We celebrated the end of our work week with an adventure outside San Luis Potosí. Our guide was Lilia, board member of the local Nauhales Off Road 4×4 Club and now dear friend. Our destination: Cerro de San Pedro, population 95 (circa 2005).
But forget the 21st century. As we left the fenced scrub brush terrain and began to see signs of human construction, we were compelled to pull to the side of the road. On the hill to our right, we gazed up to see crumbling ruins of an arched stone building. We were entering the tiny village of Cerro de San Pedro.
Quick history lesson. The Spanish founded the town as a mining settlement in 1592 (let that sink in for a moment). It’s the site of gold mining through present day, with the current mining methods purportedly threatening the integrity of the town and its long history.
Fortunately, we arrived on a sleepy Friday with no signs or sounds of mining. In fact, there were few signs of life despite the start of the weekend. We noticed one open restaurant, an open tienda (shop), and one other vendor selling elote (corn). There was some activity around the municipal building, where three policemen greeted us with polite indifference.
For those of you familiar with Real de Catorce (I haven’t been), Lilia says Cerro de San Pedro is somewhat similar. We admired the cathedral at the center of town and read about its history, but the doors were closed. A local said it had been robbed and is now only open on Sunday.
Art figures made from metal scraps were displayed around town, and we took pictures with them as we wandered over the cobblestones. Stray dogs followed us–a regular occurrence in most areas of Mexico we’ve visited so far.
With Lilia and Caspian, I ascended a steep flight of stone steps to survey the compact village. We could see San Luis Potosí in the distance, with a light haze hovering over it. We breathed deeply–we had escaped the bustle of the city and entered time past.
There wasn’t much to do. Lilia said she’s visited Cerro de San Pedro at times when every interesting shop is open and the village seems alive. Perhaps at night, or during the summer, or on a Saturday? There’s no real way to plan in a country where time matters little.
In Mexico, it’s easy to get the feeling no one has anywhere they really need to be. They’re talking to you right now, so what else matters?
And believe it or not, life continues on despite this fluid atmosphere. With frustration at times, yes (I’ll have to tell you about the process of getting our laundry back). But also the feeling the person you’re speaking with is present, actually there to Know you. Without thinking about their coffee date, or that PTA meeting, or that report that needs to be written, or…how do we fill our time in the United States? Filling every moment–it’s an obsession we hardly realize until we escape it.
I haven’t escaped it yet, but I tried in Cerro de San Pedro.
As we prepared to leave, we followed a broken road to an overlook of the town. Lilia spoke with Caspian, as Eric and I let time be fluid. “Happy Mexico,” one of us said. A greeting, affirmation, celebration we’ve exchanged multiple times in the past 10 days since crossing the border. “We made it.”
Wherever you need to be, I hope you can find a way to Be there.