Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cempoala, Veracruz

(Better Late Than Never)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Make Love Not War

Last Wednesday I woke up long before dawn to pack a few remaining things, suck down some coffee, and say goodbye to my home away from home. My tio walked me to the corner and knocked on the window of a taxi to wake up the sleeping driver. We said goodbye one last time and as soon as I closed the taxi door my eyes welled up with tears. Seems to get harder and harder each time I leave Veracruz.

The bus to Mexico City was mercifully quiet for the first two hours until an American pirate movie, dubbed in Spanish, blared from the speakers directly overhead. Sleep was impossible after that, so I just stared out the window and thought about all the people I was leaving behind.

I arrived at the airport in DF without incident and with plenty of extra time, but managed to nearly miss my flight to Detroit anyway. A last-minute gate change coupled with my clouded mental state conspired to get me stuck in Mexico. Fortunately at the last minute I boarded an empty flight to Detroit, exhausted and relieved, where I promptly fell asleep.

Re-entry to the US is never easy for me, often provoking feelings of anger or frustration. But this time was a little different. When I saw the copious amounts of snow on the airport runway in Detroit, I felt overwhelming sadness, but sadness of an unknown origin.

Finally in DC around 10:30pm, the biting wind and frigid temperatures convinced me to suck it up and pay for a cab ride. Hamid the taxi driver was a friendly Indian man who offered to take me home to Bombay and make me his wife, but there was a catch: I would have to become a Muslim. I thanked him for his kind offer but assured him that I was barely becoming Catholic and besides, my flight was to Delhi. He wrote down his number anyway, just in case I should change my mind.

The incident reminded me of the stark contrast between courtship rituals in India and Mexico; Marriage in India is a straightforward matter wherein an offer is made, an agreement reached and a contract signed. Courtship in Mexico is decidedly more messy, involving love and passion and uncertainties. I'm not yet sure which is more appealing.

Five days in DC passed quickly and Monday I boarded yet another flight to Long Beach, CA. As luck would have it, I sat next to a beautiful Lebanese woman who reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, and we became fast friends. If only I had met her when I lived there! She talked about her 23 year old daughter who wants to travel to India, so I gave her my email she invited me to go to Lebanon, a fantasy I would give my left arm to realize. We agreed that life works in mysterious ways.

My first order of business in California was to acquire a coconut creme pie. I am determined to enjoy all my culinary favorites while I'm here, including sushi, Korean food, and any fresh vegetable that still resembles its natural form.

Today is VD Day, aka Valentine's Day or the Day of Love and Friendship. I woke up to a clear blue sky, a $40 parking ticket, and my long-anticipated root canal.

The root canal took less time than I expected, and my dentist even positioned a mirror above me so I could observe all the fun. As soon as he opened up my tooth it gushed blood like a geyser! In the past, I would have been crying and hyperventilating, but instead I was morbidly fascinated, and even though it was quite revolting, I couldn’t look away. Apparently, I have toughened up considerably in the last few years.

The doctor seemed to agree, “You’re not a fluffball. You look like one, but you’re not.” Easily the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever received.

But that’s not all! The final perk was the envelope of Vicodin I got to take I'm at home, stoned on painkillers and feeling quite pleased with myself, indeed.Tomorrow I head back to LA for more India preparations.

much love to all,

American Goodwill Ambassador

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My time here in Veracruz has passed much too quickly. Already I am preparing for my return to the inferno known as Washington, DC, followed by a short visit to my homeland in California.

Last Monday I experimented with some foreign dental care, with decidedly poor results. Without getting into the messy details, I’ve determined that I will not likely seek foreign dental care again unless absolutely necessary.

Adding insult to injury, I missed the “visita domiciliar” (home visit) that was held at my tios’ home while I was off dabbling in foreign medical care. The visita domiciliar is a ritual wherein family members and members of the church arrive at the home of a family, singing songs of love and devotion and playing guitars. They proceed to install a small shrine to the Virgin Mary, followed by praying the rosemary (a skill I have only just acquired) and singing more songs in tribute to the family. The ritual is intended to ensure the health and well-being of those living in the home. La Virgen (la visita) stays for about a week, and during that time the family unites every day to pray the rosary. yesterday I led the fourth Misterio Doloroso.

While I am not technically a religious person, I am always open to learning opportunities, and as it happens, here I have the opportunity to learn about Catholocism. Not only is it an exceptional educational opportunity, but I feel a sense of satisfaction from learning a bit of the culture of my heritage. I feel more integrated as a person.

Wednesday I traveled two hours north to Xalapa, the capital city of Veracruz. Considering that I have a number of relatives living there, and that I have been visiting Veracruz now for six years, it is inexplicable why I have never visited it before.

Xalapa is, in fact, an adorable city with plenty of cultural and educational opportunities. I went for a day trip to the well-renowned Museum of Anthropology, which is housed in a remarkably serene building with expansive halls of marble (?) floors and filled with large stone figures and other objects from ancient civilizations. The Olmecs are one of Mexico’s mysterious ancient native civilizations who inhabited the region that is now Veracruz, and I must say, I am nothing less than captivated by the huge heads of stone they produced. In the entrance of the museum sits a huge stone Olmec head with a typically wide, flat nose. The sensation of standing near one of these heads is something that can only be felt. I felt awe.

I traveled to Xalapa with a friend of my cousin, and while at the museum we noticed an older German couple. I admit, it was exciting to see Germans. We decided to say hello to them when we noticed they were sitting outside the museum skimming through a guide book. They spoke little Spanish, and my companion spoke little English, so I became the translator. Working as a team, we helped them find a hotel and they gave us a ride. I mentioned that I was en route to India, and they just happen to finance an orphanage there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me a win-win situation. We exchanged email addresses, and they invited us to Germany. Little do they know that I’m the one person who just might arrive! These are the moments that I live for, the brief but resounding connections with others on the trail of life. Just because they are brief does not mean that they are now real, lasting connections.

After an enlightening afternoon came an abrupt and unwelcome surprise: camping! We unwisely decided to stay in Xalapa overnight and, then, se fue el tiempo. I’ll just say is it was a long, sleepless night. But all’s well that ends well. And besides, in India I can say goodbye to all creature comforts. Goodbye toilet paper, goodbye soap, goodbye beds and toilets.

Once again, I'm out of time and must run! Hugs for everyone and I'll see you soon,


“Courage is resistance to fear; mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” - Mark Twain

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