This time last year, I was in Mexico. I'd gone to provide a bit of support to my madrina (godmother) who conducts culinary tours each year. This particular tour centered on the Day of the Dead festivities in and around San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful mountain town that attracts Mexicans, international tourists, and expats alike. We hosted a small group of Americans who came to cook, taste the local cuisine, and learn about Mexican tradition and culture.
There's so much to experience in Mexico. The senses are always engaged. At my madrina's house, blocks from the town center, you can hear church bells ring every hour, on the hour. Her neighbor parks his donkey, Filemón, inside his front door and each morning the animal brays to greet the new day. The corner panaderías send aromas of freshly-baked pastries—called pan de dulce—swirling into the air. Families gather and children play all day in the town square. Art is everywhere you look: sculptures in the parks, paintings in high-end galleries, artesanías in the mercados. Locals wear and decorate their homes with handwoven textiles—huipiles, table linens, rugs—each pattern and style unique to one of the numerous indigenous tribes in the region. And there's music and dancing in the streets at all hours.
Good food is also central to the Mexican experience, whether you eat in a restaurant or dine in someone's home. One of the best meals I had was at the Cuna de Tierra vineyard an hour outside of San Miguel. The young chef prepared an extraordinary menu that included roasted beets with a cashew purée, and wild mushrooms plucked from the ground that morning and served with freshly-grated cheese.
The colors of Mexico are bold and bright, the landscape is breathtaking in every direction, and the architecture is layered and weathered by hundreds of years of indigenous and colonial history. There is so much to take in.
Cuna de Tierra Vineyard
My mother was a native of Mexico. I've traveled there and loved the country from afar all my life. I knew to bring along a good camera, my laptop, and a journal. I had every intention of writing. Of documenting the best moments. Jotting down impressions and recording significant details. I wanted to remember, to later draw on my memory bank, if I needed a detail for a story.
But I didn't write a single sentence. I was too busy, eating, drinking, laughing, walking, looking. Time got away from me. This has left me thinking about time and the way it warps. How a week abroad can go by in a flash. How time is just another subjective truth mitigated by our big brains.
So are stories. They are products of our individual perceptions, too, both when we write and when we read them. I imagine a story and commit it to paper. It evolves, from a nugget of an idea to a full-fledged narrative. It mutates with each revision. When someone reads it, it is re-imagined, filtered through a unique set of emotions and life experience.
Like time, stories are dynamic, both constantly evolving and evergreen. Maybe this is why I don't feel compelled to write when I travel. I know that I can always dip into the stream. Even a year later.