Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple days in Mexico

There are so many things that I want to tell you about my town of Pescadero. The fishing, the festivals, the best places to eat, and the best beaches rank high on my list. But before I do that I need to tell you about the local people of Pescadero because this is my absolute favorite thing about living in this area of Mexico.

I grew up in a small town in Georgia where I believe it is realistic to say that a good majority of the people who lived there were related to me. My mother came from a family of seven and each of those seven married and made their own large families. Consequently I had 35+ first cousins most of whom lived within close proximity. We had the usual family reunions, attended the same small church, and had the typical small town social life.

The Church
Up the mountain
Here in Pescadero that same sense of small town inter-relatedness is also the rule. Everyone knows everyone and everyone seems to be related to everyone. Recently I had an opportunity to experience the extended family life that is still prevalent here when I was invited up into the mountains to attend a religious ceremony in a very old small Catholic Church. The Church was approximately an hour away through a series of dirt roads and cow trails. There was very little evidence of people throughout the ranching area and I was not surprised when I arrived and found only a handful of people.

The Priest arrives
As with all events in Mexico time does not seem to be the priority and it was over and hour and a half before all the people slowly meandered into the dirt yard of the Church and the Priest himself finally arrived. The Priest made his way around to each family and its members blessing them and listening to their concerns.  He took as much time as necessary with each family and no one seemed worried or concerned about the beginning of the service. I was also greeted by the Priest with no obvious surprise at my presence.

Decorated Church
Soon a group of ladies brought out a large image of a Saint which was brightly decorated with flowers and streamers. It was carried into the small Church in a procession-like fashion where the Priest assumed control over the service. Because of limited space inside the small Church I joined others who watched through the windows off the porch. The interior was likewise brightly decorated with balloons, flowers, and streamers which made an unusual juxtaposition again the ancient brick walls and iconic religious images. The seats were very old hand hewn log benches with modern folding chairs interspersed.

It wasn't really necessary for me to understand specifically what was being said because the language of family, friends, and faith was spoken that day. Small children were taken to the front by their parents to be blessed, middle aged children were likewise blessed and sang their songs of faith, and then honors were given to the saintly image with both word and with song.

Band playing
It was unusual to see a three piece "mariachi" type band walk to the front and play their ranchero style music. This is not the type of music that American's associate with religious praise. It would be much like having Johnny Cash and his band show up in the local Baptist Church to sing Folsom Prison Blues. However, the serenade was an important element of the celebration that day and it gave the service an almost fiesta like feel.

The land owner
Afterwards there was the typical dinner on the grounds except instead of fried chicken and potato salad we had pozole a stew like dish made with the head of a pig.  It was quite delicious. I was honored by being served first and was surprised when several of the locals attempted to speak to me in their broken English and ranchero Spanish. I had a very interesting conversation with an elderly man who told me some of the history of the Church. His mother and father had been married there and so had he and his wife. He remembered the building being old even then and he had no real idea of its age. Services were held there every three weeks when the Priest made his way back around to their church.

The band under the tree
Soon the same "band" reassembled beneath a shade tree and began again to play. The smaller boys gathered around too and my heart lurched when I saw one man's grandson resting on his boot and watching in wonderment.  I could see it in his eyes that one day he too would play in a band. The fiesta was short and sweet and soon the food was put away and there was the shaking of hands and kissing of cheeks.

The owner of the property was an 80 year old man who told me that he had come from a large family of mostly brothers and that the people who were there were his relatives in some form or another.  He gave me a brief tour of his meager home and ranch before I drove away with an invitation to visit anytime.

boy with Grandfather
On the way down the mountain I imagined what each of these families would do that afternoon. I imagined them sitting on the front porch, tending to their horses and cattle, playing with their children, and probably making music of some sort. A simple life.  Certainly not an easy life compared to my life in the states but none the less a full and simple life.

I like to think that my experiences with the Mexicans here are the standard and not the exception to the rule. Yes, there is small time crime here mostly petty theft and those crimes are like always committed by just a few.  No place is exempt from some of this and I can honestly say that I feel safer in this town than I do in many places in the states.  I get the sense that the low crime rate here is perpetuated by the simple lifestyle and the lack of need for frivolous "things" that Americans get caught up in.  Food, water, shelter, beautiful weather, and family...what else could you want?

I appreciate the people of Pescadero for showing me the simple way of life and happiness again.  Throughout the years of growing up and living in the United States I forgot the way of life of my Grandparents and their Grandparents before them. Life has become fast and competitive and success is measured on a whole new scale.

Over the past three years I have lived with the presence of serious illness hanging over someone that I love very much.  Being the caregiver I have had to examine every detail of our lives to find a place of physical and mental healing.  I brought this special person with me here to Pescadero because of the simple people and simple lifestyle that is prevalent.  I believe that healing can only take place when one is surrounded by peace and tranquility.  I know of no other place that offers us the hope of healing and miracles as much as the small town of Pescadero.  As I end this post today I hope that all of you are lucky enough to find your own place of healing, miracles, and a simple life.

From sunny Pescadero, Baja California Sur...Adios.


  1. What a gorgeous story. I look for my peace every day. Banishing fear and replacing it with love it my top priority, and I accomplish that moment to moment!

  2. one would think I could figure out how to post as myself instead of anonymously...


    The add profile pic isn't working for me, either...ah, technology!

    Nancy Harrison

  3. Nancy,

    Thank you for your comment. I know that you have similar goals and that is one of the things that I love about you. I can't wait for you and Mike to come and visit us here. The winter is the best time. If you come between February and March we can go pet the whales!!