Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mark's Mexico

I'm not sure what I got myself into here. Late at night when I wake up in our temporary home and stare up at the cupola above our bed, my mind cranks out scenes of certain failure and a gruesome death. The gears turn and my confidence and the sense of unlimited possibilities that I felt during the day turn to nightmares of doom.

The inside of my head

I'm the type of person that likes routine and things I can count on, the familiar. For me, here in San Miguel, this is the antithesis of that idea. And though I know intellectually that overcoming my fear of the unfamiliar is an important personal challenge for me, one that I willingly accept and desire, it's still a huge struggle and conflicts with my overriding base interest to be comfortable and at peace.

So, I concentrate on the culture, observing the ways of the people. I learn the terrain and become very familiar with the map of the city memorizing as many street names as possible. I study my Spanish lessons with a clear focus and I do all of these things in the interest of fitting in and assimilating and ultimately replacing my old comforts and familiar routines with new. Reacquiring my sense of peace in a new land with new ways.

When you need it and where
Very accessible
While these late night feelings of terror soon dissipate with the morning sun and I resume my activities to pursue a permanent place to live and a new career, I can't help but occasionally be reminded of my late night fears for brief moments now and again. Especially when I struggle with my very poor Spanish to make myself understood. But here in San Miguel, I don't stay self centered for long as there is so much real life going on around me all the time. My objectivity is reinforced by marching bands with mojigangas that come out of nowhere, crowds of revelers trailing behind celebrating who knows what. Fireworks set off for no apparent reason light up the night and break through the normal noise of barking dogs, screaming kids and traffic, with startling percussive. As a handyman I'm also distracted and curious about the way the trades people apply their crafts, especially the electricians. Always interesting and usually amusing. For some reason, these things help keep me grounded and out of my head.


On the other hand, Mexico is the perfect place for my personality type. The surreal sense of place here allows for wakeful dreaming, a way to lose myself. I walk down the cobbled street back home into the glare of the sun and pass a teenage boy sitting at the step of the darkened doorway to his home, a fighting cock held on his lap. The sharp angle of the sun highlighting the colors of the golden bronze feathers with steel blue highlights. His white dog stands beside him following me as I pass with pale blue eyes. Further on an old drunk Mexican man resides at the curb nursing a home made drink in a plastic soda bottle. He calls to me as I pass, "Mijo!" and I don't understand the rest of his inebriated plead. My first impulse is to ignore him and carry on but something in his voice tells me to regard him with respect and I see he's pointing to the white plastic cap that goes to his bottle. It's somehow rolled to the center of the street. I turn back and get it for him, placing it in his weathered hand, and he acknowledges my sympathy with more unintelligible words. I move on and reflect on the exchange and feel glad I took the time to help. This is my Mexico.

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