Om Om Mexico
Om Om Mexico: A collection of short stories, in no chronological order
#1 - Puerto Escondido, West Oaxaca
It was a small day at La Punta and I choked. Not on water, but on that old familiar feeling of panic that consumed my heart when surfing now. I couldn't catch a wave in the busy line-up. The beginners were crushing the whitewash. I just sat there on my board, in my head, then would intermittently paddle through the glassy salt water, watching the left form on the rock jetty. The morning sun was already strong, my face felt overheated and warmed the skin under my rash guard. My head began its rant ‘You’re not enough. You’re too fat to surf. You’ve been doing this so long, why aren't you good at it?”
Yet the day before, my mental game was solid as I felt the high and motivation of Apnea training. I exhaled fully after the final round of our out-of-water session to feel my whole body tingling and my lungs slightly burning. In just an hour I had increased my breath hold substantially. Then came pool training. My head was held underwater, my hands clenching to the concrete pool rim, and that first wave of my bodies fight against the building CO2 arrived, I felt like I just couldn't take it anymore. Mentally I pushed through, “This is just uncomfortable. You can hold out longer. Fight the feeling to breathe. It’s all in your head.” My breath hold surpassed that of on land - I did it.
#2 - Puertocitos Bay, Baja California
We rolled in off the unpaved, pothole-ridden road by late afternoon. There was still plenty of sunlight to set up camp and explore the sparkling bay with warm-ish blue water and spanning views. The campground was all locals, us the exception, which gave us a sense of tapping a travel gem. There were no showers, sparse working toilets, no wifi, and nothing else we would have rather been doing. We set up under the palapa, seasoned the steaks and cleaned the crusted grill. I opened an Anniversary stout, aged almost three years, from one of our first brewery trips together. Sweet nostalgia.
We dipped our toes in the bay, then swam out together a hundred or so yards and made love in the open water. It felt naughty and exhilarating, and despite being in plain view, made us feel like we were the only ones there, completely connected. Although our bond, emotional and physical, had grown sparse. But in that moment, with the wide sky above us, and the fluidity of the water the only thing between our naked bodies and hearts, it gave me a feeling like it would never end.
#3 Valle De Guadalupe, Ensenada
I walked out of the winery feeling like a karaoke sensation. The crowds of wine drunk friends, old and new clapped as I exited, begging me to sing just...one...more. No, it was time to go. My friends wife had asked us to go home at least an hour ago, to make our way back to the border after a long day of local vino, fresh olives and a paella feast - all with the rolling green hills as a backdrop. I crossed the small dirt road to safely stow my unlabeled bottles of Nebbiolo and Syrah into the back seat of the van. I heard the hum of a vehicle. It sounded close. I turned to look over my right should to see a truck speeding down the dirt road towards me. Mentally, my mind engaged in a calculation of the series events about to unfold.
My first thought was if I had enough time to cross back onto the other side of the road, no. The headlights drew nearer and I knew I was going to get hit. This was it, I was going to die. My ex-boyfriend was on the other side of the passenger door, saying something to me, but I was in fight or flight, I heard nothing. He grabbed the van door and pulled it back with all of his strength, just as I heard the brakes on the truck screech to a halt. I saw the fear in his eyes, as he saw me get hit. I felt the cold metal bumper connect with my back. I was wedged between the truck and the door, braced for death. But it never arrived. I opened my eyes, astonished. I was still alive.
I heard a woman start yelling in Spanish and beating the man who just hit me with the antenna of his truck. He was noticeably intoxicated, eyes red. I slowly unwedged myself from in-between the doors, feeling the flood of adrenaline and pain in my body simultaneously. All the noise around me felt like a dream. I sat down nearby, shaking, and asked for ice for my arm, the part of me feeling the most pain in that moment. I was alive, I got the chance to live, again.
#4 - Cuidad de Mexico
It was a crisp, cool, cloudy Sunday morning exploring Castillo de Chapultepec - an intricate structure tucked amongst a park, rampant with greenery, despite the city bustle outside the gates. Tlayudas and tamales erupted on every nearby corner, fresh dark masa corn tortillas layered with pork and spicy salsas. The buzz of the city and the Carajillo in my veins kept my tired traveler eyes open. This would be a long layover on the way to Peru, yet just enough time to give my friend a taste of the culture, the traffic, and the food of Mexico City, one of the 10th largest cities in the world.
My last visit alone, I spent 2 full days roaming the streets, allowing the art to capture my mind and invade my soul. From sunrise to sunset, I pounded the pavement, taking in the markets, touching the textiles, snacking on cheap street eats and finding my guiltiest pleasure - a pair of unique earrings to bring home. My final afternoon, I visited Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's famed blue home. One of my female inspirations came to life as I stood within the structure of her home, imagining her pain and story that could bring so much art to life. It reminded me of when I used to make art, and how I had let that part of me die. Could she be revived?
#5 - Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
Day 3 of yoga teacher training.
I had felt my spirit waver after four hours of yoga flow and a hike in the sweltering heat of the summer Mexico sun. There was so much to learn between the muscle names, the Sanskrit posture names and the proper forms of the pose. It didn’t matter how many times I had done a yoga pose before, it was a rebirth of my practice. By the second-afternoon flow series, my body was simply drained. My mind had become insanely frustrated due to the exhaustion and constant swarming of flies that touched my skin every few seconds. There were no fans to aide in our relief of the bugs or pouring sweat. The doubtful and fearful part of my mind pleaded, “See, you can’t do this!” I felt closed off and past my breaking point, the upset was bubbling up inside me like a volcano about to explode. I gently reminded myself - you are already a yoga teacher. This is just a piece of paper - the teaching already exists inside of you.
Day 12 of yoga teacher training, a.k.a Vision Quest Day, 24 hours of silence and fasting.
I rose around 6:15 am to a dim lit star sketched sky and no direction in mind. My inspiration to hike to the south beach came to me whilst urinating in the open outdoor toilets. I packed my canister of water, an umbrella, and out for set my silent solo day. The sun had risen over the horizon by the time I had arrived and I found a shaded spot far down the beach near a cave inlet. Water grazed my feet at the shoreline as I did Tai Chi across the sand, pausing each time the liquid hit my toes in observance of my inner stillness. I embraced and captured the moments of life that far too often we are too busy to notice. I watched the bird perched strong on the rock, the crab flicker sand out as it dug a hole, the patterns of black and gold in the sand, the foam a wave produced as it rose and fell to shore.
I felt so unbelievably free and complete, so beautiful and powerful. The overwhelming urge to be naked took over, so I stripped off my remaining clothing and swam alone in the huge ocean. The cool salt water bathed my nude body as the hot desert sun had begun to take over the day. On the hike back to our camp, I felt no loneliness, only a complete connection to the world.