The Cornish connections with Mexico are not as well documented as some other countries. With this in mind we invited Bridget Galsworthy Estavillo from Mexico City to be the latest subject of myCornish World.
Who are you?
My name is Bridget Galsworthy Estavillo. I live in a beautiful little town called Tepoztlan, some 90 kms. south of Mexico City, where I run a bookstore-cum-restaurant-cum-cultural centre.
Were you born in Cornwall?
Confession time: I was not born anywhere near Cornwall but in Athens, Greece where my father was serving in the British Embassy accompanied, obviously, by my mother who was definitely Cornish!
Can you tell readers about your home town?
Although I have lived all my life abroad, when we were children my parents always referred to Cornwall as ‘home’ and that became the one constant in our peripatetic lives. Within Cornwall three places had special and particular significance: Trewithen in Probus where my mother grew up, Cadgwith where we had a beautiful house that sadly burnt to the ground, and St Just-in-Roseland where my parents retired and where I was able to introduce my children to the wonders of Cornwall every year I returned for holidays there.
Where did you go to school?
Of the many schools I attended in different places, two bring back strong and pleasant memories: one was the village school in Grampound where, aged 7, I spent some six months while my parents were home on leave and the other was a boarding school in Oxfordshire where I spent 6 years. Grampound School was memorable for teaching me how to cope with pounds, shillings and pence!
What’s your best Cornish memory…
…as a child? Each time we would come to Cornwall, as we crossed the Tamar Bridge my mother would begin to tell us the stories and legends of the places we would drive through on our way: of the giants, the pixies, the pirates and highwaymen that were associated with each place. As far as I was concerned, the journey was never long enough to listen to these wonderful tales.
…as an adult? Passing on the same tales to my own children each time I would bring them to Cornwall! Also, the long, beautiful walks around Cornwall’s glorious coasts that are ‘part and parcel’ of any time spent in Cornwall.
How long has your family been in Cornwall?
I am not the family historian but I would hazard a guess for close to 300 years.
What makes you Cornish?
It is hard to define the real reasons that makes one identify oneself with a place or region, regardless of whether you were born there or not. In my opinion, it has to do with memories, with empathy, with an innate sense of belonging and of course, with the people that one has met and been inspired by and who come from that place. On that reckoning, I am as Cornish as anyone who was born within the county and proud to call myself so!
What is your favourite place to…
…Relax? With my back against a Cornish cliff, looking out to sea.
…Have fun? In one of the many great pubs in Cornwall.
…Take the kids? When they were younger, rock pooling in any of the coves around the Lizard was the greatest entertainment of all.
What’s your favourite Cornish food and drink?
A Cornish icecream with a milky flake on Pendower beach (or for that matter, any beach in Cornwall!).
And Scrumpy is, in my opinion, one of the great drinks of the world.
Where do you live now and what do you do?
I have lived in Mexico for close to 40 years and no doubt will continue to do so for the rest of my days! I have a bookstore which has become an important venue for all manner of cultural activities and that keeps me extremely busy. And I keep my hand in with the editorial/publishing world where I worked for many years.
How do you stay Cornish when out of Cornwall?
For close to 6 years I have been deeply involved in a project to restore and preserve the beautiful Cornish cemetery in Real del Monte, a small town high in the mountains north of Mexico City, where during the 19th century, miners from Cornwall arrived to work the great silver mines of the area. The 700-odd graves, many of them with inscriptions bearing testimony to their Cornish origins, are a beautiful monument to the determination and valour of these miners, the hardships and tragedies but also the happiness and cultural evolution that marked their lives. With generous support from the British Society in Mexico, from members of the Cornish Mexican Cultural Society in Cornwall and now from the township of Real del Monte, we have been able to restore the dignity and beauty of this special corner of Cornwall overseas.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A special thanks to all those people in Cornwall who have so generously reached out and helped us in so many ways with the above-mentioned project and in the process, have re-enforced my pride in being able to call myself Cornish.
myCornwall magazine has subscribers in twenty seven different countries across the globe and we love to hear from our overseas readers. If you’d like to appear as the subject of the myCornish World feature, why not get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org
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