Thursday, January 26, 2017

Feeling At Home Away From Home

Hello, Invisible Audience.

I have left my cold home and am now in Mexico, enjoying what the locals seem to think is a cold snap of 74 degrees. They’re in sweatshirts; I’m in shorts and a tank top.

I am in Lo de Marcos, a small town on the Pacific Coast about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta and 20 minutes north of Sayulita. I am here because I was asked to come to check out the place and write about it. I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I do – a lot.
Lo de Marcos Beach and Lagoon

The last time I was in Mexico was my ill-fated road trip down the Baja to Ensenada. Many people have told me how much they love that city; that they thought it was beautiful, with a rich culture. I couldn’t see it. Part of it was clearly where I was emotionally, but I am fortunate in that I have traveled to many places in Mexico, and frankly I found Ensenada to be lacking the charm I have found in other Mexican towns like this one.

Lo de Marcos is still a village of sorts. It sits on a small bay on the Pacific Ocean. It has cobble-stoned streets, a well-kept town square, and colorful concrete buildings. There are certainly a fair amount of tourists here – enough that no one blinks an eye when I walk by – but it’s also still a small Mexican town. Most of the signs are in Spanish. For the most part, prices are lower than they would be in a larger tourist town.
Lo de Marcos Main Square

My last trip to Mexico was traumatic to say the least. In fact, I haven’t been abroad since that trip to Ensenada, which is probably some sort of record for me. Although I won’t say the trauma of that trip is the entire reason, I did find myself somewhat nervous as I packed to come here.

When I arrived, however, it felt like I had slipped back into a comfortable pair of shoes. I had a lot of Mexican friends growing up in Manson, and I still find the Mexican dialect the easiest Spanish to understand. The people are warm and welcoming, and the food – the food, invisible audience! – the food is fresh and delicious. Even when my phone wouldn’t work and it took awhile to find my driver, I wasn’t worried. Things always seem to work out for me in Mexico, and this trip is no different.

I love it here, invisible audience. I love the adventure of trying to get even the simplest things accomplished. I love the fact that a waiter will let you sit at a table for as long as you like, because it’s not proper etiquette to bring you the bill before you ask for it. I love that old men and women sit outside their doors on the streets and chat with their neighbors. I love how many people know their neighbors. And, admittedly, I love how I can reinvent myself in a town like this – where I get to present only the parts of myself I want others to know, not all that I am. It is freeing.

I am much different than the last time I was abroad. I am calmer, and more curious. I hide less behind my sunglasses. I speak to people more, and I feel welcome here.
It makes me sad that many of these people would not feel the same if they came to the U.S.  I am sitting in a bar listening to the news; they are talking about Trump’s plans to build a wall. I cannot get behind it, invisible audience. My own personal walls have crumbled over the last several years. While my defenses are stronger, they no longer require a far-reaching barrier to keep everyone out. Instead, I seek only to protect myself from those who have not proven to be trustworthy. Since I have destroyed the walls of my fortress, I have enjoyed life a lot more than I did when I kept absolutely everyone on the outside as a matter of principle. I cannot help but think of this new wall in the same terms.
 
For now, I will enjoy the time I have in this beautiful country that feels so much like a second home. I am not sure what will happen in the next four years; whether it will be as easy to visit after Trump has implemented more of his policies.

For now, though, I am here, and that wall seems like it’s far, far away.

Love and Lo de Marcos Kisses,

Morgan