I never expected to like living here so much. It´s a dillapidated city, weathered by smoke and graffiti, suffering from the constant roar of unmuffled motors. When I walk to class, I step over shattered glass and little divets in the sidewalk that one of my friends so wisely termed ¨gringo traps.`` There´s dog shit from the stray dogs. I buy my movies in a huge market made of cement walls and stairs that don´t ventilate, trapping inside its walls all the goods people have crammed in, along with teeming cigarette butts and mold. They serve food inside there, and I cringe remembering I ate there when I first got here. (Maybe that explains all the sickness that kept me down the first few months of life here...oops).
But I do like it here. Ökay, if you were to see my unsmiling face when I say I like it here, you would chuckle at me. I don´t like it the way I like home. But here, I have a window into an alternate life, a life that doesn´t really feel like my own. Here, I am living to live. I am getting by. I am poor, but being poor is not what I thought it would be. I live it up more here than I did when I was a ^rich^ American. Here, two blocks away from my house, there is a jazz bar with smooth music, music that has the power to set everything right in your mind for a moment. Looking to appreciate a moment, we turn to the music. We head to cafes and bars that play live bands. We note the announcements on the streets of concerts to come. We head to Teatro Degollado to hear the symphony, then the plaza for some electronica. There´s always something new, something different, something to set your mind going in some new direction without your own initiative.
Everywhere you go, people are trying to express themselves in strangely straightforward ways. Kids sing in the streets. People wear tee shirts that say, in English, "I love my boyfriend." (Couldn´t help but laugh out loud when I saw that one) and "I will love you for the rest of my life, forever and ever." When a guy wants your attention, he comes out with the words to express exactly that--"Te quiero" (I want/love you). Romance precedes all, for the sake of life. Call it cheesy, call it cute, I think it's hilarious.
But you have to admire them for their appreciation of beautiful experiences. On Friday, I went to this really posh, exclusive party that my roomate invited me to. It was held in a beautiful old courtyard filled with strange, modern furniture. The lighting was blue and purple, and in front colorful shapes moved around on a video screen. We sipped watermelon martinis while sitting on white statues of camels. In the states, these experiences always seemed out of my reach, but here, there´s no escaping them. My plans to see movies or spend quiet evenings in with friends keep getting trumped by invitations out to crazy clubs or bars. Some events are more exclusive, more expensive, but I´ve noticed that often exclusivity in Mexico does not depend upon money or politics. You just have to know the right people at the right time, and being a foreigner definitely has its perks. I have yet to meet anyone in Guadalajara who doesn´t get a passionate look in their eye when you start talking about other cultures. They have a no-holds-barred, wear-your-rollerblades-into-nice-restaurants sort of attitude. If it´s new, it´s intersting. If it´s traditional, it´s important to hang on to. They still have their Lucha Libre matches twice a week, a type of traditional Mexican free fighting. And in art exhibits, there are pictures of the indegenous people of the smaller towns, all dressed in their incredible, woven, patterned clothes, looking at the camera with somber interest. I always return the stare.