There’s something wonderful about waking up to the sound of birds chirping and palm trees rustling in the warm breeze… in December – even when sharing a small, concrete room with the occasional cockroach. For the winters of 2009-2013 I experienced the endless summer in a small Mexican surf town.
I still remember walking down the artisans’ street for the first time. They kept their heads down, twisting wire with their plyers or hands stitching leather behind their tables. They were totally blissed out, needing nothing more than the moment. Maybe everyone in the world wouldn’t look at that lifestyle and wish it was their own, but at that time my single travelling soul wanted just that: to learn to make jewellery out of the love of it, with no pattern. It’s no coincidence that the word jewellery in Spanish is “Joyaria.”
Although my Spanish was minimal, it wasn’t long into my little adventure before I was sitting behind my table learning to twist wire from those artisans. I learned from watching their techniques and forcing myself to learn the language quickly. Some of them were tough. “If you don’t learn this the first time, I’m not showing you again,” and “if you can’t understand me, we can’t be friends.” Needless to say, I can speak Spanish now, with sarcasm, slang and terms of endearment. They taught me to always evolve my work as I became more confident in the skill, hence my name: EVOLve jewelery.
We would set up our tables in the morning around 10 o’clock, with greetings of hugs and kisses, and “Animo!” which lovingly means “let the spark within you glow.” Monthly, stone dealers would arrive from the mines loaded with colourful stones and we would gather around like kids to an ice cream truck choosing our treasures by colour and shape. One Christmas Eve day a woman (from Calgary!) commented on how great my English was!
Every summer I returned back to Canada, somewhere different each time, with my stones, wire and plyers in tow; Vancouver Island, a guest ranch, oil camp, and eventually returning back to Fernie after seven years. I can say Fernie and that little Mexican town are the only two places in the world to have captured my heart. Walking down the main street here or there, I feel the contentment of knowing I am where I am supposed to be at that time in my life.
The summer I returned to Fernie I was not into winter and excitedly bought my ticket in July for a November return to Mexico. That evening, I met a Fernie man. A sweet, bearded, blue-eyed snow-worshipping Fernie man. Although I still returned to Mexico on my scheduled departure date (gypsy ladies, you can relate) I came back mid-March, on the Greyhound, 4:20 am, in minus -30 degrees to my beloved mountain man in the death grip of winter. It must have been love.
Trading those rustling palm trees for scraping windshields, the table by the beach for a table at my first Griz Days, things have certainly changed. But no matter where I am, I’ve always got my joyaria and my animo. This summer I spent every weekend at the Baynes Lake market and the Fernie markets, selling my twisted wire stones, and feather earrings with my head down, my pliers, content and totally blissed out, wanting nothing more than the moment…
Thank you Fernie for being so beautiful in and out, supporting local artists and all things creative, and to my mountain man for understanding how this gypsy soul took four months to say goodbye to the ocean two years ago. Animo!