Unfortunately, one of the local customs here is to wall off entire properties with brick walls. Although I expressed that I wasn't too keen on that idea for our house (I don't like fences and borders in general—ask me why later) since we live on a shared ranch with several other in-laws, I was kind of outnumbered. Now, four years later, ground-bound animals like the roadrunner and snakes aren't as likely visitors anymore. So I was pleasantly surprised when Margo reported he'd found his way to our yard, and again when I saw him tooling around in the vacant lot behind our house from our bathroom window the other day. Miracle or not that he's still hanging around, I can't help but wonder just how long he/she'll be able to hang around the neighborhood. It's not that I'm particularly cynical, but I've got firsthand testimony about just how much things have changed here, in a fairly short period of time.
The other day we were running our weekly errands down in the commercial district with the baby. It was one of those particularly hot May days (May's the hottest month here til' the cold, high elevation rains arrive in the summer), the temperature needle pushing 100. Weekly shopping is always like an endurance event, mainly because we're so cheap and choosy that we need to go to like 4 different stores to get everything we need at the lowest possible price. El "Tepe" (the local marketplace), Comercial Mexicana (the Mexican version of P&C), Organica or La Bodeguita (the only 2 organic produce shops I've found so far on the north side of town—though I've heard more are popping up downtown, it's a pain to get in and out), and Costco (oh yeah). We were almost done, and the baby had fallen asleep in her carseat, but I'd forgotten a drink and a snack, and as those of you who've breastfed know, if a nursing mother gets hungry, watch out.
I hate being in this kind of position—I'm more a slow food than a fast food person, as my last friend who visited (Cristin) pointed out—I'd rather get low blood sugar and wait to get home and make a meal at home than go stand in a line to satisfy my craving and waste my precious greenbacks. But by this time, I was already pushing cranky with one more shopping stop to go, and the line was way too long for a salad at Costco, so I did something I am ashamed to admit on the Internet (especially if my family reads this—ha, you guys can lambaste me later), I WENT TO THE MCDONALDS DRIVE-THROUGH.
Margo was driving, I was between him and the baby in the Toyota. Pulling up to the order mike, he was like, so, what do I do? I told him what to say: Two sundaes. Chocolate. With peanuts. He repeated after me. We pulled up to the window to pay. He turned to me and said, I can't believe people do this. What do you mean, I said. This is so lazy, he sputtered. Is this your first time, I asked, stunned. Well, yeah, why would I ever come here, he answered. I sat chewing this over. Although it was only my 4th time in 4 and a half years at a McDonalds (2 other times were for sundaes, by myself, and once was for an ice tea with my parents in North Carolina), I couldn't help but feel sad that I'd somehow tainted Margo by bringing him to a McDonald's drive through. Sitting there eating our sundaes, though, I felt a bit better. He was liking his too. See, it's not that bad, if you go just once in a while, I said, trying to assuage my guilt. He sat pensive, we were sitting in the parking lot under a mesquite. The rushing traffic of the Bernardo Quintana boulevard was directly to our right, and the gigantic Costco parking lot stretched out like a couple football fields before us.
He started talking about how this parking lot used to be a huge field filled with pirul and mesquite trees and how he used to bring the cows here to pasture. When he tells me other things about those days, I marvel at how much things have changed in the last 30 years. It's not unlike how many tracts of land up in the U.S. get turned into suburban sprawl in 5 years flat, but it seems even more accelerated on the outskirts of town here these days. Some consider it encroachment from Mexico City, but it probably has a lot to do with a lot of families like Margo's generation, who had 10+ kid families. Looking at the baby to my right, I couldn't help but wonder, how much will things change in the next thirty?
Back at our house, they recently finished the first building in the zone directly behind our home. It's a construction supplies warehouse, and it's somewhere in the realm of 70' long and 50' high, uphill of us at an elevation approximately that of our second floor. The entire enormous rear wall is painted white and emblazoned with the message "Cemento Tolteca Extra, Reduce Grietas Hasta un 50%" in red, blue, and green. When you pull into the ranch property, now before you see anything else, you see the sign "Grupo Santa Andrea" first thing framed against the bright blue sky. My father-in-law laughed when I told him I wasn't too hot on the new billboard in our backyard. He said he used to see the mountains and the planes landing at the nearby airport from the bed inside the house when he woke up in the morning, but now he sees his other son's house. Change can often be a good thing, but sometimes it just depends on your perspective. For those of us who haven't been around as long as Don Lupe, or haven't paid much attention to our surroundings, we might not notice all the changes in scenery but they are happening with every breath.