I arrived in Mexico on the last day of Christmas, January 6th; The Twelve Days of Christmas is not just a kids song here. Late in the evening as I took my first walk around, peddlers in the streets were trying to get rid of the last of the end of Christmas bread. Rosca is a festive, colorful, circular bread with a baby Jesus hidden on the inside. My friend Alex from Guatemala said in his country, whoever gets the baby Jesus is responsible for hosting a party for all the others that shared the bread. I’ve gotten mixed responses for what it means in Mexico, but it seems to mean having the privilege of doing something kind of generous for others, not just the “winner” of the prize.
For me, this is representative of my first week here. The people are truly warm and genuine. The closest place I’ve been to that is similar is my time spent in Nepal, (well, and Kathy Hussey’s song circle in Nashville). It is quite different from my last teaching assignment where my introduction to the country was a 12-day quarantine and the accusation of being an HIV-riddled, drug-addled pedophile.
So far I think Tlaquepaque is a wonderfully comfortable place to live. The weather is gorgeous (sorry for all of you up north reading this), the food is fresh and vibrant, and the people the same. As far as foreign living goes, either I have become too accustomed to notice or be bothered by differences, or this really is an incredibly easy place to live. There aren’t the stark cultural and behavioral differences that exist in Asia, just the language, which I am plodding through much more easily than say, Korean, Mongolian, or Nepali.
I had a good laugh with a local shop keeper that I have been trading language lessons with. He has cousins in the US and strong English skills. I’ve been buying a homemade substance in plastic cups called “creama” that I thought was yogurt. He asked how I could possibly be using so much creama, and I told him I eat it with papaya every morning, which got a quizzical look. Apparently it’s homemade sour cream, although neither sour, or thick, or in anyway resembling any sour cream I’ve had, and quite delicious on papaya if I may say so myself. But now it would be too embarrassing to buy it again, so I bought some yoplait and a big jug of milk to start making my own yogurt again. Ironically, considering that I’ve never been much of a cook considering that I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life living out of hotel rooms, hostels, and places where the grocery stores are filled with unrecognizable ingredients, I’m the only one of the four of us in this house keeping and eating any groceries at home – even if it’s not what I think it is. Is this the nomad version of settling down?
I stumbled into a Saturday Mass at a Catholic Church last week, and may do it again tonight. It’s interesting for my listening skills (almost non-existent), and the part where they shake hands with all the people sitting near them and wish them well for the week is almost unbearably lovely.
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