Sunday, July 23, 2023

Living Between Two Worlds

As we moved between two countries, we carried with us a beautiful blend of cultures, traditions, and experiences. We know that home is not confined to a single place; rather, it is a tapestry woven from the threads of the people we love and the memories we hold dear. Our hearts now span across borders, and we find ourselves at ease in both Mexico's vibrant embrace and Santa Fe's familiar allure.

In this journey between places, we've come to realize that we are incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds. Mexico, with its soulful and sincere friendships, teaches us the value of human connections and endless possibilities for adventure. On the other hand, Santa Fe and Taos, with their cosmopolitan charm, upscale culture, the beloved landscape with its great vistas and soaring mountains, and many dear relationships, reminds us of our deep roots there and growth that came with years of living.

Home is more than just a physical place; it's a feeling of belonging, love, and nostalgia. For Amy and me, “Old” Mexico and “New” Mexico are home. For four decades we made a beautiful life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a famous city in the USA on the forefront of creativity and cultural diversity. For some of that time, Amy lived in Taos, the place of her ancestors and rich intersection between Spanish, Native American and Anglo cultures. 

Recently for one month, we embarked on a sojourn from Mexico where we presently live, back to our former home, and the experience was nothing short of marvelous.  Amy also visited her family in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She stayed with her sister and oldest son and spent time with her two sons and four grandchildren. We are fortunate to experience the best of both worlds. 

My daughter Sarah and I

We bought our home near Oaxaca about 3 1/2 years ago. It is the reason we arrived in Mexico. The house is soulful, and called us to purchase it. We soon realized the challenges that come with moving into a foreign culture; especially since we live in a pueblo that is poor by American standards. I could write a book about the experience thus far. 

Living in a country with a language distinct from our mother tongue has presented tests, but also teaches the value of communication beyond words. The warmth of a smile, the laughter shared over a meal, and the genuine care and concern for one another transcend linguistic barriers. In Mexico, we find a place where simplicity and genuine connections hold more significance than material wealth.

Stream in the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico

Returning to Santa Fe felt like revisiting the past and reconnecting with old friends. The familiarity of the English language was a comfort, and being surrounded by familiar faces was a heartwarming experience. Our sojourn allowed us to reminisce about the years gone by and cherish our lasting friendships that transcend time and distance. We met with so much kindness and generosity. Further, we brought back to Mexico donated gifts of art materials to share with our neighbor children in our pueblo. 

Amy with neighbor kids

Our story is one of love, appreciation, and the beauty of living between two worlds. While Mexico, our humble and beloved home, provides us with soulful and sincere connections, Santa Fe, our former abode in the wealthy USA, offers us the warmth of familiar faces and a history filled with fond memories. As we continue our journey through life, we carry with us the best of both worlds, forever grateful for the unique and cherished places that have shaped us into who we are today.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Nothing Short of Magical

As we bid farewell to Santa Fe, and prepare to return to our beloved Oaxaca, Mexico, our hearts are filled with gladness. We carry with us not only cherished memories and experiences but also the kindness and love of the friends who have embraced us throughout our journey. They have touched our lives in profound ways, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts, reminding us of the power of human connection and the beauty of genuine relationships.

Not once in our month sojourn did we have to stay in a hotel or rent accommodations. Friends provided everything we needed and ensured our comfort.

Amy's mural

I have many life experiences associated with Santa Fe, having lived in “The City Different’ for over four decades. Amy too, but especially the nearby city of Taos where her family ancestry goes back four centuries. This return felt invigorating, especially stepping back into a very clean world with all the amenities and opportunities that do not exist where we live now. 

We went to Taos overnight. It is where Amy spent many years and is the land of her ancestors. While there we visited her enormous mural on the side of a wall at the University of New Mexico. Amy then went north—to Minneapolis-St.Paul for two weeks to visit with family and do some work. After she left, I had the opportunity to see my beloved daughter Sarah who lives an hour away, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We went to the zoo there. The day was so hot that most of the animals were hiding or resting lethargically in the shade, but we enjoyed ourselves and rejoiced in our togetherness. 

I had an opportunity to experience the annual Santa Fe Folk Art Festival that draws artists and craftspeople from all over the globe for one weekend. It is a celebration of cultural diversity. 

Santa Fe has a vibrant summer music scene and many nights are alive with free concerts for the community. We discovered the joy of dancing to music alongside fellow residents, joining in the celebrations at free venues located in the charming rail yard and lively plaza. These moments of shared revelry were a testament to the unity and camaraderie that define this city. Traveling bands come from all around to play. While Amy was gone, I went alone to hear the music and often ran into people from my past that I had forgotten.

Sarah at Albuquerque Zoo

I had time for walks in the National forest in the mountains above Santa Fe, and to drive into the Rio Grande Gorge and follow the river for awhile. The days have been exceedingly hot, so it was cool respite to find a stream where I could sit in a pool by boulders under cascading water.

Generous souls have donated art supplies for us to take back to the children we serve in our pueblo. We have two suitcases full of materials and projects.

During our time in Santa Fe, we embarked on various endeavors that required our attention. Among them was the task of selling items we had been storing, which provided an opportunity to declutter and move forward with renewed purpose. 

The time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been nothing short of magical. The kindness and love of friends, breathtaking landscapes, the vibrant community, and the invaluable moments of reconnection have shaped this chapter of my life into an unforgettable tale.  In parting, we acknowledge the true spirit of reciprocity and gratitude, for our dear friends have bestowed upon us gifts to share with our neighbors in our humble pueblo in Oaxaca. As we journey back to our Mexican abode, we carry these offerings as a symbol of the interconnectedness we have fostered during our time in Santa Fe. It is through the act of giving and sharing that we can create a ripple effect of kindness, extending the love we have received to those around us.

With my friend Paul White on left

As I bid adieu to this remarkable city, I am reminded that it is the people and the relationships we cultivate that truly make a place feel like home. Santa Fe will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I carry with me the lessons learned and the love shared as I embark on the next chapter of my fairytale life.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Memories We Create

Amy and I left behind our beautiful home in Oaxaca, Mexico, and returned to the embrace of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we had spent four decades of our lives. As we embarked on this transition, we found ourselves immersed in a whirlwind of gratitude, hospitality, and the remarkable kindness of friends old and new. Neighbors Marta, Mayolo and our comrade and house sitter Azul all sent us off two weeks ago with loving warmth . . . and Santa Fe friends picked us up at the airport to take us to the grand home of a couple who collect our art and offered their place and car for us while they are in their other home in Milwaukee.

With daughter Sarah who came
 from Albuquerque to visit.

Remarkably, in our travels thus far has been the absence of traditional arrangements like renting a car or booking lodging. Instead, we have been blessed with the good fortune of finding exceptional places to stay through the open arms and graciousness of dear friends.
As we prepared for this journey, our hearts were warmed by the knowledge that our Oaxaca house and beloved pet dog would be cared for in our absence. The generosity to take on such responsibility is a testament to the profound sense of hospitality that permeates the human spirit.

Everywhere we have been met with love and caring. We took a trip to Taos and stayed with friends . . . and in the past week we have stayed in the house I built with my ex-wife Jean, about thirty years ago. We are house sitting for nine days and caring for her two cats while she attends a creative dance gathering in Tucson. 

There is an enchantment that comes with staying in a space that carries the imprints of love, friendship, and shared experiences. Especially living once again in the house I built and raised my daughters in has caused many emotions to well up—an amalgamation of memories, laughter, and deep connection shared. I take note and understand it is all part of the context of my life.

Further, we have received donations of art supplies to take back to Oaxaca and give to our poor neighbor pueblo children who come to our home once a week for art classes.

These homes have become havens of respite, offering not only a place to rest our weary bodies but also a canvas upon which new memories are painted. Within their walls, we have found solace, comfort, and the sense of belonging that only true friendships can provide.

When we traverse the landscapes of Mexico, we are continually humbled by the acts of kindness and warmth shown to us by strangers-turned-friends. Whether it's an offer to help us with something important we do not understand, a heartfelt conversation over a home-cooked meal, or the simple act of a warm embrace, hospitality has touched our hearts and reaffirmed our faith in the inherent goodness of humanity.

Same in the USA. We have felt great love and hospitality.

Amy and her mural in Taos

Amy leaves for Minneapolis tomorrow to see her sons and relatives for two weeks.
Jean returns and I will move on . . . to another home. A friend has offered me a bedroom. Then Amy will return here and we will go home to Oaxaca together.

Our hearts are filled with profound appreciation for the hospitality we have received, and we recognize the transformative power of genuine connections. As we continue to embrace the unknown and navigate the winding roads that lie ahead, we carry the spirit of hospitality in our hearts, knowing that wherever we find ourselves, there will always be a place to call home.

In the end, it is the people we meet, the friendships we forge, and the memories we create that truly define our journey.