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.
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.
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.
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.