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Looking out my Backdoor: My 'almost-Mexican' fiesta


November 14, 2019

Courtesy photo

This was not my idea, to have a party. It was sloppily put together. Any party, even pot luck, takes a lot of work. I didn't really want to do it. I was tired and in pain from the long bus ride. Bah humbug.

I rode the bus, one more trip to Mazatlan. In the four-year process, all that was left for me to do was pick up the card moving me from temporary to permanent status as a resident. This is not citizenship. I'm not dual. Too old to think about that.

In October, the senorita behind the desk at the Oficina de Migracion had said to me, "Ten days."

I lifted my brow. She made the universal hand sign for "more or less." I waited three weeks and a few days before returning. Wheels of government.

Residency status allows me to live in Mexico without leaving the country every six months as required with a tourist visa. And I whiz through customs in the "Mexican" line, which is quite nice. I'm ignorant of other benefits and whether there be any.

"They," the elusive they, my well-meaning friends, bullied me into hosting a celebration for attaining my permanent residency. I had jumped through all the hoops, paid all the fees, made government-ugly photos, pressed my fingerprints on the inkpad again to prove I'm still me, and signed, without reading, reams of paper written in Español, fine print and all. All to hold my green card in hand.

Yes, bullied into a party. All I wanted to do after a five-and-one-half hour bus trip home was sleep for two days. Wishes and wants - all fantasy.

OK, I said. I'll wait a week. But Carol leaves Tuesday and Janet flies out Wednesday. OK, that leaves today, Saturday, to plan and tomorrow, Sunday, for the party. I gave up, gave in, and gave out, simultaneously. One day to prepare.

Potluck it will be, I said. My patio. Sunday afternoon. Come one, come all. They came.

I arranged and re-arranged my patio, set up for 20. I set up three small tables and one large table. Leo helped me. We used every chair I own and borrowed a few.

I made a pot of beans with my secret special ingredients, one of which is cinnamon. Try it. I made tamale pie with pork carnitas, an American modification of a Mexican staple.

Tamales require two women, minimum, a large kitchen and a full day to make. I've done it. I can put together tamale pie, which tastes the same as tamales, by myself, in my tiny kitchen, in three hours.

Leo moved my skeletal friend, Homero, (Homer in English) to the front gate to be a greeter, complete with a Mexican "flag" banner and notice that his girlfriend (me) is now Mexicana. Not quite true, but "almost." Homer is my Main Man.

Friends streamed in. We set abundant dishes of food on the counter in my outdoor kitchen. Salads, pies, casseroles, ice cream, corn bread, tortillas, tea and lemonade.

We mingled, we ate, we laughed, we talked. I'd set up the tables in such a pattern to make it easy for people to move around, change places, visit one another after we'd eaten to stuporous repletion.

I felt so special. These friends came to celebrate with me, to rejoice that I had completed a long process that makes it easier for me to live here. But it wasn't all about me.

Courtesy photo

Magic happened. We celebrated one another. We celebrated with ease, with goodwill, with pure goodness.

The sun went down, sky turned pink to gray. My friends, one by one, reluctantly turned for home. We didn't want the party to end. The party I didn't want to host! We each went our way feeling like we'd strengthened our bonds of friendship. Magic.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton's essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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