Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lunchtime in Guadalajara

WELL! I should start with the last leg of the flight I suppose.

There are two other students from my school who’re coming this semester. One’s a boy, one’s a girl, and I feel pretty sure the boy and I are going to be fast friends. We were going to be on the same flight from Dallas to Mexico, so I started looking for him after all the excitement about the troops coming through, which by the way, was one of the most moving things I’ve experienced in my short life. I found him and we started talking about the placement test we would have to take Friday, the families we were joining, and other preparatory nonsense, when an announcement came on about our flight. The woman said there were some exit row seats available… that’s all I needed to hear. I took off running and said my friend and I needed to be in them. Look, I have a lot of leg, and the exit rows have the most leg room. I’m down with the responsibility, I think I could manage in a pinch. So we got to sit together and have lots of leg room, that was nice.
But we didn’t really have any idea what would happen when we got there. We heard something about there might be a bus there from the university to pick us up, that there might be someone with a sign that said UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE GUADALAJARA or something… we didn’t know. Would he take us to the University and we’d find our homes from there? But we made it through customs and baggage and everything and as soon as we walked through the doors together, a man started excitedly waving two signs, each with one of our names on it. Whoops, so much for blending in at all.
Mario was a perfect gentleman. On the drive he asked us about ourselves, told us the history of how UAG got started, which was beautiful and inspirational, and also told us why the people of Guadalajara are called Tapatíos – one part of it is truth, he said, and one part legend. The truth, he said, is that the indigenous people who lived here used to say Tapatíotl for a form of bartering that involved trading three for one. So for example I have a goat, and you want to trade but all you have are chickens – you’d give me three for my one, and it was quite common. The legend part is that when the Spaniards started moving in, and the area was called Nueva Galicia, the governor’s wife was pregnant. They didn’t have real tests like we do today, of course, to tell people it’s a boy, it’s a girl, it’s healthy, it’s going to have these problems, etc. But the doctor was able to tell the governor that it was probably twins and possibly triplets. The governor loved children and longed for many, so he prayed that it would be a Tapatíotl situation, the word he’d learned from the indigenous people, a three-for-one deal. They turned out to be only twins, so the governor said that each person who lived there would be his third child, his Tapatío. You know how mushy I am, I ate that up.
He drove me straight to my homestay house and I just fell in love from the front door. It’s very simple, almost minimalistic, unassuming and friendly. The inside has got this great open feeling, even though it’s a small floorplan. It’s three stories though, and the entire house feels like it’s made of air and light. The energy’s great in here. The mom, Guillermina, who insists that I call her Guille, gave me the tour of the house – the sitting and dining room, the kitchen, the patio, then the second story where all the girls live, and have a couple small bathrooms, the top floor where the boys live and the two dogs (!). She’s got three daughters and one son, one daughter has already moved out and started her own family with a husband and a son – Marcela is the daughter and Sebastian her son, and they were here when I arrived. Later Lorena, or Lore, got home, she’s about twenty and we hit it off. Later Gonzalo got home and then we went and picked up Juli from work. Guille made some taquitos de pollo for dinner and was almost apologetic that it wasn’t something more impressive, and that the salsa verde might be too “picoso” for me… but it was absolutely delicious, a great first meal, and the salsa was really calm. I even tried some of the habañero sauce on the side. Red’s okay, it turns out, but green is FRIGGIN PAINFUL.
Oh! My room. Well there’s wireless in the house which will help with my online class, and will mean I don’t have to take my laptop to school with me to use the wireless there, so that’s awesome. But she opened the door and it was just… breathtaking. It’s completely simple, a small one-mattress twin bed, a small desk, a little nightstand and a small … what’s that thing called that’s like a short dresser with the mirror on top? who knows, one of those. Everything was white, big window, clean and fresh and just perfect-feeling. I unpacked and promptly passed out for a couple hours before getting up for the taquitos, a quick shower, and back to bed. I did, after all, wake up at 3AM that day to drive to the airport to arrive early enough to check in for my 7AM international flight…
Woke up today and Guille drove me to meet the boy from my school near the university and we explored a little, that was fun. I took the bus back, managed rather well if I may say so myself, and have gotten here just in time to smell Guille cooking something delicious… off to stuff my face with more spiciness! So far my belly’s been holding up just fine.
I haven’t felt any real stirrings of culture shock just yet. I had it way worse in Scotland, but then I wasn’t staying with a family. We’ll see how it goes, it might take a week or two.

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