Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Miguel de Allende: The City of Fallen Women Part II

A while back, I wrote about how San Miguel de Allende is known as the "city of fallen women" because its picturesque but lethal cobblestone streets and wonky sidewalks have brought many a virtuous woman to her knees. Well, it was only a matter of time, right?

The story of my fall from grace is not without some high irony. I was in San Miguel for the day from Mineral de Pozos to attend a birthday lunch for a game old girl who was turning 97.  Marie lives alone except for week day help on the outskirts of Pozos and has more energy and enthusiasm for life than most people I know a quarter of her age. She collects art, gardens, and is engaged in politics. So of course she was going to have a birthday party.

There must be something in the water in this part of Mexico; either that or it attracts a lot of Americanos with great genes because in my 60s, I was the “kid” in the room. I probably brought the average age down to about 80. And let me tell you, these geezers can really knock them back. The martinis, margaritas, and wine were flowing in abundance. As a general rule I don’t drink during the daytime because it leaves me sleepy and headachy, plus I had to get back to Pozos; so as well as being the youngest person in the room, after a while I was the only sober one.

I was a bit concerned about how some of these sweet old dears, who were half in the bag, were going to get home and was feeling a bit responsible for their safty. But that turned out to be hubris, since I was the one who ended up ignominiously sprawled all over the street on leaving the party.

Yeah, image cracking your skin on this curb.

I’m not quite sure how it happened: usually you don’t know in these cases. One minute I was upright, the next I was pitching forward and landing with my left shin on the curb. I’m not going to blame my trusty Birkenstocks because I wear them all the time without mishap.

As I sat on Calle Potranca clutching my shin with tweety birds flying in a circle around my head, all I could think was, oh no, I’ve done it again!

Several years ago I was on a hiking vacation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite places on the planet). I was walking slacked jawed through the stunning old growth forest not paying a lot attention to where I placed my feet, when I lost my footing, rolled down a slope, and landed with my right shin wrapped around a moss-covered boulder.

Breathtaking Vancouver Island

You know how much it hurts when you hit your shin on the coffee table? Multiply that by infinity. That incident resulted in an ambulance ride to the emergency room and all I can say about that is, “yay for Canadian socialized medicine." I had to shell out a whopping $104 Canadian for all that treatment. It also necessitated a premature return to Los Angeles. That left me deeply disappointed as the next day I was scheduled to have the renowned afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. 

The world famous afternoon tea at the Empress in Victoria

Although I do have to say that the ride through the airport in a wheelchair, early boarding, and a bulkhead seat were some small compensation. After I got home, I spent days on excellent painkillers; weeks on crutches; and months in physical rehab.

But, painful as it was, I hadn’t inflicted anything like that kind of damage this time. I had a nasty scrape and in subsequent days my lower leg turned from black and blue to green and yellow. I might have nicked a bone because I still have a small painful lump on my shin that jars a bit when I walk. All told, though, it was just another day in colonial Mexico.

The following week I had a little birthday tea party for Marie and her Pozos girlfriends at my house. Not as impressive as the Empress, I'm sure, but a good time was had by all. And this time there was no booze and everyone managed to stay on their feet.  I’m sure Marie probably found the whole event very tame.

Marie, bottom left, at her 97th birthday tea at my house

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