Week Seventeen

This week my class started writing letters to my friends little girl back home in Ireland. It was amazing watching them trying to decide what things are important to tell someone who doesn’t live here. In a way this is kinda what this blog is about. In one way it’s to let my folks know I’m still alive and in the other it’s a little slice of social commentary for those who don’t live in this place. I guess it’s also a way to make sure that I’m keeping you on the journey with me. Life is all about the journey, not about the destination and a journey is always better with friends.

I was wondering where are you journeying from? So I had a wee nosey at the stats for this blog, something I’ve never done before and I was really amazed at where people are reading from.  And I wondered, how did you get here? Some of you I know about, my friends and family at home, in the USA and Canada, or people who had connected with me through my work with Scream in Australia or New Zealand but others I have no idea. I mean I’m fairly certain I don’t know anyone in Mongolia, Rwanda or Korea but hey they’ve been reading. (Hi by the way!) It has been really interesting to see what posts people are interested in and what social medium brought them here. Thanks to all who’ve been reading….

You know that part in a Hollywood movie, where the young, naïve, (whiter than white) white girl is dropped into the middle of a foreign land, without knowing the language or anything that is going on. There’s usually that shot of them standing in the middle of rush hour traffic, surrounded by suitcases, sweating like a beast, holding the map of the place and looking completely bewildered? You know that one? Probably played by Julia Roberts or Reece Witherspoon or some other insipid female? Well yeah, sometimes in Mexico that’s me.

In some ways moving to Mexico has reduced me to being like a child. I barely speak the language and therefore when things need done I have to rely on someone else. When I need gas for the house, I’ve got to ask the school to phone the gas man and give explicit directions as to which tank is mine. I need to go and get my hair coloured soon and again I’m going to have to wait for someone to make the appointment for me ….and probably to go with me too, so as to explain what I want done.

It’s kinda like all the things you need your mum and dad to do for you when you’re younger have resurfaced and you need someone to sort shit out for you again. It’s a very odd feeling!

I remember my mum once said that she still feels like an 18 year old inside and is always really surprised when she looks in the mirror and see a grownup. I never really understood fully what she meant but I kinda do now – living in Mexico and on the one hand being a grown up, having a responsible job and on the other being like a teenager needing someone to go with you when you buy shoes.

In honour of being a teenager again I’ve been listening to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acmb6tk0Yj4

– one of my favourite tunes from when I was a teen. Enjoy!

Finished Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson

Start The Expats by Chris Pavone

Week Sixteen

So as part of the employment package here at the school, we have a cleaner who comes in once a week and gives our homes a good going over. You know, doing the shite things that nobody really likes doing – bathrooms, floors etc. The school provides this for a couple of reasons I guess. One is to ensure that all their houses are kept in good nick and the other is to make sure none of the teachers die of some weird fungal infection. I think it’s standard practice in Mexico for people to have maids, or maybe just standard practice for the families at my school. I was in the middle of a form period a couple of weeks ago – one of those “Be nice and kind to your parents, cos they work hard all day and then have to come home and make you dinner” type things when one of the students pipes up and says “But Miss, we have someone who does that for mum and dad” and all the other students are frantically nodding. Um ok then?!

Anyway I have now turned into one of those people who clean before the cleaner is coming. I’m a neat and tidy kinda chick anyways. I always do the dinner dishes right after dinner, laundry goes into the laundry basket, clothes are hung up, shoes are put away etc. But now I am up early on cleaning day just making sure that everything is done before the cleaner gets here. I’m kinda hoping she comes into my house, pops open a beer and puts her feet up for half an hour. I hope she gets to enjoy a sneaky rest during what I’m sure is a shocker of a day. I’ve heard horror stories from some of the other teachers about things the cleaner has had to clean – a weeks’ worth of dishes, pet deposits, mopping round some still sleeping party guest and the thought of it chills me. I would hate to think of her talking about me, “You see that Anne Doherty’s daughter, well she’s a right dirty clat” (or whatever the Spanish equivalent of clat would be)

The thing is, Tequis is such a small place. I would imagine that everybody knows everybody else’s business. I mean I am one of roughly 25 white people who live in the town. It’s a little bit weird. When we get a taxi home from anywhere all we have to do is say the name of our street and the taxi drops us off right outside our door.

I guess it’s kinda like being a minor celebrity except the pay is shite and nobody really wants your autograph. What they do want to do is look. Not say anything. Just look.  

I’m slowly getting used to it.

Another thing that I’m getting used to is how demonstrative the Mexican’s are. When people meet they give each other a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. To everyone. No matter what length of time you’ve known them!

Now, just to clarify things, I am a huggy person. When I’m with my friends and family I like to hug it up! Not so much with strangers. The first time it happened was at parent teacher conference when the parents and kids did it. Well I almost died of fright. I was thinking, “Why the hell is my student leaning in to give me a hug and a kiss? WTF is going on?” Thankfully I didn’t say that out loud and just kept thinking “No one else in the room is wigging out, keep a lid on it!”

Now I’m more used to it and it kinda happened without me even realising it. I went to see some of my students in a play last week and wasn’t weirded out at all by all the hugging and kissing from parents I didn’t know and students I don’t teach. (Must be the minor celeb in me.)

It was Valentines Day this week and my first time to celebrate it in Mexico. Man it is a huge deal. It’s celebrated as a day of love and friendship and the student council had organised balloons, flowers, sweets and all sorts of other treats. There were even weddings and two of my form class got married. I missed the ceremony but I was able to watch the video after and it was so cute!! I had my Year 7’s first period and I’ve never seen a group of kids so excited about VDay. They came in on a high and were hugging and kissing everybody and passing out sweets. Even the most boyish boy in the class came and gave me a big hug and a heart shaped lollipop he’d bought for me. Super cute!

In some of the other classes we were writing Valentines or Anti Valentines love poems and here are a few of my absolute favourites:

 

“Roses are grey,

Violets are grey,

Everything is grey,

I am a dog”

 

“I am your boyfriend,

that is something that I choose,

the reason you’re my girlfriend,

is that I bet and I loose.”

 

“I made a mistake,

the worst in my life,

cos you are a snake,

and I made you my wife.”

 

& finally the cutest:

 

“Mario is red,

Meganman is blue,

Will you be

my Player #2?”

 

Who says romance is dead?!

 

Still reading Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson