Here’s a good lead-in to my presentation at church tonight, “Journey to Mexico.” In my final few weeks in San Miguel I posted a series, “Twenty things I’ll miss about San Miguel,” except things got very busy the last few days there and I never did post #19 and #20. So here we go.
I grew up in a pretty typical suburban US town, and our house used outdoor space in a way typical of the single-family, stand-alone houses of such towns. You had a front yard, which you didn’t use much except to build snowmen on and to keep a little distance between your living-room windows and the street, and a back yard, which was a very nice little haven of outdoor private space. But the outdoors stayed out and indoors was for indoors. I was unduly amazed when my parents put a skylight in to our “back room” (a.k.a. “the den”) and you could see the sky right through the ceiling. I’ve always loved skylights.
Mexico’s architecture comes from Spain (especially in colonial towns like San Miguel) and Spain got it from the Arabs, and the Arabs know a thing or two about incorporating outdoor space into indoor spaces. So it is extremely common in San Miguel to have an inner courtyard, many skylights, and a roof that’s essentially another plant-filled courtyard. It’s such a humane and wise way to design one’s living space.
The photo above is of our patio, blessed by our neighbor Adriana (tenant of one of the three side-by-side apartments in our house) who’s a great gardener. She squeezes plants in everywhere until it’s like walking through a benevolent jungle.
From our second floor, in one of the glorious storms that June afternoons brought, it looks like this:
You’ll just be strolling up a street and peek through a house’s open gate and be treated to this:
And this is where we got our mail. In addition to the lovely flora, it has an abundance of fauna, lovely and less so: a cat, a dog, a bird in a cage, a fish in a bowl, three turtles in the fountain, and several rattlesnakes in glass cages, including babies. Somehow I can get my mind around someone’s having a pet rattlesnake, but not their breeding them. Rattlers aside, I love that a simple no-frills business like a mail delivery service considers it totally appropriate to have a gorgeous garden.
It’s such a gift to the spirit to be surrounded by nature’s beauty even when you’re indoors.
(#19 of 20 things I miss about San Miguel)