I lived in Asia for 10 years.
I know that doesn’t sound like a long time, but let me put it this way: it was one quarter of my life. It was the place where I learned my first lessons in real work, life on my own; it’s where I fell in love for the first time, it’s where I got drunk for the first time, it’s where I climbed a hill at midnight to howl at the moon once. And I wasn’t drunk.
Asia’s probably more home to me than a whole lot of other places are. White and freckly as I am, I am comfortable in Asia in a way that I am not, may never be in my native United States. Which isn’t to say that I like Asia more; it’s just that I understand it better. This is a problem that a lot of third culture kids face – when you grow up abroad, in countries others than your parent’s own, things get a little tilted and sometimes don’t make as much sense as you want them to.
I lived in Asia for 10 years.
I used to go from Japan to Korea from time to time because I wanted to pork out on Korean food, and also because I loved being pushed around in Korea. Koreans were just so… casual with me, informal and jostling. Loud and vivacious; they were the Italians to the Japanese’ British-like reserve. I loved the old women in the Korean markets who would make fun of me (or more to the point, my big boobs that wouldn’t fit into any of their shirts), I loved the way they laughed, without reserve. I loved how I could go into a Korean eatery and just draw a picture of a pig and give it to them, smile enthusiastically, and be rewarded by 50 million little tasty dishes along with some main dish of something-or-other-deliciousness crafted out of pork.
Why am I mentioning this?
Well, I always imagined that Mexico would be like Korea. A lot of fun, good food, bright people.
Baja’s a different ball of wax from mainland Mexico; this I am really learning. But so far, mainland Mexico seems much more languid than Korea was, but with the same feeling of vivaciousness. People who sparkle and smile and treat you like a real human being.
Mikey was having this avid bout of intuition and drove off the highway, “feeling” that we should head for El Fuerte. Okay, cool, I said, kind of thrilled that he was getting all instinctive and stuff. We drove and drove and drove and then BAM we were in this town that was from a century or three ago. The 1500’s, to be exact.
Cobblestones and beautiful buildings, people hanging out and little nooks to grab a delicious soup or torta in. Grandmas and Grandpas everywhere. All the men seemed to be wearing checked shirts, jeans and white hard cowboy hats.
This was the Mexico that I imagined so many years ago while I was living in Asia. The place where people hung out on their porches and chatted; where the women all seemed to have hair that was long, dark and slightly wavy, where the children were all bundled up in snowsuits in 90 degree weather… oh wait – I didn’t imagine that last part! But it was still very much present.
We went to the museum where we got to introduce our kids to a real VCR players (- on display), along with this really cool deer-head piece thing that was used by Native Indians in the area. Still is, it seems. WOW.
And ate. And ate. Hot, freshly made sugary churros, hand-crafted shaved ice with homemade orange syrup, exquisite soups (both vegetarian and meat-lovin’) with tortillas so light they melted as you ate ’em. Yum.
We also had a fun time with school kids. We introduced them to Kianna and talked about what a service dog does. They went NUTS when we gave them a demonstration! And that felt good.
El Fuerte is our favorite Mexican town now. So old. So occupied by beautiful people, most of them seeming to be elderly. So full of delicious food and good company. And strangely enough, so devoid of other travelers.
The Fort Museum:
It had ramps up to the main museum and the main areas were wheelchair accessible. The top viewing part though wasn’t: stairs only. Nothing was accessible for the blind/deaf.
I thought the town was fairly wheelchair accessible, but mostly on the basis of the really wide streets. The sidewalks are old, that typical kind that are built high up with stairs to reach them. If there are ramps at all, they tend to be REALLY narrow (- who has a wheelchair that narrow??) and often lead to nowhwere – no ramps down on the other side.
I think it would be absolutely imperative to have a rough-rider sort of wheelchair here. With dirt bike wheels, really hardy. But it’s still a land of “just one step” – you know, you have to get over that one hump, that one step, that one something. And that’s just with physical access; with other types, they haven’t started yet.