As Bad as a Day Gets Living In Mexico
We all have times when we feel isolated. Anything can trigger it; realizing people you feel close to actually have 339 Facebook friends other than you, working a whole day remotely without talking to anyone, wishing someone else would figure out what to do about dinner for a change.
At times like these, I notice that when I go out and interact with the Mexican people, it always seems to soothe me. This quality is what drove me to Latin America rather than Spain when I decided to move to a Spanish-speaking country.
Spaniards are more European, more aloof, busily going about their business, just like Americans do. I've always held the belief that Mexicans more socially attuned than we are. From what I've observed, this doesn't seem to limit itself to how old you are, your sex or what they have to gain from paying attention. They just take in more at a glance, are less distracted.
One evening, feeling vulnerable and weepy, I had to force myself to go grocery shopping. I'm such a precise meal planner that after I have prepared the last meal on my weekly plan, I can find myself left with nothing more than a lime and a bottle of rancid salad dressing.
I lamented listlessly how unfair it was not to be able to go bra-less in baggy gym shorts to the grocery store in Mexico, placed myself into decent clothing and called Uber.
Because of the high cost of gasoline, Uber drivers in Mexico have itty bitty cars. There's often no real back seat as an option. You usually sit in the front. Every time I get in a car, we're so close I already feel I've known the driver since childhood.
This forced intimacy is a theme throughout Mexican culture. Look inside a Burger King in Mexico some time and you will likely find everyone seated in the same center section of the restaurant even when the rest of the place is empty. I photographed it once but didn't think the photo told the story.
In general, Mexicans are more comfortable with closer physical proximity. Perhaps this trait is gestated in childhood, from sharing rooms with siblings even when a house could accommodate individual bedrooms.
This night my young skinny driver (about four inches away) was uncharacteristically quiet so I stayed silent as well. After about five minutes, I softly asked if he'd been busy that day. He ventured into a conversation, saying he had two jobs. His other job was doing all types of maintenance for office buildings. Young as he was, he had three children, one "mi sangre" as he put it, and two others.
I mentioned having some Mexican girlfriends and how lovely Mexican women are in general. The exhausted young husband assented, hesitantly paused, and then added furtively, "Si...pero son cabronas!"
It was the first time I'd heard the word "cabron" in the feminine form. The masculine form, cabron, means a bastard, or dick. You hear that word a lot.
I couldn't help but burst out laughing (the capacity for cabrona-ness being a trait widely shared among the sisterhood). I had a sense of what his day must have been like too. Maybe I'm catching on to this being Mexican thing. He got a big tip.
At the grocery store, after a dazed hour of forgetting what I was there for, I finally made it to the check out line. Crumpling my list into a ball, I did a basketball toss into the trash can behind the cash register.
When I made the shot, I gave myself a celebratory thumbs up (after all, it was the highlight of my day). No one had been paying attention, except apparently the elderly bagger, who saw how pleased I was with myself. We shared a moment, grinning at one another. He was still smiling when I left the store.
Leaving the market, I couldn't bring myself to call Uber right in front of the cabbies who are parked in front of the store, so this time a traditional cab driver took me back to my apartment.
As we unloaded the trunk back at my place, one of the condo building's maintenance men, a young husky man who looks as American as me rushed down the stairs to the cab, unloaded my bags into one of the building's wooden carts, brought the cart up the ramp and then all the way to my 12th-floor apartment. He unloaded the bags into my kitchen to take the cart back downstairs. He refused any tip.
Would three moments of parallel grace ever happen at home in a single three hour period? It's hard to tell. I'm always struggling with whether Mexicans are so different or if I'm so different when I'm around them.
Such experiences are not unusual in Mexico. Leaving the house feeling alone, I often return from even a few hours out feeling acknowledged, a person a part rather than apart.
More reasons why living in Mexico is better than a fly-over state if you need to move to a cheaper city. Ventanas Mexico
Well, I guess my day would be considered worse if I drowned. Ventanas Mexico
Next up: Even with my chaotic past in regards to jewelry, I'm taking the chance with a relationship with Mexican silver.
When you consider that your cost of living is half in Mexico compared to the United States, tax-deductions from having your own business are double the value.
Kerry Baker is the author of two books. "The Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online' is a curation of all my favorite online Spanish teaching tools. The interactive links take you to website features and websites you will never find on your own, buried as they are in search results.
These are tools by dedicated teachers ( not search-engine optimization experts, like the others are.). They are organized by level and skill being developed. Over 300 sites were researched for the Guide.
The second book is "If Only I Had a Place." Renting in Mexico is different. If you are planning on retiring in Mexico, you need to learn the system of how to get the most luxurious places for the least amount of money, even by Mexican standards. This book also contains a listing of rental concierges in the most popular expat destintations.