Two weeks ago I arrived in Mexico City or, as they say here, Distrito Federal. Always a hassle to come out through customs and luggage pick up. At the customs the waiting takes quite a long time to get out, especially if you are a foreigner. Mexicans have a separate check post, like many airports have for residents. After I had picked up my bags and went through the last check, I was ready for a cigarette. It was a long flight and I could not sleep on the plane. Usually I manage that, but this time I was surrounded by a teenager, who was very active in his sleep, to my left and an over-sized Welshman, who constantly spoke unintelligible English to me, to my right. It goes without saying that sleep was impossible during the flight.
Once outside I turned my first cigarette in sixteen hours. I lit it and took a long puff. I felt the nicotine flowing through my veins, it fell into my legs, as if they were made out of concrete and I was light-headed. Not only the effect of the first cigarette after so much time was debit of that, but also the thinner air of Mexico City contributed to this. The city is 2300 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains and two volcanoes, Ixtaxihuatl the sleeping wife and Popocatepetl the waking husband. There is even an old Mexican folktale about this fearsome couple. Like a real metropolis this city surrounds you completely, swallows you up and, if you’re not careful, also spits you out in an utmost grim way. As I struggled to keep standing by the nicotine, I went to sit down on one of my bags and I enjoyed every puff. With my rumpled clothes, disheveled hair and more than a day beard I would not look out of place as tramp in 19th-century Paris.
As usual Natasha would pick me up with her parents, but this time it took quite a long time, so I went back inside to the arrivals hall to look for her. She was very small, even for a Mexican, and maybe I had overlooked her. After having walked back and forth a few times, I was sure that she had not arrived yet. A city of 26 million people could easily have traffic jams , especially when you consider that most Mexicans have had no driving lessons and therefore do not always know how to behave in traffic. Driving lessons in Mexico were not required, nor was a license. So she had not yet arrived. I went back outside to wait there and lit another cigarette. I sat down once again on my suitcase for a little comfort and this time I enjoyed a lot more of the tobacco.
It has now been almost five years since I met Natasha through social media. I saw her photo and was immediately fascinated by the expression in her face. For at least fifteen minutes I had been staring mesmerized at that photo. Until I finally could tear my eyes from it and wrote that I found her face very beautiful and refreshing, of course in English. I was not sure if she spoke English as well, but to my relief she replied to me in English and thus dispelled my doubts about the communication. After we had asked and answered each other’s informative questions, she wrote that I was pretty annoying. Apparently I kept pushing to get some more personal information about her, which she initially did not want to give me. I answered with my standard defensive sentence: “Thank you, I love you too”. It then remained silent for several minutes, which in my mind took forever. But suddenly there was this question from her: “Are you serious? How can you know already that you love me? Tell me honestly, do you love me? Are you in love with me?”
Now I must tell you that there I made that comment after we had exchanged messages with each other for weeks at that time and I had discovered that she had a sparkling and fresh personality, which particularly appealed to me. Indeed, in the meantime I had been particularly touched by her charm. I had not expected her to react to my comment and I had to think which answer I should give to her questions. Like I said, I found her a very beautiful girl from the moment I saw her photo. But I did not really want to get into it too deeply. The social media I knew up to that time were not exactly known for the depth in discussions. Finally I decided to take a chance and replied: “Yes, of course. I would not tell you if it were not true. Then, almost immediately, I got three smiley’s back from her. We talked a little further and exchanged email addresses, so that we could chat further on messenger.
We spoke almost every day and after about three months, she asked me if I wanted to come and visit her sometime, to meet her in person. As far as possible through modern means of communication, I had meanwhile fallen madly in love with her, so I agreed. A few months later, at the end of the year, I would come to Mexico for a fortnight. Meanwhile, we continued to talk with each other through messenger and after I had gotten the flight details from the travel agency, I passed them through to her. Of course I did take some precautions, in case Natasha wanted to stand me up. I had booked a package holiday with many opportunities for free time exploration.
That first time, as a loner in the travel party, I arrived in Mexico City at evening. There she was sitting at the side, waiting for me with her parents. Back then she was 21 years old and she still lived with her parents, which in Mexico is not uncommon for unmarried girls. I was 38 and had accumulated a lot of life experience over the years. Of course I had to join my tour group on arrival, but still I took a few minutes to greet her and her parents quite extensionally. I saw in the look of her father’s face that he was not happy to see such an old guy court his daughter, but he kept his mouth shut. Instead, after I first had greeted Natasha extendedly with a big hug and her mother as warmly as possible, he gave me a firm handshake. I promised Natasha that I would call her the next morning and went with the tour group to the hotel which was in the center that, by the Mexicans, was called the red light district.