A Users’ Guide to the Supervision of Morning


Lake Chapala at sunrise. It never looks the same twice. Though it is late in the season and should be chill, we do not seem to be having winter this year. The golondrinas, swallows, seem confused and have not migrated as early as they usually do. This year they sat in their thousands, three inches apart, on overhead cables and seemed to wonder what to do. Finally they left. Vifoto.

Before light we awake. The dogs, knowing that they are going for a walk, leap and twirl and bounce and make nuisances of themselves. Violeta brews coffee to rekindle the guttering flame of life. (That’s poetic. Like Milton.) We attach their leashes. They jump into the back of the CRV with enthusiasm. Vi bluetoothes her phone to the car’s sound system, surprisingly good, and we head out to Beethoven or Louisiana blues.

The world is another place before dawn, towns along the lakefront blank and lifeless, stop lights mindlessly changing in the absence of traffic, and existence belonging exclusively to ourselves. Lights glow in Donas’ Donas–Donnas’s Doughnuts–as the staff gets ready for the morning rush. A few cars wait in the parking lot of the all-night pharmacy.

The malecón along the water in Chapala is a wide boardwalk of patterned cement, sometimes fifty feet broad, with benches and trash cans running from the park to the end of town, much of it lit by street lights. It is not quite deserted. Early morning runners are out, and the street sweepers, and others walking their dogs. Still, there is a sense of solitude. We have become regulars and there is much “Buenos-dias”-ing. For a little over an hour we walk at a rapid clip, the dogs wanting to sniff everything and Charlie, a he-dog, signing trees and posts as is right. As the horizon begins to glow we often encounter Arturo, the bartender at the American Legion post, and his wife, who also walk and supervise the arrival of day.

Often in the dimness before dawn there will be a pickup truck or a couple of parked cars with music blaring and much laughter and several young standing around and drinking beer. These are trasnochados, “all-nighters,” men and women, who have spent the night partying. Drinking in public is illegal. So are a lot of things. As long as they cause no trouble, which they don’t, the powers that be somehow fail to notice them. It is a sensible arrangement.

The malecón by twilight. On weekends Chapala swells with tourists from Guadalajara and stalls go up on the sidewalk paralleling the malecón, selling hats and coconut juice and purses and fried this and fried that. On Sunday night the stalls go back down and the town empties. It is as regular as a heartbeat. Phredfoto.

Mikey Laure, a noted guitarist and singer born in Chapala and popular in the Sixties. On the road into town is a statue of Pepe Guize, also of Chapala, who wrote Guadalajara, Guadalajara. In Rosario, a town far to the northwest, there is a statue of Lola Beltrán, the queen of ranchero, in her birthplace. And in Guanajuato, a statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. I think people here have their priorities straight. In statues I much prefer Sancho to some goddam general. Vifoto.

With coming storms the lake has a darker face. The wind comes up, chill and moist with droplets and there is a sense of things going on above our human paygrade. Sunrise never looks the same twice no matter how often we and the dogs inspect it. Vifoto.

Jesús Pescador. Jesus, Fisher (of men). I am not sure to what extent how many people believe what, but the Church is part of what they are and they are content with it. Many of the young are not observant, but this means only that they are not observant, not that they want to abolish their culture and history. Vifoto.

OK, maybe I am getting tedious, but I am an obligate inspector of sunrises. I have been advised to consider therapy for it, but I would rather have hemorrhagic tuberculosis. Vifoto.

Finally, dogs. They are on the right. La Coyota, Africa, and Charlie. As we used to say in Alabama, they ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple, but they are good hearted beasts. The one in the middle, Africa, crept under my stepdaughter’s gate as a nearly dead puppy suffering from full-body mange. Natalia being Natalia, off they went to the vet. There we learned that while few things in life live up to their billings, mange dip works like a mad sonofabitch. Africa turned into a long, low-slung pooch, apparently a cross between a Border Collie and a fire hose, and currently flourishes. Vifoto.

We leave, going by the market for oranges to squeeze for juice in the morning. Mexicans believe that orange juice should have departed an orange no more than an hour before breakfast. This alone is sufficient justification for living here.

Anyway, them’s mornings in the Reed-Gonzalez household. I cannot doubt that

people in their millions have been wondering, “What do Fred and Violeta do in the morning?” I am glad to have supplied this yearning.

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