San Luis Potosí is where I arrived when I first came to Mexico and where I ended up living for over seven years. I hadn't planned to stay that long! I met my future husband and the months turned into years, somehow.
It's not the most obvious place for a foreigner to choose to visit; it's quite a large city, but not enormous, in the northern part of the centre of Mexico, therefore very far away from the nearest beach, and about 5 hours drive from Mexico City. People in San Luis used to ask me why I'd decided to go there - they thought maybe I had family or friends there, that would be a logical explanation.
But no, before coming here I had no connection with anyone in the whole of Mexico. My decision was based only on the criteria of avoiding cities that were too big or too small or too touristy and the fact that I rather liked the description of San Luis that I'd read in my guidebook of Mexico - pretty much my sole source of information! Another factor I guess was that I'd found quite a few ads online for English teaching jobs based in San Luis Potosí, as I wanted to work and that was my job - I'd previously taught English in Romania, Spain and London.
But Mexico had been on my mind for some time.
I already knew the language pretty well, having studied Spanish and lived and worked in Spain twice (although when I first arrived in Mexico I discovered many differences between Mexican and peninsular Spanish which caused some misunderstandings and confusion!). I remember being a recent graduate, sitting at my desk in a boring temp job and daydreaming about living in Mexico. And I'm not really sure now why or how I imagined this far away country I'd never been to, but that particular moment sticks in my mind because many years later it struck me that I had, unwittingly, perhaps, and in a roundabout way, made my dream come true.
So that's how I ended up arriving in a strange city in the middle of Mexico, alone, knowing nothing and nobody, after a three-day journey by bus from New York. (And that's another story - I mention it as just another example of my weird and questionable decision-making process!)
Over twelve years after that first arrival, there I was back again, this time with husband and two-year-old daughter. We were back for a flying visit - Saturday morning to Sunday evening - so there wasn't much time to see many people or places. We met up with one of Eduardo's friends and his family, visited some relatives - introducing them to Emma for the first time - and took some flowers to Eduardo's grandmother's grave (Emma's "Tita Emma" who she was named after). Our goddaughter and her little sister, aged 7 and 5, spent most of the weekend with us, and Emma really loved being with them, and getting all the attention. (Of course, by the second day she didn't want to be picked up and carried around anymore!). They had last seen Emma when she was not yet a year old, before she was walking and talking, so they were amazed at how much she'd grown!
On Sunday morning we just had to go to "las gorditas de Morales" for breakfast/ brunch. This is a San Luis tradition. There is one street near Morales park which is full of gorditas restaurants, some small, some big, all very popular. Gorditas are slightly fatter than normal tortillas and cut open to make little pockets into which you can stuff any filling you like. Typical fillings include egg (scrambled with red or green salsa), beans, nopalitos, mushrooms, shredded beef, chicken tinga (shredded chicken in a tomato and chilli sauce), potatoes, chicharron (fried pork skin), huitlacoche (a Mexican delicacy, it's a type of mushroom that grows on corn) and flor de calabaza (courgette flower). They also sell other things; quesadillas, barbacoa, enchiladas potosinas (we bought some to take home with us) and even full Mexican breakfasts (usually fruit, eggs and/or chilaquiles and coffee). Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of the food or the place - what was I thinking? - so you'll just have to imagine it all.
One of the strongest impressions I got from this weekend was the sensation of so much time having passed and everything - our lives especially - being so different.
The children of friends and family that I remembered as children still in primary school or only just starting secondary school are now almost all grown up; teenagers going out for the night, or university students, only just recognisable still. I used to teach English to some of them.
It's only been four and a half years since we left San Luis Potosí to move to Guanajuato, which doesn't sound like such a long time but so much has happened in that time and our lives have changed so much that it feels like much much longer ago.
The biggest change of all has been our daughter, of course. It seems strange to think that we had a life before her, and that this city that felt so familiar to us is a place that she was visiting for the first time.
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