Monday, May 9, 2016 | San Miguel de Allende
ALL THINGS MUST end, and so it is with this pleasant, exciting stay in this beautiful home of beautiful friends in this beautiful city. In a couple of hours, I’ll get in a car and head towards Queretaro, a little more than an hour’s drive from here. I’ll check in to La Casa de la Marquesa, an old hotel in the center of the city.
I’m looking forward to whatever adventure awaits me, of course, but I’m saddened at leaving my friends behind.
Yesterday we went for Sunday brunch at the Rosewood Hotel, one of the largest and better hotels in the city. The array of food offered with the buffet option was overwhelming. There were a lot of choices but I opted to go with primarily with the taquitos. Beef tinga (shredded beef in a tomato/chili sauce), rajas (roasted and sliced bell peppers in a cream sauce), carnitas, and huitlacoche (corn fungus), with various salsas. I also had a bit of chicken mole. Everything was perfect.
We were sitting at our table enjoying our dinner when we saw a couple walk by. My friend Blanca, who is very active in national Democratic Party politics, took one look at the guy and uttered a surprised, “Oh.” The guy heard her and looked at Blanca, and in a split second stopped and yelled, “¡Mira quien está aquí!”
It was Antonio Villairagosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles and soon to be candidate for that state’s governorship. He and Blanca recently participated in a party conference and got to know each well. The beautiful woman with him was his fiancée, Patricia Govea, a businesswoman from Guadalajara. They were in town to plan their upcoming wedding, at the hotel.
After introductions and a short excited conversation, Blanca and Cavanaugh invited the couple to their home that evening for cocktails and they readily agreed.
IT WAS AN interesting gathering. The conversation was wide-ranging and included how they met (during a conference in Guadalajara where Villairagosa had been invited to speak), their families (the combined families includes six children), their wedding (large despite her efforts to keep it small), his race (a challenge, against the current lieutenant governor and others) and the presidential election and Hillary’s prospects in the California (her chances are very good but it’s going to be a tough battle).
We also talked about our shared backgrounds and experiences. In his younger days he spent time in Texas working with the United Farm Workers.
I made the mistake of introducing myself to him using my full name, Juan Ramón, and he immediately latched on to the Ramón part because that is his middle name too, and for the rest of the evening I was either Ramón or Ramoncito.
I’ve been around many politicians in my life but not many like this guy. He is a master. At the restaurant, when he came over to shake my hand as I was seated at the table, he put his arm on my shoulder as we talked and squeezed lightly. He didn’t let go until he moved on to the other people and he did the same to all of them. Back at the house, he went out of his way to ensure that none of us felt left out, turning to each of us and asking specific questions about what we do of have done – and he listened and reacted to our responses. He reminded me of the Lyndon Johnson I’ve read so much about.
His fiancée is a beautiful, charming woman with even better people skills than those of her future husband.
I don’t know what Villaraigosa’s chances are in the race, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him as governor of that state. And I wouldn’t mind seeing a Mexican serving as California’s first lady.
TOMORROW IS Mexico’s Mothers’ Day but the kids in the elementary school near us are already celebrating it at their morning outdoor assembly. They are singing “Las Mañanitas.” And that, my friends, is as good a way as any to end this visit.