The month in Alamos is over. This has been a series of social events. The fashion show, luncheons and dinners in friends’ homes and restaurants. Sunset suppers on the roof of Hotel Colonial.Conversations ranged from books to politics to gardens; lettuces, multi-colored carrots; large, rich tomatoes, herbs, chards, and the beginning of peas and green beans. Lemons, oranges, limes. Friends sharing their produce as they reminisce about the Bridges Not Walls March here on January 21.
I toured several new houses. Not restored. Although the exteriors are still simple facades with tall, sturdy wooden doors, the interiors are adapted by contemporary Mexican design. Ingenious uses of building materials; steel, stones, bricks, telas, concrete, glass, old wooden architectural elements. The influence of Luis Barragan evident in 14’ walls in warm mustard yellow or deep rusty red. His credo, “any work of architecture that does not express serenity is a mistake.” I think he would enjoy the calm rhythm of the architecture of Pedregal, a nature preserve with five cottages, a grand palapa, pool, straw-bale yoga center, and walking trails for guests.
In Alamos, I liked listening to Kelly discuss design and fabrication, the experimental textural shades of green on the metal doors. He points up and says, “These are steel beams painted to look like steel beams.”
I have no house in Alamos anymore. I miss a project. As a guest of my friend Joan, all I needed to do was entertain myself. That was not difficult, but different from being creative with sticks, paint, and tiles, and nasturtiums.
Different from the days, thirty years ago, when I hired young Victor Soto and his black beat-up truck to haul stones or sand or furniture. He was so proud of that truck….his livelihood. He brought firewood, took away debris. He painted the cab black and in white, hand-painted BLACK POWER across the doors. That truck was his power. That and his determination. He now has a thriving virvero where he grows and sells vines, shrubs, roses, and trees; he has built a house for his parents and another for his own family. I like his interpretation of those two words on his truck. He may have a newer truck now, but it was BLACK POWER that helped him get this far.
Weeks in Alamos gave me time to develop a perspective about Friends House. I think that my adjustment will be enhanced if I remember a story Louise told me last week. She told me about herself as a young, newly married woman and her apprehension about moving from rural Vermont to the city of Rochester, NY. She said that another young couple asked the gas station attendant if his town was friendly. Was it nice? He answered, “Well, what kind of a town did you just come from?” They answered, “Oh, it was a nice town, very friendly.” He grinned and said, “That’s the kind of town this is.” A little while later another couple came and asked him, “What kind of a town is this? Is it friendly and nice?” He in turn asked, “What kind of a town did you come from?” “Oh,” they said, “It was a terrible town Not friendly. Not nice. That’s why we’re moving.” He said, “Well, that’s just the kind of town this is.”
Back to that wisdom of it’s all in the attitude.
I’ll remember Louise’s story as I continue to grow into Friends House. Maybe I need a black truck. Some of Victor’s determination. More time in the garden.
Alamos from the Mirador