So today I met all the gringos in Todos Santos. Or so it felt. I went into La Palapa early this morning to begin putting up an art display. I looks very nice if I do say so myself. The kids have quite a sense of color and boy, can I nail those nails into the wall like a pro. Along the wall near the ceiling, I removed an alphabet and spaced nails out for the paintings (on wooden boards) and then made hangers for the pieces out of string and hot glue (it was so nice that the glue gun worked) As a colleague of mine put it, not having the right tools or when you do they are broken before you’re done, is a bit of a metaphor for Mexico. Everything just kinda manages to come together…at some point.
So anyway. Gringos. The library was open this morning, manned (or wo-manned) by a retired Aussie in a full-body brace who says, “You know?” after practically every thought and has whiskers on her chin. Her name is Dawn. So while Dawn managed the desk, I nailed, and gringos floated in and out all morning. No Mexicans. Hmmm. Where were all these white people coming from? Being the astute eavesdropper that I am, I gathered that most of the gringos in Todos Santos live on “el otro lado”. Or, “the other side”, as the Mexicans call it. The gringos do too. Suddenly a whole new side of Todos Santos opened up to me. On literally the other side of town lies a gringo sanctuary very much like a gated community. I went there after work partly out of curiosity and also because I have to make a stop there tomorrow to pick up a little boy, Nico, and walk him to La Palapa. His grandma owns a consignment shop out there on el otro lado. The most obvious and immediate change one notices when entering el otro lado is that the streets are paved. Paved. Hardly any of the streets in Todos Santos are paved. And then the houses get big. Though all the fellow gringos who I met at La Palapa today couldn’t be nicer people, all usually connected to La Palapa in some way as either a volunteer or a benefactor, I was struck by the obvious and almost deliberate separation between the Mexicans of Todos Santos and the foreigners. I do not live on el otro lado nor did I know anything about it until today, so it was all very fascinating to me. I’ve noticed this separation of races at my old high school and it’s interesting (though I concede not surprising) to see it happen elsewhere, as in another country. We gravitate towards similarity which tends to be synonymous with safety. In the animal kingdom this is very true: see herd animals.
On the way home from class this afternoon I stopped at a local taco joint and bought three tacos del pastor– a signature of Mexico, it’s a big leg of pig on a rotating spit and they shave it off piping hot as it spins vertically in its pastor cave (?) onto palm sized flour tortillas. And there I sat, eating my tacos del pastor and reading “Fingerprints of God” for my spiritual exploration class as the sun set grapefruit behind me . Heaven.
Hasta mañana! Buenas noches.