5 mins

The impossibility of staying still in Mexico

Wander Woman, Marie Javins, tries to settle into life in Mexico. But she finds her plans keep changing

Street carnival, Mexico (Marie Javins)

I woke up dazed on the first morning of my summer in Mexico.

"Coffee," I thought.

But – oh, the dilemma – I didn't want to navigate San Miguel de Allende trying to sort out where to buy coffee until I was a bit more awake. I'd brought some along from home, and was carrying my little travel coffee press, but then I had another thought.


This issue I was less successful with. I had some packets of instant oatmeal in my luggage, left over from a holiday trip to Burma earlier in the year. Breakfast had been decent everywhere I’d stayed there and I hadn't ended up needing them after all.

Not exactly the breakfast of champions, I thought, but after a morning meal of sorts, I was ready to unpack and figure out which way would lead me to the centre of town. I’d been in a daze when the airport shuttle had dropped me off in the middle of the night, and I didn’t have my bearings at all. All I knew was San Miguel had a lot of speed bumps.

I put my clothes into the flat’s closet, so at least if the housekeeper stopped by, she wouldn’t find a wreck and an open bag on the floor of the lovely little studio I’d rented over the Internet. I took a look at the online map of my surroundings and clicked on some food icons to find lunch.

I aimed for the closest lunch spot. There. Café Buen Dia. That looked just fine.

I headed outside and down the narrow road between two rows of colorful colonial buildings. Burnt siennas, amarillos, dusty oranges, and reddish-brown square homes with ornate iron bars and large carved doors lined the cobblestone streets, which weren’t ideal in flip-flops with a taped-up busted toe, but I took it easy and didn’t use New York-walk speed. The town was lovely.

Right at the end of my block was the main tourist crafts market. That was nice, but next to it was also the fruit and vegetable market – great! – and some lunch stalls. I kept walking for now, headed via the craft stalls to the next street, then the next.

My lunch was buen, as promised, and although I had a ton of freelance editing work in my comic book job waiting for me back at the flat, I didn't want to go home yet. I wanted to explore. So I walked more, until I got to the main square, the zocalo, here called the jardin. On the far side were neo-Gothic spires of La Parroquia, a towering pinkish church. Wow, what a facade. I veered over to Tourist Information.

"Hola, habla Ingles?" 

Of course he spoke English. He was in Tourist Information, after all. He probably spoke several languages. "Yes."

I was too spaced-out from traveling to sightsee, so I asked him how to get to the big supermarket. I needed some groceries. He told me to catch the bus on Mesones for five pesos. I did, zooming up the hill to a supermarket called Soriana, where I got some basics. I'd have to find more coffee in town in a few days, when my supply ran out, and later I’d learn that the in-town grocer called Bonanza had most things I needed but couldn’t find at the vegetable market. 

I caught the return bus across the street, and we hit traffic on the outskirts of the centro. Was this a funeral? There was a coffin in the procession. But there were also dancers and musicians. Baffled and a little impressed by the unexpected celebration, I followed the lead of the locals and got out and walked the rest of the way to the centre of town.

I dropped off my groceries at "home," headed back out for dinner, then got back to my flat after dark, during a torrential rain.

I sat down to check out my e-mail and online friends.

I scrolled through Facebook, and this caught my eye, posted by a comic book industry friend in the States.

“Comic-Con is over I would like to sleep for a week... Oh? I'm going to Mexico City on Thursday?”

A comic book convention in Mexico City this week?

Suddenly, I had a change of plans.  

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