I’ve been backpacking through Mexico for a while and will probably be here for another month. I mean, why not -my job has been furloughed and the IRS was super kind to me this year. Currently renting a tiny apartament in a local area on an island, battling microscopic ants and one large cockroach who met his end this morning and was breakfast for a dog named Petra. I find solace in bicycling around the island and not speaking English for many days at a time. Before I got to Mexico I was starting to feel a bit better and was doing some work on the side, but there was still a dark cloud over me. Now, I swim in the ocean, laugh, enjoy my freedom. I enjoy flexing my muscles with language because when at home I get lazy and only speak English. Mexico used to be my home many years ago and it kind of still feels like it. The people here are kind, funny, creative, intellectual, down-to-earth, wonderful for the most part – I get emotional when I see the rhetoric, the propaganda, the media in the United States painting a portrait of *all* Mexicans as criminals, thieves, interlopers. Meanwhile they are caring for our children, painting our houses, picking and processing every morsel of food that goes in our mouths, cleaning buildings in the middle of the night. Untouchables who are terrorized by the immigration laws to keep quiet. Every time I give my money to a Mexican it’s like a fuck you to the US government and I’m not going to lie: it makes me feel good.
The island that I’m currently on used to be a stop for cruise ships but now the cruise ships are gone. The people have struggled because of it but now they have different kinds of tourists, the ones who didn’t want to come before- they are doing okay. It now has the vibe of a peaceful town again. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the giant ships show up full of fat pink people demanding tequila. But for now, it is heaven. The Carribean Sea washes over me. I rush on my gearless bike through the swampy area, chasing the sun to avoid the saltwater crocodiles that hide in the reeds. The birds swoop over me and the vultures come out, surveying the scene.
update: on another island now. People still magical, sea still beautiful. Apartment even better, no bugs this time. Roof garden is where I sit and occasionally wave at the old guy across the street.
So the question is: can I stay here forever? In my mind it sounds perfect but in practicality it isn’t. Once the hurricanes hit you’re going to feel differently about living here. If you get into an accident or very sick no one’s going to come for you in a fancy van and drive you to a hospital. It will probably be someone in the neighborhood who was kind enough to put you in their car and take you. (In Mexico, the casual phrase for people is “brother” and “sister” because that’s how they treat each other and you.) Your stuff might be invaded by insects and/or mildew. You might find a scorpion or two in your shower. You have to disinfect the water every time you cook because it is not fit for human consumption. You will brush your teeth from a water bottle, you will not open your mouth in the shower ever again. Nonetheless, you will probably get a mild parasite at least once. Once you have it, you will know what it is. But, unlike the United States, they don’t extort sick people for money here. You can walk into a clinic at any time without an appointment and they will give you the medicines you need for a reasonable price. You are going to see some garbage piles here and there and human life just beaten down from the moment they were born. But isn’t North America pretty much the same? You will also see wonderfully creative homes, artfully built, incorporating nature, practicality and art. You will hear music playing and children yelling intermingled with sassy barking dogs almost everywhere. You’ll see the most interesting of indigenous animals and experience wonders of nature only available here. You will experience a fusion of devout Catholicism and ancient mysticism. You will make friends with total strangers who will offer you help, give you food, and lead you to their favorite bike repair guy.
I realized recently that I went for several days *and now weeks* without wanting to self medicate to get through the stress that is life. The Achilles heel injury that I acquired by doing ballet on the beach (without stretching) back in March, healed the moment I arrived here. The simple life agrees with me. Nature, kind-hearted people, no harsh pavements littered with used syringes, dirty air, and tall buildings where I am now. But I will go home eventually. As I listen to the symphony of grackles and joyful trill of the Tirano Pirirí outside my window while eating beautiful mangoes – it’s hard to imagine going back to San Francisco. But being an adult requires certain things. I don’t take it for granted that I have the precious, coveted US citizenship, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not always happy there. I’ve been wandering this Earth for decades because it grants me something that I can’t get from just staying at home: a sense of how other communities really live, a sense of how we’re all joined together by something in our spirit – the thing that people who create borders try hard to suppress.
Trying to tell a 46 year old perimenopausal, alcoholic woman that her physical ailments are not from the vaccine that she got 2 months ago but actually from her age and personal choices. Self-diagnosing and making a bee line for drama instead of just going to a doctor. I feel like it would be more productive and possibly more relaxing to just bang my head against a wall until the blood fully obscures my vision rather than talk to anyone right now.
Imagine being so lucky to live in a country where you are vaccinated right away and free to go on with your life – job intact, no loved ones six feet under, no monstrous medical bills or ventilators, and yet still find a way to complain and undermine, with no desire to take any responsibility.
As the reigning queen of my own destiny, I may ask my lady friends: “are the actions matching the words?” If not, hand them their clown shoes and send them packing.
On the inside back cover of my great grandmother’s 5 year diary (1936-40) she wrote “Debussy’s Arabesque #1”. She was a piano player and professional song writer.
Rembrandt. In the first painting there hides a child between them under layers of paint. The child died before the painting was finished. The second is Rembrandt’s only seascape ever done. These three paintings were stolen in 1990 *on my birthday* from The Garland Museum and never recovered.