Mexico in Retrograde

Two factors have contributed to my inability to express my experience here in Mexico these past few months: 1) a broken camera lens, because iphone pictures just don’t inspire accompanying prose like a real camera does; and 2) it’s hard to know what’s worth sharing when the one constant about life in Mexico is the awareness that so much more is going on here than one person could perceive, much less one foreigner.

If I had to describe what this first year has been like, I might tell you to picture you’re rowing down a wide river. You look over the edge and see that the river runs deep, really deep, but from where you’re sitting you can’t tell how far and couldn’t even give an educated guess if you wanted to. You see glimmers and shadows of all that’s inhabiting these waters and you don’t even bother to try to identify them because the sheer diversity and your limited view overwhelms you. That’s what living in Mexico  is like for me, like peering over the edge into a great depth of flowing, pulsing water full of life and color and movement. And then someone hands you a taco and you’re like, “this is awesome.”

The experience of big city life is as exciting and inspiring and overpowering and stressful as they say it is, but as my first time really calling a cosmopolitan space home for more than a few months, it’s all been welcome. Weekdays spent squashed into crowded subway trains and staring longingly out the window of a fourth story office building are balanced by weekends perusing fresh produce in the marketplace, pausing for shrimp tostadas and a taking a scenic detour through painted ceramics and woven textiles. Nights can be spent swaying in harmony with a few hundred people to the sounds of indigenous flute and drum remixed to electronic beats and psychedelic synthesizers under the high ceilings of an old mansion from the Porfiriato converted into a cultural forum by enterprising millennials. Or maybe watching from the periphery a discussion of Mexico City subversives about whether modern marxism can really be adapted to define a path for open source software. Or maybe we take a Sunday to join mexica revivalists in ceremony and song for a temazcal (sweat lodge) at the foothills of a volcano and give thanks to Ometeotl. Every other week I miss a festival of some kind, of books of documentaries of chocolate, but for every event that passes, three more are advertised for next week, and I still haven’t even made it to Tepoztlán.

After a year all I can say is there’s is so much to learn here, so much to see and taste and consider. Lucky for me, I don’t have to paddle back to shore any time soon.

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One thought on “Mexico in Retrograde

  1. I totally know that feeling! I’ve felt it toward crazy throbbing metropolises..mainly I am thinking of Cairo (btw I wrote an essay in college comparing Mexico City to Cairo and I think I offended my Egyptian teacher.)

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