I have been in Mexico for two weeks now and during that time I’ve tried to find my bearings. A new continent, a new country, a new language and new customs. I was so looking forward to all this. To all the new. This is the biggest reason why I love to travel. To experience the way people in other countries live their lives. The new and the unknown. Everything that I don’t have back home.
But something has been bugging me during these two weeks and I haven’t been able to pinpoint it.
For those of you who has been following me for a while you know how much I enjoy interacting with people while traveling. In Asia this has been an easy thing to do. You just go to any street food vendor or coffee or tea stall, sit down and there is always someone to connect with. Walking the streets in any country in Asia is like a theatrical piece. People do everything in the streets. They eat there, sleep there, do their morning yoga, raise their children, they do everything in the streets. And I love observing and documenting that.
Everyone I have talked to about Mexico and especially about Oaxaca have been telling me how energetic this city is and about the amazing good vibes. And yesterday, my first day in Oaxaca, I walked the streets. I did 15 kilometres of walking. Don’t take me wrong, I love walking. But what I saw was empty streets. No activity at all.
So when I got the question from my friend in India about if I was enjoying Mexico, I had to give it a thought. And Yes, I do enjoy being here. but there is a big But.
I realised that I am experiencing a reverse cultural shock.
Coming straight from India no wonder I find the streets of Oaxaca and the rest of the places I have visited in Mexico empty, desert like.
There are no cows, no barking dogs, no honking cars and motorcycles, no chicken, no street food stalls, no chai stalls, no loud talking. Nothing.
On the bus to Oaxaca the bus was following a truck and I was thinking; why isn’t he honking … The honking that I used to be so fed up with.
Sometimes I close my eyes and try to picture the life I used to live. But every time I fail. It’s difficult when the smells of urin, cow shit, scents and masala chai mixed together finds its way into my nostrils, contradicting my memories of what ones used to represent home.
This is what I wrote while having chai at a small chai stall in a tiny alley somewhere in India. Never could I, then, imagine that I would miss busy and messy India so much. And never could I imagine that I would experience a cultural shock. But I do and I am.
I am used to changes, I welcome changes, I believe it is good to be flexible, I consider myself being flexible, curious and easy to adapt. And for that reason I am so surprised that I am experiencing this cultural chock. But I guess I’m just an ordinary human being. A human being with feelings and I embrace that.
Viva India. Viva Mexico.