Melancholy Musings from Mexico

written January 2021

In this moment, I am sitting at Sarajevo Cafe Jardin in San Cristobal de las Casas in the Chiapas region of Mexico. ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ by Etta James plays through the speakers. My eyes feel tired and I am wearing my glasses. I have spent the past hour or so sketching and painting with watercolors my view of the cafe. It is a beautiful space. A bar filled with coffee and drink contraptions and accompaniments separate the kitchen from the dining area. Tables and chairs are made with wooden elements, birch and mahogany colors, curved wicker seating and potted flowers as centerpieces. I am sitting on a cushioned bench with a pillow behind my back. I notice the blender going off in the background now. The morning brunch crowd has dissipated and the staff seem to be enjoying the downtown. A waitress is slowly enjoying her meal. Her eyes and face also look tired, well worn probably from hours of standing and engaging with people. I can relate to that feeling well. I have spent the past almost 10 months traveling by myself, meeting people and exploring Thailand and Mexico. Sometimes I feel inadequate that I am not running through the country, going to places and doing all the tours or seeing all the sights. In all honesty, I wonder why I am traveling. My guess is that I am looking for true love. All the self help books say that true love comes from within. I believe that, yet I also intrinsically believe that I am searching for my life partner. Someone that makes me feel at home with myself. I called my mom yesterday and had a chat with her. Grandma is in the hospice section, Aunt Winnie has been the primary caretaker. I wonder how much of this life is unfolding right before my eyes and I am focused on my internal dialogue. 

Yesterday, in an attempt to join my hostel friends for a Temascal (Mexican sauna), I missed the timing and ended up sitting in the streets of Rancho San Nicholas, with my phone at 1% battery, no available taxis and the thought in my head that I should be panicking. Something came over me that said: just be patient. Wait and see what unfolds. So I sat there on the street, frustrated, after unsuccessfully attempting to locate my new friends. I find that I hold others to high expectations. Perhaps I am looking for friends who wonder about my whereabouts. Perhaps it’s more about how I treat myself. That I am not consciously choosing friends that are looking out for my well being? Or maybe it’s just everyone is in their own story and I should be more proactive about my role in the collective consciousness? Feelings of fear, anxiety, not fitting in come up in situations. I know I should be meditating more. Or maybe it’s exactly enough. There is this mirror exercise where you look into your eyes and tell yourself I love you. And I am loving myself. All of the messy, chaotic, indecisive, beautiful parts of myself. I feel that there is this weird quest for perfection. As I sat outside the quiet, sandy street, wondering what to do, an American rolled up in a beat up car, looking for a car camping spot. We had a chat about a few minutes long before he ended up settling into his camping spot and I was shooed away by the campground supervisor in Spanish. He pointed me towards the end of the street of Rancho San Nicholas, mentioning that there might be someone there who spoke English and know more about the temascal. I wasn’t too convinced but figured that was a better lead than sitting on the street until my phone died. So, I walked towards the houses at the end of the street, noticing that one of them seemed to have some life happening in it.

During a New Years Eve acid trip at Lagos Montebello with the Puerto Vieja crew, I played a music set from Eyal’s ecstatic dance on November 22, the last one on my beloved crystal island in Thailand. It was a musical journey that seemed to bring everyone into a beautiful inner journey. So much so that they asked me to share it with them afterwards and continue listening to it these past few days. The acid trip revealed to me the following: intimacy issues, as everyone was sharing beds and randomly sleeping in any one of them, my hesitancy to share a bed with strangers, my own self doubt and limiting beliefs, the belief that every comment was offensive and a personal negative attack, that I felt insecure in my self, that we should respect Mother Nature more. That I would rather freeze by the dying fire than clamber into bed to rest. Why did I sexualize everything? At one point, I felt a deep connection to the Earth and felt her pain. Her sorrow. How she has so much to give and give and does not receive the fullness of the respect, love and care that she deserves. That we treat her without tenderness. Without affection. Without love. Another point of the journey at the cabins led to an understanding of my ancestors and the decisions they had to make. I was standing on the porch of one of the cabins. To the right was the view of the lake and vista, with unfinished concrete buildings in progress. To the left was the finished houses and a green road leading out to the rest of the national forest. As a Rufus du Sol song played, I felt my spirit and body move to the rhythms. A modern dance of the decision of being pulled back towards the ancestral roots to build something concrete, lasting and stable versus traversing to the unknown world to discover what it had to offer. I felt the feelings of not being understood or cared for in the family that I was given. The search for a vagabond crew of people who would take me in. The search for self. It felt so heavy and so cold. I spent a lot of the night sitting cross legged at the fire, deep in my subconscious and mind. The chattering and drunken revelry from those that didn’t join in on the acid trip felt like a distraction. I craved quiet. At one point, there was a giant cuddle puddle outside under the stars, watching the moon and a luminescence halo strung around it. Face the facts. This is all I can write about. The facts. The cold hard truth. ‘Signed Sealed Delivered. I’m yours,’ playing through the speaker.

I wonder when this heart will open.

Back to the story of Rancho San Nicholas: I walked into a yard where I met Milo Manzana, a Mexican man from Sonora who has spent the last ten years of his life making hand pans, a beautiful musical instrument that is integral in sound healing. He let me charge my phone and showed me how he made his instruments, even allowing me to play a few of them until I had enough battery (on my phone and in my soul) to make the journey back to the hostel. Going the same way I came: alone. I came across hand pans first in Koh Phangan and it always seems to be a reminder of the journey that I am on. Life sends signs, synchronicities and messages to remind me that while I may experience moments of doubt, that if I am truly following my heart and what I want, I will be where my soul has intended me to be. And I wonder what that would feel like.

To finally be in communion with my soul in its wholeness. I bet it feels fantastic.

Safe. Warm. Comfortable.

I think this has been such a lonely year. Melancholy seems like such a natural state for me. I know that gratitude, appreciation and looking for the silver lining is the ultimate antidote for moments like this.

So, in this moment, I will list all of the things I am grateful for: my parents who are alive and healthy and well, my brothers, my entire family, my freedom, sitting in a cafe in Mexico, enjoying time to myself to express creatively, my art supplies, my hands, my mind, my heart, my body, my eyes, my lungs, the genius of this physical container, the people in this cafe, the workers, the farmers who cared for the food that ends up on my plate, the food, the absolutely delicious food. 

This is a small excerpt from a collection of my reflections that I’ve gathered throughout my travels. They are a very intimate look inside my psyche. I hope you enjoy.

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