19 Aug Forgetting Places
While traveling, it’s inevitable to collect and lose things along the way. My favorite collection is not comprised of things at all, but the scattered and often unraveled memories from past places. At the end of each adventure, usually on the overnight flight home, I attempt to file away the highlights. I sort and organize each tangled and impossible to describe moment, trying desperately to find a permanent spot on my gluttonous list of unforgettable experiences. Over the years, I’ve realized that all these memories fade and some are forgotten entirely. But, occasionally, even those once misplaced can find a way to reappear.
2018 : Walking away from a notoriously eccentric and bizarre street market in Mexico City, I noticed the sun falling on the horizon and a heavy dose of adrenaline pulsing through our small group. The four of us had spent the day wandering between curious stalls filled with torture tools, homemade potions, hand-painted voodoo dolls, heads carved from wood and bone, and rusted cages bursting with rabbits and roosters. We were on an irresistible travel high and we weren’t ready to retreat to our familiar hotel rooms.
As we passed the door of a poorly lit dive bar, a few local men cat-called our group in broken English. “Come in gringos! Hola gringos!” I’m still not sure if it was the curbside cervezas we shared in the market or their charming persistence, but we decided to indulge the crowd for a drink.
After a round or two of whatever they’re having, the same men that lured us in and invited themselves to sit with us were now warning us to leave. ‘Gringos are okay during the day, but you shouldn’t be here at night,’ one of them warned as he leaned forward in his plastic lawn chair.
Outside of the bar’s screen door, the sky was turning a soft grey. Night was already here, dropping its darkness on any unwelcome tourists. Sensing a shift in the air, we paid our tab, parted ways, and made sure to buy the guys another round, a subtle attempt to distract them as we started the walk back to our hotel on the other side of town.
I’d forgotten about this fickle situation on the edge of the Mercado de Sonora. A night that left us excited, amused, and watching over our shoulders while navigating the nuances of foreign streets. An experience that never made it on my mental highlight reel from that trip – not for lack of trying.
It wasn’t until a year later, when all four of us were recapping our trip that this particular memory resurfaced. I was immediately reminded that sometimes it’s better to misplace moments like this one. When you find a lost memory, reliving it becomes noticeably more intoxicating.