While walking on the cobbled stone streets of San Miguel de Allende, author Tom Gordon published on “Weld for Birmingham” an article titled “A Mexican Reverie”, where he narrates how the people of this historical town are on guard against the U.S. president-elect, and shares their concerns about this man’s plans.
I am in San Miguel de Allende, nearing the end of my first visit to Mexico. And while friends more familiar with the country than I call this hilly and historic city “Mexico Light” because of its large gringo population, fine art galleries, and restaurants, it still gives an observant visitor a panorama of a hard-working, talented, friendly, and sometimes very poor people, and I have been here long enough to get some glimpses of how some of them feel about our president-elect.
You may already suspect this, but those feelings are less than favorable.
I’ll start with a lady whose last name is Ortiz. I always called her Señora, and she lives on Cuesta San Jose, one of the many steep cobblestone thoroughfares that characterize the eastern side of the city. Señora runs a laundry. A few days before the November 8 election, I walked down and dropped off a load of dirty clothes. Weighing the clothes on a scale hanging from the ceiling, she set the price at about four U.S. dollars. After November 8, given the Mexican peso’s fall against the dollar and the wave of financial uncertainty which struck this country, the price would have amounted to a little more than two U.S. greenbacks.
Anyway, Señora Ortiz asked me what I thought about the upcoming election. I told her I was nervous, and that I already voted for Clinton and I gave her several reasons why. She was afraid of Donald Trump, and her view was that he was not right in the head. Her opinion was echoed by the cashier at a store downtown where a friend and I bought bottles of wine and mezcal, the strong Mexican liquor.
I must digress here. As I mentioned earlier, and as some Birmingham friends who have visited here know, San Miguel is a city that attracts lots of American tourists and residents. You can see them all over, particularly in the restaurant and boutique-filled city center, as many of them usually are fairer of feature and are often dressed in Bean or Bauer styles. But all around them, and often a few inches shorter, are the people who are the heart and soul of this place. Some of them are well-dressed with features you would associate with Madrid, most are brown-skinned and of mixed European-Indian descent, and there are some whose lined and sharp faces would easily fit into a sepia-toned photo from the old American West.