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Monday, September 28, 2009

Learning to Fly (but I ain't got wings)

This coming Tuesday marks three weeks since my arrival! Time flies when you fly in an airplane to a country with lots of flies that fly by in the night in a land of flying time.

A few insightful observations I’ve made so far about Mexico:

-everyone my age is already married and has kids (or is WELL on their way)

-just about everyone speaks Spanish

-mosquitoes love nightly servings of O+ (my blood type)

-emergency blinkers are flashed instead of the brights

-the driver and passengers can be drinking beer in the car while driving without wearing seatbelts

-such drivers ignore flashing emergency blinkers

-your family will always be there. Always. Whether it’s your boisterous 3-year-old “niece” outside your door at 7:30am, or your aunt and cousins to make you a delicious dinner and then sit around convivially and chat for the next 3 hours, they’ll always be there.

-they eat a lot of Mexican food. It’s not just tamale Tuesdays here, or enchilada Mondays, but they actually eat this stuff daily. Three times a day. And it’s really good.

-things here generally aren’t made for people that are/are over six feet tall. One of these days I’m gonna lose an eye or wake up on the ground with a concussion.

-old ladies in line at the store taking their sweet time will be old ladies in line at the store taking their sweet time, whatever country you’re in. Count those pennies. Er, uh, pesos.

For Mexico’s birthday celebrations, everyone actually started fiesta-ing the night before, and counted down until midnight (12:01am of Sep. 16th) and kept the party going. I headed down to the plaza with my cousins and family to watch the festivities having to do with Mexico’s independence: a beauty pagent, and a medieval-genre folk band. The fireworks igniting the night sky was pretty awesome. Right before the final beauty (and last year’s winner) walked the stage, the clouds opened up and down-poured on us. Within less than A minute everyone and everything was soaking wet, and those wanting to keep the party going headed inside, while I stood under a centuries-old church’s awning with my family, trying to keep dry and thinking the rain might lift.

It didn’t.

So I proceeded to walk back to the house with my cousin to get the car, and got the most soaking wet I’ve ever been, and it couldn’t have been better. Soaked to the skin, in the pouring rain, on Mexico’s Independence Day (it was past midnight by now). Call me Ishma…uh…Mexican.

I had my first margarita(s) in Mexico…and man they were delicious. Holy crap it was like an addiction in a glass. And, they were free! It was the opening night of some bar/restaurant, and I went with my cousin, and he is friends with the owner, and so somehow through those connections I didn’t have to pay. I also had buffalo wings which I’m pretty sure permanently removed skin from my lips and tongue they were so spicy. Note to self: downing a margarita attempting to quench the fire in your mouth is not a strategy for (digestive) success.

So I know that these two entries have been largely “this is what I did, here is where I went,” etc., but I promise more reflective-type stuff in the future. It’s just that there’s so much that’s happened, and so little space I’m entitled before I bore you out. But maybe I should write like I don’t care about such things. Ooops, that sounded too close to a reflection. Time to sign off.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The Adventures Begin!

On the airplane, it hadn’t really sunk in yet. I watched as we soared up out of the smog that is LA, and saw California recede into the distance, and into the past.

Within less than 24 hours of being in Mexico, I was already on a bus on my way to a small little paradise, Rincon de Guayabitos, with three cousins I hadn’t seen in at least 10 years. We got to stay for free in a charming little paint-chipping-off-the-walls bungalow because of a distant relative my cousins had. It was a beautiful place, and the beaches were virtually empty, save the strolling peddlers selling anything from fresh barbecued fish and shrimp to inflatable whales. Two small islands lay just a 15-minute boat ride away, where small pieces of white coral washed up onto the sands from clear, salty waters. At night we had us a good ol’-fashioned thunder and lightning storm that lasted till daybreak. The Coronas here cost more than I thought they would.

These three cousins I keep mentioning are actually considered to be my nieces here. That’s right. I’m an uncle while my only brother remains single and childless. And not just an ‘uncle’ of a few, but of myriads. There are 62 or so other fellow ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles,’ and if their children are my nieces and nephews…you can do the math. Viva la Mexico, baby!

I also found out how desperately I need to be fluent in Spanish. This became immediately apparent to me the second I stepped off the plane and started to walk past the customs official without getting my bags checked. I found out that I didn’t know as much Spanish as I thought I did, and that I remembered more than I thought I would, if that makes sense. Pero voy a estudiar mucho!

I live in a room in my aunt’s house in this small rancher-town of about 70,000 people, called Zapotlanejo (it’s about a half-hour east of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco). My Tia is a sweet lady with a very giving heart, and always willing to feed me, even after I say I’m full. It’s kind of funny, it’s like “living at home” again. If I’m going somewhere or if I’ll be back late, I have to inform her. It’s just kind of funny to have this again after years of independence.

Within a week of being here, I also landed a job as an English teacher!! I’m in training now, but I start the 1st of October! It’s at a private language school right here in Zapotlanejo, so I don’t have to commute or anything. I’m really excited that I get to mis-educate people this quickly!

Ok, this is long enough for a first entry—I don’t want to bore-out my audience this early in the game! Stay tuned, and we’ll be in touch. Also, feel free to come down to Mexico some time. The weather is warm, the food is good, and the people are nice. Viva la, baby!