CaribbeanTales couldn’t have known I was in the middle of deeply searching for a great connection to my roots when they reached out to collaborate. It’s a dope time for content creators who look like us with Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror smash Get Out taking home an Oscar and 2018’s Black Panther smashing every record the world can toss at it, but we can still do more.
Black culture has long challenged anyone who dares try to keep it in a box. Most of what the world calls “Black culture” is culture reshaped and repackaged for public consumption. Hip-hop. Television. Fashion. It all reached a tipping point where Black culture met bold couture, and suddenly we found ourselves without identifiers accurately representing us anymore.
Or at least—that’s the narrative some would have us believe.
When most Torontonians think of Mexico, they dream up sandy beaches. Swim-up bars. Just about every stereotype possible! It’s a Mexico that’s Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera, coastline paradises supplying your every want and need. But what they don’t see is the rest of the country, where 99% of its people live lives more concerned with putting food on the table than they are that your cocktail’s lacking in tequila. That, my friends, is the real Mexico—and it’s in this Mexico that nearly 300 fútbol players competed to see who’d come out on top not only in their countries but all of Central and North America, as well as the Caribbean, too!
Toluca, Mexico — Because There IS Life Outside of Mexico City!
An hour west of the very populous Mexico City (with an estimated 30 million people living in the area) lies the industrial city Toluca, which I don’t imagine many of you would visit unless you had a reason to be there. A town of 800,000 found 2600 metres above sea level, Toluca’s prone to altitudinal challenges, fluctuating temperatures, and a strong curiosity about tourists (locals asked to take photos with me five times in the four days I was there!)
While I didn’t have the time to catch the city’s sights, I soaked the city in as we drove through it, immediately noting the differences between the “normal” there from the one I knew back home in Toronto! Like the food and drink offered to you instead of squeegees at red lights. Or starting dinner at a time where many Canadians are heading to bed. With a vibe and identity all of its own, Toluca made for an interesting proving ground for young men from ten different countries. One providing a unique opportunity—to become part of the youngest age group ever to compete in an official CONCACAF event!
As much as Torontonians love getting away from the cold and soaking up warmth from a tropical island, there’s only so much time I can spend on resorts before feeling the pans for a return to the life I’ve established back home.
I’m not the type to lay on the beach all day without a care in the world, drink in one hand, book in the other, letting all my worries flow out as I enter a state of unbridled relaxation. I’m not the type to party recklessly through the night, acting unashamedly, willfully ignorant of my actions’ consequences, doing things I wouldn’t dare do in my backyard. The place I feel most comfortable is the home I’ve built myself on the Internet — and you can’t take me away from that spot for too long before I start to feel a certain itch.
It wasn’t Cuba’s fault — the Cubans are super friendly, excited to see a Black Canadian with a cute mixed baby, and likely partly because I’m a good tipper*.
*NOT SO FUN FACT: The average Cuban worker earns about 25 convertible pesos (CUCs) a month — or just over 31 Canadian Dollars. With prices for Cuban all-inclusive resorts so low, please make sure to tip generously!