Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Friday, February 24, 2012

Leaving our Footprints on San Miguel

"Take only pictures; leave only footprints."
~ Girl Scouts of America

But, when people enter or land on any place, we cannot help but have an effect. We leave something behind or cause some kind of reaction, no matter how careful we are. Often the resulting change is planned and beneficial.
How have the people affected this place? That question is the second part of geography’s theme of ‘place. ‘ No matter the location, depending on one’s point of view, both positive and negative effects occur.
Specifically in San Miguel, increased tourism and the lure of ex-pats has put more money into the economy.  There is a greater demand for services and goods, such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and stores. Building construction increased, providing employment opportunities, but real estate prices have escalated, sending land and homes out of the price range of many natives.

While out on a photo expedition, Judy came upon the stall of a belt vendor in the Artesanos’ Mercado. Having been his customer on more than one occasion, they have developed a relationship. She stopped to say hello and to see if, perhaps, names of places she’d been photographing might show up on some of the post cards in his shop. She explained what she was looking for in Spanish, English, and sign language. The old man bent to a low shelf beneath some of his wares and brought out a handful of other cards he’d had tucked away. He must have thought she wanted to share photos and explained, in Spanish and sign language,  that these old cards were photos taken before, when the horizon was clear and the surrounding hillsides were bare except for vegetation.
Nowadays, looking out from any San Miguel rooftop, we observe that the hillsides are bursting with the colors of newly-constructed casas and compounds. On our forays into many areas of the city, we see and hear the remodels in progress and often stop to marvel at the design and beauty.

Changes in the landscape are not the only footprints being left behind. Programs through the Biblioteca and other entities are making inroads in filling societal needs. Judy has taken part in St. Paul Church’s Mattress Project, which benefits children and elderly women who would otherwise sleep on dirt floors in small countryside villages. In addition, this project helps the environment by recycling thousands of specially-twisted plastic grocery bags to stuff each mattress.
The Biblioteca’s House and Garden Tours sell out every Sunday, funding educational projects and scholarships for local children. We’ve heard more this trip about other programs that advocate on behalf of women, feed the hungry, and care for the terminally ill.
We can choose the impact we make on a place, whether we’re visiting or whether it’s our home. It can be great or small. But, we know that wherever we go, we leave a bit of ourselves. Our goal is to leave a positive impact on San Miguel in order to preserve it for our own and others’ future enjoyment.

What kind of impact are you making on your 'place'?
~ xoA

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Charmed by San Miguel

After a five-year absence, Judy and I have returned to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s our third visit to this place and the people that we love. From the minute we arrived in this charming colonial town northwest of Mexico City, we’ve felt right at home and experienced a kinship.
On our rooftop patio
What beckons us here is the delightful atmosphere and appearance of the town, the industriousness of the San Miguelenese, being able to immerse ourselves in the culture, and the promise of reconnecting with friends.
San Miguel has a magical effect on people who visit or decide to live here. It’s about the community – the dual culture with the events and the people of “old Mexico” and others from around the world.  There is a compactness, a concentration, of the arts, language, and history within the realm of the beauty and charm of “old Mexico” that transcends nationality.
Calle Canal
Vendors at the gigantic Tuesday Market

It’s about the friendliness. Myriad opportunities for meeting new people present themselves. We’ve encountered remarkable individuals, Mexican, Norte Americano, and European, with varied careers, experiences, and talents. That we will meet and make new friends is a given. San Miguel is a place where folks come for a visit, fall in love with the town, and make new friends. Then, before returning home, they book their reservations for the following year. Some simply stay.

View of La Parroquia, down Calle Correro

As we left a new lunch spot today, we were speaking with Geraldo, the owner, about the United States and Mexico. He told us that his brother lives in California and is married to an American. Then, he said, “We are not just neighbors, we are family.”

Yes, we are charmed by San Miguel. And, I will be sharing more about this incredible part of the world.

‘Place’ is one of the five themes of geography. One aspect of this theme is how a place affects people. Think about what place soothes or stimulates you, or makes you happy to be there. When’s the last time you were there? Or, when might you return? Hasta luego.