I’m sitting in an open air lobby overlooking the Vallarta Bay at a resort in Mexico, having my morning coffee, when an older woman walks over to me and asks if there are any whales out today.
Adriana works at the front desk of the Now Amber Resort. On her breaks, she stands at the edge of the patio, talking to guests and watching for whales.
Most guests, especially this time of year, are from America or Canada, where it’s cold and snowy in the winter. Adriana tells me that she’s had the same view for all 52 years of her life—she was born here, raised two kids here (a doctor and an engineer), got divorced here, and owns property here (“without no man!”).
She asks where I live. I say Seattle, and that it rains a lot there. I’m warm here, wearing a strapless black dress and sandals. She’s in two layers of sweaters. She says I look FRESH, like a salad. I laugh, and say thank you. I taught her how to say lettuce in English.
Adriana then starts telling me that her dream is to see snow. All her life, she saw movies and television shows about snow during Christmas. She wants to see snow. She wants to feel the cold of the snow against her skin and under her feet, then go inside and get bundled up by the fireplace.
She says she tells a lot of guests this, especially this time of year. Many guests say she’s crazy, that the snow is freezing and it sucks.
But Adriana has only ever known palm trees and the sound of the ocean in the distance. The feeling of being too hot all year. Sweat.
It gets old. She got used to it.
She tells me it only rains a few days out of the year here. When it does rain, kids play in the street—jumping in puddles and covering themselves in mud (free facials!). It’s something new. It’s something different. It’s exciting.
I thought about my friends in Los Angeles last week, excited about the rain; then I thought about how I came here to escape the rain.
Adriana tells me that she has friends in America that she could visit—she has friends in Fresno, in Philadelphia, in Wisconsin. She only wants to visit for two weeks.
The problem isn’t that, though.
The problem is that getting a visa is a pain in the you-know-what.
To get a visa, she has to visit Guadalajara for two days of interviews. That’s days off work, transportation to Guadalajara, a hotel for at least two nights—all with the possibility that she could get denied a visa and not be able to go.
I guess the government is worried that citizens are going to leave Mexico and live somewhere else.
But all she wants is to see the snow. For two weeks. In winter.
As humans, we’re curious creatures.
Our brains have adapted to allow creativity, imagination, and curiosity. We have the cognitive ability to see beyond what’s in front of us—to think of other people’s lives that are not our own, to create images in our imagination, to understand that the world doesn’t look the same everywhere.
It’s amazing, really. It’s amazing that you can imagine that there are places in the world with different weather, different landscapes, different lives, different possibilities. We’re bombarded with it every single day on the internet, on tv, on Netflix, in the palm of our hands scrolling through Facebook and Instagram.
Think about something you see every day—like the sun, or a mountain range, or a desert, or rain, or pine trees, or palm trees.
It’s easy to get bored of something you see every day. You get used to it. It doesn’t have the same kind of luster as “somewhere, something else”.
To you, it’s just every day life, but to someone else—it could be their dream.
I showed Adriana a video of me playing in the snow a few weeks ago on Christmas. When I looked up at her, she was crying.