Prospero Ano Nuevo! There’s nothing like a photo of some Mexican graves decorated in ceramic tile to make you thankful you made it another year, right?
Anyhoodles, this is my first New Year’s Day in another country, and it’s given me the impetus to post a list I’ve been putting together, dear reader. (The strange things I encounter every day are numerous, it’s just my lazy memory that gets in the way of prolific greatness). Still, here’s a few I’ve managed to save in my head or scribble down:
- To celebrate New Year’s, it’s good luck to wear a new pair of red underwear — if you’re seeking love. So, vendors sell them up and down the streets right now. I thought the children’s sizes were a bit odd, but oh well. (“Oh well” is a phrase we use constantly in our new Mexican lives. “I didn’t order this food, but because I don’t know how to demand what I really ordered, oh well.”)
- The E! Network is mostly in English and subtitled in Spanish, but they don’t bother with fuzzing out naked parts or bleeping bad words. So watching “The Girls Next Door” takes on a whole new viewing aspect. (A secret I’ll go ahead and admit: I looooooove “The Girls Next Door.” I’m sorry, but being Hef’s girlfriend looks like a whole barrel of fun monkeys, albeit blonde, overly tanned fun monkeys.)
- On a less salacious note, yogurt comes in totally different flavors, from guanabana to mango to apple to some flavor called “cereal” that has bits of real wheat floating in it. I love it.
- Many, if not all, homeowners hang this sign in front of their driveway: “If you respect my parking area, I’ll respect your car.”
- Many nights there is a man who wheels around a cast-iron cart full of steaming bananas (platanos) — the cart functions like an extremely loud tea kettle, letting off steam at ear-splitting levels from blocks away. There’s also a dude who rides a three-wheel bike that has a special tray in front, full of hot tamales in big jugs. He plays a tape recording over and over, in a bizarre high-pitched voice: Tamales oaxacanoes...
- All day musicians wander the neighborhood and play songs, hoping you’ll throw money down from your balcony. (See this post of the marimba players.) If you don’t, they usually leave you alone, but sometimes they ring your buzzer.
- Our apartment building tends to shake and sway whenever a heavy truck passes by. (I immediately e-mail Brendan and ask if he felt it, too. He hasn’t so far.)
- Yesterday there was a bagpiper in the park playing Christmas songs. On New Year’s Eve. In Mexico.