Oh, Oaxaca, You’re Food to My Soul
After eight months of residing in the buzzing town of Sayulita, Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca (Mexico) is food to my soul. As I walk along the beach, I feel my shoulders slowly relax and I can breathe again. There’s nothing but a deafening silence. A far away ocean swell. My drifting thoughts. I see fishermen, surfers. Dogs wandering around a stretch of golden sand. A lonely jogger. A deserted lifeguard tower. I instantly know why I came here, why life had taken me by the hand and gently guided me here. Puerto Escondido is the other end of the scale. I made friends in Sayulita. I worked in Sayulita. I was out and about every day. I walked through town engaging and talking to people. I moved outside my comfort zone, as by nature I am somewhat of a loner. Now I am here, in Puerto Escondido where the beaches are empty. Where shabby restaurants are filled with locals instead of tourists. And although Puerto Escondido is considerably bigger than Sayulita, Puerto Escondido feels like a child wearing his parent’s shoes. A child marveling at the wonders of growing up, yet not quite ready to tie its own laces. There’s a certain foregone glory. A beautiful mermaid statue along the beach, lacking paint and a tail. There’s beauty in what is unfinished, and broken. But above all, through the sound of the broken down cars rambling the streets, there is a sense of silence. Silence, that feeds my soul.
I walk to the far end of the beach, climbing huge boulders and braving caves, as I notice a little shack hidden among the rocks and cactuses. I run along the beach, splashing through the water. I stop and see a man dozing off in a hammock. When he notices me he silently rises to look at me. His face is tanned. His eyes and hair are of a dark brown that reminds me of the deepest ends of the earth. Although he’s an average height he seems to stand tall and strong like one of the giant rocks braving the currents and waves in this particular wild part of the ocean and beach. There’s no doubt he’s a man of the ocean. There’s something about this man that capture the very essence of humankind. The simplicity of life. He shows me how he lives. How there’s no running water, no electricity. No bed. How he sleeps in his hammock, and how when the tides are high the ocean becomes his foundation, the ground he walks on. He shows me how he fishes to feed his belly. How it’s just him and the forces of Mother Nature. He tells me he lives to protect the ocean and her beautiful creatures. Every morning and evening he strolls along the beach in search of turtle eggs and picking up trash that has been washed ashore. He digs up the turtle nests that he finds and relocates them to a safe area next to his little shack. He lets the eggs hatch and releases these tiniest of sea turtles into the ocean, guiding them towards freedom. I am filled with a sudden sense of wonder for this man, called Jose Luis. For the beautiful human being, and messenger that he is. We talk for a while, and I decide to come back to help. And when I say goodbye to this beautiful man leaving nothing but his footprints on a deserted beach somewhere in Oaxaca, my soul is filled with an abundance of love.
Oh, Oaxaca, you are food to my soul