“Life is like the surf”

For the first time since arriving in Mexico, I feel that the weeks were settling into a rhythm. School continued as ever before; I enjoyed increasingly the new apartment. A couple of weekends in, Jonny invited me and Nick to his home in Guanajuato, the neighbouring state. A scatterbrained trip followed, with a disproportionate amount of time spent driving round dusty towns looking for Jonny’s ex-girlfriends, but Guanajuato city, surely one of the most beautiful in the whole of Latin America, and a spectacular, blinding-white crater lake made up for it.

After being a guest for three days, seeing the sea of lights of GDA appear on the horizon was as welcoming as a hug. I was surprised at how relieved I felt to be back in the metropolis, where I didn’t need to rely on getting a lift to go anywhere. Here the only tools needed to survive and flourish are a phone and a wallet.

Time passes slowly when I have less independence – I have now spent almost as much time in the apartment as I did with Ruth and Juarez, but it feels as though it has passed about twice as fast. I find myself becomg more used to “Mexican time”, but not less frustrated by it. I know perfectly well that “Let’s have dinner at 7.30” means we’ll start cooking at half past nine and eat at half past ten, or “We’ll leave at 4” means sometime after six, but the knowledge does not take the edge off. Perhaps I am more British than I like to admit: swapping stereotypes with Jonny’s father, the first trait he said was “punctuality.” Mercedes, my teacher for Level 8, is still liable to bring a conversation to a irreperable halt with an extraordinary opinion (“Gerard Pique is gay. Have you seen how he kisses Shakira? I kiss my dog with more passion”), but spoke about Mexican time with typical insight. The future tense is barely ever used because it borders on the blasphemous – if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for tomorrow. Instead the subjunctive, the possible, the wished-for, is used, which doesn’t often translate to English, but it makes me wonder if there is a relationship between that mindset and one’s attitude to arriving on time.

I taught Jonny how to cook pasta, which, to give him his due, is more complicated for a beginner than we in the west would think. After a lengthy question and answer session I started work on an essay, and returned half an hour later to find Jonny with a plate of plain, boiled pasta, solemnly forking one piece at a time. He has in return taught me how to heat up a good tortilla, which I imagine is a fair equivalent: six weeks later, he still laughs until he can barely breathe over the time Nick let his tortillas go dry. We had a barbeque, a carne asada, to see Nick off, and after a sad farewell tequila he left for the airport on Sunday morning. He is probably glad to escape the girls downstairs, who live life at a volume more suited to a football stadium, and have an unfortunate taste in music which does not make for good neighbours. Skyping Mum last week, they got back from wherever they’d been and within minutes the shrieking started. “What is going on down there?” Mum broke off, alarmed. “Is it domestic violence?”

Term finished on Friday and, after rushing slightly guiltily through an essay, I finally escaped academia and left GDA to begin my travels. As I write I am in DF, for the third and perhaps final time. The metro still enchants me effortlessly, with punk bands at the La Raza station and melancholy buskers shuffling through the carriages. Oaxaca, Chiapas, the Yucatan, Cuba… the names alone set my feet tingling.


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