I CHANGED THE hues here and added the photo up top, which will be a permanent fixture until I change my mind again. That’s the view on a foggy morning of my neighborhood out back of the Hacienda. As you can see, it’s no Beverly Hills.
Though more Gringos move hereabouts every year, they don’t seem drawn to my specific neighborhood, which suits me just fine. When we built the Hacienda 11 years back, there was just one other Gringo living nearby, actually a Gringa, a woman named Judith Diem who was over 90 years old at that time. The scuttlebutt was that she had been a lover of John Steinbeck, and perhaps she was.
Though we lived only about four blocks apart, and she frequented my sister-in-law’s coffee shop downtown, often sitting at a sidewalk table just opposite me, we never exchanged a word. She was a odd one, to put it mildly, driving her pickup around while wearing no glasses.
A year or two after we moved into the Hacienda, she died. Mexicans live in her old place now. Here’s a video of Diem. The fellow playing the accordion at one point is also an artist, an excellent one. He is named Solis, and I like him. He lives downtown.
Solis is exceedingly fond of my child bride’s pastries. Some of his works adorn our Hacienda walls.
Roundabouts when Judith Diem died, a gay bookseller named William, from New England, purchased a good-sized plot about three blocks from us. He renovated a rundown home that was already there, turning it into something downright nice. He was in his mid-50s, not on a pension, and he seemed to have financial troubles. William often seemed extremely stressed.
He brought English-language books from above the Rio Bravo and opened a little bookstore in his home. It was not a profitable concern, and after a couple of years he returned to New England. I heard three or so years later that he had died. Dunno why.
The golden datura that proliferates in our yard comes from cuttings that William was nice enough to give me.
Before returning to New England, William sold his property to a guy we’ll call Joe, his wife and son, a snotty youngster in his early 20s. Joe tore down the house William had built and constructed an adobe palace in its place, much like the Spaniards built the great cathedral in Mexico City’s Zócalo atop the ruins of the Aztec Emperor Cuauhtemoc’s homestead.
But William was no emperor, and Joe and his wife were publishers of children’s books.
The new owners lasted about three years before selling the palace and moving to Uruguay under mysterious circumstances. During our morning power walks around the neighborhood plaza we would often see Joe’s son tooling about atop a small day-glo bicycle, the kind you usually see owned by 10-year-olds, but he was not 10.
He was far past puberty, and he had an obvious hankering for neighborhood girls. I believe some subsequent mischief led to the family’s pulling up stakes rather suddenly and moving to the tip of South America.
I could be wrong about that.
The adobe palace stayed on the market for a good spell, but it finally was purchased by an older Gringo couple. The fellow is named Ellis, and I do not recall his wife’s name. I have spoken to Ellis a time or two in passing, and he seems like a real nice guy.
They do not appear to live here full-time.
After 11 years, there are still only two Gringo houses in my hardscrabble neighborhood. That’s plenty.
There are lots of Mexicans, however, plus pigs, dogs, donkeys and chickens.