Monthly Archives: November 2012

Missing Mexico, part 2

Today, I have packed a good sum of my earthly possessions into my suitcase and backpack, which I hope they do not weigh, ever, and get ready to return home I find myself thinking more about the things that frustrate me about this country, than things I will miss. This morning, I waited approximately 45 minutes (actually not that bad, I got to sit in comfy chairs the whole time) to hand in a report no one will read, a constancia that spelled my name wrong but is valid because it had a letterhead on it, and a form saying I cancelled the bank account they opened for me. All this to get a single cheque that I could only cash in pesos. Because apparently HSBC doesn’t “work with dollars.” Oh wait. It’s HSBC. They seem to be an international bank. I think they only “work with dollars” for their clients, which I no longer was. I would have gladly cancelled it immediately afterwards. So I had to attempt to change my money in an exchange place, and the first place gave me a bad rate, and had hardly any Canadian money. Mexico.

Conversely, in Mexico City, I have a very rich and spontaneous social life with all kinds of people. Tonight, I plan to take some quinceañera style photos by the Ángel de la Independencia monument with a friend. This is something I would never do at home. I can also have a beer and a coffee at the same place. So, if I want coffee, and a friend wants a beer, it works out. Or, if I want a beer in a place that isn’t gross and dirty, I can go to a café. Canada, this is what is wrong with you. I can buy anything in extremely large or extremely small quantities. I can eat delicious, cheap, Mexican food in front of my house as well.

In the end, it all comes down to capitalism and consumerism. And food.

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An early Christmas Miracle

Most of my books and clothes and shoes fit into my suitcase! (sans carry on items). Most importantly, books!

Missing Mexico, Part 1

This post is not actually about missing Mexico, it’s more about the things I look forward to upon my return home. Tomorrow I will write about all the things I will miss.

I am most looking forward to a city without the absolute stupidest mayor I have ever seen. Anyone who has met me can tell you I am not a conservative person. However. I can respect other points of view when they are accompanied by logic, basic math skills, and people who have not been charged for domestic violence, and insulting gay people and Asian people (keep in mind Toronto has a significant population of women, gay people and Asian people. Probably around 60-70% of the population). He was eventually removed from his post for something about money and conflict of interest. Not a moment too soon.

I am also looking forward to taking public transit in peace. Case in point. Yesterday I clocked in at around 4 hours on public transit (hurray?) and on about hour 2.5 I was on the subway, sitting on one of those sideways benches, and the man beside me kept turning his head to stare at me, approximately every 15 seconds. I told him to stop, in English, and then he didn’t, but I think given the language I used, he understood. Then, I decided to get off the train and take a new one. Before I did so, I asked him what was wrong with him, and why couldn’t he stop staring at me. Then he looked straight ahead as if he had done nothing wrong. I wanted to say to him, I am used to people staring at me, I don’t think it’s ok, but you have crossed the line into creeper. You are infringing on my space – perhaps you are surprised that a woman ventures to take up an entire seat, and doesn’t make herself as small and insignificant as possible.

I am looking forward to breathing clean air, although I think my lungs might be a bit shocked by all the freshness, to understanding what is going on in social interactions (Mexican courtesy is sometimes a bit too courteous for me to understand), to being able to eat food without worry, and to less paperwork for basic transactions. Speaking of paperwork, I have to go cancel my bank account…

Using my Food

This morning I had to throw out two tortillas. I bought them from the tortilla store, rather than the grocery store, so they don’t last as long. Even though I kept them in the fridge. Since I really don’t like throwing away food, I decided that I would make a valiant effort to use up all the rest of my food. Hence a second breakfast (upcoming) of rice flour pancakes with Oaxacan mole. We will see how this tastes.

Upcoming days: facing the results of my neighbours moving and giving me stuff. That’s why I have a kilo of salt, half a bottle of olive oil and soybean oil. I do not plan to eat the oil of salt in a week. I will make a valiant attempt at the rice in fridge (cooked), rice in cupboard (uncooked), lentils, sesame seeds, tea, corn flakes, spices, chile sauce, soy sauce and 2 kinds of oil.

List

0. Number of times I have seen Mennonites selling cheese. Pretty disappointed about that.

1. Dissertation draft submitted

2. Coffees now “needed” in the morning.

Closely followed by number of times I have sworn I would never take VivaAerobus again (coincidentally, the number of times I have taken VivaAerobus).

3. Extended weekends (Tulum, San Cristóbal, Oaxaca)

4. Ruins visited: Tlatelolco, Tulum, Teotihuacán, certain areas of Mexico City where the buildings still sit at a slight angle, or, might be sinking

5. murals visited (Diego Rivera mural “museum” (1 mural), Caricatures, Bellas Artes, Palacio Nacional, SEP)

6. museums visited (Anahuacalli, Juárez’s house in Oaxaca, Na Bolom in San Cristóbal, Chapultepec Castle, Anthropology, Estanquillo)

7. times a week I go out to eat

8. churches where I have prayed to “my” saint.

9. times a day I narrowly avoid death at the hand of traffic

10. minutes each day I spend cursing the city.

Infinity: Books purchased.

Beyond: Job applications submitted.

I have adapted to Mexico

I remember when I lived in Nicaragua, that I asked some friends “do you want a sandwich or do you want food.” This was a moment of complete cultural adaptation. Even since then I haven’t been able to consider sandwiches as food. They are, just, sandwiches.

Yesterday, at around 4 pm, I said to myself, it’s about time for lunch. That’s how I knew I had adapted. I also bought mineral water flavoured with salt and lime at a convenience store on the way home from Oaxaca, which also seems pretty unlikely behaviour for a Canadian. I have also acquired a chilango accent, but I hope it is not chilango fresa insoportable. The only problem is that now I have to leave.

Epic Imaginary Trip

Planning is much more fun that facing reality, rehearsing my conference presentation, or applying to jobs. Since I don’t really have much other than academics to occupy me here in Mexico, once the day’s work is done, and there’s only so much emotional energy I can expend wishing I were elsewhere, planning comes to the fore.

Planning trips is especially enjoyable. Most of my travels around Mexico have been unplanned, and based on recommendations from friends and acquaintances, and given that I was already in the country, and had a budget that would allow for domestic flights and cheap accommodation, or nice accommodation and the bus, I knew where I could go. When I got here I made a list of all the places I wanted to go on this trip. I haven’t gone to Michoacán as planned, nor will I go see Calle 13 in Monterrey next weekend since I’d rather spend time with friends here in Mexico City, I will leave those trips for the future.

The future also brings up my desire to travel again. And now that I have several trips under my belt, maybe even to somewhere where I don’t speak the language and don’t fully understand what’s going on (to be fair, in Mexico I think I understand about 75% of what is happening. The other 25 % I guess, based on my existing understanding of Mexico. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong).

I have probably mentioned my epic imaginary trip elsewhere on this blog, but in order to be able to spend such vast quantities of money (aka my savings, and avoiding spending money whenever possible for the next 4 months) I would need to have a job at the end. I’m just not the kind of person who spends all her money and then looks forward to her parents’ basement. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t be so bad, since they’ve put down laminate flooring and some new furniture in the guest room.

I could visit my friends in Nepal, and then go to India, or other parts of Asia. I have never wanted to go to Asia before, but somehow having a place where I could stay and get my trip going, in a familiar environment, opens up the whole continent to me. And it’s not that far to Australia and New Zealand from there. It would be cool to go there too. So beautiful. Of course there is also the dream of doing an epic road trip through the US, or travel to Newfoundland, or finally visiting Europe. Once I become a doctor, who knows where my restless heart will take me?