Love in the Old Days

Gabriel Fonseca

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Baja California Sur is perfect for love. It is a land full of minerals and great energy that many call paradise.

 

Before the mid-twentieth century, San Jose del Cabo was a very romantic town where any romance was news. The city was home to ancient traditions from all over the world and people’s background mattered, as well as their means.

It was practically like living on an island. Finding a future often meant leaving to study or work elsewhere in the country. As a result, romances were often interrupted just when things where getting good. Back then, lovers communicated with the soft and elegant words of handwritten letters. Love, promises, kisses and hugs traveled in envelopes over the sea.

A story is told of a beloved village mailman, Manuelito, who toyed with the emotions of young ladies anxiously awaiting the delivery of love letters. Manuelito would pass by holding a letter and announce that he had it, but keep going to deliver the rest of the mail around town. When he finally returned, the women were waiting in despair.

Part of the romance was the elegant vintage clothing. Despite the heat, it was a town that dressed up for any occasion, especially if a photograph would be taken at the event. No portrait was casual, even if it meant going to the beach or to the movies.

Cupids favorite place was the dances in the town square. Every night was special in the Mijares Garden. The combined scent of the flowers, the delicate perfumes of the beautiful ladies and the strong colognes of the gentlemen were an aphrodisiac carried by the evening breeze. Romantic news was patiently updated on the benches in the town square. However, the bustle would grow and when the first Danzon was played, love was ready to bloom.

The beautiful women strolled together around the pavilion to the beat of classic pieces such as Juarez and Nereidas. They jockeyed for the best positions to meet face-to-face with the handsome men who did the same while trying to exchange looks. One would never know whether the laudatory flower would be delivered in the first or the last round of dances or if the woman would be left to dance with nothing but an illusion.

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Couples seated on the benches in the square were at risk of having their romance interrupted by a police officer and taken to jail where they would pay a fine to the judge of the charity fair. It was considered a game the village played to raise funds.

In less hectic days, courtship took much longer and there were protocols to follow. The groom visited his beloved at her home and always under the watchful eye of the mother-in-law. She oversaw the visit like a chef would watch a culinary dish. She let the dish reach the right temperature then punctually intervene so as not to let it burn.

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As everything has its counterpart, the furtive encounters added suspense, intrigue and passion to each idyll. There were also many places where living in an unspoiled paradise with magical sunsets, secluded beaches, tropical heat, an estuary that was a beautiful spa, nights without electricity and a universe full of stars created the perfect opportunity for romantic escapes.

In every village there is always a story that is handed down. For San Jose del Cabo, it is the legend of the woman who died of love. There is a grave in the town pantheon and the headstone is inscribed with these words:

 

Cold and unfeeling under this stone Sad victim of the angry Grim Reaper A young beauty rests rigid With tenderly wept tears It was her death early and pitiful. Mortal, if you have known love Place on this stone a rose.

 

The truth is that a young woman named Adelina died during the birth of her first child. Her husband, a young Portuguese, inscribed the tombstone in honor of his beloved.

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As the song goes, “It will take a thousand years and many more.” Love will always be an endless history and our paradise is a lovely place to live in romance.

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