I had a strange encounter the first time I went to Pátzcuaro.
Pátzcuaro is a beautiful village in the center of Mexico known for its rich Indigenous and Spanish colonial heritage. At an altitude of 7,020 feet, it’s not the Mexico many Americans think of when they think of Cancun or Cabo San Lucas. It’s an artisans’ town in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, beloved for its handicrafts, particularly its Day of the Dead crafts. Deemed a Pueblo Mágico (magic village) by Mexico’s department of tourism, it was mostly visited by weekenders from Mexico City when my mom and I went there 17 years ago.
One day, we walked up an ancient side street from the Plaza Grande to the Temple Sagrario.
We each bought embroidered pillowcases and a Catrina figurine along the way, then stopped for a drink next to an outdoor market.
Across from us sat someone with the most intensely piercing eyes I’ve ever seen — by far the clearest and bluest eyes I’ve ever come across — eyes that glistened like sapphires with the clarity of supernatural intelligence, eyes that bored into my soul. This clairvoyant took a drink of my marrow that lasted minutes and plumbed the subterranean recesses of my being.
A soul penetration of that magnitude is not something one usually experiences in life. In death, perhaps, because it was as if Thoth and the 42 judges who preside over the Hall of Truth in the Egyptian afterlife were weighing my heart.
It was even more as though this other-than-human could see the after-death movie that shows you every single thing that ever happened in your life — every trial, every tribulation, every joy, every achievement, every loss, every honor, every transgression, every blessing, everything.
I think if you asked this haunt what engendered him to overstep ordinary observation, he would have said he was compelled to because he recognized me and was driven to appraise the development of my soul since we last met.
If he was Mexican — say, from Mexico City — his heritage was entirely European, as he had none of the features of Indigenous peoples of Mexico. If he was from Europe, I guessed his native land to be Spain, or maybe Basque Country. But his otherworldly bearing told me he was not bound by the figment of nationality.
And while this force with lapis eyes was as young as I was, he was old.
“So not all vampire lore can be true,” I thought, because he was sitting outside in the sun in the middle of the day.