March 13, 2005
This is my Tio Raul on one of his ranches near Paras, Nuevo Leon in Mexico. The picture is circa 1984 right before he died. He was tough and many people were more than a little scared of him. He would always refer to me as a criminal or as that "no good" "gringo viejo".
One of his ranches had a big orange orchard. I would travel out there with him in the back of his truck (along with the dogs) and once we arrived I would go deep into the orchard and climb one of the trees. At lunch he would come out and try to find me. This was never difficult as the dogs always slept under my tree, but he would make a show of it, cursing my name while I tried to sit very very still. Eventually he would spy me and shout at me while I would laugh hysterically. Then he would say, "I guess you have to eat." and throw up tacos wrapped in foil. He would sit under the tree and eat his lunch keeping me company. I would ask long questions from up in my perch. He would respond with short gruff answers. Afterwards he would toss me a pocketknife so I could cut some oranges and mutter that only monkeys liked trees so much. Then he would go finish his work and I would stay up in the tree the rest of the afternoon reading and daydreaming...
I miss that world sometimes. I miss the long ride in the back of a dusty pickup. I miss the smell of orange trees on a hot day. And I miss being cursed and called "el gringo viejo" by my Tio Raul.