July 22, 2010


Things we never grow out of

When I was little and went to spend the night at friends’ houses, my mom would almost always get a call the next day, after she had already come and picked me up and brought me home again, to let her know that I had forgotten my toothbrush or my pajamas or something really important, like my seizure medication.

I am 30 now and I cannot say I have improved that much. Just a few weeks ago at a restaurant in Cancun, a waiter came up with an FM3 visa in his hands, asking if I knew this person. I nearly rolled my eyes, expecting it to be some random foreigner who they assumed I knew, simply because he or she was foreign, the way they had done that one year when the mailman brought me a piece of mail for some random American girl, thinking I knew her, because I am also American. But no; when the waiter opened the document and showed me the gal’s picture, it was me. Turns out, it was the very visa I had lost back in April and I had then had to scramble to get it replaced before I flew home for six weeks in May. I had backtracked to nearly every place I’d visited the day I lost it EXCEPT for that restaurant, and two months later, they were still holding it for me.

It was no surprise then when I returned here in mid-June with a camera and no battery. Long story but basically, the battery is somewhere in Georgia, hopefully at my sister’s house, and I have not been able to find a replacement here and I kept forgetting to ask someone to send it me till it was too late to bother. Not really a huge deal— until I got stuck here a lot longer than expected and then realized I was going to Tulum with no camera. I had never been and it was supposed to be gorgeous, so I was a little gutted not to be able to photograph it. I was talking to my technophobe mom on the phone just before I left, though, and when I said I did not trust myself to borrow one from someone, she cheerily replied that it was okay; I could just draw all my memories.

Brilliant; right? Except that I used to be a much better artist and now, after about 15 years of barely putting a pencil to paper, I’m no better at than I was, well, when I was forgetting toothbrushes and pajamas at spend-the-night parties. Anyhow, I took her advice, as you can see with the feature art on this post. That was the view from our cabana on the sea, which was in a really, REALLY nice hotel that we never would have been able to afford, had it not been low season and had the hotel not been desperate to fill rooms, thus giving us about a 50 percent discount, plus dinner. Add to that some birthday cash from my sister and brother-in-law and it was right in my budget.

We also probably never would have stayed there under different circumstances, either, because it was totally a couples hotel and everything was super romantic: strong red colors; one of those sexy, double showers; one bed in all the rooms. It was a king-size, though, so it was easy to share and still have lots of space left in the middle of the mattress. But I just about tackled Tanya the next morning, when she was loudly complaining as we walked by reception, because I had “crippled her” the night before during “our event.”

“Easy!” I had said, but she still didn’t get it and went on to scold me for forgetting how much older she is than I am, so I just sighed and gave up, letting the rest of the hotel think we had had some kinky night together, when ACTUALLY she was just rehashing the fact that I had made her run through a rainstorm, because I had just wanted to leave the bar she had dragged me to in the first place. Then she woke up sore and achy and blamed me, but in a very ambiguous manner to any eavesdroppers.

The whole three days were on the same side of hilarious, me constantly telling her how dramatic she was and her looking at me like she didn’t know how I’d made it this far in the world. But we survived— other than my near-death experience at the ruins at Coba, because I just HAD to go up the grand pyramid, which they still let you climb for some reason I cannot understand. There should be people falling off every 10 minutes, really. It’s the second tallest one on the Yucatan Peninsula and steep as hell, so of course, it beckoned to me, as does any good view in a new place. I guess because I am short, I have always sought out the highest vantage points in new places. Thus, there was no hesitation when I left Tanya to wait at the bottom, scaling the steps like a mountain goat— until I was maybe a quarter of the way up. Then I stopped for just a second to make sure I was not charging toward someone coming down.

And I froze. I couldn’t move. I could go neither up nor down; I was simply frozen. I didn’t know what to do. This had never happened to me before, though I do have an occasional fear of flying. So, I could see people coming down and there was a big mass of them and some of them were using the rope in the middle, which was the only measure I saw to get myself out of there, but I would have to wait for them to pass to be able to hold onto it and at that moment, I was not even sure I could sit down. I took a deep breath and forced myself to scoot sideways. I reasoned that if I could just get off to the side and calm down, they would pass and I could continue to climb. I took little steps and eased myself over, over, over, finally planting my rear end down but I still had a hard time shaking that feeling like I was already falling. I was totally convinced that I was going to tumble right down.

The mass of people eventually passed by and among them was a young boy, maybe 5 years-old, and there was a man who did not seem to be his father in charge of catching him, should he fall, and he was backing down ahead of the boy, gently reminding the little guy to hang onto the rope, because the boy was doing that thing that kids do, where they are oblivious to the evils that can snatch them out of the world. And then he goes, “If I fell, I would die,” to which the man laughed and answered: “That’s the spirit.”

So maybe I was wrong about kids’ perspective on the world.

I did finally make it all the way to the top and the view was totally worth it, as you can maybe tell by this person’s picture, and then I eased back down the stairs again and when I got back onto tierra firma, my legs were all wobbly and I had actually pulled an inner thigh muscle from how tightly I had been holding my body.

On our last day, we went back to the best beach of all the ones we had visited and I was kind of hoping to find my sunglasses that had flown off that first day that we went there but I knew I wouldn’t, because they are long gone and might one day wash up again, covered in barnacles, but that will be years from now. I walked along the beach anyhow and hopped across a few rocks, just to check all the crannies and make sure they were indeed gone, and what I did find was a breath mint that said “Fear does not ride on a donkey.”

I am not sure what that means, really. It just seemed pertinent to my life right now, so I will leave you with that thought, as well as a picture of me losing my glasses, because you will note how happy I am in the picture and it’s true; I was sad to lose them, because I feel wasteful when I am careless with nice things, but at the same time, I would always much rather lose something replaceable than lose something that you can never replace.

Read more from Biding time in Mexico, Life
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 23 2010

    Hell yes! I’m glad I checked Facebook today! You are going on my Google Reader right… now!

  2. Pep
    Jul 25 2010

    Great Maggie! Did you forget anything on the top of the pyramid?


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