October 29, 2011

Taken over by dust!

I have lost my camera with the "before" pictures. :(  It's somewhere in one of the piles of stuff I'm trying to pack up and get out of my house.  We bit off way more than we could chew....or my husband did anyway.  The plan was to build on the back of our house before tearing down things on the inside.  This would've given us time to move into our friend's house that will be ready in a few weeks.  But no, he feels the pressure to get things done.  So the construction crew starting tearing things down on Thursday.  Now our downstairs looks like a war zone and our upstairs is filling with dust, despite all the things we've done to block off that area of our house.  I am thankful for all that is getting accomplished but I feel a lot of pressure to get the heck out of here!  Today the plan is to move our stuff to storage and get everything out of the upstairs and figure out where we can stay until the house if available for us sometime in November.

October 19, 2011

Home sweet home

We live in my husband's childhood home.  It's very different than the way it was when he was a boy.  Back then they only had an outdoor bathroom and a first floor with laminate roofing.  He rebuilt it around 15 years ago but the architect didn't do a very good job.  My husband paid him with his truck and the man drove off and never came back.  The plans were all wrong and the house is sort of ramshackle because of it.  Daniel (my husband) has been saying that he wants to re-do the house for the eight years we've lived here.  So, now we have found an excellent architect and have a new plan for the house.  It was a little disappointing to me at first because it means we will be here longer but the more I look at the plan, it makes sense.  For as long as we will be here, we will have a much more functional home that will be great for entertaining (which we love to do).  Our boys will have their own bedrooms and I'm getting a new kitchen.  And it will be much easier to sell in the future.

The workers come on Monday.  I will try to get the before pictures up before they start tearing walls down.  I know that I will be living with dust for the next four or five months but I'm hopeful that the end result will be worth it.

October 5, 2011

I'm still here

I apologize for not writing sooner.  I wrote the last post around the time school started and my schedule got crazy.  Then I was still feeling bad for longer than I thought was "normal" and didn't want to write.  Recently, I thought about writing and was sort of unsure how to get started again....En fin.  I'm still here.

So, back in August, I told my husband how I was feeling and he agreed that we should eventually live for some time in the U.S. but that for now he is not ready.  I was hoping for next school year but that is too soon.  It's hard for him to envision himself earning a living there since he has had the same business here since before I knew him.  I understand that and am trying to lower my expectations/time line for moving.  I also try to put myself in his shoes and it makes me almost back down, just because I know how much of a change it will be.  I almost back down...but don't.  For now moving is on the back burner.

I am very thankful for all the comments and concern I've gotten from all of you mexpats.  I feel understood.  I wish I had had this kind of support way back when I first came here but I sure am grateful for it now.
Thank you.  Thank you for understanding how I feel and commiserating with me.

I will try to blog on a more regular basis again.

August 22, 2011

It happened today. . .

As I was minding my own business, driving to pick up my son from school, lost in my random to-do list thinking, POW! desire decided to raise it's head.  "I'm still here", it said, "you can't ignore me too much longer without becoming a robot going through the motions.  I'm here and you can't squash me down anymore!"  And then I just started sobbing, driving down the road trying to see past my tears, knowing the truth.  I don't want to be here any more.  I have known this for a while but I can no longer ignore it.  I can no longer pretend that everything is perfect and I don't miss my family and my country and my culture and language.   As much as I love my friends here and as much as I love my husband, I want to go back.  I want him to want to go back with me.  I have no idea how this could work.  I'm just saying it out loud, I want to go back.

August 3, 2011

A little bit about me and you

I got in on this challenge a bit late because we were out of town this weekend until yesterday.  Now I'm joining Lisa from From One Country to Another in her you and me challenge.

1.  How long have you been with your husband?
We have been married for ten years.

2. Can you remember one funny miscommunication because of language barriers?
Well,  I remember once my mother-in-law told me I had fat legs.  I got really annoyed until my husband    explained that she was trying to say something nice.  I guess she meant shapely?

3.  What state and city have you relocated to?
Puebla, Puebla

4. Do you and hubby have children?
Yes we have two boys, 7 and 4 (he'll be five on the 25th)

5. What is one thing your blogger friends don't know about you?
I am really thankful for your blogs and feel SO encouraged by you, even if I forget or don't have time to comment.  I am reading!

6. What are some of your favorite hobbies or pasttimes?
I play the piano and sing.  I read a lot.
7.How did you stumble upon the blogging community?
I was reading a blog I liked that has nothing to do with this community, but I noticed a comment by someone in Mexico and soon I was realizing there was a whole group of mexpats who blogged!  For a while I would read and read and read.  I remember telling my husband about my new "friends."  I starting blogging more regularly after that.

8.  Have you learned something new about yourself during this whole process that has changed all of our lives?  Yes.  I know my situation is different because my husband never lived in the U.S.  Living in the U.S. didn't ever really seem like an option since he and I met here.  It has still been very difficult and I have had to change a lot of the way I do things and have learned to be content with less of the everyday comforts I was used to.  I've learned that I can adapt and communicate well in two languages.  I've learned that I can be stretched and be more patient than I thought.

9.Something that I love about Mexico or can't stand or miss living without?
I love how people joke around so much, and poke fun at themselves.  I love sitting for hours with friends and not feeling the need to rush them to leave or be bound by schedule and just being free to chat and visit and enjoy our friendship.  I love that people are first.  I can't stand bad driving and standing in line at government agencies.  I miss family, Chick-fil-a, libraries and lots of parks.

10. Did you know your in-laws before moving and has it been a big adjustment being closer to them?  Yes and yes!

11. If you knew you were going to the States next week where is the first place you'd go after seeing family?  Chickfila!

July 26, 2011

Chiles en Nogada

My friend Pepe  took this photo at El Sombrero.
July in Puebla is wonderful. Why?  Not only is it nice and cool with afternoon rain, it's also chile en nogada season.  I seldom eat them in restaurants anymore since I know a lady who makes delicious ones for 65 pesos each and in the restaurants they cost anywhere from 100 pesos and up.  Usually we order from her at least twice from July to September.  This year we have only had them once, on my husbands birthday.  He keeps telling me to order more! 

So, if you happen to be near Puebla between now and early September, you should come try them.  Whenever I ask anyone about where the best ones are, I always get lots of different answers.  I can say that you shouldn't eat them at Vips or Mi Viejo Pueblito or any kind of chain restaurant. I have also heard that El Sombrero and Meson Sacristia de la Compañia are very good (and also very expensive).  If you plan to stop by, let me know and I'll come have one with you.

June 27, 2011

Babies, babies, babies.

My baby Santiago, who will be five soon.
Last Christmas we were very fortunate to travel to Georgia to be with family.  Our main purpose of going was to meet a new baby cousin, Gabriel.  It was also lovely to see my niece Amy who had just turned four (we hadn't seen her for a few years).  My boys wanted to sing a song at the airport when we met up with their cousin, affectionately nicknamed Baby Gabey by his dad.  We were playing around with singing the Baby, baby song by you know who.  It turned into the Baby Gabey song, and then after a while, Amy decided to go around her house singing "Babies, babies babies, oh  I love babies babies babies."

For some reason that song has gotten lodged into my brain.  It's not the song really but the idea of the song.  It's stuck somewhere more emotional I think, like in my heart.  

One of my best friends is preparing for her fourth child, who should be arriving in a few weeks, and I couldn't buy baby clothes for her.  I tried to but it made me so emotional to pick up those tiny little onesies that I ended up just buying diapers.  

When I imagine myself pregnant, or having an epidural (I hate those!), or even changing diapers or missing out on sleep, I think, yes I'm done with all that, I don't really want to do that again.  But when I imagine that little baby filling up that tiny onesie, and I imagine those little fingers and toes and chubby cheeks. . . that's when my heart melts into a puddle on the floor.  

I always thought I'd have at least three or four kids.  I grew up with three siblings.  The plan with my husband was to have at least three, although he backed out after two.  And now though I am content with the two beautiful sons I have I'm just wondering why I can't buy a baby shower gift without having an emotional episode.  Could it be that they are almost 5 and 7 and I feel how fast they're growing?  Or is it that deep down I want another baby?  And even if I do want another baby, we have an agreement that there will be no more babies. Why does it feel so sad to say that?

June 24, 2011

Looking back...

Lately I've been thinking back to when I first moved here permanently after I got married.  I think about how lonely I was and how much I wanted friends who I felt would understand me, as an American.  It was pretty tough at times.  I tried to make friends but I felt like an outsider, like I couldn't truly connect with people.  Looking back I can clearly see I was depressed, but at the time I just kept feeling like if I tried a bit harder, life would get better.  During that time I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and getting on medicine helped a bit.  I also began working at a language school and made friends with a girl who I am still friends with.  Knowing her and feeling understood helped me more than she will ever know.  We are still friends and have children that are months apart.  I am so thankful for her friendship!

I guess I've started looking back on those times because I've been reading some blogs of a few ladies who have just arrived to Mexico in the past few years.  I see how they long for American products or gadgets you just can't find here.  I can remember feeling like that. I once had my mother send me croutons and chocolate chips.  That sounds funny now, especially since you can find them in the grocery store these days.  I guess I just don't go looking for things that aren't here anymore.  At one point I decided that I would make do with what is available.  There are still a few things my mom sends me.  Socks for my boys or magazines.  If she comes for a visit I will order clothes for them online, since they are cheaper.  I also still get a few things from people (mainly chocolate :) if they happen to ask me and are going to the States.  But I don't pine away after stuff anymore.   I guess it's part of the long process of making Mexico home.

June 15, 2011

Ten Years Ago

Tomorrow is my ten year wedding anniversary.  I remember the day when I met my husband, I thought to myself that something really good would come out of knowing this man.  And I was right!

June 13, 2011

Hello Goodbye.

Sometimes it is still very obvious I am a foreigner, even after all the years I've lived here.  There are little things I do that I realize that I'm supposed to do a different way but I usually forget until after I've done them wrong.

Like in the U.S., at least in my neck of the woods, when you run into a friend or acquaintance at a store or restaurant you yell out "Hey!" or hi or hello.  Where I'm from it's a "Hey y'all!"  But here it's normal for people to yell out "Adios" when you are passing them.  I told my husband that sometimes I feel like the Beatles song Hello Goodbye.  "I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello, hello."

I also always say "Hola" to people when the proper greeting is "Buenos dias or Buenas tardes or noches".  I walk up to the door of the school to get my boys and automatically say Hola to the people around.  I think I must sound like a little kid when I do that.

Another thing I never get right is showing sympathy.  I'm good at showing it, but the words are always all wrong.  I second guess myself how to say I'm sorry for your loss or for whatever is making you sad.  I mostly just end up hugging the person.  That usually seems to smooth over my lack of eloquence.

At least I've got the kiss down.  I always go to the left for the hello and goodbye kiss.  When I was a student in Guadalajara, I accidentally went to the right and got my host family's aunt right on the mouth! Thankfully that one time was enough to learn the right direction.

June 4, 2011

Dreaming of you

Me and my grandma at my aunt's wedding.  I was four or five.

My beautiful grandmother, Marian Alta Truesdle Griffin, passed away last night.  She was surrounded by her children, husband and a few friends who sang hymns to her until her very last breath.  I know it is no coincidence that when she died they were singing a hymn called Blessed Assurance.  There is a line in it that says: Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture now burst on my sight.  Angels descending bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.  That is when she left, during the angels part.  That is not coincidence, it was a gift.  And now she's in heaven, surely hugging her brothers and father and mother and dear friends.

The last time I was able to visit was when Alex was one.  I know she didn't hold it against me.  Once I came to Mexico it just got a lot harder to get there.  And now with two children it is almost impossible.  We wanted to go this past winter since we were in Georgia, but made the decision not to, foreseeing the very long car ride with a very whiney four year old.  

I don't have any regrets.  I spent every childhood summer with her and many Christmases as well.  I'm so glad I knew her.  Her gentleness taught me so many lessons over the years that I didn't even know I was being taught.  Everytime I woke up before dawn to go to the bathroom or because of a nightmare, there she was, reading her Bible and writing in her notebook.  I guess when you raise six children you learn to wake up very early for those few quiet moments. If I wanted to make something she would help me figure it out, whether it was a craft project, some cookies or something sewn.  She was so patient with me, and all her grandchildren. 

Last night I dreamed about her.  All night long I dreamed about her quiet gentleness and considerate kindness.  I dreamed of her laughing about something funny one of her grandchildren did or said.  I dreamed of her in her kitchen canning vegetables and baking cookies.  I dreamed of her in her garden and hanging clothes on the line. I dreamed of her whistling a song.  The words quiet, gentle spirit come to mind.  All night long I dreamed of her and I awoke thinking how much I want to be like her.  

My uncle wrote yesterday that she graduated from life.  I would like to say that she graduated summa cum laude; with the highest honors.  She leaves behind a legacy of love.  Someday if I even resemble her a little bit, maybe I'll graduate with honors too.

May 17, 2011

respuesta incorrecta

Way to go Georgia.  It's great for you to set an example for other states with illegal immigrants.  Good thing the KKK backed you up on this important decision.  Because if the KKK is behind you, you know you're doing a great job!

Really?  I am so disappointed by this whole deal.  

What's the difference between me and an illegal immigrant?  I was born into privilege, just by being born in the USA.  Did I do something to earn that privelige?  No.  Did I get a college education because I'm a good person?  No.  I was born white.  I was born to a hard-working, middle class family.   I was given free access to the road to success.  Yes I have had to work hard but I was handed the tools I needed.

Life is definitely not fair.  The playing field is nowhere near even. 

May 11, 2011

Alien but Human

Here in Mexico, it's easy to become desensitized to the impoverished conditions of people that live right down the street, not to mention those I see begging or washing windshields at different intersections around the city.  I guess, after time, you just get used to those things being part of the daily scenery.

Thankfully, I have a husband who is passionate and outspoken about helping the poor.  He is the type of man who gives freely and without asking to be repaid.  He will literally give you the shirt off his back if you ask him for it.  He gets depressed when he sees our friends in financial difficulties and tries to help them get back on their feet.  On one January 6th, I remember he took me and our nephews out to some really poor areas of the city and we went door to door giving people new shirts.  But his question is always,  "What else can we do?".

Today he showed me a video of some women in a town called La Patrona.  The women, called las patronas after their town, make 200 portions of food a day and also wash water bottles and refill them, to give to the illegal immigrants that pass through their town on the trains.  The immigrants come from Guatemala and Honduras on their way to try to find a better life north of the Mexican border.  These women are among the lower middle, if not lower class.  They aren't rich and probably don't have much in the way of possessions, but they give of themselves every day.  Even if you don't speak Spanish, please watch this video. At one point a woman reads a letter sent to her by an immigrant who received food one day.  He writes, "You didn't know if I was a thief, or murderer.  You didn't know me at all, but you didn't care.  You gave me food.  You showed me the love of God."  To me, these women are living out Matthew 25:35-40. (For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...)


These women not only remind me of the importance of helping others but also that regardless of someone's immigration status in a country, they are first and foremost human beings, deserving of being treated with dignity and love.  After seeing a bill that just passed in my home state, making it illegal to help an "illegal",  I have to remember who the Bible constantly commands us to look out for. Is it an accident that the old testament mentions over and over to do no wrong to the fatherless and the widow and also aliens in those places?  Over and over we are told to show them justice, to protect them.  Do a keyword search if you don't believe me.  If it is illegal to give someone who is dying of thirst a glass of water, to help someone to a hospital who is hurt, what is wrong with this picture???  What if it were me?  What if I was the one living in a situation, watching my children starve to death?  What if it were my husband, or yours?  What if my situation was the result of injustices caused by my own country, yes, but also by unfair trade habits of neighboring countries?  How can I say that I might not try to cross a border into a somewhat better life, even if that life caused me to be looked at as the refuse of society.  I'm just saying there are two sides to this story.

17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

May 4, 2011

Social Funk

Lately I've been in a funk, socially speaking.  I say things I shouldn't say, or I talk too much and laugh too loudly.  I am telling myself in my head to shut up, or not to say certain things and I don't shut up and do say those things I didn't want to say and I make someone uncomfortable.

Overall I am a friendly person and enjoy talking to people.  I make jokes and like to make people laugh.  But lately it's like I'm just a big weirdo and nobody gets my jokes.  I arrive to a conversation only to find that all of a sudden it seems private.  Or I walk into a room and everyone is already with the people they want to be with and I feel excluded.  I ask myself what I'm doing wrong, or what's wrong with me.  I have felt this way off and on over the years.   I know it has partly to do with my own insecurities.  I want to connect with the people around but it feels like I'm speaking a foreign language.  It feels like nobody gets me.  And that is a very lonely feeling.

April 21, 2011

Message of Love

This is what I know is true.  
There is a God and he loves you.  
What you've heard before is not what God wanted you to hear;
Messages of condemnation, causing fear.

I've had enough of people giving me cardboard answers,
their lists of rules and regulations that cause in my heart a cancer. 
Jesus talked about people like them,
Looking perfect on the outside,  but inside, a building condemned.

I'm sad to say that for many years,
I believed all the lies, bought into all the fears.
I lived my life trying to be so perfect,
but on the inside I was sick.

Now I'm getting to know this God who loves me,
who delights to bring forth beauty from inside me.
He lifted from me this search for perfection,
And told me he loves me just as I am.

No more striving for acceptance from him.
I know he loves me in spite of my sins.
Now I feel him with me everyday,
even when I make so many mistakes, it's ok.

I'm sad to say that Christians have gotten it all wrong,
We've been singing the lyrics of a different song.
If we spoke first of how God loves everyone,
we might see this world transformed; but it won't come from obligation.

 God's message is one of grace and beauty.
Not a life of doing things solely out of duty,
But a life lived out in love
that comes from knowing the one who is love.

April 12, 2011


Yesterday I was working with my six year old on his math homework.  My four year old was playing under the table where we were sitting.  We worked on perimeters and areas and then switched to talking about half numbers.  Like if you have twenty dogs and give half to a friend, how many do you give away?  One question said:  If you have a bag of fourteen candies and decide to give half to your brother, how many will you give him?  My four year old popped up from under the table very quickly looking for the bag of candies his brother was going to share with him!  Poor guy was pretty disappointed when he realized there were none.

Then today we were trying to find some new sneakers for the boys.  They wear them out SO fast!  I saw some soccer cleats and said to my husband:  Mira estos tacos.   Tacos are also the word used for soccer cleats.  I put them down and my four year old said, "Mommy, I wanted some tacos....tacos arabes!"  Tacos arabes are a kind of taco we have here!  Of course we headed on over to have tacos arabes.  Those are the only kind of tacos we bought today.

April 11, 2011

C'mon Rain!

I knew it was coming, this dry, clay-baking, scorching heat.  It comes every year.  Each day the heat builds and builds into the hazy sky until it just has to rain, but then doesn't.  Those teasing gray clouds blow over and we're left to wait out another suffocating night.  I know I'm being dramatic but I live in a nice concrete home that bakes in the sun all day long and I married a man who can't stand a breeze blowing in through the window.  I would sleep naked if I wasn't worried there might be an earthquake to shake things up in the middle of the night...imagine running out of your home naked to greet all the neighbors.  So, since I can't do that, (and even if I did it doesn't help all that much) you'd think I could just turn on a fan or open the window.  But you'd be wrong.  My dear husband's nose would run and he would catch a cold.  I don't think he realizes how much I love him.  Seriously, I hate being hot.  I would rather be in freezing weather.  I feel that the one biggest sacrifice I've made in this marriage is not moving away from family and friends to live in a foreign county....no, the one biggest sacrifice is my sweating it out every night until the weather changes.  I know in a month or so, the rains will come and once again I'll forget how sweaty I was.  But right now, smack in the middle of April, I am roasting. (And yes I know I'm exagerada :)

April 1, 2011

not a Mexican

I wanted to apply for dual citizenship this year.  I even got my birth certificate with the apostille on my visit to the States in December.  I have studied the questions they are supposed to ask about history and current events and the patriotic symbols of Mexico and the anthem and everything.   I have a list of all the requirements and really only need to make an appointment but I just keep dragging my feet.

Some people might wonder why I would even want dual citizenship.  One reason is the convenience of not having to stand in line at INM once a year...well more like twice, once to turn in paperwork and once to pick up my visa.  Another reason is how much money I'd save in the long run since it costs around 2800 pesos to renew it each year.  Plus if I do become a citizen I would be able to work without changing my status and paying more money.  Those reasons still don't seem like enough anymore.  For one reason, I think that after I've had the FM2 for five years I can quit showing up at INM unless I move or decide to leave the country permanently.  I think I would be considered a legal resident.

I used to think so ideally about becoming Mexican.  I wanted to have my credencial del IFE by 2012 so I could vote in the next presidential elections.   I was actually pretty excited about it.  Now I'm not as naïve.  I have friends who work for some higher up politicians, who have told me that the rumors and scandals we see on the news are just the tip of the iceberg and I don't think being able to vote is going to make much of a difference.  I feel angry about the injustices I see everyday, like people living in poverty while politicians continue to pay themselves the big bucks.  It makes me feel sick to think about what the minimum wage here is.  I think politicians should get minimum wage.  Servidor publico mis nalgas.  The only ones they are serving are themselves.

I have to reiterate that I really love Mexico, it's people, culture and beauty.  If I didn't I would not still be here. It's the broken system that I loathe.  It's the "me-first" mentality of those who have the most and only share with their buddies and get away with it. This is why at least 20 million Mexicans live in extreme poverty.  Believe me I could go on about the ruthless capitalism, broken judicial system (see Presunto Culpable) and crooked politicians but I'll stop because it just makes me angry.
I started this post at the beginning of March and today I read another blog talking about some of these issues and I felt motivated to finish what I started.  After mulling this over for some time I've decided that for now I will not pursue dual citizenship.  Maybe someday I'll change my mind, but not right now.

March 25, 2011

¡Salud! (with an update from our querido Dr. de la Concha)

Recently some blogs that I follow have been commenting about healthcare in Mexico.   On the three posts I've read I have mainly seen positive comments by Americans who have received treatment without so much hassle.  Then after one post, there was an anonymous commenter who started spreading around his or her first world / third world crap and now I have to write about it because it made me mad.

 The post basically mentioned how easy it was to have blood work done and how it is ready within a day and how convenient it is to make an appointment with a doctor, etc.  The commenter said this (verbatim): "We don't understand expats in Mexico frothing about the wonderful health care. Your "doctor" couldn't qualify for a PA license in the states. Pharmacies in Mexico now station a credentialed "MD" at a welk-up to prescribe medication. Doesn't take much thought to figure out how that's profitable for the pharmacy...If all you want is blood and pee analysis that's available like one hour photo processing most anywhere in the world. Thank your stars you have the where withall and proximity to properly trained and equiped diagnosticians in the first world should God forbid you become seriously ill. In Mexico you'll probably be too far gone before you find answers!"  
I of course couldn't leave it alone and commented on all my great experience with public and private healthcare in Mexico.  The person came back by saying that even though our pediatrician says he worked in Chicago there are other doctors who lie about having fellowships in the U.S. so it is implied our doc is lying too.  Our pediatrician did work in Chicago and would probably be offended at being called a liar.  Maybe I'll let him write his own post.  The person also said that the reason healthcare is expensive in the U.S. is because no one is turned away.  Well I happen to think that healthcare is expensive because of insurance providers adding their percentage onto EVERYTHING.   How is it that I can get a blood test here for 100 dollars and in the U.S. it costs over 500?    The whole health care issue makes my blood boil because I believe it should be free for everyone and not cause the stress that it does for people in the U.S. who all of a sudden become ill and go bankrupt trying to get well.

Please feel free to share your experiences.  I know it is an imperfect system, Mexico's healthcare, but at least it exists.  And as far as private doctors are concerned, I am convinced that they are very well qualified and am  so thankful for ours.


So this is what our pediatrician had to say to the anonymous commentator...via facebook with his permission:

Once, being a physician from Illinois, I went with my child to a pharmacy in Las Vegas with an earache secondary to otitis media. I asked him to give me an antibiotic for the infection. The pharmacist said that my licence was good in Illinois but not in Nevada, and told me that I had to see a "DR" in Las Vegas. Knowing the "perfect conditions of the USA" I went to a public phone, called the pharmacist and pescribed over the phone the antibiotic for my child. Ten minutes later I went to the pharmacy and picked up the drug and told the pharmacist that He believed me over the phone but not personally. He said that I could not do that. I said: I just did it.

I am American and the quality of life in Puebla is much better in México than in the USA. I do not owe anything, thank god!!!!!!   I am a Board certified pediatrician, granted for life in USA and I prefer the warm, personal care in México. Sorry gringo country men.

March 16, 2011

Words Not to Live By

A few months before my husband and I tied the knot, we spoke with a pastor of the church we were planning on attending as a married couple.  I was still living in Georgia, teaching and planning our wedding and hubby was living here and working so it was difficult to have any sort of pre-marital counseling.  We thought we should at least talk to this pastor and get a few words of advice before the big day.

These are a few of the choice morsels we walked away with:  1. "Don't get married.  It's a bad idea to mix cultures."  (By the way, this pastor was American.)  2. "If you have to get married make sure you have a washing machine. I know of a couple who split up over that and the wife was American."  3. "My wife and I have never yelled or had any heated fights.  We always stay up all night until things are resolved, so we never go to sleep angry."

We were definitely shaken by those words but decided to get married and defy the odds that were so highly stacked up against us, according to that guy.  Here are a few things I've learned over the past ten years: 1. Whoever said they have never yelled or had a heated fight or stays up all night to talk things through every time there is a disagreement is a liar.  2. I'm very glad to have mixed cultures.  It is definitely never dull around here.  I'm glad to have two sweet little mocha-colored boys who are the best of both our worlds.  3. It's nice having a washing machine but I don't think that has saved my marriage.  4.  Marriage is hard no matter what your circumstances are. If you want it to last you are always going against the odds.  5.  I wouldn't trade my husband for anyone in the world.  I have NO regrets.

We didn't last too long at that pastor's church.  If I ever run into him again I don't know if I'd even want to talk to him but I would just like to smile and let him see me happily walk by with my husband and two gorgeous babies.

Staring Contest

What is it with the staring?  There are days when I ignore it and days when I tolerate it but mostly it just annoys me.  I don't think I'll ever be used to it.  As I was waiting to shower my kids after swimming class last night, two little girls gawked at us as we spoke in English to each other.  Then in the parking lot a kid literally walked up to us and stood there staring at us long enough for it to be weird.  I know we speak a different language and I also know that kids stare a lot ... but it still annoys me.  Usually it's the adults who stare and like the kids, they don't easily look away.  I know that people are curious but why is it so culturally acceptable to gawk?  (And don't even get me started on people breathing down my neck when standing in lines...I'll save that rant for another day.)

I remember on my first anniversary, my husband and I took a trip to New York City to celebrate.  It was our first time there and we really loved visiting all the tourist locations and meeting up with friends.  But of all the awesome experiences we had there, the part I remember most fondly is that NOBODY stared at us.   Nobody cared what language we spoke or what we looked like.  It was great.  I loved hearing snatches of all different kinds of dialects and languages and seeing the cultural variety of people.  Maybe it was me doing the staring, but just a little.

I wonder if the staring is worse in smaller towns.  What do you do when people are staring at you?  

March 8, 2011

Yeah for technology!

I'm definitely not a techie type person.  I can barely scan a document and usually afterwards can't even find it.  I like blogging but I'm still trying to figure some things out.  I know my four and six year old boys will have surpassed me in the next few years as far as computer know-how is concerned.  I'm ok with that, as long as they can be patient with me in the future!  I didn't even know my phone could have apps until this past December when my sister-in-law asked me if I had a smart phone and then proceeded to explain to me what that was.   So I guess it's safe to say that I was the last person who'd have thought that I would want to use an e-reader.  But guess what?  Yeah for e-readers!

I got my kindle at Christmas in the States.  Usually in a year I read around 10 to 12 books depending on if I find anything I like in Sanborns and what people loan me that's in English.  I can read in Spanish but it's slow-going unless I'm really into the book and I usually just get tired and quit the book.  So, I had definitely been in a reading desert for quite some time.  Not anymore!  Since January I have read eight books and am now on my ninth.  I am thrilled to be reading things I like to read and I really have to limit myself to a book a week or I will stay up all night reading!   I just finished Room last week. I can't stop thinking about that book and I definitely recommend it.  Now I'm on Oliver Twist and loving it.  I'm glad there are free books out there because this has the potential of becoming an expensive habit.

After years of reading leftovers and borrowed books, I am in reader heaven.

March 2, 2011


When I graduated from GSU with my highly useful bachelor's degree in English Lit, I decided I wasn't quite finished getting to know Mexico and began looking online for opportunities to live with a Mexican family while continuing to learn Spanish. I found a one-year long program called Spearhead sponsored by the Latin America Mission. The program consisted of language learning while living in Mexican families and serving in some capacity in a church. I was accepted to the program and packed my bags for Mexico City.  Again, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into.

 Since Mexico City is so enormous, I learned to use the metro and travelled on it daily for an hour or two, depending on the destination.  The metro in itself is an unforgettable experience, with vendors selling everything from books on how to make the best cocktails to pirated music blared out of a portable boombox strapped to the salesman. It's a bonus when the person with the boombox also has a microphone and is singing for tips.  I learned to stand or sit, if I was lucky enough to find a seat, far away from "metro men" (not metrosexual).  A metro man is that man with his shirt unbuttoned to his navel, hairy chest with silver or gold chains, a silver tooth or teeth, mullet hair, who thinks he is a sex symbol and God's gift to women.  I also learned that in a city of 30 million or so, a lot of crazy people use the metro. A few times I got yelled at by random crazy people.  And forget personal space at rush hour.  I literally would shove myself into the throng of people to fit in some days. I learned that the best technique is like throwing yourself backwards into a swimming pool. That way you can really force yourself inside.  That technique also works for getting out of the metro when it's packed.

I tried lots of interesting foods that year.  Since the program mainly worked with lower middle class families and churches, we were taught to eat all of what was served to us, no matter what.  For the most part the food I tried was really delicious.  But a few times I choked down a meal and waited until it was fully digested to ask what I had eaten.  One of those times I found out later that I had eaten moronga rellena, which is blood filled intestines.  Another time I walked into my host family's home and was almost knocked over by the steamy stench of something in a large pot.  I asked my host mother what she was cooking and she answered, "pancita".  Pancita is menudo and thankfully I have never had to eat it.  I think maybe if I hadn't smelled it first I would've been able to stomach it.  Some foods are like that...the smell can keep you from trying it.  My brother once came to visit me and I tried to get him to eat elotes, which is corn on the cob with lime, mayonnaise, cheese and chili pepper.  He smelled the cheese, which is of the stinky variety, and decided he didn't like it.

I think the most stretching part of my time with Spearhead was living with families.  Looking back it's hard to remember what was so tough, but I realize that's because I understand and love this culture now.  Back then everything was foreign.  I remember even the jokes were impossible to understand.  I was a very rule-oriented person.  As a culture, Americans are more follow the rules, stand in line (no cutting) kind of people compared to Mexicans.  We have a very clear sense of right and wrong, black and white.  Well, at least that's the way I was raised.  Here it's kind of almost all gray.  I say that in a good way.  But back then, it was very shocking and my judgemental self had a hard time accepting without giving an opinion about everything.  My host family pushed their small daughter under the turnstile in the metro so she didn't have to pay the ticket and to me that was stealing.  Now I look back and think, "poor family" because they literally couldn't pay for her ticket.  Now I understand how the system makes it impossible for that kind of family to get ahead.  Now I don't judge as easily.

Culture stress (shock/ whatever) was explained to me like a person floating down a river on a raft that suddenly breaks apart and leaves the person grasping onto a plank.  Eventually another person, of the culture that is stressing you out, comes along down the river and offers a piece of their raft (of a different color), and in the meantime the person finds another bit of their own raft and so on, so that in the end the newly constructed raft is now made up of different colors, representing a mix of cultures.  When I first saw that illustration I laughed to myself, "yeah right, that's not going to happen for me".  I was in the midst of a culture shock akin to me floating on the raft surrounded by crocodiles and the only escape was to duck into Kentucky Fried Chicken where a biscuit and some fake mashed potatoes made me forget it all.  That is literally where I would stop everyday on the way home from language school.  But eventually, I did start to understand the jokes and let my judgemental self shift a bit and even start to break a few rules.  Of course that happened over a very extended period of time.  I guess you could say I'm floating down the river on a red, white blue and green raft these days.

February 28, 2011

Red circle...

Each day after school I check my boys' daily behavior report that their teacher has filled out.  If it has a green circle, that means they were well behaved, or at least they weren't caught when they were misbehaving.  If it has a yellow circle, it means they got a warning but it wasn't too serious of an offense. If there is a red circle, I know they did something pretty bad and I usually have to call their teacher.

When my older son was in kindergarten he normally got green circles so I was suprised to see a red circle one day.  I noticed that his teacher had written down that it was for bothering a classmate.  I asked him, "So, Alex, who did you bother at school today?"  He said, "I don't know Mommy."  I thought he was avoiding the issue so I asked him again, "Who were you bothering?"  He answered again that he didn't know. I decided to change the question and see if he would tell me at least what he had done. He answered, " I hit him with my folder but I don't know who it was."  I was starting to get annoyed so I asked him a final time who he had hit.  He said "Mommy, I don't know if it was Rodrigo or Medardo!"  Oh.  They were the identical twins in his class.

February 25, 2011

the Beginning

I came to Mexico for the very first time in 1997.  I was working on my bachelor's degree at Georgia State University when I saw a flyer on a bulletin board in the language department advertising a study abroad summer program.  Since I was minoring in Spanish, I was very interested in getting some credits over the summer while having an adventure, or at least that's what I thought!

When I arrived to my host family's home in Guadalajara I realized that I had gotten in over my head.  I heard them talking all the way from the airport to their home but I had only understood two words: Pizza Hut.  My roommate understood more and apparently the Pizza Hut across from their neighborhood was the bus stop for the bus that would take us to school in the morning.

When I look back on that six week "adventure" a few things come to mind: my crazy roommate who tried to get me to join a cult; my host mom who taught me to say bad words in Spanish; getting the worst stomach infection I'd ever had...explosive diarrhea being not the worst symptom.  I remember calling home weekly to cry and ask to go home!  But I also remember that my host family was amazing and kind and threw me a birthday party.  I remember really fun friends who were patient enough to try to figure out what the heck I was trying to say to them in my broken Spanish.  I went to beautiful artisan markets and saw amazing murals and pretty much fell in love with Mexico.  I realized that people here are kind and helpful and pretty funny too.  And the food was amazing...except for whatever I ate that declared war on my stomach.

So, when I graduated the following year, I knew I had to come back for a longer amount of time.  Of course I had no idea longer would come to mean permanent!  I have to say though I complain sometimes, I really am content with my life in Mexico. The good things definitely outweigh the bad.  And I can't even say how amazing my husband is and how happy I am that we found each other.  But I'll save that story for another day.

At my 22nd birthday party my host family gave me.  My first "mordida".

February 9, 2011

Mexican Patch Adams a.k.a. Pepe Pan

"Conchita" with his big ears on.

We love our pediatrician dearly. When you walk into his waiting room, you can see a lime green strainer, a hot pink serving spoon, an orange lemon squeezer, some pink rollers and a bright yellow fly swatter all hanging on the wall above some brightly colored floor mats and cubes. Above the receptionist's desk there are more drawings and child made thank you cards than you can count. On the bookshelf in the waiting room is a book he likes to show his first time patients called, "Cacanimales" or PoopAnimals in English.  It's a book that shows all kinds of different cartoon animals pooping.  When it is our turn to go back, Dr. de la Concha always comes out to greet us, usually with some huge rubber ears over his own, or a fake rubber tongue he blows up like a balloon. His desk is a large wooden table with a ton of colorful candy under a glass top. He also has a pretend mp3 player that he'll tell you to listen to but instead of hearing music it'll give you a small electrical shock.  He is more like a fun uncle you want to visit so you can play with all his gadgets and get a lollipop. He always has a funny story or joke to tell. I know he's not even my doctor, but I love him as much as my kids do.  I never hear a complaint to go see him, even if it's for a vaccination.

Our last visit was not on a good day.  My then three year old had fallen down our stone stairs onto his face. His teeth were all pushed inward and his lips were sliced and swollen. He looked like the loser of a boxing match. I called the doctor and he said he'd meet us in twenty minutes in his office. On top of everything I was on crutches from an accident from the week before. As we got to the hospital where he has his office, the valet asked if we needed a wheelchair. So, my husband put me in the wheelchair with my baby on my lap and headed to Conchita's office.  As he was wheeling us down the hallway I realized how funny we must look, in a cynical sort of way.

After he examined my boy and said the affected teeth may possibly fall out but he would be fine, he told us the story of when he got a friend at school to flip him upside down by pulling both his arms from between his legs from behind.  He said that day when his mom came to get him, she didn't even know he was standing in front of her due to his hugely swollen mouth.  As we were leaving he told his secretary that of course there would be no charge and to take down our number in case he had a problem and needed to call someone!

Once I took my older son because he was underweight.  Conchita looked at him, checked him out, weighed and measured him and wrote this on his prescription pad: "Estas flaco y sano.  Te quiero mucho. Don't worry Mom or Dad" (the first part means, you are skinny and healthy, I love you so much).  He told us another story that day about how his son was so skinny growing up that everyone called him "bones".

This man always knows what to say to make you feel better and he always has a joke.  He even has a fan club on Facebook by all his medical students who love him.  I guess I'll have to start one of all the moms and dads he's blessed and reassured and shocked (electrically speaking).

Pepe Pan with my boys.

It's Time

I started this blog last year when I had hurt my achilles tendon at a school picnic with my children.  My husband says I was very "imprudente" for participating in a sack race at the age of 34 while weighing at least 30 pounds more than I should (also being an overly competitive person didn't help).  But my boys were jumping up and down volunteering me for the race.  How could  I have said no?  So, I hopped my way to the giant rope web, climbed up to pop a balloon and on my way back down I realized I had forgotten to remove the sack and slipped on the rope falling very hard.  I heard a thud but kept going.  I didn't win the race but my boys were proud.  By the next day I could not even walk.  I borrowed a walker and used it like crutches and we got over to the otrhopedist who could tell without a doubt that my tendon was messed up.

Anyway, that being said, I was forced to SLOW DOWN for a few weeks and so, I started this blog.  I didn't even know how many Mexpats (American/Canadian Expats in Mexico) were out there til I thought of writing about my life in Mexico. Now I've read many many blogs which I LOVE and have made me feel in such great company in this wonderful (sometimes pull-your-hair-out frustrating) country.  Although none of the authors seem to live in Puebla, I feel comforted over cyberspace to see so many going through the same experiences I have over the years.  Now, I've decided to share my blog with the world... or at least with those who want to read, and try to write more consistently.  I guess I'll wait and see who comes along for the ride.