Travel as Healing
Thoughts on the past 12 months of Traveling in the Company of Women
I missed my sister’s wedding last summer. Two days before the ceremony, sitting alone upstairs in our Juarez airbnb, I felt lightheaded and stuffy and exhausted. I’d been taking Covid tests all week as a preventative. But each test was negative. Until it wasn’t. If it hadn’t meant missing my only sister’s wedding (after missing my brother’s wedding two years before), the ensuing events would have been comical. Within half an hour, I was driven to a hotel where I sheltered alone all night until the next morning when my dad arrived to drive me across the border to another hotel in El Paso where I sheltered alone until my husband made it down all the way from Denver.
We left early the next morning for home, driving mile after mile through barren desert, stopping to pee on the side of the road to avoid passing this dreaded virus on to anyone else. By the time we’d arrived back in Denver, Lydia was getting married via a pixelated screen. I was supposed to be there, celebrating her joy, dancing the night away, eating tacos washed down with agua fresca. I grieved the loss, felt acute pangs of envy with every photo I saw that summer of sisters attending their sister’s weddings.
We needed a healing trip. To go somewhere just the two of us and delight in the things that were ripped away unexpectedly. For years we’d dreamed of visiting Oaxaca together—a vibrant, culinary-infused city in southern Mexico. Last minute, we scored tickets cheaply (and by cheaply, I mean I combined credits from the canceled wedding flight with American Airline miles and finagled my way to El Paso where Lydia picked me up before we boarded a flight across the border in Juarez to Oaxaca).
We ate our way through a city that celebrates an ancient culinary heritage, sampled so many different types of moles, drank mezcal shots, ate roasted crickets smothered in cheese, discovered the brilliance, nuances, and sublime wonder of a dozen+ heirloom tomatoes sliced thinly and served with olive oil and beet puree. We walked through ancient cobblestone streets, ducked into small shops, watched the sun set brilliantly from a rooftop bar, wandered through botanical gardens and markets. It couldn’t replace a missed wedding. But it was healing. And hopeful. Wonder-packed and delicious.
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