Our landlord, Jorge, loves his suns. I am sure he loves his son, Jorge Jr., as well, but I am talking about the other kind of sun.
This is why there are nearly 3,000 smiling sun faces decorating the hotel where we stay when we are in Mexico. Two more were added yesterday.
Much of the time, my husband, Peter, and I are in our little apartment in Jorge’s hotel, there is a team of artists working. Fabricio is the father, and usually, at least two and sometimes three of his sons work with him. They paint anything that stays still long enough for them to apply paint.
Jorge sets them to work painting ceramic suns to join the nearly 3,000 already hanging in the courtyard. They paint the outside of the hotel for the Day of the Dead and other celebrations—painting over their artwork at the end of the celebration. They paint saints on palm frond mats that are hung during Holy Week. They paint images of famous wrestlers so tourists can have their photos taken with them. They paint murals in the guest rooms. Occasionally, they even touch up the banisters in the hotel and do not seem to mind.
Yesterday, Peter and I had lunch at the hotel. Jorge has opened up a sandwich shop in the hotel, but, like so much that happens in Mexico, the long-term plan remains unclear to us.
Yesterday, for instance, we had salmon.
“Jorge is serving salmon in his sandwich shop?” I asked Peter.
“It’s not really a sandwich shop anymore, is it?”
He also had a steak and a shrimp special. Peter and I had the salmon. It was fantastic.
Then I saw Fabricio on a ladder.
“What is he doing outside our door?” I asked aloud.
We ate. Fabricio painted. After we were through, I went upstairs. Fabricio had found room for two more suns over our door and had roughed in the first colors.
“Oh! I love that color!” I told him.
There were two suns, side by side, and one of them was painted the blue-green color that I love. I showed him the approximately 11 to 13 bracelets I had on my wrist at the moment, all in shades of blue and green. Fabricio smiled. He kept painting.
Later in the afternoon, Fabricio had taken down his ladder. I stepped outside to see the finished project.
There were two suns: a smiling blue-green female sun with her eyes closed and a yellow male sun with bright blue eyes—just like Peter’s. I realized that none of this was by accident. Fabricio had painted the two of us, as suns, right outside our door.
“Thank you for the beautiful suns!” I told Fabricio as he was on his way out, arms full of paints and paintbrushes, paint splatters all over his T-shirt and face. “They are beautiful!”
That night, Jorge was sitting at the front desk. I told him how good the salmon was. He smiled. Then I told him that Fabricio had painted two suns—and they looked just like Peter and me!
Jorge smiled and nodded. He knew. Of course, he did.
Nothing happens in this hotel that Jorge does not know about. Peter and I wander around imagining all the gentle acts of kindness that surround us somehow happen by chance.
“Gracias,” I said.
I don’t know if he thought I was thanking him for the salmon or the suns or the accommodations that always feel like home or for simply creating this unique and wondrous place.
And it doesn’t matter.
Till next time,