A New State

I used to drive from Missouri to California every summer when the girls were little. When they got older, the route changed from Oregon to Missouri. There was also the stretch from Oregon to California and the 5 and 101 that I know so well. The Western States take up a lot of room and time to travel through. I always noticed that once I began nearing the perimeter of a State, the geography began to change. It would take on bits and pieces of the upcoming State. Once I passed the State line, I knew I was no longer in the same place.

I’ve been feeling as though I’m nearing the perimeter of a new State these past couple of weeks. Tonight, I’ll be crossing the State Line and I’ll be in a different place. El Sur Experiment has been meaningful and magical geography to travel through and appreciate. But I’m going to leave now and begin something new. It feels like a natural place to end this blog. I do know one thing will stay the same, and that will be to follow the advice my father hollered at us on family roadtrips from the steering wheel: “Wake up and look out the window. You don’t want to miss the scenery.”


Day of the Dead in La Luz

Yesterday, seven of us piled into Julie’s truck and went to the panteon (cemetery) in La Luz, a small community located in the hills about 20 kilometers from Valenciana. We wanted to spend a few hours in the afternoon together to recognize Day of the Dead.

It was a special afternoon that felt a bit removed and detached from everything. I saw a father and his two young children sobbing at a grave while mariachis played in a circle around them. There were two guys in their twenties reverently sipping on their Caguamas next to the grave of their primo who died five years ago at the age of 25. I watched families carrying large bouquets and placing them gently on grave beds. Joy and laughter stood alongside grief and tears as I made my way through the cemetery spaces. The mariachis went from one group to the next, replaying the same songs. The light felt long and tender, and even cinematic as it skipped across the gravestones, caressed the tops of children’s heads, and washed every blade of grass in soft amarillos.

Morning of Day of the Dead

The banks are closed. School is not in session. It’s Day of the Dead. Folks are remembering their loved ones who have passed by resurrecting alters, paying homage at the cemetery, and creating mosaics from beans, rice, oats, and flower petals like the ones you see here. I carried my camera on my morning walk through town to share some of the street scenes with you. By the time afternoon comes, Juarez will be covered with skeletons and saints.

Look deep

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein


This is Madre Piedad, the latest addition to Buen Pastor. She spent over twenty years in Mexico City working with girls and women and now helps Madre Bertita with the girls in the internado. I saw her yesterday when I went to Buen Pastor for a special going-away lunch.

Yesterday, the madres collectively prepared a spectacular lunch of fried fish, guacamole, squash, spanish rice, and Madre Bertita’s special dessert. It was a delicious feast! They invited Katie and Liz which made it even more special, and gave me parting gifts including special silver bird earrings that are typical of the work here in Guanajuato. I thought I was going to hold it together and make it a tear-free afternoon, but towards the end, Madre Elvira got to me with her sweetness, telling me how I much I meant to them and not to forget them. At that moment, I realized how much I was going to miss them and how much I love them.

Buen Pastor and these madres have meant so much for me these past six years in Mexico. They’ve anchored my heart while revealing to me an all encompassing love that’s very much included a kind of mothering-daughtering relationship. And while they were thanking me for these little things, I wanted to tell them I owe them so much, for truly the biggest lessons in life: love and community. I hope they could see it in my glistening eyes, and feel it in the solidness of my hugs for I couldn’t speak at that moment. I will never forget them.

Nube Tóxica

Shiny table at Truco reflects Salamanca’s toxic cloud story.