Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Heading south.

In just three days, I leave New York, and the crush of a thousand assignments for the thick grey air of Saltillo, Mexico, where I will spend a week--with my wife in tow--at the small concrete-block home of Teresa Quesadilla, my adopted mother so many years ago when I played ball for the Saraperos de Saltillo in the Mexican Baseball League (AA).

My wife of almost 33 years is less-than-pleased with these vacation plans. She would rather, and who can blame her, spend a couple weeks in Paris, or London, or Berlin. Or even in Oslo to see the Northern Lights, which we've never witnessed except in National Geographic photographs. 

She would rather have a pink drink in hand and be lazing by a cerulean sea girded with virgin white sand, listening to the chirping of small yellow birds and the trade-winds rustling the palms.

Instead, we are flying to Corpus Christi, Texas, as I have done so many times, then renting a Ford or other fine car to drive seven hours southwest to Saltillo.

Forty-one years ago, when I was in the full-bloom of sinewy youth, Saltillo was being wrenched into the industrial age by the Chrysler Corporation which had just opened a giant assembly plant not far from Estadio Francesco I. Madura where the Saraperos toiled so many summer afternoons and nights.

Before that plant, which fouled the air and coated the entire city with a fine white soot, Saltillo was most famous for its one-foot-square terra-cotta flooring tiles which were sold around the world. And, of course, Saltillo was famous for its colorful Sarapes which had give the local batsman, of which I was one, our nickname.

I often thought of Orson Welles' narration from "The Magnificent Ambersons" when I thought of Saltillo. 

"George Amberson-Minafer walked home through the strange streets of what seemed to be a strange city. For the town was growing... changing... it was heaving up in the middle, incredibly; it was spreading incredibly. And as it heaved and spread, it befouled itself and darkened its skies."

So, Friday evening, with ever-watchful eyes and bearing scars, we head to Saltillo. Mostly to hold hands with Teresa, who is not getting any younger, and to see the city again, this time with my wife, and the old ballpark, once again.

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