I do stray from my chosen path somewhat easily I’m afraid, especially in new places. More so at night, which I suspect is to be expected. It isn’t that I’m not paying attention, it’s more that I’m overwhelmed by all that’s new around me. It’s too much information and I jumble up where landmarks were; furthermore, when landmarks resemble one another, it gets somewhat hopeless.
I didn’t get lost in the fog, which descended rapidly on San Miguel this morning. Fog usually slips along water or land, or descends from hills: this fog seemed to drop vertically from above as if Alom, a Mayan sky god, had cast it loose or Mictlancihuatl, the Aztec queen of the underworld, had pulled a blanket over her so she could sleep longer.
I lost my way at night, the first night walking home from downtown. I had walked that route only during the day and then only while headed towards town. My brain processes things such that, if I see a building from one direction and then from another, the two views can register as different buildings. Unless something ties them together, I’m somewhat at a loss.
The same is true with day and night. When we were young, my sisters would laugh when I told them “it looks differently at night.”
Then there’s the introduction of emotions into my un-recognition of things. Walking at night in a new place, from a different direction, people now standing or sitting on street corners and in front of stores and talking or not talking – it wasn’t like that during the day. In suburban neighborhoods in America one just doesn’t see people “hanging around” at night talking: they’re inside where they “should be,” watching TV or doing something with the internet but certainly not interacting with one another.
So, of course, I think these strangers are there to do me harm. Especially because of who I am (more on this some other time) – gringa, whether that’s how I’m perceived or not.
I ended up in the Olimpo colonia, on calle Zeus with a spectacular view of El Centro twinkling below. I had simply turned left out of fear and anxiety instead of continuing straight on the road – I had wanted to avoid a potential situation with people who were simply friends talking at the end of their day.
In the darkness and without the cupola of CASA to guide me, I wandered Olympus, happy to be exploring and still nervous about being so easily identifiable as a gringa in the dark. I began to feel the weight of the groceries. The quickening coolness of night began to chill me. I regained my sense of direction and found my way back. My pace slowed and my breath relaxed to its normal/uphill/high desert labored rate.