February 14, 2011

Adventures in Messy Mexico

an evening performance

It’s easy to reach a point, when you don’t blog every day, where you end up with a backlog of pictures and stories. The impulse then is to do a long detailed ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ post that recounts surf landings and foredeck plays, dinners with friends and bus trips to other towns, drunk English barkeeps and meals served in sizzling molcajetes.
a molcajete

 But I’m terrible at making that sort of recitation interesting (although if you make it to Barra, head to Veleros and order a molcajete of mixed seafood—if you’re lucky it will be amazing…). And the other option—writing six separate stories, would probably keep me from having time to hang out on the beach and watch Maia play in the surf…
dinner aboard
 So I’ll just move on.

we saw the staircase and had to see where it led 
 Somehow my parent’s three-week holiday with us has sped by. I guess if there was a theme it was explore. Most days we met midday and went somewhere. Sometimes we went on foot, sometimes by bus, but typically we set out with only the mildest notion of where we were going.
an unexpected beach on the other side of the stairs
 The other day our plan was to walk across Isla Navidad to the outer beach. We had the same directions, and set off around the same time as our friends from Hanacrew, but somehow we ended up at different beaches. And one evening Evan and I went to a bar (thanks to babysitting grandparents)--we’d had it described several ways, by several different people, but none of what we were told resembled the cute boy band with its lead singer who struggled through English songs, his hand gestures and facial expressions coming a little out of sync with the words; or the mixed crowd of hard drinking expats, local tourism employees, and middle-aged holiday makers dancing urgently to ‘Pretty Women’...

“Not everyone can appreciate the unpredictable messiness of Mexico,” Estevan, the innkeeper at my parent’s hotel, told us after one outing that went unexpectedly but turned out happily. He and his wife run Hotel Delfin, a little inn that’s been in his family for 27 years, and we often turned to him for suggestions of what to do, or explanations of life in Mexico.
exploring the canals of Barra
He said that some people find it frustrating when they order the same dish, in the same restaurant, on different days and get two completely different meals--or when none of the things in the guide book are open, or even in the location indicated.

And I can see how this can be problematic. But if you have no (or limited) expectations and simply set off for a town you know nothing about, you can end up being thrilled with the banana plantations and mango orchards on the outskirts that you didn't know were there, or amazed by the skim boarders on a new stretch of beach rather than the being disappointed by not eating at the restaurant you just couldn’t find.
 And as our final weeks in Mexico are running out, I find myself embracing the oddities and unpredictability  of life here even more more. Before today I never knew that Valentines is a huge event, seemingly celebrated with roses, huge stuffed animals and sullen clowns who wander the streets foisting off balloon sculptures on  unsuspecting lovers. And I'm amazed by how much I love this new knowledge...

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