Posting from bed on my last night in San Miguel, after a great dinner with Cathy and Richard at the little restaurant where Curtis, Kristen and I ate the other night, my new favourite place. We sat in a courtyard under the stars and decompressed. Much needed, after this intense experience. Including, last night, an interview between Canadian Hal Wake, interviewer extraordinaire, and Delia Owens, a wildlife scientist whose first novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is a worldwide bestseller. One of the best author interviews I’ve ever heard, stimulating and very funny, will give you details next time.
I’ve been transcribing my extensive notes to try to hang onto what I heard and learned, as workshop blended into workshop and the wise words flew by. This morning, my new friend Edd, a young Mexican writer and teacher who came up to me after one workshop and offered to help me with social media, met me at breakfast and gave me a seminar on Instagram. And selfies. (I’m wearing wool turtleneck, jacket, and scarf. It was morning.)
I still barely understand the site, but I made my first post, the picture below of me here, and immediately my cousin in New York, whom I see once every 15 years or so, wrote to say she has lots of friends in San Miguel, why didn’t I let her know I was going?
I have lists of things to do at home, long lists: to upgrade my website, learn more about Insta and the other platforms, read various useful books, get some personal essays out there, look at my work from the point of view of suspense, etc. I feel energized. Hope it lasts once real life hits me on the head very late tomorrow night. In the snow.
This is a beautiful historic town overrun with elderly American hippies – today, a man with a grey ponytail wearing a t-shirt that said “Portland Juggling Festival” – and Canadian retirees, but there’s nothing wrong with that. They have created an arts mecca, with music, art, writing, dance – a great deal of stuff going on all the time, while Mexico flows by around them. I could not live here longterm, but short term – absolutely. Especially in February.
Today after my seminar with Edd I walked about – well, truthfully, I had a goal. Kristin had told me about the best place to buy silver jewelry, so I went there, not on the street or in the artisanal market but in an arcade out of the hot sun, where I tried on a hundred pairs of earrings and bought two pairs for me and one for Anna, for very little money. Walked and looked some more as it grew hotter, ended up buying the requisite Panama straw hat in the market – everyone has one here, only now I have to get mine back to Canada in my small suitcase unscathed. Was in the office of the shuttle from San Miguel to Mexico City when a woman said, “Aren’t you Ruth Miller’s friend Beth? I met you at her cottage last summer.” Toronto journalist Cathy Dunphy, here with a friend. That’s the kind of town it is.
Re-entry to cold will be a shock. People have complained of the cold here, and yes, it was so chilly one morning, they distributed blankets to those of us taking workshops in tents. (Much of this conference took place outside, with classes in big tents and reading sessions en plein air. Imagine trying to do that in Canada!) But with layers the chill really didn’t bother me. What was extraordinary was the swing from really cold in the morning to very hot in the afternoon to cold again at night. But cold is relative to us Canucks. So many Canucks at this conference.
As always, I’ll be happy to be back in my own bed. But this has been a very rich experience all round. One poor workshop, one not great, and five terrific, plus great keynotes and readings – almost too much to take in.
PS If you want more detail about Mexico and San Miguel in particular, and more pictures, please click on 2015 in the blog history to the left, and then August. I was here with my friend Annie and wrote rapturously, including that I’d like to come back one February.