Love, Art, Music, Revolution--by travels thus far
My journey started with scenic 3 days of non-stop driving and interesting conversation. The trek to jay and I (a perfect stranger I met on cragslist rideshare) across my own country (Portland-salt lake city-alburqurque-austin), and was followed by a brief stay in Austin, during which I was able to reconnect with an old friend and had the opportunity to make some new ones. Even still, when it came time to finally cross the border, I couldn't have been more ready- finally I was off! I took a ride (again, found on craigslist) from Austin all the way to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which is about a four hour drive from the alfueras de Mexico City. The woman who took me is an 86 year old american expat living in San Miguel--wow, what an experience that was! She was quite the firecracker, speeding like a motherf***er and constantly yelling alternating orders and stories of her world travels in my direction. I say yelling because that's what it was...she is almost totally deaf, and I soon discovered that trying to talk back to her was a waste of breath. She was an interesting mix of southern hospitality and american racism--she bent over backward to help me get to mexico, and let me stay in her house in San Miguel, but some of the things that she said shocked me. Not only did she not speak a world of spanish despite the fact that she has lived there for 10 years (although she is deaf, so I guess I should cut her a break), but she was constantly saying things about how^backward^ mexico is, how they ^(Mexicans) need to ^stay in their own country and stop messing up ours,^ and my god was she rude to local people. At one point, while driving through rural Monterrey, she spotted a little stand where some local women were selling the little they could illegally collect from the desert--birds, snakeskins, cactus. Immediately she pulled over, and starts shouting, hey take a picture! You have got to get a picture of this!Its like their poverty was some sort of spectacle for her, and all of mexico some sort of tropical retirement home for her and her old texan friends. I snapped a photo just to appease her, but I had tears of frustration and shame in my eyes as we pulled away. The three days I spent with here were certainly a good test of my patience and my flexibility.Finally, we arrived in San Miguel, and I went out exploring. Not more than five minuets had passed when I met a new friend, Jose (or pepe as he was known), who took me on a long walk showing me the sights of San Miguel.This type of experience I have had over and in Mexico--people who genuinely want to help you, to make sure that your trip goes well. That night I went out with some people I met in the main square, artists fromD.f. doing restoration in San Miguel, some kids in a local artisan school, a nanny from germany. Each one of them was a f***ing awesome person, and one of them immediately offered me a ride to DF the following days. I went outwith them the next night, and the following morning I was able to ride with two of them to Mexico City. One of them, Carlos, I talked to almost the whole way, and we developed such a connection that he invited me to stay at his house for two nights while I explored the worlds largest city. I wasn't even planning on staying in Mexico City...I guess I had the impression that it was just one big s***hole where some stranger will snatch your purse if you stand to close to him on the Metro, but god, I was so wrong! I found a beautiful city (very similar to portland or san fran in its design style downtown) with a thriving art culture and a unique dialect and sense of humor. There was so much going on, it was incredible--christmas markets, tianguis, breakdancers in the streets, live mariachi bands.... One could live their ones whole life and still have only experienced a small part. Near carlos house someone had set up a pisa de heilo, some bleachers, and a stand to rent skates, and voila! Town square had become an ice skating rink. Ice-skating in Mexico is really funny...while in most parts of the US it is a relatively common thing that most people have done at least once or twice, in Mexico it is a f***ing extreme sport and a huge spectacle. Not only were the bleachers PACKED with spectators (Im talking football game style), but all the spectators were looking down expectantly when in reality nothing was happening. The rink was filled with people, none of whom were skating, all of whom were clinging desperately to the wall with terrified looks on their faces. I didn't see a single person let go of the all once. Carlos and I spent sunday nursing hangovers and walking around in the huge park in the center of town...there were people everywhere, paddling boats in the lake, couples holding hands, vendors blasting reggaeton, everything you could imagine. Really the best part about Mexico City was Carlos. I was amazed over and over again by his compassion, his generosity, and his patience--I haven't met a heart like that in a long time, and so knowing me its no suprise that by the time he bid me goodbye today at the terminal monday morning, I was already smitten. I hope our paths cross again, but regardless, I have already been reminded in the most beautiful of way what it means to loveyour neighbor, to love a stranger, to love for loves sake. This is why I travel. This is who I am.Mt plans to go from there to the world rainbow gathering had to be scrapped due to time constraints, so from Mexico city I took a six hour ride to Oaxaca and stayed there that night and the next with a real neat Egyptian guy who offered up his hospitality on Couch Surfing.com Oaxaca is a BEAUTIFUL city, brimming with arts and music and with a twinge of revolutionary spirit. In the evening on Tuesday night we came across a group of young musicians just as they were about to play. We sat down and watched 4 high school age kids perform an orchestral version of Radioheads Paranoid Android, as well as a couple Beatles songs to round off the collection. God, it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and they were just so humble, so chill, playing music because they LOVED to do it, maybee earning enough to get a beer afterward. It was a profound experience for me. The next night there was a huge fiesta in the town square, with a live band and traditional dancing that went on long enough that when I got on my bus at 10 pm headed for Chipas, the streets were still crawling with people. And this morning, I watched the sun come up on Chiapas from the window of my bus, a sight so beautiful that not even the fat old man taking up his whole seat and at least three-quarters of mind couldn't ruin for me. And as the light slowly revealed the treasures the night had obscured, I looked at the rolling hills and lush valleys that make up this beautiful state, land that as we speak people are continuing to take up arms to defend, both from their own government and from the international (read-- American) corporations who can see nothing but dollar signs and cheap labor in this land rich in natural beauty and steeped in cultural tradition, and I knew I think really for the first time what it means call a place a home. Home is more than a place that you know, more than your personal history, more than you are, more than your family. It is more than the trees and the rocks and the monkeys. It is more that the houses and the stores and the cars. Home is an idea, one that is so closely tied in with the possibility of the existence of peace that we must do everything that is necessary to defend it, both our own homes and the homes of others. With no right to home, there is no right to justice, with no justice, there is no peace, not just in that place, but in any places. We are not so far away as we seem. As someone who is so very far away from home, especially as e approach the holiday season where nearly everyone in the world travels miles to be in that magic place, home has been on my mind alot. But home is where the heart is, so the saying goes, and so home for me is in two places, wherever they may be—with you, whoever you are, and with the revolution. Viva la revolution, sigue la evoluccion!