When I’m asked what I like least about living at Lake Chapala, I always answer, “Losing friends.” More and more of those who move to Mexico consider their time at Lake Chapala as an extended vacation. They don’t all plan to spend the rest of their lives. Even some of the folks who have sworn that they will live here until they die end up moving “back home” after a time. I’ve heard that seven years is the Mexico-span for many; that old seven-year itch evidently affects more than marriages.
It’s hard to say good-bye when good friends leave. It’s even harder to fill the space those friends leave in my daily life and weekly schedule.
Many of those who have come and gone have left their imprint on my heart and mind. I find them floating into each day with their particular bits of wisdom. I’ve read that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I think that means that I’m to hang onto the lessons friends teach.
One woman who quickly became a dear and close friend left with me her delightful habit of gratitude. Every day, sometimes many times a day, even when things were not going well, but especially when all was right in her world, she said, “We are so lucky to be here.”
I’ve repeated her mantra several times this week. On Wednesday I sat, foot on the brake, for several minutes while I waited for a fine, beautifully colored rooster to cross the street in front of my car. Why did the rooster cross the street? I’m not sure – maybe the hen was on the other side, but I was happy to have watched his head bob as he placed his feet as carefully on the cobblestones as do I. And I felt so lucky to have been in that spot to watch his progress.
On Thursday, I repeated my friend’s words as I watched the rich colors of the winter sunset over Lake Chapala. With family and northern friends encased in dangerous frigid temperatures and deadly blizzards, I know I am so lucky to be here, even while I complain about the chilly evenings.
Sunday in Chapala, I sat in wonder listening to melodic story-songs on a kora. It was one of those surreal Lake Chapala moments. Where else would I encounter a living room concert performed by a Vermont man who taught himself to play and then to build a gourd, and cow-hide instrument with antelope skin strings that has been popular in West Africa for nearly 1,000 years.
I am so lucky to be here. We are so lucky to be here.