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Lagos De Moreno, Age 46

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

During a wonderful two-week vacation in Mexico with my family, including my Mother-in-law (Mama), we were able to travel all over central Mexico. That vacation was packed with adventuresome and enriching experiences.

We traveled to a town called Guanajuato and stayed in a 5-star hotel that had traditional architecture and ornate antique furniture. Three waiters in tuxedos served us a four-course meal complete with wine and an elegant glass of fine tequila for only $50.00. We toured a silver mine and learned about gruesome battles that were fought to maintain Mexican independence from the foreign silver barons. Our guide explained that the heads of enemy leaders were place on pikes atop government buildings for all to see. Guanajuato also houses a museum with mummified bodies dug up from a nearby cemetery. Something about the soil in that part of the country maintained the integrity of the bodies and they were preserved as well as Egyptian mummies. Sadly, it was clear by the positioning of some of the mummies that they were buried alive.

On a trip to Lagos De Moreno, a couple of hours from our home base, Belen De Refugio, my ability to speak Spanish was challenged. I've had a couple of years of Spanish in college, but I rarely practiced, so while I could ask directions to a restaurant or town, being able to understand the response was an entirely different thing.

My wife, Nancy, and her mom are fluent Spanish speakers, so I relied on them to interpret for me. We were driving down a well-maintained toll road, enjoying the dessert plains and plateaus, and came to a toll booth. I asked for directions just to be sure we were going the right way. The attendant was verbose with his response, and I had no idea what he was saying.












I turned to Nancy and Mama and both were looking out the window to the right totally engrossed in some natural feature of the desert. The toll booth attendant was staring at me waiting for a response and my interpreters left me hanging. They finally provided me with assistance. Note to self—learn Spanish.

As it turns out we were headed in the right direction and made it to Lagos De Moreno, a city of about 40,000 people. Our goal was to visit an old family friend, the Villalobos family, but we had no idea where they lived.

Nancy remembered a bottling plant nearby from her visits as a child, and Mama couldn't remember where they lived at all. I figured our chances were slim to none that we'd find the house.

As we were driving downtown, Mama saw an old man standing at the curb. She asked me to stop so she could ask him where the Villalobos family lived. I suggested that wouldn't be fruitful, but she insisted, so I pulled over.

After she asked him, he stood there for a minute, muttering the name to himself over and over, then started nodding his head up and down saying. "Yes, yes," as his eyebrows raised with the enlightenment.

After first confirming that it was across the street from the bottling plant, he proceeded to give us directions that took us right to their front door! I was amazed. In the middle of a town of 40,000 people, the first guy Mama asked knew exactly where to go. What are the chances of that happening?

We had a nice visit with the Villalobos family, and I placed Mama a little higher on the pedestal after that.

~ Andrew Laufer


















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