Monday, September 23, 2013

a man who had no feet

Believe it or not, I was once one of those people who analyzed everything in detail. It was undoubtedly all those years of lawyerly training.

I applied that rather anal way of looking at the world back in 2008 when I was deciding where I should live in Mexico.  I came up with 13 different criteria in not quite the end of all things.  (The analytical pretend not to be superstitious.)

Number 11 was "living outside of a car."  I wanted to escape from the American transportation trap of needing a car to get anywhere.  My dream was to walk a lot -- meeting my neighbors while I got exercise.

The results in Melaque are mixed.  Because of the summer heat and rain, I end up in my vehicle far too often.  Especially, if I am retrieving purchases.

If I were to apply that criteria to my experience in San Miguel de Allende, I would get an A+. I walk a lot.

Let me add a disclaimer.  I walk a lot when I head down the hill to the historical area of town.  If I head off to the shopping center, I drive the Escape.

For exercise, living on a hill could not be better.  I know that Babs has told you about her hill.  But let me share my experience with you.

Going downhill is a snap.  If I were not concerned about crashing into a wall at the bottom of the hill, and breaking my other ankle, I would simply run down.  Some of the younger residents do.

The more difficult task is getting back up that hill.

Trying to photograph hills is difficult.  The steepness tends to get lost in the perspective lines.  But, if you take a look at the photograph at the top of this post, those perspective lines, that dream of merging into the infinite horizon, are not really there.  The street is just that steep.

When I get to the top of that hill,there is a little jog over to the neighboring street.  This bit is both steep and narrow.  And it provides the possibility for true adventure.

Cars barely fit through.  The scrapes on each wall are evidence enough of its tight fit.  When vehicles are coming, pedestrians need to scramble or risk becoming one with the view.

There is a story about this narrow gap.  Goats once grazed on the upper reaches of the hills -- where people with plenty of disposable wealth now cool their heels.

This oddly-shaped notch was a goat chute.  Where the herders would gather their charges into some discipline while heading pellmell down the hill.  Not unlike modern pedestrians.

I first came across this bit of history three or four years ago while looking for Babs's home.  I was looking for a place to turn around to go back up the hill.  And this sight was not very promising.

But, we were heading up the hill, weren't we?

I must confess that I stop at the top of the goat chute to catch my breath.  For two reasons.  Both of them obvious. 

The first is that San Miguel de Allende is over 6000 feet above sea level.  My house in Melaque is barely above sea level.  Those 6000 feet make a lot of difference to these coastal lungs.

The second is that I am simply too fat.  Hauling the extra pounds up the hill may be great for building muscle tone, but it puts quite a strain on the respiratory system.

Here is the final bit of the hill.  By the time I get here, I can see my goal, but the going is still tough. I usually start thinking "casket or cremation" about this point.

The effect of going up the hill three or four times a day is that I can feel my legs strengthening.  I know that because I can barely walk on them.  Contradiction not being merely a Marxist philosophical conundrum. 

No pain.  No gain.  And all that jazz.

Today I was heading out the gate to go down the hill when I saw Babs's cat Velcro curled up in a lawn chair -- napping in the sun.

I am not a cat person.  But I decided Velcro had a better idea.  So, I sat down in the sun next to her with some cheese and crackers, and continued my forced march through the Margaret Thatcher biography.  (We have just reached the Falkland War.  How will it all turn out?)

After the propane gas cylinders are replaced later this morning, I will head into town.  After spending a perfectly nice day on Sunday just enjoying the garden.

By the way, would any of you care to see my lodgings?  It is quite the place.  And it will be mine only for a few more days.

I suspect I know your answer.

The Hill at night -- disguised as Paris in the rain

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