Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Friends

Back in Ixtapan de la Sal, I took advantage of the municipal "balneario" spa on both days of my stay there. Soaking in the warm thermal waters was pretty wonderful. In fact, here in Puebla this morning the temperature is 37 degrees....I could go for a nice hot soak.

Mexican kids are cute as buttons. So, while I was in one of the 5 thermal pools, this little 7-year-old kid comes up to me, "where are you from?" Do I stick out like a sore thumb? Yep. White guy with blond hair (blond, that is, in areas where I'm not bald). "I'm American." So he asked my name. "Rodrigo," I replied. My name translates perfectly into Spanish. In fact Rodrigo is a hell of a lot more common here than Rod is at home. His name is Miguel (Mike). Turns out his mom is an English teacher in Toluca, and he speaks a little English. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A soccer player," he volunteered. I told him they make lots of money, so that's a good idea. Then I asked if he could guess what my job was. I gave him a hint: it's at a school. His guess: "you're a soccer player." See a pattern here? I told him I was a little old to be a professional soccer player. So then he asked, "have you been to Beverly Hills or Las Vegas?" Is this the impression American movies and t.v. are giving to kids around the world? (answer: YES) I told him I lived near Las Vegas in Phoenix. That was good for a "Cool." It's easy to impress little kids.

I met his grandma over in the "mud pool." This is a cool mineral water pool, where the management has conveniently set out buckets of naturally mineral-rich mud. Ladies give themselves improvised mud facials. They look really strange submerged up to their necks, with only this muddy head sticking out of the water. One teenager had a clever use for the mud. He covered his face with the gray stuff, then fashioned a long addition to his nose and two horns, which he attached to his forehead. Devilishly clever and a delight to the younger kids.

It was Sunday, which--apparently--is family day. The pools was loading up with moms and dads and grannies and tons of babies in diapers and toddlers. And the old pool adage: when you've got kiddies in a pool, you've got kiddie wee wee. Since the water was looking a little yellow that morning, I left. (Alright, full disclosure-- sulfur is one of the minerals naturally occurring in the water). But it still looked a little yellow.