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An American in Baja: Marguerite

An American in Baja: Marguerite
by Audrey Coffman

It’s a slow night at Juanita’s Cantina. The musicians are not inspired, the crowd is rather quiet and the mood is way too mellow. In walks Marguerite and the place perks up. She stops at table after table to greet and hug her friends, she grins at the band, they grin back and suddenly it’s a fiesta. Folks begin dancing, the band hits a groove and the noise level rises. Who is this woman?

Marguerite is petite, with a small face framed by a white page-boy, chin-length with bangs. She is so delicate-looking that I’m afraid to hug her too hard. When you chat with her, she leans into the conversation with enthusiasm and interest. She has a lovely sense of humor and seems to genuinely care about what you think and feel.

It’s intriguing to me that so many single women, as Marguerite is, have moved to Baja to live here full time. It’s an incredibly brave thing to do. For the woman who won’t live more than two miles from the mall, Baja must seem like living on Mars. Marguerite came down solo on a look-see when a letter came one day telling her she now owned a piece of property here on the ranch. She fell in love with the charm, the atmosphere and the sweetness of the Mexican residents. She’s been here in San Felipe for 16 years.

As a young woman, she did what most did back in the '50s and '60s. She married and had two children. Her husband was a professor of economics at Bucknell University, and she spent happy years as a faculty wife. He passed away in the '70s. She never remarried, says she never will, and, although her marriage was fulfilling and good back then, she doesn’t think she’s very good at the marriage thing now. That fact aside, she is a self-proclaimed “Romantic.” She’s been in love, been pursued in this and other countries, and been proposed to on at least one occasion. Can I mention the Spanish bullfighter, Marguerite? But you get the idea. She’s lived and loved authentically. And bravely.

If you never have the chance to meet her, you should check out the mural she and her buddy, Nancy Friend, painted at the Le Ventana Del Mar pool. It’s huge, colorful and very Baja. Half of it is an underwater depiction—all sorts of aquatic life—and the other half is the Baja terrain from the Pacific coast to the Sea of Cortez. More than the fine artistry of the project, more than the immensity of the work, we should acknowledge her deep love of Baja. It shows in every brushstroke.

For such a little lady, she leaves a large footprint in our sand.