Last time I wrote to you, I was in the snowy White Mountains of New Hampshire. I am now in a very different climate and writing to you from the high desert of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. When my mom is not living on Chappaquiddick, she calls this small city home, and my daughter and I are here visiting for nearly three weeks. It is a lively town of cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, grand churches, art galleries, and busy markets. The sound outside our bedroom window at any given hour is a cacophony of dog barks, fireworks, rooster crows, motorcycle revs, cat yowls, car engines, and exchanges in Spanish. Every now and then the rhythmic call of a vendor selling pastries or offering to sharpen knives will pass through the neighborhood, alerting potential customers with a car horn, yell or whistle.

There is always so much energy to this city. It provides a sharp contrast to our quiet life in the woods on Chappaquiddick. Despite the vast differences between here and Chappy, my mom seems to love both equally. She always says she is ready to return to the other after her time here or there, a sure sign that she has found the two right places to live.

Chappaquiddickers Margaret Knight and Sidney Morris lived here for a bit in the fall of 1975 as student teachers at the local bilingual school. They were staying at fellow Chappaquiddicker Bea Plummer’s house and had planned to do some renovation work on her home. However, they discovered that the adobe structure had no supporting timbers. The house was irreparably crumbling, and they had to be the ones to deliver the bad news. Of her time here, Margaret remembers, “We learned regional dances at the art school and were amazed at the taste of fresh tropical fruit from the outdoor market. I got horribly sick with ‘Montezuma’s revenge.’ We loved sitting around the town square, watching the couples and people dar la vuelta in the evenings.”

The city is now experiencing an economic boom. There has always been a strong ex-pat community here, bringing mostly American and Canadian dollars to support local businesses. But more recently the city has become an ever-more popular destination for weekenders from Mexico City and elsewhere in Mexico. New development is happening across the city with restaurants and hotels becoming more upscale. On the weekends, traffic escalates on the narrow streets and people pack into the main square, Mariachi bands and nick-nack vendors working the crowd.

This development reminds me of Martha’s Vineyard. We, too, are a community supported by tourist dollars. Over the years, the Island has also changed dramatically with local businesses catering more to an upscale clientele rather than to the local fisherman and farmers that once dominated the Island. Some may feel that these changes have irreparably damaged Martha’s Vineyard. Although I am a wash ashore and my family has only been on Island for 15 years, I believe that the heart of the Island - the charm, the good people, the beautiful land - is still very much alive. Living on Chappy year-round, I feel the heart of the place daily, and am thankful to know it so intimately.

I hear the ponds are frozen over back home, which is hard to imagine given that we have temperatures in the seventies down here. We almost always have a few days of skating each winter on the Slip Away Farm pond. Since it is shallow and small, it usually freezes over before the larger Brine’s Pond across the street has a complete freeze. All are always welcome to come skate the farm pond. You’ll see it when you pull in the driveway; it is to the left of the parking lot, across from the house.

The next Chappy potluck will be Jan. 23, and the Community Center is still looking for someone to host the evening. The host supplies the appetizers and drinks. If you are interested in hosting that evening, or any future potluck, please give the CCC a call at 508-627-8222. The potlucks will continue in Feb. on the first and third Wednesday of the month.