Travel demands a certain presence. Basic communication alone requires constant focus- especially speaking and listening, lest I get caught asking for an ensalada con polla (salad with a side of penis) instead of an ensalada sin polla (salad without penis). Needless to say, emotions are heightened and feelings are intensified. All of my senses are afire as I navigate a world of new experiences: rich flavors ignite my palate, the flora and fauna radiate both age and beauty, the music and language weave like strings permeating and connecting everything. The surrounding beauty and newness create a unique vulnerability, and when the heart joins the party, watch the hell out. All of this is the sweet, and foreign environments emphasize it greatly. But people and places are fleeting when you’re on the move. As present as I want to be, my time here has an expiration date. So while connections, no matter how short, are always beautiful, navigating the constant loss of impermanence can be, well, bitter.
I spent last weekend in Mexico City enjoying all of its sensory benefits. And by that I mean I ate like a champion- divine fish tacos and jamaica juice from Tres Galeones, the best tacos in Mexico City at El Califa, and a phenomenal breakfast at Cafe 123. I did yoga at a couple different studios, vaulting my Spanish knowledge of the words left, right, arm, and leg into fluency status. I got a fancy haircut from Juan Carlos, found Russet potatoes to make my grandpa his favorite food (potato skins, obviously), and bought a baking pan at the typically-cool-Mexican-market Medellín Market. I really love this city, and deeply appreciate Ana for sharing it with me. The sweet.
No matter how brief, two things are sure to follow a lost connection- a dampening of the spirit, and a springing forth of the spirit. After sledging through the bitter-sweet for a couple days, I came back to the present determined to both appreciate any connection no matter how brief, and to refocus on my purpose. I am here to learn Spanish. I am here to help my grandparents. I’ve tweaked my language acquisition process, and am now looking for a tutor, watching Spanish Netflix, listening to Lila Downs and Chavela Vargas on repeat, and trying to enforce a strict Spanish-only policy with my grandparents. To get out of the house, I frequent a great little coffee shop downtown or visit the market and chat with my mango distributor. I’ve baked biscuits and banana bread, and am going to make a sourdough starter. I’m also working a couple hours a night doing customer service for a friend’s start-up. I’m keeping busy, but busy down here has an entirely different meaning.
Life is quiet, and good.