A Lot of Cake
The plan was to buy everyone cake.
My husband, Peter, and I are finally getting ready to leave Mexico, and we can’t say we are too happy about it.
The last two months in San Miguel de Allende have convinced us that it is a place we want to return to, and now leaving it feels very hard—especially when my sister tells me about the freezing rain hitting her home right now.
“We had to cancel our trip to visit Uncle Andy and Bea!” she tells me. “The roads were terrible!”
As I sit in the evening sunshine, in a city where people usually don’t need to heat their homes and never need air conditioning, the idea of freezing rain does not exactly make me homesick.
“Why are we leaving, again?” Peter asks.
But I’m anxious to see family again. My dad is going in for a bunch of tests. My sister is getting her knee operated on. Peter’s sister, Shelley, will be having a procedure done on her back. All of these things are important—if not particularly fun. So the plan yesterday was to do something festive, and I couldn’t think of anything more festive than cake.
The idea for the party was Peter’s.
We were so grateful to find this little hotel when we did. Our lodging on the coast turned out to be a disaster, and our choices were to either return home early or find something back in San Miguel de Allende—in the high season, without reservations. When we found this little one- bedroom apartment overlooking the courtyard filled with more than 2,000 smiling sun faces, we felt as if we had been saved.
“I am calling you Salvador,” Peter told Jorge, the owner of the small hotel. “You saved us!” Jorge smiled.
The hotel used to be Jorge’s family home. He was born and raised within its walls, along with his 12 siblings. In the mid-1980s, he began the process of converting it into a hotel. Now it is his pride and joy, and he spends his days putting more artwork on the walls and more plants into pots.
We ordered a chocolate layer cake with buttercream frosting. It had fresh fruit between the layers and a smiling sun face on the top. A woman at the market squeezed about 50 lemons for me, and we made fresh lemonade. Then Jorge and his employees and the three artists he keeps busy every day all gathered together in the courtyard with the 2000+ suns to eat cake.
Once we were all gathered, I found myself completely without Spanish words to thank them properly. This is what happens to me when I have something important to say in Spanish— I forget every word I ever knew. So, instead, we cut the cake and poured lemonade and smiled a lot. I think they all got the message.
“That was a good party!” Peter announced when we finally returned to our little apartment upstairs. “Jorge ate a lot of cake!”
We don’t know what they really think of us, the kind people running this family hotel. We wouldn’t blame them if they thought we were a little awkward or odd.
But we wanted to try to let them know how much we appreciated finding such a clean, cheerful place to live. We appreciated all the beautiful art being made, the plants being grown, the countless small kindnesses shown to us every day.
“Gracias!” we say again and again. “Thank you.”
“De nada,” they always reply. “It’s nothing.”
But, of course, it is everything.
Till next time,
– Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.