IN SEARCH OF THE SUMMER OF 1964
“Xalisco County begins a couple of miles south of the state capital of Tepic and spreads across 185 square miles of lush, hilly terrain. A highway curves through it to the tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta to the south.
The county seat, also named Xalisco, is a town of narrow cobblestone streets and 29,000 people. For many years, dependence on the sugar cane harvest kept the county poor. Houses had tin roofs, and few had proper plumbing.
Xalisco ostensibly still depends on sugar cane. But it is now among the top 5% of Mexican counties in terms of wealth, according to a government report.
Enormous houses with tile roofs and marble floors have gone up everywhere. In immigrant villages across Mexico, people build the first stories of houses and leave iron reinforcing bars protruding skyward until they save the money to add second stories. Often the wait is measured in years. In Xalisco, homes go up all at once.
Off Xalisco’s central plaza are swanky women’s clothing stores and law offices. Young men drive new Dodge Rams, Ford F-150s and an occasional Cadillac Escalade. Outside town are new subdivisions with names like Bonaventura and Puerta del Sol.
Xalisco’s Corn Fair, held every August, is another measure of the town’s newfound wealth. Twenty years ago, the fair’s basketball tournament was a modest affair. Teams from surrounding villages competed against one another in ragged uniforms.
Then “the boys began going north and getting into the business,” said one farmer. “The town just began to come up.”
The tournament purse grew so fat that semi-pro teams began competing. Last year, with first prize worth close to $3,000, semi-pro squads from Mazatlan, Monterrey and Puerto Vallarta competed, each with American ringers. One local village sponsored a team made up entirely of hired players, reputedly paid for by a heroin trafficker.”
At the time unaware of such dark story of rag, to riches wandered around the town looking for familiar places, like the house my aunts rented at the time, I clearly remembered our almost daily evening trip to the movie theater, and new if I could find the old theater, it will be cinch to find the old house, or so I thought..!
Carrying my neither light, but not too heavy luggage wondered around the town, fortunately didn’t take long for me to find the now abandoned old theater, going down the street I followed the street that for sure will take me to the old house, but damn! The place didn’t look quite like in my memory, as a matter of fact the spot where the house should have been, well, it was not!
Too many new constructions, made the place hard to remember, I keep going up and down, and around for many streets, taking the old theater as a base for my search, it was somewhere around 10:30 A.M. that I started my search, stubbornly I walked for hours, in circles trying to find the place, here and there I would stop expecting to recognize the old house on the next block, just to be disappointed once more.
Finally around 1:00 P.M. tired, sweaty, with a knot in my throat, and almost in tears, I gave up, slowly I walked to the Plaza to Hidalgo street , and stood by the busy road, it took e just a few minutes to flag a Bus to stop, I boarded a bus for Santiago de Compostela, were the next adventure and my clash with memory will meet again, but that will be material for another chapter, as I sank on my seat enjoying the coolness of the bus and taking some last panoramic looks to the green valley of Matatipac, and the Majesty of Sanganguey Volcano for the last time, I reflected how treacherous memory can be after a period of over Forty years, I was like a migrating stork looking for a nest it is no longer there…
Back home much later, Jim a friend of mine at work, read me a story about a WWII veteran that flying over Germany was shot down, afraid of the German population that sometimes mistreated, and lynched the crews of the Bombers who bailed out, he hided his wings of which he was very proud of, making a mental map of the place he buried them in a farm, in the article he was very confident of find them with no trouble, shaking my head I told my friend Jim my search for the Summer of 1964 in a little town named Xalisco…After finishing telling him my story I said: Couldn’t find a house after forty two years, he will be lucky if he can find the farm, if it exist at all, imagine finding some tiny wings buried 66 years ago!
Months later we read the death of the pilot, who two months before his death went to Germany looking for his wings, although he was treated very well, and coming back home he was given new wings, not surprisingly he couldn’t find his old wings, too many things, and places had changed…