I currently dwell in Mexico and most people imagine my day-to-day life involving shoot-outs and cowboy clad ‘narcos’ strolling down the street. And yes, those two things go hand-in-hand; just like Bonnie and Clyde and Snoop-Dog and his chronic. First of all, don't jump to conclusions after seeing this title...no, I was not in some gnarly Pancho Villa style shoot-out, here in Mexico. But, I would be lying if I told you that I had not been in a shoot-out of sorts; once upon a time.
It all went down in a small surf town in Northern Peru during Semana Santa. Semana Santa is the holy week celebrated in Latin American countries. The festivities make spring break 'Girls Gone Wild' in Miami look like a game of bridge at the Seniors Center at Leisure World in Arizona. My husband, Sam was in the States and I traveled by bus with a girlfriend; from where I was living in Ecuador. As we were hanging out on the street with hundreds of other people; also celebrating the holy week, I was suddenly thrown on the ground.
Let me pause here.
In retrospect, I should have known things were going to get a little sketchy due to the amount of alcohol being consumed since the wee hours of the mañana, the fireworks being lit into the crowd by fledgling children, and the ratio of love hungry local men to visiting gringas. Silly me.
Ok, where was I? Oh yes; lying on the pavement of the Pan American Highway...
...I was being pulled along the ground; scrambling to get my feet under me, a local man telling me to get away. I looked up to see plastic white tables and glass beer bottles flying. A girl next to where I was just standing was hit in the face; stunned and bleeding. As I looked around for my girlfriend, I again got dragged; this time able to stay on my feet. Easily understanding the Spanish being yelled by nervous party-goers: '¡CORRE!' (RUN). As I ran incognizant to the true situation about to break loose, I rounded a street corner and stopped to catch my breath. As I stood breathless, I heard the ground rumbling and saw the entire crowd stampeding; running in my direction. As more people began to round the corner; towards safety, several rounds of gun shots ruptured the air. I hid along the beachfront hotels with many others; until I was escorted back to my hostel by a kind local going the same direction. Although, maybe my broken Spanish implied something I was not intending; had he thought I was inviting him back to my hostel? Damn verb conjugations.
Later that night, I had a conversation with myself. I asked myself: ‘Self, what the hell are you doing here’? Nowhere in my strange conversation [with myself] did I mention exuding large amounts of energy on escaping stray bullets. So, I got my ass on the first bus the following morning.
Oh, where was my girlfriend during this whole thing?...getting some 'tocino' on the beach from a local.
As an avid traveler I’ve filled up my passport and lived outside of my country of birth in order to experience longer stints of travel; two years in Ecuador, one year in Venezuela and now Mexico. Like other adventurers, I’ve found myself in sticky situations, places I didn’t want to be: The shoot-out in Peru. Waking up next to a bloody booger in a three dollar hostel in the Himalayas; which for the record was not the genetic make-up of my own. Naked and oiled up while an Indian man slapped my ass; claiming it to be an Ayurvedic massage. The streets of Argentina where an indignant street kid promised to find me in the night and kill me for not giving him money. As an illegal worker in Venezuela. And, in a whorehouse receiving a pedicure.
I clearly recognize my fortune; and knock-on-wood, every chance I get.
I identify these uncomfortable moments in time; these unplanned experiences, as what makes traveling so interesting and some-what enslaving. And I’m grateful for a multitude of expeditions which have granted me endless gifts and the opulence of sharing epic stories with others.