As I walked up Zacateros on Sunday morning, I heard the sound of beating drums and the clacking of aztec anklets. I turned the corner and walked with my camera pressed against my face. Click click. My heart couldn’t help but beat to the vibrations shaking the cobblestone streets. The closer I got the more I felt as though I was in a movie, my body pounding to the soundtrack of rising action.
I saw a little girl hiding her face in the fabric of her mother”s skirt as the street dancers thumped closer and closer to where she stood. I remembered being her age and watching this same parade in 2006. I remember my younger self getting scared by the loud war cries coming from the burly male dancers. But now I wish I could join the dance. Bang my head up and down and shake my legs side to side while calling out in unison with my tribe. I stepped off the sidewalk and zoomed my lens in on their painted faces.
I look like a ‘gringa’, a Caucasian foreigner, but I don’t feel like a tourist anymore. It is here, in San Miguel de Allende, that I feel at home. I know these streets like the lines on my own hands. I know the beating of the drums. All I desire is to feel this familiar pounding in my heart, but to the beating of another culture’s drums. To get lost on the winding streets of a new city. To photograph faces I have ever seen before. In India, Morocco, Cuba, and Japan. Travel is calling my name like Juliet longed for Romeo from her balcony.
That evening I went to a party on a property with horse stables and an equestrian arena. So of course, before the sun set, I ran off to take my photos and meet the horses. The sky was full of wispy Bob Ross clouds and I could feel a cool breeze blowing off the lake. The horses turned their ears towards the far off whistle of a train rumbling through the San Miguel mountains.
What a privilege it is to live in a place where on any given day, I can stumble upon ancient aztec traditions taking over the street and sunsets straight out of a Tuscan dream. Note to self: When I settle down, may it be in a place full of life and beauty just as vibrant and abundant as that of San Miguel de Allende.