Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our First Day...Part Two!

Morning in San Miguel
We had planned to get up early so we could start our adventures before the heat of the day. What we hadn't counted on was the outbreak of World War III at 5 am. While I am not sure what the occasion was, it would seem that morning itself may just be reason enough here, and well before dawn the shelling began. Mostly just high explosives this time and with less of the showy displays, but for the next two hours the sound of thousands of rounds echoed off the hills. Not to be outdone, and certainly not content with letting me sleep for even a minute longer then necessary, the church bells started to chime throughout the city as well. Coffee seemed like the only antidote, so we got a pot going and wandered out into the now nearly morning light to enjoy this unusual but effective wake up call. My theory was that since most residents take a siesta in the afternoon, no one would be disturbed by this tumultuous display of firepower. Remarkably, an afternoon nap was already beginning to sound like a good idea. Shortly after 7, the shelling stopped (apparently just in time for the roosters and dogs to have their turn), and we sipped coffee until it was time to head into town.

Cobblestones and Bugs
As we walked the half mile or so into town, I had a chance to think about some of the things you notice about Mexico in general, and San Miguel in particular. One of my first observations was made as we came from the airport in the shuttle. While the van was relatively new and very clean, the shocks were not, and during the 1-1/2 hour ride we seemed to find every bump and pothole there was to be found. This resulted in a punishing blow to my spine and kidneys and Kate kept giving me the evil eye every time we hit a bump and a reflexive groan would escape. We also found out that while driving at very high speeds and passing almost anywhere and everywhere is a national pastime, replacing those worn out shocks apparently is not. The cobblestone streets of San Miguel provide a bone shattering ride that make the GM Proving Grounds look like a kiddie-ride at Disneyland. Virtually every vehicle that rumbles by is in desperate need of new shocks, and you can almost feel the body bottoming out on the frame. Surprisingly, there are a number of older vehicles still on the road including the venerable VW Bug. While they too have no suspension left whatsoever, they have somehow managed to survive this punishment and are still chugga-chugging down the road.

The other thing we learned right away is that the people of San Miguel are on the whole very, very friendly. They greet you as you walk down the street, they help you if you look lost, and they tolerate you when you butcher their language worse than Hannibal Lector. They smile, they laugh, and even when the language is a big barrier, they try and be nice. I am sure that drug dealers, rapists, and murderers live among them, just like they do in our country, but on the whole I feel as safe and more welcome here than any city I have ever traveled to in the US. We don't need a wall, we need a bridge!

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