We have lived in Mexico for almost 8 months and though
we I had a rocky few months at the beginning, we are really content and happy to live here. Actually, sometimes, I feel hesitant to share just how happy we are because isn't living in a developing nation supposed to be hard? But a good friend pointed out that if that were true, how could we actually help anyone if we were living in a state of despair or frustration? Good point. And so, these are my Top 10 things I love about living in Mexico.
1. The sunshine. Everyday. Sunshine just makes me happy, even if it's covered in smog, I'll take it. I used to say crazy things like "Well, I feel like I can appreciate the summer more since I've suffered through the cold winter." Absurdity. I appreciate the sunshine everyday.
2. The colors. This sort of goes along with #1. Trees are green, flowers are bright purple, buildings are orange, candy is all shades of unnatural-ness. Life is colorful, and colors also make me happy.
3. Our apartment. For multiple reasons. First, it's the perfect size for our family, plus it has the space to host overnight guests. Second, sunshine pours into our windows all day long. I think it goes without saying, but this makes me happy. Third, we have a parking spot with our number on it. Our number. And it's right outside of our apartment. (In Lancaster, we had on street parking for 8 years, and when it snowed, life got real-real. But here, there's always a place for us! And no snow!) Fourth, we have no less than 3 fountains in our apartment complex, that when mixed with the sound of chirping birds, it feels more like a retreat center than a city with 26 million people.
4. The food. We go to market every week and fill at least 3-4 bags full of produce and spend maybe $20. Besides the food I can buy at the market, which includes fresh chicken, beef, and of course bacon, this city has THE best tacos, tostadas, and tortas that I've ever had.
5. The traffic-light vendors. Sometimes, this can be annoying, people selling things everywhere I look. But mostly, it's pretty awesome. If I'm at a traffic light and really want to know which part of Africa Burkina Faso is in, I'm not going to turn to my trusty iPhone. That'd be crazy. Instead, I can buy a giant laminated world map and find out right then! If I need a huge afro wig, I can buy that too without even having to leave the comfort of my car. If I look down and see my sweater has too many lint balls, BAM! I can buy a lint-ball remover at the same traffic light (or a different one). Pretty much anything you can think of is available at some traffic light: back-scratchers, snacks, flowers, puppets, tv trays, phone chargers, tissues, 3D puzzles of the Eiffel Tower, and more.
6. The street-vendors. Lining every street are vendors selling everything from single cigarettes to handmade trashcans, to pirated movies, to delicious food. My favorite thing to buy on the street is mango. It's a cup-full, pre-cut, for 15 pesos. I will gladly pay around $1 for pre-cut mangos. It's a little bit of a problem I have. I know of at least three locations of these Mango Vendors off the top of my head that are within close distance of my house.
7. The culture of politeness. This is also something that will end up on my Top 10 list of things I don't like, but there is a part of this I really appreciate and need to learn from. I am never afraid that someone is going to flip out on me for something; I feel welcomed at every gathering because if someone doesn't like me, they surely will not let me know; and road rage isn't something I worry about at all. People are more relaxed, in that sense, and less easily offended.
8. The culture of celebration. This too will end up on my other list, but mostly, I love this aspect of Mexico. There is seriously a celebration for everything--at Christmas it's 9 days of celebration, for Easter, two weeks. Sunday lunches are akin to our holiday meals, in length and amount of food, so these too, are like celebrations (to me). My kids eat more candy than I ever could've imagined that are the result of life-sized pinatas. But, thanks to this aspect of the culture, I am learning to relax and celebrate more--with sugar!
9. The culture of service. I'm still adjusting to this, but there is an affordable service available for everything. I can get my car washed inside and out for 50 pesos--like $3.50. At the grocery store, someone directs me where to park, asks if I want my car washed while I'm shopping, someone bags my groceries, someone will load my groceries into my car, and someone else will help me back out of my parking space. Of course I would need to tip each person a couple pesos, so I don't typically take everyone up on their offer. But if I bought a few heavy items and truly needed help, it's available. Almost every restaurant delivers and even the stands at market will deliver my groceries--all I have to do is call.
10. Our community. Someone commented to me the other day that we seem to be adjusting well and rather quickly. I would agree and think much of it has to do with the fact that we are not here alone. We have an already established community of friends who are a tremendous support to us. Of course we all still have to do the work of getting to know each other, but the fact that there is a group of people that welcomed us so easily in so many ways, is a huge reason why we are able to adjust to living here pretty easily. Last Sunday, Clementine was crying about something at church, and a lady, who is our friend, came over and offered to take her to her house for the entire day to play. She ended up taking Olive too and Alan and I had an impromptu and much needed date. This is just one tiny example of the kindness we have received from so many people here.
Some bonus items:
*Grown adults in suits/work attire, running to catch a bus--this is a regular/normal occurrence
*The streets always have random pockets of sewage stench, so who can ever really know if you farted or not?
*Mother's Day is second, in terms of importance and reverence, to Christmas, just as it should be.
*Our kids now use names like Cecilia, Natalia, or Emilia when playing instead of Megan or Emily.
*The lack of regulations= the steepest inflatable rides I've ever seen
We have so much to be thankful for, even when things are difficult (like when we had a bit of a bed bug problem). In addition to our community here that has helped us adjust so well, it is also because of all of our friends, family and supporters in PA and elsewhere that have continued to encourage us, pray for us, and love us from afar. Just 10 minutes ago, Alan came home with a care package from some of our lovely friends reminding us that we are loved and missed, and for the record, the feelings are mutual.