While living in Santa Fe in 1998, I was advised by my doctor to move to a lower elevation, but still in the desert, to make breathing easier for me. I liked Tucson but before I made the decision I needed to find a place across the border to satisfy my need to be in my beloved Mexico.
Always a resident of a border state, I am a Southwesterner, “living in a Mexico state of mind.” I didn’t want to give this up. I was born in Dallas in 1929 to parents who were influenced by Mexican culture. I have often wondered what, who, or how this happened at this time, in this place. They took me to Juarez when I was four. We regularly went to Little Mexico restaurants, made tamales in our home that was decorated with Mexican folk art and during World War II, “we made runs to the border” to get sugar, coffee, chocolate and, of course, folk art and curios. The closest border town to us was Nuevo Laredo.
In high school I took Spanish and had an assignment to make a scrapbook of An Imaginary Trip to Mexico. My mother, who was divorced by then, said, “let’s take that trip.” This was 1949; not many were driving to Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and Taxco in those days. My grandfather said, “women shouldn’t be driving in Mexico,” but we did! What a fabulous time we had; we had gone only to border towns before so had no idea of what a difference being in the interior would be. In Mexico City, we learned it was a place of culture where the Aztecs built pyramids of gold. The first University on the North American Continent was founded there in 1551; all before the pilgrims even landed on Plymouth Rock. This was one of many trips. Now I have traveled to all parts of Mexico. I vividly recall a poster on the bulletin board at Texas University advertising a Spanish Language School in Saltillo, Mexico. Now I wish I had taken this opportunity; it could have changed my life. My Bad Choice #1.
In 1984, when my mother was 86, she needed to be moved from her home in Dallas. We compromised by buying a home with a guesthouse in Santa Fe, where we lived together for about eight years. This was Bad Choice #2. I wish I had known of Álamos because it would have been the ideal solution; we both had always wanted to live in Mexico. The idea never entered my mind; I was still in grief over the sudden death of my younger son.
In 1998 I decided to explore Sonora with a friend. Choice #3. Arriving in Álamos in a downpour, we checked in at Tesoros Hotel and went to the bar with a warm fire burning in the corner horno. Immediately the locals invited us to join them: “I am Elizabeth Nuzum and this is my husband, Pember,” and others; what a welcoming committee! When she found that I had begun a Craft Shop to sell Mexican Folk Art made in remote villages, Elizabeth really wanted me to move to Álamos to help in her Embroidery Project. I loved all I saw of this Colonial City; it seemed like a dream come true. But it was so remote for an old woman with severe COPD and I couldn’t move away from my second son who had been diagnosed with Adult Onset Muscular Dystrophy. I did know this is where my dreams of living in Mexico could be realized. This helped me decide to move to Tucson from Santa Fe, which I did in 2000.
Choice #4 came in 2004, after the death of son Brad. To help in my grief, Gordon and Elizabeth Packard offered me their condo in San Carlos for a week. A friend and I enjoyed this time so much that the next year we rented their new casa in Álamos, on Guadalupe Hill, for three months. This is when I knew I was hooked; I was in love with Álamos. But I bought a condo next to the Packards in San Carlos! Not only was it closer to Tucson and more responsible, my longtime companero wasn’t interested in a place in Mexico. I knew he would like being by the sea better than in Álamos. Even though he wasn’t well, we did have a few good times there before he died. Through all this it has been a good compromise for seven years, but didn’t satisfy my desire to live in a Mexican village. I continued to want a place of my own in Álamos; I had the desire and the money and I looked at many places. Just ask Lilliana! Nothing ever seemed to work out, could God really be looking out for me?
My solution seemed to be in renting Ann and Bill Latham’s home at Mina #14. They graciously let me pretend “Nuestra Casa es Su Casa!” Oh I loved bringing friends (including my cat Senor) from Tucson to introduce them to Álamos, entertaining locals, even taking in Nancy Edwards after the flood of 2008. ÁLAMOS is THE VILLAGE where I would have loved to live full time. I made the responsible choices: I was too old, my chronic disease was too advanced, and I had no son to come rescue me. Now in 2012, I can see I have made the Best of MY CHOICES by living in Tucson, renting a home part time without the responsibility of ownership. God did want me to live in Álamos, just not own a home! So as a part time Álamosan, I have a heart full of love, good memories of times shared, gratitude that you took me in, and the hope that I can continue to come. MY SPIRIT lives among you. Gracias a Dios por todos.