Ancient / Adolescent

On my last day in Tijuana the wonderful Mariana invites us to her place for lunch. She cooks traditional Mexican food with beans, tortilla and cactus. It is delicious. We talk life and work and what it means to live in Tijuana. By the end of lunch she has given me two pairs of earrings. She says that in Oaxaca (where her Grandfather was from) it is believed that when you wear long earrings and they move in your ears you are feeling your ancestors. Connecting with them. I was and still am very moved by the gesture, and also by the idea. My ear lobes have big 1cm holes in them which ironically is an Aztec tradition but it makes me think about my relationship with my ancestors. Something to write about maybe but I can’t quite find the words just yet…

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People have been ridiculously generous towards me. I think even if I copy and pasted that sentence the entire length of the blog it wouldn’t capture it. Kindness and generosity are so often over looked but during my trip I am constantly reminded of their importance. I don’t think Mexican people are necessarily more generous than British people but I think the generosity is maybe manifesting itself differently. To be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on it, I can’t quite find the words just yet…

Last night we went to see dearest Susy perform. She was a powerhouse of class and wit and joy. It felt nice to be surrounded by people who a week ago were strangers and now are friends. We all say goodnight and promise it’s not the last time we will see each other.

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But here we are in Mexico City!

I speak to Ximena about the next 5 days and suddenly I had an overwhelming worry that my journey was nearing an end. By this time next week, I will only have 1 week left with the Outriders project and 2weeks left in Mexico. I am not wishing it away by any means but sitting at my desk in the UK couldn’t feel further away.

My twitter and face book feed is full of posts about the upcoming election in the UK, usually I am knee deep in retweets but this time it feels so distant. The political problems in Mexico are so different and so deadly that I can’t quite make the bridge in my mind to the UK. I suppose it’s like that blog I wrote about the strip club – I haven’t quite figured out what to do with this new knowledge. How to marry all these worlds that I occupy… this is where I should say something about the privilege of travel but I can’t quite find the words just yet…

On Wednesday in Tijuana someone was shot in the road next to my hotel and later when going through town we also saw someone else had been shot. A glimpse of a dead body in between the police lights just lying in the road, downtown. Just a glimpse and I think of that man’s wife, children, mother and sisters. I’ve never seen a dead body before. And then we go to a beautiful launch of a beautiful book festival which has a huge outreach project to get young people reading. The opinion being if you give kids the gift of reading, you give them the ability to imagine and then they can imagine a different future. Create a different future. Create a future where two shootings in one day barely makes anyone blink.

As you can tell Tijuana is… well. It’s a lot! It’s a lot everything. It’s a young city, an adolescent city. It’s dangerous, if you let it me. It’s depressing, if you let it be. It’s generous and creative and hopeful and hard and if that doesn’t define a city you must see – then nothing will. Please visit if you can, as a tourist you are in very little (maybe even no) danger and I have never visited a city that better encapsulates these remarkable political times – here’s to Tijuana!

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I am already struck by how different I feel in Mexico City and look forward to spending the next few days here.  I am also looking forward to diving into some of the ancient parts of Mexico’s history. What’s on the possible schedule? Well. It’s a giddy mix of very very very touristy things (Mexican wrestling show) and cultural things (Frida Kahlo’s house) and historical things (Aztec Pyramid’s) and excellent things – Ximena’s new show! I am utterly ecstatic that I will get the chance to see her work. It’s beautiful happenstance.

There is much more to see and so much more to write but well, I don’t quite have the words just yet… so, I am going to sit with the windows of my room open, feel the warm dusk air, listen to Mexico City and think of Aztec’s.

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