Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The in group

Today I spent the hour from three to four, when I would normally be teaching, getting the scoop on everything from sexual references to how to get soccer tickets. When I arrived at Sitra, a company that does construction for Holiday Inn, my students were upstairs in their offices eating. They had three computers stolen earlier that week, so they were unable to learn English today. Ignoring the illogic of their conclusion, I agreed and sat down.

We sat in chairs and on desks, some of us spilling out onto the patio, a smoke cloud from one woman's cigarette rising into the air. I learned all the stuff they don´t tell you in Spanish class. (Well, normal Spanish class, that is. My Spanish teacher is pretty cool and does let us in on street talk sometimes.) They told me that fruit has a lot of sexual insinuations, like that lemons mean small boobs and melons big ones. And that if a man asks you if you want chile--assuming you're not in a restaurant--he probably isn´t talking about food.

I laughed along, as they raised their eyebrows suggestively at me. Naturally, since we were on the topic of lude sexual references, they brought up spring break in Puerta Vallarta and asked me if I'd been. They assumed that all Americans had been there for crazy parties. I told them no, and they were shocked. They asked me if spring break is crazy in the U.S., and I said not as crazy as in Vallarta, and they said it´s the American vacationers that make Vallarta crazy.

We spent the entire hour of class talking and laughing about nothing. The one Mexican woman who stayed to explain their antics told me at one point that even she was not sure what exactly they were talking about, so we found ourselves on the same side of the line, shaking our heads and rolling our eyes at the sporatic uproars. There comes a point when the gap between the sexes wins out over that between cultures.

After class, we all filed out of the room into the spacious hallway overlooking the downstairs. It´s a big new building, not fully furnished, which they just moved into, and has the same clean lines, simple designs, and light colored wood and marble that new U.S. office buildings has, a stark contrast to the buildings I am usually in, which boast an array of colors and designs. At the top of the stairs, I found Hector and Pedro, two big soccer fans, and finally got to the insider´s question I was most interested in: how do I get a hold of some soccer tickets? They told me the sad news that tickets for Sunday's game are usually about 3,000 pesos, about $300, which would be more than a paycheck for me. Pedro is going because he has season tickets. The game is between Americas, the Mexico City team, and the Chivas, which is Guadalajara´s home team. Although Americas is ranked last and Chivas is one of the best, it is a long standing rivalry that always attracts a crowd. Guadalajara used to be the capital, and it lost that standing to Mexico City some time ago. This is one of the many reasons locals tend to tell you that Mexico City is not a good place to work or visit. There is an intense city to city rivalry.

So I´ll have to wait for another game, but my students tell me that time is running out. I can´t purchase tickets in advance either and will have to go to the stadium the week of the game in order buy them. A lot of things we do online or at Costco they do through friends. Take medicine for example. It´s like buying illegal drugs. When I wanted iron for cheaper, I had to wait five extra days for my Mexican housemate´s friend to get the delivery for me. But I saved quite a bit of money. It's all about who you know.

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