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Magical Town

Mineral del Chico

Like me, the characters I write, have a foot in both the US and Mexico. We carry both cultures without belonging to either one. This spring, my partner and I will live in Mexico while I write and research how individuals, families, and communities heal from feminicide.

We flew to Mexico City where we visited family but were overwhelmed by the crowds and traffic. As soon as we could, we fled to Mineral del Chico, population 500, in the Sierra of Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo. This tiny town is 9000 feet above sea level, in the woods where the indigenous population once hunted and the colonizers mined for silver. The first protected forest in Mexico, El Chico, attracts weekend tourists who come to hike, rock climb, or enjoy the views and quaint little eateries. The nearest gas city and gas station is a fifty-minute drive.

Spring here is the warmest time of the year, but the altitude and the shade of the trees keep the mornings cool, in the high forties, climbing to eighty degrees during the warmest part of the day. Hydrangeas, roses, and agapandos bloom year-round sharing the space with nopal cactus, maguey, and other succulents that flourish even among the stone stairs leading to the church.

Giant boulders top the surrounding peaks inviting climbers and mountain bikers. The most popular rock formation is called Las Monjas (The Nuns) visible anywhere you stand in town. Streams, now at their lowest because it is the dry season, run down the hills competing with the songbirds and roosters making alarm clocks unnecessary.

Pear and apple trees mix with cedars, oaks and madronas, while ocote (Montezuma pine) provides resin and wood for cooking quesadillas filled with wild mushrooms and the blooms from the maguey plant (hualumbos). Above 9000 feet, oyamels grow, dark green pines like the black forest in Germany, towering above the town.

Without internet or television, we start our day with Qui Gong and yoga in our rented house’s yard. After a shower and coffee, we sink into creative writing until noon when we feast on plates of papaya, mangos de manila and mamey, followed by a walk in the woods. The afternoons are for editing, and research while Vito plays native flute and guitar.

In the evenings, we have dinner with friends and on the weekends try the few restaurants which open around town. At dusk, we sit on the patio of a tiny café sipping tequila and mezcal until it is time to walk back in the dark accompanied by the stray dogs who have adopted us.

There is a well-stocked store where we buy drinking water, soap, fresh, local cheese, and eggs, beans, tortillas, chiles, avocados, tomatoes and fruit. A couple of bakeries produce sweet pastries and pastes, a local empanada adopted from the English miners but transformed with chiles and moles.

It is a privilege to be able to disconnect from the world, and family obligations and have time to learn, create and heal. I was unsure I could manage without amazon and the comforts of the US, but it's liberating to realize how little I need. The people are welcoming, simple and kind, nature is majestic and inspiring.

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