Up On Calle Comercio’s Roof

78… A rooftop that lives and breath all things Álamos…

Nuzum roof top garden across the street ffom Bishop Reyes Catheral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum's garden across the street from Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

Here, in the shadow of cathedral bells and angelic choirs was a multi-purpose
rooftop garden. A narrow wrought iron caracol, snail, spiral staircase led one
up from a back patio with a small pool to an expansive array of raised planter
boxes. Elizabeth Nuzum enjoyed people, her home, her gardens and life in Álamos.
For many, her husband Pember and Elizabeth were Álamos greeters, welcoming visitors
inside the old wood doors on Calle Comercio. Elizabeth designed and managed her
gardens while Pember kept an eye on the household finances.

Flowers and Sierra de Alamos from Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

20 feet above the street one can hold a conversation with passing clouds.

The roof top garden and its 360 degree views was a special place. The sky at
night, with stars there to be touched while one laid back on a substantial
Sonoran cot, was a connection to all things in all places. Rooftop
eavesdropping on the comings and goings along Calle Comercio and Calle
Guadaloupe Victoria tuned one in with the heartbeats of Alamos: Bishop
Reyes Cathedral, Palacio, Plaza de Las Armas, Mercado, all points of
the compass and all events past and present.

Nuzum roof top garden looking east at Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mirador voices, at times, arrived here with a favorable wind.

Let me count the sounds I heard up on the roof: uniformed school kids
walking in groups, talking, laughing, singing, stepping off rhythms,
kicking balls, kids being all things kids. Occasional horse hoofs
echoing on cobblestone streets. Music from rattling car and truck
radios ricocheting off narrow streets. Surround sound bird songs
and calls punctuated by barking dogs, working hammer and saws and
distant braying burros. All combinations of people passing by: one,
two, or three generations together talking, workers, errand runners,
neighbors en-route to visit neighbors or hang out in the Plaza,
shop at the Alameda and Mercado or attend to business at the Palacio
or… This garden overlooked the center of Centro Alamos’ rainbow
of expression: joy, surprise, acceptance, expectations, anger,
yearning, anticipation. greetings, farewells…

Christina Vega on Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A young girl picks flowers on the roof, a simple moment, a simple smile.

Christina Vega, daughter of Chacho and Cammie, sister of Gaspar, walked
in all worlds Álamos. Her Mexican blood was Chaco’s large family and
her American blood was Cammie’s parents Elizabeth and Pember and brother
Kit who came to visit from his world travels. Cammie and Chacho lived
modestly on Calle Ninos Heroes, a short walk from the grand roof top
garden on the the other side of Guadaloupe Hill.

Christina Vega and church from Nuzum roof, alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

What does Christina see, and hear, on this spring day in 1984?

The roof’s northwest corner, with a view into the Plaza and Gazebo, was
across the street from the bank. At opening time a line of people would
be waiting sharing conversation. Daily masses brought people to the
church’s eastern door. Funerals processions would leave the church and
passed by as they headed east to the Panteon – Cemetery. Police headquarters,
at times busy, were three houses to the east on Calle Comercio. Tourists
speaking English, French, German and other languages would stop and chat
as they headed to and from surrounding lodging. At night, one could listen
to quitar playing coming from Polos restaurant’s kitchen as well as the
Estudiantina practicing at the Museum. At this moment Christina is listening
to the public serenade that is Álamos.

Pember told Anders, “always call us Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.” And Anders has.

Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum were a major part of the North American
Community for decades. Their casa next to the Church on Calle
Comercio #2 greeted many many who visited Álamos, including Anders.
It is not uncommon to have rain squalls in December. And it was
common to hear Pember playing his theater organ in the Nuzum music
room. Those days are gone. But the spirit lingers, it always does.

A parade of lights brings song and joy to colonial Alamos streets during Christmas.

We see a traditional Posada visiting from house to house and arriving
at Casa de los Tesoros where children in their holiday attire play and
adult family take in another Christmas in Álamos. It is a tradition.
Another scene is a trip to the Alameda.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

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