Travel companions show up in the oddest of ways. It may be the person you see on the plane/bus/in line. It may be someone staying in the same location as you. Sometimes it is a feeling, a moment, a connection you feel when you are doing your own thing, but soaking up the energy of others.
You can soak up good traveling energy or you can soak up yucky traveling vibes. It’s all how you handle stuff.
While in the long TSA security check to get into SFO for my Mexico flight, the man behind me in line hit my body over and over again with his feet and his rolling luggage. He just kept creeping up on me, and he couldn’t seem to keep in his personal space bubble. It was odd-but letting myself get irritated wouldn’t have helped either of us. I just smiled. At one point I looked at him and said, “would you like to go ahead of me? I have more stuff to put out.” He declined. C’est la vie. He rolled into me a few more times.
Being near people in a super public place demands a bit of camaraderie, whether or not you ever interact with them. You’re in a tribe together, you’re part of this moment in time together.
I felt a bit of kinship with the SFO staff on the intercom as I was sitting around passing time before my late flight. Some of them sounded barely holding on to their sanity, repeating instructions, explaining instructions, reminding people, lather-rinse-repeat. I guess passengers in an airport are a little like Kindergarteners to the airport staff. There was an employee at Gate 62 that was making many of us laugh at Gate 67. He said it patiently and methodically, but enjoyed his job and clearly was making the most of it. “The…Flight…to….San Diego…MUST…be Boarded…NOW.” Two minutes later: “Ladies and Gentlemen. The flight. To. San Diego. Is…..Now…..CLOSED.” It’s hard to describe how exceptionally funny it was. I guess it was all in his particular delivery with his Filipino accent and good-natured and very subtle teasing.
May I be able to channel that kind of humor and grace when my future Kindergarteners are making me insane.
When Mary came to pick me up on Monday and take me to the Peninsula to go have lunch and hang out with her and her girls for a few hours, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden and Rose Garden in San Mateo. It was lovely to see these gorgeous blooms. I’m all in blissed out vacation mode and I cup the flower gently in both hands and thrust my nose in it. I smelled amazing. Then the two volunteers that were caring for the plants started complaining about “people always touching the roses,” and I said “oh. I guess I shouldn’t touch them?” and they went on to explain that oil from hands can kill (turn brown) the petals of some varieties of rose. I won’t lie, it made me and the girls want to run up and TOUCH EVERY ROSE RIGHT NOW, but we waited until the volunteers left and enjoyed the roses and maybe touched a few. We’re rebels.
After I finally boarded my flight I met another tribe member. Ernesto, a 3rd year medical student around Piper’s age. He sat on the window and I was stuck in the middle. We chatted for a while. He lives in CDMX, but has family all over the Bay Area, and goes there to visit. He’d just spent two weeks in San Mateo, which was funny, because I’d just been there that very day. He was gracious and helped me with some things in Spanish, and told me about his city. I asked him about himself. He told me about being an orthopaedic surgeon student, and how he does courses and clinics and observations. He was excited because he’s finally far enough into his program that he recently got to do a procedure. He assisted in a surgery and got to place a pin in someone. He was pretty excited and I could see it all over his face. He’s all jazzed to work on helping fix people’s broken bones. What a young bright star he is. How fortunate I was to meet him.
I arrived and took an airport taxi to my room in Coyoacan, where I met one of the owners, Clara. What a delight she is! She showed me my sweet little room and then walked me to her dining room to have coffee and talk about CDMX and get the WIFI stuff. She gave me Nescafe that I made too strong, and I met her Calico cat named Mina. I tried my Spanish on Mina, saying “Mucho gusto, Mina. Como estas?” Mina didn’t have anything to say. She let me rub her cute face, though. Later I saw her midnight black sibling in the courtyard, but we just exchanged stares, having not been introduced yet. Midnight, I’ll call them, until we meet officially. They were blocking the kitchen door and I stepped through without disturbing.
I was invited to join a closed group on FB called “The Solo Female Traveler” by a friend, and I’ve hung out in that community a bit. I managed to connect with someone through this community who is in Mexico right now. My new friend Laura met me at Frida’s House and we toured it, and then ate a meal together in Coyoacan. She’s from Switzerland and knows how to speak more languages than I can remember. She was really helpful to me today and we had some amazing chilaquiles and beers together after Frida’s house. I’d never had chilaquiles before and now I want them immediately. So. GOOD! My new friend is Piper’s age (it seems to be a theme!) and told me about Swiss schools and going the college or apprenticeship route. She did BOTH and is a trained baker by trade, and now is in Mexico to learn Spanish, kinda by accident. She had a great attitude and a mellow yet aware mindset. She made a huge impression on me, and I’m so grateful to have met another Tribe member.
Frida Kahlo is 100% a tribe member, and what going to her house meant to me, and what it did to me is still being processed. I think I need a minute to let that sink in.
Wednesday I go on a vegetarian food tour of the Zocalo held by locals, and go to Palacio de Bellas Artes and maybe other museums. Seeing Rivera and Siqueiros and Tamayo murals are sure to blow my mind, along with a lot more to blow my mind.
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