My whole neighborhood put on a lunch for about 30 hungry and hard-working guys today.
They have been with us for a while now, long enough to know many of them by sight and wish each other a good day. These are the guys who tore up our street, right down to the dirt, and installed new utilities — sewer,water, fiber-optic.
For the past several weeks they have been doing a beautiful job of restoring Callejón de San Antonio, putting down square granite pavers like a very symmetrical jigsaw puzzle.
The whole thing has been a messy, complicated and fascinating thing to watch.
They are almost done.
Which is why our neighbors felt it was a good time on Friday to say thank you. Earlier this week, our neighbor Yomelda went door to door asking everyone to kick in.
And we did.
There were a half-dozen pork and beef dishes and flour tortillas to wrap them up in, salads, beans, cases of soda, a delicious carrot cake, a jello mold in the colors of the Mexican flag, and more. We brought Mr. Crunchy, which might have been a bit of a cheat next to all the home-made dishes but the guys liked it.
I turned to Yomelda as the dust and dirt coated guys were working through the line and said, “This is such a nice thing that you are doing.”
“Of course,” she said with a disarming smile. “We are Mexican.”
Callejón de San Antonio isn’t an especially long street but, to me, it is among the prettiest in San Miguel de Allende. It extends one-way from the Paroquia de San Antonio de Padua to the busy Ancha thoroughfare.
Parts of it are shaded by ancient willow trees. Some of the houses feel as though they preceded the Era of Gringos by decades. There is an easy mix of storefronts and homes (often one and the same).
Some of the building fronts are getting facelifts while the road restoration is going on.
At different times, there have been a steamroller, a backhoe, and a front-loader prepping the base for the final layer of pavers but most of the work has been by hand, and backbreaking.
By this time next week, I imagine the street will be open to traffic and busy once again. Horses are already clopping down the street in the early evening. Soon, perhaps, religious processions and funeral entourages will follow as they once did.
Meanwhile, Rose and I got to meet a few of our neighbors today and it felt really good to be out there.
My neighbor’s words still ring in my heart, “We are Mexican.”
So much pride, so much love, so much generosity, so much humanity.
I have never been more happy to be a part of this city, this country.