Archive for March, 2012

New Years Mexico

I wake up late on New Years Eve and it has been 2012 in Fremantle for an hour already. Today, for these few brief hours, I am separated from home by years as well as by distance, am in a different calendar as well as a different place. I think of Mum and Bruce, at the Woodford festival for the three minutes of silence, thinking of me among absent friends. My brother is at sea and I think of him out there, on an oil rig being towed through timezones, someone announcing New Years over the PA. I think of Dad and Helena, in Perth, with her family but not his.

After breakfast I call Tim on Skype. It’s 3am and he’s sitting up, at home on his own, messaging those he misses. As bright a day as it is where I am, his house is the dark of the early hours. He has to find a lamp so I can see him.

There’s dinner and then I dress up sort of – put a dress on anyway – and head for the Jardín. Our motley mob of Mexicans and gringos is caught up in the confusion of a holiday group suddenly adhering to time constraint, and it is the time constraint itself that panics us and slows us down. There’s booze to organise, firewood; getting everyone down to the far strip of beach in front of the cemetery where no-one will bother us, the lighting of the bonfire. I am corralled off with the girls and we all end up at Hermano’s for some reason but without Hermano, mixing drinks on his back deck and talking about girl things. Some boys show up and are gigglingly banished. A photo is taken – a line of dresses and make-up bathed in glaring flash. It strikes me how little I have in common with everyone else there.

But then I’m in the back of a ute, off to pick up firewood, and I’m much more comfortable with this situation. I cling to the cab and grin into the wind. At the beach, we haul it down and Derrick and Hermano start constructing the fire. It’s already after 11pm. A few boys and I head off into the bush for kindling, searching warily with torch beams for scorpions before picking anything up. The gringo girls stand giggling, getting drunk, talking loudly – waiting for everything to be organised around them.

And then we’re sitting in a circle around the fire in the sand. The ocean grumbles dark rhythm to my right. I’m drinking beer. Hermano tips the Oso Negro bottle towards me.
“Nah, dude, I’m good, hey” I say heavily.
“Come on,” he says.
“No, seriously. No fucking way. ¿Cómo se dice, “allergic”?
Soy alérgico.”
He smiles, shrugs and wanders off.
It’s a little after 11:45pm now. There’s a gringo boy sitting next to me and a gringo girl sitting next to him. “Do you want to kiss me for New Years?” he asks her.
She shakes her head.
“Aw, c’mon. It’s New Years.”
She shakes her head again. He stares despondently into the fire for moments. Then he turns to me.
“Wanna kiss me for New Years?” he asks. “I’ve got no-one else to.”
I shrug. “Alright,” I say. “Sure.”

And then there are various countdowns and some arguments over whose is accurate and then eventually there’s a vaguely coherent “5…4…3…2…1” and we all cheer in 2012. The boy kisses me and it’s soft and young and careful. We settle into drinking. I’m a few beers in but bored of drinking and not much for conversation. So strange, on New Years, to be so far from the people I care deeply for. But it’s New Years and warm and I’m on a beach in Mexico in front of a bonfire, talking shit and getting drunk. I should want to be here.

When Derrick gets too drunk and wants to go home, I insist on walking him, grab my stuff and slip out. We talk about his girlfriend, who he misses, who he’s confused about. He slurs and holds onto me for support as we walk.

When I get to the Jardin after dropping Derrick off at the foot of his path, Hermano is there eating tacos.
“Heey, Zoe! Where did you go to?” he asks me, trying to keep the taco sauce and toppings within the taco. “You are going back now? To the fire? Some eating, and then we are driving.”
I’ll come back, I tell him, I’m just going to wander on my own for a bit, and I head down to the strip of beach in front of all the restaurants. They had a bonfire there too, for all the grown-ups, along with a barbecue and drinking, but it’s 2am now and most people are gone. I look for Glen, Jeanne and Brian but see no-one I know.

Up the road a bit a band plays on someone’s back patio. It’s a large covered space, backing out onto the main road. They musicians are in full mariachi dress with big, decorative sombreros and colourfully patterned clothes. There’s a double bass and a couple guitars, a mandolin. It’s the end of the evening now and they sing slow, mournful songs in Spanish while people sit around in chairs and watch or talk. Some sing along. I take a seat to the side on my own, ignore the people looking at me. And I’ll admit I’m strange here. Some wandering white girl on New Years Eve, half-drunk and all dressed up, sitting by herself watching a mariachi band among Mexicans.


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