Chicken sopa for the neo-hippie soul
Melting in the wet heat, sunburned, sitting in the dirt on the side of a road in Cancun. It’s several kilometers to the white-sand beaches, several kilometers to the downtown shops, several kilometers to the aeropuerto.
The unarmed security cops who pulled me off the bus glance at me every now and then. A stray Mexican dog meanders along the road.
There’s a phone booth behind me that doesn’t take pesos. Only phone cards. And not my MCI phone card or my MasterCard. I have to go to a nearby gas station to buy a TelMex card. Calls are three pesos (30 cents) a minute.
The cops didn’t arrest me. I’m free to go anywhere I want in Mexico, probably, except back to my hotel. The cops are pulling people off the public bus system. I was ousted from my bus with two men from Zambia, Africa. I join a Japanese couple on the side of the road. Later, an entire contingent of Koreans is pulled from the bus. We’ve been racially profiled.
I’m in Cancun reporting on the protest community at the World Trade Organization’s Fifth Ministerial in Cancun. Early this Saturday morning, I was dropped off downtown, where I met two guys who also came to Cancun from Reno—Dan Gingold and Aaron Buskirk.
We joined thousands of protesters on a march from downtown Cancun to another police barricade into the hotel zone. Gingold speaks Spanish wonderfully and translates the chants of groups who are here to take a stand against the WTO’s tendency to work for corporate-friendly international trade policies that oppress communities around the globe.
(Believe what you want. The numbers are in. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work.)
Protesters spend hours at the barricade dismantling it, then decide not to risk police violence by marching past it. Some activists are disappointed. I am glad. People would have been hurt, possibly killed. Violence gets media attention, but at a steep cost.
I’m wearing a T-shirt that says “Peace” in a dozen languages. Maybe it’s the shirt that convinces bus-searching cops that I am a hippie globalfóbica—one of the anti-globalization protesters.
I try everything.
“Soy una reportera,” I tell them. “I am a reporter.” I show them my RN&R press pass to no avail. To be a turista is OK. If I’d worn a wrist band from an all-you-can-drink “boozería,” the police would have let me pass.
I call my hotel. A clerk speaks with a cop who agrees to let me go if my turista esposo picks me up. One catch. My husband, the Significant Republican, is cruising around the central Yucatan Peninsula in a rental car. He went to Chichen Itzá, ancient ruins that are a must-see for Cancun visitors.
Even if he gets the message and drives around looking for me, he’ll have a hard time finding me. I could be here all night.
Then comes a miracle. Do you believe in a benevolent powerful force for good? Given the amount of shit that happens in life, it’s not easy to hang onto faith.
But what are the odds, really, of my husband—who’d been a bit lost, then surprised to find himself on a road that comes out on the far side of Cancun—driving by a police barricade kilometers from our hotel with his window open? What are the chances of my seeing him drive by on a speedy four-lane highway?
Maybe I’m just lucky.
I yell his name. The rental car has no radio, so he actually hears me. He pulls over, looking every inch a beach resort tourist, complete with an orange wrist band for Chichen Itzá.
The cops let me go.