19 Aug Forgetting Places
If you’re going to travel, it’s inevitable that you are going to collect and lose things along the way. Admittedly, my favorite collection is not things at all, but scattered and often unraveled memories. At the end of each adventure, I attempt to file away the highlights. Each tangled and nearly impossible to describe moment vying for a permanent spot on my gluttonous list of unforgettable experiences. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the difficulty of properly storing and recalling these moments. I’ve also realized the hidden bliss that comes with temporarily misplacing these memories, knowing they always find a way to reappear.
2018 : Walking away from a notoriously bizarre street market in Mexico City, I noticed the sun start to fall on the horizon and a heavy dose of adrenaline pulsed through our small group. The four of us had spent the day wandering between curious stalls filled with torture tools, bottles of homemade potions, hand-painted voodoo dolls, oddly shaped 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 not sure if it was the curbside cervezas we’d already shared in the market or their charming persistence, but we decided to join the crowd for a drink.
After a round or two of whatever they were 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 gringos. Sensing a shift in the air, we paid our tab, parted ways, and made sure to buy the guys another round. Something to distract them while we started the walk back to our hotel on the other side of town.
I’d forgotten about this ticklish experience 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 relive a memory so infrequently, it becomes noticeably more intoxicating.