Colonia El Ángel is one of the neighborhoods that make up El Refugio. My neighborhood is Barrio Nuevo. When I walk east on my street and cross the intersection, I’m in another small colonia. At the next street, Calle Principal, I’m in Colonia El Ángel.
El Ángel is about five or six blocks long and a long block wide on the west side of the Calle Principal (Main Street), and two long blocks wide and about as long on the east side. The main features of the east side are the cancha, the soccer field, and Centro Escolar Colonia El Ángel, the grammar school.
I spent many evenings in Colonia El Ángel when I was trying to figure out if I was courting Bessy Cerna or what. Many of my students live there and I’ve become friends with their parents and other relatives. Since everyone is related to almost everyone else, that pretty much covers the community. At any rate, everyone there knows me or at least who I was and am. I feel at home when I walk Duke down the street. Children and grownups alike hail me but don’t approach me because Duke is always pulling to meet them and they’re afraid. Duke has grown quite rapidly and he’s pretty strong. His bark is loud and is more in the bass range than when he was a pup. He’s not even six months old.
Colonia El Ángel has the sense of community that I love. People sit out front of their houses at night and talk. Some homes are also stores and people come to buy this or that. That lends itself to conversation. If I hear my name, I stop to exchange greetings and to answer questions about my dog. If I am walking alone or riding my bike, I’ll spend more time in conversation than when Duke is pulling on his leash to jump on my neighbor. It’s warm and friendly all the time, day or night.
This evening a little after six it was still light out. Duke had his bath earlier and I was bored in the house, so we took a walk. Part of my task is to teach him how to heel. There are so many distractions for him. Other dogs, passing children on bikes, food droppings on the road, cow patties, strange insects, and motorcycles.
We made it to the cancha and were greeted by Adriana and Yesenia, Bessy’s 5-year old niece. As we made our way down the darkening street, we stopped to let the last microbus pass, then a pickup. People were eating at tables on the sidewalk. A vendor on the corner by the school was cooking under a canopy with an electric light hanging from it. I’m sure its wire was patched into someplace it shouldn’t have been. Dogs gave Duke the eye but didn’t approach. I guess they didn’t want to confront his human.
At the third intersection I looked to my left and was happy to see my niece Naomi and several of her family members in front of their house. My other princess is afraid of Duke and I hesitated to approach. I longed to feel her little arms around my neck and her baby kiss on my cheek. She stood between her mother’s legs and held her arms out calling Tío Royer. I looked around and saw an iron garage door with a handle. A good place to tie his leash. He wasn’t happy at all. He barked and whined and strained the leash while jumping in our direction. A chair was placed for me and my little one jumped into my arms with as much energy as Duke’s. We sat and talked while her grandmother told me how much she wants to come to our house again and play with Adriana. She asked her mother, Ingris, for her pacha (bottle) and soon enough it was in her little hands. She snuggled back in my arms and it felt so good. When she was almost done, I asked her if she wanted more and she shook her head. Duke hadn’t stopped his noise at all. He’s a jealous pup. I can’t play with my kids without him trying to get involved. But I knew it was time to go. I hugged my baby girl one last time and untied the monster dog. Is there any love as warm as a child’s? Naomi looked sad as I started towards the corner to once more walk up the Calle Principal in Colonia El Ángel.
I’m home now. The family is watching a Harry Potter movie. I have no interest in fantasy. I’ve lived too long in the real world to concern myself with others’ imaginations. My street isn’t like the streets I walked tonight. We’ve got one woman cooking at the upper end and there are a bunch of kids sitting out front. An occasional adult will pass and exchange greetings. I can hear the gospel music from the house/church in El Ángel and I hum along. I wish we didn’t have a TV.