Living in Mexico

     We met Juana 23 years ago at her soda shop next to the Chapala Pemex. She seemed pretty old then because of her grey-white hair, but who knew? I mean, one glance into her eyes and anyone could tell she was ageless.
     Her business was selling sodas in bottles over an adobe counter. You had to have an empty bottle to exchange for a full one or you paid a lot more. For years a bottle of soda cost right around 7 cents American, devaluation or no devaluation.
     Out friend Juana was just one of the many beautiful older local Mexican women who have walked through a life full of burdens and cared for generations of children. She worked hard, prayed hard and - in the end - grew strong. By the time we met her, practically everything had been burned away from Juana except pure spirit. She was a beacon and firebrand to me.
     For years we hung out with her a few minutes, sometimes hours, almost every day, and as I write this I realize how much I do miss her now that she's gone. Juana, who always smiled and laughed, always showed she cared and always sparkled like sun on an ocean swell-that's my idea of the royal purple female.