Yesterday afternoon, which was a Saturday, Fred and Pinky and I went out to run a few errands. Going out on the weekend in San Miguel de Allende is like going to a carnival. The town is packed with tourists, mostly Mexican, and the general feeling is one of holiday. The weekend brings a lot of young people into town, and I always enjoy seeing them. I like to see how they are “styling.”
So, as we walked across the Jardin, we were just enjoying the people watching. Then, an unfortunate thing crossed my awareness. There is a little sidewalk cafe, quite popular with the tourists, right on the square. It was filled with Mexican families on a weekend get away, young Mexican couples, and a few locals. At one end there were a couple of tables pushed together with about 6 American 30-somethings. They were being loud, really loud. And the things they were saying (in jest) were quite inappropriate to be shouting, anywhere. It seemed as though they thought they were on the beach in Cancun. San Miguel is not a beach town. It is one of the most sophisticated and genteel cities in Mexico. Even if the people at the table around them didn’t speak English, their very behavior brought the phrase, “Ugly American” to my mind. It is beyond me that people come to Mexico and have no regard for the culture.
Well, that was just a passing moment yesterday, and I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought one way or the other at the time. Later on in the day I went out for an errand about two blocks from our house. Even though we live in Historic Centro, which is where the tourists tend to be, we are right on the northwestern edge of it. Our immediate neighborhood still has that kind of wonderful funkiness that I love about Mexico. If you walk up to the corner and take a left you are heading to San Juan de Dios Market. You are now totally away from Gringolandia, and in the Mexico of your dreams. Every day you will see something on the street that will amaze you.
As I said, yesterday I went on an errand. As I walked down the sidewalk, I saw a middle-aged Mexican man approaching me on a bicycle. He pulled up to the curb (I’m still about a half a block away) and pulled a hard-boiled egg out of his shirt pocket. He cracked the egg on the handlebars of his bike, and started to peel it. There was no one around but this man and me. It was sort of an intimate moment in a strange sort of way. He looked up and seemed a little unsettled that I was about to walk by and he was eating the egg. I looked at him and said, “Huevo.” He laughed and said, “Huevo.”
A bit later on my walk I saw that a Mexican woman was approaching me on the sidewalk. Some of the sidewalks here are extremely narrow and someone has to give. The appropriate thing is for the person who is walking facing traffic to step off the sidewalk. I have noticed that some Gringos are not hip to this custom. I stepped down from the sidewalk and said, “Buenas Tardes.” She gave me the biggest smile.
Theses are just some things that happened yesterday while I was walking around in San Miguel. Very sorry I didn’t get a picture of the guy with the egg.