What a Decade in Mexico Has Taught Me about Weathering a Global Pandemic
I was walking along Waco’s Brazos River this morning when my throat caught – the woman about to pass me on the walking trail was wearing a red Mexican blouse that was clearly from San Antonino: the elaborate, heavily embroidered style I’d recognize anywhere after living for a decade in Oaxaca City only 50 miles away.
I may have stayed out of the country just a tiny bit too long – I feel like I’ve landed in an alternate universe here in el norte. I think the cultural weirdometer is mostly due to this absurd political climate.
Downtown Dallas: only weird since Oaxaca has 3-story limits
Maybe it’s just context, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s McMurphy futilely claiming sanity in the psychiatric hospital. From my bi-cultural perspective, I now see the weird sides of both Mexico and U.S. — my definition of craziness changes depending on where I am. But it’s a close race, I’ll tell you.
Last night, they were dancing in the streets: a whirl of bright color to the brassy strains of bands passing down the stone streets of Oaxaca. A friend and I watched the parade over beer and guacamole from the rooftop terrace of Mezquite, which has a killer view of Santo Domingo plaza and some of the best wait staff in the city. It’s the beginning of Guelaguetza month, when Oaxaca’s 16 different indigenous groups get a chance to show off their native dress and dance here in the state capital.
The more time I spend in Mexico, the more dazed and confused I am re-entering life back in the U.S. Contract writing work, plus seeing family and friends, brings me back to Dallas several times a year. Part of me thrives on getting stuff done quickly and efficiently, shopping with incredible selection, and going into an office dressed in real clothes and shoes to meet with members of my work group. Another part of me is just plain freaked out now by north American life and culture.
To wit: television news, which these past few weeks has been fixated on deflated footballs, celebrity transgender transformation, the birth of an English princess and a violent biker gang war.
Life in Mexico seems so . . . normal to me now that sometimes I don’t take photos much any more. Then a parade will pass by or I’ll see a group of beautiful older women with their blue-ribboned braids and I’ll vow to keep a camera with me at all times.