This morning, I was asked by my San Miguel parents (Rick and Claudia) how I would describe San Miguel to people back home. Magical and mysterious are the first words to come to mind. Every street has a series of big doors or gates. You can’t see what’s on the other side from the street, but if someone were to open the gate, I guarantee you would not expect what is on the other side.
The other day I was walking home and a woman had opened her garage. Some how she manged to fit not one car, but two, in there. She had a huge house with lemon trees in her yard. From the outside, just a big brown door.
I’ve only been here a week yet there have already been several festivals. Yesterday, there were people dancing in the street in elaborate costumes. Paper mache figures bouncing up and down, banging drums. I’m not sure what they were celebrating; they are always celebrating here. I’m sitting in my apartment right now and can hear drums. If you are not hearing drums, you’re hearing a mariachi band. Claudia told me that a she met a man who said, “If a pigeon flies across the Jardin, we celebrate.” I believe it.
This morning, Rick and Claudia left to go back to Memphis. I met them last Saturday when I asked them how to find the Organic Market and they proceeded to not only take me there, but to all of their favorite haunts. They helped me find the food I needed, pirated movies (I have yet to watch), showed me their favorite restaurants and called me adorable and “Sweetgirl.” I’m tearing up a bit thinking about it. How is it that I could know them for only a week but feel such a kinship with them?
Today when I was walking to the Organic Market, a woman walked up and asked me if I knew where the Organic Market was? I just stopped in my tracks and laughed. I had said goodbye to Rick and Claudia just 3 minutes earlier and now it was my turn to show someone the ropes. That’s just the way it works here. Things just happen as they are supposed to.
Blessed. I haven’t felt blessed in awhile, but I do now. I haven’t been sleeping well and normally this would really mess me up. But since I don’t have to be at the Sterling Quest studio until 1:30 or 2:00, I’ve been dealing with it.
Ah, the studio. Billy King. Mention him around town and if people don’t know him they say, “No, I don’t know him but I know about him.” This means, “I know enough to know that he’s a “Bad Mother F****r.” He’s not really that bad. He’s just a character in the truest sense. I mainly say this because that phrase is actually on his key chain. I’m not kidding. Like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. The F word in all it’s varieties is spewed constantly. As students, we willfully take his abuse and pay him for it. Yesterday, Billy expelled a girl in the middle of class. He told me the week he had pneumonia, he was so pissed off he expelled 5 people.
Billy didn’t initially want to teach me. In response to my original email in which I offended him (possibly by using the phrase soul-searching), he replied: “Jillian: I think that you might look elsewhere for your classes in March. This is not a therapy centre or retreat…There are many such here. I suggest you look around. Billy King. ” I had to convince him I was serious. I think he likes me now because, even though I’m only signed up and paid for Mon, Tue, Wed classes, he asked me to come every day last week. I feel that I will probably have to go through some sort of decoding ritual as they do after you’ve left a cult. I’m already swearing more than a Macklemore song.
Billy has a LOT of stories. Stories about how he landed in a Canadian jail, his time in jail, escaping jail, going back to jail, his collection of knives (one of which was at my throat yesterday, albeit just briefly and I think as a joke, I hope…). I won’t go into detail since those are his stories to tell, but if I didn’t believe him I wouldn’t be in his school.
I’ve only known him a week but to me, it seems like he’s got a big heart. He is honest. And he knows his shit. And that’s why we all take the abuse. I hope to stay in his good graces at least three more weeks!
My apartment: Another reason I am blessed. I could not understand my good fortune. I found this place in early January when everything else was booked. The other day I finally asked Juan, my landlord who lives below me and owns the wonderful Peruvian restaurant next door, if someone had cancelled. Apparently, the woman who has rented this apartment from Jan-April for the past four years broke her leg just a few days before she was to come here. Her misfortune was my good fortune. I am maybe a 10 minute walk from the center of town and about a 25 minute walk to the studio. Juan owns the three apartments and restaurant on this side of the street and then a beautiful big house with a pool on the back side of this property. The restaurant, La Parada, is my favorite so far in San Miguel. His wife is the chef. They are both exceptionally beautiful.
He is younger than me (I’m guessing between 30-35) and I am curious about how he has managed to acquire so much but have not been rude enough to ask. I guess that is one more mystery of San Miguel. That and the church bells. I think I could live here a decade before I understood what they all mean. Bells ring at all hours of the day. You would think that they would denote the current time but you would be wrong.
Are you kidding me? Now there are fireworks going off. These people LOVE to celebrate!!!