Every year we try to come in early October, and every year we swear we’re never coming back in early October. Well, I don’t know if that’s literally true but it sure seems that way. The water is hot which allows us swim every day, the only time of the year when this is possible outside of summer, and no one comes here in the summer. The problem is early October is close to Columbus Day and school holidays so the place fills up with vacationers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since this is a vacation spot but given how we like to spend our time away, the people and the noise can be quite jarring. We do persevere and enjoy ourselves in spite of it. And really, the people are mostly okay except for those with dogs. As the place fills up the courtyards ring with the sounds of abandoned animals, their sad howls echoing off the stuccoed block walls. 

Turns out there’s a gal next door with a dog that barks plaintively whenever she leaves it alone. We didn’t much like that the first dozen or so times so yesterday when she asked if the dog was barking, we said “yes” and she was aghast. MLW and she got into a friendly conversation once they got past the apologies and it turned out that Penny (her name) lives up the road from us in Santa Fe. What’s more, she knew our little berg of Corrales and when asked about her history there it further turned out that she used to live on our street. Small World Story Number One.

Last night we went out to dinner, ending up at Blackie’s, a joint in town. We’ve been patrons of the place since it was built, maybe 10 years ago. It’s quiet and dark and romantic and they used to have a charming nonagenarian who guarded the parked cars and an octogenarian who played jazz standards on a plunky piano. The food was good, the service steady and it always made for a nice night out. MLW would order pescado al mojo de ajo (her standard) and I’d get one of the clever things from the menu. We’d have a big boat of a margarita and between courses they doubled down on that with a frosty Bailey’s. I’d open the car door for MLW when we left, we’d have a nice kiss in the parking lot and write the evening down as another good memory.

On our last trip we went in and disappointingly, it had pretty much gone to hell. The “genarians” were absent, probably gone to the camposanto, the service was terrible, the food passable and no one brought us our Bailey’s. It was the end of the love affair, and we left swearing never to darken their door again. But last night our plan for dinner at a new place – La Palapa Griega – was scotched by a Mexican wedding. It was tempting to crash it, the disco music was pounding, but manners got the better of us and so we left. Driving back towards town, we decided to give Blackie’s one last chance. We parked and went in.

Same place, same atmosphere. But things had improved, the service was instantly attentive and the drinks came quickly. The food showed up after a reasonable interval, MLW taking a risk and having grilled fish with Artichoke sauce while I lined up for calamari with piñons and tomatoes. Both were excellent. And after ordering coffee and Flan our Bailey’s showed up. The universe had regained its balance. I was in such a good mood that I complimented the waiter on his reading glasses – thick white hipster frames on a chain around his neck – and that in turn spawned a great conversation about whether “lentes” or “ante ojos” was the correct term for glasses. Turns out while they mean different things (sunglasses vs. vision glasses) around here they are interchangeable. When he asked me how my dinner was, I responded “estuvo muy bueno.” Using “estuvo,” the past tense of “is” made me so proud I could have pinched myself. We left a good tip and went out but sadly some jackass tourist had parked his Ford Econoline Conversion Camper Van so close to our passenger side that I couldn’t open the door for MLW and complete the experience with a kiss. Next time.

Heading back I stopped on the frontage road to take my Photo of the Day, the long suddenly working streetlights along Manlio Beltrones Boulevard. San Carlos’ main drag. I got the shot, we went home and I posted it to my Tumblr. Just for grins – it was a nice picture – I posted it to a Fuji camera forum I visit on Facebook. Twenty seconds hadn’t elapsed before one of the members responded, “OMG, that’s my home town.” Small World Story Number Two. We chit chatted for a bit, I shared a few more photos (he currently lives in Chicago!) and we made plans to try and connect should we ever be here at the same time in the future.

It is a small world, and technology seems to make it smaller. What a great thing to be so far from home and have two intimate connections with two complete strangers in the same day. Travel does this for you, time and time again and it’s just one more reason why being out and about is a great thing. The road goes on.