Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

Broken hearts, mescal dreams, and torch songs

San Miguel torch singer María Sánchez gave a stunning concert under the trees near Parque Juarez on Saturday, backed by the talent-rich Usual Suspects including Julián Arcos, Rubén Olivera, and Victor Monterrubio.

She is a wonderful singer for whom, my wife says, I carry a big crush. “He moans when she sings,” she tells friends.

Maybe so, on both accounts.

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María Sánchez with her beautiful new granddaughter, Olivia, after her performance.

Her singing does something to me. I can’t deny it. But I am mature enough to separate the singer from the song, from the real person beneath it all. I think. I mean, I was wondering “What on earth is María Sánchez doing singing outside, and at 1 p.m.?” So my imagination does slip in through the backdoor when she sings.

In my mind, she is a torch meant to burn only in the night when the heart and soul are at their darkest and most lonely. Obviously, I do have fantasies about María Sánchez. 

Rather than spoil her concert by trying to describe it, below is the story that wrote itself as I sat in the bright sunlight, listening to her sing. Any relationship to people living or dead is strictly coincidental. Blame it on mescal: Continue reading

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Uncategorized

Flashback: Halloween on St Lucia, but with tricks and treats you wouldn’t believe

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View from the deck of our bungalow in the jungle canopy at Anse Chastanet on St Lucia, our home for two weeks in 2011, exactly eight years ago this week. Rose is teaching yoga at Jade Resort, up the mountain from us and at Anse Chastanet, right on the beach. My first visit to the Caribbean and it is off to a fantastic start. (Rose taught here five years ago.) The peaks in the distance are the Pitons, also the name of the local beer, a light lager, perfect for the tropics.

Here’s the situation:

You know that you are going to get married on February 12, 2012. In Los Barriles, Mexico, a quiet little fishing village just 40 kilometers up the coast from the craziness of Cabo San Lucas.

The invitations have already been sent out. 

It was a photograph with the inscription, “If you can make it, you’re invited.” More than 40 family and friends took us up on that offer. But that is another story. (See the invite at the bottom of this page!) Continue reading

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

My mythical past

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A friend came over to dinner the other night and we subsequently discovered that her mother’s family and I share the same last name: Hawkins.

It happens.

I also share the same last name with a number of terrific athletes, musicians, and celebrities going back to the great basketball player Connie Hawkins.

In fact, if you go to Ranker.com, there is a list called “Famous People With the Last Name Hawkins.”

I am not on it. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

Catrina window-shopping and skull hunting in San Miguel

img_8108Make no bones about it, The Day of the Dead — days, actually — are nearly upon us. The signs are all around us.

Just as pumpkins proliferate in the States, here it is the explosion of Catrina figures, skeletons, and marigolds that clue us to the season.

The skeletons and skulls are everywhere: on T-shirts, on handbags, made of sugar, as objects de art, on fabrics, in miniature, in bigger than life papier mache. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

Tart art and caffeine in San Miguel’s garden of earthly delights

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The view from my seat in the courtyard of Bellas Arts, San Miguel de Allende. That the coffee and tarts are delicious is merely a plus for this lovely setting.

The other day I posted a picture on Facebook of a fruit tart and coffee at Zenteno’s  Bellas Artes cafe. A good-sized chunk of the tart was missing.

Not missing, actually.

I know exactly where it went. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

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Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

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Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.

A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)

We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Nothing to do for two hours except lie in the grass and let the mind drift with the clouds

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This is me, as we wait for our auberge to open at the end of a lovely day hiking from Padron. Two hours of absolutely nothing. I kept track of the cloud formations and listened to my clothes dry in the warm sun.

img_7090Padron to A Coruña (20 km, felt like a constant climb)

I’m flat on my back. I can’t move.

Or, maybe I don’t want to move.

My boots are off. Yes, my boots are off. I can see the tips of my socks. I can smell them. So, I must have taken my boots off. Yes? That is a specific act. Not an accident.

My backpack is not where it is most often during the day: on my back. So, that too, is a clue. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Walking the Camino with Whitman, seeking the poet’s path between reality and the soul

img_6927-1The land and sea, the animals, fishes, and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests, mountains, and rivers, are not small themes … but folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects … they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.

— From Walt Whitman’s original introduction to “Leaves of Grass” 

Today is the day I found the path between reality and the soul.

To say that the path we walked was simply the most beautiful in all of the Portuguese Camino is difficult. There have been many remarkable sights. None, however, affected me quite like this one. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Slow down, walk in mindfulness, and the Camino’s hidden beauty is revealed

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An element of a plaza water fountain in Pontevedra, in which the shape of the spouting water is constantly changing to some hidden rhythm. The statue of the little boy always seems to get his mouthful, however.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (22.2 kilometers, felt like 22.2 except for a very flat stretch of open and empty road after the sun came out)

We awake to a different Pontevedra this morning. Last night, we walked through gray granite and stone canyons, brightened only by the logos and signage of commerce and colorful storefront pitches for their wares, and the occasional art installation. And graffiti, ambitious graffiti murals in fluorescent colors.

But otherwise, a gray city fostering teeming waves of pedestrian life along traffic-free streets. 

Now, in the morning gloom, the rain and the streetlamps have washed everything with a shimmering amber sheen. A neon art project sings like an aria to the skies above. The pulsing cherry-sherbert lighting on a plaza fountain vibrates with a force unfelt in daytime. Continue reading

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