For each of us, we will most likely meet a person that we tend to measure every other person we meet against. Our one true love, so to speak. But this post is not about that person, it is about that place.
Just like in our relationships, we tend to have a place that is our one true love. Maybe it was where you were born, where you grew up, where you went to school, where you fell in love, it can be anywhere. This place gets in grained in your soul. Your travels can take you somewhere completely different and new and wham, in a second, a sound, a sight, or a smell takes you back to your one true love. This happens to me every time I travel.
This one true love can be an extremely specific place, or a much broader one. For me, my one true love is Mexico. And yes, Mexico City has a special place in my heart as it is where I was born, but the whole country is my life love.
What this kind of love has taught me is that the world is a lot more interconnected than we ever realize or admit. The more you travel the more you see commonalities in cultures and people. I have been extremely lucky to have visited as many places as I have, and each place has brought me back to Mexico.
I didn’t really start noticing that I was comparing places until I went to Morocco in 2006. It was probably the first time where I felt that a country so closely resembled my love. How could that be, you might ask as Morocco is an Islamic country in Northern Africa and Mexico is a catholic country in North America? Well, it was the people and the atmosphere.
The people were welcoming and smiling. They were family and food centric. You could find people eating at cafes, travelling to the markets, and eating street food. Thankfully, my Mexican tough stomach allowed me to enjoy some of that street food without any repercussions. The cacophony of the streets and the sight of people everywhere immediately transferred me back to the markets in Mexico. The markets were almost exactly the same, people buying what they need for the day’s cooking and trying the goods before finally purchasing.
Also like Mexico, the poverty level is apparent throughout the country. People doing their best with what they have trying to make money on the streets. You can find people washing your windshields with soapy water out of a plastic soda bottle with newspaper or selling you jewelry as you walk. But the most astonishing similarity was with the indigenous people. The Berbers reminded me so much of the indigenous cultures of Mexico. I was lucky enough to visit a Berber home and have tea with a family. The home was made of mud and stone and the clothes were hanging on clothes lines just like I would find in Mexico. The women were preparing the bread and tea in the kitchen with what looked like a comal or a flat pan over an open fire. I felt instantly at home. It was my favorite experience of the whole trip.
From that moment I could find Mexico wherever I went; the idlis of southern India reminding me of tamales, the loud and boisterous nature of the Greeks reminding me of my own family, the melon pan of Japan reminding me of conchas, the organized chaos of Brazil that is almost identical to Mexico’s. Every place gave me a little reminder of my love, making me long for when we could be reunited again.
I am coming on the longest time away from Mexico since I have been old enough to travel alone. Two years is a very long time to be away from your true love. Lately the instant memories have become more intense and more frequent. I long for the sights, the sounds, and tastes of Mexico. I long for the warmth of the climate and its people. I miss the passion, the chaos, and the noises. It is a country with a truly unique kind of freedom, but all tinged with a sense of danger. It is where, to this point in my life, I feel the most alive.
Who knows for certain when we will meet again, but every day Mexico lives in my heart. So, if you are lucky enough to have found your one true love, I hope you get to visit often and that the place is never far from your heart or mind. I hope that it fills your soul and inspires you to see what else the world has to offer. Go and travel in the name of love!