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Another Eclipse

April 14, 2024

by Luisa Ruiz

I missed Mexico's last solar eclipse. At the time, back in 1991 I was 14-years-old. August would be my 15th birthday. But I didn't want to be the typical Mexican quinceañera, in a pompous dress, with chambelanes and a big party.

So, months in advance, I spoke to my parents months, asked them to send me on a trip, instead. One of my friends was scheduled to go on a 40-day trip to Europe, centered on an English course in Cambridge, with the last ten days visiting the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. I told my parents about this option and they agreed.

I would leave in mid-June and come back at the end of July. The eclipse would occur on July 11th, beginning in the Pacific around Hawaii and continuing through Mexico, Central America and South America, not making it to England. So I would miss it.

There was a lot of euphoria here in Mexico about that astronomical event. My mother, a UNAM high school teacher, was invited to collaborate on a related project, and went for several days to Baja where the eclipse was total.

I would have liked to see it. But I chose to go on my first trip to Europe. I don't regret it. That trip opened my eyes to other worlds and was the precursor to other travels to different corners of the planet.

Still, at the time, when television reporter Jacobo Zabludovsky announced that Mexico's next total solar eclipse would be on April 8, 2024, I determined not to miss it.

Thirty-three years later, on Monday, April 8, I woke up early to connect to a Zoom meeting. Then I had breakfast and prepared my small backpack for the eclipse expedition: special glasses that I bought on Friday for $60, sunscreen, a notebook and pencil, a blanket to lie down, walking sticks, water, a banana and an apple.

Unfortunately I could not travel to Sinaloa, Durango or Coahuila to witness the phenomenon in its entirety, but I could observe it from the mountain that is above Montes de Loreto, here in San Miguel.

I drove to the San Luis Rey neighborhood, parked my car and started walking. A year ago I discovered a path that goes to the top of the mountain, so at least I knew how to get there. In 20 minutes I arrived. I continued a little way until I saw a good spot to make camp, where there was a view of San Miguel. There, with a stone for my pillow, I spread out my blanket and lied down.

According to the publicity, the eclipse in San Miguel de Allende would start at 10:55am, peak at 12:14pm and end at 1:37pm. I had settled in just before the start. True enough, at 10:55 I saw the moon just beginning to cover the sun. It looked as if a small piece of the sun had been removed from its disk. Every 10 minutes or so, I would take another look, but only for a few seconds. In a notebook I made drawings of the position of the moon as it advanced across the sun.

I noticed that before, during and after the peak of the eclipse more dogs barking and more birds were singing. It was as if the birds thought it was the beginning or the ending of the day. I also noticed the temperature dropped a little. I took photos of the nature around me at the time but they really don't show the diminished light that existed at that moment.

I couldn't stay up there until it was all over. I had taken a break from moving my residence (I did say I was determined not to miss the eclipse) and at 2pm a friend was coming to help me with the task. So, at 1:20pm I began my descent. Fifteen minutes later I was at a taco stand where I ate two, the first with carnitas and the second with chicharron. And then I met up with my friend.

Not quite so stately as the sun and moon danced together for a couple of hours, for the next few days I danced my stuff across town. And with something less than celestial order, I'm sure that all of it will eventually settle into my new place.


Luisa Ruiz is a chemistry teacher, transpersonal psychotherapist, grief counselor and workshop facilitator, death doula. The Founder of Death Café in Mexico, she has worked for the NGO Uno en Voluntad giving grief workshops. She also worked for Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation as a course and workshop facilitator and as a death doula. She loves reading, writing, hiking and travelling.


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