Life and Death in the Jardín | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Life and Death in the Jardín

Every day, Norteamericanos congregate in the Jardín, San Miguel's main square. They sit on the park benches facing the Parroquoia, our most ornate church, basking in the sun. They trade gossip or gripe about Mexico or just quietly nap.

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Some people refer to these benches as "God's waiting room." Some call it "death row."

When they look up from their seats, the quiescent retirees see that a funeral is in progress. (That is a Jimmy hearse conversion parked in front of the Parroquoia. I'm particularly impressed by the vinyl camper top with fake landau irons, paired incongruously with mag wheels.)

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The fresh flowers and the flags on the fenders tell you the hearse is actively working. It's backed up to the front steps of the church, tailgate open, so pallbearers can slide the casket inside with minimal effort. (Mexicans are nothing if not experts on loading heavy stuff in pickup trucks.)

Pull back, though, and the somber mood evaporates. No longer is our view confined to the near-dead contemplating the actually dead.

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The municipal Christmas tree—a cone of brilliant poinsettias—sparkles cheerfully in the sun. An old vendor carrying a huge cloud of balloons pulls a whirligig across the pavement. A small girl runs across the plaza, attracted by the spinning toy.

The death row inmates fade into irrelavancy. The hearse becomes just another pickup truck parked in the warm sun. The little girl and the old man, actively living their lives, that's what matters.
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