I had such delight writing about San Miguel de Allende in the Eighties, but describing my 2009 return to the city "me costo" as they say in espanol. My journey was not one of the old Laredo trains of days long past, nor was it a quick flight into Leon, Guanajuato. I drove alone from Iowa to San Miguel on long desolate stretches of super-highway toll roads, well worth the extra pesos but uncannily vacant. The poverty was notable, as well as the search for gasolineras. As I came close to el Bajio, the name for the rich valley surrounding San Miguel, the sparseness relented its firm grip upon the landscape, and my hope for a redefining journey surged. After a few days of rest in my friend Meche's casita, I came upon the Departamento Rojo in el Valle del Maiz. Fortune was smiling brightly---until the rains came plunging upon the picturesque city.
It was strange to be in San Miguel during a very rainy Christmas, for the normal time of las lluvias is late June and early July. During my first two months back in San Miguel, it rained so much they had to evacuate the Colonia de Guadalupe. One of my friend's roof dropped buckets of water upon her beloved and extensive library. Someone in an outlying village was swept by the overflow of the presa and died.
Meanwhile I holed up in my rooftop haven, writing essays, sending out proposals to small presses and making collages for the feria at the Instituto Allende. Sometimes I taught Spanish to tenants in the other two apartments, and I fervently sought full-time work. After all, I had arrived with certificates signed by Secretaries of the States of Iowa and Minnesota, officially stamped so that I could process working papers.
Apart from the unusual weather in San Miguel, I felt emboldened by my decision to redefine myself as a writer in the place where I published my first book of poetry. The cobbled stones were still there, the swinging faroles and swaying bugambilias. When the sun did emerge, a scintillating light splashed upon the colorful buildings and renovated street fountains sprouted streams of clear water. My spirit emerged, also, eager to plant a foundation for my Mexican future. Although I kept the notion of a six-month plan in the back recesses of my mind, I was hopeful for the long-term opportunity I just knew was right around the narrow streetways leading into the Valle del Maiz. "San Miguel se da" stated my friend Ceci firmly. But little did I know just what the magical city of my past was planning "to give."