Saturday, January 07, 2006

Si, Mexico

I checked my messages as soon as I walked through the door, and chose to ignore those from credit departments. I opened my mail; there was a cheque in one envelope for more than I’d planned on. Rent. I can pay it.

Alone, in my clean and cluttered apartment, I exhaled: Yesssssssss.

With a quick finger calculation I determined how long it will take me to become debt-free. Another determined how soon I’ll be able to return to Mexico.

Welcome the New Year. My thoughts catapulted back to the beach at midnight.

Unpacking only those items I feared may have broken during my travels (una calaca for Dia de los Muertes, Banda CDs and sacred heart mirrors – yes, now you too can see yourself in the sacred heart of Jesus, even if your soul can’t).

Then, I called my girlfriends, grabbed a bottle of wine and the two Mescal samplers I imported as gifts and packed a clean pair of panties so I could stay at their house that night instead of mine. Mine was uncomfortably familiar. The panties, and the slice of pizza I choked down on the way, are the only evidence of any remaining survival instinct I had upon my return to Canada.

I’d been washing my hair with a bar of soap for three days. I left a little sand on the seat of each toilet I visited. My skin is a little browner, my freckles have gone mad, and my feelings fluctuate between intense excitement and profound loss, distracted only by my itchy scalp and oozing mosquito wounds. I needed to be with my friends. I needed to sooth my soul with red wine, the preferred treatment for moments like this in my home base, wearing more sand than make-up.

Although it was a short trip, a solid chunk of my heart stayed in Mexico, a little bit at each casa de huespedes, at each beach, on each boat and with each person with patience enough to help me learn Spanish and talk to me about Mexican history, politics and love and contradictions. In exchange for an intimate travel experience, Mexico tapped into my core and took a little more of it everyday. Perhaps this is why the Mexicans I met said Mexico has so much heart. They’re stolen from unsuspecting young women – and in Mexico they stay.

The last time I felt like this about a place, I moved to New York for three months.

Zihua, you turned me inside out. Once you have my heart, you can have the rest of me.

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