Two Days Not in Mexico

My school has decided that I actually need to have a work visa, ie. legal, to work for them.  So yesterday, a mere seven weeks from the end of my contract with them, they sent me to Los Angeles, California to get a stamp in my passport from the Mexican Consulate.  Yes, I had to leave the country to get this stamp.  And yes, I was asked to not mention that I had been working since mid-January at my school in Mexico City.  At least when I was supposed to lie I was going to be in my home country  – yikes!  No worries, I’m still roaming free, no jail time for me. I didn’t even have to lie as after nearly 3 hours of hanging out at the Consulate, I was interviewed and asked 2 questions: how many schools does the foundation, my school, have and, did I like my salary.  Ok, so maybe I lied on the second question :-).

But that is not why I chose to write today.  Rather this forced escape, vacation, killing of time…has got me thinking about all sorts of random things and I thought I’d share a couple oddities I have noticed about myself.

No Hello: I arrive back in the US of A and I stopped saying hello to everyone that passed me by on the sidewalk.  I stopped smiling at everyone and I generally felt more inside myself.  I noticed this as my walk this morning took me into the Mexican/Latino part of town where the Consulate is located.  The closer I came to the Consulate, the more people started saying Hola, Buenos Dias… to me, as most everyone does in Mexico.  I responded in kind, and with a smile and a nod of the head.  Then caught myself.  I realized I hadn’t done that further away where all the gringos were.  That made me sad.  It is similar to how Mexicans, as they pass by your table while you are eating tend to say Buen Provecho.  Basically saying ‘have a great meal.’  I love that.  I’ve tried to think of a way to casually say that when I walk by someone here in the States.  But going around saying “enjoy your meal” just seems intrusive for some reason.  Are Americans that unfriendly?  Well, I’m at least going to push myself to smile at people while I am here.  That can’t hurt.

Which Language:  I’ve been noticing that I don’t know how to speak – any language here.  Not that my Spanish is very good, but in Mexico I have to use it every day (I love that!).  I stumble and work my way around the correct way of saying it until the person understands me.  I have my pat, memorized phrases.  It is fun (most of the time) and challenging.  But then I came back to the US.  I got in the taxi last night and I struggled to find the words to explain where I wanted to go.  My mind kept trying to find Spanish words, yet I knew I could speak in English.  It was silly and I became tongue tied.  It is starting to wear off now, but I am happy to say that some words are still popping to my mind in Spanish first.

Unsatisfied:  I have been in LA since 11pm last night.  So roughly 15 hours – 4 of which I was asleep.  So in those 11 hours of awake-ness, I have been a picky, unsatisfied, seeing all the negative, kind-of-gal.  What is going on?  I can be negative, but I try to find the positive on a daily basis.  But this is ridiculous.  I noticed all the filthy, gum stained sidewalks, the filthy chairs in the hotel restaurant, the unsmiling people (service people), the blandness of the downtown, the lack of anything unique or interesting.  Wow!  Is it just LA or me?  I’m thinking its me in a funk.  Ugh.

But all is not lost – or rather, negative – as of an hour ago I found this great little cafe called Caffe Primo that just served me the best vanilla latte I have ever (seriously!) had. It is a great atmosphere, the food on other people’s plates look amazing, the music is upbeat but not obnoxious.  It is all good.  The people seem happy and there is this great mix of ethnicities.  I like that about big, American cities – diversity is rampant.

Tomorrow morning I am going to visit the California Science Center where the Space Shuttle Endeavor is housed and the big exhibition on display are the Dead Sea Scrolls from Israel – found hidden in caves in 1947.  They are over 2000 years old.  Should be a fun morning.

Then back to work writing my final paper on global health geography for my graduate program.

So me, feeling odd but coming out of it and starting to see the good again, in English.

Enjoy your day-after-Earth-day!

Gretchen

1 Comment

Filed under Introspection, Travel

One response to “Two Days Not in Mexico

  1. Eunice

    Ah, that is the LA shock – even we Orange County people get it when we go up there 🙂 Enjoy the CSC exhibitions – what a great way to spend the day. If you have time, try out the George C. Page and LACMA.

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