Colors of Mexico 2: Black
The black coffee burns my lips, and the pain makes me startle. How dumb I am! Why do I always drink the coffee right when it is served? I move my cup away from my lips, and I feel my tongue losing its taste. I put down my cup ornamented with colorful birds and the warm feeling on my lips flies away with them. I lean back on my chair and wait for the fresh air to cool my coffee down. I enjoy the evening’s mildness on the terrace of a café, around el Parque Santa Catarina. A lot of colorful leaves spin gracefully and filter the sunlight, matching the colored tables and chairs. An enormous yellow tower manages to clear itself a way through the branches: Santa Catarina church stands there. A graceful refuge where every lonely person clings to a star, as Dalida sings. I find it radiant. People around me chatter and discuss in an impenetrable language. This constant background murmur reassures me, a human presence among these rocks and trees. The church brings bad news: it rings at 7:00 pm. Like every night of the rain season, a storm is coming. Families and couples, who were relaxing and hanging out, head home while the sun is hiding. Umbrellas are blooming like flowers. The trees start to pitch and the luminosity decreases, lights are being turned on. Luckily, I am sheltered in the café. The bell’s ringing keeps on echoing in my mind, reminding me of the passage of another day. The ding-dongs count every hour I have lived through in this country. It is objectively few but it seems like an eternity. The perception of time changes when we go through radical experiences. Eternity becomes a second. Every instant remains etched into the memory forever. Which one is the longest; many forgettable years or some unforgettable minutes?
I drown my eyes in the black coffee, and my brain starts to mess up. I feel my heartbeat getting faster and faster and my left arm starts to hurt. My head gets mixed up and my ideas inflate. I am looping the sense of reality and my mind is nothing but something locked down in a body, it wants to escape at any cost. Being in my head, I know exactly what it means, and the only thing I want is to come out. I am afraid. Of what? I don’t know but I am scared. The ache in my elbow and wrist are getting more and more painful. What am I doing here? Is it even worth it? Isn’t the risk too big? I cannot control myself in my persuasion that something terrible is about to occur. In this unknown country, where a virus is spreading out exponentially, something is going to collapse in me. I am going to fall apart, like insects devouring the wood, my anxiety is eating me up and I’m going to end up collapsing. The wall of my unconscious is becoming cracked, and I don’t want to see what is hidden behind. The black of the coffee keeps on spreading in me and I feel invaded by an oil slick. How do I wash that away? I think it is too late, the oil is stuck to my bones. I must not forget to breathe. Breathe above all, and you’re going to get well soon.
I exit the café and drown myself in the ocean of water drops (I didn’t even realize that the rain had started to fall off the sky). Raindrops are falling over me like insults. The drop disappears right when it falls, but the body remains wet for a long time. And if the skin is finally drying, another drop finally comes to stab the heart. What can I do to avoid that? Nothing but accepting getting wet. The rain falls violently, hitting roofs and streets. Streams are shaping up along the pavement, moving forward as if they had somewhere to go, bypassing the obstacles of my shoes. Dead leaves are being carried away by force, crying the loss of their Mother Tree. They move purposelessly, and there is nothing worse than not having anywhere to go. This storm seems to be meant to last a long time. The thunder is rumbling and yet the rain turns into hail. I run, fleeing the pain of the bullets on my skin. I manage to find an available shelter, I would even accept a gutter. I am nearly run over, I slip but I finally make it to my front door, meaning the end of troubles.
I get undressed, lay bare, but still, I am soaked. Clothes are definitely useless against violence. I decide to go for a shower, hoping the water would take the water off. I had simply forgotten Mexican showers, where you go from a 10 degrees water that cools even your internal organs off, to a 60 degrees water that burns up to your bones. Navigating between these two extremes, I find an acceptable heat that warms me up.
In order to buck me up, my boyfriend channels his inner Mexican and makes hot chocolate. In Mexico, the dinner is mainly composed of sweeties and coffee or hot chocolate. In the beginning, an exclusively sweet dinner sounded extremely odd to me, but I actually grew accustomed to it. Travelling compels you to change your vision of the most basic things, what we think natural turns out to be culturally constructed. Opposed to our linear vision of time, Aztecs used to have a cyclical vision of it: events were meant to be repeated.
I break el chocolate Oaxaca (Oaxaca is a Mexican state where they grow chocolate) and melt it in the milk for around 20 minutes. Chocolate’s particles slowly mix up with the milk, making the color turn brown until the milk overflows. The voluptuous and smooth cloud of vapor spreads out in the whole apartment, blurring the roof. The chocolate is now ready, meaning the night can start off. We grab a blanket, switch Netflix on and play Ya no estoy aqui. The main action takes place in the disadvantaged areas of Monterrey, a northern Mexican city. There, houses are very close to each other and are all one floored and flat. Everything looks grey and similar, the streets are narrow and crowded. Built upon hills, stairs are the main way of transportation. Teenagers run up and down to meet up with friends and families, with whom they dance to cumbia. It isan originally Colombian style of music that made its way to Mexico. Inhabitants dance to escape reality and to deal with it. They try to face the world’s violence, which descends upon them at any time. Economic violence due to their poverty; sociological violence due to their place in the society, geographical violence due to their isolation compared to the rest of the city, gangs’ violence… Dancing is a way to assert their humanity and to fight stereotypes. They show the world their uniqueness and magnanimity. Perched on their hills, they dance like Aztec Reys used to do on the top of their pyramids. If you feel like watching a remarkable Mexican movie, don’t think twice and go for Ya no estoy aqui (the English title is I’m no longer here).
The black and silent night takes Mexico City over, leading me back into my thoughts. I need to go out on the balcony. The fresh air skims my cheeks, and nothing but the crickets interrupt the silence. I feel a light heartache coming. Away from my family, my friends and my country, I happen to feel homesick. I miss the safety of my own room, the sparking look of my parents, the communicator laugh of my friends… We only realize the importance of certain things when we distance ourselves from them. In the black night, my beloved ones’ spirits come to haunt me and take me home. I would like to find a balance between my adoration for Mexico, my boyfriend’s country, and my roots in France. Can’t I escape to an isolated and unknown island where I bring everything and everybody I need?
All these thoughts accompany me to bed, I am trying to fall asleep but a battle rages in me. My eyes are closed, but my brain is on. My conscience is exhausted and wants to sleep but my unconscious does not. My body is in the middle of this battle, feeling the pain but keeping on breathing. About to fly away, my body wants to land. Like when a plane is about to take off, my wheels are stuck to the ground. I am seeking for secure elements but I obviously can’t find, I don’t even know where I am. My teddy bear is the only thing that ties me in with the Earth. The following 7 hours, I won’t be neither sleeping nor awake. My conscience is sleeping but my unconscious is awake, taking me to a whole new world made of incoherence, fantasies and delirium. It might sound cool but I ensure you it is not. I wake up exhausted, I feel like the day before was a century ago because I’ve just come back from another world. I have dreamt of a number of things I can’t even count. I had my journey to the end of the night. Have you guys ever experienced this? Being half asleep but never falling in the deep sleep because you feel insecure? Too often, we associate nights with a pleasant and calm rest, but let’s not forget that it looks more like torment for a lot of people.
You may wonder why I wrote down such a dark chronicle whereas I am telling about a wonderful experience. I just wanted to share the dark side of what can occur on a trip, to tell the truth. Yes, trips and novelties are absolutely extraordinary experiences, and I have had the most amazing time in Mexico. However, it does not mean that we don’t have dark sides and sad moments, and that anxiety never shows up. I happened to be scared, to feel lonely, homesick. These moments are normal, sometimes they are even hard to handle. They are signs that we are growing up and getting more mature. We become grown people when darkness and brightness pair up to shape a profound ‘I’, aware of its own strengths and weaknesses, ready to fight the world.
After the darkness, you will realize that better times are ahead.
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