"They're inviting us over to their house,"
my husband whispered covering the mouthpiece
on the payphone.
on the payphone.
"Get me a pen!"
We had been in Yucatán for a couple of months and had spent that morning
examining the murals in the Governor's Palace
on the main plaza of the sultry city of Mérida.
After Yucatán comida under the portales,
we found a small art museum with a disorienting string of
that seemed to go on forever.
There were elaborately embroidered Mayan dresses and
huipils on display,
as well as paintings, carvings, sculptures, prints,
We were drawn to one artist over and over again,
room after room, medium after medium.
As we left, my husband noticed a small office with a man
working at his desk.
We knocked and were cordially invited in.
My husband handed him a piece of paper
with the name of the artist jotted down
and asked if he knew anything about this artist.
What did we know—it was the artist of international
prominence who painted the murals in the
Palace of the Governors on the plaza.
"Sí, Señor, el artista Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Aquí es su número de teléfono,
si te gusta, puedes llamarlo."
(Yes, sir, the artist is Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Here is his phone number, if you like you can call him.)
Next thing we knew, we were being whisked by taxi
the few blocks to his home.
His gracious wife invited us in and made us a cold liquado.
Fernando was still working out on his treadmill
and would join us shortly.
We chatted, eagerly awaiting his arrival.
He was handsome, regal, down-to-earth,
witty, gracious and—incredibly sexy.
I was instantly smitten.
He was also 80.
We hit it off.
My husband spoke Spanish fluently and we had no trouble communicating.
He and his wife couldn't have been more charming.
We laughed and responded to their curiosities
about our lives and asked about his.
He took us to his studios and showed us what was laying around
and what he was working on.
La Dueña gave us a tour of the home which was studded
with his magnificent artwork.
He never tried to sell us a thing, but we pried a book
and a print for my husband's 50th birthday present
from them before leaving.
La Escalara 1956
We lost track of time and were leaving Mexico
in the morning,
so when the sun started to go down
we excused ourselves and I asked if I
could take a photo of them to remember the day.
Of course, they said.
On our way to the gate we walked through the garden.
They pointed out their favorite flowers
and Fernando picked a handful of jasmine
blossoms and put them in my hand.
I kept them until they turned to dust.
To this day, that afternoon in Mérida remains
one of the highlights of my life.
And, I am still hopelessly smitten with
Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Flash forward about 15 years. . .
. . .the husband is now 'ex'. . .
Don Fernando continues to live in Mérida
and should be about 94 years young.
I hope to get back to see him again.