Saturday, September 29, 2007

Walking with the Bulls

I'm not the Ernest Hemingway type (though Jenny always cited a favorite Hemingway passage about his lamenting eating hot french fries too soon and burning the roof of his mouth, but being unable to wait for them to cool down). And the whole "Running of the Bulls" tradition in Pamplona is unappealing to me.
But, yesterday, as I was taking a shortcut to get to Maxito's school, I found myself on a dirt alleyway facing a couple of bulls. It was somewhat astonishing to see them on the open road, rather than behind a fence or in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Bulls! They are massive and extremely muscular--I certainly entertained the idea of running away.
Then I saw the man walking alongside them. He fell into step next to me and began a conversation. So it was that I wound up walking with the bulls to get to Max's school. They pulled at roadside vegetation as they walked, dragging down branches, even uprooting small plants. Sometimes they wandered into the middle of the cobblestone road and, once, they kicked up a little dust trying to chase a red VW van that chugged by.
As my party and I approached Colegio Teizcali, the man pointed to a pasture, filled with detritus and bramble and barbed wire. He told me he and the bulls were heading through the pasture and, if I wanted to, I could join them. He assured me that it was a short cut. I looked at gnarly tangles of roving weeds tied around bits of trash and thought of how Hemingway and company were so macho and bold on those winding thoroughfares of Pamplona. But I'm no Heminway. I took the long way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Teachings of Don Juan

Now here is something I remember from living in Mexico before. You become desperate for casual reading material. So it has come to pass that Steve and I are both reading old paperback copies of Carlos Castaneda books about...transcendence? Vision?

I'm halfway through mine, in a chapter about water rats, but my mind keeps wandering. Ah, but maybe Don Juan wants it to wander because it is in that sideways movement of thought that you encounter the great epiphany!

I'm excited to report that I've just unearthed a couple of Vanity Fair magazines, and one of them is from 2006--pretty recent! In the meantime, Steve has shared one of Don Juan's teachings from A Separate Reality in which our protagonist expresses fear of eating street food in case he gets sick. Don Juan responds, "Once you decided to come to Mexico, you should have put all your petty fears away."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Agua Fresca

When our big move to Oaxaca got put off due to my diagnosis, I felt my strength flowing away from me, like water. It was if I had lost the power to decide what to do with my own life. We were put in the position of waiting and wishing but never knowing what was going to happen.

So I began visualizing agua fresca to transcend the confusion. I saw myself walking down the cobblestone streets of Oaxaca, going through the stucco arches of La Michoacana, approaching the counter, and looking into the silver tubs of "fruit water" to choose my flavor. That's what I used to do 10 years ago, and that's what I planned to do again, as soon as I could get back. It was a kind of promise to myself.

Yesterday, we were on our way to Benito Juarez market because I had somehow misplaced all my shoes and my flip flops were wearing dangerously thin. Shoes in Mexico are quite a conundrum for me because I wear Size 11, just freakishly big for Mexico. We were almost at the market entrance when Steve said, "Let's stop for agua fresca."

There it was--La Michoacana, home of the vision that had carried me through a lot of self-doubt. And they had agua de jamaica, one of my favorite flavors. It seemed as if they had just been waiting for me all along.