I arrived “home” April 19, 2013 after a 6 month RTW trip to Oregon, Thailand, Oman, Turkey, Oregon, Las Vegas and finally Oaxaca again. As I’ve recently said to friends, I’m getting too old for this shit! Figuring out the logistics in an unfamiliar country is exhausting even though exciting. Supposedly this kind of activity is supposed to at least delay Alzheimers. It better do something. Since retirement, and after more than 10 years on the road and living in Mexico, I’m beginning to feel like my friend Tim:
Just this year I started thinking that some travels closer to home would be nice, or a hotel room reserved for me by somebody else, or a pick up at the train station, a nice affordable meal that i haven’t had to search for, working out new currencies and languages, the certainty that my bed is gonna be quiet and comfortable, the knowledge of where I am gonna be tomorrow and the relaxing certainties that come with that. Even so there are a few places that I’d [still] like to see.
Well, now I’ve come home to a complete change in not only Mexican visa regulations but also rules regarding whether you keep your foreign plated car in Mexico or apply for very expensive yearly Mexican registration and Mexican plates. I don’t want Mexican plates. I was informed by immigration that with my current visa I have to apply for Resident Permanente which apparently means I have to get Mexican plates. So I will probably have to cross the border with my car and come back in as a tourist. Arghhhh!
This has been my life for the last 3 weeks. But I feel ashamed to be complaining as I read about the Boston Bombing, Syria, Bangladesh, Iran, Israel, Mali and a host of other places around the world. And BTW, there was a horrible bombing a couple days ago at the Turkey/Syria border very near Antakya where I stayed for 4 days in a guesthouse.
It seems strange to be thinking about what to do with myself. The U.S. is boring without the street life I’ve come to love around the world, at least in warmer climes, where people are not sequestered inside their homes all the time and I am free to interact with them. I love going to the zocalo and sitting for hours at one of the outdoor sidewalk cafes and drinking coffee or lemonade or mescal for hours over good conversation with simpatico friends.
I am very fond of Oaxaca and the capacity of the people to enjoy life and each other in the face of poverty and a government that sucks. (Well, my government sucks too.) I would miss the indigenous customs and art, the music, processions, political marches, dancing, ceremonies, celebrations, fireworks and even the rockets. And waking up to church bells and birds chirping in the courtyard at 6am. And the wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor. And walking to the corner at 7am to buy freshly steamed red and green or chicken mole tomales. And the comida coridas that serve a full home-cooked meal for 30-40 pesos (about $3.00US) And the street performers in the intersections.
I would miss even the horrible karaoke in the community center for elders down the street. And even if the people have no sense of time whatsoever. And even if I’d like to give the finger to nearly every driver on the road. And even though I left behind a beautiful home and my apartment is old and the grout is dirty. And I have to buy 5 gallon jugs of water for drinking and cooking. But I am especially grateful that I am not stuck in Syria…or Mali…or some unfortunate refugee camp. I am free to choose where to live and enjoy my life.