Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dreaming of home

To be honest, these last weeks I have not had much to say about what I have been doing in Oaxaca. My student, Evaristo, continues to make progress in his lessons, and it really feels that he has unlocked his motivation to learn English. The "breaking point" came to him as we were listing the kinds of animals, and we stumbled on a Wikipedia article on how to treat snake bites. Putting himself in a situation in which English would be a valuable tool –more than a chore-, followed by a screening of The Last Crusade, have really helped him awaken his hunger to learn!

Being a model for my gear review in Expedition Portal.
Regarding my writing, I have composed a special article on the may culinary wonders of the Central Food Market here, to be published very soon. Just as a little heads up... there are grasshoppers! I also plan on writing a special post on the character of Indiana Jones, and the impact he has had on me since my early childhood to take me to where I am right now.

Kentucky Fried Grasshoppers. What flavor would you like?
Did this picture take off the flavor from the previous one, or did it make it worse?
 Today, however, I do not just write to state my current state of boredom. In all this time that I have been confined in this beautiful hostel I have had quite a bit of time to indulge in some introspection. At times I have exploded in rage about the fact that I cannot return to the United States, followed with a deep sense of melancholy. However, the truth is that in an economy where foreigners have it pretty hard to be hired in a profession that consists on freelance work, I did not have much of a chance to stay anyway. I shall return under a tourist visa once more, in a year or so, and as soon as my export company starts getting its first orders, I shall establish a permanent base in the United States, most likely in Texas –a somewhat central location close to my friends.

In the meanwhile, all I can do is to study import law carefully and hunt for relics, like I will be doing in Cuba. That Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, unless it is gone already, has no chance of escaping my curious eye and my perfect command of the Spanish language! It will be an adventure worth writing, instead of obliviously walking around smoking cigars and drinking rum, don't you think?

Many memories have sprung to my mind, mostly related to friends and automobiles. I miss driving through the plains of Kansas during those magnificent Midwest sunsets, I miss the complicity with Tyler every time we were surrounded by morons at the Wednesday auction; I miss the Mooney family and those times where we would take the big ol' Ford Galaxy and cruise past the farms of the Northern Bay; I miss the days in which my friend Ziming and I would feel like the kings of NYC in his penthouse after a run to the Shake Shack –pretty good burgers there–; I miss my mentor, Jim, and our wacky automotive errands in New Hampshire, full of political conversations; I miss my buddy Alex Finis, and his adorably pessimistic touches, followed by the second best Italian sauce ever; I miss my dearest friend Bree, and how we did not need words to poke fun at housewife stereotypes. I miss a lot, and revive many of these experiences in my head from time to time. I miss a lot, but I know that as soon as I am back there is always a friend nearby, in almost every corner in the US, all connected through Newport the 300TD, one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my five years in the United States, now on its way to La Jolla (California) as we speak, ready to greet its new owner. Its sacrifice will allow me to turn one changing life experience into another: the proceeds will fund the rest of the expedition.

When I get into my Mercedes and drive up and down Oaxaca for errands, I am transported back to all those memories, almost if I was on my way to visit each of these people. The seat, the clatter from the engine, are all elements that have added the ambiance to these unique times. Even the little fan on the dashboard reminds me of David, my loyal mechanic, back in Kansas, and the time that Tyler and I picked up the car from him up amongst the crops of Halstead.

I meant to write about what happened that afternoon, but the timing with the other posts has been less than ideal. In short, Tyler had one last thing to show me before we parted ways. So we got into his car, and drove for twenty minutes, past Hutchinson, along a rural road and then a narrow driveway masked amongst all kinds of trees. And there it was: paradise in Kansas. All kinds of Mercedes, from the 1950's to well into the 1990's, including a couple pagodas and 170D's, in various states of decay and completeness. Needless to say, I was happy as a clam!

Mercedes, Mercedes everywhere! I was in paradise...
A row of Mercedes Pontons will all kinds of engine options!
What seems like a post-war Mercedes, now an abandoned wreck.

Diamond in the rough... a complete MErcedes pagoda, awaiting restoration!
Now, THAT'S the kind of bull bar I need!
This project sits here because of a monstrous engine fire it had years ago...
What a shame to leave such a beautiful color combo like this rotting in the woods!

Things are slowly taking shape, and many doors are slowly opening. Along with the wonderful offer from Expedition Portal as a weekend writer, I have an open door to return to Oaxaca anytime; my boss has been extraordinarily happy to have an in-house tech person, and we have already talked about the possibility of exporting typical Oaxacan delights to his friend in the US. It could be the start of something big down the road! But for now, I shall concentrate on the promise I gave myself: to finish this expedition in Ushuaia, and triumph.

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