Mexico Lindo is a supermarket in a small shopping area on a long stretch of road in a Hispanic neighbourhood named Pasadena. It overlooks a car park along with a thrift store, a tobacco seller and a handful of other tatty looking places. At the entrance to Mexico Lindo is a kiosk that sells kolaches, quesadillas and so on. Outside the entrance are a few grubby tables and chairs.
I drove my mum to Mexico Lindo on a late afternoon the other day to do some shopping. I had a little wander around the car park with Felix in the baby carrier whilst waiting for my mum before going to wait in the car. I think it might be an Indian-mum-thing, but my mum takes forever and a day when she’s shopping so I had to kill some time.
As I sat there the sun went down. Before I knew it all stores other than Mexico Lindo were closed. There was no lighting in the car park so the entire shopping area was plunged into darkness apart from the neon lights of the Mexico Lindo sign. A few letters in the middle seemed to be dead and the remaining letters flickered randomly. The food kiosk was preparing to close and the crowd in the supermarket thinned out. The empty seating area outside was dimly lit and hazy in the humid night air.
I watched Mexico Lindo for what seemed like hours, transfixed by this strange pool of life in a sea of darkness interrupted only by the sounds of the occasional car speeding past on the pitch black road behind me. It really reminded me of one of those lonely gas stations on desert roads, kinda like the pic below (grabbed off Google as an example).
The whole environment gave me a strange sense of calm. I began to daydream. I remembered an excellent movie I’d watched recently called Cartel Land, a documentary following a group of ordinary men who rise up against the cartels in Michoacán, Mexico. I started to think about other things Mexican - the language, the people etc. I do have a sort of obsession with anything Latin American!
I love the food, the music, the boys and the culture in general. I find the way of life so passionate and tactile, the exact opposite to British culture! In fact, I think this is the big attraction for me – whenever I listen to merengue or (attempt to) dance to reggaeton, I can’t help but feel I’m somewhere else. Nothing else takes me away like this. It’s like anything connected to Latin America makes me feel young again. Its hard to explain, but try to imagine the feeling of a beach or Rio Carnival or kissing in the sunshine or boys that move like panthers on the dancefloor…
OK time for a cold shower.
But what of Felix? This is the thing - there’s no room for a child in that Latin dream. Could I navigate his pushchair through the crowds at Rio Carnival? Could he be strapped to my chest in a baby carrier looking up at daddy kissing a Latino that moved like a panther?? Of course not. And this sometimes makes me sad, because the feeling of being young again is addictive and its one that’s hard to let go of.
But do I regret having a child? No way José! I guess this is just one of the many sacrifices we make when we come to that crossroad in life – Sao Paolo or Stepford. But we soon realise, as I realise now, that the latter’s reward is immense.
As these thoughts ran through my mind there in the car park by Mexico Lindo, a thought popped into my head. A crazy thought that I’m surprised hadn’t popped in sooner, one that was so relevant and sweet. I remembered something. I remembered that Felix’s biological mother, the egg donor we know only as ‘Ali’, is part Mexican. Yes, the little man sitting with me there in the car, and the person who would be part of my life for the rest of my days, is Latin American himself.
I smiled inside. OK I may never get to be the girl from Ipanema in a skimpy bikini, but I do have my own little piece of Latin America right here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (although I can’t promise I’ll never have a cheeky caipirinha on the hard days).