Facing a fear: never easy, always possible. Cutting the ribbon on my new life could not have started any better. On the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, I looked into the sky and saw people floating in the air strapped to parachutes. Parasailing. Always fun to watch and say, “Wow. That’s pretty badass. That guy (or girl) is pretty crazy.” In a million years you couldn’t pay me to jump out of a plane, bungee jump, hang glide, or even stand close to a railing on a high rise building. I was never geared this way and frankly I’m okay with it. I turned to my friend Patricia and said, “Man, that’s cool.. I wish I could do that”. She told me I should. I laughed a little, “Naaahhh, that’s alright.” She insisted. A little off kilter, I played around with the idea vocally although inside I was giving it zero consideration. However, as I spoke I realized that she and I were walking closer and closer to the lift off spot. Stop legs! Stop moving closer to my imminent death. When we arrived she began asking the men how much it cost to go parasailing. What the hell is happening? Just run, run now! Money is now being exchanged for the opportunity.
“Alright buddy, you ready?”
“Let’s go, we’ll get you strapped in.”
“(pause, look at Patricia, pause) … F*** it.”
Straps came down my shoulders and across my waist. The two men quickly explained the directions of pulling some red rope when I was prepared to come down, which essentially deflated the parachute. I had no idea what they were talking about, but oh well hard ass it’s your time now. I told them I was ready and they gave the boat driver a big thumbs up. A quick jolt into the air, my stomach dropped, and then steady elevation. 20 feet, 30 feet, 50 feet, 80 feet, 100 feet, 300 feet. As I went higher and higher I watched my legs dangle over the Pacific Ocean. Everyone on the beach became a dot.
The view of Puerto Vallarta was incredible. The mountains, trees, and sand were astonishing from this angle. As funny as it seems, I enjoyed the entire ride. It was relaxing and rewarding to try something I greatly feared. Coming back down to the beach also wasn’t so bad. I pulled the red rope and held it down when I heard the instructor’s whistle and the boat driver did the rest of the work in making sure I landed safely. I made such a big deal out of it based on fear and prior perception when in reality I would now recommend this activity to anyone willing. It feels so good to take a step and to try something that scares the hell out of you.
After an exhilarating weekend in Puerto Vallarta for New Year’s Eve, I arrived at my new place in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico two nights ago.
Jan 1, 11pm: I arrive at my host mother’s house. Not expecting me, I banged on her outside door and rang her broken door bell. She never answered. Did I have the wrong address? Where am I? A little panic set in but never fear Fernando’s here! The man who lives across the street came by to see what I was doing and asked if I was looking for Patricia. Si senor. He called her and rest assured she came down to let me in. Patricia was very excited to see me and immediately she let me choose my bedroom. Considering I had first dibs I chose the one with two beds and its own bathroom with two sinks, shower, and bath. I haven’t lived this large since, well, ever. One thing that I really like about my room is that it only has three walls.
The fourth is a pane of glass with curtains and vents so that I can bask in a nice cool Mexican breeze at night and in the morning. However, with the good always comes some bad. Horns, kids laughing and screaming, delivery trucks driving down a gravel road, a Mexican woman on what seems to be a megaphone preaching to her lord and savior (probably not the same as most of yours, this woman is nuts!), and some strange humming sounds have been filling my ears over the past few days. While I could identify most of the nappo distractions, the humming sounds were the most pressing to me. I needed to discover what these were and where they were coming from. I asked my host-mom, Tocaya (she and I share the same name, therefore she calls me Tocayo), and tried to mimic the sound but she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. I told her that when I hear it again I will bug her. No later than a couple hours went by when the sound came back. I ran down the stairs and asked her what that was. She responded,
“Ohhhhh that, that es thee lions.”
“THE LIONS?!?!?! WHAT LIONS?!?!”
She laughed pretty hysterically, “Ohhh Tocayo, those are thee lions from La Villa Fantasia. Es a zoo down thee street.”
“Oh okay, because that’s normal.”
Just some little things to get used to: a new country, a new culture, a new language, a new home, and apparently lions living down the street.