Before I left, people warned me about a lot of things. I tried not to roll my eyes – of COURSE there are dangers any time anyone travels anywhere. I was cautioned against swine flu, against kidnapping, against rape, against drug wars, against drinking the water… all sorts of nonsense. Well, I don’t want to say nonsense, but drug wars and etc are on the border and in Mexico City and of course I won’t drink out of the tap, every place has filtered or bottled water from which the ice is made and swine flu’s on the decline and I’m not a YOPI anyway…
No, I don’t think my biggest threat is human nor bacterial. My biggest threat is mechanical. If something horrible happens to me while I’m in Mexico, my money is on getting hit by an automobile. It’s like a constant game of frogger. I’ll tell you how it’s going to happen, too. I’m pretty good at checking the lights, checking the traffic, etc. The one thing I keep forgetting is that even though you think you’re good to cross, sometimes a car comes speeding up from behind you to make a quick right turn without doing a lot of checking first.
I’ve started having bilingual dreams. That started pretty early, actually. Like my second or third night here I had this bilingual dream in which I was a man but also at the same time somehow (dream logic, don’t ask) a dog who was chasing a horse that was also at the same time an Indian. Native, not Hindustani. Every time I managed to catch up to him we would talk, I can’t tell you what was said, but in both languages at the same time and telepathically. Then he’d wrap a rope around my neck until I backed off and the chase would begin again. No idea.
There are no clocks anywhere here. Like, in the States every bank has a big clock out front, whether analog or digital. But I don’t have a phone anymore and can’t wear a watch since the metal screws up my skin for some reason, and when I leave the house in the morning, I make it all the way to the classroom without ever finding out what time it is unless I ask someone with a phone. Bizarre.
I’m thinking in Spanish, too. What’s more, I find I’m losing English words sometimes, or slipping up, or finding that there’s just no English substitute for the Spanish word I want to use. One American friend told me about something he’d ordered, how it wasn’t fitting like he’d expected, and I couldn’t remember the English word for “acostumbrarse.” I had to get out my damn dictionary and look it up to find out I’d lost the phrase “get used to it.” I was talking with the mom and sister here, telling them about a lady I know who lived up until age 96 perfectly healthy and of sound mind, even peppy and able to drive around and etc., until she caught… and since I didn’t know the word in Spanish I couldn’t think of it in English either. After three days of struggling with not being able to think of it, but knowing it started with a P, I sat down with my dictionary and read every friggin entry under P until I got to pneumonia. And words like “platicar,” it just doesn’t have the same meaning in any English translation, and what on earth do I use in place of the magical word “Bueno”? Not when it’s used as an adjective but when it’s used as a placeholder. I can’t think of an example, so I’ll just slip it in for the rest of this entry when it’s appropriate.
I still don’t really feel like I’m in a foreign country, and I’m not really having culture shock like I did when I worked in Scotland. Bueno, clearly I know I’m not in Little Rock anymore, Toto, but I don’t know if it’s the fact that we’re in the same time zone or that I didn’t have to cross an ocean to get here or that I spent so much time getting to know Mexicans while I was in Arkansas and Kentucky… I did get a little emotional either last night or the night before, thinking about how the mother in this house has made me feel more loved in the last week than my own mother has in the last decade and a half. Really I love this woman, you guys. It’s kinda pathetic. She reminds me of my own mom just enough to substitute… well, those of you who know me know I’ve always looked for substitute moms, but I’ve never gotten to live with one before, and this is really just some glorious stuff for me.
One other way I might die is from starting a fight with one of the men here. Apparently not only is it culturally acceptable for passing dudes to whistle, hoot, yell, bark like dogs, squeal like monkeys, or conjure up names or phrases, but some girls, if they don’t hear it, are actually upset and wonder what’s wrong with them. One day some horny asshat is going to be driving past and honk and holler and I’m going to flip the bird and he’s going to stop and ask what’s wrong with me and I’m going to ask what’s wrong with him and there will be fisticuffs. Bueno, I probably won’t do that, but just in case, this sassy gringa keeps a knife nearby.
Got to see my football playing husband again. That’s football as in futbol, not as in handegg, or American Footbal. When I spent last Thursday with my homo boyfriend checking the team out, he really wanted the team so I bartered to get just one. I figured they might be practicing again, and you know, I like to go to museums or go see nice buildings or cathedrals – I like looking at pretty things! So I thought I’d go see if they were there and they weren’t and as I turned to walk away, the one I bartered for walked right past me. Didn’t notice me at all, but you know, destiny’s tricky sometimes, and he might not know about our impending affair yet.
I guess the last thing I have to talk about is another cultural difference. Americans are really direct in the way we communicate. It’s no big deal to walk into an office and say “Can I sign up to go on the such and such here?” But like here, you really have to take the time to say Hello, How are you or Good morning before you launch into a conversation. I’m getting better at it. I catch myself and say Disculpe, Buenas tardes, and then go on…
A lot has been going on besides these random thoughts – classes, laundry and hanging it to dry on the roof where the dogs live, taking taxis with random locals, buying shoes, having Mexican sushi delivered, the extended family I’m picking out, a trip to the city center to see some local dance stuff… but this is long enough. I’ll try and catch up soon. I’m a busy girl between class, homework, piano class, dance class, long-ass walks and bus trips to get anywhere, and wanting to spend time with my friends and family too. I’ll hopefully post pics on a site somewhere soon besides just on facebook so other people can see them.
Anyone who wants to send me love, just ask for my address. Bueno, Anyone who doesn’t, I love you too.