I must take a moment to pay a tribute to the other hiker on the last expedition to Mineral de Pozos.
Last September I was at a dinner party standing around on a patio scratching my ass waiting for the food while everyone else was finishing up cocktails. A woman’s deep, full laughter from across the way caught my attention. Her laughter had real life in it and spoke to me as does the spider to the fly.
I can summarize the end result of my undergraduate education this way. I learned how to muddle water and sugar correctly in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass and all the subsequent steps necessary in order to construct that cocktail perfectly. That one and others so well, as a matter of fact, that I have had to swear off alcohol entirely late in life. I am certain that today I would only have to throw out two before I was able to mix the third Old Fashioned to a tee. In fact there is a certificate in my briefcase here from a community college up north that says I am a bartender.
I have one skill still immediately on call that is left over from those days, however. I can fake it with the best of them. I introduced myself to the woman with the laugh on that patio and faked it from there. Here is what I have learned about her background since.
La Mexicana’s name is Adriana. She lived the first five years of her life in México City. Her mother was a member of the Mexican diplomatic service. Consequently beginning at the age of five, Adriana came to live in many different places as a result of her mother’s diplomatic postings and her subsequent marriage.
Adriana attended Catholic elementary school in Los Angeles. While her mother continued as a Mexican dipolmat in Los Angeles, Adriana attended boarding school in Vancouver. More nuns. Her mother was then posted to Caracas. During that time, Adriana attended boarding school in Switzerland. Following that, Adriana attended finishing school in Wadhurst, Sussex, Great Britain, where her speech was refashioned. The upshot is a Mexican woman who speaks English with a British accent. She speaks Spanish in a manner that fascinates her fellow Mexicans. Her French is rusty but serviceable.
La Mexicana at work in the gallery. She sells expensive art to people who did not previously know that they needed any art quite that expensive.
At a relatively young age, Adriana married a Mexican gentleman who was to become a noted author of children’s books in Spanish. During their marriage they lived in Caracas, Madrid, London, and ultimately in México City after traveling through 22 countries. They had two children. The son now lives in Mazatlán. The daughter lives in Portland. They were married for 23 years and then cashed it out some years ago.
She has not told me these things to impress me. They have spilled out gradually in dribs and drabs . I would have found a way to be unimpressed if she had been trying to impress me. Stubborn in that way, I am.
La Mexicana having a shot of tequila while she chats up Antonio. Antonio tends the horses at some friends’ hacienda near Mineral de Pozos.
La Mexicana and I have become good friends, a bit of a new experience for me with a woman. (There is the tribute.) She has read some important books and can speak of them. She is piquant on the subject of art. Her hair care ritual consists of running her fingers back through it once a day. She can hike, she can ride a horse, she can swim, she can play tennis, and she can ski when I want to do that. In the meantime she cooks traditional Mexican dishes that are to die for.
La Mexicana’s acquaintance has been a good deal for me. I have long since stopped faking it with her.