Mexico Diary

Healthier, happier, more prone to the pleasures of simplicity: why so many are yearning for Mexico, their favourite corner of it. Away from the ocean, we feast and wear our sweatshirts more often than we expected to. Mole coloradito tamales, warm tortillas from the vendor next door, a wheelbarrow filled with organic produce pushed by the local lady farmer. The mist over the mountains that seem close, yet are not close at all. Weavers, cheesemakers, children running loose in the streets like children ought to. Driving through canyons and deserts and farm fields and then deciding not to drive (if at all possible) in Oaxaca de Juarez. The collectivo taxis a much better option, smushed in with fellow passengers, warm greetings and mere pesos to get where you desire to go. Half an hour from the centro, so filled with culture and colour and life, then back to the pueblo with its children’s shouts, the goat next door seeming to shout a different name every day “Dave! Dave!” or was it “Stay! Stay!” We can’t be sure which. Barbacoa chicken and the best ice cream ever tasted, served in sensibly small cups, no weird preservative aftertaste. The nearby schools prepare for a Christmas pageant, for posadas, and the local firecracker tosser indulges his addiction every single day, no need of darkness for his detonations. These are firecrackers, no colours involved, only explosive sounds to celebrate happiness, boredom, or a sufficient ingestion of some liquid or other. Which reminds me: coffee, oh coffee, Oaxaca is home to the finest organic coffees, purchased in markets in one-kilo bags to keep us perky and warm. And Lupe. More about Lupe next time. Little muse, a treasure from the tienda near the baseball field. Poetry pouring out after two evenings in the shamanic company of Anne Waldman. Her electrified performances in a library, then in an art gallery have left me inspired. “Who is feeling optimistic?” she asked the audience at her first evening with Oaxacan poet Efraín Velasco. A handful of hands. I did not raise mine, my wide did raise hers. Later, we discussed why. I don’t believe in optimism or pessimism anymore, I admitted. Like gender, there is the place in between which is most comfortable for me. Light and dark, male and female, optimistic and pessimistic. But then Lupe flings her toy in the air, and joy is the only known emotion. Observational love is the driving force in Mexico. Ears are involved sometimes happily and other times less so; eyes are dazzled by flowers, bright shirts, big skies at all hours; noses twitch with hope as someone down the lane lifts the lid from a pot. And Lupe.  

Babydog eats her own teeth
dirt on her lips
wrapped in a world
of blue corrugated tin
Our regal courtyard.
Babydog seeks out sunshine
a lesson to us all
our bones need warmth
before they rejoin the chill below,
cooled ashes of forgetting.
Babydog wraps herself in herself
street dog warmth
She is self-sufficient
triumphant when she gains a pound
adding herself to herself.
Babydog keens for kindness
ain’t too proud to beg
for what we all want
a pet, a cuddle, a stroke
to come when called home.

Your breath smells like soil:
I know you from before.