19 January 2011

Mexican Meanders: Oh Latin America, You Have No Idea How Much I Missed You

I am back.

Yes, if you have been paying attention closely, I have been away from Buffalo for a week. I have been frolicking in another country, and as I said here, it was a destination that added to my country count. Yes boys and girls, damas y caballeros, I can now say that I have been to 19 countries. And the nineteenth country was none other than Mexico.

For this trip, I decided to blog about it differently. Back in May 2008, I went to Peru. I blogged about the trip by having one entry a day. I later realized that the entries would be too long, and there are just too many things to cover in one day if one were to write one entry per day. Thus, instead of doing that again, I am writing this trip in themes. I have spent a full week in Mexico, and there were plenty of things to talk about.

But before I post the pictures I have taken (yes, there will be pictures, at least samples of them, given the fact that I have a 2 year delay in posting them), let me give an overall impression of the place. This would serve as a good introduction to the whole series, no?

As a start, I should say that Mexico first gave me the impression of home. I already alluded to that in my teaser post. The sights that one sees immediately after landing at the airport looked like the Philippines. The graffiti, the noise, the smell, everything felt like home. And yet, it was different at the same time.

Perhaps what immediately made an impact on me was the realization that I was still in North America. Until now, my experience in North America has been limited to Canada and the United States. Thus, I had an impression of the continent as one that featured a strong desire for individuality, cruel cold weather (I live in Buffalo, folks) and modernity. In contrast to that, Mexico City was hot, chaotic, and human. I thought that North America was the bastion of individualism and modern innovations, resulting in a society that was just superficially alive, and everyone just exists within one's small and limited bubble. Mexico City, which happens to be Latin America's largest city, is the total opposite. I was forced to interact with people. Everywhere you look, there are people, and in almost every situation I was in, I had to interact with someone. Whether it was buying my metro tickets, or eating at a taco stall, there was a person in which one connects with. I actually loved that chaos.

Honestly, this was the first trip in which I entertained the thought of what if I don't come back to Buffalo. Back in 2007, when I went to Ecuador, and in 2008 as well, when I went to Peru, I started to itch and want to go back to Buffalo around the last day or two of my trip. I started longing for the routine that I left behind, my lab, my research, my degree. This time, I never felt the itch. In fact, what I felt instead was that the time I had spent in the vacation was rather short, and what if I never boarded that plane, what if I boarded a bus instead and traversed Mexico, perhaps even crossing into Guatemala? After all, I was legally allowed to stay for 180 days in the country, a full 6 months.

I felt like I was spellbound, hypnotized, and as I waited for the boarding time for Delta Air Lines 364 to Atlanta, I wondered what would happen if I retraced my steps. I felt like breaking out of my skin and running away.

Obviously, the rational side of my brain won, otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this. My email inbox is full with emails I need to attend to, and I already have a meeting scheduled with my adviser the day after I arrive.

Flying back, listening to Idan Raichel was a comfort. Listen to this, it's a good soundscape that approximates what I felt flying back, knowing that I was departing something magical, something feral, something that made my adrenaline run.

Looking at the bright side, my brain is energized. I am now ready to face the semester. Here's to a productive semester ahead.

(Parading the Toddlers, from my Cusco Series)


  1. Amazingly inspiring post. How I wish I could visit the places you have had gone within my lifetime.

  2. edsan,

    Dream, and take steps to follow the dream. Dream small, little steps, and eventually you'll get there.

  3. Long time no see :-)
    Glad to see you enjoyed and fell in love with Mexico... this should always be the case when travelling !
    I wish you a productive semester !

  4. Sidney,

    I sure did! And yes, I think this has been the best travel experience I have had so far, I wish it were longer definitely.

  5. I too had this ambivalent feeling about returning to New York each time I'm about to finish a trip - there's always that "what if" nagging me, to leave everything behind and just move on to anywhere. But, as you can see, common sense dictated otherwise.

  6. TNP,

    Glad to know that I am not alone. I think it's the normal response after one gets an awesome and incredible vacation.

  7. Neat! I was missing traveling in general too. Mexico was a complete surprise to me as well, it seems like India in a north american setting...

  8. Priyank,

    Well I am glad that I was able to do part of it with you!

  9. I finally get a chance to sit down and read about your trip to Mexico!

    I totally understand what you mean, when you write that to you, North America is cold, organized, individualistic... I had the reverse experience since I traveled all around Latin America before coming to the U.S and later to Canada.

    I can almost feel the chaos of the street here! I miss that in Canada. Although to be honest, it's nice to live in an organized country. I may enjoy hanging around the zocalo as a tourist but life in Mexico can be hard I guess. reading on...

  10. Zhu,

    I agree, it is nice to live in an organized country. However, it's these little snippets of chaotic experience that makes us appreciate how organized the place we are living in. Some people just take it for granted.