The Big City


Mexico City.

46.9 kilometers ridden.

I woke up at around 10 am again and was surprised to find that the video I had set to upload when I went to sleep was still in process more than eight hours later. Despite my best efforts keeping up with some of my class requirements is beginning to show some degree of challenge.

I showered and then talked to Cat while I conducted personal hygiene, dressed, and packed. The internet didn't allow for a good connection and we were disconnected several times during our chat. She wanted to apologize for her needy nature over the last two weeks that culminated in the six back-to-back calls last night. She was remorseful about the way she had been acting and we talked about it and why it had happened. We didn't fully resolve it but I think we turned the corner towards a better situation for both of us.

I ate a breakfast of granola and an energy bar from my camel back washed down with the two bottles of water provided by the hotel. It wasn't much but for some reason it was very filling. I got all the details on the practice venue from Dannie Darko so I could go and coach practice today and plugged them into google maps while on the hotel Wi-Fi.

Loaded up, I checked out of the hotel and headed out. The google maps didn't account for divided traffic lanes and I ended up going on a strange run about. I was able to use the displayed map and some dead-reckoning to get back on course, even though it was a long detour through a few neighborhoods and a secluded park in a small valley. The city is huge, and the traffic ways are incredibly complex and confusing.

I made it to the venue and secured the bike and bags as best I could before going where I guessed practice was and sitting down to write for a bit while the court was in use for a soccer game.

Practice was set from 3-6 pm but as the start time for practice passed a new game of soccer between two different teams was beginning and there wasn't a derby person in site. Checking the other court that was torn apart for repairs didn't turn up anyone. I decided that I would wait till 3:30 and if no one had arrived I would load the bike and leave for Cancun to get as far as I could with the day if coaching wasn't going to be a reality.

I spent the first 15 minutes programing the Garmin to take me to Cancun while avoiding toll roads. I figured I would make today as cheap as possible if I would be hoteling it again tonight. At just about 3:20 three skaters arrived including Dannie.

With skaters there we found out we were in the damaged court as the other was reserved for soccer. We borrowed brooms and swept the half of the court not yet demolished as best we could.

It was 4 o'clock before skaters were actually ready to skate and so I had to cut my lesson plan short. We still got a lot done though and everyone seemed really supportive and motivated. We worked many good drills and everyone was tired by the end. As we finished out I gave my last Yolo sticker out to Dannie Darko who had set up the training.

Before I could gear down I was asked if I would be interviewed for a documentary about roller derby in Mexico. While it was a bit odd to be interviewed for a derby documentary instead of doing the interviewing, I still had a good time. They seemed happy with the interview and we ended up talking cameras and gear as well as exchanging contact information and chatting about my project on Alaska Derby as well the expedition.

After practice there was a bit of confusion on transportation and the fact that I had my motorcycle with me. It initially sounded like five of us would be going for some food and then I would be going back to where I would be staying that night.  It turned out that wasn't the actual case as after following Dannie's car for what was likely 20-30 minutes we stopped and everyone got out to say good bye except for one skater, the one I would be staying with, who told me where to park the bike.

We were at a contemporary restaurant owned by some of her friends. It turned out to be a wonderful meal where I had a chicken con molé. The molé was tangy with just a hint of sweet and clearly fruit based. The chicken was perfect and the vegetables were incredibly well prepared with just the right amount of crispness left in them. The flavor was bold from each piece and yet they all complimented and balanced the dish. The juicy chicken breast with the tart mole balanced by expertly roasted vegetables that tasted of a hint of bacon while not having any present in the dish. It was so good that I had to have a beer with it even though my plan was to stick to water.

During dinner Eleanor introduced herself. I was afraid that she had already done so at the practice and I had forgotten so I hadn't wanted to ask. We had great conversation talking about life, travel, healing, and philosophy. It was very fortunate for me that Eleanor is a teacher at the University, where she specializes in the anthropology of food of indigenous peoples.

Eleanor's parents arrived to pick her up and to lead me to the house. It was about a 30 minute ride from the restaurant to Eleanor's home. While her parents had driven her, she actually lives with her grandmother in a quiet and clean neighborhood. I was shown where to park the bike, and after unloading, shown to Eleanor's room where I would be staying the night. She had chosen to stay on the couch to give me the privacy of her room. It was a generous offer and I was grateful for it.

Eleanor wanted to show me the food of her neighborhood so we walked from the house down the street to two different taco stands, each making different kinds with very different flavors. After that we walked a few blocks to have a type of sandwich made from a bread coated in a slightly spicy red sauce before being fried as a top and bottom halves. A filling of potatoes with small pieces of meat was fried on the same grill. It was all assembled with cheese and some lettuce. It was very good and the burn of the spices was subtle and not overwhelming which was a nice change from most of the "spicy" food I had been eating in Mexico. We walked back and had dessert of lemon cake and rice pudding both from the same street vendor. They were both great and a nice finish to the night.

From Cat:

As soon as that sixth call to Zack didn’t go through, and even more so after we hung up for the night, I felt absolutely horrible for how I had acted. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and very regretful.  I spent a very long time alone with my own thoughts examining how and why I was acting the way I had been for the past few weeks. This was not like me. I knew I was being immature, but even worse, I was not being a good partner. I was not trusting us or our partnership. And that hurt more than anything. It hurt me that I was giving him even the slightest doubt that I didn’t trust us, because I very much did.  He was giving me all the reassurance and love I was wanting and needing. As I took the time to really examine why I was needing so much reassurance I became very aware of my own lack of self-confidence and how I had been projecting that onto him. And that wasn’t fair.

The next morning, as soon as we got a chance, I quickly apologized for how I had been acting. I knew I couldn’t undo what I did, but I could acknowledge it and make a plan to work on it. We talked about what I was feeling and why I was reacting the way I was. Once again, I found myself very thankful for my partner and the open and honest relationship that we have created. While it was a hard talk to have, I also felt very comfortable being so vulnerable with him. Conversations like these are never easy, but when you are in a partnership, and you are listening to actually hear and understand (instead of listening to simply respond) it makes a huge difference.

I am not proud of my actions, but I think this was a very important conversation and a turning point for us, and especially me. There is a difference between knowing something and actually understanding it. This was a beginning of truly understanding. Not only was I really beginning to comprehend just how much Zack really does love and care for me, no matter what, but also beginning to understanding how very important it is for me to truly love and care for myself too. No, I was not looking to him or our partnership for my own self-worth, but there was a small part of me that was still comparing our relationship to his and Montserrat’s.  And the lack of confidence in myself and fear that she was better in some way, was leading to me needing that reassurance in us instead of understanding and loving myself and the partnership we have.


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