Thursday, April 15, 2010

=10=

Hola, all!  This figures to be a news-filled post, I’m sayin’, so embróchate (buckle up) and let’s do this :).  Since last we wrote, a few things of note have transpired.  We’ve been doing a fair bit of traveling, both in our neck of the woods and a little ways further as well. 

For months and months and months, we had been anxiously awaiting some important dignitaries from Nebraska-way: my family :).  The plan was to experience some of southern Mexico’s coastal offerings, primarily the Mayan Riveria and the town of Tulum.  My folks rented an incredible place called “Nah Uxibal” on the beach just north of the town of Tulum (check it! We were there in the main house :)), and after a 3-hour bus ride to Toluca (near Mexico City) and an hour-and-a-half flight to Cancun (free booze drinks and in-flight video of the take off and landing– cooool), we were, at last, reunited.  My folks had rented a car and came to pick us up while my bro prepared the first delicious Julesian meal I’d eaten for over 6 months.  Needless to say, my bro menor did not disappoint– nor did the rest of the not-2-B-4gotten trip!  We spent 10 chill-filled days, alternating between stay-at-the-place/paradise beach days and days heading out and about visiting ruins, cenotes (underwater caves!) and eating delicious food, even if most of it wasn’t as good as what we were producing in our very own kitchen (one caveat to that rule could be the place [read: shack] just a 20 or so-minute walk down the beach of Soliman Bay from where we were staying. Delicious fish, ceviche, shrimp and lobster, oh my!).  Everyone completed at least one book (Jules, Sally and my mom did more like 2 each), and much fun and relaxation was had.  Fortunately/Unfortunately, I do not have many of the pics from the trip on my computer (unfortunate)– my dear old dad was get’n’r done on my folks’– but pics do exist (fortunate– for later).  Here are a smattering to give you a feel of our time together (when we could be bothered to set down our drinks to pick up a camera)…

 A successful coco hunting experience. No one was
injured despite our crude tools (a hammer) &
the this-could-only-work-in-a-cartoon appearance.

Part of the morning ritual: Dulce de leche coffee a la Sally!
(well, coffee was the ritual; 
the ice cream was more of an experiment) 

The Mayan ruins at Tulum. Homeboys picked a pretty good spot to set up shop. 

La mamacita & I enjoying the view.
 
Jules decides to OBEY at Tulum...

The über-cute requisite family shot. Thanks, Sally. ;)

 Back at home, chillin', readin'...

The eternally cute, & at this moment, drunk, Sally Hunt. :)

And... the steps of the temple at Cobá.

I really wish we had some more Cobá shots– and definitely some cenote shots as well– but you'll have to come by the house for a bit of tequila and the family slideshow one evening instead ;).
The day before we left, which turned out to be Easter (for which my parents had brought a bag of chocolate eggs for a good old fashioned egg hunt at the place ;)) and Opening Night of the 2010 MLB season, something else unexpected and wonderful transpired.  We were in the town of Akumal, set to enjoy our second meal in a sweet little corner of this quiet/quaint little beachside village, and decided to pop into a picturesque artisanal gift shop before sitting down for seafood and pitchers of real lime (tart and delicious!) margaritas.  After doing a little perusing, I spotted something I’d had in mind for Sally; a gift whose significance I hoped would last for us for years and years and years to come.  While Sally and my mom visited the facilities, I snuck back and purchased said gift and hid it in my dad’s pack.  After a delicious meal– and two pitchers (we were 5 peeps, mind you ;)) of margarita– my folks and bro popped into the same sweet little shop.  While they were inside, I sat with Sally and did a little something that surprised both myself and her, you could say: I proposed to her.  With a Day of the Dead-themed bride and groom cake topper in lieu of the more traditional engagement ring (in my defense, Sally had said she didn't want one, plus making $5US/hour doesn't exactly create the sort of budget surplus with which you buy big-rock engagement rings).  I hadn't been planning on asking her in specific– that day or week or month, per se– but knew by then (and have known) that Sally was (and is!) the one for me and was only waiting for the right time.  When this shop happened to have exactly the engagement present I had in mind, with it in hand I knew I couldn’t wait long what with that true a feeling in my heart and a little tequila in my belly; PLUS, I knew she wanted a surprise and surprise her I did!  Hopefully you’ve guessed by now that she said “yes” and was crying shortly thereafter– even though she had to read between the lines just a little with my proposal (“Wouldn’t this look lovely atop our wedding cake, mi amor?” instead of “Sally, will you marry me?”) ;).  We spent the rest of the day and evening floating (on air), though were sad to see my fam leave from Cancun the following day, especially since all of the drinking and fun-having caught up with my daddy-o's insides that last night– still better than Montezuma's Revenge, though!  The good thing with a good girlfriend/fiancé/wife is that she's there for you even in tough moments like that, and true to form, she helped me through the first hours of missing people I love and care for so much.  Now she– all official like– will be part of that group of people too, and I part of hers.  We can’t hardly wait :).

 Proof! Now we're each other's for forever,  
AND I can't wait for the tax breaks!

The last bit of news/action I have to share may pale in comparison in terms of its significance for the rest of our lives, etc., but man was it pretty!  My friend and boss Adam (proof that not all Canadians are hosers) took Sally and I, along with another good work pal, Shantal, to the Huasteca region of Central Mexico.  We camped (drinking and smoking fireside) at a lagoon night one, and spent the next day driving to/diving in one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life, let alone in all our time in Mexico: El Puente de Dios.  The pictures below do nothing to show how beautiful it was, but until you go for a visit yourself (or do a Google image search), they'll have to do.  Not too bad an end of March/beginning of April, huh? :)

 Adam and Adam's "camping" luggage.

Stand by me, güey. (en route to the Puente)

Here's a small part of what was waiting for us...
 
...which led into this incredible bottomless blue pool!
Waterfalls galore and rope about to help move
yourself through the strong current. IN-credible.

We were having a miserable time!  It's only too bad we couldn't shoot the
swim-through stalactiten' cave or me pitching my body off a 20-foot 
cliff into the pool below! 

Oh! And last bit of news if you haven’t gotten wind already (take this as me assuming that most of the people reading this blog are close friends and loved ones, not that we believe news of Sally and Anders is at the top of everyone’s to-know list, searching for our names on Google and shit): we’re headed home!  Looking at a flight the week of May 17th (8 months to the day since we first arrived in Vallarta!) to first visit my brother’s new home in Austin, Texas, be back in time for my dad’s birthday the 22nd, and make a couple of important and sure-to-be-rad weddings in May and July.  As to our non-exclusively fun reasoning for returning home, it would seem we've arrived together to a moment in our lives where we'd like to invest moreso in our surroundings and our dear ones within them, and for us, that means the good ol' U.S. of A. :)  

It’s been a wonderful trip, and though I don’t expect this will be our last post (I certainly hope not!), I hope this news is for you as it is for us: a delightful, exciting, can’t-wait-for-the-rest-of-our-lives cherry on top.

De todos modos, gracias por leer (¡y comentar!) y saluuudos!

P.S. – Before any of the rest of that stuff happened, a good omen for the weeks to follow crossed our path, raising English readers spirits as she did so:

 Look closely to reveal your prize...

 Maybe she'll officiate our wedding!

Judge us if you must, but walking home and catching a glimpse of this lady was enough to make us chase her down the block to take a pretend photo of one of the pretty trees newly in bloom.  As peeps would say around here, Qué poca!  HA! :D

Friday, March 19, 2010

=9=

“9,” as in 9 + 20 = my age as of 6 March; OR, more recently and significantly, 9 + a person of the minimum legal drinking age in the U.S.A. = the age of our dear backyard exhibitionist, Miss Sally L. Hunt, as of the 14th!  In this way– keeping the hard-to-read mathematical explanations to a minimum from here on, I promise– I hope to catch you up with the goings on of our last couple of more eventful weeks here in Qro, so get ready.  For lots of pictures.

First up: March 6th, which fell graciously on a Saturday.  I learned that a weekend birthday is something to be grateful for no matter what country you’re in, and that my birthday (experience) could be different for the very first time in awhile and still feel really good.  To me this was owed to the way my wonderful girlfriend tried to (and very much succeeded at) make the day special, and the fact that we had a rockin’ good party with well over 20 good people (friends! We need them!) in attendance.  Sally worked all week to make a beautiful table of food (well, the table wasn’t too beautiful, but the food was!), and as stunning evidence I present the following:


The afternoon.

Bird was there.  So was this nice dip.

 Those are brownies lit by warm Mexican sun ;).


The evening.
 
 (Kind of?) cheese, 'peños and bacon: a good idea.
 
 I concentrated all of my food-making ability
on a couple plates of shrimpy spring rolls.
Sally made everything else :).

Sally's first try at foccacia bread.  
I thought Unkie Wy would've been proud.

And these. Though they may appear boring,
if we were to stay in Mexico, we'd be most likely to
strike it rich selling these in our front yard. Spanish chorizo,
homemade dough and gouda cheese all baked together :).

I for one foolishly neglected the table after the party began (I ate a wee bit beforehand), and partied like I was 17 or 24 or something (I didn’t drink when I was 17, by the way).  It was a great time.

This photo of the backyard– called "Cement Garden B"–
makes me wish we were having the party again tonight.
We had a good time.

Proof of said good time(?): 
  Not hard to tell, I don't think.

The other nice bit of the last few weeks, occurred a week later on the weekend of Sally’s 30th birthday.*

* I somehow feel inclined to mention (a la JoePo) here that one majorly awesome thing that has happened a few times of late has been that we’ve received a fair bit of birthday mail from friends and family back home.  Has really been humbling to feel how good getting mail– cards and packages with kind words and/or well thought-out gifts– can be.  Thanks so much to those of you that express how much you miss and/or love us in this way.  Facebook interactions, Skype and emails also continue to be fine options–

We decided to get out of town for the first time in awhile, and visit the beauuutiful Sierra Gorda area of Querétaro state.*

* last aside: Our home phone just rang (you have to get it to get the good internet here) and it’s funny to have that experience here.  Partially because I’m almost certain it was this overly-friendly waiter we had when Stacey was here that’s weirding me out, partially because there are people in Mexico who, whether they know us or not, have our telephone number.       

Still, my main concern was making the date (March 14th) memorable without my typical complement of birthday gestures available to me, but we invited a couple new friends along (the couple is a couple from California and Minnesota, respectively) to make a different trip out of it and had a really good time.  We visited a ridiculous surrealist sculpture garden-thingy built by a rather eccentric and well-endowed Englishman in the middle of the jungle called “Las Pozas,” and commemorated the very unique and somewhat idealistic experience jumping into its frozen pools.  We also stopped for delicious regional coffee and fresh and well-executed pies (they didn’t beat yours, Mom) at a roadside restaurant (read: the proprietors’ house) on the 30 or so-minute walk from our little hotel in the city of Xilitla to the garden/former amateur pornography setting (so I heard).  Prepárense:


The town of Xilitla.
 
 Dudes ballin' in the mountains.

Just below Thumbs Up Mountain. Go Royals.

Mountains & palm trees in one place.  Cool.


An excellent impromptu breakfast stop.

Too cute with a cup of coffee.  
That's my pay de zarzamora.

Just before I took the picture above, by the look of it.
 
This was actually on the way back.  This way we
were able to try all three of the available pies:
raspberry, lemon (lime, technically) and apple.


Las Pozas.
 
 Posing from imaginative heights.

Detail shot showing some of the repeated themes:
eyes & mossy cement shape-patterns.
 
 Preparing for what would be the best & most freezing
experience of the long weekend:
 
Crazy how much the color changes in these two photos.
Sally rocked it hardcore to close out her twenties. 
 
Every article of clothing on that body is Gucci.


Concá, the next day (Happy birthday, Sally!).
 
 Pretty sky; funky mission. 
 
 Christening the next decade :).
 
So yeah, life’s been pretty good around here.  We’ve settled into a good spot in our time here and our relationship and have a lot to be grateful for despite the distance from you, our loved ones.  
In summary: I’m 29; Sally’s 30; we had nice birthdays; and we miss and love most of you, probably ;).  Thanks for the well-wishes!  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A bad start

The other day, with an extra hour to spare, I decided to take a shower when woosh, a gust of wind closed the back door behind me and I was left locked out of my house.  You see, taking a shower in Mexico requires first turning on the water heater.  Wait ten minutes, and voila, a warm shower.  Simple enough until circumstances go awry and there you are stranded on your back porch clad only in a towel staring at your locked door.  Add to the scenario that it is raining and I was surrounded by 10-foot high stone walls and Anders was not expected home for hours and the problem just gets better.

What to do:

1. Break the window of the door.  Probably the most logical, but also the most costly.  Return to this solution only if all others fail.
2. Succumb to the feeling of being all alone and stranded and cry until falling asleep or being rescued.
3. Encourage Bird to jump up on the door until she hits the handle and welcomes me back inside.  Good in theory, but bad in practice.  When attempted, Bird merely looks up at me confused and then goes to lie on the couch.
4. Stack four spare tires rims and climb them like a ladder to see if upstairs windows are unlocked: not tall enough. 
5. Stack four tire rims onto a chair and try again: still not tall enough to reach the windows, but it is now possible to see over the wall into the neighbor’s backyard.  Good news, their window was open.  Bad news, a giant moan from inside reminds me that my neighbors are in fact mentally handicapped and likely unable to offer their assistance.  Try this option before breaking the window.
6. Climb the tree: sadly, not physically or emotionally equipped for such feats.  Feet hurt from the bark rubbing against them and terribly afraid of heights.
7. Scream for help: no luck, so I take this as a sign to let out a great shout of profanity, something about this bleepity bleep country.  A very ladylike shout of course.
8. Hoist myself to the top of the wall in the hopes that some sort of balancing act will produce results, but the combination of a shaky make-shift ladder and my lack of balance make this seem like a bad idea.
9. Clamber up the gas tanks to see if they are tall enough for me to reach the roof.  Nope.
10. Remember there is a ladder leaning against the back wall and prop it up against the roof.  Push away fears of the slick and slanted corrugated metal roof and me passed out in a puddle on the ground and start to climb.  Get to the top only to discover that the window is locked.

So there I was, all options exhausted, trying to figure out the best way to get down from the roof when out of the corner of my eye I spied an elderly gentleman a few blocks away.  Left with the choice of him or my mentally handicapped neighbors, I let out a crackled “Perdón.”  Nothing. This man wasn't going to make things easy.  I paused to consider other options and realizing I had none blurted out a giant “Perdón,” thus getting his attention.  Now I was faced with the new obstacle of explaining in Spanish why I was standing on my roof, in my towel, in the rain. “Senor, mis llaves son cerrado en mi casa.  Puedues ayudar?  Mi casa es en Los Arcos.  Mi puerta enfrente de es abierto.”* Very broken and very wrong, and yet somehow, I convinced the man to come to my rescue and gave him the necessary directions to do so (thank goodness I listened to Anders give the pizza man directions or I may have stayed on that roof all day).

* Translato-bot here.  Roughly translated, I think you could say that says “Mister, my keys are close in my house.  Can you help?  My house is in the arches.  My door in front of is open.”  Not bad for a desperate language-learning near-nudist standing on her roof at midday.

With this good news at hand, I realized a new predicament: Bernadette is going to bark at this man when he tries to walk through the front door.  The kindly gentleman had a decent walk to make because we live on a closed road giving me at least five minutes to devise a solution encouraging Bernadette to not bark at him, but by the time he showed up I had come up with nothing and he stood at the front door paralyzed  “No muerda.  Ella es muy simpatico.”*  To have made it this far, to see hope in the form of a frail, old man standing in my doorway, and then to have him to afraid to walk in the front door because of a dog with a fierce bark who is so terrified of men that if he just came inside she would run away was too much.  I just kept screaming through my locked back door,  “She is nice, she won’t bite,” and next thing I know, he is at my back door rescuing me from my misery.  I had used up all the Spanish I had at this point to properly thank the man for walking in the rain to help my stranded self and just kept repeating “muchas gracias”** over and over hoping that somehow this would convey my sincere gratitude for his kindness.

* Hola.  This is quite good, saying “She doesn’t bite.  She is very nice (for a man).”

** C’mon now, you know that one, gringo.


A few days later, I made a batch of dulce de leche brownies to thank the kind man, but when Anders and I went to his house to deliver them, he couldn’t even make it to the door to receive his gift because he had a “delicate sickness.”  I just hope that wasn’t my fault.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let them eat cake

For the greater part of this week, Anders and I have been feasting like royalty.  It started when we decided to throw our first party in Mexico in honor of the Super Bowl and ended with me accidentally buying two chocolate bars for 100 pesos.  To put 100 pesos into perspective, we used to live here for 400 pesos a day.  That included housing, food, booze, and entertainment, so to spend a quarter of our daily income on chocolate is pretty extravagant.  In my defense, the chocolate price had been incorrectly labeled as 11 pesos, but it was a rookie mistake because when going to the grocery stores in Mexico you always have to triple check the item prices.  If you don’t, you end up with a much higher tab than anticipated. 

With each fine meal we cooked, I kept thinking to myself that one of the finest joys of growing older is getting to eat what I want when I want.  I can recall countless childhood nights where I was stranded at the dinner table contemplating how to discard the pile of mushy, cold broccoli that sat limply on my plate without having to actually eat it – a sudden urge to use the restroom and flush it down the toilet or the horrible idea of mixing it in with my milk and then chugging it down while trying not to gag.  It would be fair to say, I was a bit of a picky eater growing up.  My palette had not yet matured, and I enjoyed things like pizza and french fries and as gross as it is to remember now, raw hamburger (I used to sneak mouthfuls of it when my Mom wasn’t looking).  But, fortunately, time passes and we develop into adults with more refined taste buds.  Today, I love broccoli, the non-mushy kind that is steamed and crispy and oh, so delicious, and I usually look forward to meal time. 

Many mornings this week were examples of just this feeling.  Instead of figuring out how to get away from the table, I found ways to linger.  I have coffee and pumpkin bars with maple-cream cheese frosting to thank for my eagerness, but as I lifted my fork up, I was reminded of how my mother taught me how to enjoy such a succulent breakfast.  One of my favorite breakfasts as a child occurred the day after my birthday.  I would always request that my mother make me my Grandmother’s angel food cake with chocolate frosting.  This wasn’t your typical chocolate frosting recipe, no powdered sugar required.  Instead, you take a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, an egg, and a little bit of milk, and mix it all over low heat being careful not to cook the egg.  Then you frost it over the angel food cake, throw it in the fridge, and wait for it to cool and harden.  The way the light, airy angel food cake mixes with the rich, decadent frosting is nothing shy of glorious pandemonium in your mouth.  Somehow, the next morning, it is even better.  Normally, my mother fed us oatmeal or some other healthy equivalent, but when there was leftover birthday cake, waking up got a little sweeter.  People gasp when I tell them this story.  How could a mother do such a thing?  Her logic was sound: some people eat doughnuts, but my kids eat cake.

I am glad for this lesson and many others she taught me about how to cook and enjoy food.  There was a stage in my life where I hated to cook, but as the following menu for our week shows, I think it is much better to embrace the inner cook within.  And just so you know, Anders made many of the delicious meals below. 

Super Bowl Feast
Midweek Meals/Dessert
  • Ginger Fried Rice – a deconstructed fried rice topped with a fried egg and then sprinkled with crispy pieces of ginger and garlic.  Simple, but delicious.
  • Best Chocolate Pudding – let me just say that the 100 peso chocolate made a difference folks.
Friday Girl’s luncheon/Dinner
Valentine’s Day Breakfast/Dinner
  • Pork Meatball Banh Mi sandwhiches (from bon appétit magazine)

  • Bottle of Malbec
  • Apple Crisp topped with nut ice cream
 *please forgive the Deb/Smitten Kitchen influence, but she rarely lets us down

Saturday, February 13, 2010

=8=

I've got to say, it kind of surprises me that I'm feeling it somewhat necessary to post about this, but as I was reading my Royals blogs this morning, I saw an article on– and a great photo of– Frank Thomas and his retirement.  Honestly, I feel like just seeing his huge body (what a head!) and remembering marveling at it on so many baseball cards back in the early 90s sent me spinning back to my youth– if I can call it that, now nearly 29 years old.

One special moment I remember well with the Big Hurt (truly, this was a fine nickname; now we're stuck with obvi-boners like A-Rod), or more specifically, with his high gloss '92 Fleer Ultra likeness, was while visiting my Uncle Ryan (that's Unkie Ry/Wy or just "Unk" if you know the man) in Newport, Rhode Island.  Back in those days, when we'd go on a family vacation, my dear mother would always get dragged along to any number of majestic and foreign card shops– it was always one of the most anticipated moments of any vacation for me, and remember that this was well before internet availability of any card you could think of on sites like eBay was possible– in search of Bo Jacksons, Kirby Pucketts or Barry Bondses that were missing from my binders filled with hundreds of these fellas, carefully slotted into Ultra Pro sleeves.  We'd always joke that we'd find her a recipe card shop to make up for all the time we spent in and hunting for these spots, as if such a thing existed, and even if it had, as if she'd have any interest in spending hours pouring over the giant-sized glass display cases sure to be inside.

At this particular card shop on this particular day, and I remember there was a Spider-Man on the sign at this spot (we statistics-loving card collectors often had to coexist with the cartoon drama-loving folks who loved to read, of all things), I don't recall walking out with any of the AP Big 3 (see above) that had been long missing from my collection, but I did buy a pack of '92 Fleer Ultra in which I pulled this baddie out, then valued at $20.00 on the nose (isn't it funny how card values always came in multiples of 25 cents?):

 
Looks like Frank popped out in this one. Still, $20 to an 11-year old...

I remember being out in the street, walking to that non-existent recipe card shop, for all I cared, feeling on top of the world.  Though it isn't even a particularly handsome card– I do still really like the marble effect on cardboard, plus the little hand-scrawled-looking "'92" at the top left and, now that I see it again, the fact that part of Frank himself– his left foot– stepped outside of the borders of the card, making him that much closer to this kid on vacation in Rhode Island– it was undoubtedly the most valuable card I'd ever gotten in a pack.  Perhaps the best part is, if I were at my parents' house up in my old closet, I bet you I could dig that card out, still in a hardcase and a probably an inner sleeve as well– as was the rage for us overindulgent, non-savage card collectors back then– in under half an hour.  The other best part would have to be that it's probably not worth $2.00 anymore (anybody have a current Beckett/online subscription [how novel that would've been back then!] they could use to check it out for me?  If so, I might have a few other cards to check as well, just not my '87 Fleer Bo rookie card I paid the book $18.00-$20.00 for :\).

Anyway, I could probably go on for hours still, remembering all of this stuff and connecting the dots to my friends and compadres in card-collecting, my silly dreams and haunts of those days, but I'll just say thanks, Frank, for the memories.  You were a giant-sized stud for a lot of years to this kid, even at your more modest 3-1/2" by 5-1/2"-size.

 
 Big Frank: never my favorite, but a player 
I'll always revere as long as I've got some kid left in me.

Here's to the start of Spring Training (some Royals players have already reported!) and to my dad, alongside whom I've always loved all things baseball and who sings a mean "El Paso"– even at long, long distance :').
   

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Walking in the Rain

Yesterday, after four days of rain, Mexico had me at my wit’s end.  Holed up in my house I was content, but as soon as it came time to walk to work I transformed into a bit of a curmudgeon.  I blame it on my misunderstanding of Mexico and its people.  To paint a brief picture for you, when it rains in Mexico, giant still bodies of water form.  In the states, I would call these puddles, but that word doesn’t translate here.  I guess I imagine puddles as small, little pockets of water that if splashed in would merely create a slight sprinkling.  The puddles here are knee-deep craters big enough to swim in, and when you are walking on the sidewalk and a car drives through one of these puddles you are left drenched.  The people say this problem is formed by the large amount of garbage in the sewer system that needs to be cleaned out.  I for one vote for cleaning it out.

 Here, even the arches are underwater

The rain has reminded me of how different it is to live in a place verses visit a place.  Had Querétaro been a part of our Mexican tour, I would have chocked it up to bad luck that we visited during a fluke rainstorm in February.   But since I live here and have learned that it is common practice to make pedestrians wait in the rain while dry people in their cars keep pushing their way through the intersection, I have grown frustrated and taken the wise advise of my cooperating teacher during student teaching, and I flip people off in my pockets.  She used to say to do that when the students acted unruly, and I have to admit it makes me feel better.  Other times, I act aggressively and I just walk straight into the street and hope the cars stop (they don’t always, but I will keep that story to myself since my father is likely to read this blog).

A nearby part-time park/mud pool

Mexico confuses me daily.  I wonder why I can’t have a hot shower every time I want one or why it is okay for people to throw their dirty cleaning water out onto the same sidewalk that I use everyday.  I decided that one of the best ways to deal with it is to give up logic.  Things just don’t make sense around here, and I could sit around stewing over why they drown their parks to the point of killing the grass, or I could just go about my day and learn to accept the muddled world of Mexico and its giant puddles. 

 Our back porch. Notice the "drain."

The learning curve is steep and I often feel like I will never understand the social norms and mores.  I have to fight against my American mindset that believes the world is a better place when pedestrians have the right of way.  But then I wake up to a bright, sunny morning like today and I am touched with a bit of gratitude and find that I am ready to give this country another go.  There are many challenges to integrating into another culture, and I would say that it is a strong possibility that come the rainy season I am going to have the similar frustrations to those of this week, but hopefully I can gain a more positive perspective by then. 

Bird making the most of rainy days

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

=7.5= (my lists)

(10 11 13 14) Things I like about ol’ Mexico (in no particular order):
1. cactus grass instead of grass.
2. being able to take a two-hour flight to Cancún (in fairness that's after a 3-hour bus ride).
3. spending all the weekend long with my girlfriend and doggy.
4. how making a little better than $1,500US a month makes you a friggin’ cash-money superstar/legend, unless you want to buy a BMW or practically anything thrice imported from the Mexican Pier 1.
5. food ‘n drink/booze—tortas, tequila, chilaquiles, tacos, micheladas (with OYSTERS!)— are cheeeeeap and goooood* (see below list for a related caveat)
6. utilities—including cable and internet—are reasonably inexpensive.
7. Bird, seemingly the only labradoodle in all of Mexico, foments our status as all-stars in these parts.
8. ¡¡¡FRONTON!!!     
9. I feel ok about (temporarily— I promise to buy all the good stuff when I get back) stealing music online because I can’t get it anywhere around here :\.
10. late January evenings in Mexico feeling like late summer evenings in Nebraska.
11. brightly-colored Mexican artisan stuff— pottery/dishes, clothing, bags, etc.
12. actually conversating with the dear, dear people of Mexico who aren’t trying to sell you something or run you over with their cars or bodies.
13. how cheap commodious bus travel is.
14. how much more it means to get mail/correspondence from home.

And, the other side of the coin (these could be a bit longer ‘cos I kinda have to complain a bit about each—isn’t that just life? Read this article a friend of mine posted on Facebook for more insight):

1. the way people drive around here (good CHRIST!); good luck, American pedestrians, visiting this land of lawless right-of-way. 
2. the way people walk around here (I swear people walk AT you instead of walking around you).
3. getting stared at like the 6’4” freak of Gringolandian nature (with no evident haircut) that I am.
4. how much it costs to fly. Period.
*5. getting sick for the better part of a week on a tuna empanada— previous to the water being shut off, fortunately, ‘cos I needed the sink and the toilet simultaneously for HOURS on a Sunday night.
6. the apparent definition of “urgent” for the water utilities and just the general lack of regard for timeliness or the accuracy of time-related statements (We were quoted between 1 and 30 days for internet [they came within 2-3 weeks] and just 10 days for cable; they showed up over 3 weeks later. :\).
7. that many of my wonderful friends and family members do not live here as well.
8. having to work long-ass hours and making sh*t-fifty an hour to do so (this has improved— lots.)
9. not having a washing machine/getting the crap kicked out of your clothes each time you take them to the lavandería, where they seem to inject them with urinal cake scent before dusting them with a fiberglass/asbestos hybrid and bagging them up.
and 10. having work schedule issues that prevent Sally and I from spending as much time together as we’d like/we thought we’d have, though this one is, in its way, a good thing too ‘cos we could be totally sick of each other like some of the other things on this list.
Oh, and 11. when it friggin' rains here— and it seems to rain for days at a stretch in the non-rainy season, like now— Mexico becomes a third world country.  There is little-to-no sewer drain capacity (my boss says because the drains are all filled with littered garbage of all shapes and sizes), and so it's near impossible to avoid shoe and sock-drenching puddles whether you're going long or short distance.  My American mind can't help but feel like it's kinda ridiculous :\.   

Overall though, I'd say at this point that I am grateful for what works (in some cases better than how it is back home), and also for the fact that who I’m here with makes all of the stuff that in some cases I quite fervently hate all the day long melt away at the end of each day.  Bird included.