It's been twelve years since I studied in Mexico but I'm often randomly reminded of my time there. You may remember that when I'm not teaching, I'm helping run the office for my parents' construction company. I spend most of my day in the office portion but often find myself in the shop doing odds and ends, including getting my grub together for breakfast and lunch by the sink. When I stand at there to do dishes or fill up my water bottle, I always see this bar of Don Maximo soap and it always takes me back...
In 2000, when I was down south, I had limited communication with my family and friends back home. I wasn't a cell phone user, it was expensive to call home and our little town only had one small 'internet cafe' that had sporadic hours plus the internet was often down when they were open or was incredibly slow. I tried to contact home at least once a week to let everyone know that I was alive and every time contact was made, my dad would ask me if I had found Don Maximo yet. He even emailed me a photo of the packaging once at the end of my stay...photo emailing back then for my dad was a BIG deal. He meant business and he wanted me to buy as much as I could. Seriously.
Somewhere through his years, he had heard that this soap was THE soap for cleaning up yucky, oily messes (and after searching online, I've found that it's supposedly great for laundry too!) but isn't sold in the United States. I've yet to check any mercados around here though as they might carry it and negate my previous statement.
Like I mentioned before, my Mexican town was SMALL with very few stores. I had casually looked around at the little shops that I passed on my daily walks but never found any of this soap. Then suddenly one day, I realized I'd be going home in less than three days. My dad's soapy insistence was at an all time high. I had to get down to sudsy business.
I got word that there was one more store on the outskirts of my town that I hadn't checked yet. So the day before I was scheduled to leave, I took the walk to this mysterious store and found the soap. I bought every bar they had. All thirty of them. For pennies. Yes, I bought thirty bars of Mexican soap to bring home with me. I carried a trash sack FULL of this soap over my shoulder throughout the town; I was quite the sight.
The majority of my carry-on luggage was filled with soap and I honestly doubt that nowadays, they would have let me pass through security with the load I was hauling! I remember my bag being SO heavy and awkward to carry that when I boarded my flight to Dallas, for the life of me I could not get my bag in the overhead storage bin. A kind man next to me jumped to my rescue and got the bag placed for me but not without asking, "What have you got in there? Bricks?!" I think he thought I was crazy when I awkwardly laughed and replied with, "No, just bars of soap."
So twelve years later, I'm constantly reminded of lugging that huge trash bag over my shoulder throughout the town of Tepotzlan to bring my dad back his requested souvenir. And twelve years later, he's still singing the praises of that soap. I wonder how many bars are left now...