Power to the Bilingual Speakers

83… Life’s details float away like flower petals on a breeze…

Bougainvillea and the church dome in the background, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

There are many reasons why North Americans have chosen to call Alamos home.

One of the healthy aspects of living in Álamos, or anywhere, for bilingual speakers is the byproduct of using two, or more, languages on a consistent basis. The Executive Control System of the brain manages information while focusing on what is relevant at the moment and discarding unnecessary distractions.

Bilinguals manifest a cognitive system with the ability to attend to important information and ignore the less important,” Ellen Bialystock, cognitive neuroscientist.

Summer vines grow up cactus, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

With all that can be seen the focus turns to a summer blooming vine.

Every time a bilingual speaks, both languages popup and the executive control system determines what is relevant and how to respond. This process rewires the brain. In a study of 400 Alzheimer patients, bilinguals, on average, show symptoms five or six years later. The bilingual can cope with the disease longer. When one actively uses two languages they are performing healthy brain calisthenics. All in a day for bilingual ex-patriots.

Sunflower on Guadaloupe Hill, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Unfolding miracles are there to be seen in the exquisite detail of living matter.

Álamos, Sonora, Mexico is a wonderful place for native English speakers to exercise a second language, Spanish, as they go about their daily routines. It is also beneficial for their native Spanish speaking neighbors and friends to use English whenever the opportunity arises. During my stays several residents saw me as someone they could practice their English with, or on. They were extending their English vocabularies by speaking and listening. I took part in some very entertaining, and humorous, conversations when the languages became intermixed: juxtaposed meanings, mutated intents and convoluted requests. The art of verbal communication is a forgiving trial by fire for burgeoning bilinguals. Where there is a word, or gesture, there is a will, or connection.

A Way of Life
Behold a Cornucopia of Color, Shapes, Textures and Scents.The flora of Álamos is the many splendors of Sinaloan tropical forest and Sonoran desert living together in unexpected harmony. Many properties have gardeners watering, pruning, consulting, planting, cutting, raking, commiserating, trimming and… year round. Flowers and vegetables are planted in November for winter blooms and crops that last until May or June’s heat.

Mangos, papayas, bananas, palms, amapas, orchidias and other trees provide food and shelter for native and migrating birds. Cascades of colors come from flowering vines: blue veracruzana, orange trumpet, red, magenta and orange bougainvilla and… And the smells and scents that envelope one’s senses… Formal, informal… it all contributes to this symphony and riot that is the passing seasons in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.
Photos, editing and produced by Anders Tomlinson. Music is “Jardin de Colores”, written and performed by Samuel Delatorre Dorame, from his 2013 CD “Memorias de Alamos, Sonora.”

Summer is the Alamos season of vibrant color, rains and nights of natural magic and wonder.
Lightening on a warm Alamos summer evening is a show to remember. The romantic Plaza is a wonderful vantage point. Rolling thunder punctuates child’s play and lovers embraces.

This is a Blessed Season for a Multitude of Reasons.
In mid-afternoon the air pressure begins to drop and a stiff wind sweeps the valley from the west, a storm is coming. Night falls and showers start. We go from the Plaza to the Alameda and back. The following day the sun comes out and then is covered by clouds. Kids play and men work gathering sand in the arroyos. A summer day can be complex in its textures and atmospheres.

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