TUESDAYS WITH MOLLY
Every Tuesday morning, my friend Molly and I set out on our long walk through San Miguel. We live in different parts of the city so we meet by Hotel Real de Minas, and head toward Centro. This is not just a walk, it’s an informal exploration of the city and often, a stop at a particular destination to take care of errands. Sometimes one of us needs to drop off a package at DHL, or buy an item at one of the fabric shops on Mesones, or pick up a bag of freshly ground coffee at Café Zenteno. But mostly it’s a “look and see” expedition, where any open door is an invitation to go in and check what’s within. And, every single time, we run into an adventure of some sort.
Our usual walk is along Ancha de San Antonio, and there is never a lack of interesting spots to check out. First, of course, there is Instituto Allende with its alluring courtyard and the colorful mural depicting historical events on the back wall. It’s hard to resist walking in and just taking a stroll around the perimeter of the courtyard and see the different murals everywhere. The large one on the back wall was done by David Leonardo, a contemporary muralist who lives in San Miguel. But there are others, and because I am doing research on the history of art in the city, I am always interested in finding out about the artists who left their works here. Have you ever wondered who James Pinto or De Malim were? Their amazing murals are in the vestibule leading to the back courtyard of the Instituto. After seeing them, Molly and I walked to the offices and found some facts about the two men. But much of the information is hidden, and I continue digging for more. Perhaps more will be revealed next week.
Molly and I are fully bilingual, I learned Spanish growing up in Buenos Aires, Molly went to college in Mexico City, and has lived in Mexico for over thirty years. Being fluent is one of the golden keys in the city, and has led to wonderful conversations and discoveries. One Tuesday, as we turned right onto Mesones from Hernandez Macias, we passed a large doorway. Inside were displays of old photos of San Miguel. It was the Casa de la Cultura, which serves as a cultural center and also provides classes. We walked about, looking at the old photographs, trying to figure out the exact spot where the photo was taken. That looks like the iron benches in the Jardin….But no, wait, look at the structure at the top of the hill. That’s Calvario! This is San Francisco Street and there is the Christopher Columbus statue in shadows. You are looking at the intersection with Juarez. Putting together clues in the photos was like solving an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Then we spoke to the director, Oscar Ramirez, and Molly, who has been looking for private piano lessons, found out that a piano instructor will be teaching at the school, beginning in August. She got the phone number and has an answer.
One Tuesday, as we walked back and wound our way through Parque Juarez, we ran into a group of men and women taking boxing lessons. The instructor stood at the head of two lines of students, gloved hands at the ready, as each gloved student came up, and punched out a particular, rhythmic pattern against him. Right, left, left, right…. Or “twenty punches as quickly as possible.” We stood and watched in fascination, and during a break got information about the class, the instructor’s phone number and might incorporate this into our weekly walking routine.
Another Tuesday, we decided to explore San Antonio. We came to a dead end along Pila Seca, an iron gate stopping car traffic. But there was an open doorway to the side, so we took it and walked into a mysterious alleyway, with the high walls of residences on both sides. We had no
idea where it would lead, but found several lovely murals, a few benches where to stop and relax. An open doorway led into an art gallery—Galeria Arroyo, where Suzy Taylor displays her multiple and multi-media art. Then we continued and found ourselves within La Aldea, next to Francesco’s Restaurant. The passageway is called Privada La Aldea but also goes by the name of Life Path. It’s a hidden gem I had not stumbled upon in all my years living here.
One day, on the sidewalk just before Casa Armida (home décor store with giant canoes), we spotted a set of keys on the ground. Not just some house keys, but also a fob. Someone must have dropped them and now will not even be able to get into their car. We picked them up, walked across the street, and left them at the pharmacy. That was the most logical thing to do. Hopefully the owner will retrace his or her steps, and stop and ask in the nearby businesses. Then we posted a notice on Civil List. That was our little adventure on that particular Tuesday.
And so it goes each week. We never fail to find something interesting, to engage in conversation with local businesses or institutions, to experience something outside the ordinary along our path. Our Tuesday walks have become our mini-odyssey in an urban setting. It makes us open to new discoveries and experiences. It’s pretty much the way life ought to be led.
Casa La Armida