Road to Los Corrales

MY LAST DAY as a working stiff, December 19, 1999, I came to the newsroom in Houston with Happy Faces of all sizes that I had cut from yellow poster paper the previous day. I tacked and taped them to my cubicle. Yes, a cubicle, I never had an office.

That evening about midnight — I worked the swing shift — almost all my coworkers had gone home. I stood up, waved to the few remaining folks, and walked out the door for good, having no clue what I’d be doing even a year later.

Twenty-plus years later, I’m hanging loose.

It was a lazy Saturday today, so the two of us took a ride into the countryside. We went to the tiny town of Los Corrales and turned around.

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The road to Los Corrales.
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Corn beyond an old stone wall.
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The green fields of home. Somebody’s.

It’s been said repeatedly that our state resembles Hawaii during the green months. Never having been to Hawaii, I cannot vouch for that, but it’s darn nice here.

Half a century ago, when I was visiting my maternal grandmother in the summertime, after dinner at noon, my grandmother and I would take the Ford for a ride down the red-clay roads. Usually, we would stop half a mile away at her sister’s place — her name was Bubba, and she was rail thin and chain-smoked — so she could come along for the ride.

I was too young for a driver’s license, but nobody gave a hoot.

I often think of those Sunday drives through the fields and woods of southwest Georgia when my child bride and I do pretty much the same thing on weekends. The two-lane, rural roads here are not red clay, of course, just your garden-variety asphalt at best. I always wanted to live in the mountains.

In the video, which I made in the morning, the music you hear is coming from the neighbors out back. They are sharing sorts.

Double-team anniversary!

20th-year-anniversary

IT WAS two decades ago this month that I abandoned the nation of my birth and moved to a startlingly different world. It’s been very interesting and totally positive.

I spent my final night in Houston in the house that I — in a zany moment — gifted my second ex-wife just after our divorce in 1995. I had cleared out of my rental condo the previous day. It was stay with her or in a hotel. She took me in.

Just before I headed out the next morning toward Atlanta in the Ryder rental truck, I posed in my former driveway for the photo below.

I drove to Atlanta, left a few things in my mother’s carport storeroom, and caught a Delta jet to Guadalajara with two suitcases. After three nights there, I rode a bus to Morelia, Michoacán, enrolled in a language school and lived in a small room above a garage.

A few months later, out of curiosity, I boarded a bus for the 40-minute drive to a small, colonial-era city at a higher altitude. I sat there in the plaza and looked around. I liked it. I found a furnished, rental house and moved here, where I’ve been ever since.

Now, after 20 years, I’ve been in a foreign nation for more than a quarter of my life, and not just any quarter, the most recent one, and speaking almost exclusively a foreign tongue, which is odd for a fellow who started life as redneck Cracker from Georgia.

I have returned to the United States very rarely and not at all in the past 11 years. I’m here to stay. I done good. Sometimes one gets stuff right.

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Standing outside my ex-wife’s home in Houston on a January morning in 2000. About to head off solo into uncharted seas. Age 55.
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And 20 years later, sitting in the upstairs terraza recently. I haven’t changed a lick.

But I have another anniversary. It was 15 years ago, also this month, that I started this website. It began under a different name, but it’s been me all along.

15For the first six years, I focused almost exclusively on my new Mexican life and the startling differences from what I was accustomed to up north.

But after those six years, things that were fascinating became routine, and I wearied of writing about them. I retired that blog (The Zapata Tales) and opened this one without knowing exactly where it would lead.

It has led to more about my life in Mexico but also to political issues. I am an unabashed right-winger but of the noble sort. I don’t fly swastikas, and I don’t send Jews and gypsies to concentration camps. Quite the contrary. Live and let live, I say.

If only left-wingers felt the same.

Not long ago, I wrote here that I seem to be running out of steam, website-wise, and it’s true. However, the posts have continued but with a bit less frequency.

Who knows what the future will bring? Another 20 years in Mexico? Highly unlikely unless one counts tomb time. Another 15 years of The Unseen Moon? Equally unlikely.

But today, I’m hoisting an imaginary champagne flute. Cheers, amigos!

Saludos to me.

The nearby capital city

WHEN I MOVED to Mexico 19 years ago next month, this is the city in which I initially lived — above a garage.

Unlike most folks who relocate below the Rio Bravo, I did almost no research beforehand. What investigating I did was almost entirely hunting online for a language school that was not too far from Mexico City.

I had a girlfriend of sorts in Mexico City but, not being a masochist, I did not want to live in the chaotic national capital.

Here is the language school I found. If I had decided on a different language school, I would have moved to a different city, and everything that’s happened since would have happened differently.

I stayed in the capital city for just eight months before moving to my mountaintop town of about 80,000 souls that’s located 50 kilometers to the southwest up a modern, four-lane highway.

Having the big city nearby makes living in my hardscrabble backwater considerably more bearable. We drive down there once a week for shopping, a good meal and the occasional odds & ends.

Our dentist is there, and our internist too.

My child bride did post-graduate study in Madrid in the mid-1990s. She often would get irritated at Spaniards who believed Mexico consisted entirely of dirt roads and burros.

As you can see from this video I found yesterday on YouTube, we are far from being just dirt roads and burros. We do have dirt roads and burros, but we are much more than that.

In many respects, living here is better than living above the Rio Bravo.

A morning tradition

MOST EVERY morning following croissantitos and orange marmelade or Costco bagels and cream cheese lite, plus café americano negro, of course, we retire to the living room and sit on the red sofa.

The music machine is already playing. I turn that on before bagels or croissantitos. This morning it was Madeleine Peyroux who was serenading us. She’s been our morning music for quite a few weeks now.

And will remain so till we weary of her.

This is how the scene appeared this morning. It doesn’t last long because we are a very busy pair, but it lasts long enough to count.

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(Note: The rather loud tick, tock, tick you hear is my Aunt Ned’s (R.I.P.) antique wall clock which dates from about 1885. I date from somewhat later than that.)