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San Miguel Allende is far from the madding crowd, farther still from the endless asphalt dropping us closer to Guatemala. It’s Dante’s descent, it’s Hermes’ flight, it’s Persephone’s re-entering the cave – the journey becomes the mental preparation for another way of life and challenges to things we hold close to us: safety, security, consistency, continuity, the protection of basic human freedoms. I will no longer be able to go out at night alone.
Ensconced somewhere beyond the rolling hills of Guanajuato, San Miguel is a familiar place with its 415 phone code and narrow colonial streets. It’s a small pearl buried in the folds. We always come in through the back door, past all the tumulos, and the mangy street dogs that can’t be bothered barking at passing cars. It’s a dry mountain heat and there is the politeness of a small town whose local fabric remains intact amid all the arbitrary violence in the rest of Mexico.
We guide ourselves in by the light of the cathedral, by the narrowing streets, by memory. There is a psycho-geography to things and the way they imprint themselves in our mind. I remember streets as far back as five-years-old in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during my morning walk to Catholic School. I return to these streets and it’s as if a string pulled me forward along the same path. This is San Miguel, this is our journey back until we pull up to our destination.
Once inside, the winds sweep the long thin cotton curtains in our bedroom and the lightening fills the sky before the evening’s rain. The drive recedes somewhere into the backwards in our minds. We let out a deep breath and are cradled into sleep.
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