04:30 min read
When I was eight years old and we were sitting on that striped Amazigh blanket on the sand, my mother told me about a woman who swam into the ocean, then laid on her back and closed her eyes. The ocean slowly and carefully carried her out into its belly, when she opened her eyes she could not find any piece of earth above the water.
When I was eight years old I wanted to be this woman. Not because I wanted to disappear into the blue but because I knew she had survived. I knew for certain she was alive.
When I was floating in the calm pool-like waters of Playa Boquilla, an obscure beach that took 45 minutes to get to, and a part of my 23 year old self wanted to close my eyes on top the waves and be carried away. Not because I have any particular nihilistic desire but because I wanted to know what it’s like to feel safe enough to keep your eyes closed long enough to be swallowed by the sea.
Sometimes there’s not enough words to describe the fullness of knowing you can take care of yourself. It’s a knowing that you can, finally, trust yourself. Similar to being small in a big ocean, you’re there floating, and no part of you is too big or too strange for the vastness around you. You are being held by a force or being that has been there for a millennia before you and will exist long after your kind die out. So let’s say an ocean opened up inside me on this trip to Mexico (with a brief stint in Costa Rica).
Learning to say no when something doesn’t feel right to leave room for better things has been a lesson on repeat for me on this trip. My first day and a half in the beachtown of Mazunte in the state of Oaxaca was somewhat lonely. I had just left the huge Mexico City where walking around solo and anonymously was the norm. Here in this small beach town, everybody stared and wondered what I was doing here on my own (or at least this is what I imagined). On top of that, not speaking Spanish well enough left me feeling isolated and unable to use my usual charm and wit to find a new friend or two. Let’s just say I really began to appreciate the power of a small talk at that point. I arrived on Thursday and by Friday I was bored enough to see what was going on in Zipolite, the next beach town farther south on the coast line.
As I was waiting for a taxi on the road out of town, I decided at the last minute to stick out my thumb and hitchhike since there seemed to be few taxi colectivos going in the direction I wanted. Lo and behold a small dark blue Volkswagen stops and two guys ask where I´m going. When I said Zipolite, they said hop in. I sensed the situation was fine so I got in. We arrived in the next small town of Zipolite and the driver, a man in his late 30´s, told me about a precious little mezcal place right on the beach in Zipolite. I was already bored so I joined them for a taste of mezcal, some with scorpion soaking in it, others with cannabis, and the ones I tried with orange and one with lavender. I wasn’t having that much fun but I was still interacting with someone. Plus this guy was paying for all my drinks. Not that I drink that much. But the conversation got weird when the guy told me that he owned a bunch of hotels in Mexico. And the last straw was when he casually said he was going to visit his friends in Israel next month. I decided it was time to leave and I would rather spend another quiet night wandering solo on the beach than hang out with this clusterfuck of entitlement.
It was at this point in my trip that I was beginning to feel the power in saying “no this is not for me”. This would prove very useful to me later when I arrived in San Jose at Casa and find myself in a not so ideal situation. I left Zipolite to head back to the hostel in Mazunte and call it a night.
This was when I met Rodolfo and Carlos. Two friends who would make the rest of my night and next days extremely playful and adventurous in Mazunte. They had checked in to the hostel that night and just when I had settled into the hammock for a quiet night I thought it might be a good idea to strike up conversation. Rodolfo and Carlos are just as adventurous as I am with a propensity for late night star gazing and philosophical conversations that can just as easily devolve into daredevil shenanigans like skinny dipping in the sea under the moonlight.
It was in Mazunte that I fell in love with Mexico and its people. Mostly, I think I appreciated how much I trusted myself to connect with the right people. Gama and Esther who run the Hostal El Manguito were super generous and friendly, inviting me to join them for dinner or a hike to the natural jacuzzi. It’s this sense of extending companionship with all other human beings around you, with ease and not with forced extroversion, that I love about Mexico.
The point is that I learned how to say no this is not for me, and open space up for possibilities. I did not feel blocked in my need to find another route to what I wanted or needed. I learned that I can take care of myself. Even though I had planned on staying in San Jose, Costa Rica for 3 weeks, I left and switched the course of my entire trip because I felt that I did not need to be there. I honored my intuition and made my way back to Mexico where I had connected with people and felt a lot more at home. I really wanted to be in Mexico as I have had a lifelong crush on this country and culture, but it took a roundabout way for me realize this. I am grateful for the Oaxaca sun for not carrying me away into the ocean and for letting me realize the power of listening to my inner voice, she knows, like the ocean, what I really need and want.