For the first time in my life I missed my plane—my plane from SFO to Mexico City. Serenely I saw my flight leave without me. It was O.K. Everything has a reason, even if that reason if for me to learn to read the clock correctly.
Besides Mexico was still there when I arrived twelve hours latter, hot and humid like I remembered. The river was still there too, and so were the cobblestone streets, the stray dogs roaming and howling at night, and my mother with a hose in her hand watering her jungle of a garden.
At the Callejon del Diamante I bought a necklace of giant ojo de venado seeds, eyes of dear seeds traditionally tied on children with red ribbons to prevent the evil eye. I believe I am protected now for a hundred years.
Lalo the jewel maker lives in a three story house with a patio with a jinicuil tree. My friend Meche says the fruit might be delicious but those trees are full of hairy caterpillars, the kind that stings you and would give you a fever. Good thing Lalo spends most of his time inside his studio making silver and wooden jewelry, like the rings he made for my husband Tim and I; two rings made of one same silver band with prehispanic seashells design.
Luis Felipe has long hair down his waist (and so does his wife and their daughter) and he makes Jaranas out of one single piece of wood. As the vocalist and requinto player of the group Los Sonex, he is one of the best musicians in town. His group have just released their first album, there one can hear the song La Bamba being interpreted by the by the vocalist of the Café Tacuba . I wanted to buy the CD and so I looked for it all over town, but everywhere I went the album was sold out. Instead Kelly my son took requinto lessons from Luis Felipe and so, at the end we managed to bring his music home.
Did I bring anything else from Mexico? I made new pants sewing together patterned fabrics in many colors, and I have them here with me now. I brought coconut candy that I have been eating carefully and little by little after dinner. I carried a whole suit case full of jars of hot salsa with almonds. I had Señora Bordadora embroidering flowers on one a dress. Manuela gave me a reboso soft and multicolored like a fiesta. We also brought the strength of the river with its floating dragon flies and its singing rocks. We carried inside us the amazing heat of the ancient Temazcal bath that one takes inside a clay little room shaped like belly, where they bring red-hot burning rocks inside and then seal the doors so that one can feel like bring devoured by the earth.
Along we brought the love of our family with their laughs and their jokes, the food shared for hours and hours, the music at the neighbors house that the whole street can hear, the traffic stuck behind the garbage truck in a narrow street, the tortilla soup at the Green Leave restaurant where people can come in with their dogs, the handmade posters on the street encouraging people to walk more and drive less, the ice-cream cart outside the supermarket, which sells the most delicious helado de mamey ever, and the itching stings of a hundred mosquitoes.
And all of these should last us long enough.
Photograps by Kelly O’Meara