The people of San Miguel made me feel welcome.
I have never been one to photograph people. My focus has always been on birds and other animals, flowers, landscapes or seascapes. It is not that I don’t appreciate people images. Rather I find it challenging to create an image that is more than a “family snapshot,” an image that would be meaningful to others (dare I say has universal meaning). Further, I find it awkward to ask permission to take images (which usually results in stiff posed shots) and invasive to point my camera at unsuspecting visitors. Such camera work is definitely a balancing act.
Despite my lack of history of doing people photography, I found that it became central to the images I made in San Miguel de Allende. The people were integral to my experience there and to not include them would be to misrepresent what makes this area so fantastic. They made me feel welcome.
There was a spirit that seemed present with the people. This may have been, in part, due to the season (we were there in the weeks before Christmas). However, this spirit was sufficiently pervasive to suggest that it was a part of who they are, that there was joy in life. At all hours we saw young people on the street and old people on the street. They danced. They kissed. They worked and they played.
The young people are an active part of life. We saw them care for their brothers and sisters and for their grandparents.
The elderly were not hidden away but walked with their families, sat with their friends, and enjoyed the ice cream 🙂
When the music played, people danced.
And they worked.
And they played
And they played.
And they played.
It may have been the presence of the children that gave such a strong impression of play and of joy. We saw them running and playing in the markets and the squares. But the energy of joy in life seemed present in the adults as well. When the marching band played through and the Mojigangas danced, the people danced as well.
I do not mean to suggest that all was roses and chocolates. There was hardship to be seen. As with all such places there were beggars and people engaged in hard labor and living hard lives. But even those seemed to refuse to allow the weight of their struggles to crush the joy in thier lives.
As hard of life as there is. But her smile lives on.
A paperclip and a puddle is an opportunity to blow bubbles.
While we were not exactly well to do when I was a child, I can say that we never had to ride in the trunk of the car. These two seem to be enjoying it though and, as everywhere it seems, they at least have their cell phone.
And, while these people were the subjects of our images, I found this positive spirit to be present in the people we spent time with and did business with as well.
The retired cooking-school-teacher-ex-pats that lived in the apartment above us were doing their best to suck the marrow from life. They gave us suggestions and guidance on places to see and where to eat.
Oscar, the art instructor we took painting classes from, was just down the street. He had a great passion for the environment and the youth of the community and provides free art therapy to the local kids (some of whom were amazingly talented). www.artessma.com
Max, the owner to Tio Lucas ( www.travelbymexico.com/guan/tiolucas ) who enticed us in to try his food and then spent half an hour just chatting with us. When we returned two weeks later, I was greeted with a big hug and a welcome back.
Susan, Sally, Mike, Karen (three of our new expat friends), Max and I at Tio Lucus. I learned a few things from Max. One, I think I might need a nice scarf. It looks good on him. Also you can use beef broth in a seafood soup and have it turn out very good. And, most importantly he told me I should not call Susan by Susan. “Why Susan when you can say Susanna?” he said to me.
It is that statement that may best express the spirit I felt. In Max’s statement of “why say Susan when you can say Susanna?” is an expression of making the effort, of taking the time, of bringing life to it’s fullest. It is an expression of being committed to the little things that make life worth while.
Of course, it is also quite possible that my experience of the people of San Miguel had more to do with me than them. I will take it either way.
Until next time,