Friday, January 24, 2014
Life Interrupts............In the Jardin
Here it is. As I arrived in the jardin at about 11AM, I noticed quite a few groups of high school students on field trips, I presume. From where I don't know. For years, when they arrive from Guanajuato or Leon, usually, they are practicing their English so they come up and inquire as to whether they can ask you questions in English. It is quite fun and definitely a learning experience for both sides - me and the students.
As I sat on the wall, warming my body today, I saw a swarm of students walk up to this man who was dressed in a straw hat and bermuda shorts. The typical tourist. They asked if they could have their picture taken with him. He had been sitting there reading his paper, but he broke into a large grin as the kids surrounded him for one photo after another. As they left, I listened and each and every young person thanked him, in English, for allowing the photos. It was priceless.
I waited a while and then walked over to talk to him. I inquired if he was a Canadian since he was in bermuda shorts, but, in fact, he was from Northern Indiana. He was tickled at the event with the kids.
We talked more. Twenty years ago he and his wife, who worked for a company in Chicago, came down to manage a factory in San Miguel that made the little glass and brass enclosed cases to put decorative items or whatever in. Then the Chinese saw them somewhere, copied them and started making them for pennies on the dollar. Fifteen hundred families no longer had employment here when the factory closed because of the undercutting of the Chinese company.
This man and his wife returned to Chicago and Indiana, but continued to come down every year to enjoy San Miguel for a week or two. Now, both retired, they spend a longer period of time here.
I remember when that started happening in Mexico. Even the hand blown glasses with the blue rims were knocked off in China and the small factories in Mexico were forced to close. Such a shame. Part of it is not having the knowledge of how to design another product. Part of it was not having the money to change in midstream. Fast forward to now. That business, for the most part, is back. And, it's back in great numbers.
A friend of mine who is a consolidator in Tlaquepaque said their number one country to export to today is Italy followed by Australia. Who knew? I think it is magnificent.
The man and I talked a bit longer and then I joined friends to head out to lunch. However, that brief conversation, with the man from Indiana, sparked a long forgotten memory for me today. Along with a fun photo.