In San Miguel de Allende, our Parroquia, or parish church, stands proudly sentinel over the main town square, the Jardin, like a pink tiered wedding cake.
Its Gaudi like design and pinnacles are a point of reference, a beacon, and the eyes over town.
A stalwart on a hill in Centro, we can see it above or peeking through small lanes and alleyways guiding residents and visitors to our heart.
This year, 2020, our heart is going through a bypass.
In the beginning, San Miguel indulged, as it always does.
Splashed out weddings and Quinceaneras brought forth a parade of finery.
A horse-drawn carriage, a vintage car.
Thrown rice, and balloons let loose from hands made sticky from the tostilocos.
The parades, concerts, and festivities seem to never end, in what truly is the heart, the center of Mexico.
There are wrought iron benches under the laurels, a perfect place to catch up on gossip, get a shoeshine, and pay a mariachi.
Sidewalk cafes and small shops line the square, and women can place a wreath on their head.
We eat ice cream.
Nikon cameras with telephoto lenses and the latest smartphone compete to capture perfect carefree moments. Smiles, poses, smooches. Instagram will be busy that day.
Sunset comes, the colors change, the bells toll. The parties start.
Then one day, a gasp of disbelief, a news report, and quiet.
The streets empty, the shops and restaurants close, the incredulity rises, the ex-pats flee. COVID comes. Our town is eerie. The bells are silent.
For months our self-induced coma has combated what we can only call a nightmare. Not only in our Jardin, our town, our country, but the world.
We have all stretched to occupy our time and minds in captivity. Changes are coming.
Occasionally strong souls, including ours, venture forth for a walk through empty lanes. I rue the day when I wanted a photo without cars marring the composition. But not like this.
They barricade the Jardin. No one can walk its paths, play in its gazebo, line it to watch a parade.
The mojigangas are absent. They do not rise above the children, the grandparents, the lovers.
There are no bachelorette parties with women sporting tiny shot glasses on chains around their necks, a bottle or two of tequila in hand, as a flower-laden donkey leads them merrily through the streets,
The days stretch on. The sunsets still come. La Parroquia is bored.
Then, the bells ring, and ring, and ring their heartbeat. Noticeably. I laugh and take a video from our terrace; the town spread out below us.
A few doors open, stalls start up again, restaurants serve those who are left. Glasses clink. Laughter. Tentatively, we breathe. Although still restricted by masks.
There might be cautious hope.
As the days go on, the activity increases, the heart pumps again. Visitors return. Although walking past, we give a wide berth.
Days ago, fireworks lit the sky. And we cheered and smiled, called “hola” and “Buenas Noches” across our rooftops.
But our patient is not out of the woods yet. We must treat the town, the world, and each other with care.
We don’t want a setback.
We can’t afford a flatline.
I want to dance again, hug again, have that much needed human contact. I want to be made whole. Get rid of the frustration and tears.
The eyes of the Parroquia, the eyes of the world are on all of us to do our part.