A wonderful poem by Sandra Spencer.

I can’t remember who originally sent this to me, but it found me just as Ric and I were setting out for a long sojourn in Mexico. Now that I am back in Canada for a bit it has become even more meaningful to me. Not everyone shares Sandra’s perspective or experience but all I can say is, I wish I’d written this.

A Cautionary Tale

I was warned.
So many times it lost its potency.
By well-meaning friends
living in “safe” gated communities with armed guards
By acquaintances
who have never been here
By media reports
glamorizing and spreading alarm
Who have a different definition of danger. And of what constitutes safety.

Stupid me!
I didn’t listen
to any of it.
Adventurous, perhaps with a death wish,
I didn’t look.
Worse. I wasn’t careful.
In “dangerous” Mexico,
I was robbed.
Stupid, stupid me!

Yes, Mexico…
stole from me…
A smile.
At first.
And then,
they got bolder
and took…
A laugh.
and bolder still, they ran off with…
my poor self-image.

Which turned into a larger felony: They took …
to fill me with compliments!
Telling me
how wonderful it is…
to be a woman
of experience.
Who smiles.
Who laughs.

Time after time. Again and again.
Until finally, I believed them.

As I was smiling and laughing, and actually trusting myself,
They had the nerve to go and pick-pocket my lingering self-doubts,
my well-nurtured insecurities including
my belief that “real beauty” was limited to youth…

While I was still reeling in shock,
from having been robbed, and pick-pocketed
Mexicans took
the opportunity to kill my previous ideas of what constituted
“hospitality” ,
replacing it with a generosity
that is frightening
to even try to emulate,
yet so, so fortunate to know.

See how really dangerous Mexico is?
And it got even worse!

I hadn’t recovered from such brutal behavior, when
they committed another truly horrible,
almost unspeakable crime.
They gave me hope and optimism.
About who I was. About who I could be.
About who we could be together.

Amongst wrapping me in love and force-feeding me laughter and
compliments and smothering me in generosity
and unfathomably fabulous hospitality,
I was rendered helpless.

Stupid, stupid, stupid me.

I did not cry for help – or run away.
Mexico took complete advantage of my situation and committed the
biggest atrocity of all. Once again, they stole …
my heart – and my soul.

Now I’m so scared –
deeply, utterly terrified –
that I cannot return the favor.

Never happier, I steal away…
to wish
this kind of “danger” on everyone.

In October 2012, I drove 6,800 kms with my artist husband, Ric Kokotovich (www.rickokotovich.com), and my dog Iggy, to spend 6 months in our adopted city of Merida. Leaving the fast paced world of Calgary behind, I packed my books, art and entrepreneurial spirit, and set off to explore what lay beyond the borders that had become my life. In October 2013 we hit the road south again, hoping to find out what ‘living the dream’ really means. This is my adventure.

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