Mexico

Bird Box

If you are a Norteno living in San Miguel de Allende, you either know Susan Page or you will at some point. Susan put San Miguel on the literary map when she founded the San Miguel Writer’s Conference in 2004. She and her husband, Mayer, also travel all over Mexico to collect Mexican folk art. This is the story of a wooden box I saw in one of their galleries.

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Ekphrasis

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci

When I’m traveling, I love finding unexpected connections between people and places and ideas. Like Ekphrasis — an ancient Greek thing that I learned about in Mexico for an event sponsored by Americans. (If, like most people, you haven’t been following along, I’m an American in Greece on my way back to Mexico). Ekphrasis is a literary work that’s about or inspired by a piece of art. Like everything Greek, the idea of ekphrasis goes deeper than that. But to keep things simple, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is ekphrasic because the story is built around Leonardo’s paintings, including “Vitruvian Man.” John Keats’ poem, “Ode on A Grecian Urn” is also ekphrasic.

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Around the World in 80 Heys

Anais Nin

One of the small disappointments in my life is that I’m not the kind of person who gets nicknames, at least not the kind that are said to my face. For a short time, a few people called me “KimTwin,” a reference to an outboard motor. I was 20 and would have preferred a nickname that you would give to Anais Nin, mysterious and bohemian.

Although I am not a nickname kind of person, I’ve been called many things during my travels. Each gave me a little insight about another culture, and provided a small thrill. Here are the ones I remember.

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Dia De Los Muertos — Celebrating the Dead and the Living

An ofrenda at San Miguel’s Juan de Dios market

If you’ve seen Disney’s “Coco,” you know at least a little about Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos. Day of the Dead celebrates the loved ones we have lost because remembering them keeps them alive. Here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, it’s a time of traditions that date from the time of the Aztec empire — as well as some modern adaptations.

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How We Can Help

Virginia, Maryland Say They'll Be A Safe Harbor For Afghan Refugees : NPR
Photo by NPR

The drama unfolding in Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis and it’s not going to get better. There is little doubt that the execution of the withdrawal after 20 years of war and corruption has been a disaster. Politicians talk about getting our “friends” out. But, even if that’s possible, our “friends” apparently don’t include the tens of thousands of people who aligned themselves with the US in unofficial ways. The families of my refugee friends in Europe have relatives in Kabul who have almost no chance of getting help from the US, even those who worked for US contractors or government agencies. Like so many others, they are in grave danger.

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The Mojigangas Are Back, Baby!

Mojigangas are the giant puppets that prowl the San Miguel streets

I am back in San Miguel de Allende for awhile in spite of my wanderlust. And, poco a poco, things are getting back to normal in this magical town. After a challenging year, the mariachi bands are playing in the main square, and Chillangos (tourists from Mexico City) are standing in line for churros and street tacos, almost like the good old days. It feels strangely safe here. Masks are not optional, tests are cheap and easy to get, and so much of life in San Miguel takes place outside in the nearly-perfect summer weather.

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Puerto Rico: Not What I Had Planned

San Juan musician in front of Puerto Rico’s flag

Ok so I was in Louisiana for a month, where I felt like I was in a book I should write (haha, I am writing it) and then I went home for a week and from there to Puerto Rico. Y’all know that Puerto Rico is the United States right? Incredible beaches and jungles, paper towels to mop up the hurricane damage, and everything else that comes with colonization. It’s shameful what the US has taken from Puerto Rico, which is an actual book — Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise. PR is also a destination place for throngs of 20-something mainland Americans who want to party. I didn’t know this when I decided to spend six weeks in PR in an apartment on the beach….And I would have stayed for six weeks if the water and power in my apartment hadn’t mysteriously gone out two hours after I arrived.

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