loved, somewhere that felt a little like a far away home. Oh, and somewhere that has fresh tortillas and an excellent textiles market.... 

So we are off! I'll be back in two weeks. Hopefully tan and fat. Meantime, forgive me if I can't manage a remote post, I'm leaving anything with a charger at home.