Remember when I called for comments last time? I want to know: what do you want to know about Mexico? Come on, there are enough stereotypes to fill a book. You must want to at least know a little bit about where some of them may have come from. Of course, there is no hard and fast answer to any of these questions, but I'd still like to get the discussions going.
As far as life goes here, I must say, the difficulties I've had with getting my phone to function may prove fatal to my social life this holiday season. When you have every expectation stripped from you, and you realize that you will possibly be spending the entire holiday season with your Mexican host mother, whose activities consist of exhausting herself on daily trips to the market and to run other errands, you realize that complaining is useless. At that point, all you have is your sense of humor. I've decided it is probably best, tonight, if I get drunk on the weak, terrible, sparkling cider she had me buy. I am one deep and feeling better already. I'm looking at tonight as a great chance to laugh about how small this apartment is and how few place settings (3) my host mom has put at the kitchen table. It's such a quiet little place. I'm planning to introduce my host mom and her son to Bailey's Irish cream tonight and teach them to play poker...if I can remember the rules.
I just spoke with my parents on skype, and it was just dandy to see their faces, I must say. I haven't spoken with them on skype yet, so this was the first time since I arrived mid-November that I saw them.
Those of you that know me think of me as an exercise fiend, but it's just my addiction to endorphins, and I've decided to give it up. I'm quitting, not cold turkey, mind you, but little by little. Today I did yoga and have decided that I don't need to bother with the difficult exercises, only the stretches. it's better, more graceful, more harmonious, more tranquill. this way .I"m just trying to imerse myself in Mexican culture--wait a minute, I am being called... we have visitors. We never have visitors!
I think my host mom is using me as a scapegoat for why she is not attending her family's Navidad celebration. They have come to claim her. They are here, at the door, two of her four long lost sister's she references in explanations of the familial neglect and sorrow that's befallen her in recent years. It has seemed up until now that her sisters do not care about her. But just now, I saw them at the door, dressed in nice shirts and festive shawls, looking Navidad ready if I've ever seen it, hoping to untie the knots of logic that keep my host mom from agreeing to go to their Navidad.
I thought they lived six hours away. This is what she told me last night, when I asked if she had any Christmas plans. She said they asked her to come to Navidad and she said no, it's too far away. She explained to me that she could not possibly go because she did not whether I was going to Puerta Vallarta or not (this was my original plan but the hotels filled up before I could book, and the friend I was going to travel with ran out of money). What I really wanted was a big Mexican family get-together, and it's beginning to look like it might be possible...unless my host mom refuses to go. As it turns out, one of them lives right here in Guadalajara!
She tries to explain to them that she did not know what my plans were, and this is why we cannot have Navidad with them. The plans have already fallen through, she says, and it is too late. She says that she has already made the chicken salad and I've already bought the cider, and she's already set the table. She gestures to the table in her room filled with antiques. They nod in understanding. Then they list the things they have prepared: beef, wine, dessert, the works. "Es Navidad," they say. They say there is plenty of food, we would not even need to bring anything that we made.
I told them, "No me preocupas," (It doesn't matter to me) and "Podemos ir" (we can go). Honestly, I'm dying to get out of this knick-knack stuffed apartment and see a real Mexican family get together, all of them, around one big table, eating their authentic, traditional, Mexican dishes.
And it is Navidad, so why aren't we a family? Okay, so maybe "we" are not a family...I'll be the awkward Gringo using my broken Spanish to make my way through the conversations. But it'll be interesting. Sure, I may not know her family, but I know her and her two sons, and this is a great chance to learn about how their family functions, and to talk to them about their lives. That's really why I'm here. This is Christmas and cultural immersion opportunity combined! And they should be with the rest of their family on Christmas. Isn't that what Christmas is for? Or is Navidad a different thing entirely, where togetherness doesn't matter so much...
No, it does matter so much to her sisters, it seems. The shorter sister looked at my host mother with sad, pleading eyes. This sister has thick black hair and dark skin, the sort of coloring we think of as truly Mexican. Right now, she's discussing with Magda (my host mom) behind the closed door of her bedroom. The fate of my Christmas hangs in the balance at 7:30 on Christmas Eve.
To be continued.