By Micki Wendt
One of my neighborhood street vendors is selling lingerie, so I decide to stop by and have a look. The selection includes the usual padded bras. I ask the señora if she has a bra without…and point to the padding. “Without sponges?” she asks. I reply, “Yes, I would like a bra without sponges.” But, she didn’t have any.
While chatting with a friend in the plaza, a boy selling vegetables came up and noticed the visually unremarkable (from a distance) but energetically charged Mayan labyrinth medallion that I always wear around my neck. Surprised, I asked him if he knew what it meant. He flashed me a big grin, pointed up to the heavens, and darted off.
After the village began to come back to life after several fear filled weeks a while back, I dared to walk down my street to the lake to enjoy the view once again. A group of teenage boys were happily kicking a soccer ball around. As I passed through their group a stray ball came my way, so I did the natural thing and gently kicked it back towards them – perfectly! They cheered me and I laughed. Upon returning the same thing happened. I managed to kick the ball to them with perfect accuracy and they cheered me again! – the miracle being that I have never played soccer in my life!
During a routine tiendita visit, the owner’s mother tells me all about the long-gone traditions that used to be, but are no longer in Ajijic, seemingly due to disinterest of the young people. Que Lastima, I say…the kids used to have to learn lots of verses to the songs of the Christmas pastorelas, which used to be part of the posadas and featured the devil and his wife coming to visit the Baby Jesus…a little hard to imagine, but I notice that The Devil still shows up in a funny costume sometimes at various fiestas or parades…it’s all in good humor, not the fear and guilt trip of the Northern Cultures.
At the beauty shop…Did you see the view this morning?…Oh, yes, the view is really beautiful here, isn’t it, but I can only see the mountains and not much of the lake because of all the trees…No, I meant the view on TV. My mind blanks for a minute. I completely forgot that up north, “the view” is a TV show.
“Elotes, chayotes, camotes del cerro, cinco pesos” intones the woman from her vending truck which slowly passes by every evening playing traditional Mexican songs through tinny loudspeakers, making me feel like I’m living in an old Mexican movie where the cast is dressed in Revolution era attire as they perform enchanting song and dance numbers in their rustic plaza. What a lovely escape.
The following anecdote includes a literal translation of Spanish spoken by a foreign couple on the bus. They board…Riberas, Riberas…and stand in the crowded aisle. Upon approaching their destination the man moves towards the front of the bus…alla o aca? says the driver…there, here. The woman shoves her way forward through the throng haplessly yelling Dog! Dog!! Dog!!! She then bends over to look out the front window thereby putting her hind end right in front of my face. I can barely refrain from pinching her posterior in front of all the people knowing full well how Mexicans love a good laugh. They disembark as the man says Sorry, I don’t speak, I don’t speak…
And so goes the daily, delightful minutiae of life in Ajijic.