We weave and whirl amidst shaggy green mountains. Fern-draped springs cascade on the left and bottomless cliffs drop off on the right. We’re flung back and forth. A gray squiggle highway ascends the knobby spine of the Americas through dense Sierra Norte wilderness. Our van abruptly halts.
An elderly Chinantec woman boards with white ponytail contrasting her muscled brown arms and baskets of green bananas contrasting the chilly alpine air. We plunge ahead into the mist. Tuxtepec and Oaxaca are not far apart as the crow flies, but they’re five gruelling hours as the backseat passenger vomits.
Let’s change the subject. The wild heart of the Americas is still beating, if you’ve got what it takes – to take the beating it takes to get there. I still do. I breathe desperately deeply and repeat a mental mantra from the Oklahoma school of yoga: “The barely nauseous tourist went over the mountain, the barely nauseous tourist went over the mountain, the barely nauseous tourist went over the mountain, to see what he could survive.”
This isn’t working. The distracting curves on my softly dozing seatmate are much easier on the eyes and stomach. I visually traverse her mountain range. Chocolate leather boots with cream laces dangling, charcoal spandex stretching over pouty thighs and hips, see-thru salmon-hue knit sweater with baby pearl accents, plunging cleavage, plus moist lips with a tiny freckle dot just above.
All this leering is purely medicinal. Still, my stomach isn’t the only body part with therapeutic needs, so I reach out to give my hand a little grope therapy, then my waking corn goddess pulls me under her fleece blanket to kiss my cheek. Vacation travel is awesome – but some curves are definitely more fun to navigate than others.
We arrive in Oaxaca City. There are myriad local attractions for visitors, but I oddly commence my visit at the death cult barbershop. It’s not really called that. However, the huge Santa Muerte statue, blaring gangsta-metal music, wall-mounted buffalo skulls with dark magic amulets, and full-body-prison-tattooed stylists explain the corporate culture as clearly as any company brochure could.
The owner is a former gangster. His shop offers transitional undocumented employment to thugs no longer welcome back in California but strangely unmotivated to return to Honduras. And they sure can cut hair. Apparently, some years of experience wielding sharp blades really pays off artistically, plus supporting a harem of hot bitches without drug smuggling requires a dilligent employee.
I dig this place. Nothing makes me feel more badass manly than calmly relaxing with a hot towel over my eyes while a semi-retired assasin drags a straight razor up my neck. Live with gusto or die with honor – either way it’s cool to be a man. Straight blades and dangerous curves punctuate the highway from boyhood to manhood. It’s a hell of a ride.
There’s one female stylist too. Her chiseled and scarred face looks like she spent her puberty fending off gang rapes atop northbound trains. Gotta respect that. Though I’m proud of my journey from Californian metrosexual boy to Mexican bad hombre, I tip my metaphorical hat to her far superior survival skills. Life is a tough but sweet journey. Enjoy the straightaways, the raw dangerous edges, and most of all the curves.