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This has been a full trip

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

By Allison

The excitement continues. At some point you would think that things would slow down for us here in Mexico, but they don’t. William has had a bit of a cold, nothing unusual, but for the last couple of days he has been complaining that his ear hurts and I suspected he had an ear infection. There are two pharmacies within a stone’s throw of where we are living and when Theo sliced his cheek open we made a trip to both of them to get a second opinion. I was hoping they would both tell us that he didn’t need stitches again. Our first visit was to Similares (a pharmacy that specializes in generics – or medicine that is similar to the real stuff). The “doctor” there was very kind and suggested we take him to a real doctor for stitches for aesthetic reasons. Her facilities were anything but similar to a doctor’s office. It was a dirty room with a desk and a bench. The other pharmacy, the one selling the real medicine, also had a consulting doctor. I could tell she really took time to clean the wound and give a good assessment of the situation which was, unfortunately, also a verdict of stitches. We are flying home on Saturday and I want William to be in good health for the flight and his soccer camp for next week, so I felt a trip to the consulting doctor was necessary. Indeed it is an ear infection and we’ve started William on a course of antibiotics and anti-phlegm medicine. Luckily William is a great sport about it and I almost feel he is happy to take the medicine.

Earlier in the day we stopped at a hairdresser after summer camp to get Julian a haircut. Many of the hair salons advertise themselves as Unisex hairdressers. When we were travelling in 2006 I often wondered why anyone would want a gender-neutral hairstyle, but eventually I came to the conclusion that they just cut both men AND women’s hair. Either way, we stopped into a place and were greeted by a young girl who probably wasn’t even 20 years old. Her friends were also hanging out texting and intensely laughing to cartoons, so I think I’m pretty accurate with my speculation of how old they were. Whenever she smiled we were bombarded with a very gummy smile with lots of long, overlapping teeth. If I had examined her hairstyle before we went in I think I would have kept walking and tried to find another place. I guess it is kind of like Supercuts in the States, you don’t go in there if you want inspiration or advice for a haircut. You either know what you want or you find another place. Luckily I was able to explain to her in Spanish how I wanted his hair and Julian walked out with a great cut. And at 35 pesos (about 3 US dollars), it felt like quite a bargain compared to the $25 dollar hair-cuts that are common for kids in Seattle.

Earlier this year we sold our house and bought a new one. We weren’t able to move in until the end of June since our new house was rented out and we had to honor the lease. In the interim we were living in a condo and in the courtyard there was a whirlpool all tenants could use. There was a funny sign next to the whirlpool that read “No Sex in the Spa!” William is 9 and still has no idea what sex is and doesn’t show any curiosity in that respect, but he’s been throwing the word around a bit lately. Mainly he thinks sex equates to kissing and one day before we moved out William gave Julian a hug and a kiss in the hot tub and said “Look! We’re having sex in the spa!” The word came up again today, and I told him “But you don’t even know what sex is.” I’ve always kind of been dreading “the talk” and always hoped Matthias would take this parental task on. For whatever reason at this moment I felt like I could talk to William about this and would be comfortable talking about it. I asked him if he wanted know, which of course he did, so I gave him a bare bones account of the physical aspect and said that sometimes women become pregnant afterwards. He heard “penis” and “vagina” and just started to giggle. His response… “They become pregnant because the guy pees. Um, can we watch Kung Fu Panda 2?” So I think he’s still not ready for this information, but the seed has been planted, and I imagine the hit counts will skyrocket since I included words like ‘sex,’ ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ in this entry.

My boys have 2 days left of summer camp. On Friday the parents are invited for a potluck and I’m thinking I’ll bring a German potato salad. I’m already practicing my speech for when it is my turn to explain to the group in Spanish what dish I brought. When I think what all we’ve been through so far (hospital visit after hospital visit + a brief birds and the bees talk) I’m not going to make any bets on what will happen the next few days. The upheaval seems to be accelerating and I’m ready for a little down time, or at least a little help from Matthias, once we are back home in Seattle.

Our last few days in Cuernavaca

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

by Allison

While the rut of daily life with our kids prevails I had a great conversation with Matthias that has given me a second wind. Five weeks in Mexico sounds great on the surface, but he said he can understand how it wouldn’t be easy (especially since I’m by myself with 3 kids). But regardless of how difficult it is, he said he wanted to be the one that was figuring things out in Mexico, hailing taxis with a bleeding child in tow, deciphering the ER doctors, trying to get receipts so we might be able to re-coup some of the $500+ dollars in emergency room visits, taking trips to the Farmacia to get the right medicine, and all of this en Espanol. Matthias was so right, and his comments helped me to try and make the most of the rest of our time here. Our taxi driver on Friday mentioned that Xochicalco, some ancient ruins about an hour outside of Cuernavaca, was worth the trip. William and Julian were up for it so we decided to do it.

We hailed a taxi to downtown, and I tried to ask the driver where we needed to go to get to the ruins. I had an idea where we needed to go, but our taxi driver seemed to have different information. This was one of those taxi rides when I didn’t understand very much, but I more or less recognized the route and knew he was taking us to the Centro bus station. Even if he had been wrong I knew we could figure things out from there. It turns out there were buses leaving from the Centro station, but we had just missed the direct bus by a half an hour. It was already 11:00 AM and the next bus wasn’t leaving for another hour. The ride would have been about 1.5 hours to the site (plus another 1.5 hours back), and seeing as the kids are definitely NOT dying to take in ancient ruins, I decided we would just walk around town and see what we found. Right away we hear sounds of a sporting even nearby. We followed the cheering and quickly found a sports center that was hosting a tae-kwon-do tournament and a basketball game. We only spent about 30 minutes there, but it was fun to stumble upon the experience and just sit back and explore and enjoy it. It is a little weird when the spectators are paying more attention to us than their own friends and family. If I were a real entrepreneur I think I could make more money selling pictures with the guerros (light skinned people, aka our kids) like they did with the elephants at the circus. I might just be able to make a decent living. We spent a nice afternoon walking through town and finished it up with a little swimming and soccer.

One thing that has been really nice is having George and Ines around. The first time Theo had to go to the hospital for stiches George dropped everything and drove us right away. He was on his way to meet someone, but called and cancelled so he could help. Ines and her daughter Sonja stayed at the house and watched over William and Julian. On our way back from the hospital George and I stopped to get the antibiotics and pain medication the doctor prescribed. He asked me if I knew how to say “wax” in Spanish. I checked on my iPhone and he proceeded to ask them if they have moustache wax. They didn’t have it and didn’t know where he could get it either. He looks at me and says in English “They’re dumb as shit, ain’t they?” Now why he thought a twenty-something year-old young woman at a pharmacy would know where an old fuck like him could get mustache wax is beyond me. It is really hard to roll with these kinds of comments, and I find them fully offensive, but what are you going to do after he’s gone way out of his way to help you in your time of need? I’m not about to start harping on the choices of an almost 80-year-old man at this moment, or ever really. He knows what he is saying is not politically correct, or right, but he doesn’t care. Maybe the best I can do is just buy him a case of mustache wax when I’m back in the states and send it to him.

This week is the last week at summer camp and the kids are already starting to think about some of the things they will miss. This morning Theo fell and scraped us his knee quite badly, but this time all we needed was a Band-Aid and he was back up and running. This afternoon we returned to the hospital for the first set of stitches to be removed. The back of his head is healing up perfectly. They also looked at his cheek and it is healing up really well, too. Later this evening we had a great dinner at a new Taqueria. The tacos al pastor were delicious and this restaurant served them with a thin slice of pineapple which the kids really loved. As I was paying for our meal William and Julian were waiting with Theo on the sidewalk. I come out and see Theo is screaming bloody murder and holding his arm. William and Julian also informed me Theo stepped in a big pile of dog poop and his shoes are covered in dog doo. I suspect immediately that he has a nursemaid’s elbow. The first few times one of our kids had this we went to the emergency room, but we eventually learned how to fix it ourselves. I give it a quick initial try, but he screamed so much that I figure it would be better to get a cab home, clean his shoes up and assess the situation at home. When the taxi pulled up at our place I noticed Theo has been rubbing his shoes on my leg and now my thigh is also smeared up with dog poop. At least I was right about the nursemaids elbow and once we were home and got cleaned up a quick manipulation popped his elbow back into place and I was so very relieved that we didn’t have to return to urgent care.

I suspect we will return to this taqueria for tacos at least one or two more times before we leave. We have one more (planned) hospital visit to remove the last of the stitches, and we want to pick up a few more bootlegged DVDs before we leave. We’ve had a few more nice taxi drivers, one that was blaring Lionel Ritchie “All Night Long” on his stereo. The mambo-salsa party attitude this song conveys is quite an interesting juxtaposition amongst the gritty streets of Mexico but those kind of moments are what makes this place so fun.