Photo by Patty Hosmer, Footprints Photography.
I learned to love Sonora young in life; some of the sweetest memories I have are on the beach in Puerto Penasco in the 60s when it was a tiny fishing village with one small 12-room motel.
Fast forward 25+ years: married with kids of my own, Tommy and Laura, then four and two. My husband, Dave, and I decided to take a six-month “sabbatical.” After considering a few options we decided to do a stint in Alamos for cultural exposure. Friends from Tucson and Puerto Penasco, the Rollings, had property in Alamos and helped us find a place to rent one Christmas vacation for a “Look-See.” It didn’t take us long to commit to a long term rental and move down—for what grew into seven years.
The first house we rented ran out of water when the weather got hot and dry, but I had volunteered on the house and garden tour and knew many of the homes well. I thought I could find another house quickly. Barbara Schofield reached out a friendly hand by letting us stay at her house until we could find another place. We ended up renting the home of Dr. Antonio Acosta and his wife, Lorna Pabst. Dave and Antonio became business partners in commercial honey production and elastomeric roof coatings, and Lorna and I discovered we have an uncanny multitude of life experiences in common. We loved living there, but it did take me months of chasing the Telemex guy around in the wash to finally get the phone hooked up!
One day Dave suggested I go by an estate sale to look at some chairs. I liked the chairs, but I liked the house more and wanted to invest. It was in desperate need of TLC. We rationalized we could renovate it while living there, and sell it for a profit when we left. Well, we did fix it up, but we never did sell!
We made many friends in both the Mexican Community and among the ex-patriots. The history of Alamos is fascinating, but the generosity of spirit and simplicity of life was truly the best. People could not have been more welcoming to our little family. We were included in parties, family gatherings, carpools, and patient friends helped us get through PTA meetings when we had trouble understanding. I volunteered with the Comadres, organized rebuilding/upgrading of the bathrooms at Bartolome, enjoyed potlucks with Las Lunas, and relaxed at many “cafes” playing loteria. The kid’s friends learned to swim in our pool. I didn’t worry when the kids were out on their bikes because everybody knew them and kept an eye out for their welfare too.
For several years Jennifer MacKay and I would meet every morning in front of Bartolome and run out toward the dump, then back into town on the backside. Those mornings were so beautiful. Three days a week we’d follow our run with Mary Lynne’s excellent yoga class. What a great way to start a day.
We kept a huge garden at our house, and one of the greatest luxuries was to just wander around before dinner picking what looked good that day. David MacKay grew a number of very select vegetables in our garden and in trade he said we could pick what he grew too. That was a very satisfying arrangement!
Teri Arnold Shannon welcomed me to town, became a good friend, helped me through diets happily, and generally was ready to instigate an activity or dinner at the drop of a hat. She still adds so much to all our lives—from exquisite catering and parties of her own, to the general flare she carries around brightening the spirits of all, to her capacity to listen and empathize. My first evening in Alamos was spent drinking wine with her and trading stories, no wonder I stayed.
Alamos attracts interesting women. Leila Gillette was one of the first ladies I met. She was, and is, an inspiration. Ginger Combs was another gifted person I was lucky enough to get to know. She practices Reiki, and sometimes I think she knew my thoughts and condition even better than I did. She rehabilitated my running and tennis injuries regularly. Sadnah explained that, “the veil is thin” in Alamos, that’s why we have such a presence of ghosts. I loved each and every one of the energetic young teachers we recruited to run the English School of Alamos, and enjoyed many fascinating clients who bought and sold property with my help. Las Lunas—the once-a-month ladies potluck—was something I looked forward to.
Alamos celebrations we attended were the best ever. The dining and dancing that went on when the dove hunters were in town, weddings, and New Year’s Eve were exquisite. The Mills, Shannons, Stewarts, Scotts—they were all so generous—their parties were among the finest I have ever attended. We danced all night savoring the mariachis and friends accompanying the musicians with song as the night wore on. I remember one Ortiz Tirado Festival when we were on the balcony of the Palacio (great spot!) and everyone there joined in singing. Food for the soul.
Special memories of the kids are endless too—parades and more parades, Laura doing her poesia before the town council when she was in 3rd grade, and dancing folklorico in the plaza during December festivities. Her graduation from kinder was an all day event with skits, luncheon, and a formal dance (she danced with the Presidente, Poncho Valenzuela). Tommy’s favorite afternoon activity was to go out hunting with his air gun and then prepare dove breasts wrapped with bacon on the hibachi. Once we took the kids out to a mine Robert Mark Anthony was working and we got to see them blast. (Wow!) Tommy played baseball in the stadium and was a formidable competitor. Once, when Tommy was about seven, he got picked from the audience to be a volunteer at the circus. He was so funny we cried laughing so hard—he got free popcorn and a coke out of the deal. Pablo Mejia gave both kids horseback riding lessons at Rancho La Colorada. Joan Gould taught them to make paper. Elizabeth Nuzum and local seamstresses made them formal wear and costumes for special events. Laura and the MacKay girls sold bolsas of naranjitas smashed up with chili and salt from our door stoop using Laura’s karaoke machine to broadcast their goods for sale. They went to horse races on ranches and Tommy rode the mechanical bull in the wash, one Cinco de Mayo. We enjoyed plenty of fireworks at Camahuiroa, too!!
There is no question Alamos was an amazing experience for the whole family. Alamos will always be with me, forever a sweet spot in my heart.