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It’s getting old

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

By Allison

After about 3-3.5 weeks there is a point where you start to miss your regular world. At 2 weeks you are not ready to go home, but at 3+ weeks you are ready to pack up forever. You just miss a little slice of normal life. You are ready to finally hit the Americanized grocery stores for macaroni and cheese and spaghetti because it feels like a direct link to your living room, even if you don’t even eat those things at home. Everything foreign all the time is hard. From my experience if you stay just a little longer you get over this hump, eventually really settle in, and everything stops seeming foreign all the time. Matthias was not ready to leave after 2 weeks, and at about 3 weeks all I could think about what going home. We have a week left and I feel like I’m settling in. When we go around town I recognize many places and am starting to feel like I know my way around. I recognize people at the stores, and they know us, too. I’m just on that cusp where I miss home, but am starting to feel like I will miss it here.

The last week and a half has been rough. The weekends (when the kids are home 24-7) are exhausting. Since Matthias left I am the only person my kids turn to when they need something. They need a glass, they come to me. They need a snack, they come to me. They are wondering if it would be better to become a ghost when you die or just die straight out, they come to me and want to discuss every aspect of this topic. Their constant bickering wears on my patience and I feel like I’m constantly nagging. Part of parenting is reminding kids to pick up their shoes, clean up after themselves, take their dishes to the sink, and on and on and on. This is a part of parenting that I hate, and it seems to have gotten the best of me. It’s just not fun, and although 5 weeks in Mexico sounds great, being here alone without anyone else to help out with these types of things in addition to making dinner, doing the dishes, brushing teeth, reading stories, etc, has been hard. I can hardly go a minute without some sort of request coming in from one of them, and many times I’m sitting there with two or three kids talking at the same time needing something. When I write and reflect about it, it does seem somewhat charming and I feel like I should be savoring the moment, but many times I just find it annoying and taxing.

The first two weeks of our stay here were vacation for me. But for the last three I am working from “home.” Since home is currently Mexico I sit at my laptop and work while they are in summer camp and fit in an hour or two after they come home. That alone is hard enough, but then there are just things that seem to go wrong, which makes everything difficult. For example we went to a cooking class early on in the trip and learned how to make these great marinated onions. The recipe calls for a habanero chile, which is a super-hot chile. I’m slicing away, being careful not to touch the flesh of the chile. I do a quick test and touch my lips just to be sure I didn’t get any on my fingers. Of course my lips start to burn and I wonder what I should do because I am still wearing my contacts. Do I just take them out ASAP, or do I wait and risk that the spiciness might spread to the rest of my fingers? I was able to get my contacts out with my right pinky finger (the finger with the least direct contact to the habanero), but then the question was, would I have fire in my eyes the next morning when I put them back in? The next morning, it turned out to be fine and I walked into the kitchen and noticed that I’d left the onions out on the counter all night long and had to throw them out. You see my digestive system has been in a bit of an upset lately and I wasn’t going to risk making things worse by eating food that has been left out all night. Eventually I took a dose of Imodium and that cleared everything right up. But why didn’t I do this sooner? I’ve been suffering for a few weeks and had the cure right in front of me all this time. Because of this I’ve also been wary of the street food exacerbating the situation and street food is one of the best things about Mexico. So now I’ve had so many days of missing out on the great food here. These are the types of things that compound themselves and make me miss home even more.

Lately I’ve been shopping at the Walmart, and LOVING it! I hate Walmart and would never go to one in the States. What’s wrong with me now? We can get a few things at the Oxxo across the street (Oxxo is like a 7-11), but since we don’t live within walking distance of any grocery store it is easier to get everything in one store and just haul it back in one taxi ride. Walmart fits that bill. At least I call hail a taxi for and from Walmart with finesse.

We’ve also gotten to know an urgent care center here. On Tuesday Theo fell and cracked his head open which resulted in 3 stitches on the back of his head. Yesterday he slipped and fell onto a glass table in our bungalow and we had to return for 6 more stitches on his cheek. The stitches also necessitated another trip to Walmart to stock up on Band-Aids and gauze so we can keep his wounds clean. When Theo hit his head the first time I knew right away he needed stitches. William and Julian asked me if he will need a shot, which I knew he would. “Oh my gosh!!!! Shots are the worst!!!” replied William. That is the last thing I wanted Theo to hear on his way to the hospital. Theo also got a prescription for antibiotics and William tasted a small drop left on the table. “Eeewww! That is disgusting!!” 3 year-olds just repeat, repeat and repeat. I knew I had 7 days of medicine 3 times a day ahead of us and William was just about to make the ordeal much harder. If he hears from his older brother it is disgusting, then for Theo it is disgusting. Luckily I turned the situation around quickly so he still looks forward to his medicine. The chocolate afterwards helps too, I’m sure.

After Theo and I left urgent care yesterday we took a taxi home. While looking outside of the windows things looked foreign yet familiar at the same time. We know the streets, we know the different routes the taxi drivers can take and we know if someone is giving us a gringo rate for a taxi ride. I think it is this feeling of knowing and understanding your surroundings that can fuel an extended exploration of a place and I wish I felt it sooner than I did. I can feel that I’m coming out of the funk and I hope I can make the most of our final week here.

The Circus of Mexico

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

By Allison

On the first full weekend without Matthias we decided to hit the travelling circus that was in town. George and Ines reminded us to keep our expectations low, which was probably a good game plan. With low expectations we could only be pleasantly surprised, right?

Over the last week I had been asking our taxi drivers if they knew when the shows were and how much they cost. We got a bunch of different answers, but many of them said there was a car driving around town advertising the circus and they were selling discounted General Admission tickets for 20 pesos instead of the regular 50 pesos. We’d been keeping an eye out for one of those cars. We saw one early on – it was driving through town with a huge speaker and a megaphone on the top blaring advertisements and trailing 3 or 4 cages behind with the poor animals from the show. Unfortunately we were never able to actually encounter one when we were in a position to pick up a few tickets. I mentioned this to George and his response was “Nah, those taxi drivers, they’re all lying to you.” Somehow I didn’t think there was a conspiracy amongst the taxistas to give the gringos in town bum information on the discounted circus tickets, but I just nodded and tried to change topics. If I’ve heard the same story from at least 2 or 3 different taxi drivers, well, I’m going to start to believe there is something to it. Despite not having any discounted tickets, we went anyway.

The opening number couldn’t have been worse. I came with low expectations and I was already worried I had already set them too high. The next number was a tribute to “El Rey de Pop.” Yep, a tribute to Michael Jackson. These Mexican dancers come out in black suits and spats and were pelvic thrusting and leg wiggling to songs from the Thriller Album. They are horrible dancers and the worst is that they don’t even look like they are enjoying themselves. Matthias’ MJ impression has more soul than any of these guys. Pretty soon clowns start walking through the audience trying to sell stuff and later those same clowns end up in the show performing. The kids are getting super annoying because they want 15 of everything each clown is trying to sell. To top it off we are under a tent on a dirt floor and it is sweltering and it stinks to high hell.

Next came the first animal routine: a camel, a dromedary and 2 lamas. They walk around in circles, do some twirls and walk around in more circles. It all kind of makes me sad, but on the other hand I’m a little happy that there aren’t more animals. Mexican’s aren’t known for being animal lovers, and the thought of their lives (walking in circles for 2-3 performances a day, being driven through town in cages behind a blaring speaker) seems like a pretty lame existence. After the animals left they brought out a big tarp, unfolded it (which of course stirred up a smelly dust cloud inside the tent). This was one of many gritty transitions with precarious safety precautions (at best) but what they were doing was making way for the acrobats.

This is when the circus took a turn for the better. These guys were seriously lacking on the dirt dance floor but what became evident is their passion for the acrobatics. They were smiling, engaging and a lot of fun to watch. Seven very buff, chest-hairless Mexican men swung from ropes, hung upside down, twirled around in their air, climbed up poles, juggled, were interacting with the audience and you could really get a feeling of the camaraderie and fun they must have in this circus life together.

At one point in the show they called a few kids down to the ring to participate (William and Julian included) while they were preparing for the next act. And at intermission it got a little weird when everyone in the circus (except us) went down to the ring, paid the circus performers a bit of money so they could hoist their loved ones on top of the elephant, hand a clown their phone, and have their picture taken with babies, siblings and grandparents waving their glow sticks and other trinkets while sitting on the elephant. This was clearly the longest segment of the circus and definitely a money-maker.

After intermission there were a few more acrobatic numbers and then it was time for the finale – the tigers!!! The tigers file into the ring one-by-one to the tune of Enter Sandman by Metallica. Their trainer waltzes in in a gold lame sequin-studded, luche libre-esque top with black leather pants. This is his moment to shine. You can clearly see he feels superior to his shit-shoveling colleague who rakes up all the poop after the animals perform. There were 9 tigers and 7 of them were white tigers. Julian was literally on the edge of his seat for the tigers. They sound crew hit play on the A-Team theme and the tigers started their number. They sat on stools, they growled, they all laid down in a line next to one another and eventually jumped through rings of fire. The cage they erected inside the ring seemed like a bit of an afterthought, since all that was needed was for a tiger to take a wrong right or a wrong left at the exit and he’d be lose in the stands, but it all went off without a hitch. All in all it was an enjoyable afternoon and I’m happy we went, but a 3-ring Barnum and Bailey Circus it ain’t.

Taxistas

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_297" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="On the road in a taxi in Cuernavaca"][/caption]By Allison The “situation” in Mexico is much different than it was when we were travelling in 2006/2007. I’m sure you have ... [Continue reading this entry]

Summer Camp

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
By Allison Our kids have finished two weeks of summer camp and have two weeks ahead of them. Through friends of a friend we got an excellent recommendation for a summer camp in Cuernavaca. The kids are there from 8:30-2:00 Monday ... [Continue reading this entry]

George

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_260" align="alignnone" width="448" caption="This is George"][/caption] By Allison “Allison, I tell you. If you ever decide to get rid of this bastard I’ll take him. I mean I never had any faggoty tendencies ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bumps in the Road

Friday, July 15th, 2011
By Allison Well, we are back in Mexico again. This time I will be here for 5 weeks with all 3 boys and Matthias is here for the first 2 weeks. We did this last year as well, but last year ... [Continue reading this entry]

Theo drank the water in Mexico

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

By Matthias

Now that I finally remembered Allison’s bad ass password for her laptop, I can try bringing our blog “Travels of the Bay family and the Yoda Van” back to life. For those of you who are not familiar with ... [Continue reading this entry]