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A Local Encounter that Changed my Perspective - The Guidebook

MEXICO | Wednesday, 17 April 2013 | Views [185] | Scholarship Entry

I was in Mexico on a shoestring, alone with my backpack, and a Rough Guide in my pocket. It was my second time here. I had three months --all the time in the world to enjoy this magical country--but no plan at all. My connections to the country run deep since I met my partner here six years earlier. Miracle was still in the air.
Going through my guide-book, one thing struck me - the woman on the front page appeared to be so warmhearted though you could tell from the picture her life was hard.
She wore old traditional colorful clothes and she had long braids which were gathered on top of her head where she was carrying hammocks, just like the African ladies do.
Her smile was dazzling. On her left shoulder she carried an animal. I had never seen such an animal before. It seemed to be some rare species.
I wanted to find out more about her and about the animal, but the rational side of me knew that meeting this woman would be impossible - Mexico is a huge country with over a hundred million people. Yet my heart told me otherwise.
One lazy day, I was at a café looking out towards the endless sea, admiring the power of the ocean, when I spotted an old lady with hammocks on her head. I was shocked - I recognized her as the woman on the front page.
Taken by the excitement, I ran up to her. In Spanish I asked “are you the woman with the rare animal on the front page of the guide book?”
“Si, hola, my name is Angela, very nice to meet you!”. She told me the picture was taken thirty years earlier. I could tell from her face she had grown older, she had wrinkles and her hands looked old. But she was still carrying hammocks on her head. And she still had that warm smile. Amazing.
“And the animal”, I asked, “what kind of animal is it that you carried on your shoulder?”
“It is a Marta” she said. Again, I was surprised, Marta was an endangered species in Mexico. “Where did that animal live?” “She lived in that bungalow area over there, Acali” she said pointing out the exact bungalow where I was staying.
“The picture was taken outside of that bungalow”, she said.

Since then I have kept my Mexican Rough Guide in a safe place. It will be something nice to show my grandchildren one day.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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