A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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May 2, 2005 — It’s the annual feria, or fair, here in our small town in Mexico. Loud music and the occasional sound of loud firecrackers wafted into our bedroom last night until I don’t know what time. Kelly has taken to using earplugs as needed, and he was sleeping through it all. I didn’t want to use earplugs because I wanted to save our remaining pairs for our upcoming long drive back to the US. I’m sure they sell earplugs in Mexico, perhaps a lot of earplugs, but I don’t know where yet.

Once the street dance a few blocks away ended, there was the sound of jolly people walking up the hill past our front door and a few trucks roaring up the hill with their radios on.

Deep in the night, there was a cat fight between a couple of the males in our neighborhood, in the doorway of my office that opens onto our upstairs patio, left open to cool off because of the unusually hot weather we are having, around ninety every afternoon and our typical Mexican cement block house holding the heat till late in the night. The fight was our part-Siamese friend from next door, Capullo, and — judging from the bits of fur I just swept up — his orange rival for the dominion of our house and yard.

I heard the church bells ringing around 6:30AM, a sound which I love and which often gets me up. This morning, I burrowed deeper under the covers — well, the sheet and one light blanket that are all we need now — until a long and loud burst of firecrackers before 7:00AM finally pulled me out of my dreams and into this world. When I went to open the door from the house into the back yard, to get more cool air through the house before the day heats up, Kelly said, “Better leave it shut. The air is pretty bad this morning.” I stepped outside and the air seemed to contain a combination of livestock-poop smells and perhaps fireworks aftermath. Unusual. I left the door shut a while, and then the smells had gone enough that I could open it.

The fireworks are going on again now, as I write this. They have been going for three minutes nonstop. (Update: it’s been going on now for over ten minutes.) People with experience of gunfire in war might not care for this. The church bell is ringing vigorously too. One could be forgiven for thinking the end of the world was being announced.

I am in a suitably grumpy mood to write about some of the downsides of being an American living in Mexico. No surprise that first on my list would be the sounds. Okay, I’ll admit that I love the footsteps as our neighbor rides his horse along our cobblestone street, and I often enjoy the music that wafts in from everywhere, but there is a relentless quality to it all that gets to me at times. I’ve actually been surprised at how well Kelly and I have adapted to this, as we have lived so much in quiet rural or semi-rural areas in the US. I’m surprised that even the penned-up dog a couple of doors away who can bark nonstop for long stretches doesn’t bother me much now — dog lover that I have always been, good moment for a shameless plug for my website on positive methods of dog training.

Another downside for me is having to speak in Spanish so much of the time. Sure, I do pretty well at communicating my ideas , but I don’t always know just how well or whether the many ways I mangle the language (masculine adjectives with feminine nouns and vice versa, wrong pronouns falling in the wrong place in sentences, not remembering essential words I knew perfectly well years ago, and let’s not even get into what I do to verbs) give Mexicans the feeling that I am well-meaning but slightly retarded. Yes, my ability to understand and speak Spanish has improved a lot in the nearly six months we’ve been here this time, but this also shows me just how far I am from truly speaking the language.

The low level of environmental awareness and/or lack of money to take better care of the environment is another downside. Trash everywhere in the countryside… air pollution in the cities. With the feria going on in town here, there are dozens of vendors from other places sleeping under their stalls. I asked another American who lives here, “Where do all these people go to the bathroom?” There are bathrooms around town that you can use for 3 pesos, just under 25 cents, but there aren’t many in the area of the stalls. My friend said, “Don’t go down any of the walking streets or alleys in that area.”

Then there’s the traffic. I do not live in sheer terror any more when riding in a Mexican taxi swirling through city streets in seeming defiance of the laws of physics, chiefly because I have discovered that the way to handle that is to engage the driver in conversation and divert my mind. But I’m not too excited about the long trip back to Colorado looming up.

Hmm, I guess that’s about the worst downside of all… I have to leave this perplexing country soon, leave its wonderful people for a while. We aren’t sure how soon we will be back.

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