We enjoyed Mexico's hospitality, and now we're back in the states spreading the joy of living south of the border!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

All Good Adventures Must End.

Our Mexican adventure is now over. Thankfully, we had an amazing time and we will keep visiting Mexico as much as possible. The places we visited, the things we learned, and the people we met will all be a part of our memories. Thank you for following my blog!

While this adventure is over, we have another one we're planning. Another blog will follow. Keep in touch!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I am sad.

Mexico, my second home, my home-away-from-home, my go-to vacation spot, and our next-door neighbor is hurting.
The drug war is not really working. Mexico is trying to fight the drugs, because their President knows that Mexico cannot and will not get much U.S. support until this is under control. Unfortunately, until the U.S. can get immigration under control, and stop fighting wars on the other side of the world, there is no public support in the U.S. for helping Mexico to de-corrupt their government.

As The Drug War Rages On, Will Mexico Surrender

In my summer office job, I helped to coordinate mission trips to Latin America (and a few other Eurasian and African countries.) Part of my job is to moderate the security warnings from Mexico.

Unfortunately, we won't be sending mission trips to Mexico anytime soon. These are the articles that have come to my inbox in the last 2 weeks:

Mexico drug cartels thrive despite Calderon's offensive http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-cartels-20100808,0,5731725,full.story

Mexico: Cartels Pay Corrupt Cops $100 Million a Month http://www.laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=14091&ArticleId=362206

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox has called for the legalisation of drugs http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-10921975

Violence paralyzes Mexico border areas http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38685423/

members of a drug cartel blocked off at least 13 major roads in Monterrey on Saturday http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-10977501

Under threat from Mexican drug cartels, reporters go silent http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-narco-censorship-20100816,0,4152944.story

Drug hitmen kidnap Mexican mayor near U.S. border http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100816/ts_nm/us_mexico_drugs

Gunmen Dressed as Cops Kidnapped Mexican Mayor http://www.laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=14091&ArticleId=363478

A surge of drug violence in Mexico's business capital and richest city has prompted an outcry from business leaders who on Wednesday took out full-page ads asking President Felipe Calderón to send in more soldiers to stem the violence. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704557704575437762646209270.html

As Drug War Turns Into Quagmire, Fear Rules Mexico http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128804488

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

English is a crazy language

Unfortunately, I do not have more news or commentary about living in Mexico. Moving 'back' to the US has been personally and professionally challenging. Our next adventure is still in the future, it seems, so right now we're just trying to stay connected with our friends and experiences of Mexico. Dave is lucky bc he is meeting with some of our Mexican friends in Tokyo this week - they're all there on a business trip.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a funny story I just read about the English language. There's a joke in Mexico that goes, "Why is it every Mexican speaks 75% English?" The truth is, most Mexicans can barely say 10 words in English. And that's because English is hard:

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. We take English for Granted.
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So.. one moose, 2 meese?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. What other reason could there be for saying that people recite at a play and play at a recital? Or, ship cargo by truck and send cargo by ship? Or, have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which of course, isn't a race at all.)

trust me, every language has it's weird parts. And knowing those idiosyncrasies is what proves we're 'good' at it. I'll never learn all of those for Spanish, at least I don't think so, but it's still fun to try.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This is my Song

We went to church today. As one of Dave's favorite blogs stated, on holidays at church, anything goes. http://stuffchristianslike.net/ (see blog #251, July 3)
I was prepared for all the regal patriotic splendor of an independence day service - God Bless America, honoring veterans, a sermon about how all the founding fathers were Christians, etc.
While I do pray that God continues to bless America, and I do pray for and honor our veterans, after living abroad, I feel differently today than I used to. This is a great country, and it has been blessed by God, and I am proud to be an American, but I know better than to think that this is the 'best' country in the world, or a 'Christian country' or the only 'land of the free and home of the brave'. Lots of countries have dedicated veterans and honored heroes who fight for freedom and showcased bravery. Every country deserves freedom and democracy and peace.
So, I felt blessed to sing this song for the first time:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a prayer that peace transcends in every place;
and yet I pray for my beloved country --
the reassurance of continued grace:
Lord, help us find our one-ness in the Savior,
in spite of differences of age and race.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth's kingdoms,
thy kingdom come, on earth, thy will be done;
let Christ be lifted up 'til all shall serve him,
and hearts united, learn to live as one:
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations,
myself I give thee -- let thy will be done.

I am a proud citizen of the earth, and an even prouder citizen of America. The continent, not just the country.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Funny Moments

We asked the GPS yesterday to give us directions to "go home" and were wondering why it had a map to show us, but no arrival time.
The GPS gave us directions to our "home" in Metepec, Mexico. :)
No one knows our next arrival time there.

We had a garage sale on Saturday and at least 3 hispanic groups came to shop. We wrote "se habla espanol" on our sign (spanish spoken) and so some took us up on our offer! We even met a family - from Toluca!

I will sometimes come home and look at a sink and a counter full of dirty dishes and think, "ummmm.... how did this get here?" and then, "did I think a fairy would clean my kitchen?" Oh, yes, that's right, I did think a fairy would come. Her name is Carmen, and she really did try to crawl in our suitcases...

I took a taxi and forgot to put on my seatbelt. Also forgot to check if the meter was on - that was a HUGE mistake!

Whenever I go to Chipotle and order carnitas or barbacoa or salsa verde, I will slip into Spanish and then try to do my entire order in Spanish. Sometimes, the worker is Hispanic, and doesn't mind. That is much less embarrassing than the weird look from the white teenager.

We went to a new Mexican restaurant bc we had heard they served 'authentic' Mexican food. When we ordered a "torta milanesa" the waitress had no idea what we meant. We repeated it 3 times, and I finally pointed at the menu. "Oh," she says, "You want the chicken sandwich." Um... nope. we could get a chicken sandwich anywhere. What we really want is a torta milanesa.

At work, a Spanish-speaking Latino pastor called and talked with my co-worker, who was struggling to keep up with the conversation. Finally, in desperation, I hear him croak out "Pooh-way-das hab-lahr cone me ahm-ee-go Kelly?" (can you talk to my friend, kelly in the worst accent I've heard in a long time). So... then I continue to talk with the guy for about 15 minutes. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A little less American

I walked out of the house yesterday. With nothing but my purse. And just started walking.

In Mexico, it was normal to walk around places. We would go out for dinner - and walk. We would go shopping - and walk. We would leave for the airport - and walk. We would walk just to walk! Some of our favorite excursions being the "mountain" near our house that was a climbing challenge while getting ready to go to Europe. The last 2 months, while I lived in the apartments, I walked to work, I walked to do my laundry, I walked to go visit friends.

But in the states, I get funny looks when I'm walking. In fact, I feel a little funny walking. Leaving my house through the front door - not the garage - is awkward. Walking jauntily past my garage door and driveway with no keys in my hand feels strange.

But for a few weeks now, I have been relying on my feet, and my new bike, and the local bus system for transportation. (and on my DH's car. I can't be too mexican!)

So, maybe I did manage to keep a little part of Mexico with me. If I can only speak Spanish and pretend that I'm fighting with mangy dogs and unruly taxi drivers for space, then I'd feel right at home!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What can I say?

A lot of people - new coworkers, acquaintances, old friends, even some family members - have tried to start conversation by asking "what's it like to be back home?" or the very similar, "are you getting used to life in the states?"

Until very recently, I winced at the question.

What did people want me to say? I heard the very strong implication that I was supposed to say "It's so good to be home" implying that MI/USA alone is my home, that I disliked my time away, that it was easy to re-adjust, etc. I know most people are just making conversation, and really wanted a one or two word answer (kind of like when people ask, "how are you doing?" when they really don't care, they just need something to say after "hello").

But I don't have an easy answer. At least, not one that most people want to hear.

I wanted to scream and shout and rail against the U.S. ethnocentrism that made it difficult for Americans to understand anyone or anyplace else. I wanted to explain how I had left behind some of my very best friends. I wanted to complain about the hassle of moving with suitcases and trucks. I wanted to wax poetic about the culture of Mexico.
I wanted to do a lot of things, but I normally mumbled something like "oh, it's ok" and desperately tried not to cry.

Now, with some wise counsel, I'm ready to own my answer.

"Even though it was time to leave, I wasn't ready. We loved Mexico, and it will always be a part of our hearts. I hope you get a chance to enjoy it someday like we did."
I might cry the first thousand times I repeat it, but I can do it. I can tell people. I can accept if they nod and walk away, but I'm hoping that person after person after person will ask why I loved Mexico so much, and where they should visit, and what part will be the hardest to leave behind.

Because I want to shout loud and clear that I love Mexico, I love the people, I love the culture, I love the food. I think everyone should try to understand immigration before they make a judgment call. I think everyone should eat real tacos. I think everyone should visit Mexico - if even once in their lives - without visiting a beach or going on a mission trip. Just enjoy it like you would enjoy Paris or Cairo or Tokyo or New York City. And then come home and tell someone else.