This is a regular feature column inspired by the September 15, 2019 Open Circle presentation of stories that manifest “Mexican Grace.”
El Ojo is looking for more anecdotes that relate the many encounters, initiated by expats or locals, that exemplify the special forms of mutual giving and receiving that define the Mexican Grace that brought us to this unique paradise–and that keep us here.
Photos are welcome.
An Open Heart
By M. L. Reed
Before we came to Mexico, my husband and I spoke with an expat who had lived here for a while. We asked her what she liked most about living Lakeside. “The heart of the people!” she replied, without hesitation.
We had been struggling after some challenging setbacks, and ended up moving across the States housesitting for a couple of years. We were at odds about coming down here; he, strongly in favor; my objections weren’t to Mexico, but rather that I was drawn to return to the East Coast, to family and old friends.
Figuring I wouldn’t have any peace until I at least tried it, I finally made a decision to check out Mexico. When I did, I told him I was willing to put our struggles about it behind us, and would embrace the adventure with an open heart.
Our first night in Mexico, too tired after driving all day to eat in the hotel dining room, we ordered take-out to bring upstairs. It took exceedingly long, even for Mexico, considering we were the only customers. My weary impatience turned to instant delight when I found out why the delay. The chef surprised me by writing Happy Birthday in chocolate icing on a plate with one of the best pieces of chocolate cake I’ve ever had. He made a tiring travel day feel like a real birthday!
Then we met Hector, a Yaqui Indian who helped us get a flat tire fixed our second day on the road. I noticed children’s Halloween-themed art on the door of his shop and told him Halloween was my birthday. He pulled out more artwork made by the creator of the crayoned jack-o’-lantern. With great pride he showed me a small cardboard cemetery memorial his grandson made for a school competition for Día de Los Muertos.
He entertained me as his worker fixed our tire, for fewer pesos than we expected, and had us on the road with less than an hour delay.
Hector said his people had belonged to the land of Sonora for centuries, making a sweeping hand gesture to indicate the area around us. He did not say the land belonged to his people. He said his people belonged to this land; a subtle, yet profound, distinction.
Later on we passed a towering statue of a powerful Yaqui Warrior. I understood the heart-swell of Yaqui pride a little more because of Hector’s Grace, and the statue brought a tear to my eye as we drove by.
Then there was the four-year-old boy who walked away from his mother in a store to hand me an orange paper heart; we’d only been here two weeks. Did he sense that I needed a little cheer, being so far from my own loved ones? I met his mother’s eyes and we nodded to each other and smiled. More heart connection. That paper heart lifts my spirits still and is a reminder of my pledge to keep my own heart open.
My heart was touched again when my husband returned from errands one day with a yellow rose, from one of my favorite merchants. She found out I was grieving a friend’s passing. Her gesture went a long way in lightening my heavy heart. She said it was a “rose for remembrance.” I will never forget her kindness.
Perhaps anywhere we travel with our own hearts open, we will find other open hearts, but the Mexican people make it easy. “El Corazón de Los Mexicanos es Muy Hermoso.” The heart of the Mexican people is very beautiful.
M. L. Reed