Friday, April 21, 2006

Sweating in the tropics


Why leave the comfortable and familar for the discomfort of airports, bus stations, other people´s houses,
climates, microbes, exchange rates, etc?

Everytime I do it I am reminded of travels past. Large cities in particular remain a source of agony. As I scouted
the TAPO bus station for a place to sleep in Mexico City at 12 30am,I thought of past encounters w. giant cities. Days camping at a truckstop on the edge of Istanbul, sleeping rough in an alley near the Millenium Dome in London, climbing a wall to construction site in Paris in the middle of Saturday night. In this case it was a matter of a missed plane connection and no bus for another twelve hours. A case of waking up too late, wasting rediculous amounts of money rushing to the airport, only to mix up airlines, miss my flight to O´Hare and spend hours in a parking lot at in Washington D.C.reading a novel and taking the sun when I was supposed to be flying calmly into southern Mexico.

All the subsequent flights on the last leg were booked solid, and had horrible connections anyway. I dreaded the 15 hour bus ride more than anything, even more than the horrendously loud bus terminal with its floor polishers waxing away relentlessly in the middle of the night. Even more than sharing a little hut in the parking lot with a compañero in the dark, pesos and euros and pounds and quarters falling out of my pockets as always. But all was well in the end, none of the thieving nightmares every Western tourista dreams about befell me in that city of thirty million. My sweater came in handy for the first and last time this trip. I admit that I actually LIKE the guerilla camping, even w. a bad night´s sleep. Makes me feel a little bit George Orwell down and out wherever, wandering around in a daze the next day looking for un baño publico.

A million wasted pesos later I arrived after an easy, airconditioned bus ride that was only 12 hours (three bad Hollywood movies) long. Ah, the Latino tropics, where the only thing on the menu at 1am is mystery meat in a tortilla, and you´re happy to have it. Where it cools off to 25 degrees celcius. Where you can lose a foot in a crack in the sidewalk.
A place to be contento como los locales. A place to sweat and reflect.

No comments: