Just Another Day In SMA?


I was in a small eatery  a few days ago with 2 friends. We were meeting to work on a retreat we are offering in August (more on that soon!). There are only about 8 tables at Cafe Media Naranja and I think only three of them were occupied. It is a cute place with one young waitress and a few women in the kitchen that day. It has two small rooms and is on the second floor overlooking a ‘busy’ intersection here in San Miguel de Allende.

We got our beverages and were awaiting our food. Talking over the details of the week long retreat, we were enjoying the laid back atmosphere.  Then things shifted. We saw a tall older (mid 70’s) white man shove the waitress from behind and order her to go do something. Suddenly everyone in the place was focused on what had just occurred.  We all sat awash in disbelief and a bit stunned. It was like we couldn’t believe it and didn’t know how to respond. Another man (in his early 30’s) walked over and spoke to him about his behavior being unacceptable. I thought ‘oh good..this is how it should be addressed…by another man.’

But I knew it wasn’t finished.

Tension just hung in the air.

A family left.  

We got our food and began eating.

There was unfinished business. I got up and crossed the room toward the young waitress. I wanted to let HER know what he did wasn’t ok.  I spoke to her in spanish. I told her I was sorry he treated her that way. That all of us believed how he had treated her was unacceptable. I tried to convey so much with my words and eyes.  I returned to my table and my meal awaiting me.

A few minutes went by and the oldest woman working in the restaurant came out with her arm around the young waitress. They walked over to the table where the man who shoved her was seated with 2 other older men. The abuelita proceeded to tell him (in spanish) that he couldn’t push her. The young woman was crying and her head was down.

The guy stood up (he was very tall). He walked toward the young woman and put his hand on her arm, as he denied he had shoved her. He was looming over her in his size and presence.

From across the room I watched the interaction.  My two companions were unaware of what was unfolding across the way.  His intimidating, overbearing, threatening behavior was more than I could tolerate. I was out of my chair and over to the three of them in a flash.

I stood steadfastly next to the young waitress.  He placed his hands on her again.

I took his hands off her and told him to keep them off. He continued to try and lay his hands on her and deny he had done anything wrong. I continued to remove his hands from her.

I wasn’t yelling, I wasn’t calling him names

(Considering this is what I wish I had done)  

but I could NOT let him continue to physically intimidate her.

As he refused to back off, I stepped in between her and the increasingly aggressive man. That is when he said ‘Listen lady, you are getting involved in something that is not your business.” Right then is when Cat was at my side and said ‘well, WE are making it our business’. Then she added – ‘in the days of #MeToo movement it is in your best interest to keep your hands to yourself’. Somehow that sunk in – he said he was sorry and backed off and sat down.

My heart was beating so hard.

I am not sure it was the best approach and I am so grateful he didn’t hit me or the policia weren’t called.

First time I have ever done anything like that that in public.  But I just could NOT sit by and allow him to behave in that way without standing up for HER.

As I am out on the streets, I so hope I don’t see that dude anywhere else.  I am absolutely sure we made no lasting changes in his behavior toward women.  But I do hope SHE felt supported.  It could have been the first time in her life someone said – you do not have to let someone treat you that way.  IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR HIM TO DO THAT.

I am not sure what is happening in the world right now.  Decay or Empowerment? But I am sure I want to end this life knowing I stood up for what I believed in.  So back off disrespectful jerk I belief in RESPECT!

Image result for respecting women

It s time to stand up to rape culture. It is not okay!

Image result for rape culture

It Was Bound to Happen Finale

Feb 12th, 2019 4:30 am my Mother left her body for her next adventure.

It is a hazy time now. I am not really seeing things clearly at times. It’s like after a tornado finally passes and you stand in the rubble going…..woa.

The last couple of months of her life my Mom became more and more miserable and debilitated.  It was so painful to watch and I cannot fathom of how painful it was for her to live through.

I am not sure what happens after we leave here.  I have my beliefs and I constantly question them.  So, to have my Mother stepping closer and closer to the precipice of ‘not here’ was uncomfortable, hard, challenging, frustrating and overwhelming.  I walked the 6 minutes from my house to hers practically everyday. I sat with her as she struggled with her failing body, as she told me how miserable she was, as she questioned why she had to live like that.  I held her hand. I told her I loved her. I followed up on her ‘complaints’ with the staff. I did everything I could to support this long difficult journey she was taking out of this life. It was emotionally draining.  I was wracked with grief – even though I am not sure I was completely aware of that as I went through it.


As long as I have been aware of these kinds of things, my Mother was never really invested in her own well being – but I was.  It was selfish really – when she passed I wanted to know I did everything I could to make sure she had been cared for with kindness and compassion, that there were no medical procedures she would not want, and that we were close enough to watch over her care.

Do you know how hard it is to invest in someone who doesn’t invest in themself?  I never could figure out if it was the meningiomas or just her personality. Does it even matter?

Cat and I took care of my Mom for 12 years.  Yes – 12 years. Of course it had ups and downs and the last year was really the toughest.  But 12 years – being held hostage by a tiny dictator who would not do anything to improve her own quality of life. Are you sensing a bit of resentment?  Yep – and I can own it. I am not pretending it was all love and sweetness those 4380 days. Don’t get me wrong – I was honored to be there for my Mom. AND it was HARD.

The thing is, as those years ticked by I didn’t know the toll all of it was taking on me, my dear Cat, and our relationship. Our life was lived around Shirley.  I look at pictures of myself 10 years ago and today – WOW! I have aged.

I am so grateful for Sofia and her team of caregivers.  The care my Mom received here was amazing. One caregiver for my Mom and one other women.  In the US the ratio is often one caregiver for up to 18 people. That never worked out well when we were in the states.  The team here is literally family. In the US – underpaid, under appreciated immigrants most of the time ‘cared for her (if you could even call it that).  It was absolutely the right decision to move us all down here to get the best situation for her and us.  For the first time in years, I didn’t worry about her when I wasn’t with her. I could actually relax and not jump every time the phone rang.

I am grateful my Mom set herself up financially to cover all her needs.  

I am grateful I am smart and resourceful, so I could find her retirement benefit she wasn’t collecting when I jumped in to start caring for her, to get her VA benefits she was not utilizing, and to take care of all the details of those numerous hospital and rehab stays that I managed the paperwork for.

I am eternally grateful for and to Cat.  She put up with all of it, pitched in on more than could have ever been expected and sat with my Mom the last three weeks of her life while I was in the US.

Throughout this last year and all the close calls with death she had, Cat and I both wondered if I was anchoring her here in this life.  Was she staying because she was tethered to me? When my recent trip to Austin rolled around there were conversations about her condition, should I stay, how should we handle it?  Together Cat and I made the decision I should go. It could give my Mom the freedom to let go. She said she wanted to die, she said she wasn’t afraid. I asked her if she had unfinished business….no she said.  Then why was she still here? Maybe it was our connection. So off I went to Austin.

And my Mom died the day I was coming back to San Miguel. It was only 14 hours before I would walk back into her room.

Of course now I grapple with all my decisions, question what I did or didn’t do.  I am still invested in her.

Shirley

Here is a video of us just over a year ago.

https://www.facebook.com/the.real.catcalhoun/videos/10215668905624463/

The Gritty Details of Life in SMA

by DeLora Frederickson
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

We recycle in Mexico. It is NOT curbside pickup.
This is the recycling center we drive our stuff to. We do it for the little cluster of people living in our compound. We take 4-6 smallish bins (including ours) twice a month. If there is a big fiesta that might happen more often 🙂


It is across from the BIG grocery store La Comer – much like HEB plus about 10 mins drive from our house.


We pull up and stay on the dirt road just outside the fence. We walk the bins in and dump them on the ground…all mixed together. A family lives onsite and sorts everything by hand.


Most people I know just throw everything in the trash (which is picked up 3 times a week curbside) and choose to believe someone separates it at some point along the way to the dump.


I do not know where the recycling goes or what happens to it.


I have seen trucks FULL of plastic, etc…driving along the roads many times. I have heard the plastic sometimes becomes fuel for stoves where bricks are baked. I have smelled burning plastics before around town – ewwwww.

We had to search out this info about recycling here as it is not ‘the norm’.  Like I said most people just toss everything out for the trash trucks.  We talked to our landlords about starting to recycle for the compound…they bought the bins, we take it to the recycling center.  

Here is an interesting article about recycling in Mexico.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/protrash/mexicos-massive-24-billio_b_11730898.html

Living within a different culture challenges my comfort zone ALL the time.  The whole process about recycling was ‘charged’ and I found/find myself in judgement about people who don’t recycle.  So this is my practice.  Taking the recycling for the 12 people in my living space.  Putting my energy into that and not the habitual thinking patterns (ha ha if you think I accomplish this ALL the time).  

As we go about our lives in Mexico it is relatively similar and massively different.  We still sleep, wake up, have our morning routine, etc…  AND we bump up against cultural etiquette and attitudes towards things like recycling that offer the opportunity to dig in.  Dig into myself, lean into discomfort and open to the beauty within.

Thanks Mexico.  Thanks Cat Calhoun for encouraging me and living through my process of ‘digging in’ (even when the dirt I fling from digging in hits you in the face sometimes).  Thanks to the process. 

I am living in authenticity and connection.

Is tech killing your relationship?

by Cat Calhoun
San Miguel de Allende, Gto. México

Is this about Mexico? No! Yes. No. Well, yes, kinda. 

Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration of our connection to others that reaches beyond our three-dimensional life. Part of this year’s celebration in San Miguel de Allende was an amazing performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the beautiful Parrochia church. It was a beautiful, moving performance in a standing-room-only packed church. . . filled with people holding up their cell phones like they were at a Pitbull concert. 

Anyone who knows me IRL is well aware that I am a self-confessed technogeek. I’ve logged, blogged, and vlogged my life since Al Gore invented the internet. But at this concert it fully struck me that I have spent a lot of my life doing this – holding up my phone or my camera or my iPad to capture something for others that I would be better served simply experiencing for myself. 

MexicoNoFilters.com - cell phones at a performance

This may or may not be true for you, but I have begun to realize that for me tech has become an addiction, an expression of my inner need to have approval from my peers, and a distraction from what is really going on around me. As an emigrant to Mexico from the US, I realize it is also a way to sink back into the comfort of the culture I was born into via Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other easy addictions. All of these impact my ability to nourish meaningful relationships with my partner, my friends, and my world.  

Is technology impacting your ability to interact with your world and your family? Check out this article from the Gottman Institute out. 

It Was Bound to Happen – Part Three

by DeLora Frederickson
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The next week was basically us at the hospital all day and one of her caregivers there overnight.  

The private hospitals here are all very small. I think there were less than 10 rooms in this hospital and only 2 of them were full when my mom was there. She got really great care in Hospital Mac.

We saw the doctors everyday, called and talked to them anytime we needed to.  It was amazing.

She started out eating papilla (blended) foods.  Either I or a nurse would feed her each meal.

She improved day by day…until day three.  

When I came in I knew something was off.  She was confundido (confused) and talking gibberish.

I called the doctors, I told the nurses.  I KNEW something was off.

The doctors came by…this is normal after a big surgery like this.

NO this is NOT normal.  

We have been at the hospital 11 hours.  We go home.

Another new doctor, a cardiologist, visits my mom.  And her traumatologist calls and says she has a pulmonary embolism.  You should come back to the hospital now. She needs a central line to get the medication she needs.  The traumatologist thought she would die that night.

Again, I am faced with drawing the line in the sand for her.  I have a major meltdown (at home). I cry and rant and rave about being the one to make the decisions about living and dying.  At the same time I am trying to get ready to rush out the door to get to the hospital.

The new cardiologist calls.  She doesn’t need a central line.  Well, thank the ever loving goddess I don’t have to make THAT decision again.  I ask him if he thinks she will make it through the night. Of course he says.  She is not going to die tonight.

At this point Cat stops me and suggests we not go.  She has the doctors, Sophia is there, Juan (one of her favorite caregivers) is there.  Cat mentions she might be hanging on when I am close.

We decide to stay home and send Reiki.  We did a healing ritual for her.

Sending Reiki to someone is not praying for them ‘to get better.’  Reiki is sent for whatever the person wants to use it for. I felt so grounded and satisfied after we finished.  

We text a little with Sophia who eventually also goes home.  Juan stays with her overnight.

In the morning we make the short 15 minute drive back to the hospital. She is still sleeping most of the day, but when she is awake she is getting more and more alert and aware of where she is and what is going on. We continue sitting with her day by day.

She was in the hospital a week. The total cost for all the doctors, hospital stay, surgery, supplies, and medications…$7000.00.  We don’t have Mexican insurance for her yet and her US insurance doesn’t cover anything down here.

We take her back to Sophia’s.  I have rented a hospital bed. She is back in familiar surroundings.  

The first day I go over there she is completely unresponsive for the first 90 minutes I am there.  I resign myself to ‘this is how it is now.’ I sit with her. Then at some point she just blurts out a totally unrelated word.  Then she opens her eyes briefly. She goes in and out of ‘sleep’.

This goes on for the next three weeks.  When I visit she is basically sleeping. She cannot keep her eyes open for any length of time.  It is depressing and I am sad visiting her and coming home I usually cry.

Her anesthesiologist comes by for a check up.  He takes her off of her antidepressant and adds a pain pill.

The next day she is up and talking in her chair when I get there.  WHAT? She is ‘back’. We have a relatively on-point conversation.

Day by day she is recovering.  She is still confused sometimes.  Especially when her oxygen has not been on.  She almost gets dementia-like when her blood oxygen level is under 92.  This is what makes it so great that I live close. She will call me and I can tell by the conversation how her oxygen level is.  Then I can walk over in six minutes and make sure it is back on, she is ‘rescued’ as she likes to call it, and I help her feel safe and comfortable.

This journey continues everyday for me and my Mom.  It is a lot of details to keep up with but it is also a lot emotions to process.  I have come to accept this is her passing through the end of this life. I am not responsible for her experience.  I provide a safe comfortable place for her to be with kind and caring people. I visit her almost everyday.

I have met many of the neighborhood folks since I walk so often – bonus!

As hard as it is, I am grateful to be here for her.  There are other ladies that Sophia takes care of that have no family members in Mexico or involved in their care. They get cared for but the love and attention of a family member can be like no other.


Read parts 1 and 2 here: 
It Was Bound to Happen
It Was Bound to Happen – Part 2

Danzas Indigenistas

I have been to a lot of pow-wows in my time and seen a lot of indigenous dances. It’s always a moving experience for me. Though I wasn’t raised in a tribal family, I am part Lipan Apache and a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. I was always reluctant to embrace that part of my heritage because I look ridiculously white, taking after the Irish and English parts of my family and was raised to feel shame about my mother’s Apache DNA. It wasn’t until I began regular shamanic practice that I understood that at the core we all have shamanism in our backgrounds, though for most of us it has been scrubbed out by various forms of organized religion, usually with violence and suppression of our and our ancestor’s true selves.

Shamanism is about connection to the natural world and to Spirit. In shamanism we see the sentience in all things: rocks, trees, water, plants, birds, air, mammals, reptiles, creepy crawlies, stars, fire, earth…. Everything has a spirit. Everything in the shamanic realms can work with us, help us, teach us, challenge us to grow, give us advice, and urge us to be in harmony with the universe.

This new filter of shamanic connection with and to all things gave me a new way to see the dances of indigenous peoples, appreciating the movements and expressions as the spiritual conversation that they are. A dancer in a jaguar costume, for instance, isn’t just a dancer. He or she has the opportunity to embody the Spirit of the archetype that is Jaguar, taking on those characteristics and giving Jaguar the ability to express its’ essence through the dance.

Mexico No Filters-Indigenous dancer who is way into the zone. Festival de San Miguel, 2018.

I once dressed as Durga, a pre-Hindi Indian goddess, for Halloween. I searched for a long time for the right sari, wrap, makeup, and accessories I needed to complete the costume. Halloween night I wrapped the sari and tied it in the customary fashion then applied the makeup to complete the look. I remember beginning to feel very different as I drew the big blue eye vertically between my own eyebrows – calmer, more present, more powerful. By the time I got to the Halloween party down the street I realized I was different. Conversation stopped when I walked in and the look on people’s faces was nothing short of awe. But it wasn’t the costume that held them in thrall for that moment. By allowing the Spirit of the Being I was dressing as to flow, not just through the costume of clothing and makeup, but also through my bodily offering, I did, for a time become that Being.

This is what indigenous dancers are doing by creating and wearing elaborate costumes and makeup when they dance: allowing Spirit to flow into this dimension and giving power and advice on how to heal this broken world.


Click the links below to see: 

  • More photos of the Indigenous Dancers
  • The Festival de San Miguel
    476th birthday of San Miguel and the feast day for our patron saint. Party!!
  • The Blessing of the Horses
    Caballeros and caballeras who flow into San Miguel to have their horses blessed in front of the Parrochia
  • Quema de Monitos (coming soon)
    The burning of the monkeys – not literal monkeys and not just fire. This is a fun display involving blowing stuff up in a show of the battle against evil

La Danza de los Voladores

by Cat Calhoun
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, México

Miss Ramirez, my 4th grade social studies teacher, clicked from one slide to the next. Green trees, exotic birds, and brightly clad people filled the white cinderblock wall she was using as a screen for her “what I did on my summer vacation” presentation. I wasn’t really engaged until she showed a slide of men in red and gold climbing up what looked like a very tall telephone pole. Nothing gets the attention of 9 year olds like danger and the lure of things we aren’t supposed to do. Suddenly all of us were looking at the screen and asking questions.

Mexico No Filters - Volador climbing the giant pole

“Where are they going?”
“Why are they dressed like that?”
“How high is that pole?”
“What are they going to do?”
“What if they fall?”

And then…

“Oh WOW! They’re flying …. upside-down!”

And they were. Grown men were playing in a way I would never have been allowed, but suddenly desperately wanted to. All five of them sat for a moment at the top of the pole as a man lifted a flute to his lips. In the next slide four of the men were upside down, ropes tied around their waists, arms spread in the air. The slides continued with the men closer down to the ground in each frame, spinning around and around the pole as the ropes tethering them unwound. The man on top playing the flute, seemed enraptured in his music. Finally all four men were on the ground and the flute player was climbing down the pole again.

Though we peppered her with questions, Miss Ramirez didn’t really say why they were doing what they were doing, just that it was their culture and their religion. She moved on rather quickly to pictures of food, possibly worried we might try to recreate the dance of the voladores on the tetherball poles outside of our portable classroom.

I found a way to make my next writing assignment about the Voladores and became enthralled by them. Though no one mentioned them again when I was in school, I remained fascinated, looking them up in every library I entered. Seeing them dance in the air definitely made it into my bucket list.

Now, many decades later, the Festival de San Miguel gave me a chance to see them in person. In the big public square in front of the Parrochia (the big church in the center of San Miguel), several men and boys dressed in traditional red and white garb gathered around a huge metal pole nearly 100 feet in height. They danced first around the base of the pole, the caporal (the guy who doesn’t fly) playing both the flute and the drum simultaneously. Their movements looked somewhat bird-like.

One by one they ascended the pole and began to wrap the thick yellow rope by which they would be suspended around the top part of the pole in preparation for their descent. The caporal climbed up last and perched, untethered and unrestrained, at the cap. He began to play his flute as the four dancers flung themselves backwards and out away from the pole. Effortlessly, their feet wrapped round the rope, they spun out and away from the center thirteen times before reaching the ground, arms open in surrender.

Though the ritual seems kind of chaotic and casual on the surface, it is actually a deeply spiritual expression with a tremendous amount of preparation. Thirteen revolutions, one for each moon cycle of the year. Four dancers, one for each cardinal direction and the four seasons of the year. Multiply the four dancers with the thirteen revolutions, and you get 52 – the number of weeks or mini-cycles in a year and also the number of years in most pre-Columbian Central American calendar cycles.

The shamanic roots of this ritual seem clear. Once upon a time, this was a far more complex spiritual expression which included searching for and felling a very tall tree, which had its own ritual. There were pre-dance meditations, purifications, and dietary preparations so that the dancers could fully embody the spirits of totem birds. This is one of the reasons the dancers are sometimes called hombres pajaros or bird men. This dance in the air was associated with and performed during harvest rituals, celebrating and invoking the fertility of the land and abundance of the corn that has traditionally fed the peoples of México. Old stories says that the dance was created to bring the people back into harmony with the earth, which was suffering from a severe drought.

When I first read about this long ago in grade school I thought it was just a pretty cultural ritual. Reading about it later, I assumed it was superstition and magical thinking – perform a created ritual, get instant healing – the same mentality promoted by devotees of “The Secret” and in some of the “claim it in the name of Jesus” religious communities. But it is a deeper spiritual practice than that.

Being out of harmony with the earth is the very thing that is causing our current droughts and other wildly and increasingly destructive weather patterns. If something like this could serve as a reminder to our collective peoples that we need to reign in our selfish, greedy patterns and treat our environment and all other beings as the neighbors they are, we could change most of the sickness in our world…both external and internal.


Click the links below to see: 

  • More photos of the Voladores
  • The Festival de San Miguel
    476th birthday of San Miguel and the feast day for our patron saint. Party!!
  • The Blessing of the Horses
    Caballeros and caballeras who flow into San Miguel to have their horses blessed in front of the Parrochia.
  • Danzas Indigenistas – Indigenous Dancers 
    Amazing indigenous dancing up close and personal, featuring costumes that would scare the crap out of you if you were one of the conquering Spanish. Seriously. After looking at the pics would you want to meet one in the forest on a dark night?!
  • Quema de Monitos (coming soon)
    The burning of the monkeys – not literal monkeys and not just fire. This is a fun display involving blowing stuff up in a show of the battle against evil.

The Blessing of the Horses

by Cat Calhoun
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

The clanging of church bells in the square drowned out all but the most boisterous of conversations, yet the clop of horse hooves on the cobblestone streets was audible above them. Hundreds of horses, 4 deep across in some places, rang clearly in the streets. Ridden by a cavalry of caballeros and caballeras, many bearing standards and banners like an army of medieval crusaders, the sleek shining horses replaced, if only for a few hours, the throngs of selfie-taking tourists that generally clog the streets of San Miguel on holidays and weekends.

Mexico No Filters - Horses and tourists during the Blessing of the Horses in San Miguel de Allende

And actually, it was both. The holiday was the Festival of San Miguel, the feast and celebration day for St. Michael the Archangel and the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende. But no one seemed to want a hoof in the face nor a tiptoe through the road apples, so the horses and riders had the streets to themselves while the tourists and festival go-ers packed the roadside to watch the cowboys from surrounding towns as far as an hour away from San Miguel roll through in what seemed to be an unending parade reaching as far up and down the road as we could see.

A priest walked up and down the edge of the square with a sprig of cedar and a bucket, dipping the branch into the water and dispensing it with a holy fling it on the horses. While the caballeros might choose to attend Catholic masses, it was clear the horses had other belief systems and customs. Most of them looked as highly offended as a cat, jerking away and neighing in protest when the priest “baptized” them. But this is what the local people had come for and the parade of horses and riders continued, making their away around the town to the Parrochia, the largest church in San Miguel.

Though the space in front of the local parish church is ample, there was not enough room for the whole contingent. An altar was erected in front of the church and a mass was held for horses and riders. Patient people and patient beasts waited calmly for the completion of the service. Many riders calmed their horses with gentle touches and words whispered in ears.

Only one horse reared in the crowd, ridden by a big man with striped pants, large silver spurs, and a heavy handed demeanor. The display was impressive, frightening, and sad, yet the other horses were hardly bothered. The big rider was one of the few I saw wearing spurs or using a quirt. I noticed that the other riders seemed to work to stay away from him. I doubt this guy’s horse will be converting to Christianity anytime soon.

See my Flickr page for tons more photographs. 

Click here to see: 

Festival de San Miguel

San Miguel de Allende is named after two ‘people.’ One is Ignacio Allende, a hero of the Mexican Revolution. The other is San Miguel or St. Michael, who is also one of God’s archangels. In the Mexican Catholic tradition, each saint has their own special feast day.  When a saint’s feast day coincides with your personal name or with the name of your town, it’s cause for a party, ergo, when Michaelmas (the feast day for San Miguel) rolls around, it’s time for a massive party.

Quema de Monitos - burning of the 'monkeys,' or the lower baser self.

Michaelmas is officially September 29th, but San Miguel de Allende makes a weekend long event of it. The party starts on Friday night with fireworks in the sky, church bells ringing, and loud booms that shake the floor. Each neighborhood has it’s own celebration, as do surrounding towns, but the main events take place in the center of town, the Jardín (garden) and the Parrochia (the main parish church).

The festivities include mariachi bands, a parade of stars (piñatas), voladores (flying dancers), the blessing of the horses, the Quema de Monitos, parades that are both Christian and pagan, xuchile offerings, indigenous dancers in rather terrifying regalia, and a fireworks extravaganza that involves shooting fireworks into the crowd in a mock battle between good and evil.

Some of it I captured, some I didn’t. . . because it happened in the middle of the night and I’m just not going to do that to my body anymore!

Read on to see: 

  • Danza de los Voladores
    Flying dancers who leap backwards off of a 100ft tall pole and dance in the wind as they fall. 
  • The Blessing of the Horses
    Caballeros and caballeras who flow into San Miguel to have their horses blessed in front of the Parrochia
  • Danzas Indigenistas 
    Amazing indigenous dancing up close and personal, featuring costumes that would scare the crap out of you if you were one of the conquering Spanish. Seriously. After looking at the pics would you want to meet one in the forest on a dark night?!
  • La Quema de Monitos (coming soon)
    The burning of the monkeys – not literal monkeys and not just fire. This is a fun display involving blowing stuff up in a show of the battle against evil

It Was Bound to Happen – Part Two

by DeLora Frederickson
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

For years …maybe 30, my Mom has made it perfectly clear if she is ever in a situation where extraordinary measures are needed to keep her alive she does not want that.  DNR – do not resuscitate!

Fine with me.  I am committed to this as we enter into the medical system in Mexico.  

I have heard you have to have special paperwork that you must utilize a lawyer for to even have a chance of ‘letting’ someone die down here.  We have not met with any lawyers.

But I talk to the doctors, I ask them to put it in her chart, I take every opportunity to reiterate this request from my Mother.  However, I really have no concept of what this means or will entail in the next week.

The surgery was scheduled for 9:00 pm.  We (Cat, myself and Sophia – the woman who coordinates her care) all gathered and hoped for the best as we waited for the team to take her down.  We were all well aware this might be the last time we were to see Shirley alive. We said loving supportive words and off she went – wheeled out the door on the gurney.

The doctors had estimated somewhere around 2 hrs for the surgery.  We watch the clock…by midnight I was beyond being positive. Suddenly, a stranger appears at the door.  Sophia translates for us…we are to appear downstairs for an update. We are taken to a short hallway within the surgical area.  We can hear one of the drs speaking very loudly to my mom: “Shirley, open your eyes” and “Shirley you need to wake up”.

We waited, watching nurses going back and forth with surgical instruments – no one willing to talk to us.  At this point I am crying and beginning the process of accepting my Mother’s death. Time became amorphous; I have no idea how long we stood there before a nurse appeared.  All the conversations were in Spanish. Cat and I could piece together a lot….but with so much medical jargon, we just couldn’t keep up. Sophia translated…it is a complicated case, her age, her condition, her heart.  They were trying to get her back out of the anesthesia. OK….we are waiting, listening, not knowing. I am sobbing.

The traumatologist and orthopedic surgeon comes out and updates us. The orthopedic doc could not complete the surgery. He repaired the broken femur, removing the head of the femur in anticipation of replacing it with a titanium one.  Then her blood pressure went up, up, up and her heartbeat went down. The anesthesiologist stopped the surgery to save her life. She would never walk again.

He shows us the head of her femur he removed.  He apologized for failing to complete the surgery.  He seems genuinely regretful of the results. I am crying and reiterating her wishes.  I felt a lot of compassion when talking with him…from him and for him. He leaves to return to the operating room just down the hall.

We wait.  I am tired.  We move to the lobby.  It is 1:30 in the morning, the hospital is completely deserted.

Another doctor asks to talk to us.  We return to the small sterile hallway in the surgical area.  Her critical care doctor (Dra. Grace Lim – my mother has seen her before) comes around the corner to update us on what is next.  She wants to put in a central line, keep my Mom intubated and take her to ICU. I knew my Mom didn’t want to be resuscitated but would she want these measures to keep her alive? I have to decide right then…crying, thinking I am processing her death, in the sterile hallway.

No. She would not want any of that.  I am steadfast.

Dra. Lim then told me they were giving her medication to regulate her blood pressure.  I knew she would not want that! By the grace of the Goddess the doctors accepted everything I requested.  Then Dra. Lim said ‘well, then you need to come into the operating room with her.’ 2:30 am, completely drained, sad and convinced my Mother would die in the next little bit of time.

Cat and I were led into the changing room and given scrubs to put on. Then taken into the operating room to say goodbye to my mother. It was cleaned up – no blood or blood soaked sheets.  I am not going to describe the state my Mom was in, as I felt traumatized by walking in there.

The doctora told us to talk to her, ask her if she wanted to live.  I think they were trying to change my mind about the line I had drawn in the sand for her.  I refused. I held her hand, encouraged her to let go…all ‘the things’ you say to support someone in moving from this world to the next.  They removed the medication to regulate the blood pressure. We waited for her to pass…

3:00 am, 3:30 am, 4:00 am.  Still intubated not breathing on her own…but not dead.  I ask them – what next? They refuse to extubate her as it is against the law in Mexico if someone is not breathing on their own and it is their job to keep people alive. Finally at 4:45 am the anesthesiologist says he is going extubate her and send her up to her room with just oxygen and saline.  We all go up and wait for her.

Back she comes on the gurney.  Deathwatch 2018 begins. Cat in a chair, Sophia on the couch, me on the floor…Half asleep half awake in the dark, still room.  The only sound was each breath my mom took and the wildly irregular beeping of the monitor announcing her heartbeat.

We waited…the breath paused…is she dead? We did this until the nurse came in about 9:30am to take her vitals.  She looked at my Mom and in English said, “Shirley how are you doing?” My mom cracked her eyes open and squeaked out, “Getting better.”

Everyone was blown away.  She is aware of what is going on!  She starts taking drinks of water through a straw when I hold up the glass and intermittently can answer questions.  For 30 years she talks about dying…and recently WANTING to die. She was on death’s doorstep…no she was in death’s ante room.  And she turned back! Astonishing.


Read Parts 1 and 3 here: 
It Was Bound to Happen
It Was Bound to Happen – Part 3