Eclipses and Visions: Letters from Mexico (Possibles, May 8, 2023)

This is a short piece I found in a file marked “Possible Add-ons” for the Mexico book. What do you think? The essays and chapters I’m sharing with you here are all out of order but all take place within my first two years of being in Mexico. I’m still trying to find my original first chapter which I have a printed copy of but can’t locate so far in my computer files.  Since then I’ve written two others but find I prefer the first so I’ll keep looking. In the meantime, I’m going to publish assorted possible add-ons for your perusal and vote. If possible, I’m putting the date I originally wrote it after the name of the segment. Although “Letters from Mexico” is my working title, I’m still looking for a better one. 


Eclipses and Visions 5/16/03 (19th month in Mexico)

     Gussie’s mouth was frothy with the insides of cattails after our tug-of-war over the long stalk of the cat tail.  I cleared out her mouth and we started again, most of the lighter-than-air tendrils clotting in her mouth but others erupting to drift out into the air until we were both covered.  Ana laughed.  Diane laughed.  Gussie barked, but it was a bark muffled by cat tail fluff, so it came out “warf, warf.”  We were an unlikely threesome:  two Americanas in their fifties, a thirteen year old Mexican girl and a beach puppy, but we had found a tremendous lot in common during our past month of beach walks.
      We had not started out as a threesome. I had been walking on the beach of the lakefront by myself for over a year.  These walks had been spasmodic, and always in the late afternoon to sunset.  But when I met Diane, who had newly moved to a house near the back entrance of the Raquet Club, we decided to try walking every morning at sunrise.  After Daylight Savings intervened, out 6 a.m. walks shifted to 7 a.m. and within a few weeks, Ana had asked to join us.  It was a brassy move on her part, and I was much relieved to find her standing up and asking for what she wished.  I’d been tutoring her for over a year now and although her vocabulary seemed to be growing, I hadn’t been very successful in getting her to actually talk.  She would answer questions  with “Yes,” ”No,” or the the fewest words possible, but she would never start conversations or return questions.  Yet now, just one month later, she chatted casually in English, with frequent pauses and Spanish words filling in the gaps in her English vocabulary.  We’d arrived at a good compromise.  On our beach walks, I spoke Spanish and Ana spoke English.  Diane, who was behind me in her Spanish mastery,  listened and asked questions if she needed to.  Gussie ignored both languages with equal regularity as she drank from rancid pools, ingested cowpies, chased and was chased by colts and baby burros and reached up to snatch pelican feathers from my fist as she raced by.
     Today, Ana was going on at great length about the eclipse the night before.  I had missed it, going out to sit in the jacuzzi at 8 to find only mist and no moon.  There was intriguing music wafting up from the plaza of the pueblo far below.  The drum beats were of the native variety, and I was considering driving down to investigate when a phone call pulled me out of the jacuzzi and into the house.  Once dressed, however,  I found that the couch and a good book won out over a sleuthing trip to the village.   I’d check every 15 minutes or so to see if the moon was up yet and in eclipse, but in fact I awoke three and a half hours later to find the full moon glowing clearly above me.   I had missed the entire event.
     Now Ana filled me in on the details.  During an eclipse, it was customary that everyone dress in red.  Her father wore a red sombrero and her mother a red blouse.  Then it was necessary to tie a cord around the wrist of each family member.  Even your cats and your dog, she insisted.  You must tie a cord around their necks for good health.  Within minutes after saying this, we passed a pasture.  Inside was a cow with a red bandana tied around her neck. “It is for salud,”  said Ana, who did not remember the word for health.  “. . . and for good milk as well as many other things.”
    The drumbeats the night before had been for the eclipse ceremony in the church and plaza. There had been many people, she told me, and many races between chayote fields,  but at this point the description grew vague.  I decided these were details I needed to check out in the future, but I already regretted sleeping through the eclipse, which by her description sounded like a grand event.  Not to mention the costuming and the cryptic racing between fields of vegetables.  I had grown jaded about fiestas and loud music emanating from the town, but I could see that in this case I’d missed an authentic event.   Ana assured me, however, that this was a four times a year event, and that next year she’d keep me better informed.
     There is so much going on in Mexico that I’ve found that I have to ignore some of it to manage to have a life of my own.  I’d been putting off writing for what seemed like months, and sooner or later I’d have to seal myself into my house and get on with it or just give up to a life of sloth.  But in the meantime, I’ve found that all I want to do is sleep.  Maybe it’s my new schedule of arising at 6 to walk, but I find that by 3 p.m., I need a nap.
     The other morning, I fell into bed as soon as I got back from our walk at 9 and stayed there until midafternoon.  I suddenly remembered that I was the age Bob was when I first met him and I remembered also what he said right after we’d had the diagnosis of his pancreatic cancer.
      “I hope they find out I’ve had it for a long time so I’ll finally have an excuse for how tired I’ve been feeling,”  he said.
      “For the past five years?”  I asked.
     “No, for the past fifteen years.”  That was the entire time I’d known him, and I suddenly felt guilty for all the times I’d prodded him on to finish a task.
    Now today, I lie in the jacuzzi with no strength to even get out of the water.  I wonder if this was the type of exhaustion Bob felt for so long. The jacuzzi  is only 1/2 full so I can float and use the step in the jacuzzi as a pillow holding up my head as I stare straight up at the clouds.   It’s a mackerel sky, but as a wind rises, the scales begin to group together to  form a beautiful avant-garde sculpture of a bird.  Its wings are partially folded in,  and as the clouds change, they keep drawing closer together, like the bird is making a hugging motion.
     It reminds me of Bob’s self-sculpture of the angel with the broken wings,  and I suddenly think that the cloud image also looks like a sculpture Bob would make.  Immediately, the clouds below the bird form a perfect image of Bob’s face.   Am I imagining this?  Less than 30 seconds later, it starts to rain big drops, straight down, and the face vanishes.  Invigorated by the rain, I go into the house and begin to write.

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About lifelessons

My blog, which started out to be about overcoming grief, quickly grew into a blog about celebrating life. I post daily: poems, photographs, essays or stories. I've lived in countries all around the globe but have finally come to rest in Mexico, where I've lived since 2001. My books may be found on Amazon in Kindle and print format, my art in local Ajijic galleries. Hope to see you at my blog.

20 thoughts on “Eclipses and Visions: Letters from Mexico (Possibles, May 8, 2023)


    Very good Judy, I like it the way you approach the subject, like a conversational story with aside comments along the way.. letting us in on the surroundings, it brings us into the scene and with such a story this is what I like…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judy Reeves

    I like this one, too, Judy. The mix of the new culture, how you’re involving yourself, the cambio with the 13-year-old, (that’s what we called it in Barcelona, the two languages practicing with each other. The mystical eclipse and festivities, and the memories of Bob. I like the weaving together of all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lifelessons Post author

    Thanks, Dolly..I don’t think they practice the Eclipse ceremonies anymore, or if they do, I haven’t witnessed them. Yikes. This was written 20 years ago!



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