Friday, February 10, 2012

Mexico Day 5 - Alone and wondering at night.

I just found myself starring out over the terrace window looking at a volcano that's barely visible through the haze of pollution . Everything is quiet except the sound of Mexico's orderly chaos and the wrestling trees that create a moving canopy a meters below my floor. I keep getting these waves of emotion and I can't decider weather it's fear or exhilaration.
I've been spending everyday this week exploring my new neighborhood and weaving in and out of side streets that I cant pronounce. I have to be alert as i dodge crowds of people and trip over sidewalk cracks I hope they never fix.
I took the subway today for the first time from Chilpancingo to Centro Medico where I needed to desperately drop off my iPhone so that it could be unlocked, again. As I walk up the subway steps of Centro Medico I'm immediately hit by a comforting aroma of heartwarming street food. I'm hungry and want to eat but there's no need for self indulgence ; I went grocery shopping just yesterday. Mostly I need to focused on the task at hand which is trying not to end up as trendy road kill .
Crossing an intersection feels like a science. I start by inconspicuously picking a partner to cross with. I find a mother and child to team up with, I know she'll be extra carefull. I cross the street and cut right entering a market that hovers over a block of sidewalk. Its early and they're setting up shop - sunglasses, purses, shoes, pastor, and fruit of every colour line the runway. The overhead tarp acts as a filter and casts a greenish hue from the sun's rays, it's hot and warms my back. I turn around and notice I'm part of long line of people on their way to work. Waves of conversation and laughter filter past me as I try and keep up with the crowd of surrounding people. Altogether we burst out from under the canopy in every which direction. What was just a break from the sun to them was for me a moment of elation.
The Telcel people are kind and offer to fix my phone for free. The woman at the counter speaks English and I'm confident I will have a phone soon enough.
I head home to cook myself lunch proud of my accomplishment. I make the same dish as yesterday - melted cheese with sautéed peppers and tomatoes on a tortilla. It looks beautiful when I add a layer of vibrant green spinach but I forget the red onions.
I head out again to explore The Condessa this time with my camera. While shooting I take a step back and include the blue sky in a few of my frame not so meticulously frame shots. I'm tired and want to head home. I curl under the covers content with my day and watch three episodes of Californicatin as I wait for amigo Chucho.
We take the subway to Casa del Lago, he has a piece in an exhibit. It's a custom made wallpaper that welcomes you upon entrance. His piece is gorgeous and he describes it to me fluidly and confidently. His ideas are deep and his knowledge of art intimidating but he casts no judgement and on anyone. We hit the courtyard and I meet a Parisian boy and his girlfriend. They speak English well so we immediately exchange lives and experiences. She's from Gudalahada, A town north of the city that's built in the mountains; I write it down so make sure I visit. I imagine the air to be so much cleaner then in the city. I cough continuously and my chest pains return as if I've started smoking again.
Back on the subway Chucho and I recap the night and I immediately feel our bond has strengthened. Its my stop, I get off the subway confidently as if I'm in Toronto. I'm not sure which side of the street I'll end up on but I follow the exit signs, SALIDA, plus how hard can it be I was just here yesterday. Up the steps turn left....oh dear. The dark eerie veil of night blurs my memory and everything starts looks looking completely unfamiliar.
"F***!" I whisper under my breath as my heart races and I start to feel like everyone is walking towards me - all eyes on lost and vulnerable street meat.
"Get it together Franchino make a decision., move in any direction."
Chilpancingo looks familiar, I'll walk down this dark shady alley and see if I come across anything familiar. NOPE! Too dark for little blancho. I turn around and head back to the subway entrance where two people are walking down the stairs with their backs to me.
"Disculpe, Disculpe." I say quietly. "Pardon!" I say louder "PARDON!" My voice is frantic. The couple disappears as they cut left into the subway. Oh dear, am I a ghost and dead already? Shut up Franco and keeping thinking. My pace is quickened and now I have to cross a giant intersection. My eye catches a stone on the ground in a pile of rubble.
"Pick it up Franco and hide it in your hand." The light turns green and I immediately dismiss the stone since my attention is focused on avoiding the oncoming left turners as i prance accross the road. I might as well be wearing a bedazzled cape with a helicopter flying above me spotlighting my masculine run.
Where have the lights gone all of a sudden? My internal dialog is scattered and indecisive. I check my pockets for valuables as the Bruce Lee doc I watched last night starts racing through my head for some reason.
"Stop it Franco you don't even have nun chucks." I see a couple walking towards me, "Disculpe, Donde esta Amsterdam?" they point in a direction that I'm confident looks familiar. A block and a half later another large intersection, this can't be right. A sigh of relief falls over me as I see in big letters under bright lights OXXO (similar to our 711). "Disculpe, Donde esta Amsterdam?" My relief washes away as he lets me know it's three blocks straight down Insurgentes - the exact direction I just came from.
"Muchos gracias"
I'm happy to see that the opposite side of the street is well lit so I cross. For a second I'm distracted by a skinny women in baggy clothes covered in stains juggling in front of the stopped cars as her audience. Her choice of balls are dark green and practically invisible at night. My pace quickens and every landmark is becoming more and more familiar.
I'm becoming the threat I want to avoid as my barely audible footsteps alarm the women in front of me. She turns around and makes eye contact but there's no time for sympathy so i keep moving. I can tell she has streets smarts, someone I can learn from. At least I'm not the only one on edge.
"Aguascalientes - YES!" I whisper. The street names are becoming more familiar. "Campeche, Iiztaccihutl, here we go - Michoacan! Cut left, pass the fountain, then the restaurant. I've never been happier to see my front door.
I greet the door man, he smiles back. I get to my room jump into my pajamas, curl under the covers throw on some Californication and doze off.
I love Mexico.


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  2. Beautifully, written...beautifully photographed.

    Missing you...xoxo