Mexican life

Card from Mexico

bedroom

THERE I WAS, sitting on the green equipal loveseat with my back to the window where morning sunlight was pouring in. My child bride had just made up the bed and departed from the bedroom, leaving me alone.

Well, that looks nice, I said to myself, so I shot a photo.

Another postcard from Mexico.

Mexican life

No black people

ONE OF THE many changes I encountered on moving to Central Mexico was this:  There are no black people.

Nary a one.

After living in the American South for 98 percent of my life, this was very noticeable. I grew up with blacks, literally. For the first six years of my life, I lived on my grandparents’ farm in southwest Georgia. All of my playmates were black, 100%.

When my family moved to Florida when I was 7, however, schools had not been integrated, so I went completely through public schooling with no black kids in sight. They were on the other side of town in their own schools.

“Separate but equal.” Yeah, sure.

But on joining the Air Force in 1962, I immediately entered an integrated world. My barracks roommate was black, and so were some of my friends.

America changed in the following years, and blacks and whites now live and work together though not always in peace, something that is worsening, unfortunately. This I blame on the Democrat Party and famous black hucksters.

I moved over the border, leaving American racial conflict behind me. There are no black Mexicans in my part of the country. I understand there are some Mexican blacks on the Gulf Coast. Caribbean islands are full of black Latinos.

Statistically, Mexico is about 10 percent white and 90 percent brown. The brown 90 percent is split into 60 percent Mestizo and 30 percent indigenous. You often cannot tell Mestizos and indigenous apart. Their clothing can be a clue.

Often the indigenous speak their own language.

When I say there are no blacks in my part of Central Mexico, I mean Mexicans. I do know of two non-Mexican blacks here. One is half of a biracial couple from Washington D.C. who bought a home here for part-time living. The other is a young black American I’ve spotted now and then for years. I do not know her.

On rare occasion, I see a black tourist on the plaza. They invariably appear to be American. Yes, you can tell. But that’s rare. I guess American blacks prefer other vacation spots.

Maybe Cancún or Cabo.

Mostly, I live in a brown world, and I’m fine with that. I even married one, which I heartily recommend.

* * * *

(Bet you got a little uncomfortable reading this. Blame political correctness and people who vote left.)

The Odd Pot

Train times

WE MAY HAVE iPods and iPads and iTunes and even flaming Samsungs today, but we do not have trains. Freight trains are nice, but passenger trains are lovely.

One advantage of being vintage is that you had trains in your life, and now you have trains in your mind.

A railroad track passes directly behind the house across our street. Freights thunder by day and night. My favorite is the 5:45 a.m. Who needs an alarm clock?

Most passenger trains are gone, and we’re left with the occasional line that transports tourists. Alas.

As a child I boarded trains at the huge station in Jacksonville, Florida, and rode 200-plus miles northwest to Sylvester, Georgia, where I stepped down onto dirt.

Grandparents picked me up in an old Ford, and we drove to the farm on rutted, red-clay roads.

new-imageOne evening in 1962 a staff sergeant deposited me at the station in San Antonio, Texas, handing me a ticket and ordering me aboard.

The Air Force paid for a solo sleeper to Rantoul, Illinois. I woke the next morning and watched a forest of white-barked birch trees passing. I’d never seen birches.

Also courtesy of the Air Force, a few months later, I railed from Rantoul to the San Joaquin Valley of California, via Chicago. All the way across much of America.

From New Orleans I would ride the elegant Southern Railway to Atlanta to visit my parents. “Southern Railway Serves the South.” It surely did. But not anymore.

Traveling solo with two bottles of tequila, I rode in a sleeper from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez. I stood outside on the bucking platform between cars and watched the desert mountains in the distance, which was romantic.

With the woman who’s now my second ex-wife, I took a train from the English Channel to Paris, and a few days later an overnight sleeper to Barcelona.

The following year found me on a train alone from Edinburgh to Inverness and a few days later, with a new traveling companion in the form of a lovely American anthropologist, aboard a train from Inverness to the craggy coast of Scotland.

From there we ferried to the Isle of Skye.

I stood outside, six days later, as my traveling companion, leaned out the train window (just like in the movies) as it pulled from the station in Chester, England, taking her to Wales. My ride, an hour later, went to London.

I never saw her again.

Again with my second ex-wife, I took a train from Los Mochis, Mexico, to Chihuahua with an overnight at the Copper Canyon. After a following night in a Chihuahua hotel, we took a jammed, third-class train to Ciudad Juárez.

That was in the 1980s, and it was my last train ride.

Mexican life

Moving days

THIS MORNING, 16 years ago, September 10, 2000, I awoke in my two-story rental downtown in the state capital. I had lived there alone more than three months.

The house was virtually unfurnished. There was a king bed with a side table in the master bedroom. A second bedroom upstairs had a double and side table.

There was a rocking chair in the living room, nothing more. A large table with chairs in the kitchen-dining room, a propane stove-top, no oven whatsoever, and a refrigerator.

That was it on the furniture front.

It was moving day! My second in eight months.

Before moving to that home, I had lived in a room above a garage, just a few blocks away, for four months. So this virtually vacant home was a step up in comfort and grace.

No matter. I was moving again.

But first I had to rent a car to tote the accumulations of the previous eight months. It would be the first time I would drive on the loco streets of Mexico. I was nervous.

Later that day, car lightly loaded, I headed up the mountainside where I had rented a two-story house that was poorly maintained and pathetically furnished.

The first necessity was a new mattress. The house had one, but it wasn’t anything you’d want to lie down on.

I also ordered a dark green love seat and matching chair that would be shipped from Guadalajara. That arrived four long months later. Mexican express.

That sofa and chair now live in the Hacienda’s bedroom.

chairs

I lived in that rental for two and a half years, the last year of which I enjoyed the company of my child bride while we constructed the Hacienda a couple of miles away.

We moved into the Hacienda 14 years back next May. It’s quite a step up from the room over the garage where I slept on a sagging twin bed that was fond of tossing its slats, leaving me sprawled rudely on the floor. Ker-splat!

It’s been quite an adventure, the best of my life. The mountaintop has been good to me, 16 years today.

In many ways, it all seems like yesterday. But gazing ahead, 16 more years looks like another life.

It likely will be. Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

In summertime I often pause before sunrise at the small, eye-level (for me) window in the bathroom and smell the golden datura just inches away. A good way to start the day.

At times in summer it’s raining gently.

My next move will be into an ash urn. And I won’t need to pack a suitcase for the journey.