But my, how to see how things have changed. Not Cancun specifically, but myself and society as a whole. It looks so different to me now.
Four years ago I was in a completely different place. I consider 2008 to be my last year of childhood, of a reckless, clueless youth with a giant paper bag over my head, testing theories through trial and error but mostly error. It's not that I was unhappy, but I definitely felt lost inside myself and needed to find a path that would lead me to some sort of successful career and not just another job for the moment. On my last trip to Cancun May 2008, I remember making my decision to accept the teaching position in China. I remember thinking, Well why the fuck not? Good god I'm glad I did.
Fast forward three and half years later. Just flew in from Madrid late last night. Had no real problems getting here. In fact, there were a couple of moments that I was cutting close in the airport (wrong terminal, plus too much time sniffing Duty Free perfume, etc) but never once even thought to panic about it. On the shuttle to the correct terminal, I wasn't even sure which terminal was the correct terminal (two were printed on my ticket), but I just smiled because deep down I get a little thrill from travel anxiety, plus I still had a little bit of time to fuck up. Saw a luggage cart fall on its side with a baby sitting in it. It had to happen just as I was walking by, and after hearing his head hit the hard floor as his family was waiting in the super long line to fly to Buenos Aires, I hurried away as fast as I could.
Time flies a lot faster on long flights than it used to. I learned that after spending hours, days on buses and trains, like that 28-hour trip back to Beijing from Xi'an with Slava. That was long. This one seemed to breeze by in comparison. But then again everything does these days.
This is the first time I've been to Cancun bilingual. Managing conversations with taxi drivers, concierges, and other staff around the resort has been a real pleasure, because I can see them in a different way and vice versa. "Con padre" is an expression that means you're close with your mom or dad. The Spanish think their dialect is ugly but the feeling seems to be mutual, caught a few sassy comments with the th th th in my grathias. English and American, Spanish and Mexican. We all speak better than everyone else.
Being around other Americans and hearing some of their conversations, I sort of miss being able to flip that switch like I can with the Spaniards if I don't want to listen. I guess I understand a little more why so many Spaniards give me shit for my accent. The American accent is definitely not romantic. It often sounds bossy and matter-of-fact, while other times lazy like the enthusiasm just isn't there, some syllables are exasperated like it took work to put them out there.
It's weird being here after the influx of computer technology. I remember being here and carting my large book of CDs so I could try and pop each one in my Discman at least once during the trip, sometimes one CD for each song, a manual shuffle of sorts. I remember when the flight attendant on a flight from Mexico City made me take just two of the D batteries out of my boom box for safety reasons, and the look on her face said she was as serious as a plane crash. I remember the old man (he was probably 40) bitching me out for kicking and splashing water and getting the page of his book wet while I was swimming zig-zags with a snorkel in the pool. Now the punishment would be so much worse if that book was an iPad and my careless freedom had somehow destroyed it, or at least posed a threat to the person holding it, out by the pool. Now, go downstairs to the lobby and see a group of people huddled around with their laptops and tablets in a place with good connection, because in other places it's not and that's the number one complaint. Everything else is fine, the sun is out and it's almost Christmas. Feels kind of nice to not be so connected, if you ask me.
First time in almost four years and I feel the difference. This is the first time I'm looking at Cancun with adult eyes. It's fascinating and feels more real, yet a distance away as so much has changed, and we're staying at a different spot than we normally do. So it feels new, yet still has that same smell the moment you step into the airport and it follows you all around town. I love that smell. It's on my top three list of the most distinctive smells that I associate with a place...Cancun, China, and my grandparents' old house in Dover, Delaware. In some ways I feel like those scents belong to me, even if the China smell sometimes made me want to collapse or shove my head out of a taxi window in order to breathe.
My mom's taking a nap. She's giddy like a teenager. I like seeing her "enganchada."
More to come later...I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of writing now that I have a space to sit and collect my thoughts and not be in a rush with things to do, nor have a cloud of people surrounding me. Now that I'm connected...