Monday, February 20, 2012

Drivin' Mrs. Daisy

After the whole car-tried-to-kill-me thing I'm without wheels for a few days. This weekend was nothing, I don't go a lot of places on the weekend so I didn't even miss it. This morning though I had to get to work and didn't want to bother my husband by having him wake up the babies early (Let sleeping babies LIE!) and opted to take the bus.

I tried taking the bus once when I first moved here after locking my keys in the car at the grocery store and ended up on a bus going god-knows-where, freaking out, jumping off the bus in the middle of a busy street and taxi-ing it the rest of the way. That was when I spoke 2% Spanish and it was horrifying. NOW though, I speak 20% Spanish and figured I could handle it.

Last night my husband coached me on what bus to take where, what to say to get off and HOW to get off. Even how to pay, I guess you don't pay till you get off. I'dve never imagined that.

Anyways, this morning I walked out in the dark, nervous because of the dark and made my way to the big street. Nothing came. I went in the 7-11 to ask and they said wait 15 minutes.

OKAY.

I waited and a bus came but it was the right name so I started waving. *WAVE WAVE!!!* and was dismayed when a bus PACKED with people went FLYING by my face, people hanging out of and onto the door, and never slowed a bit. I waited for 3 more busses like that and started getting pretty nervous. Plus, I felt stoopid. There were other people standing around, taling to friends, aparently knowing what to do and where, and there I was a crazy white girl trying to chase down bus after bus like a rabid dog.

Luckily one finaly came from a side street that allowed me on and I got a standing spot directly at the front of the bus. Sorry Harriet Tubman, on these busses you GET what you GET and this was the only spot left. At that point I thought nothing could go wrong and was feeling pretty good, mabye a little smug at my braveness.

Then the bus started going the wrong direction.

Shit.

No problem though, it was just making one of those huge turn-arounds and then we were back on track.

At about that point the motion sickness started setting in. I do ok in cars (in the front seat) but aparently on busses I don't fare as well. By the time I got off (practicaly RAN off) I felt 3 months pregnant in the morning. Who knew?

But whatever, I made it and I was happy. However, I was across the street from the road to my destination. Across the streets with 8 lanes of morning (crazy Mexican) traffic and could NOT figure out a way to get across. Seriously. I stood there for 10 minutes trying to find a moment to rush across and eventually in my traumatized, nauseous state was on the verge of tears considering getting a freaking taxi to drive me across.

Kind people and a good long red light came together and eventually I made it across. I started hoofing it as fast as I could toward the school. A couple of co-workers passed me (screw you too) by but the main jainitor took pity on me and picked me up for the rest of the way.

I got into the school and relayed the info to my boss who promptly deemed me "A princess" and then went off to the potty for a good puke. My boss is wonderful and he was laughing with me but I still don't think I'm a princess. If you've read my blog for more than a year you KNOW I'm not, but today I did feel a little.....baby-ish.

Or not, I don't know, all I know is that my first full bus ride kicked my ass.

My wonderful co-workers offered me rides home and although usually I don't opt for any charity I GAVE in and said many thank-you's on my way home in a nice non-puke-enducing truck ride.

I feel like a wee bit of a jack-ass over the whole thing, I mean REALLY, it's a BUS ride. I rode the bus to school when I was FIVE. But here, I don't know, it's different and I don't like not being in control and DAMN IT I didn't vomit on the bus when I was five.

Co-workers have offered to pick me up in the morning but it'll be out of their way. I might give it another shot tommorow, just to see if I can kick-ass BACK. Or I might princess out......not sure yet.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cool Mexican Perk



I was driving home from work today. I LOOOVVEEE working Saturday! And there's no sarcasm there, Saturday is 4 hours and I only teach adults.

I teach them basicaly the same thing I teach my 4th graders but with ADULTS I get to teach them all the goofy figures-of-speach we Americans come up with (today's goof lesson was "blowing up his/her cell phone" they all knew the action, but not the term!) and get to use my humor in it's FULL range. With 4th graders I can make a lot of poop jokes and such but with adults I can use ALL of my humor

No better way to teach some boring grammar than to throw in some raunchiness. They love me, and I love them for laughing at me.

Anyhoo, driving home.

The forces of the massive ghetto-ness of my car and a crappy mechanic came together as one today as I was driving home and one minute I was thinking about walking around the neighborhood and browsing the gazillion clothes "garage sales" (i.e. people sell clothes out in front of their houses EVERY DAY and still call it a "garage"), and the next minute WHAH-BAHM!!!

The hood of my car came up and decided to slap a big ole kiss on my windsheild. My windsheild obviously didn't WANT the kiss because it tried it's best to make it's hasty retreat backwards to my FACE.

I know now that I am truly a Reynosa, Mx certified driver because in the split seconds that everything was happening I began to slam on the brakes but remembered "GOD NO, AGAINST THE RULES!!!" and checked my side mirror to make sure there was nobody 1 inch off my ass going 50mph (50 is as fast as it gets here, like....even on the "highway") and getting ready to slam me from behind.


Luckily there was a lot of space behind me so I DID slam my brakes and immediately drove up onto an 8 inch or so sidewalk. My car barely made it up there (not much ground clearence) but it was better than being once again in danger of being skerblashed from behind. And when I say "being in danger" I mean within 3 minutes somebody would have hit me. It's just like that here, you get used to it.

And the driving 50mph thing? THAT'S why we have the stereotype up north of "The 10 mexicans in the nova driving 45mph in the fast lane." They don't KNOW that they're vehicle can GO faster! Or maybe if they tried it would blow up because it's never GONE that fast in it's life. Seriously, after about a year here I realized that I was DOING that when I would get on a real expressway in Texas. And when I went home to visit the first time and my dad drove a respectable 76mph ("Only 1mph over and they won't pull you over ah-har-dee-har") I almost had a heart attack.

Anyways, I always get off track, the car, my face. My face is still luckily although semi-plain, IN-TACT. Along with my EYES thank you GAWD!!! Glass DID manage to make it into my shoes??? And when I got out of the car to close the hood my feet were cut but....well shit, that's kind of cool right? Like.....into my SHOES but not my FACE? That's bad-ass.

Within ONE minute of the failed kiss, one of the super cool Mexican road crew helper dudes came and pulled up in front of me. At first I thought "Oh shit, will the Transito try and get $$ out of me for THIS?? How much do I have to bribe him with??" but then realized it was help. YAY! I didn't need any help but the man was really nice and kept asking if I was ok (which led me to feel over my face in case there was damage I wasn't aware of) but I was fine. He kept on asking and now that I think about it, it was probably my RE-tard Spanish that had him so worried. I talk like a cave-man (on a GOOD day) and maybe he was thinking I was disorented.

Anyhoo, I was fine and told him thank you and that I'd just drive home really slowly.

So that's it. I drove home really slowly and the gauzy windshield would beckon and breath in and out if I got going too quick but all ended well.

The great thing is that if this would have happend a year ago my husband and I would have fallen into dark despair at our once again horrible fortune, but today? Meh. Whatever, I'm just glad to have EYES and my husband didn't seem to care beyond the fact that he'd have to be the one to go and find me a "new" one.


Sometimes it's great to be the GIRL! :D




Monday, February 13, 2012

Who's YOU DADDY??



Last friday I was BLESSED to have been able to go out after work with a girlfriend (with only ONE baby, and the easy one!) and hang out for like....omg....THREE hours or so at a coffee shop.

I didn't know the place existed, heard of it sort of, but didn't know that it's so lovely. It's like a coffee shop from back home where they have lots of big comfy chairs and tables that you can sit at and eat and drink and yak yak yak. Some of the chairs a little on the ....*ahem* used side but WHAT. EVER! It's Mexico and this place is NICE as far as I'm concearned.

My gal pal and I ate panini's, had coffee and then had CREPES.

OMG.

I never had a crepe before, I always thought they would be omelett-y and therefore ran screaming from them at every chance. My kind friend explained that it's like a thin panckake and my mind said "Excuse me???" "Reeeaaallly???"

Mine was GIGANTIC and stuffed with Nutella, Philladelphia, and fresh strawberries.

Oh. Dear Lord, Praise thy name.

BTW, once you move to Mexico you learn that "cream cheese" no longer exists. There is only "Philladelphia." That is all. AND, the magical "Philladelphia" is a food group. These folks are freakin' bonkers for some cream cheese. Once, at Chirstmas, a students mother and fellow worker at school brought in a dish to pass. She saw me at lunch time and said that I just HAADDD to have some.

I was game of course and wondered what the foot square white block covered in salsa was untill I bit into it. She gave me about a 4 by 4 inch portion and it wasn't a desert. It was a HALF BLOCK of cream cheese covered in a thin veil of salsa. Have you ever tried to eat a HALF BLOCK of cream cheese??? She was RIGHT there watching me. So, with my TWO tortillas I gamely ate it up, every last bite. It was.....well, it was cream cheese. Just, a freakin' LOT of it.

Anyhoo, I can't wait to make a famous Christmas "Cheese Ball" for these folks one of these days. (remember cheese balls???) I'll bring some Ritz crackers and they'll love me probably forever and ever. Aaaaaaaand ever.

Um..... subject, I had a point. Ah yes. ANYWAYS. After we hung out eating like pigs for hours on end it was time to go. Sometime during the evening the owners showed up and they just happened to be the PARENTS of one of my 4th graders. Eeek! Small world! The mom came up to ask how everything was, la dee da ect. Nice lady.

Anyhoo, the mom went back in but the Dad (or so I thought) stayed outside. I recognized him from the school and said "You're So-and-So's Dad right?"


And his response "No."

Just "No."

I stammered mentaly and said "Oh..buhhdubuh...er...but you KNOW him yes?"

The man - "Yes."

Real conversationalist. *silence* *silence* *me staring and mentaly kicking myself in the face*

"Yeah, I haven't seen So-and-So's dad in about 9 years."

"Oh."

OOOhhhhhhh, Ok, and it all sunk in. He's the kids STEP DAD. But just.....fuc***' weird about it.

I couldn't handle any more mental strain and said my polite goodbyes.

Luckily my friend explained to me that parentage is a BIG DEAL here in Mexico.

????

Like, NINE YEARS a big deal?

Sheesh. But, well.....whatever, just...poor kid.

(really????)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Amer-Mexican Dream - For You, Stephanie Chua

We AIN'T poe-no-moe.

So THERE Mexico and THERE to YOU immigration and the big ole American Dream. Up yours, around the corner, past your colon and a big wiggle jiggle to YA!

BO YA POLLY.

Ok, so, we're not like, rich or anything, hell, by American standards we're not even close to middle class but for Mexico standards, and the standards that we feel A-OK in, we're great!

It took us a long time to figure out life here but I think we've finaly got it down and all I see ahead is better, not worse like before.

SHIT on a shingle we were soooooo broke when we first came here and between freak-accident after freak-accident and making barely any $$ we were soooo dutch fu*** for a couple of years. But my parents helped us out in their quiet, trying-to-be-subtle we-love-you-don't-want-you-to-eat-only-beans way a couple of times (for which I never asked for, I'd die before I asked for help but I think parents can sense it) and we worked hard at whatever we could find and we made it through.

If you've been here before you know that I stopped working in the U.S. and got brave and found myself a job teaching English in a private school here. I found another school, bargained and got more money and am now even working Saturdays for extra cash. (And I love Saturday teaching so it's no hardship!)

I've been bringing things across the border for my husband to sell in the flea markets for a couple of years now and it's done well enough but the awesome stuff started happening a few months back.

My husband is handy with fixing things and just up and decided that he was going to fix, repair and sell blenders (Mexicans use blenders like, every day cooking here) from out of our house. It took him a few weeks but he got them all figured out and found a wholesaler for parts. Out went the shingle and in came the customers.

Over the next few months he hemmed and hawed and FRETTED and freaked about his ability to fix washing machines. He's fixed ours quite a few times and wanted to strike out and put out a sign that he could fix THOSE too but he wasn't confident enough. But time and a good wife wore him down and a really neat day came when he was out looking for parts for a washer and he found a Angel of an old man.

The old man lives in a neighborhood far from ours and has been fixing washers forever. My husband was looking for some parts and was asking him some questions, they fired up a conversation and before he knew it the man had offered to let my husband come by the next day to teach him everything there is to know about fixing washers.

That was the push he needed (thank you Angel old man) and right now we've got 8 washing machines sitting in our front and back patio. He's been fixing for people, buying broken ones for diddle squat, fixing them up and selling them. And SOMEHOW within the span of about two weeks that all this has been happening he suddenly became a stove repair man as well.

Just WHEN he figured out how to fix stoves is beyond me, I think it came to him in his sleep one night but he's bought 3 busted ones, fixed them and sold them in the past two weeks so I'm not going to second guess it.

Last week he had 1,000 fliers made up to advertise all of his services and as soon as the rain stops he'll be handing them out.

He's put every last dime he's made strait back into his business, buying lots more things from the wholesaler he found here to sell at the flea market and even hired himself a worker to help sell all of his stuff when he goes.

AND. OMG, THIS is where I get reeeaaaaalllyyy excited!! Last week when I was at a tool wholesaler in the U.S. the friendly man that owns the place told me about a school here in Mx that my husband should check out. It's like a collage, but for WORKERS. They offer 3 month courses just to teach you how to fix stuff. The ones he and I are really excited about are the refrigerator course and the air conditioner course. Those are two things that he doesn't have the know-how to just up and figure out and he REALLY wants to add them to his skill list. There's an electronics/t.v./ext. repair course too and I'm thinking over the next year he'll be a school boy again. The amazing thing? The courses cost about 600 pesos. That's less than 50 US dollars for a 3 month training program. I'm psyched for him!!

Keep a secret?

I have a cleaning lady now.

(OM*G!!!!)

EEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D lol!

She only comes twice a week but it's like a miracle those two nights a week when I don't have to spend 3 hours cleaning and washing and can istead be with my BABIES of whom work takes too much time away from any way. She's a super nice lady and I have to SERIOUSLY rein myself back from freaking out and cleaning along side her when she's here. Sometimes I do, if the babies are alseep, I figure it'll go faster and we can get MORE done that way, but I know it's just me feeling weird having someone clean my house. Anyhoo, I'm just massively happy that I have more time with the babies and less with that damn mop.

We don't have to eat beans every day anymore and the babies are fat, happy and massively spoiled when it comes to toys and clothes (we buy everything used, can't seem to break that habbit and why should I?) (and love). I can go out with my friends to eat and not have to freak out that there might not be something cheap enough for me on the menu, we're OK now. We're better than Ok, we're great.

So. The thing is, I love the United States, I always will, but I've come to realize that if you want it and work for it, that the U.S. isn't the ONLY place on earth that money can be made and lives can be made better. I actually turned DOWN another job (a few hours a week teaching violin) a few weeks ago because the hours weren't right and would have taken away too much time from the babies. For me, it's a big deal to be able to be comfy enough to feel ok to turn down a few more $$ a week and I'm so thankful.

I could also be teaching more hours during the week after school as well but we don't HAVE to have that money anymore, we're ok. Our house is warm and there's plenty of good food to be shared and Internet to tell everybody about it.

We're GREAT and we're going to be MORE great in the coming years. For the first time in Mexico I'm EXCITED about our life!

So anyhoo, there's more to life than the land of milk and honey. There's tortillas and salsa ya'll.

Who knew.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And then he said, and she said, and HE said....


It took me 11 months of living in Mexico to find a friend, a GOOD, REAL, GIRLFRIEND, that I could talk to in English and share lifes intimate things and titter-titter about husbands with. Shortly after that there seemed to be a slow trickle of new friends and aquaintances that come into my life and life here was suddenly much more hospitable. It's amazing how much different a persons outlook can change (even when circumstances don't) when they have a best friend to share it with.

We were super best friends till she had to move away around 8 months ago. I had my aquaintances from work and other people I'd met but nobody I could really hang out with, share things with you know? I thought my little world had just crashed down but didn't want to be too dramatic about it.

When I started working in a new school this past season I met not one but MANY new people that I could talk to and that felt like FRIENDS. There's suddenly people in my life again that I'm welcome to show up on their doorstep and that I look forward to inviting to mine.

Border life is tricky though, one friend is from far away and I know that he's not long for the Mexican life, maybe a couple years more at most and he'll go home. One new girlfriend that I'm WAY in non-gay-love with is heading back to her country in just four more months.

It's wonderful to have people that I connect with and yet sad to know that they too will be going while I'll be staying. But, I don't know, since I KNOW that they'll be going, maybe it makes these times that much more great. I know to appreciate them in advance and who gets that chance?

Other teachers at the school are Mexican but have dreams of going northward and I imagine although it'll take them a lot longer, they're dreams will be fufilled years down the road.

Maybe this is just the way it is when we're older? We get new jobs or spouses do and moves are made, but back home where I'd had my best friend since highschool and'd planned living my long life with her in it, I'd never imagined such a revelation.

It might be similar but just a hell of a lot faster paced here on the border.

There's some hope to be had though. Our used to be neighbors and care-takers of the baby's when we need them speak only Spanish but I'm always welcome to show up on their doorstep. We can hang out for hours barely making conversation with my broken (SHIIITTT if I could PLEASE learn to conjugate verbs!!!) Spanish just as happy as could be. We have a mutual love of my babies and can sit and talk about our kids and crazy Mexico like regular friends. Once in a while we can even communicate a joke about our husbands - always welcome. ;) It's just nice to be welcome somewhere.

Anyhoo, I don't know what much of a point I'm trying to make, just talking to other Mexico gals out there that might be like me, maybe you know what it's like or'd like to know that you're not the only one.

I'm happy in our life here and I'm thankful that the freinds that I have and that will come and even go. I don't know if it's age, experience or Mexico but there's a lot we can adjust to and still be just as happy, if we just let it be.