The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, October 17, 2018, Page 8, Image 8

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
The Bunkhouse
Craig Rullman
The blessing
of the horses
San Miguel de Allende,
Mexico — If you are one
who cares about horses or,
as in my case, embrace an
unreasonable affinity for all
things equine, sooner or later
you are going to end up in
Mexico. This is particularly
true if you came of age in the
buckaroo traditions, because
caballeros from Spain and
Mexico are the fathers of
that Great Basin tradition.
I’ve wanted to visit San
Miguel de Allende since
the 1980s, when my grand-
dad — old cuss that he was
— was hired to train cutting
horses for the wealthy owner
of a fighting bull ranch here.
That’s when I first saw pic-
tures of the old man riding in
the charreada.
Charreada is the Mexican
version of a rodeo, composed
of nine events for men and
one for women — a wild and
synchronized affair known
as Escaramuza — and the
refined skill exhibited by
Mexican charros probably
has no peer anywhere in the
Which isn’t to say our
own fine cowboys and cow-
girls can’t give them a run for
their money, but it is difficult
to square off against vaque-
ros who cut their own strings
and weave their own reatas
one cowhide at a time, and
who can burn the fat off an
eight-plait braid when they
dally around those whimsi-
cal Mexican saddlehorns.
You won’t see that sort of
thing at the NFR.
My wife and I were hav-
ing dinner last night, ser-
enaded by the bells from
La Parroquia — a 17th-cen-
tury baroque cathedral that
dominates the central plaza
—and we were discussing
why it was, precisely, that I
had such a burning desire to
come down here and see all
of this.
The answer remains elu-
sive despite the obvious
draws: First among them,
a city that has emphasized
community over corpora-
tions and therefore retained
its small-town charm
through episodes of growth.
There is the exquisite cui-
sine served up without any
of the pretense that always
seems to come with great
food. There is the vibrant
arts scene that claims Frida
Kahlo as its mother and is
home to La Aurora, where
original Dalis, Eschers,
and Warhols hang in a con-
verted 19th-century factory.
There are the tight cobble-
stone streets jammed with
old-school mercados where
everything from pewter cow-
boy boots to hand-crafted
wool blankets with all natu-
ral dyes (alfalfa and mari-
gold are typical) are offered
for sale.
There is all of that, plus
a mood and a world-view
informed by the full spec-
trum of earthly colors and
rooted beneath the crown of
a central-highlands volcano,
all set down in a climate so
pleasant it was chosen by
the ancients for the north-
ernmost Meso-American
But none of those
delights really answer the
question. I can’t account for
what motivates anybody to
do what they do, sometimes
even myself, except that I
know this city and its inhab-
itants are rooted in the heart
of Mexican horse culture —
so much so that there is an
annual (and, I’m told, besot-
ted) blessing of the horses
Patti Adair for Deschutes
County Commissioner
Patti is endorsed by:
• Greg Walden, US Congressman
• Gene Whisnant,
Oregon State Representative
• George Endicott, Redmond City Mayor
• Beverly Clarno, former Oregon Senator
• Dennis Scott, La Pine Mayor
• Dennis Linthicum, Oregon Senator
• Phil Henderson, Deschutes County
Vote for Patti and vote for change!
Ad paid for by Friends of Patti Adair
on the plaza in front of La
Parroquia, when hundreds
of horsemen, muleskinners,
and donkey tamers con-
verge on the plaza serenaded
by mariachis and bandas
Sadly, it’s been hard to
completely escape the occa-
sional whiny American and
the baggage of their first-
world problems, which they
like to haul around with
them and put on display
almost everywhere they go.
SMA is home to a host
of American expats, some
of whom we regrettably
bumped into this morning
at Benito Juarez Park while
I was thumbing through
a marvelous collection of
photos from the Mexican
Revolution era: action shots
of Pancho Villa storming a
train with his ragtag com-
paneros, and marvelous still
photos of grinning revo-
lucionarios with rifles and
fiddles posing in front of a
dusty cantina.
The Americans were run-
ning about the park loudly
declaiming their own heri-
tage, which is I guess what
expats do even when it
makes them look ridiculous.
I found the diatribes jar-
ring and embarrassing, and
maybe even stupid, since
travelling the world while
bedecked in clothes and atti-
tudes the average Mexican
here will almost certainly
never afford, doesn’t have
the effect they seem to think
The horse culture of central Mexico is vibrant.
it does. Rather, it has a way
of morphing the apologetic
into the annoying, and the
politically righteous into the
pathetic — almost instantly.
Also, it’s a truism that
American expats of that sort
can’t handle Mexico in the
end. Neal Cassady, hero of
Kerouac’s masterpiece “On
the Road,” was found dead
here after a meth-fueled
attempt to count every rail-
road tie between Celaya and
San Miguel.
At any rate, I was
informed this morning
that most of the riders
who come into town for
the Perigranacion de los
Caballos are quite smashed
by the time they reach the
plaza in front of the church,
which I can only believe is
an appropriate condition
when lining up for the big
ominous dominus — given
that alcohol is a time-tested
catalyst for wild leaps of
It’s probably no acci-
dent that not far from here,
at Cañada de la Virgen, the
ancient ones lived by a lunar
calendar and sacrificed
human beings to gain their
own notion of a blessing
from the heavens.
And yet, even as some
questions must always
remain unanswered, within
minutes of arriving in San
Miguel I made a serendipi-
tous friend. Turns out he has
horses. And tomorrow we
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