Hark to a voice that is calling
To my heart in the voice of the wind:
My heart is weary and sad and alone,
For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,
And why should I stay behind?

Sarojini Naidu, from Autumn Song

On Sunday afternoon—and it was a glorious afternoon with sun and clouds and blue [just how does it get that blue?] and a temperature oh so pleasant—I turned the television on as I unpacked groceries, and there was Alexander Mccall Smith, one of the most prolific authors and the creator of some wonderful and memorable characters, chatting away on a KCTS9 show about books. He was asked if writing can be taught—and I hope my paraphrasing does him justice—he said no, that you might pick up a few techniques but that being an author only comes through observation and experience.

It was the last day of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference.


The doctor who gave me the physical examination tried her best to write a letter for me, and she finally accomplished the task despite using an Iphone.  She doesn’t have a computer so she carefully transcribed the words by hand from my email on her phone to paper. She wasn’t able to see the reports from the laboratory because she was afraid to open Microsoft word on her phone, but we found a work-around for that. The lab reports were sent as Word documents, not as PDF or image files. So I now have my letter thanks to her.

The folks at the Biblioteca also wrote a letter stating that I had volunteered there as a teacher.  It took some maneuvering to get the letter and I had to contact a member of the board of trustees to get it, but staff at the Biblioteca began to say hello – I was now somebody.

I also needed to have documents scanned and the neighborhood internet cafe/student snack shop – we have three schools in the neighborhood and student snacks are big business – made the scans.  They weren’t as exact as Office Depot might have performed, but they were adequate and the owner, whom I’ve come to know added a personal touch by reading each of the documents, which he had plenty of time to do as the scans also weren’t as fast as Office Depot might have done, but he now calls me by name, which he learned from the documents.

Today, Thursday, was my last class to teach and at the end of class the students told me to wait, and they gave me a nice card, a bottle of wine and the purse that’s in the photograph, which Lucy, one of the students had made. Yes, had made. How do you not cry?

At the last moment a volunteer emailed me saying he was interested in teaching the class in March.  I have some doubts as to his abilities, but a little bit is better than nada. The gentlemen did inform me, as we walked from the Biblioteca, that the digging about town was for the installation of fiber optics and something else.

The final news is that D&R received word that the house and casita were sold today. So on this leaving of San Miguel there’s a sense of finality, but – mostly as a result of the people in the class – there’s a much greater sense of “I wish it wasn’t so.”


One thought on “Irony

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