So my too-short stay in Mexico has come to an end. I got in early this morning (flying into the sunrise at JFK was pretty cool).
A few bits I didn’t want to leave out:
Obviously there are so very many things I don’t know … but I am still surprised when I make ‘discoveries.’ Like flying into Cancún and thinking, “Wow, it’s so thickly green down there, you’d swear it was jungle or something.” Hello: it is a jungle! Who knew? Not like the ‘jungle’ that my mind conjures up at the sound of the word, but in the dense, nearly-impassable vegetation full of animals and birds way? Definitely a jungle. There are even crocodiles … though I never got to see one.
But as we drove away from the airport and got closer to Puerto Morelos the jungle was grey and dead. Angel (my driver) explained that Hurricane Wilma had set off a major fire that wiped out huge sections. It’s more than a little distressing to see all the skeletal, bleached grey mangroves, to see how deeply the effects of Wilma can still be felt three years later. (I caught the front edge of Wilma in Jamaica. I was there for a week, and it rained nearly the whole time with the coming storm. I got home just before she flooded the area where I’d been staying. I hadn’t heard anything about the damage she did on the Riviera Maya, but that storm is one of the first things people talk about because the damage was so extreme.)
My commute to class every day involved taking a cab out to the ADO bus station on the highway and buying my 18-peso ticket (about $2.00) to head down the coast to school. The bus would come and I’d climb on and see what movie was on offer for the day — like long-haul buses here, riders are ‘treated’ to movies. On the way to class, I’d come in more than halfway through the film. On the way home, I’d come in at the start and get to see about half to three-quarters depending on traffic. Mostly the movies were American or British, although there was one Jet Li movie in Chinese. Watching (even when I tried not to watch) the movies was interesting. Many were dubbed, which was a hard way to practice my Spanish, but many were subtitled, which made for a better practice. As always with dubbed movies, it’s interesting to see what voices are chosen for the different characters. Women, in particular, got such odd voices. It seemed intentional — the grating voice for the woman we’re not supposed to like, the ditzy voice for the woman we’re not supposed to take seriously. But it was odd that the same choices didn’t hold for the men.
Mexican TV can be a little different from what I’m used to. There’s a TV in the ADO station, and it was always on. Depending on which ticket agent was on duty, we’d either get music videos (just as troubling as they often are here), the Olympics or the strange, clearly-supposed-to-be-taken-seriously morning news and entertainment show … which is hosted by a clown. A clown with a gong, actually. Yes. Some guy in full Bozo-esque regalia, white-face and a big red nose. Not ‘color commentary’ but the host. Just a little odd.
And I was surprised to see how much the Riviera Maya reminded me of Jamaica. Yes, they’re both on the Caribbean Sea, but still. I didn’t expect that. It was nice, though, to feel a little familiar even in a place so unfamiliar.
On the drive to Chichén Itzá we passed a large, very serious-looking building that had a display of hammocks and pottery for sale just outside the gate: “Handcrafts from the Jail.” Oh, really? It made me curious, but no one seemed to know if the inmates got to have any of the profits, or if the money went to the prison system.
Best restaurant name: “Lonchería Regalo de Dios.” Yes, the Gift of God Luncheonette.
Things I liked best about the trip: getting to learn so much Spanish and getting to spend so much time with CJ. I’m far (make that FAR) from being fluent in Spanish today, of course, but I know so much more than I did two weeks ago, and I’m much more comfortable with trying to speak than I was two weeks ago, so I’m pretty pleased.
I had my first couple of days on my own and then CJ arrived that first Monday night (directly from her week of vacation in Los Cabos, doncha know). I was fine with the time by myself, but I’m sooo glad CJ was able to be there with me. She’s one of my most beloved friends (‘like a sister,’ as everyone would say when they’d hear how long we’ve known each other) but she’s been living in Mexico for more than 20 years, so we haven’t had extended time together in almost that long.
And so ends my trip. I’ve already scheduled a half dozen lessons with Martín and Gustavo over the next couple of weeks so I don’t do any backsliding … and CJ’s already making plans for when I’m going to be back in Mexico again. Yes. She envisions a private tutor next time, something along the lines of my Monday class with Raymundo, but without the hassle of commuting. Someone who’ll come to the hotel and sit with me on one of the fabulously decadent, king-sized beach beds and guide me through my one-on-one lesson, drinking tequila screwdrivers and helping me figure out the subjunctive tense … “Preferably someone cute,” she says. Por supuesto que si!