SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO—As my last week in San Miguel continues, I’m starting to think about the return home and at the same time reflecting on the past three weeks in Mexico. The beauty of living in a place for more than a couple of weeks is that you really feel like you know the place and aren’t just a tourist passing through. There’s a learning curve to a city and once you’ve made it past two weeks in a new place, it no longer takes such an effort to figure out where to go for a quick lunch, where to buy the best avocados, or how to find your way to the ATM. Life takes on a bit of a routine and you begin to feel at home.
The thing I will miss most about living in Mexico is walking everywhere. I hope to actually hop on my bike in the snow when I get home and avoid driving so much in the winter, just as I’d planned for this year. (I thought buying the fuzzy helmet-insert would be motivation enough, but was apparently wrong.) Maybe I’ll even bundle up and walk somewhere. The problem is that it’s cold in Minnesota and hot in Mexico; there’s no way life can be quite the same.
The other thing I’ve been enjoying for the past few days is the art project I started with my parents. When we first arrived, we wandered through the mercado de artesanias and bought milagros and other small items, nichos, post cards of Frida Kahlo and a few of those little guys with the bouncy heads—like the turtles you’ve all probably seen but in all sorts of different animals—because they always make me laugh. The plan was to get some paint, paint the metal tin frames/niches, and add various and sundry items to them. By now, we’ve accomplished acquiring all of the items we needed for the project and have begun the painting. Yesterday afternoon I returned home from an excursion to try to buy orange liquor that ended up as a nice little neighborhood walk from which I returned empty-handed (still working on figuring out the hours for the liquor store) and I decided to paint a bit. I turned on some salsa music, opened the patio doors, and worked on my art project. When my parents came home they joined me and I quizzed them on their verbs for la clase de español while we worked.
I’m now wondering how many nichos I can fit in my suitcase along with the painted ceramics and Talavera that I’ve already bought. I want to continue with something creative once I return home. It’s quite enjoyable to work with your hands, and seeing all the people listening to music and working in the little shops all along the artisans market with the sun streaming in is giving me some creative inspiration. The first weekend we were here, we went to an art opening at Casa de las Ranas: The Opening of the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, and I was in love with the mixed-media artwork and had to talk myself out of spending a whole paycheck’s worth of money on one of Anado’s pieces. I think the art opening is what inspired all of us to buy the nichos and get to work.
The thing about life in Mexico (especially during my two weeks of vacation) is that it is slow-paced. My life is usually quite the opposite in Minneapolis. There are so many things to do and be involved with in the Twin Cities that my life is always go go go, do three things a night, try to see everyone all the time, work hard, play hard, and maybe someday get some sleep. I think that I can still enjoy the beauty of what our cities have to offer and still slow life down just a bit. It’s easier for me in the winter because COLD but even in the summer, missing something fun isn’t the end of the world because you know what? In the Twin Cities, there is always something else fun coming up pretty much every single day. While life in San Miguel de Allende forces me to slow down a bit, there’s no reason I can’t do this at home.
So if you don’t see me right away in March in Minneapolis, I may be at home slowing it down and painting in the fake sunlight in my living room for awhile.
Photo: San Miguel graffiti. Photo by Nicky Stein-Grohs.