By Micki Wendt
While waiting for the bus at my corner, a young mama and her little boy, who had a small, slightly electronic toy, stood near me I smiled and said hola. Silently, the little boy wandered over and loaned me his little toy while he went to sit down on the ground to stare intently at some bugs crawling under the flowers beneath the tree, contented and happy. The bus arrived and we boarded.
Taught by the teenage cowboys on our street, a couple of charritos (little cowboys) in full cowboy regalia, were playing with their lassos in front of my house. They proudly showed me a couple of their tricks which I gladly applauded. Later, one of them was spotted merrily chasing after a little dog trying to lasso it – but the little dog managed to escape.
While standing at the carretera one day waiting to cross, decked out in my finest sparkly, spangly Huichol jewelry, three handsome young men drove by. In one split second, the driver leaned over and blew me a kiss off his fingertips, and the other two turned my way as if choreographed. Whizzing by, they never even had a chance to see me smile back.
A little boy and girl, obviously fond of each other, were walking home from school, not holding hands or arm in arm, but patting each other’s heads while giggling rapturously.
At a food stand at the San Andres Fiesta, two little boys howl, scream, and jump up and down with unrestrained excitement at the mere sight of a plate of food rotating inside a microwave oven.
After much careful observation, it dawned on me that the whole point of the dancing horse events at the rodeos and parades is to see how long the charro can go without spilling the beer out of his can. The real virtuosos use the much more spill-likely transparent plastic cups which enable the onlooker to see exactly how much cerveza remains for the charro to drink afterwards. I think they time themselves by the intensity of their thirst.
Before the malecon was built, the plaza used to be the living room of the people, especially in the dusky twilight after the long, hot, sun-baked days before the rainy season. It was like dying and going to heaven to experience the complete harmony and happiness of all the generations gathered together to visit or play – happy little kids running around, calm parents and grandparents looking on, teens and pre-teens promenading or pairing off, the regular four charros viejos relaxing on “their” bench, cheerful music and romantic singing drifting out from the cantinas….I wondered if or where such a scene could possibly still exist up north…maybe on a movie set—or only in your dreams?
In a surreal dreamscape beyond the boundaries of night and day or awake and sleep, I think I hear a raucously cheerful brass band coming down the street in the cold and dark of the pre-dawn hours. There are intermittent fireworks announcing their arrival. Somehow I know they are heading to a big celebration at the church and the mood is very festive. But in the middle of the night? What’s happening? Where do they get all their energy? No drug can elicit this heaven-sent good cheer! Then I fully awaken and realize it wasn’t a dream at all! The San Andres Fiesta has started and I am so glad I am here and my dream is my reality…however, I still wonder how the bandas woke up at that hour in the days before alarm clocks…
Finally…finally…the warm sun reappears and the breeze feels like the breath of the Goddess of the Lake…and I multiply this magical moment many, many times in my mind.
And so goes the daily, delightful minutiae of life in Ajijic.