I have traded Oaxacan (whuh-ha-ken) chocolate shaved atop the foam of my cappuccino and a sun that’s rays go past the skin and straight to your bloodstream, for drip coffee and a predictable clientele at most any coffee shop in Seattle, old or new. I left Mexico with a few surprises yet to be uncovered and returned to the comfort of familiar faces in Seattle, rain to build an ark for, followed now by the bluest of blue skies of May. It is a mezcla mix, but I’m glad to be here, and loved being there.
University of Washington Campus, Seattle, WA
Before I left for Merida in August my Dr. had told me “Do not, I mean, do NOT take Vitamin D while in Mexico. You will get plenty naturally.” Weather today in Merida is 102 with ~80% humidity. I don’t regret leaving sooner than planned, but I do find it odd to be nearing the end of the teaching year and walking Greenlake instead of my old Colonia Maya.
Going to Oaxaca, the most southern region of Mexico, despite some challenges was one of the best experiences I’ve had yet in these four decades of life.
My brain is still overloaded by looking at the boxes in my storage unit marked “Kitchen appliances” and “Office supplies/Printer stuff” when I’m trying to find a lighweight jacket and clothes for an interview. I have been roving between the homes of my welcoming generous friends and started to professionally pet and house-sit. Airbnb is a lifesaver, too! Somehow even with the stress of this arrangement, on most days it is still worth it.
As opposed to finding certainty of what I want to do next, and where I want to do that, I’m finding some of what I don’t want, or at least do not want yet. I’ve been applying for jobs of all ranges, hoping to get something I can do remotely at least some of the time with flexibility to travel and focus on writing more. The corporate world and more stability may be what I try and return to at some point, but for now some temping is working out okay as I continue the search. Most importantly with this much uncertainty, I need to get some form of certain grounding every day and for me a walk and a friend, and being a friend, is the formula that helps.
I’ve read people like lists, I know I do. So here you go!
Best things about Mexico
- Fresh Tortillas. Both those made by hand on a hot comal every morning, noon and night by a Señora in a floral tattered apron, and the tortilleria with the mechanized “hot off the press” stacks of fresh tortillas, weighed and stacked by young men who take the task seriously.
Walking to the tortilleria, the anticipation, the waiting in line with a basket lined with a fresh dish towel into which the amount of any range, exactly 8 tortillas or 1 whole kilo, are placed atop the towel in your basket then folded over, covering the most simple, decadent and necessary of corn creations.
- Sunsets. I was taken at how stunning the sunsets are even in the big cities and suburbs, let alone those beach and mountainous vistas. Yellow, pink and orange layers painting the skyline.
- The people. Despite the news, the weather, the economic standings, the annoyances which are on some days abundant, Mexicans have a graciousness and jovial attitude that is comforting and catching. They love to play and celebrate within the everyday, including the hardships of life. Just look at Dia de los Muertos.
- Multi-sensory treats 24/7. From the rooster crow to the smell of the panaderia and the truck driver on his bullhorn blaring out “Agua” to the view of the hillside with its overgrown bougainvillea and little tic tac painted casitas, all by 7am upon opening one’s door, it is a feast for the senses all day every day. Color, warmth, love and light.
- Spanish. Poco a poco nosotros mejorar. Little by Little we improve. Why does it sound so much better in Spanish? I don’t know. But to my ears and tongue the joy in hearing and speaking this language continues to draw me in. My accent improved measurably, my grammar continues to exist on proper rules and really bad habits, I get my point across and a forgiving people and language keep me going.
Best things about being back in the U.S.A., specifically the Pacific Northwest, precisely Seattle
- Crossing Streets. I don’t fear for my life when crossing a street. I know the signals are obeyed if I keep a watchful eye. Should something go wrong, the government likely has my back.
- Green, green, fresh air and clean. Don’t get me wrong, houses and streets are swept and scrubbed daily in Mexico, but exhaust, dust and bugs also thrive daily.
- My friends and family. The generosity and support for me on this journey has exceeded anything I could expect or knew how much I needed and still do. And I get to be a part of what each of you are up to, what is new, same, changing.
- Freedom. Mexico is a Democracy with a level of lawlessness. This can be both an attraction and a deterrent for living there. One can go and do as one pleases, but there is a sense that the officials, both low and high ranking could re-direct your course at any point in time, this is true for Mexican nationals and visitors. It may be for a day by taking away your car until you provide some prior unknown needed piece of paper to entirely uprooting a family without good explanation. Money seems to be the underlying motivator and resolver and with lack of money for all involved, it is simply an unfortunate system in place.
- Pride. I can still say this is a good place to be from and to live, despite the other Washington.
This blog and your readership has helped my journey immensely! Wherever this finds you- be safe, and let all those sensory treats in!