High Desert Life

by Miles Hutchins

Imaginary cowpokes, Jordan Elliot and Max Johnson, have returned to Central Oregon. But here is a poem for us to remember them by:

Cowboy Style

A cowboy’s life is tough at best;

his everyday work is a given test.

He does not fear the rocky terrain

or the flat and dusty desert plain.

The boots and the hat are a daily trend;

the life of a cowboy is one to commend.

His love of family, horse, and home

is heard in country music, which he calls his own.

A cowboy knows that, with his horse,

the land he rides is his resource.

By Peter Hurst, and printed with his permission. Peter and his wife, Terry, are longtime horse people, first in England, then Canada. They recently retired and moved to the Lake Chapala area. Wife and I were fortunate to meet them and even more fortunate to now call them friends.

Wife (OK, Bobbi) and Terry volunteer at spay and neuter clinics in the area. Several such clinics are held every year and no charge is made for the service to local families, even by the veterinarians. A service that is a big help to everyone living here.

The clinics are one example of so-called ex-pats giving back to the Mexican community they now call home. And that is so appreciated by local families. I had the pleasure of seeing that appreciation in the faces of several families who were picking up their dog or cat as they recovered from surgery.

This little story is an example of the gringos giving back to our gracious hosts. The endless help and kindness we get from Mexican folks is incredible.

Just the other day, Bobbi was struggling a bit to put wilted flowers into a bag of garbage in preparation for one of our three times a week garbage pickup. A school boy, about 9 years old, walked across the street and asked if he could assist her.

Friends Terry and Peter told us of their experience going into Chapala to pay their property taxes. Walking up stairs posed an issue for Terry with her wheeled walker. Before they got very far up the stairs, there appeared a uniformed policeman to help out.

Then once inside, for their first visit to the tax office, and looking a little perplexed as to what to do, a worker came over to them and said they needed a number. Just like at DMV. But he went further and said I will get it for you, and call your number when it is time.

In addition, he directed them to the right place to go for the next phase. Finally, as they were leaving, up pops the policeman to help Terry navigate the stairs again.

The kind, helpful, and thoughtful assistance we receive seems to rub off on us foreigners because we have seen first hand ex-pats acting just like Mexicans. Maybe it is the strong sense of family we are seeing that we are absorbing. The sense of giving, helping, of being in community, is so evident.

No, not everyone is nice and kind, not all the time. But it is very evident in this community of 50,000 or so that we are all in this thing called life together. And it is better to be pleasant to one another as we travel the journey together than not.

Complete strangers usually, not just occasionally, say hola.

— Miles Hutchins is a retired former Redmond resident who grew up in Central Oregon and now lives in Mexico. Contact him at milesredmond@gmail.com .