ON MOVING OVER the Rio Bravo at the turn of the century, I had a to-do list of three items.
First, learn Spanish. I had no intention of living here without learning the native tongue. Alas, so many of my former countrymen do just that. Tsk, tsk.
Second, get married. I had no intention of living here solo for the rest of my life. I don’t like being single.
Third, with my new bride’s help, buy land and construct a home. See, my to-do list had an order of sorts. No. 1 was a lengthy process, and it’s ongoing.
At age 55, learning a new language is not something that comes easily. And No. 3 required No. 2 first.
And No. 2 required No. 1 because my child bride cannot converse in English. Being able to talk to your wife is advisable.
No. 2 was fairly easy because, truth be told, I had women coming out of the proverbial woodwork. Most did not interest me. I finally found one that interested me, and I married her about two years after moving to Mexico.
Her help with the home construction was immeasurable. She not only speaks Spanish, she’s a civil engineer.
Aside from learning a new language, which is a process without end, I had mostly accomplished my three goals in a bit more than three years. I’m so proud of myself.
THIS IS MY hardscrabble barrio’s water storage tank. It sits higher than any other place hereabouts, so gravity is how water gets to my house and those of the neighbors.
About a decade ago, this structure was covered with graffiti, and it was an eyesore. Then it got a fresh paint of white and red, and it remained unsullied for years.
Recently, someone applied artwork, a series of skulls. The one on the right in the middle row is even getting a shower.
Our municipal water comes from an underground spring. It’s delivered to us that way. There’s no purification plant.
We are natural people.
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MY BEAUTIFUL WORLD
After taking the photo at the top, I did a 180, and took the second photo, which is one side of our neighborhood plaza.
I’ve shot a number of photos of our plaza over the years, but never from this side. Look at those jacaranda trees. I get to admire them every weekday morning during our plaza walk.
We passed our 15th anniversary two days ago, and now we’re working on the second 15 years. I’ve been married thrice, of course. Five years with No. 1. Nineteen years with No. 2, although we were actually married only the last 10.
That means my current marriage has lasted the longest by a long shot. Although I am a fan of marriage, I hope not to have to do it a fourth time. Three is adequate.
VALENTINE’S DAY is one of our anniversaries. It marks the day we began living together, and that was in my child bride’s condo in Mexico City in 2002.
We made it legal a bit more than two months later, a civil ceremony held in the interior patio of her sister’s coffee shop here on the mountaintop.
While February is normally one of the coldest months hereabouts, this year so far is an exception. We have not had one freeze. A bit of frost last month, but that was it.
We aren’t out of the woods, and we can’t see the light at the tunnel’s end, but I detect a candle glow down there.
Just this morning, I finished the culling of dead plants from the yard, stuff nailed by those January frosts. It all rests in a greenish pile in the Garden Patio, and I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Neighbor to haul it away very soon.
My lovely wife seems finally to be recovering from a nasty cold caused by her being phoned at 1 a.m. last Thursday as the wake for our nephew began. Yes, 1 a.m. Who starts a wake at 1 a.m.? Mexicans do. Sometimes.
The wake was held on the street with bonfires outside the nephew’s humble home. It was cold and smoky.
She had not slept the previous night either due to spending it at the nephew’s hospital bedside in the state capital. She was mostly awake for 48 hours. Who wouldn’t get sick?
But today things appear to be returning to normal. It’s a beautiful anniversary day, air is cool, sky is blue, and we’ll lunch on roasted chicken, beans and rice.
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* Orchid courtesy of the Cotton family who recently visited the mountaintop.