Monday, August 27, 2007
Well, it has been three months since we have been living in Mexico and this is how we spend our weekends: Sonny takes Asha for a walk to the bakery for fresh croissants and bread early in the morning, then we walk to the market to buy fresh produce and DVDs, take Asha to the park for a bit, go out for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes we go to the mall, or furniture shopping, and once in a while we will drive around Mexico City trying to explore some sights (usually getting lost in the car), but mostly we just spend our time walking around the city and buying flowers or some trinket from a local shop, hanging out at the park watching the remote controlled boats and children riding ATVs, or taking Asha to the zoo or children’s museum.
Clearly, we are not living La Vida Loca. I think this has to do with a combination of the fact that travel within Mexico is not nearly as easy as it is in Europe (there is very limited rail travel within the country), and the fact that Sonny and I are not the most adventurous people in the world, who love to constantly try new things. For a while I have been beating myself up about this fact, thinking that I am not the kind of person who should be an expat, who deserves this type of opportunity, because I do not want to jump in the car every weekend and discover every little and big sight in and around Mexico City.
What I have come to realize is that our current experience of just hanging out on the weekends without any agenda is a very new experience for us. In New Jersey we were fortunate enough to have all of our family and friends, and every weekend there was something to do with someone – a party, a puja, a scheduled event with friends. While it was wonderful and we enjoyed spending so much time with everyone we cared about, we missed out on a lot of family time, just the three of us. Our town offered so many family activities on the weekends – from a Halloween parade to caroling in the town square on Christmas Eve to ordinary fairs throughout the year – that we had to skip because we had extended family events going on at those times.
Well here we are with no family and very few friends so far. We have nothing stopping us from just spending time together as a family, without having to worry about hopping in a car, getting to a particular destination and trying to learn everything “notable” about that sight. Instead, for the first time we are able to just “be” and enjoy the everyday little things about life in a city. And I have to say that while we have plans to travel and visit a number of sights throughout Mexico over the next few months, right now we are just enjoying our every day, ordinary life – which in itself is a new experience for us.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
After all the excitement of the morning, Thursday afternoon we went to Granja de los Americas (Farm of the Americas) where they had lots of baby animals we could touch and pet – calfs, kids, ponies, and even bunnies. I think Pearl liked the bunnies the best because we could pick them up, feed them and uddle with them. I even went on my first-ever (pseudo) pony ride. Mommy was quite surprised that I enthusiastically climbed up on the pony all ready to ride – it was only when the pony started walking away from Mommy, Dada and Pearl that I started to scream “Downie! Want Downie!” Still, it was a great photo op, and otherwise I had a blast with the animals.
To add to the surprises, on Friday Daddy came home from work early bringing with him our brand new car! We got a VW Bora, which is a model we don’t see in the US, but can best be described as in between a Jetta and a Passat. Mommy and Daddy decided on this car because we can’t have anything too big – if you saw our garage and parking spots you would understand why. They had placed the order for the car a few weeks ago, but being on Mexican Standard Time, we figured we wouldn’t get it until at least September. Instead, here it is!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The amount of time I waste here in Mexico is astounding. Countless hours sitting in Starbucks surfing the Web notwithstanding (as those squandered hours are of my own choice and making), in the past two weeks I must have spent an average of six hours making wasted trips to the bank, the cell phone store, Office Max, and even the doctor’s office. Ultimately I leave these places feeling frustrated at having spent so much time sitting in traffic to get to there and waiting for help once I am there, and then defeated at not having accomplished the necessary task.
Here is some insight into some of my recent frustrations with life in Mexico:
- I arrive at 5:25 for a 5:30 doctor’s appointment for Asha; I wait thirty minutes, then ask the receptionist how much longer she thinks it will be until we are seen; she replies that she has no idea, but that there are still two patients ahead of Asha, and that the doctor has been in with the same patient since I arrived half an hour ago . . . .
- I go to Office Max to purchase a cheap desk; I attempt to pay for the desk but am told that all desks of that model are out of stock in this store; I am informed that if I wish to buy it today (Tuesday), it can be ordered and delivered to my house on Thursday and assembled for free; not trusting that delivery on Thursday means two days from now versus some random Thursday in 2008, I decide to check at Office Depot instead. Finding nothing but overpriced and unsightly looking desks, I return to Office Max, deciding to take a risk on the delivery. I am then told, by the exact same employee who assured me of delivery Thursday that the desk was not in stock, in any Office Max in all of Mexico City, and that I could not purchase it. He did, however, have a lovely floor model with scratches that I could buy for the same price as a new one, and then hire someone to take it apart from the store and deliver it to my house, for an additional cost.
- I try to obtain a credit card from HSBC, where it took us three months and four trips to simply get a joint checking account; I am told to return several times with additional pieces of information, each time only to be told that I forgot something that I was never before told to bring. To add insult to injury, I am finally informed that I cannot obtain a credit card without my husband’s signature on the application form because, even though I am a joint owner of the account, I do not earn my own money.
So at this point I have no money of my own (according to the Mexicans), no credit card (and accordingly no cell phone because after three trips to the cell phone store, I was finally told that I would not be able to purchase a phone or a plan without a Mexican credit card), and no desk at which I could sit to do any work, if hypothetically I had a job.
What I do have, however, is a slightly battered spirit still determined to face more frustrating but hopefully fruitful trips to the bank, doctor, cell phone and office supply stores this upcoming week.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
But all is forgiven because I spend the remainder of my time giving lots of hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy without even being asked, just because I love them; running away and squealing in delight when I think someone is looking for me; hiding behind doors; counting to ten in Spanish (and sometimes English); and asking very nicely to watch “Put Down the Duckie."
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Needless to say, we are not planning on using his services once our six months are up – not because we don’t love his help around the house with hanging pictures and assembling Asha’s toys, his running to various stores and banks to pay our utility bills (Mexicans haven’t quite got the hang of online bill pay just yet), and his help pushing my grocery cart and handing me plastic bags in the produce section at the grocery store. Rather it is because, quite simply, we are cheap. Plus, I need to buy my own car because I am not supposed to drive the company car, and since I plan to drive here, there is really little point in having a driver long-term. Of course, we’ll see in November whether we were actually able to give up the comfort that Arturo provides with never having to worry about directions to get somewhere or parking once we arrive.
While all this help around the house has been really nice – I mean really nice – there are some real adjustments that come with having people in the house all day, every day. Even a spacious apartment can start to feel cramped because there are always people around, seeing me in my pajamas if I am having a late morning, observing all my interactions with Asha, and probably even wondering if I am actually going to go to the gym that day. It is also odd not being the one who decides what we eat for dinner (or if we order take in yet again), what brand of cheese to buy or what color eggs are better.
And then there is the matter of driving. While I am learning the roads and have been driving, I constantly have Arturo with me to help me with directions. Somehow he also sees as his job to remind me that my hands should be at the ten and two o’clock position on the steering wheel, notify me of red lights up ahead that I can see as well as he, and inform me that truck drivers cannot see me through their right side mirrors (all of this in case I never took a driver’s ed course, and have no common sense).
I would never have thought having such great help – and for such a reasonable price – could have it’s downside as well. Still, unless I am prepared to cook dinner every day, pick up a toilet brush and clean, and lug my own groceries up from the car, I should probably just keep my mouth shut and enjoy the perks.