Last weekend we sent the dogs off to doggie camp and headed to a small town in Jalisco. Daughter Jess had arrived in Guadalajara earlier in the week to spend vacation with a friend from New York who was visiting family here for the first time in many years. Of course since they were so close we were hoping they would come to Mazatlán to visit us, and it worked out that we met them at the family rancho in the tiny village of San Nicolas in Jalisco.
The first miracle that happened is we actually connected with them! The roads are small and the little towns just look like a couple of houses by the highway and most towns aren’t indicated with a sign. They had a New York cell phone, we had a Sinaloa one… so at one point I ended up calling my son in Mexico City and having him call them from his vonage phone for me. It had taken them longer than they expected to walk from the rancho to the highway where they waited for us, jumping up and down when our car came by. We connected without too much delay!
The rancho is where Lourdes lived as a child, one of a large family. She shared so many memories of riding donkeys, eating sugar cane, handling the livestock and carrying water from a long distance. The house that they lived in as children is still there, but the adobe bricks have collapsed and new rooms have been added over time. No one lives there full time now, but a sister comes from Guadalajara every week or two to water plants and a brother keeps his goats, pigs, and chickens in the farmyard but lives a few doors away.
Some family live in California, others in New York, and the rest in Guadalajara or San Nicolas. It’s a place for them to all come home to throughout the year, and you can almost see the roots from this place still holding the family together.
We loved her family, a family of smiling people with the same twinkling eyes. When we arrived posole was on the fire outside, and all the sisters were busy preparing a delicious comida. Paul and I sat and visited with a brother in law, since our help wasn’t needed (ahem, wanted) in the kitchen. The kitchen was a cinder block room with a table, a pila for washing, a clothes washer, and a tiny stove. But wow! The food that came out of there was amazing. A zuchinni-tomato dish, several salsas, the posole, tortillas, quesadillas, broccoli, and much more. The liter bottles of beer filled glass after glass. More family arrived. Everyone crowded around the table and everyone talked and laughed. Our Spanish was serviceable, and we were energized with our ability to connect a bit with such nice people. Several told hair raising stories about crossing over into the US.
After the meal we took a walk down the hill to get some wood for a fire and so Lourdes could show us around. She harvested some sugar cane that we ate right there and then took some back for later. The light was beautiful, the sunset extraordinary.
We sat around the fire that night listening to her uncle tell the story of being in California and a woman told him she would get him working papers…. little did he know that the papers he signed meant he had married her! The next day the same uncle came and said he was going to milk the cow if we wanted to come. He said that he can’t sell her milk anymore, everyone wants to buy it in the store. So if people want milk he will fill them a cup and then let the calf have the rest. According to the 5 or 6 cousins gathered around, milk with some kind of high test alcohol in a plastic bottle is a good hangover chaser so they all lined up for their milk, too. They even added chocolate powder!
By late morning it was time for us to leave as we all wanted to stop in Tequila for a short while and then head to Mazatlán. It was a wonderful time and I feel we were welcomed into Lourdes’s family. We hope to see them again this summer and possibly her brother will come to our house sometime as he comes to Mazatlán occasionally.
I made a little video of clips from some of the weekend at el rancho. It is below. Enjoy.