the mexican atm.
there’s something about the smell of the ATM cubbies in Mexico.
i think its the air conditioning and cold floor and walls. the meticulous order of this little magic box. with higher sanitary standards than restaurants and colder air than the freezer section of chedraui and mega. the pristine white walls lacking postings about casas and gatos and musica, but also lacking vibe. no staples overlapping or weathered tape from events long gone. the walls must be painted everyday. maybe thats the smell. or the hygenic cleansers. and its so quiet. maybe its bullet proof and sound proof. or maybe the cold air makes the money flow out better. i dont know. but i cant help but notice this every time. it is the only place i have found that is so strikingly opposite to the world outside its door. like two worlds meeting. the westernized ATM. and mexico.
but what is interesting to me, is that i never thought twice about this back home. my sanitized, cold, isolated atm box never made me blink an eye. because i didnt know any different.
i need cash all the time here. tulum has not yet arisen to the plastic crisis predominantly overhelming the outside world. and the need for pesos rather than debit card is a complete adaptation and necessity, and adventure into a time warp that i now gratefully embrace. it makes things a little more challenging, and i always like that. anyone can whip out a card.
i pull my bike up to scotiabank or hsbc. i leave it unlocked because i refuse to buy a new lock after 2 have broken. its also a matter of heart, as i fear a lock creates a psychological barrier between me and the rest of the world. and i know full well that i need a new one, but i also enjoy the challenge of not having one and having to trust humanity. and the anticipation of never really knowing if it will be there when i return or not. but i have found, with this positive thinking, and faith in the human spirit, that my bike is always there waiting for me. unprotected and glistening in the sun. free for anyone to have, yet staying true to its owner rather than walking off with someone else to another home full of bike locker uppers, where it would lose its freedom as an unlocked bike.
i step inside the shiny glass doors.i take a second and sniff the air. i breathe in deep and take a moment for myself, while all of the tourists standing in line drip sweat with hands on hips exuding impatience with the line, the heat, me.. :). as if they have somewhere to be. as if they havent learned anything yet from this world.
and i try to figure out that smell. i step closer to the machine and prepare myself. i gently shuffle through my patchwork wallet full of mexican business cards and pesos and lavanderia receipts, full of soft, eroded mexican world cosas, worn from life and adventure, living in the wallet of a traveler. until i find my silver card of plastic. that doesnt bend to the heat, doesnt change shape or adapt, stays strong and firm, yet plastic and structured in its being, because it can never ruin from water, or wilt away on the edges from excessive love and use.
i slide the card smoothlly in and wait for the spanish prompts to transition my life from having no pesos and no options to having choices again, yet temporarily removing the challenge that comes with having no money, for those few moments in limbo, when you have spent it all, but before you have more. there is something about this zone that i like. the challenge, the creativity. the conscious tuning in to what choice to make.
my pesos pile out like vegas. the thing about mexican currency is that there is so much more of it. it provides the illusion of plentitude faster and easier than back home. i mean DElusion. $100 is like $1,000 pesos. or even $1,300 on a good day. it hardly all fits in my wallet. but i find a space to cram it in and zip it upand slide it back into my bag.
i take one last moment before i leave. one last sniff and reflection. and walk outside with a smile. to my shining bike, there waiting for me, ever obedient and happy to see me too.
and we ride off together on the dirt roads of the pueblo, kicking up dust and greeting buen dias and flashing a smile to anyone who will see. and thinking of that moment of ATM adventure when my two worlds clash. every time. soft vs. plastic. rigid vs. adaptable. cold, sanitized, protected, alienated. from the warmth outside its door.
and then i look forward to creatively using this money in a way that will most extend my wad, but also provide me with the most fulfillment.
and then i will need the atm again.
hop aboard our journey on facebook! The Blonde Mexican Project.