It’s strange living in a world where you only understand about 75% of what is happening around you. Okay, I understand about 75%. Anna, probably 99% — although since her only spoken words are “gato” and “agua,” not that helpful. And Fresh — maybe 50%? But that’s even less helpful since he defaults to German whenever communication moves beyond simple pleasantries. So I think the doctor said we can come in tomorrow for vaccines…but maybe not. If only my twice-weekly Spanish class covered more useful vocabulary than that associated with the films of Pedro Almodóvar…
Some of the things I don’t understand: Whether our handyman is coming tomorrow to make the gas stop leaking in our stove. Whether the landlord said we could or could not paint the house new colors. How to set up voicemail and retrieve the eight messages that have been waiting for me for two months. How to enroll Anna in part-time day care. When our bottled water gets delivered. Why the high schoolers at our school periodically bust out in a chant about tequila that is so loud that I have to stop teaching entirely and wait for their lungs to get worn out. Anything the teacher who shares my classroom says to me. Fortunately, I understand everything related to food. That is most important.
There’s a lot of music and noise in Mexico. Including my next-door neighbor’s preference for blasting really bad 80s pop. You know, like obscure-musicians-on-a-soundtrack-bad? Like Tina Turner’s rendition of “Let’s Stay Together” bad? Like Lisa Stansfield bad? Yeah, that kind of 80s music. From about 5pm until well past Anna’s bedtime. It would be endearing except…it’s like listening to the soundtrack from Beverly Hills Cop. All. Night. Long.
My other next-door-neighbor? The Cardinal of Guadalajara. Some neighborhood, huh?
Last week, we got trapped in our kitchen. By hail. Shooting in through the open garden door. Hail so big it looked like piles of snow were billowing around our palm tree. Hail so loud that it sent Anna into a blankie snuggle. Hail so strong that even when Ross used a high-chair tray as a shield to try to save our grilling burgers, he still got pelted like he was at a paintball war. Hail so strong it blew a chunk of our neighbor’s roof onto our sundeck. Just imagine the GibWaters, cowering in a corner of the kitchen, while hail pelts through the air, bouncing off the refrigerator door every which way. And that is the rainy season.
After said hailstorm, I had to walk to campus for Mac Night. Rain boots. Check. Umbrella. Check. Knee-deep water on one of our city’s busiest streets. Check. But the boots helped. And then I find out the next day that you should never walk on the streets after a rainstorm because the sewers are known for randomly sucking pedestrians down into them. Maybe to keep the alligators company?
Anna had her first playdate. At a park. In a mall. Where my Saturday attire of khakis, t-shirt, Chaco’s, and ponytail was woefully underdressed. Know how I know? Because the park had a big sign asking mamas to take off their stiletto heels before entering the playground. Stilettoes, people. With toddlers. Who are these women?!
We finally found a park in our neighborhood. With grass, singing birds, a horsey water fountain, and pine cones. It is so fun that we come home soaking wet and wreaking of wet pine cones.
I hate Walmart. I boycott Walmart. I refuse to support their exploitative business model. But then I went to the Superama, Walmart’s Mexican grocery store. And while I complained and made reasons to hate it while I was there (like all the sample ladies who wouldn’t stop giving my baby free tasters of everything), now that I am running out of each precious item found there (chocolate milk, GF cookies, American lettuce, taquitos con papas), I find myself fantasizing about another trip to the Superama. But wait! If someone else goes and gets stuff for me, that doesn’t count, right?! (If a tree falls and no one hears it…) And the Tadpole really needs chocolate milk. I mean really. Isn’t my baby’s health and growth more important than the Evil Empire?
There is a sushi restaurant next to school with an all-you-can-eat sushi array. They have separate prices for men and women. Clearly they have not seen me eat sushi.
Anna has given up on asking for a puppy. Who wants a yapper anyway? Instead, she has made best friends with a gatito that seriously has her Dada contemplating cat #3. Two kids under two, three cats, in a country where we only semi-understand what is going on. We’re totally sane parents. Right?!
Mexicans might prefer pinche perros for pets, but they sure do understand cats. Our new pet food of choice proudly boasts that it is designed for “the lazy ones who know how to enjoy life.” Did they sneak into our house to meet Mischief while we were gone?!
And as for hissy pissy kitty, well, (1) she’s still hissy and pissy (although she does tolerate Anna dragging her around the garden by her tail and the scruff of her neck), and (2) she lives in our garden and refuses to come in at night. Know how she finally does it? Climbing onto our neighbor’s roof and leaping in through our bathroom window into the shower. An even funnier trick when she leaps right into a running shower.
A cockroach climbed on me while I was taking a shower. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t scream. In fact, I was so tired I didn’t even notice. Personal growth, people.
While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
Like what you see? That's mostly Ross Freshwater. Check out my talented partner-in-life's photo gallery.