Where hippies still live

hippie

YESTERDAY ON the main plaza downtown, I noticed this old gent. He looks like a Gringo, not a Mexican, but I cannot be sure.

I’m guessing he took the wrong exit out of Woodstock in 1969 and ended up South of the Border when he intended to head toward Haight-Ashbury.

That strange Americans, sometimes on the lam but usually not, have long moved to Mexico is a fact. But many more normal folks are now retiring here because it’s cheaper, and because they think Mexicans are sooo nice. Earlier on, many came down to escape their lives north of the border. That was certainly my story. Escape.

Speaking of hippies, fellow retired newspaperman and blogger Al Lanier recently said there are no hippies in San Miguel de Allende near where he lives. I burst out laughing because there certainly are, thousands of them.

I’d wager that 90 percent of the mess of Gringos who move to San Miguel were stoned and swaying during 1967’s Summer of Love. Probably the fellow in the photo was there too. But San Miguel’s former hippies are now simply far older and wealthier.

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When I arrived home yesterday afternoon, I noticed this view, the colors and light mostly but the bougainvillea too. This is one of my three bougainvilleas that know their places. My sole monster bougainvillea will join them soon in size and good breeding.

But mostly, I just like the late-afternoon colors. The name of the paint color on that wall is Hacienda Red. Really. But any nincompoop can see it’s orange.

bougain
I subject this plant to stern discipline.

Sidewalk shoppers

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SITTING AT A sidewalk table abutting the plaza with a nice café Americano negro and nothing but time on my hands allows me to notice things.

Just up from where I sit are lines of  sidewalk stands where people we call hippies (they don’t care for the term) sell wares like earrings, handmade drums, things you tie around your wrist to look artsy, stuff you move to make the sound of rain, Indian incense, that sort of gear. It attracts tourists, especially on weekends.

I took this shot last Saturday. The two women cannot be from around here. They just don’t look like mountaintop people. They look like big-city gals, maybe from the nearby state capital or Guadalajara or even Mexico City.

I’ve spent 40 years, more than half my life, living in tourist towns. New Orleans, San Juan and now here amid the cobblestone streets and bougainvillea. People from more prosaic spots visit and think, “I could live here,” but then they go home and die in Dubuque.

The Prussian and the hippie

HAVING HAD three wives means that my life on occasion has been visited by the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

I’ve never decided if I should be envious of people who get married young, and stay hitched to the same person till they die. I appreciate that there’s a long-term solidarity, but they’ve missed the fun times of shrieking terror that multiple spouses occasion.

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Till death — or the farmer — do us part.

Hitching two people together long-term usually is a challenge because folks can be quite different. I’ve read that two-ox teams pull badly till they become accustomed to one another and learn the other’s personality. Sometimes the oxen never get in lockstep, and must be paired with other, more amenable oxen.

Are humans and oxen really all that different?

My first wife was quite messy, which was not surprising considering the chaotic home in which she was spawned. That one aspect was a challenge for me. We only lasted five years, but her messiness had nothing to do with my departure.

prussianLet me inject here that a Prussian drill sergeant and I share many traits. You can see how this could provide problems in a matrimony.

My second wife was fairly well-organized, so that was not an issue, which explains, in part, why we were together almost two decades. We likely would still be together if she hadn’t become smitten with an illegal-alien yard boy half her age.

I think my Prussian-ness was a major factor. How much further is it possible to stray from a Prussian drill sergeant than into the arms of Mexican yard boy?

Wife #3, my child bride, lacks my Prussian personality, but it’s not been a problem because I am older, wiser, softer. When we first met, I asked what her worst traits were, and she said disorganization and distraction.

She was not lying.

hippieShe’s something of a hippie in spite of being politically conservative. I watch her life swerve this way and that, and I marvel, usually with my mouth shut.

I think the path to a successful marriage often is no more complicated than keeping your mouth shut.