I am a tapatía (from Guadalajara), an alameña (from Álamos), and a chilanga from Coyoacán (México City). I have a strong sense of belonging and feeling at home in the three cities. Guadalajara is the city of my life with René, Álamos and Coyoacán are “love-at-first-sight” that stole my heart forever.
I can say I am from Álamos because I feel happy to have built with René a garden and home in the desert; because I feel proud of the beauty of Álamos, its architecture and the valuable restoration work done by our American friends; because I am happy to be part of the local residents; because my marriage certificate is from the state of Sonora; and because I am happy to share this unique place with our family and friends from Guadalajara, México, and Paris.
Álamos is a distant place: when one arrives one enters into a dream with a star-studded sky; one enters into another dimension of cactus forests, sahuaros and flowering amapas; when one moves to Álamos, the landscape, the climate and the culture changes, where rainfall is greeted almost as a miracle. When we walk the solitary streets at noon, when there is no shade and the walls look golden with the sunshine, or at night, when the temperature falls and the gardens smell of jasmine, we always think what a privilege it is to live in Álamos, to us, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I am conscious that to the sonorenses I am different, like a foreigner, because I come from the south of the country, to them I am not an “alameña,” but I do feel that I have become one for many reasons:
Because I have come to understand that the doors of the house have to be open by 6 a.m. in order to receive the mason or the painter, or friends who may arrive unannounced, who enter without ringing and come straight to the pool when you are swimming.
Because I enjoy the delightful agua and jelly we make with the naranjitas, and of course, our naranjita margaritas.
Because I know that Fridays we have to go to Los Tesoros for a margarita and to find out who is in town, and we have to have dinner at Charisma to see Susan and Joseph, our dear friends.
In Álamos we have had the good fortune to make wonderful friendships with many Americans, whom I admire for a variety of reasons: in the first place for the wonderful homes, hotels, and ranches they have restored or built. Thanks to these friends—many of whom say “we are Mexican even though we can’t speak Spanish”—I have discovered something special about Álamos, and the many gifts they have brought to the town and to the country.
I wish to mention Teri and Pat, hosts at La Puerta Roja, and now at Teri’s, always undertaking some creative and fun project—delicious cooks, sharing their catch from Alaska. I remember Earle and Joan Winderman, our wise and irreverent friends and Joan’s unique photographic eye, which has captured the best shots and portraits of Álamos’ fiestas and parades. Elizabeth and Pembert Nuzum taught us the relevance of working for the women and children of Álamos. Dolores Parker was a singular character, who enthusiastically undertook important initiatives, which she could not resist imposing on others but who, nevertheless, left a lasting cultural heritage. For example, I remember Dolores asking for help in bringing the Viernes de Dolores altar tradition to Álamos, when no alameño had ever heard about it. She asked me to bring images, chromes, and small sculptures of la Dolorosa to distribute to those people willing to install an altar for Good Friday. We also wrote a guide describing the different objects that go into making the altar: La Dolorosa, the ladder, the rooster, the cross, the white flowers, oranges, and refreshments. At the entrance to our house we put up one of the first and largest altars, complete with wax candles and dry flowers but we waited for visitors in vain. What remained was that many houses and hotels adopted and adapted the custom of putting up an altar.
I am always very much aware of the Swickards, their unfailing hospitality, their constant work in making the Hacienda de los Santos such an impressive operation, and their boundless generosity at all times, particularly at the time of the hurricane Norbert. One of the great stories of Álamos is how Nancy and Jim found, bought, and received the bar of the Cantina in small packages of innumerable wood parts and then assembled it, thanks to the pictures Nancy had taken of it in its original site.
I remember Bev Kruschek’s animated and always knowledgeable conversations on Mexican history and politics and her efforts to improve the number of readers in Álamos, and John bringing new ideas related to water, pool design, and sun heating.
Jennifer, Mary Ayers, Lynne and Javier, Myrna and Bill, Linda and Ángel, Michelee and Hal, Sam’s Aduana, our loyal Beto, Delma, Óscar and Melissa, Edith, Gordon, and so many other people who have made Álamos such an endearing place for us.
What legitimizes me as an alameña is the garden at our house, originally designed by Christy Ten Eyck of Phoenix. With time, care, and much work it has taken on its own individual character. Thanks to the patio fountain, which supplies water to a plume that travels through the garden and falls into the pool, we can enjoy a refreshing ambiance in the house and within the not-so-desert garden. Many birds are drawn to the garden. We have a wonderful huge tree, a “nacapul” or strangler fig, which is enjoyed by our grandchildren, who love to climb all over it. Among the many varieties of mostly local trees and plants one can find are: mesquites, amapas: yellow and rose, palo blanco, palo verde, glorias, papelillos, nopales, ceibas, cacalosúchiles or frangipani—white, rose, yellow, many different acacias—one is called tepehuaje with a wonderful spotted flower that thrives in the sun. From our trips to the Sierra we have brought different cacti: órganos, pitayos, biznagas, chollas, magueyes. We have several fruit trees such as naranjitas, lemons, limas, olive and pistachio, pinguicas, aguacates, tamarindos, granadas, mangos and a strawberry guayaba transplanted from Guadalajara. The palm trees frame the entrance to the house and in the corridor we have placed pots from Tlaquepaque planted with anturios, palmas Kentia, cuna de moisés, hiedra miniature y amarilis. This beautiful garden is representative of the local flora.