Translate Blog

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Way of Life

Yes, I know I don’t exactly post on this thing often, but in my defense, it was only my intention to have 1-2 posts a month, depending on time and material to write about. With that said, in this post there are some long-overdue photos from my time here.

Dia De Los Muertos with a katrina in the background. All on the ground are the stamen and pistils of thousands of flowers.

Almost the same shot, a little blurry, but I included it because you can better see what's going on in the background.

More katrinas.

Monkeying around with some friends on the "biggest" (i.e. widest) tree in the state of Jalisco. I don't think we were supposed to climb it. Mexicans need to go to California if they want to see some big trees.

With some relatives. The two nuns hadn't been back to Mexico (from Europe) for twenty years.

The Primos Hermanos--"first cousins." Actually this is only a handful of the guys. There are around 60 total, including women. (I'm back row, 3rd from left)

A pool hall here in Zapotlanejo we went to for my birthday. In this picture are my coworkers from the school.

Here are a couple hands making sure I participate in the birthday tradition of smushing one's face into the birthday cake. You can see that I'm smiling.

My 24th birthday passed here in Mexico—yet another first time experience: a birthday outside of the country. And whaddayaknow, I didn’t have any friends out of town on holiday for Thanksgiving (my b-day is always that week). Actually I was quite surprised how the day turned out. My coworkers at the school all paused from their schedules to eat lunch and birthday cake with me. And then, in an (to me) unexpected tradition, they all went around in a circle and each said something for me. One of my coworkers told me that at a job, your coworkers are your family, and I am now part of a new family, and if there is anything I need, all I need do is ask. For having only worked there for 2 and a half months, this was quite surprising and humbling—the openness and welcoming familial nature of relationships here.

An example to illustrate this was that I was on an errand and I needed the translating abilities of a friend of mine, and without a second thought he came along. I was under the impression that my errand would take no longer than 5 minutes, and I told him so; but it turned into an 1 ½ endeavor—taking us all over town—before it was finished. I asked if I could buy my friend lunch or something for helping me out and he politely declined. I said I really appreciated it and he said that’s all that mattered.

This same kind of openness and willingness to help out a friend or family member is something that I’m still unused to as of yet. For the most part, in the States, I’m used to people hesitating, or there are at least strings attached to favors. Here, if you’re friend or family, and there is something needed, those around you offer themselves or their services up without a second thought. Of course, the idea is that you won’t take advantage of them. If you do, their assistance is summarily cut off. So I suppose there would be very loose strings attached to favors and such here—the understanding is that everyone is the same way, and has the same attitude toward it. All this to say, is this generosity and willingness to give is a way of life down here, a kind of circle of giving, and is open to you even if you haven’t been here long.

I almost abstained from preparing a turkey hotdog for myself on Thanksgiving as a nod to the millions of perished Native Americans and their nonexistent descendants unable to do so. ("Oh here he goes again with the Native Americans...). But there was nothing else to eat in the fridge, so I ate it. So passed Thanksgiving here—without so much as a blink from my countrymen. It was a kind of realization—that the experience of a holiday/holiday weekend for an entire nation (Thanksgiving) is essentially nonexistent as soon as you cross the imaginary lines in the dirt that separate countries. “Black Friday?” Nonexistent. I know it may seem obvious that the traditions of one nation aren’t celebrated in a different country…but like I’ve said before, it was a new experience.

But that’s what this blog is about—my new experiences of a land and a place that is very different than where I come from.

I hope all of your past and upcoming holiday celebrations were and are filled with family and merriment! I’ll see you in the New Year with the scoop on what things were like down here!