Q: So, it’s been a few months since we last chatted. Que tal?
A: We’re no longer in corporate housing! While I miss the free breakfast every morning, I don’t miss living out of my suitcase or using the low wattage hair dryer. I know, it’s rough being me. But, truthfully, while moving abroad is something I think all people should do, it’s thoroughly exhausting, which is probably why not everyone does it.
Q: What’s your new place like?
A: Thanks for asking — it’s great. The last time I lived in a place this big I was still living with my parents. I hesitate to say that was 12 frigging years ago. We’ve got a terrific view of the park and our neighborbood, La Condesa. While it’s not perfect — the hot water heater only supplies about 10 minutes of a really hot shower — it’s very comfortable and pretty. We’re still in the process of furnishing the place, but we’re getting there.
Q: Traveled anywhere new?
A: Yes. Wal-Mart.
Q: Oh, I meant, you know, somewhere exciting.
A: Oh, sorry. Yes, here.
Q: (Opens link and is indeed impressed). OK, well, then. Nice waterfall…. Last time we sat down with you said your favorite things in Mexico were the weather and that it’s not the U.S. And that your least favorite things were earthquakes and crime and smog. Anything changed since you said that?
A: Well, the fresh fruit is now at the top of my list. Everyday is a delicious new food experience, and that never gets old. I HEART MANGOS, in other words. Crime-earthquakes-smog — these guys I still don’t like, although it’s still in theory, since I haven’t been bothered by them (yet — *heartily knocking on wood*). What I’d add to the dislike list is the rude drivers. Thankfully, in this neighborhood, they’re not that bad — meaning, they don’t seem to accelerate when you try to cross the street, as if they desperately want to run you over and make Joy Pudding out of you. But in some neighborhoods, I feel very much like I’m in trapped in the most difficult level of Frogger.
Q: Ouch. Look both ways, OK? How’s the dog — Carlito? — handling things?
A: Good. We bought him a new type of dog food and he’s gained at least a pound. For a 14-pound dog, it’s dramatic. He seems about the same, really. I love all the affection he gets from Mexicans — “oy, que guapo,” “que bonito” and “que lindo” are just a few of the compliments he gets. I need to learn how to say “yeah, but he’s not so lindo when he’s vomiting on your floor” en espanol. We also had our first trip to the veterinarian, where we learned that fleas means “pulgas. ” We’ve also been to the groomers twice, and somehow, even with my mangled espanol, Charlie still gets a terrific haircut. (I half expect them to hand him over with his hair dyed blue, because that’s what I unknowingly asked for. Trust me, stranger things have happened to us here.) Walking him home after his grooming appointment is a bit like walking him down the fashion runway, people ooh and ahh.
Q: Since you mention it, how’s the espanol coming along?
A: Estoy aprendiendo espanol poco a poco. And I really mean poco a poco. Most days I learn at least one new vocabulary word, but sometimes I forget a few, too. So it often feels like one step forward, one step back. I often think that if I wasn’t working all day in English, and instead totally immersed in the espanol, I’d finally progress to Chapter Two of my textbook. I also worry that any visitors who come see us will be shocked at how little I actually know. I almost have the past tense down, but then there’s all those god-awful irregular verbs.
Q: One of your most popular blog posts recently was about “weird Mexico City moments.” Got any new ones?
A: Yes. Yesterday I saw a man peddling a 10-speed bike on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant – but he wasn’t going anywhere. I noticed his wheels were actually elevated off the ground a bit, like an exercise bike. Then I noticed he was using the bike to power a knife sharpener on the handlebars. So, he’s apparently the neighborhood knife sharpener. Claro!
Also, I’ve taken many, many photos of my dog, but I never thought I’d get the chance to photograph him on top of a zebra:
(Charlie enjoying a dog treat in full luxury in Taxco, Mexico. Before the pulgas got him!)