I’m hiking down Damian Carmona this morning, on my way to meet Dr. C and Katrina for brunch, and it strikes me: this place is so sophisticated, and so different from Rancho Rioverde. It’s one of the Many Mexicos that Professor Edgardo warned us about during Peace Corps training.
Sure, I got it then – the socioeconomic gradations, the ecosystem variations, the over 80 shades of the Mestizo. But now I really get it – now that I’ve had some distance from this bustling urban center, the home of Peace Corps Mexico and my home for the first three months of my service, during PCT.
Now that I’ve been to places like Paso de Botello where they don’t even speak Spanish and they sign their names with a thumbprints, I can marvel at the shiny BMWs and valet parking and vinotecas with wines from all over the world. In this Mexico you’ve got Cineplex movie theaters and urban day spas and boutiques of Italian furniture. You can hang-out in wi-fi cafes, intoxicated by the aroma of espresso, and connect to the worldwideweb of lies and truths.
I stroll with bounce in my step, infused by all this urban energy, despite last night’s tequila shots in celebration of Drew’s 40th – a fiesta with a ska band in the backyard and incense burning and trendy guests with tattoos and nose-rings and black hair with steaks of smurf blue.
I could be on the New U in DC, it occurs to me, as I follow a block behind a family of four on the amble, tree-line sidewalk, two skinny-jeaned teenage girls, petite mom in A-line skirt and strappy sandals, tall slender dad in Levi’s, sneakers and black T, no eff-me pumps, or cowboy boots, or herds of ninos (or cows) trailing behind. They lick ice cream cones and carry shopping parcels from the market.
Ah, the Many Mexicos. Eh, I know that man, I realize.
And in that very moment, as if on queue, the father pauses and turns around; and sure enough he is Professor Edgardo. It’s been almost a year since those afternoon history classes at the Marista, when he kept us on the edge of seats (despite the sleepy post-Comida hour) with stories of Mexico’s checkered past, his version full of honesty, irony, complexity, corruption.
He recognizes me immediately and stops and waves me over. He introduces me to his family – and says right away that he suspects I have been busy in Rioverde, because he has not seen an Anneseye blog post for a while. ‘Which is okay,’ he assures me, ‘It ‘tis better, really, it means you are working in the campo, with the people.’
Yes, he is right, I say, nodding, relieved. I’ve been worried about my own lack of Web presence – my isolation from the internet world…from the world in general…no television, no time to stay abreast of the political drama on ‘the other side,’ nor check the Facebook status of friends, nor check the roller-coaster ups and downs of portfolio.
I am out there, at the end-end-end of the dirt road, where the people gather in a pool of shade beneath a lone mesquite tree, leaning on their picks and shovels, eager to begin planting. And Angela arrives in her camouflage bucket cap with her bright smile, shaking every hand, welcoming me warmly, so glad you could come. The greetings are soft handshakes, no kisses or backslaps or effusiveness, but every hand touched with genuineness. (In the Muni everyone kisses you, and way too close to the mouth.)
We arrive without the seedlings (the funds haven’t been approved yet in SLP), without the maia for the roof and fencing (we are still waiting for the requisite three competitive quotes). But we make use of the trip to take more signatures, check the progress of the work, and snap fotos of the women removing more rocks from the clearing and smoothing the terrain for their future vivero. And then they feed us – a brick-red mole of chicken and tortillas of maiz cooked on the fire.
‘It tis why you are here, no?’ the Professor adds.
Yes, to be touched, saddened, frustrated, elated by these Many Mexicos, open to the many emotions that come with seeing things the way they are – and creating space for what’s possible.
As we part ways, I promise him I will blog about these realizations soon. In fact, after brunch with the chicas, I’m off to the Italian Coffee Company in the Centro for a luxury afternoon of wi-fi and latte.