A Place for Reflection: Bucerías
By Anant Pai, Summer 2016 Intern
At 10 am, Bucerías is still sleepy; it’s as if she has only just stumbled out of bed to stretch her arms and wipe her eyes clean. She yawns as her residents set up shop—you see their practiced motions: winding open their cortinas, or roll up doors, to begin a long day bartering with tourists; the vendedores ambulantes, or mobile vendors, placing their chairs and tables on street corners hoping not to get fined by the policía; and trabajadores, tired office workers, making the trek to work in the already-blistering sun.
On the horizon, the water eats at the sky in high swells, only to lap lazily and quietly along the shoreline, singing its centuries-old song. Bucerías feels like a place where cynicism came to meet optimism and it’s where I came to work with Human Connections.
Perched atop an unsuspecting building are walls that ring with the stories of generations, the chatter of English turned Spanish (or in some cases Spanish turned English), and the quiet yet practical idealism of five. A small sign announces to passersby Human Connection’s existence, small but prominent. The curves of its letters take me up two flights of stairs, a grueling journey, but so too it has been for Human Connections.
Now I’m on top, swallowed in walls of red, green, and white— rojo, verde, y blanco— an “accidental”, they insist, homage to la Bandera Mexicana, the Mexican flag; even the colors sing their own famed stories of oppression, resistance, and liberation. The organization’s authoritative voice has a kind smile and even kinder eyes. Its soft sounds suggest remnants of another culture entirely.
A short eternity away is the intern house. There, they have such luxuries as “AirCon” (air conditioning), warm running water (not that you’d want it in the sweltering heat) and Views (both Drake and of the Ocean). Days turn to nights as the sun drags the blue away— soon the waves swallow it entirely. The hotel sees nights spent late playing in circles, the rings of a concerned host family, burgers cooked with equal parts coal and matches, 9pm pool rules broken, and hearts opened to exchange secrets. Stories are traded, spoken in a tongue of indistinguishable sarcasm and sincerity.
When I walk home, I can feel the grooves of the cobbled streets through my tired sandals; las piedras, the stones, are worn—a joint effort of Mother Nature and Father Time. Laid carefully side-by-side, they form a jigsaw puzzle of immaculate workmanship. When the streets are paved, they are like this, except for la avenida, the avenue, which is familiar asphalt. It divides life—foreigners vs. locals, work vs. home, paved streets vs. dirt ones.
When you’re walking through the centro, ignore the tequila man. He’s pushy and likes talking to girls. As I turn the corner, I smell the putrid breath of the sewer. I’m almost home now, where the giggles of young girls greet me warmly, the embrace of a host-mom welcomes me kindly, and the stories of life in Mexico entertain, fascinate, and inspire.
I am in Bucerías. This is where I came to work with Human Connections, but I can already tell it will be so much more. This is where I came to build lasting relationships, relationships sturdier than domino towers built at 1 am. This is where I came to affect change, change more constant than the crash of the waves against the sand. This is where I came to learn about the world, but as the days pass, one by one, I find I’m learning also about myself.
Photo credit: Kiersten Rowland from Prema Photographic