The People's Guide To Mexico

Tina's Mexico

All Us
Desert Rats

Tina's Stories

Day of the Dead Altar
A Ritual for October
All Us Desert Rats

Tina's Mexico:
On the Road Again

#1: Preparing to Leave for Mexico
#2: On The Road Again
#3: Dia de Guadalupe
#4: Gamboling for Cookies
#5: The Geography of Ghosts
#6: The
Baby Jesus
#7: Laughing Buddha
#8: Degrees of Acceptance
#9: Keys for the Road
#10: Not Pie in the Sky
#11: Raison d'être
#12: Butterflies & Turtles
#13: Yes Howard, We did eat Steve
#14: "56"
#15: Dia de Amistad
#16: Rio Purificacion
#17: Popcorn
#18: Ode To Odette
#19: Departure
#20 Pueblita's Flowers
#21: Rearview-Mirror
#22: Lingering
#24 1st Anniversay of Steve's Death
I'm driving out toward the highway from my desert campsite outside of Quartzite, motor homes and campers spread out thinly, allowing both privacy and space along with a fragile sense of community. A figure waves me down as I head through a wash. As I pull up I see this is a weather-beaten woman, face grimy and wrinkled under the hood of a dingy parka raised against the gritty wind of morning. I feel a moment's hesitation in my heart as I roll down the window. Am I safe? Is this an ambush? Is someone else here, waiting? These are not thoughts I would have had, had Steve been here, driving, me in my accustomed place in the passenger seat. I don't like this closing feeling in my heart, this tightening out of fear.

She comes closer and says shyly, "I'm at a time when my car won't start without help."

"Do you have cables?"

"Yes," she nods, and I pull over near her battered brown low-rider that's seen better days. If Steve were here he would name the model and year.

I get out, we connect the cables, I tell her how my car would only start when it felt like it, when I was living in Eugene, how I had to get a jump most mornings, that I'd found it only took about ten minutes to get somebody to stop.

She asks if the Linus Pauling Institute is still there. I've never heard of it.

We get her car started. She says she has barely enough gas to get into town. The look on her face is inquiring. I'm not sure what she wants from me. Sympathy? "Maybe we'll see each other back out here," she says. I don't explain that I'm just a transient, not a resident of this desert lot. What does she do all day, I wonder?

I wish her luck and head off up I-10, but I feel wrong. Something's missing. I'm falling short here. I've offered help, but was it enough? I make a decision and take an illegal (probably) turn over a graveled connection and head back west and off at the exit. I intercept her chugging towards town. I'm trying to hand her a $5 bill through my open window.. She complains she hasn't the gas to stop, drives on; we miss making a hand-over.

I don't know whether she doesn't want my money or whether her anxiety over making it to the gas station has out-weighed her financial need. I'm glad I tried, anyway. Part of my initial fear was the tension of recognition, knowing I'm not that far away from her place, only a few steps removed, from becoming a homeless woman living in her car. It could happen to anyone.

Weeks later I happen upon a quote from Stephen Levine: "When your fear touches someone's pain, it becomes pity; when your love touches someone's pain, it becomes compassion." My fears continue to be my teachers.

© by Tina Rosa, 1999-2002
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Email Tina Rosa at tinar@mexconnect.com

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