One of the questions I am often asked, is why I live in Mexico, and what makes me stay.
One of, or probably more accurately, the biggest reason to me, would be the people. Mexicans are open, friendly, and sharing is done without even a thought. They have taught me to slow down and enjoy what and who is around you. To absolutely live in the moment. Walking down the street, everyone makes eye contact and greets you. I have been invited into homes for parties and to share meals, by total strangers, just because I was in the vicinity. Laughter, music, food, and drink have no language barriers.
Because I have crewed on boat deliveries up and down the coast, I have found myself traveling on buses alone, quite often. Almost every bus station, and bus that I have been on, someone has approached me just to make sure that I knew where I was going and that I was comfortable. I have been handed beer and empanadas without prompting and when I try to pay, I am just waved off with a smile.
A couple of years ago I found myself in La Paz after another delivery. When we arrived at the port, I checked the Baja Ferry website, asked around the marina and found out that the ferry left for Mazatlan everyday at 9 am. I took the 250 peso, 45 minute taxi ride to the terminal early the next morning only to find out that indeed, it did leave everyday at 9 am……except Saturday. It happened to be Saturday. However, the ferry to Topolobampo was leaving at 5 pm so instead of going back to town, spending another night on the boat and returning the next day, I decided to take the Topolobampo ferry. It would put me on the mainland in the morning, then I would have a few hour bus ride to Mazatlan. I had my iPod, camera, book and journal, so I was prepared to kill some time.
Keep in mind, this is Baja…..desert….nothing for miles but rocks and snakes. I found a taco wagon across the street from the ferry terminal and set up ‘office’ at a table. After a couple hours I ordered some lunch and a Coke. I asked for a cup of ice, but was told they had none. No worries, I said, the Coke was more than cold enough. I didn’t think twice about it when an older gentleman at a table next to mine got up, and hobbled away on his cane. He returned about 20 minutes later, set down a cup of ice, gave me a smile and hobbled off again without a word. I have NO clue where he must have went to retrieve that cup of ice!
It is a much shorter ferry ride to Topolobampo, but then you have to take the bus from Los Mochis to Mazatlan. I reached the bus station in Los Mochis about 10 am the next day and booked my seat for the next bus to Mazatlan, which was 4 pm. Once again, I found myself a quiet corner and plopped down. When my stomach started to rumble, I approached the girl from whom I bought my ticket, and asked her about places to eat. She told me about a couple restaurants then stopped and asked if I could wait a half hour. No problem I told her- I just assumed she wanted to show me some places instead of trying to tell me where they were located. Thirty minutes later, she collected me from my corner. We walked a few blocks and to my surprise, we entered into her home. The family did not lose a stride when the strange gringa appeared in the doorway and not only did they share their afternoon meal, her father thought it good manners to drink some tequila with me as well. The family poodle, Poco, even decided that my lap needed warming. Once again, not only did they refuse money from me, her mother sent me away with a bag lunch for the bus trip and made me promise that I would visit if I found myself in Los Mochis again.
Her dad slipped me a water bottle filled with more tequila.