How did I get to Mexico?

The three of us in El Cajon, CA

I grew up in San Diego where Mexico influences everything. We had a favorite Mexican restaurant we dined in at least monthly.  Later we frequently took a camper and dune buggy to places like Rosarito, El Golfo, San  Felipe, and Puertocitos.

Near Rosarito with my friend Kim Dodds
Near Rosarito with my friend Kim Dodds

Long after I located to the northwest my heart continued to sing to corridos and mariachis. Later I became fluent in Spanish while serving as a Mormon missionary in Venezuela. Long after my mother passed away, my father’s long love affair with Mexico powered his move to Merida, where he married a Mexican and lived out the rest of his life as the Old Gringo, enjoying a cult following as a frequent poster on the submarine veterans bulletin boards online.

Eventually, I thought my way out of belief and afterwards the world made sense to me as it never had before. The only thing is, religion is essentially an institutional denial of death. Without that, I was left exposed to the Grim Reaper. And I always wondered what good came of the time I spent on a mission? So after a string of failed relationships, I swore off the hunt for a companion and decided to take a trip to Oaxaca, where, I had heard people live dance and party with death. I started the trip by decompressing on the beaches of Huatulco. It was great. I didn’t even mind being sick in my hotel room for two days. It was a great purge.  By the end of my stay there, it became clear what stress was doing to me, noticeable by it’s absence. I slept soundly and dreamt kaleidoscopically. Now the stage was set for what transpired in the city of Oaxaca.

I hopped the puddle jumper to Oaxaca, checked into my hotel, then met up with Laurie, an American ex-pat introduced to me by a friend in the states. Laurie oriented me to all things Oaxaca after which I asked her to alert me to any cool events, parties, etc. I then set it out on some commerce missions, buying woodcarvings, black pottery, and a woven blanket. Just walking around the old center was magical.
It was like burning Man, stuff just happened. Spontaneous parades, and adorable operetta put on by highschooler’s, outdoor concerts, and amazing food. I just had to go with the flow and magic just happened. Laurie let me know about a bar where there was a regular Tuesday night reading poetry and music jam. I was game and after a great day spent looking for a wall hanging in Teotitlan,
I made it to the Nuevo Babel. I ate  something and seeing nobody I knew was getting up to leave when Laurie, another American woman, and Rocío, Mexican artist entered. Laurie asked if I was leaving and I said no I was just moving to the patio I was seated closest to Rocío so it was easy to converse with her. I asked her for a card so I could see her artwork online.

The next morning, before I left for a tour of Monte Alban, I emailed Rocío to complement her work and suggested it would be nice to hang out sometime before I went home. At Monte Alban, I let Bonnie a flautist from Nuevo Babel and her husband Matt and hung with them all the way back to the hotel in Oaxaca specializing in chocolate. I’ll drinking hot chocolate I checked my email and saw a note from Rocío saying that she had Thursday, October 31, open and would be happy to drink a coffee or a mezcal in the evening. More on mezcal later. I said to Bonnie and Matt, I have a choice between a cooking workshop that night or hanging out with the cool artist she said are you nuts go with the artist. So, thanks to the iPad and Internet to set a date with Rocio.

Earlier the next day I scoped out the activities in the Panteon General, the big cemetery. I would normally have been creeped out by the chaotic Gothic park of death but the atmosphere was festive, people decorating graves and tunes, altars in stages of completion, and the carnival set up across the street from the cemetery.

So Rocío came by at 7 o’clock. We dined on a terrace then took a cab to the cemetery where we sat on opposing benches in front of a tomb then  I pulled out a bottle of mezcal and 2 cups. It was magic, talking, drinking, and watching the festive stream of death embracing locals. We later met Laurie and her entourage whom we followed back to the Zocalo. After a spell in a mezcaleria we


walked up the on the door to the point where we would go separate ways. Rocio and Oaxaca are blended together into a vision of a life so different from the one I had envisioned. Without intending to it seems I’m following my father’s path. One filled with art, travel, and the weightlessness of retirement.

So that’s how I got here. I’ll post here on my observations of Mexico and of course the things that catch my eye for paintings as well as their progress in work.
Nos vemos!

2 thoughts on “How did I get to Mexico?

  1. This story is just as I remembered you telling it in your apartment on Capitol Hill (our last artist support group meeting). I have been wondering if Rocio is still in your life. Glad I get to ask this question. Thanks for the format!

    Best to you, Brian!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *