The Music of Mexico (22)

When I flew to Cabo San Lucas for the first time, a kind man took me in his taxi to catch the local bus just outside the airport. I remember a woman smiling at me when I took my seat. The bus driver left the door open as he drove, dirt flying away from the wheels where the side roads reached the paved highway. I was a ringing bell, the loud music and the air and the open desert in the distance resonating through me. I was so filled up I cried. There were times when I lived in Mexico when instead it was all dissonance, when I counted music blasting from six different neighbors in crazed competition, or on the fourteenth day of the town saint’s festival when the rockets exploded nonstop, and after two weeks of it, my endurance was shot. I wanted to scream. But there is a cadence to a country, some etheric weaving of language and land, of custom and spirit, and our bodies grow used to this rhythm. We miss it when it’s gone.

vegetables in wooden bins at Mexican market

When I first came back from Mexico, Sortera’s family produce stand at the farmer’s market here became one of my comforts. I latched onto them as one of the places I could still speak Spanish. I remember when I was still raw, listening to their rapid speech, their lively, happy banter, their laughter, for me the undercurrent to everyday life in Mexico running through it. I would stand there choosing a head of green cabbage, or filling a plastic bag with yellow and red and green bell peppers, and let it all wash over me, both soothed by it and filled with yearning. The ambient sounds were wrong, I know, but if I closed my eyes, I could have been standing at my favorite produce stand in the tianguis in Ajijic, the weight of the cabbage heavy in my hand. The day I spent in Algodones, it was the song of the grackles by the river that swept me back in time. And later in the little town’s zócolo, part park, part plaza, I sat on a white wrought iron bench and let the familiar sounds cradle me, the taco vendors, the music cranked up from someone’s car stereo, the loudspeaker mounted on a passing car announcing some event, the occasional grackle. I closed my eyes and let the music of Mexico wash over me. Now I let the memory carry me back, let it ring my bell.