When the plane touched town in Aeropuerto Benito Juarez last Saturday, that familiar sensation that accompanies anyone traveling ran through my body like the orgasm I did not have in the plane bathroom (Mile High Club attempt THWARTED by the fact that I slept through the entire flight! Thwarted! Angry!). It’s that shimmery shudder of nervousness and excitement and possibility, the temptation and beckon of the unknown that rises through your being as you land in new territory. The possibilities are endless.
I had temporary amnesia, it would seem. I had forgotten that I was traveling back to a place where, well, let’s just say that MENSA isn’t actively seeking any new members south of the border. Where getting to any thrilling escapade requires lines, buses, shit loads of traffic, and at least three interactions with people who think Bad Boys II is brilliant cinema. Yes, my bienvenida was laden with typical Mexican mishaps, all of which made me ecstatic that I am currently here not to live but travel, and far away at that. Here are the best:
1) Wait – I’m Not American?
When go through customs in an airport, there are two lines: Nationals and Foreigners. These lines are ALWAYS denoted by hanging signs larger than my family and written in more languages than Rosetta Stone makes programs. In most cases, the Foreigner line is far longer that the National one and moves slower. One would assume that one is always sure of where one is flying (although I and I friend did once have to ask an airport official in Honduras what country we were in – she was correct whereas I was positive we were in El Salvador; in my defense, we’d been on three tiny planes in two hours). Mexicans, however, apparently believe that going out of their country revokes citizenship. At least, that’s what I assume, since airport officials had to gently usher not one, not two, but FOURTEEN MEXICAN CITIZENS (yes I counted) from the Foreigner line to the Viva one. They had been waiting no less that 30 minutes, where as the Mexpress line was just chugging along briskly. You’d think with all the goddamn blind patriotism these people rail on about they’d be more cognizant of which line they should be on. That, or they think that giong to Texas for the weekend actually makes you an American.
2) La Classe? La Trash.
After an hour in New York, my boyfriend turned and said: “I see what you mean about the fashion.” Fact is, we’ve got style, a concept that seems to have been lost in translation. While Mexico City’s got some dapper denizens (who probably jet off to New York to buy their outfits, come to think of it), the rest of the country is a tragic mix of burlap and baby prostitute. I have been here for a year and a half and I accept it. What was too much for me, though, after three weeks back home and only a day back, was to see a woman sitting on the side of the highway waiting for the bus, applying a full face of makeup as though she were at the Sephora counter. The only people who are allowed to do this are tranny hookers and international spies. Otherwise it’s a fatal flaw. Literally. She could be dabbing concealer and a bus could swerve, and she would be dead. If we were supposed to have our ass dragging on cement we would have born with legs on the sides, like crabs and centipedes. If we were supposed to put makeup on in the street, there would be mirrors on bus stop poles.
3) Heroes in a Half Shell…
Imagine: Your kid goes to New York for two weeks, capital of art, fashion, culture, food, etc. What is the first thing you ask? Apparently it’s: “Did you go into the dangerous areas? I really hope not.” The second is: “Did you go to the place where the Ninja Turtles ate pizza?” The conversation was then changed to something that happened while they went to Oaxaca, and still haven’t really discussed my BF’s life-changing, best trip ever.
4) Bus Crash
The bus we were in crashed two nights ago, which I foresaw after he took a turn with the inner wheels flying in the air on the Recta Cholula at 50 mph in a work zone, dirt shooting up and cumbia blaring.
“He’s gonna fucking crash,” I said matter-of-factly.
“No he’s not, we’re just in Puebla. You’ve forgotten,” BF said dismissively.
Five minutes later, right as we were standing up to get off the bus: BOOM! Another turn taken like someone who plays too much Need For Speed and then bribes someone for a bus driving license and the Dodge Neon behind us went catapulting into the sidewalk, and later the car behind him. The driver, to his credit, didn’t flee the scene but rather ran over to the accident behind him. We, on the other hand, after rolling our necks and making sure we didn’t need braces, decided that running away would be an excellent idea.
I could go on: The girl in WalMart who would not let me buy the 10 peso pineapple sponge (of which there was a bin of 500, with a huge sign saying 10 PESOS!) for my boyfriend without price-checking it with the Beauty Department, who was a combined age of 16 and not available (didn’t get to buy it); the tuna salad for which I paid 54 pesos that was actually a scoop of tuna on a piece of lettuce. The fact that it’s 75 degrees and people are bundled up for an Everest expedition. But why fill the air with negativity? I can now observe this from the outside, as a bemused anthropologist, as opposed to someone who’s job depends on that damn bus crashing.
And as a friend of my mother’s told me, I’m spoiled. Spoiled not because I’m from a first world country; I’m sure those drawlin’ mamas down south would piss me off just as much if not more than people here (at least I can understand the accent of people in Mexico). But it is quite difficult to go from a place in which you can get dirty martinis and intellectual conversations 24/7 to one in which the inhabitants don’t even know their nationality. Don’t berate my bashing: You need to see it to believe it.