Everyday after morning classes, I walk through El Llano, a large, rectangular plaza that grandmothers, workers, skateboarders, and children like to hang out in. I’m on my way to the Oaxaca Lending Library for gringos, where they have wireless internet, and on my way, I have to decide, do I get a paleta at Paleteria Popeye? (You would not believe how hard it is to pronounce “Popeye” in Spanish; it’s “Pop-eye-yay.”)
I’m hungry. I’ve been in class for 4 hours without eating anything other than endless cups of coffee or manzanilla tea. I won’t eat my comida correa, or the main meal, with my family until 2 or 2:30, but I know it will be a mountain of delicious food.
Yes or no? Yes or no?
I’ve only had 3 since I got here, believe it or not. Cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), tuna (the cactus fruit, not the fish), and watermelon, the lovely pink one. I think I will have to try every flavor before I leave.
Even popsicles are different here. Maybe my life will change, too.
“The border means more than a customs house, a passport officer, a man with a gun. Over there everything is going to be different; life is never going to be quite the same again after your passport has been stamped and you find yourself speechless among the money-changers. The man seeking scenery imagines strange woods and unheard-of mountains; the romantic believes that the women over the border will be more beautiful and complaisant than those at home; the unhappy man imagines at least a different hell; the suicidal traveller expects the death he never finds. The atmosphere of the border – it is like starting over again; there is something about it like a good confession: poised for a few happy moments between sin and sin.”
- Graham Greene, “The Lawless Roads”