I always love the sweet promise of setting out on a trip before dawn. But it wasn’t until the end of a long day of travel, when I boarded the shuttle that would take me to Susan’s house, that it really hit me that I was in Mexico.
The moment I walked out of the airport door, 85 degrees slapped me like a wave. I immediately stripped off my down vest and my black wool cardigan and wished I’d had the forethought to put my flip flops within easy reach.
A huge sign, Bienvenidos, arched over the roadway, welcoming me as we exited the airport. As I chatted with my driver I peered out at my surroundings. We were driving through scrub country—lots of cactuses and a fair amount of trees, grazing land for cattle, a lot of empty space, and few small villages. I tried to puzzle out the Spanish billboards—between the illustrations, my paltry Spanish vocabulary and a lot of guesswork, I could figure out about half of the signs, one word out of five. Speed limits were posted in metric: 100 km/hr MAXIMA, gas sold in liters. We passed a red and white sign Obligatoria with a picture of a fastened seat belt.
Small crosses periodically dotted the sides of the road, covered with bright plastic flowers, marking the places accidents had occurred and people had died.
At one traffic signal, a young guy with a backwards baseball cap break-danced in the middle of the intersection for tips. Small mangy dogs ran alongside the road. People rode on the back of pick-up trucks. Bales of hay toppled from the truck in front of us as we passed over small, but vicious speed bumps.
Tiny roadside stands selling plastic toys and fruit lined the road as we passed through small villages. Storefronts were brightly colored—lots of yellows, reds and oranges. A man staggered down the street under the weight of a huge stack of broken-down cardboard boxes tied to his back. Another man, herding a dozen sheep, led a donkey carrying a load of wood.
I was definitely back in Mexico.
I arrived in San Miguel just in time for the sunset. My host, Susan Evans, a retired statistics professor, has built a stunning, light-filled home and I am staying in her wonderful casita.
One of my favorite things about San Miguel is that the streets are lined with doors and you never know what will be behind the door—chickens and a small shack or a fifteen-room mansion. This is Susan’s front door:
And here are just a couple of glimpses of her house:
Here’s where we had dinner:
After a wonderful homemade dinner of pesto pizza and salad, a glass of wine and some lovely catch-up conversation, I excused myself to unpack and settle in. I opened the door to my new temporary home. Wow. What at treat it was going to be to stay here in her sweet little guest house!
Tomorrow I have a free day—time to explore before the first events of the writer’s conference begin.
P.S. Susan rents out her casita. If you’re ever in San Miguel, you should contact her. It’s a cool, beautiful, restful little haven.