Today is New Year’s Eve. A new year awaits upon the horizon filled with all the limitless possibilities that awaken with another turning of a calendar page.
But first, we must celebrate and give thanks for all the prayers that were answered in this year past.
We have been invited to a party at the home of our hosts, Guillermo and Roscio. A few family and friends, he tells me when we meet on the grounds of Villas Fa-Sol, late yesterday afternoon. He is disappointed, though. He was not able to get the live band he wanted. We will have to make do with the speakers and stereo on the patio, he says. And he laughs and gives me his charmingly warm smile before adding, “But first, we will spend the day in the kitchen. Getting ready.”
I offer to come and help. No! No! Not possible. You are our guests. But you are welcome to come and spend the day at our home he offers graciously.
This is a place of warm smiles and welcoming hearts. A place where Mi Casa. Su Casa is imprinted in the DNA of everyone we meet.
We went into town yesterday (a girl needs a new outfit when invited to a Mexican New Year’s Eve Soirée!) and at every storefront, the proprietor stood outside or sat on a chair calling out to us. “Come see! I have…” and he or she would list the multitude of treasures in their store.
They were impossible to resist. Smiles. Cheery voices. An inate ability to sell and a deep desire to please make for an irresistible combination.
I resisted the silver bracelet with gold inlays. For now.
I resisted the pink linen top and matching pants. For now.
And I even resisted the little boy in bare feet who proceeded his father into the restaurant where we sat eating tacos and sipping ice cold Modella. He wanted us to pay his father to play music for us on a wooden xylophone type instrument. “I only listen to music at night,” our friend Andrew told the father. And the man laughed and smiled and waved and Andrew translated for us what was said and we all laughed and smiled together.
After an exchange like that, how could anyone resist dropping a coin or two into the dried coconut shell he held and continuously shook gently in his outstretched hands?
Fortunately, our friends Andrew and Ursula speak fluent Spanish. I can catch words here and there. They come to me through the veil of foreign tongues spoken like prayers whispered at an altar. Some will make it through to the deity above. Some will lay upon the altar, waiting for fate to find them at another time, depending upon how pleasing they are to the ears of the God or gods above. Que sera sera.
Spanish is like that for me. If I listen closely, pay deep attention to the rhythm and flow of the language, I can catch a phrase, a word here, a sound there that is close enough to French, that I sense its meaning.
But, like a prayer whispered to an unseen God, sometimes the words simply flow past me, lost to some whim of fate that only the heavens can divine.
I feel close to the whims of fate here. Close to the Divine. The essence of life. It pulses on the street. It is alive in every thing and everyone.
Voices calling out. Horns honking and music blaring from storefront radios and cascading out from the open windows of cars driving past.
The music is constant. It is everywhere.
A man plays his guitar outside the restaurant where we sit. He sings of his dead cat. His despair. His sorrow. HIs face is weathered and brown from the sun. His eyes glisten, tears welling up, threatening to flow over onto his cheeks.
“It is a sad song,” Ursula calls out to him.
And he nods his head, shrugs his shoulders and replies, “Yes. It is.”
This is a place where the fullness and richness and impermanence of life permeates every scent, every sound, every living thing. Where sadness and joy collide with every breath. Where laughter and tears and dancing and sad song and happy song invade all your senses.
Where children are revered and children are ignored to play and run through traffic and dart amidst diners at tables. They are part of life. Part of the cycle. Part of the unknown destiny that the fates hold instore for each of us.
A child rides on the back of a motorbike, clinging to his mother’s back. She clings to her husband’s waist, her arms wrapped around the infant pressed against his chest as he careens and weaves his way through traffic.
“It is just the way it is,” our host tells us when I comment on the danger.
My western sensibilities want to grab the children from the back of motorcycles and at least put a helmet on them. I want to put shoes on the children before they run into traffic, their hands filled with beaded bracelets and other trinkets to sell to tourists driving by in buses and rental cars.
I want to do these things that fit into the life I hold ‘up north’, from where I come from. I must breathe instead into the possibility that there are many ways to get through this world, and all of them fit the times, the space, the land upon which they are born.
And in this place where ocean breezes dance with ethereal beauty in the gauzy curtains by the windows, where blue sea meets sky at a far and distant horizon and the land rears up in fierce defiance of the sea’s embrace, I must give way. I must give way to my thoughts of how things ‘should’ be and let go of my fierce hold on ‘life as I know it’. I must breathe into life as it makes sense for this time and place. Life in its duality and contradictions. Life that dances in the wind and drifts by in seemingly slow motion while rushing past on motorbikes and passing cars.
“Come into my store,” a woman greets us as we attempt to walk quickly by. “Come. Spend a Mexican minute here. Time will keep moving where ever you go, but in a Mexican minute, time will pass much more pleasantly.”
Yes. Bring on the Mexican minutes where life is as life is and all that matters is to live each moment as it comes and leave the future to unfold in prayers whispered at an altar seeking blessings on a Happy New Year for all the world.
Que sera sera.