My life is a Beckett play.
These days in Oaxaca have been filled with wonder. The storefronts are pastel mosaics, every shop a magnet of art and color. The wild mezcal brews, Lumbra and Tobala and Coyote, burn in the belly like a campfire in a mountain cave. Today I visited a petrified waterfall, saw white cactus seeds ground into brilliant vermilion dye, and watched a beautiful woman tenderly knead corn masa as if she was massaging an infant, before putting the batter in a press and serving it to me filled with pumpkin flowers, fresh queso, and red mole. The hot chocolate is to die for, and even the sidewalk mariachi bands are world-class.
I’ve never seen people more proud of what they do, or who do what they do with more love. And the pride goes beyond the material world, and embraces the most basic values of independence. The locals tore out the parking meters, and every village charges its own toll on the funky road to Hierva el Agua – Oaxaca state’s most famous natural attraction, never to be coopted by corrupt authorities. Oaxaca is another of Mexico’s fiercely political states, almost like California might be if and when it works up the courage to tell the DMV, developers, and federal government to go fuck themselves.
Twenty four years since I last visited. How did that happen?
So yes, it’s been a whirlwind, and an inspiration. I’ve done everything I hoped to do here, and seen everything I’ve dreamed of seeing. … Except a single one of the Limons.
It should have been so easy. Two days ago we got in touch with Fernando Limon’s sister, who allegedly contacted her brother on my behalf. He was supposed to be in Oaxaca Monday and Tuesday. She promised he would call me, and I was over the moon. I found a wonderful restaurant, Mezquite, where I planned to take him, and a fantastic bar – the Mezcalerita – where I might ply him with questions about the life and fate of Luisa.
He was going to call me Monday, she said. Then Tuesday afternoon. Then tonight. But the hours have ticked past, and the days have gone by, with no contact. Sarai has called his sister at least half a dozen times. Someone with a U.S. area code, maybe even Fernando himself, texted me with what is theoretically his email address. I wrote to it. No reply.
There’s something almost spooky about the whole thing. Sometimes I feel I’m being deliberately misled. But why? To what end? I’ve left the sweetest messages. I’d met his now-deceased mother. I wrote a book with a chapter about his family, and brought him a hardcover copy as a gift. Something’s not right here.
I have two more full days in Oaxaca and, I’ve as said, anything can happen. As the expression goes: No pierdas la esperanza. I’m trying not to, but it’s getting more difficult by the hour. And it’s odd, how the Spanish word for wait and hope is the same.