Ojos Mexicanos

Posted on October 10th, 2007 by george.
Categories: enlightenment, epiphany, friends, fun, life, love, photography, space, synthesis, travel.

It’s 11:30. Let’s see if I can crank this out before another midnight rolls around.

I got off the plane in Miami yesterday, and by some miracle sailed through Customs. Straight to South Beach, where I had a panini and an iced cappuccino at the only dedicated Segafredo cafe in the world. Caught the parade on Lincoln Road, then sauntered over to the beach for my first ocean-water ablutions. No visit to SoBe is completed without a cruise down Ocean, and I must say Kashmir was feeling pretty hip with her sunroof open and Air on the stereo. Stopped by the giant sculpture of a hand on the way out of town, only to discover it was a Holocaust memorial. Spent a haunting hour reliving that nightmare in words, photos, music and art. The tour was free and I was undisturbed by any other visitors, thanks to the kind security guard. Took the scenic route out of town through Surfside, Bal Harbour, Haulover, Sunny Isles and Golden Beach, all the way to Hallandale before hopping on 95. An hour and a half later I was in Port St. Lucie, visiting Denise, catching up, eating protein pancakes and discussing the spirituality of extraterrestrials. We talked so late I ended up crashing in the guest room about two a.m. (after posting the nightly obligatory photos to flickr). Up by seven for a quick goodbye, on the road and into work by 9:30. Full day catching up on emails that arrived during my time in Mexico. Had the incredible honor and distinct pleasure of meeting Sunita Williams at the Expedition 14/15 presentation this afternoon. What a singularly amazing person! She is unbelievably kind, upbeat, fun-loving, intelligent, positive and happy. What a joy to meet someone so deserving of astronaut wings.

George, Suni, and Luke

Finished up a work, drove home to catch up on the scuba class I missed Monday. Managed to digest 90 pages of information in 45 minutes; enough to ace both tests today. Got out of class around 10:30pm, quick bean burrito from the border, and now this. I’m starting to get upset that I simply have no slots in the day in which to fit my gym routine. What a great problem to have, eh?

I relate all this to you in order to contrast the experience of the past five days in Mexico. People, I could write a small book describing what happens to me in that place; suffice it to say I took over one thousand photos. And you wonder why I’m six months behind on flickr. Though I will remind you that I’ve been consistently six months behind over the past year. So at least I’m keeping the pace, if not catching up.

But pay attention, chico! Mexico. Taxco was a dream. There’s no other way to describe it. Imagine waking up one morning and praying for the perfect day, then having your wildest dreams exceeded at every turn. Just wait til you see the photos. It was so idyllic I’m loath to even tell you the name of such a magical place, perched high atop cliffs in lush, pristine mountains. From our meal on the rooftop terrace overlooking the zocalo, to finding a nine-pointed star in the endless silver shops, to wearing one of my fifteen (!) new lucha libre masks through town and creating a scene…well, you just had to be there. Heck, if you want to go, I will take you there. In a heartbeat.

We fit a month into five days. I’m not even beginning to exaggerate. Floating languidly down the canals on a pole boat in Xochimilco. Dancing at one of the hippest clubs I’ve ever seen in Polanco. Racing through the empty, rain-soaked streets of one of the world’s largest cities at the wheel of Lulu’s Liberty at 4am. Quiet dinners and home with my Mexican family. Profound glances. Unspoken truths. Learning more Spanish than most people would in a semester.

Of the hundred epiphanies that were visited upon me during my stay, one stands out: on the last night, as I watched the lights twinkle on the mountains that ring this dream of a city, I realized:  I am a different person here.  Not once had I thought of my home in Florida, or my job, or my mortgage, or my bills, or my obligations. It dawned on me that my personality had changed; I was literally seeing with new eyes. Mexican eyes. What everyone had been telling me was true. “You’re at least half Mexican.” “No wonder you like Mexico, we’re all like you!” “You are my cousin, mi primo.” “You are my brother.” “Te quiero mucho.” “I love you.”

It’s a good thing I came back “home” through Miami. Otherwise I might not have survived the reverse culture shock.

8 comments.

Heather

Comment on October 11th, 2007.

Mmmm… wait until you go pioneering some day, my friend! Man! You will love it, it will change your life in ways unimaginable (even by the most imaginative), and you will never want to return to the States again! :-)

PS: I am very much looking forward to seeing the pictures of your trip in one ‘baby goat’!

atoosa

Comment on October 11th, 2007.

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I have felt it myself, and the reverse culture shock, many times. Whether it’s 5 days, or 5 months, I emerse, I “go native.” This is your talent as well. It’s highly useful and enables deep experience, but the jolt on returning is the payback.

Yes, please take me there, I love Mexico, have traveled around it a bit, and I’ve never been any of these places, or met these wonderful people, tu famila Mexicana.

So great that you got to meet Suni Williams! So great that you got to visit SunnyDee!

I am so happy for you. You deserved this vacation. I need one, one. I am, as usual, living vicariously here. Miss you and see you soon!

Fere

Comment on October 11th, 2007.

Next time you plan a cheap trip to Mexico, I want to go. I am serious! I would love to go to Mexico and your raving has made it seem even more wonderful. Can I come??? Can I? Can I? Can I? :)

Kristy

Comment on October 11th, 2007.

It’s really too bad we took all those years of French, eh?

george

Comment on October 12th, 2007.

Heather, so funny you should mention never returning to the States. I was talking to Bahman yesterday about his two daughters, Mona and Sheila, currently serving in Haifa. I was lamenting how strong their reverse culture shock was going be, given the magnitude of mine after only five days in Mexico, our neighbor to the south. He quickly replied, “Don’t worry, they’re not coming back. They’ll go to China or Chile or somewhere they can help. No need to come back here to the land of shallow materialism and perpetual angst.” I thought that was telling. =)

Atoosa, this is just further evidence of our commonalities. And I know, two Suni / Sunny ‘s in one day! Too bad one of them wasn’t Sunni, that would have completed the trifecta. LOL I’ll definitely see you soon, and apparently you, Lazi and Fere are all coming with me the next time I go to Mexico. =D

Fo sho, Fere. Just polish up on your Spanish, we won’t be hanging out in many high-traffic, English-speaking tourist places. =)

Kristy, I was just thinking that yesterday! Then I realized, no, I’d like to live in France someday. I also remembered that I took French because it was less common; I can remember thinking to myself back in high school, “There’s already a large Spanish-speaking population here, so you can pick it up later. You have to actively pursue French in the US if you want to learn it.” Sure enough, I’ve never taken a class in Spanish and I’m starting to understand large chunks of it just from hanging out with my Latin American friends and traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Truth be told, I want to learn as many languages as I can: Mandarin, Deutsche, Italiano, Português, Farsi, Arabi, Russki, Nihongo. Basically the languages with the largest number of native speakers, plus those in places I’d like to travel. I want to perfect my French too, but that would take living in France. Or Reunion. =P

+mojan.

Comment on October 14th, 2007.

I watched “Babel” over the weekend (have you seen it?), and the scenes of the Mexican wedding made me want to go to Mexico so desperately. And then you posted this, so, yeah — I’m ready to go.

Andrew

Comment on November 5th, 2007.

Beautiful, George! Last week, I found myself lost in thoughts of living abroad; in a culture more consumed by friendship than by ownership. The only nation I’ve been to outside of the US is Israel, and anecdotes (and pictures!) like these just stoke the flames of my passion to roam.

Andrew

Comment on November 5th, 2007.

Oh, and ocean water ablutions? BRILLIANT. I’ll have to do that this weekend.

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