Monday, July 2014, afternoon, La Villita Village
Heat shimmers in the air, each breath ratchets my core temperature another fraction of a degree. The sky is white – all blue coloration bleached away by the sun’s glory. I’ve been sightseeing, and on my feet, since I’d not rented a scooter yet. In old towns, there are places it’s difficult to maneuver if your locomotion is wheeled rather than two-legged. La Villita is one, and I didn’t want to miss it. Thankfully, San Antonio believes in benches at frequent intervals. I use them.
(Let me throw in a big thank you to Camelbak for the fantastic water bottle with filter. There was not a storeowner who wouldn’t re-fill my water container. These folks are the epitome of kindness and generosity.)
Remember the Alamo? Well, La Villita is the village where Mexican soldiers lived with their families – it is on a bluff above the San Antonio River, and therefore did not endure infrequent flooding that the Alamo did. The houses are small, and full of windows that let in soft breezes from the tiny river below. In the late 1800’s, German families moved there. Today, La Villita is an art village, and air-conditioned. Each home sells wares to capture the eye of visitors – and yes, my vision was blurred with the beauty offered. I believe in helping the local economies in towns I visit.
On one shady porch, the owner had placed a bench on either side of their door. A man slumped on the further settee, melted by the heat. His chin rested on an “I remembered the Alamo” T-shirt, sweat coated his shaved head, made damp circles under his arms, and across his chest. The hair on his legs lay in soggy whorls. His lips vibrated with every breath as he slept. A large camera rested under one protective hand.
Figured I looked much as he, as I settled on the opposite bench. Minutes went by, and I watched as a lady strolled out of a shop a few doors down. She carried several bags and wore a smile as she approached the house where the man and I rested. As she neared, he shifted and sat up, some inner radar advising him of her proximity.
“I’m going to be a better man,” he called out to her.
She stopped. “Why?”
“I’ve been reflecting, and decided I’m going to be a better man.” He stands, pulls his shirt away from his body, picks up his camera and a walking stick, takes the bags she was carrying and places them across his arm. “If hell is any hotter than this, I don’t want to go there!”
Imagine he's right!