Although I would rate my fluency in Spanish at about 15%, it’s amazing what I can discuss with a cabbie while we sit through Mexico City holiday traffic. Normally, I don’t talk to cabbies, because I prefer silence and I’m pretty anti-social (the two tend to go hand-in-hand). Tonight, for whatever reason, I was in a mood to chat. I forced el taxiste to talk to me.
…Natural beauty versus plastic surgery…. after we spotted a Jessica Rabbit-esque woman at the airport who was stopping traffic with her bowling-ball-sized breast implants. (She looked like a cartoon, he told me, and I readily agreed.) I called her leopard skin pants “pantalones de gatos” since I couldn’t remember any vocab for large felines. He assured me that all women — flaca or gorda — are more beautiful when they are real.
…Strangely named dog breeds….as in my shih tzu dog, a breed of which he’d never heard of, so I explained it as a “una raza de perros que es mejor para las mujeres” (or something like that) to explain I have a “girly dog.” He understood, but then seemed perplexed when I explained that my male husband was taking care of my girly dog while I was away.
...Family… he was born/raised in Mexico City, just like his “little beautiful wife” and his 3 “beautiful daughters.” He then showed me a cell phone photo of his family.
….Mexican pride…(if there’s one fail-safe question a Mexican cab driver will ask you it’s: Do you like my country?) I used to answer quite affirmatively, claro que si, and then discuss the fantastic culture, food, music, climate and landscapes. The longer I’m here, the less like a vacation it is, so my answer is now more realistic: The weather rocks, the food rocks, but the traffic and the recent water shortages absolutely suck.
…Smelly tourists…especially the dreaded Europeans who don’t wear deodorant, meaning he groans when they get in his cab. He demonstrated the awfulness for me by sticking his head out the window and trying to smell fresh air, and I ended up snorting with laughter.
…Drunks in the line at migration…I was trying to explain to him about a drunk Spaniard in front of me in migracion, and I said something about his terrible smell, which led to the discussion above of the Smelly Europeans. (Interestingly enough, this goes back centuries. The Aztecs were meticulous about their personal hygiene, while the Spaniards were not.)
...Inter-Latino racism…apparently Argentineans are snobs to Mexicans, or at least to my cab driver. As he said “If you visit my country, you should respect my country.” As he said this, he formed a fist and put it over his heart. I saw him glance at me in the rear-view mirror. “¡Claro que si!!!” I told him.