Yes, that’s right, I am going to write about a towel. A towel that I bought in 1991 when I was ten years old. A towel that I still possess and a towel that is currently with us here in Puerto Escondido. It has Bart Simpson with his skateboard on it and it says “Cool your jets, man!”
The Simpsons launched in 1990 so by 1991 it was really out there and we all loved it. A full year of airing also meant that it had been enough time for the creation of knock-offs of all things Simpsons related.
In February of 1991 my family and I went on a three week long road trip. We drove all throughout the USA, spent a lot of time in Texas which was my Dad’s old stomping ground from his days as a professional hockey player and headed to Florida to visit our Snow Bird grandparents before driving home. As a ten year old and for my younger sisters, this was a massive and exciting trip. Plus, we got to miss three weeks of school for it and all we had to do was to keep a journal of our trip to make up for it.
I remember a lot of things from that trip and my memories are mostly of the Texas part of it. I remember Killer Bees were a problem in that state at the time and I remember being terrified by the idea of a massive swarm of bees coming to get me. I remember seeing an armadillo. I remember being at a hotel in Brownsville and sitting around the pool one night and suddenly hearing a huge commotion. I remember looking up to see a bunch of green parrots fly by in a panic and immediately following them were a few Barn Owls. I remember their heart-shaped faces being illuminated by the hotel lights. It was magical. (And yes, this story is included in my Birds Oracle Deck!)
Brownsville is a town in Texas that borders Mexico. One day on this lag of the trip, my parents decided that we would visit Mexico. The idea of this was ridiculously exciting. Before this trip, my sisters and I never left Ontario and now we would be visiting not just one, but TWO different countries!
That day we walked across the border from the USA to Matamoros, Mexico. I remember it being crowded with people and there was a market where everyone was vying for your attention, and for your money. It was overwhelming and a little scary but I think that I loved it. I loved the sounds and the smells and the colour. At that market there, I bought myself that Bart Simpson towel because it was a cool thing to have as a 10 year old kid in 1991.
I also made another purchase that day. I bought a dress. One that I had fallen in love with. I cannot remember if I had used my own money or if my parents paid for it. All I know is that I saw it and I needed it. It was pink and it people stitched along the borders and it was the most beautiful thing that I had seen at the time in my life. I even wore it for my school portrait the following school year. I wish that I still had it. I remember my beautiful Mexican dress (as it was dubbed) sitting in my closet. I remember the feel of the fabric. I remember gently caressing it and admiring all of the work that went into its creation.
A few years ago I began buying beautiful embroidered blouses in Mexico. I have quite a collection going now and I wear them regularly. I bought a number when we were in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas a couple of years ago. It was all I could do to not buy them all from the hands of the people who actually created them. On this current trip I have already bought a couple. Every one that I own has stitching is of a different style. The colour is unique. There is something about each that makes them special. The more handmade they look, the more love they seem to contain.
It was only a couple of days ago as I looked at that twenty-seven year old Bart Simpson towel hanging on our balcony railing that I remembered all of this. I hadn’t thought much of that towel or that treasured Mexican dress in a long while.
The small seed for my love of Mexico was planted on that day in 1991 when my family and I walked across the border and entered this magical country. A feeling that has stayed with me ever since. A feeling that only really gets stirred when I am here. A feeling that I suppose I try to recreate every time I put on one of those embroidered Mexican blouses.