Moppit the Philosopher Dog is pretty insistent that I take her for a walk, no more than 10 minutes after she finishes her 5 p.m. dinner. She is a creature of habit. Moppit starts a huff-snorting sound around my ankles if I’m not reaching for the leash, the kind of sound a woman makes when the husband comes home late smelling of booze and perfume and mumbles “biznish shmeeting.”
lately, it has been in the high 80s around 5 p.m. here in San Miguel de Allende, so I try to reason with her.
But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
We go out.
On Fridays, there is little quibbling. There is something magical about the early evening in Parque Juarez and I just love being a part of it, if only in the role of gringo dog walker.
There is usually a couple of basketball games going on. The players seem a bit past their prime — the after-work crowd — but still competitive.
Along the main promenade, a very young drum & trumpet corps practices the shrill martial numbers and moves of a police or military band. To this guy’s ear, the horns always sound screechingly off-key. I wonder if it was a military strategy to throw off the enemy in combat. You can’t wield a carbine while trying to plug your ears.
Young couples space themselves far apart in remote corners of the park, barely taking up enough bench space for a single person. Most often you’ll find them in intense conversations, when not in tender embraces. I find that so charming, people talking to each other on park benches. Maybe if there were more park benches in the world …
Not far from the practicing band, a small group of older Mexican men and women are practicing graceful dance routines to recorded music.
Inevitably, one or two people will be sitting on benches reading books. Talk about a bygone era.
But by far, the most enjoyable sight is that of the wedding parties. The park seems to comfortably manage three at a time — one in the gazebo, and one each at a fountain and the “traffic circle” below where Diezmo Viejo and Baeza meet.
The marriage ceremonies are over and the bride and groom lead the procession from any one of a number of churches in the area. They are followed by a male and female Mojiganga, the towering puppet figures who are often dressed as bride and groom and dance and twirl to the Mariachi band’s joyous songs. Somewhere in the mix is the traditional donkey, dressed up in colorful flowers on a harness rig where a tequila keg once rested. Close behind are the revelers — the men and women of the wedding party. Often they are all in white, or fine dresses and sports coats, and sometimes jeans, shorts, sandals, and Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts.
On Friday night, the men in one wedding all wore white shirts and had red bandanas tied around their necks.
Common to all, are the broad smiles on all the faces.
The Mariachis will take the group on a stroll through the park, often ending at an open area where the bride and groom can dance before all, maybe a conga line forms, and maybe spontaneous dancing breaks out. The bands know how to work their audience into a frenzy of exhilaration.
I swear, just walking by sometimes, you wish that you knew the bride and groom. You want this kind of fun in your life.
Eventually, the wedding parties will leave the park and parade up anyone of several streets to where the receptions will begin.
In short order, a new set of wedding parties might take their place in the park.
It is almost June and the wedding season is in full throttle here in San Miguel de Allende, the capital of love, the center of many a young couple’s universe, the city of romance.
And me? I’m just an old man, walking my dog, taking it all in on a warm Friday evening.
Walking out of the park, walking toward home, we spotted this man playing violin in the doorway of the El Golpe de Vista Hotel as traffic sped by:
Just because this is San Miguel de Allende.