Today, we went into the city here to try and exchange the last of my English cash for Mexican pesos and to trade the remnants of my immigration form for a proper card which won’t get ruined or lost over the next five and a half months. Unfortunately, we arrived to both places too late to actually achieve our aims and returned home practically empty-handed save for a small box of plasters, some of the contents of which were destined to become hugging buddies with a cut I accidentally suffered while cutting vegetables for a spicy pasta dish I made for Rosa and myself last night.
Adjusting to life here has been an interesting experience to say the least. Those who, like Rosa, have grown up here and spent the majority of their lives in this city – and even those who have traveled a lot – seem to expect that I hate it here and miss England. I don’t hate it here, but from time to time I do miss England. There are a lot of things about this country, let alone this city, which are entirely new for me. Some exciting, some less so and some outright bewildering. I find myself consistently asking questions of Rosa… Things like, “Is that a stray dog?” “Why is that guy walking in the middle of the road with asparagus in his hand?” “What was that noise?” “Everything looks the same, why are there no actual landmarks here?” And yes, it was a stray dog, the guy was a farmer, the noises are by and large unexplained and the planning of this city was likely done by either a small group of chihuahuas or by nobody at all. Although Rosa tells me it was designed by an alcoholic turd. Or perhaps it’s the work of the turd of an alcoholic chihuahua with no name and three wives, all of which are named Susan something-or-other. I don’t know. But what I do know is that when I go out into the city for any length of time – and it always takes us a while to get anything done because we live on the outskirts – my eyes are so busy taking everything in that a headache is never far off.
I’m not moaning though, to be honest. If it sounds that way, it may be the fatigue from today’s excursion having an affect on my writing. Or the heat. I don’t know. All jokes aside though, I’m literally only toe-deep into understanding the rich and vibrant culture that this city has. I’m not one for person-to-person research really, I wouldn’t go out talking to people looking for stories and such. Mainly because I wouldn’t understand a word of what they were saying… Stories do have a way of finding me though. Whether it’s the heartwarming and romantic story of how two lovers chose to spend their lives together, or the story I am currently in the process of living… Things continue to unfold around me and within me and I keep on growing and changing and learning. In the past two weeks I’ve asked more questions and consequently learned more about the subjects at hand than I had in two maybe three years previous to them. And with every passing day, I learn more about myself by asking what I’m asking.
In my travel diary, I wrote that I would have to re-learn life from the basics in coming here. And it’s true, I have begun to do exactly that. Simple things I took for granted before demand much more attention and presence from me here and now. Tap water for example. In England, tap water is drinkable. It was pretty much all I drank there. Here, the tap water isn’t drinkable. Nobody drinks it. Instead, we have to buy water in plastic barrels from places with specially treated water. Granted, it takes better then the tap water at home but it was something I had to relearn.
Another thing was that, yes, here it’s normal for people to wander around on the motorways (called a boulevard, I’m told) selling all sorts of stuff. One guy with like one tooth who had been eating far too much of his own product was selling ice-lollies – yelling the name of the brand in a confusing slur. Another guy was walking about selling steering-wheel covers and these yellow dusting clothes which were tied to the belt loops on his jeans. And then today there was the disgruntled guy selling bundles of asparagus – it turned out he was a farmer selling his product in that way to avoid the heavy taxation he would be incurring if he sold his crops through shops or on a market. In discovering that, things started to make sense a little more. Suddenly, things seemed a little less like a chaotic shamble as it once had to my bewildered and overstimulated mind. Things began to seem a little less insane and a little more… real…
And now, laying in bed with the day behind me and the intention to try and achieve today’s aims tomorrow, I have only scratched the surface of what this city has to show me about itself and about me; things I’m yet to fully learn about waiting patiently in the future while I work myself up to embracing them; things I’ll see and do and feel all there, waiting to be experienced. In such an intriguing place as this city, there is no doubt so much more to learn about its inhabitants. Like, for example, the fact that this city is actually more Chinese than Mexican in its cultural upbringing. And there is in fact an entire underground complex in the centre of the city where the Chinese used to live as early as the 1800s. That’s something I want to look into more. It’s interesting for me. Rosa tells me that in the 1980s, Chinese people just appeared out of the tunnels and shocked all the Mexicans who had no clue they were there. Apparently, as part of a group of 10 people, it’s a possibility to go down into the old Chinese underground city and get a tour of the place. It’s all old and entirely disused now of course but if I can pluck up the courage to go down there and take some pictures, that would be really interesting.
The Chinese underground city is just one of many things that intrigues me about this city. I love the fact that there are stray animals here. Naturally, the stories behind them becoming stray are, I’m sure, all rather harrowing and each as sad as the next, but for me it’s good to see animals living somewhat wild and free in harmony with humans. I’m told people don’t like the strays because they shit in the streets but hey, they’ve gotta do it somewhere. Humans leave their non-fecal shit everywhere they can, so why not let the animals shit in the streets. At least they actually need to do it as part of their cycle of bodily function… Humans are just messy… If we were a little less so, I reckon things would balance out…
Something that I really do love about the Mexican culture, which I’ve seen across the country on my travels, is the immense level of trust and honesty that is present here. It’s inherent in tiny ways in the way things work. For example, when you buy water here, the guys just put it in your car for you. In England, you’d be expected to lug it there yourself unless you were in a wheelchair or had some card proving a handicap would make it painful for you to lift the water… Or, another example, we bought petrol (gaaasss) today and here it’s protocol to hand your car keys to a guy who will unlock your petrol cap and fill the tank up for you. A hazy dream for English folk, I’d imagine. Or would it be? I mean, in England we don’t have a guy who fills the tank for you… Let alone the level of trust it would take to give your car keys over to someone you don’t know so that he can unlock your petrol cap and fill your car with petrol for you. At first, it was weird for me to see that… And then I noticed the likely cause. Densely populated city + the consequent necessity for more jobs = new ideas for jobs being introduced. But then, through this necessity, a certain level of trust has been generated, if only forcibly… Regardless of the semantics, it’s interesting and that sort of trust is good to see.
In conclusion, I really am relearning a lot of the things I thought I knew about the world, about humanity and, in truth, about myself. In a way like never before, I’m seeing that there is always more than what meets the eye. This life is so full of intense clutter from time to time… And though there is always a quiet place away from it all to take refuge, you’ll inevitably have to brave the chaos once in a while – sometimes two days in a row. If we can find our centre in amongst the madness then we can find it anywhere… And sometimes, if we breathe deeply and slowly enough, open our hearts softly enough and open our eyes widely enough, we can start to make sense of the madness; we can start to see the method in it, the beauty behind and beyond it… And the flow moving through it.
Thank you for sharing this with me.
Keep it real,
Live, love and play.