Inhospitable San Miguel Dream

Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:

I have decided that I want to return to San Miguel de Allende, where I had lived for awhile several years earlier. To that end, I am seated in the passenger seat of a 1970s era white Dodge that has seen better days. Someone I do not know is driving the car. There are projection screens alongside the car on both sides, and on both screens we see grainy, black and white, second unit film footage from old road pictures. Mostly, we see passing by us scenes from Latin America, Africa, and Tahiti from around the 1940s, so that it looks like we are driving beside peasants carrying baskets, thatched-roof huts in varying degrees of disrepair, and jungle foliage being torched to clear the space for farms. Though in reality we are driving a few blocks on what seems to be a Universal lot attraction, the projection screens are meant to convey long distance travel into a foreign and dangerous locale. The driver swerves now and then to suggest that he is forced by rough terrain to go around obstacles on the road. In fact, the road is paved and straight. This is a make believe adventure on a perfectly safe stretch of road. It would be more believable, and thus thrilling, if these effects were better. The problem is that the movie screens are obviously what they are, and the abrupt swerves and bumps upon the road feel as manufactured as they are.

We eventually drive into San Miguel de Allende. It is the middle of the night, as we rattle down Ancha de San Antonio. The driver idles the Dodge alongside where the restaurant, Hecho en Mexico, used to be back when I lived there. The building is gone, and the weed covered terrain is surrounded by a barbed wire fence. It is the same kind of fencing used when an old gas station has been removed. I get out of the car, and stare into that patch of land where once I had enjoyed so many meals and entertainment at that restaurant. I am heartbroken to see that it is gone. The Rosewood Hotel is still located there beyond where the restaurant had stood, but it is pitch black and eerily silent. I suspect that if the moon were to shine on the Rosewood it would look as decrepit as a building abandoned to the elements years before.

I turn around and notice that there is no traffic on the Ancha de San Antonio. This is odd, for even though it is late at night there was always some traffic on this stretch of road. As far as I look down the road from where I came I cannot see any headlights. As I tuck my hands into my jacket pockets, I cross the main boulevard, and wander over to where the Cafe Monet had been way back when. The building is still there, but the cafe also seems to have been abandoned. Back when I lived in San Miguel de Allende, Cafe Monet used to sponsor a dinner and movie night on this same night every week. By around this time expats would be stepping out from Cafe Monet having watched an American, British, or French art film. That is not happening now. The art film crowd is long gone.

I walk back to the idling Dodge. Without saying a word I return to the passenger seat. My driver continues further into San Miguel de Allende in search of a place for me to stay for the night. As we slowly rattle down the cobblestone streets, I open my window and look for any indications of life. The town is totally dark, and no one is outside, but occasionally I hear people inside their Spanish colonial homes whispering to one another like scared rats. They are imprisoned behind dark, cramped walls, and they are weary of anyone like myself still willing and able to venture out into the night.

Eventually, the Dodge idles in front of a large home that is architecturally out of sync with the Spanish colonial town. It resembles the Brady Bunch home from the 1970s sitcom. I leave the driver behind without saying a word, and step through the unlocked front door. The home is well lit. Indeed, this is the first sign of electricity I have seen since we drove into San Miguel de Allende. There are a lot of expats milling around the living room. They all look tense and disheveled, and I get the impression that they are refugees inside of a detention area more than expats inside of a bed and breakfast. They are clustered close together in groups, and for the most part the groups do not intermingle with each other. Rather than experiencing the camaraderie that may arise from shared circumstances, I sense that they are competing with one another over access to the limited beds that are to be found here. The expats are not loud. Nor are they outwardly aggressive, but their whispered disdain for one another is palpable. I feel uncomfortable the moment I step inside the foyer, and I try not to look at any one of the aggrieved expat groups directly.

The host is an elderly, skinny, bespectacled expat with a clipboard. He is affable enough, but he is careful not to guarantee me anything. I vaguely sense that I have a partner with me. I am not thinking of my driver, who is going to remain outside in the idling car, so my travel companion may be a friend who is just now coming to my mind. Regardless, I shall need a space for two. The host escorts me into a back room. It is a vast warehouse with a long line of bunkbeds. I feel like I am back in the barracks at Camp Roberts. The walls and the floor do not seem to have been painted or even washed in decades. There is an old interrogation lamp above every one of the bunkbeds, but the spaces in between the brilliantly lit beds remain as dark and foreboding as ever. There are two pillows upon the floor in front of one of the bunkbeds. My companion and I can curl up on the pillows, for that is all that is available. Otherwise, there is no room in the inn.

I am back in the United States. I am lying on my stomach on top of my bed at home, and I am on the phone. Beside my bed is an oval conference room table, and the boss where I work is seated at the head of the table. His sycophantic managers are seated there and listening attentively as he chews them out for one reason or another. I pretend to be very busy with my call in the hopes he will not notice me. He fires his managers one by one as his beady eyes turn red, and as his face contorts into the semblance of a devil. He never addresses me, and I continue with my business call.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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