By Margie Harrell


Mexican-LadyBeing an avid walker, I knew I had found my paradise in Ajijic, Mexico with its narrow calles that are more conducive to walking than driving.  Each day I would set out on a quest to discover what was around the next corner, never being disappointed at what I found. Another part of living in Mexico is to enjoy the pleasure of having a maid, a custom I accepted wholeheartedly. Her name was Imelda and she was the best, always doing more than was asked of her.

When I first settled in the village, the lakeshore was still open to nomads to pitch a tent and make a home. I marveled at how they were able to make something out of nothing and seemed quite happy in doing so. A lean-to, a fire pit and life was good. Imelda lived just off the shore in a small shack with her family which included five children 

When I left Mexico three years later to live in Nevada with my new husband, I vowed to return. It was a long five years before that was to happen but I immediately went looking for my Imelda. Days of walking the streets were fruitless as she had moved. I chose to imagine that life had been good to her and she had moved on to better things.  Soon my short vacation was over and as the time drew closer for me to return home, I was saddened that I wasn’t able to connect again with her.

Feeling a little downtrodden I set out on a walk that I knew would lift my spirits as it was another beautiful day on the shores of Lake Chapala.  Usually the dogs of the village didn’t concern me but on this day I noticed a rather surly one up ahead of me so I decided to cut through a lane to the next street. As I rounded the corner I practically knocked down a woman coming from the opposite direction.  

“Perdoneme,” I mumbled as our eyes met briefly.  In a heartbeat we both stopped in our tracks. “Imelda! Senora!” we said in unison.  Could it be possible that my detour had brought me right where I was supposed to be that very afternoon?

I felt like I had just found a long-lost family member. Imelda pointed to her house which I had passed many times before but never managed to see her. Life had indeed been better to my friend as she now had furniture and a decent kitchen to cook those wonderful Mexican dishes. As the children offered me sodas and cookies there was a warm feeling all around the room.

Eduardo her son had been a teenager when I left but was now a grown man and helping out with the household expenses. He proudly showed me the typewriter I had given him years before to further his education. The little five-year-old sitting on my lap I had held as a newborn. I am sure she was wondering who this new friend was that mama kept hugging.

All too soon it was time for me to leave as I vowed it wouldn’t be another five years before I returned again. My trip back in time had been the frosting on the cake as once again Mexico had planted a seed deep in my heart saying, “This is your true home. You may leave for a while but we will see you again.”  A short detour around a corner and a friendship was renewed. It happens in Mexico all the time.

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