Saturday night The Amigo Club — Guanajuato Night — held a celebration, a fund-raising dinner in the Rogue Room of the Southern Oregon University student union. An estimated 120 well-dressed or less so, ate and sat, mostly sat, played at the silent auction, wondered what their expensive dinner tickets would bring to their plates.

Sister cities, Ashland, Oregon, US of A and Guanajuato, Mexico. Usually sister cities are only lip service, lips seldom touching. But with sisters Ashland/Guanajuato it’s a deep lingering kiss — 48 years of warm-hugs interchange, shared visitors, shared high school and shared college students. It’s a good match with dedicated leadership, English/Spanish from both sides of the border.

Excellent appetizers were provided while dinner guests wandered around to up their bid at the silent auction and buy glasses of red and white donated wine. Those who really wanted an auction item would hang back to the last minute to add that last $5 increase to beat out the competitors.

Then, like at all such events: the recognition, the deserved thanks to many, the mini- and not so mini-speeches in English and Spanish; while we, the guests, wait, stare at our empty plates, hoping the appetizers will hold off our eager stomachs. It’s the wait price, beyond the dollars we are willingly to pay, but we still silently hoped that the speeches would be short.

First time for me, I learned that over a thousand students and professors have been exchanged between Ashland and Guanajuato over the years. With only three such Amigo Club evenings, $100,000 has been raised towards student exchange scholarships. Amazing!

Finally the program is over and the creative Mexican dinner arrives. The chef has successfully combined the Mexican with the exotic spices to present the salad (zucchini squash salad), main course (casserole with layers of tortilla, chilies, chicken, cheese and cream) and dessert (chopped walnuts, dried fruits a touch of tequila). A wonderful hibiscus drink with a splash of brandy was constantly flowing. We raved over the main course but I noticed the desert was not so successful at our table and neighboring tables. The Mexican sweetness is not what we are used to with our tradition of European sweet.

The dinner finale was chocolate coffee. I love coffee and I love chocolate, but the two, for me, don’t mix well — the slight hint of cinnamon touch provided no rescue. Our whole table sipped, but all stopped there.

Sister cities yes, but the Ashland/Guanajuato relationship seems more like a marriage or, at least, an uncle/aunt connection; but not like a crazy uncle, but supportive and loving uncles who learn and teach from each other, leaving each richer.

— Andy Anderson lives in Ashland.