Yet for me the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle Pico Iyer
For me, as a matter of fact, Mexico began in the United States, more specifically, in Nogales – a big city lying on both sides of the border between the USA and Mexico (nogales in English means walnuts). As I got there quite late, I thought that it would advisable to spend the night on the American side and to get into Mexico only next day. What’s more, to make sure that nobody will bother me at night, I decided to behave culturally, and to put up my tent on a real campground.
The first of the camps was said to be very close, maybe a mile from McDonnald, where I had the last (hopefully) American hamburger. Unfortunately, I cycled here and there, I asked, I was looking for but could not find it. Therefore, I went to look for the other, but instead I found a huge supermarket. In the meantime, it got dark and it seemed that the plan to have a safe place to sleep, unfortunately fizzled. Well, I thought, once again I’ll have to settle for a cozy shade under a roadside tree.
Anyway, I saw a police car, so I went to ask if the nearby area was safe. The police said that I should go to hotel, checked my documents (luckily they did not check the money, cause I had three dollars in cash, but if that had happened I could have showed my credit cards), and then they concluded that if I have little money, I should go to church. Why not, I thought, the last time I stayed in church four years ago, in Zimbabwe.
So I went to look for the church, someone threw a firework on me, but missed, but thanks to this I stayed in, and looked across the street In the dim light of the lantern I saw a few car trailers. I came closer to see if it could be a better place to stay than the church
I passed the open gate and took a few steps toward a boy, standing next to one of the trailers. Before any of us said anything, I figured out that it was not a hidden camping, but, more or less legal encampment of Mexican immigrants. I asked the boy whether I could pitch a tent somewhere, and he answered that I could do it in the yard of his house, but he has yet to make sure and ask grandma. He came back for a moment, saying that the grandmother does not agree. Typically, in such situations, I just go ahead and ask the next person, and probably I would have done it this time, if the window of the trailer hadn’t opened. After a moment of conversation in Spanish, and reassuring Grandma, that I am not a gangster chasing by the police, I sat in the middle of the trailer, feasting on eggs and tortillas. Grandmother insisted that I could stay outside, because I am a guest and it would not be proper, and besides, it would be dangerous, and, apart from that, Dios sees everything in advance, so, I had no choice, and had to accept the invitation.
This evening was another warm and pleasant encounter among a whole series of similar evenings I spent during the last two weeks in the United States. After visiting immensely hospitable couple – Mark and Nicolle, I still had the pleasure to spend the night in Tucson with their friends – John and Emily. Emily is engaged in handicraft and allowed me to pretend to be the artist, and John is a former sailor, who decided to become a firefighter. I rarely meet people who smile as much as he did.
I crossed the border in Nogales, paid $ 27 for a visa, and after crossing the town, got into the dark, desert night. In the evening I met a man who offered me a taco, gave a bottle of water on the road and said he is glad that gringos start coming back to Mexico, because he loves his country and what they say on TV about Mexico is far from the truth
The book „Amexica: War Along the Borderline” by Ed Vulliamy, begins with a description of dead, decapitated bodies, exposed to public view, and then, one can immerse themselves into a few hundred pages of shocking violence. Not that I denied of anything from the book. The author has done a great deal of work in described the frontier. But besides that, there is also a lot of smile in Mexico, warm greeting words, friendly gestures and lots of hospitable people, who love, cherish their life, and don’t do anything from the stuff described in that book. And although it sounds naive, I hope that this is the image of Mexico – a beautiful country, full of warm, friendly people – that I will keep for myself and I could still share it.