Descending through the heavy cloud, thoughts of Casablanca’s dodgy airport cab drivers pushing and pulling at my belongings back in 2012 began to fill my mind, and I wandered if I was prepared for Mexico.
Pushing the thoughts from my mind, I focused on the view below. As the country was slowly revealed, I strained to make out rows of trees and man-made dams soon replaced with colourful concrete houses, and a row of shanti homes along a well-maintained roadside.
Following an hour in the queue chatting with a local, my passport was stamped, bags collected and I stepped outside with my pre-purchased taxi fare.
This is not Casablanca.
The 1950’s Mercedes with holes in the floor and a flashing oil light which I envisioned was in fact a brand new and spotlessly clean Volkswagen driven by a middle-aged man with English slightly better than my very limited Spanish.
The heavy clouds opened as we made our way through the streets. As rain turned to heavy hail our hazard lights were turned on and we slowed to walking pace. With the wrong street number for my accommodation, the driver and I circled the neighbourhood looking for building numbers. Out the window I watched laughing men run to their shop fronts to photograph this “muy, muy, muy extraño” (extremely strange) weather on their mobile phones and down the side streets children threw the ice about while others built snow-men.
Having shown the photo of my host to half the neighbourhood we finally heard “sí, sí.. Cristina.. sí, sí” from a lady pointing to the door next door. Smiling behind the door was Cristina’s mum, a beautiful lady.
Climbing two flights of narrow outdoor stairs I was grateful for packing light, but not as grateful as I was to be handed a fresh towel and step into a hot shower after 26hours in transit.
Sprinkling fresh mango with chilli and lime salt at the kitchen table and with my phrasebook in hand, I managed a small conversation with mamma until Cristina arrived. Crossing the busy roads, together, we made our way past four or five delicious smelling street stalls to “the best” in the neighbourhood for delicious quasadilla’s and tacos by the roadside for what would be my an amazing meal accompanied by laughter and surrounded by locals.