Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tiempo Tranquilo

The Eric Clapton song “Layla” (for which my friend Eddie named his cat) begins with the rush of a blazing guitar riff and blistering blues vocal. For three minutes the song is a fast-driving 45, one of the classics of classic rock. But what many radio listeners forget is that the song is actually like 7 minutes long. After the punch of the first half, the song’s second half slows to a gentle crawl, as if the raging rapids had spit it out onto a lazy river.

And it’s that second half of the song that I seem to be living right now. There’s nothing like the rush of that first arrival in Mexico City, and then I kind of got used to el D.F. but there’s still Cuernavaca, Taxco, Puebla and then the legendary Oaxaca and then just when you think it’s over there’s an unforgettable trip to the misty mountains of Chiapas. Then it’s off to a nice relaxing week with the fam in Puerta Vallarta and then back to P.V. with dear friends and then after this winter break it’s on to a nice workmanlike routine of Spanish classes which are ended suddenly by yet another move to a brand new place.

But now we’ve settled into this place that was once so new. It’s very peaceful here. Almost too peaceful, sometimes, but all things considered it’s a nearly perfect place to live: warm weather, friendly people, and fresh yet shockingly inexpensive food to keep us nourished. ¿Todo bien? Luis asks us every time we run into him. Si, todo bien, I say. It’s all good.

And yet… and yet my all-too-human soul still feels restless. Maybe I should be doing something really productive with this time, I thought. Maybe I need to. Maybe I’ll never have this kind of free time ever again! So I tried filling up my time with all sorts of disciplines – exercising, reading the Bible, practicing my guitar, cooking incredibly complex gourmet meals, cleaning the apartment from top to bottom daily, and so on and so on and so on.

But after a few days of this I was falling behind and feeling more and more guilty. So I screeched everything to a halt. One thing I probably should not do with this time is to create new sources of guilt. So I trimmed the routine down to the basics: a half hour of running, a half hour of prayer, figure out the food situation. Whatever else happens with the day is up to the whim of the Fates…

Unfortunately, the Fates seem to be kicking back, too – I wander around town keeping my eyes peeled for something interesting, but no pasa nada. So the days just seem to fall through my fingers like sand. I spent an hour or two on the roof yesterday morning, just watching the sunset over the town, the plains, and the mountains, and letting my mind wander. It was nice enough, and probably good for me. But another 3 months of this? I don’t know. I just don’t know. Any ideas, loyal readers?

I should close with two very important points.

First, this is very different from Chris’s experience right now. She works from dawn to dusk in San Juan de Los Lagos interviewing people, collecting data in archives, and just generally trying to get done as much as she can in these, her final Fulbright-funded months. At this point my supportive role takes the form of cooking the most delicious meals I can (thank you, Rick Bayless) and doing some data entry for her. She is having FANTASTIC experiences, but, owing to her crazy-busyness, has absolutely no time to write about them for the blog. You’ll just have to hear her stories when we get back to the States…

Second, we are blessed with some of the greatest friends in the known world. Since beginning this latest chapter of our adventure in Lagos, we enjoyed a weeklong pachanga with Adam and Laura only a month ago, we’re looking forward to the arrival of Zach and Hannah in less than two weeks (!), and then recently received word that Elisabeth is planning to come for a four-day jaunt in June. Words cannot describe how awesome this is. It’s sort of like most of our adventuring fun now is compressed into those weeks, with stretches of work (Chris) and nothingness (me) punctuated with tiempo muy divertido. The lucha libre mask hanging on our wall is proof enough of that.

Well. There’s a brief update for you, hopefully not too confessional but definitely the most descriptive update I can give right now. There may be some music and food postings soon, but those adventures take place mainly in this apartment… which is beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic. Time for another walk. Hasta pronto...

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