Mar 19, 2003, 1:01 PM
Post #1 of 4
I did this morning what I've been putting off for two weeks. I went to
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Uruapan to buy roses. 35 of them. Never mind that I drove 70 miles and
paid four sets of highway tolls. This morning I really wanted to get away.
The rose nursery I go to is a wholesale rose farm, selling rose
bushes for $14 each. That's somewhat less than $1.50 USD. I mention my
needs to the guy in charge, and he announces that there are more than
30,000 roses to pick from. So I spent my morning wandering among 30,000 rose bushes, picking the exact colors I wanted, which were mostly sort of a pumpkin orange. But then I see a sterling silver, and that I must attempt again. Hmm, there's a tiger, a dark red on red striped specimen. A young girl follows me with a wheelbarrow, picking up what I've set aside in each long aisle of roses. Another customer remarks that I've come prepared, with rubber boots and gloves.
I'm off in a wonderland, far and away from the telephone, the Internet, the news, and conversation. This is a poor man's small slice of heaven. Yet this is in the shadow of the maximum security prison. By
the time I'm finished, I am muddy up to my knees, dusty, and dirty.
While they're loading my plunder into the Suburban, the same customer
initiates the usual "Where are you from" conversation that the Texas plates never quite seem to answer. The woman's buying stock for a nursery in Apatzingan, off in the Tierra Caliente, the town known for its presidente muncipale’s plea "Please don't bomb Apatzingan, it's not Afghanistan" in the days after 9/11, a town better known as a Bakersfield and a drug capital where the people are actually hard-working and very nice. We exchange the preliminaries, I comment upon how clean and industrious Apatzingan is, sort of anticipating what her next comment will be. And I'm not wrong. "Well, the war," she starts. It's a topic that Mexicans seem to always want to discuss with gringos, and it's the reason I decided to shop for roses today.
"Uh, look. The war is crazy, I do not understand why America has to
be there in the first place, and it's not my war. Too many people are going to die needlessly. I may be an American citizen, and I may have US plates on my car, but I support the position of Mexico with regard to the war," I explain to her.
But her reaction came as a complete surprise to me. Her eyes light up, and she extends both arms to embrace me, saying "You are Mexican."