"Someday you will understand me."

“Hey!” called a slow and unsteady voice. We were in the center of the town of Mendoza, Mexico, stretching our legs and exploring before submitting to another five straight hours on the road. It seemed as though we had stumbled across the nicest place on earth. Every person we asked allowed us to take their photo, the cafes offered us free wi-fi, and when Madison went to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine, they handed her the pills and asked for nothing in return. It was surreal.

We turned around to see the source of the voice that had called to us. An elderly man with a walker in his hands and a little boy in tow approached us step by step. His face looked quite weathered, though he was dressed in a crisp button-down shirt and he was generously doused in sweet cologne. His lazy eye sagged as he began to piece together English words one syllable at a time. His name was Mauro, and he wanted to know where we had come from.

As we talked, the little boy walking with him began to pull papers out of a binder he was carrying. Mauro informed us that twenty years ago he had been in a horrible car accident, and spent the next eight months in a coma. When he awoke, he discovered that he had a new calling in life: poetry. He’s written hundreds of poems and his son Esteban helps him type them and print them. They walk around the streets of Mendoza, selling the poems for 5 pesos apiece.

We looked through his book and found that many of his poems were about fathers, with titles like “Papa Superman” or “Las lecciones de padre.” Mauro informed us that his father had been one of the greatest influences in his life, and he hoped to pass along as much wisdom to his own boy. Esteban watched us quietly as we picked out all of the father poems, and handed over our pesos in return.

A few days later we reached Cancun and set up shop at my friend Andrea’s house. She helped me work through Mauro’s poems and translate them for Spanish practice. Though the translations were never perfect, my favorite line comes from the poem “Lessons of a Father,” in which Mauro reflects on his father’s constant mantra: “Someday you will understand me.” As a child Mauro couldn’t contemplate where his dad was coming from, but now that he has grown up and has a child of his own, he finally has reached the place his father prophesized all along. In the final words of the poem, Mauro concludes, “Now, I understand you.