Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 10 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Dead Man in the Arroyo

 Buenas tardes.

I still go for a walk each day, as early as possible. Usually I leave the house by 5:15. Yes, it is still very dark, the Big dipper is still spilling stars into the northern sky and only a few roosters are crowing.

Because it is so dark, I no longer walk out the highway to the arches. I stay close to town, on the streets or in the arroyo.

On Thursday, I saw a man laying in the dirt, under the walking bridge near the road that leads from the Alameda to the La Capilla barrio. He was very still. I knew he was dead.

Dawn was breaking and a policeman came walking toward me. He saw the man and used his cell phone to call for help and he said........muerte (dead).

I've seen dead people before, but they have always been in a coffin. And I was somehow prepared to see them. But I had a lot of sadness when I saw this man. He was very very old and very dark skinned and wrinkled. His arm was folded beneath his head and his knees were curled up toward his chest.
He looked like he had just laid down for a brief nap. Instead it became a very long nap.

So, I thought about this all day Thursday and then, I thought about it all day Friday. I thought about how lonely and sad he looked. Then I thought about it all night Friday and this morning I left the house around 5am. On the way down my street I picked several bunches of bouganvillea and I walked to the Alameda.

There were 4 policia at the Alameda, standing around, joking and laughing. I asked them if they knew about the old man who died in the arroyo Thursday and they said they did not.
 I asked them where old people like that get buried, people who might just lie down for a nap and not wake up, old men like that who might not have any family.

The policia said they get put in the Panteon. For a fact I know it cost money to be buried in the Panteon and there is hardly any room in the Panteon. I said................are you sure..........who pays for his grave............who pays for the diggers.
 One of the Policia said something I didn't understand, another shook his head and agreed and one se. (I don't know).

I told them thanks and that I was going to go put my bouganvillea in the dirt where he died.
So I walked on across the cobblestone callejon that leads to the arroyo.

I knelt down in the dirt right where I had seen the old man. I stuck the ends of my flowers into the dirt.

Hola....................I looked up and one of the policia was standing there.....hola, he said again..........Triste, he said................Si, I answered. I was getting teary by now.
He just stood there, towering over me and I wasn't sure what I should do next. I looked out into the arroyo and my palms started to sweat.

Hmmm, puede usted hablar un palabras en espanol para el hombre.................can you say some words in Spanish for the man, I asked him.

 I was thinking maybe he could just stand there and say Vaya con Dios because trust me, the last thing I would ask for is to be seen with a cop, at 5am in the morning, in the dark, in the arroyo underneath a bridge.

 Lots of people use that callejon that time of the morning. I was a wreck when he said, Si and he knelt down beside me. And while I could not count the minutes I was worried I was going to get a 30 minute mass.

He did say a lot of words and I listened but kept sneaking my eyes to the callejon hoping no one would see us.

Finally he did say....................Vaya con Dios..................... and I said Vaya con Dios and then I said gracias to him and we both turned and went our separate ways.

I went further down the arroyo but when I turned around once I saw 4 figures standing there. My guess is they were the policia who knelt beside me and the other 3 policia from the Alameda, the other 3 having come to see what the 1st was up to.

So it was an emotional event in more ways than one.

 Of course, the death of the old man and my wanting to share something with him because I was so sure he was all alone was the heaviest emotion.

But there were also emotions so deep they made me shake, the fear of being seen under the bridge like that.
While what we shared was innocent and spiritual who could possibly know what the policia and I were sharing? What did they think if they saw me with him there in the dark?

I suppose I could say we were saying mass for a dead man.......................but people create their own versions of stories, especially when it is told by you.................okay, then where's the body......................why did policia give the rites....................where was the do you even know he was dead, there's no body...............whose yard did you take those flowers from......................

Walking in the arroyo I started to shake and couldn't stop. Then for some reason I got real scared and I started running. I ran all the way home and tripped on a tope. Then I hurt my knee. And tomorrow I think I will just stay in bed...
Linda Lou


Anonymous said...

Lin -

I don't think you should worry about this. The police surely know who you are (they know who everyone is - Alamos is a small town)and think you're a kind-hearted person who cared that an old man died alone.


Anonymous said...

A very moving post. Showing compassion for a stranger should never lead to fear.

Anonymous said...

What sweet consideration! No need to fear, just be thankful you were doing the right thing, no matter who may have seen you. You can have a clear and satisfied conscience.

Jill said...

What a beautiful, albeit sad, story! Thanks for sharing. And it's so nice to read an account of Mexican police being as caring as the one who joined you in mourning for the man.

Linda Lou and Senor, Too said...

since posting this I have been going to the arroyo almost every morning and re lighting candles or adjusting rocks or adding new flowers. On 4 different times one of the many policemen at the alameda has followed me over, one walked with me as I passed the Alameda and stood with me at the little pile of rocks. two asked me questions, one said vaya con dios and the other just stood quietly. I am very moved. I should never have worried. LL

Who are we? said...

Perhaps you picked up on the fear the viejito had when he just laid down for a moment...that he would be seen there and that it was not okay. He knows now he didn't have to worry and that he wasn't alone...

Anonymous said...

I know I'm weighing in very late on this post, but I've just recently discovered your blog (and am enjoying it very much). Although we still live in Toronto because I'm a ways from retirement, my husband is Mexican and we have a house-in-progress in a small town in Central Mexico (where I spend as much time as I can). This post was very moving, and I am sure those policias hold you in high esteem for what you did for the "difuntito". In my experience, Mexicans have great respect for ritual, for honouring the dead, and for ensuring the proper rituals are done allowing the spirit to move onto the next world. We recently were invited to the prayers held every night for 9 nights following the death of a little girl in our barrio (she had been ill for some time). We attended on the 9th night, the "Levantamiento de la Cruz". I thought at the time, and further research has confirmed, that this ritual has its origins in pre-Hispanic rites for the dead, being the ritual to help the spirit move on. It was very moving. The family was very poor, living in a tiny 1 room casita with a dirt floor, which was filled with family and neighbours spilling out the door into the yard. It was Catholic but definitely with extra elements. There was much repetitive, ritualistic singing, Rosary-reciting, and praying, with many candles and flowers. A hand-carved wooden cross (presented by the padrinos) commemorating the little girl was raised, and people filed by to kiss it. Then all the flowers from the altar were gathered up and placed in the shape of a cross on the dirt floor, and holy water sprinkled over it. This was then all carefully swept up and placed in a box. After the service was over the layperson who was leading the prayers said that these rituals are not for the little one who died, because as a pure innocent, she was already in God's arms. She said the ritual is for those who remain behind, as a way of dealing with grief and loss.

Just as you have said in other posts, the inhabitants of Mexican small towns pretty well know what everyone else is up to. If so, I am sure many alamosenses esteem you highly for remembering and honouring this poor man who died alone in the arroyo.

Un abrazo, Miriam