Saturday, November 7, 2009

Autumn in Mexico

I love the sound of the whistle of the camote cart--the sweet-potato seller.  It's a true sign of fall in San Miguel de Allende.  Right towards the end of a recent nichos class, there came the loud whistle from down the street.  I flagged him over and, as he pushed his cart up the street--stopping to throw a few bits of wood into the fire-box--I saw that on the front of the cart was an old  New Mexico license plate!  The story of how it got there was a little vague--something about importing cars from Los Estados Unidos -- but it made me very happy to see that outdated yellow and red design dangling off an old wire, announcing the arrival of this year's crop.  It's always a sign of cold weather and impending winter, that loud whistle venting off the steam of the roasting yams.  It's a unique sound and instantly recognizable to me after these years living here, coming around the time of Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead.  This is the liminal time between the fall equinox and winter solstice, the in-between space when souls come to visit, and a cup of water is placed on the ofrenda--altar or more literally, offering--for the great and great-great grandparents who come for one brief night to visit.  The departed are honored.   We--my students and I--shared plates of the sweet roasted yams and platano macho or plantain.  A sprinkling of canela (cinammon). Buen provecho--enjoy your meal.

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