Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos

Halloween time is just about upon us and once again I'm filled with the urge to eat candy, stab pumkins and dress up like a ho-skank. I LOVE HALLOWEEN!! This is my third Halloween in Mexico and I'm always pleasantly surprised by the decorating that goes on here along with the costumes and rediculous amounts of candy in the stores.

Even more enticing
is the presence of the Mexican Tradition of the Day of the Dead on November 1st. I've tried in years past to observe as much as possible about this new-to-me holiday but besides dragging my husband to the cemetary to see the festivities and spying in a neighbors window at their alter I've come up rather short.

This year is different though and I'm psyched!!


This year I'm a teacher in a Mexican school and they try hard to make the main focus of this time of year on their Mexican holiday. They know the kids will celebrate Halloween but they're trying damn hard to push their traditional holiday down their throats.
All over the school the walls are decorated with skulls and skeletons and tommorow the school will have it's own huge alter for the kids to view.

The faculty asked us teachers to talk about The Day of the Dead as much as possible and I took it as a great opportunity to find out the REAL DEAL about the holiday from real Mexicans. In each class I pulled my Gringa-card and told the kids that I don't know anyting about the holiday and asked if they would please fill me in. What a trip!


Almost ALL of the kids and their parents celebrate the holiday by building an alter and leaving out (usually for their dead grandparents) the favorite foods of their dead relatives. One kid said that when they go to his Grama's grave they leave a big bottle of Coke and at their Grampas grave leave a 6-pack of Tecate! (beer) LMAO - I love it!

I've always been curious about what the family does with the food that they leave for the spirits to ¨eat¨ when they come for their visit - the day after in the morning. I broached the subject as carefuly as possible wondering if it's like Santa's cookies or Easter bunny carrots but aparently in Mexico parents don't pretend to eat it. The kids themselves lol said that they are usually the ones to eat everything the next day! One mystery solved.

I asked the kids if they feel that the holiday conflicts with their religion (Catholics and Christians) but they all overwhelmingly said NO! They said this day is a tradition in their culture and that it makes no offense to religion. That surprised the hell out of me considering the alter building and believing that sprits will be coming back to walk the earth - but whatever - Mexicans are cool like that.

It's such a beautiful holiday with all of the fun treats, flowers, candles and remembering and talking of loved ones passed. I myself this year will for the first time be building a teeny alter in honor of my Grandmother. Candles, skulls, her shawl, her giant owl lamp, some flowers and her favorites Sprite and Wheat Thins will be laid out for her to munch on. I'm excited to take pictures and send them to my Mom.

Anyhoo, we'll be dressing my lil piggy up as a fat lil bumblebee and carting her around to the family on Halloween to show off - like any first time parents. Come Nov. 1 though we'll be celebrating our newest holiday and I'm truly excited! :
)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hope for the Hardy

*********** I don't post about this kind of thing as often as I'd like or could because I don't want to scare people off with gloom and doom and boo-hoo. Lately though it's been brought to my attention that there are people out there who really would like to hear it or even need to hear it. So, here we go a little more. ***********

If you've been reading here for a while you might remember about six months ago when I posted about my husbands brother and another brothers son both being kidnapped by the cartel. I don't wish to re-write everything but the gist of it was that they were kidnapped as punishment to another family member who was doing some stuff on the wrong side of the tracks. THEY were innocent, the other guy wasn't.

Chino and I never really talk about it but it came up the other day and he shed some light on the situation for me. We were talking about how I'd gone to visit that part of the family and I noticed that they have an alter set up for the younger cousin. They have pictures of him and a bunch of Saint candles burning for him 24 hours a day, always.

I told Chino that I thought it was sad for them that they're still hoping and praying for them to come back when obviously they are dead. Chino informed me though that's there's a decent chance that they weren't killed though. I didn't understand how that could be, I mean, why would the bad guys keep them for over 6 months and not leave any more threats??

He informed me that instead of killing them they probably put them to work. It would have been easy to ship them back to Mexico (they were kidnapped in Texas) somewhere down south and put them to work in a manufacturing ¨plant¨ or put them to work guarding, shipping or doing any other of the cartels gajillion tasks that need hands to be done.

I was floored. Truly, I didn't know that sort of thing happened but Chino said that often people are released back to their families years and years later when they're supposed debt is paid off.

The brother in law of Chino that got brought all of the trouble upon the family was accused by the cartel of stealing from them (they thought he'd have a heart and give the stuff back if they stole his family-not so much) and it just might be that they are now working off his debt.

It´s sad that they have no way of knowing but it gives us some hope as well you know? They COULD show up one day and I guess we'll keep the home fires and the Saint candles a burnin' for them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shooting The Attitudes

The violence here in Reynosa has grown steadily over the past two years with a few huge peaks here and there but growing none the less. You'd think it would freak me out but if there's one thing I've noticed over this time period it's the resilience of a people under fire.

Today my 5th graders were supposed to have a field trip to Peter Piper Pizza but an hour before they were to go there was a shooting across the street. Grenades, huge machine guns, turret guns - the usual stuff - and the field trip was called off.

The teacher told the kids that there was an "occurrence" near the Peter Piper and that it wasn't a good idea to go at that moment. At the school we're not allowed to say "shooting" or "bombing" or "AK-47" ect. or even really acknowledge the violence but luckily the kids help us out. A couple of the boys shouted out "Narks! Narks teacher??" They live here too, they're not stupid.

The kids came up with solutions to the problem "Teacher, what if we just go by my house and get our guards to come with us?" (lol rich kids are funny sometimes) and suggested going to a different Pizza place. All plans were off though, once there's one shooting it's assumed there will be more so the teacher tried her best to make them feel better by saying that all Peter Pipers were closed.

I knew damn well though that not all, or even the Peter Piper across the street would be closed. For even the biggest of shootings here life goes on like nothing happened 20 minutes after it's over. There might be a lingering traffic jam due to the original back up but as far as the rest of things it's life as usual. Schools don't close and nobody goes home early. Shops and restaurants stay open, the buses run and people go for groceries like nothings happed.

There's one plaza with a huge grocery, Mcdonald's and a slew of other eateries and strip-mall type shops that for some reason get's hit alllll the time. Every couple of weeks there's a shootout there or in the street by there or down the road from there but it doesn't stop anybody from going. We need french fries damn it.

There are some in Chino's family who talk about being too afraid to go places but they're out and about as much as anybody else. They just talk about it more. Some of my friends here truly are scared to go out much and there are others that merely refuse to go very far or out after dark, but the majority of us go on about our lives like nothings going on.

If you see a road block and bad guys shooting or a caravan of SUV's you just turn around and go a different way. When there's a big shooting near by you go outside and listen to it or if it's too close you get your ass inside and go upstairs for a bit. After that it's life as usual.

Chino and I drive all over hell going to the zoo, visiting family, going to work and just exploring and finding new things to do. We, like the majority of the half million people here go about our lives and don't THINK about the possibility of getting kidnapped or shot or blown up. What kind of life would that be? Prudence is necessary but we can't lock ourselves up in the house and bite our nails wasting away.

For most people this is where they have to live, no choice about it, and it seems when that's you're lot in life you damn well make the best of it - bombs or no.

I'm not scared.

I've been scared, I've been damn scared, but some part of the brain figures out a way to erase that and I'm pretty thankful. If I think back to yucky times I can re-live them if I want to but 20 minutes later I'm on Facebook and eating cheese doodles wondering just how I'm ever going to get South to Mexico City to meet my friend Mr. Prater.

Eat some taco's, drink a beer for me and live it up yall, never mind the rest!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mommy Rut BE GONE!

I need to get out of the Mommy Rut. My appearence has made a turn for the better as of late but I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do so. The school actually came to me and told me to buy some nicer shoes and iron my shirts. (WOW embarrasing) One teacher came to me and asked if she could help me do my makeup (in a nice way, she's pretty cool) and I realized that I had fallen pretty deep into the Mommy dead zone.

I was pretty pissy at the school because Mexicans are SUPER dressy-uppy and I thought I was doing FINE, just not lil-miss I-spend-2-hours-on-hair-and-tight-clothes-and-5-inch-heels. But when a sweet lil churchy lady comes and askes if you need help learning to put on eye shadow it's a bit of a wakeup call.

I'm back on the banwagon in that respect once more and truly feel better for it but I'm still feeling boring and rutty and like all I have to talk about is my baby and my students and being pregnant. There's more out there, I KNOW it.

Motherhood is wonderful and blah blah *angels sing* and what not, but I'll be damned if anybody can TRULY warn you or make you understand before having your first baby the true all encompasing nature of this beast.

If you're like I was before I had Daisy you're thinking ¨Whatever Gringa, I saw my Mom or my friend go through it and I've read the books and I HAVE a brain to know that it will be ¨life changing. Everyone says it's life changing.¨ The truth is you reeeaaalllly don't know. There's no way for ones brain to wrap around it until it happens and then when it DOES happen you're too worn out to figure out a way to explain it so you just look at people, shake your head and tell them ¨It's life changing.¨

GAAHHHHH!! I don't WANT to be all complainy and lame and boorrring! I want to be funny and have THINGS to talk about. LOL *POUT*

Did this happen to you other Moms? Did you lose yourself at first? Did you find yourself again after a while?

I guess I'm not all gone....I still drool over sexy singers and slap my husbands fanny after a shower. I eat too much junk food and spaghettio's. I've found time to read again and I AM blogging again....that's something. Maybe this is the road back???

WHO KNOWS???

I'll have a bologna sandi and think bout it. Or not think. NO thinking, just bologna.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Peeg Facial and Colored Folk

If you're wondering what my little peegy is up to and looking like these days - wonder no further. She's stated her independence in eating and has told me to screw-off with my Gerber and spoons - 10 month olds are badasses Mommy and I will pitch the spoon at chyo face.

With all of the avocado and bean facials I'm convinced she'll have great skin later on. Besides crawling, climbing the crapping STAIRS, sprouting teeth and showing the ability to give Daddy (NOT Mommy, noooothing for Mommy) kisses she's you know... fat..... and happy and an all around evil sweet punk ass that we are lovingly convinced is the Anti-Christ.

Teaching is getting better every week and I've learned to really draw out and enjoy the good moments. (Like swearing!) It's hilarious how many kids don't know that all of the words they watch on American T.V. aren't nice words to say and I have a great time explaining that it's not nice to call your friend a "fag" in class.

My 5th graders think that saying "black" to describe a Black person is incredibly racist and INSIST that the proper thing is to call them "Colored." (o...m...g...) I told my husband about it tonight and he explained that in Spanish T.V. Black people are referred to as "Gente De Color" (Persons of Color) and that's where the kids probably get thrown off. The kids about pissed their pants today when I made them say "Usher is Black" instead of "Usher is colored." It was great :)

Last week I had the kids bring in jokes to tell and then make up their OWN joke for the class. It was freakin' great. They came in with vagina jokes, jacking-it-off jokes, blond and drunk jokes. The just don't KNOW any better when it comes to English and I pick and choose what I end up explaining.

Some of it (like jacking off jokes) you just gotta let goooooo and not explain. Little punks DO know what drunk and boobies mean though as they showed me when they made up their own jokes. 5th graders are NOT shy. 4th and 6th yes, 5th no, I don't know what's up with that freaky age but they're my favorites!

Quien Sabe.





Sunday, October 17, 2010

Two Years!

I've now lived in Mexico for two years. I'd like to do a post about all the things I've learned about life here and things I've learned about life in general through this experience. Unfortunately though, that would require deep thought that at the moment I'm not capable of. It's not easy to do deep-thinking when you're pregnant and have a 10 month old crawling around the house all day trying to kill herself in 200 imaginative ways.

I guess the lesson learned there would be that something here in Mexico makes me a fertile Mertyle and that I should learn to take BIRTH CONTROL a bit more seriously.

I can say I've learned that it's common to use laundry detergent powder to wash not only clothes but dishes and surfaces as well. I've learned to drive like a controlled maniac and enjoy it. I've also learned that when driving though a mud puddle the length of a football field that it's wise to follow behind another person and let them risk falling in a pot hole the size of a CAR first.

I've learned how to cook with dried chile's and make some kick ass salsa, beans, rice, enchiladas, mole, and whatever else my husband (lol or myself) might be craving.

I've learned (dear lord *GASP*) to like the dryyyy *cahh CKAAHH* Mexican sweet breads that called Pan Dulce that are compeletly NOT sweet. The reason they're so not sweet is because Mexicans like them with their coffee and when they drink coffee there's somehow 2/3 more milk and 2/3 more sugar than coffee or water. Somehow 4/3's milk and sugar is possible in a cup of Mexican coffee.

I've learned that things like telephone, cable and Internet service will take up to a month to be installed in ones house here and that no amount of outraged American Bitching will make it go faster. GIVE IT UP GRINGA.

I've learned that around 1/4 of the population seems to work for the cartel and that it's not going away any time soon - if ever. I personally know five different families that are kept afloat by the Husbands working in it and it amazes me that they're all pretty damn good people. I've learned that it's so huge it encompasses every facet of life here from the big drug smuggling and politics stuff right down to the flea markets and even the teeeennyy wee seller of C.D.'s or clothes on the corner. You can't blink or fart a pea without it being known here and you learn to live with it - and forget about it - real quick.

I've learned that the poorest people are often the happiest and most satisfied - and cook the best food.

I've learned that eating at the scary no-water-to-wash anything food stands and carts is one of the best places to get food outside of the home and that you won't die from eating there. I've never become sick from the food here - only the water in Monterrey. I've learned people truly DO NOT drink the water here! :D

The more I write -even not in deep thought mode - the more I realize there is. I could go on for another 10 pages but you'd be bored to tears, leave and be afraid to come back here again so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

I should say that I've learned that home is where the heart is, but that's why I moved here. At least I knew ONE thing before I came. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NO THEY DI'INT!

I've put up with a lot in Mexico. Flying cockroaches the size of a kiwi, hearing automatic weapons and grenades go off down the street every other day or so and the lack of ability to buy tampons and grapefruit juice ect. But NOW I'm mad.

WHY???

O-O-OREEEO.

Mexico's done gone and fucked with the Oreo cookie formula and I WANT A REFUND. They taste... DIFFERENT! CHEAP! (bwwaa, like the originals are expensive quality but whatever that for now) It's bad enough that the chocolate in this country is full of so much wax that you're ears plug up after eating it but they've screwed with OREO'S??

REALLY MEXICO???

Bastards.

I bought a pack a couple of days ago on a whim and thought I was in for a sure-bet treat - but nooo. Screwy MexiHO had to go and mess with the recipe. How is that even POSSIBLE? How can an Oreo here be different than an Oreo anywhere else??

IT'S AN OREO FOR SHIT SAKE.

Not rocket science people, not rocket science.


NO THEY DI

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Presidents Underpants

******Please forgive the shitty color and font of this post - Lame ass blogger won't let me change it today!! Bastards.*********

I was laying awake last night and the question of who does the Presidents and his families laundry came into mind. Does the first lady do it? A staff? One special Presidential launderer? Naturally the next thought was that somebody out there washes the Presidents underpants. Do you think they're specially contracted to not talk about what he finds?

Then of course I started to wonder what KIND of underpants the President wears. He seems like a boxer man but might need a little support so maybe boxer briefs?? At that point I was imagining the President in some Hanes Boxer Briefs, having a dandy time when it all went to hell because I realized that ALL Presidents wore underpants and therefore George Bush in tighty whiteys popped into my head.

Damn.

*shudder*

Double Damn.

Anyhoo. It was nice to have a few moments of thought without thinking about children at school, children in my house or the child in my belly. Just how the hell I went from a kid-hater to a Mom and teacher I reeeaaalllyy don't know but I can say this - never say never! HOLY SHIT never say never!!

Teaching is going better, I've learned to yell and to give out stickers - both requirements of everyday teaching if you don't want to pull your hair out.

I had a 6th grader yell out "DAMN!!" in class the other day and look at me as proud as could be and say "Right teacher??? Right!? DAMN!!" He was using it in correct context and was exited about it. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground so I could ask "What did you say???" To which he replied "Damn, D, A, M, N. Damn right?"

LOL! He had noooooo idea that it was a bad word and all I could do was laugh and explain. Love it.

I had a 3rd grader call me a pendeja (NOT NICE word) but many many 1st and 2nd graders tell me they love me. The love kids win. Actually, the first time one came up and hugged me and said "Teacher I Love You" I was knocked back a bit. It was unexpected and I didn't know what the hell to say back! I just went with it and stammered out an "I love you too sweetie!" and went about the class. I'm not sure if that's what I'm supposed to say but it seems to be the best reply and I'm fine with it.

One thing - Note To Parents, stop sending me SHITTY APPLES! The little kids bring in apples for the teacher now and then and I think it's of course nice. BUT, I swear that half the time it looks as if the apples came from the trunk of a car in a junk yard! LOL one apple was so old that it had begun to shrivel - literally shrivel like a...mummy apple One I received last week looked as if it had been rolled around in white paint....it was just really weird. It's not as if it's the kids either, they're always packed neatly away in the kids lunch box wrapped in a nice napkin for the kids to pluck out and bring up to the teacher.

I'm a Mom and I get that we're tired and busy and don't have time for a lot of crap so I guess..... well shit... if you don't have the time to send me a poison free apple just don't send anything at all. I don't expect anything I swear!

Shit Yo!

Anyhoo. The baby is awake so I'll leave you with the picture of George Dubya in his skid marked tighty whitey's. I wonder if they write "I will not divulge info about the Presidents skid marks" in the waiver the laundry people have to sign?