so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies
Shakespeare, King Lear
Towards the foot of Cinco de Mayo, near where it meets the Salida a Celaya there’s a tiny abarrote (neighborhood store). It is not prosperous, although at one time it may have been. There are much busier stores farther up the hill towards the schools. On the block where the store is located, I sometimes walk past an elderly man with whom I exchange greetings two or three times a week; the man walks slowly, with the help of a cane on some days, and I’ve never seen him anywhere but on his very short block. I’ve learned that he owns the abarrote and doesn’t venture far from his shop. Nor does he sell very much from his store these days, but his adult son gives him money every week to replenish his goods. The old man and his friends gather nightly to talk and eat the snacks the son has bought.
Near this abarrote, somewhat kitty-corner across the street, is a new cafe. It is run by two women, sisters, although I think one is the owner and her sister helps. This morning Diana, who is back from the Netherlands, and I had coffee and juice there, and we were served by two hijas (daughters); the girls are perhaps four and seven years old. There were fresh flowers on the two outdoor tables, they brought milk for my coffee on the side in a tiny pitcher. There were six very small cookies for Diana and myself, our propina. Attentive and charming and with great pleasure and pride, the daughters asked if they could refill our coffees.
It is these very small encounters that make living in Mexico such a pleasure for me.