Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Know You're Mexican When...

when you hear a dog barking, and you immediately look UP to the nearest roof.

Roof dogs are a true Mexican phenomenon. They live up there, and their job is to bark at anyone approaching the building. Today, walking down the street, I found myself jerking my head up to see from which rooftop the dog was announcing his presence. It adds to the cacophony that is Mexico. Guess I'm getting used to it.

One thing you see all the time in Mexico are "motorcycle families." It's not uncommon at all to see Papa driving, Momma sitting behind, and a couple of kids sitting between Papa's legs. Today I saw a motorcyclist tooling down the road with his son, about 6 or 7, standing up, between dad's legs. And helmets? Hah! I know helmet laws for motorcyclists have been hotly debated in many U.S. states. But here in Mexico, there's no debate: they just don't wear them (oftentimes). Now, I believe in any adult's absolute right to break his own stupid neck flying off his motorcycle after hitting one of the ubiquitous Mexican "topes" (speed bumps). But I vigorously disagree with his right to kill his passenger children.

When was the last time you saw a gas station attendant? In the U.S., they're as scarce as the last passenger pidgeon. Here in Oaxca, the Pemex service station (the government-owned petroleum monopoly) has a uniformed attendant at each pump island who'll wash your windows, clean your wipers, check your oil, and air up your tires. How's that for a blast from the past?

Another thing you never see in the U.S.: an "escritorio publico." I saw one of these guys today in the 20th of November Market. What he does is write correspondence....and read documents...for illiterate folk, or those who speak an indigenous language rather than Spanish.
Foreign Intrigue:
It's curious how an object's "foreignness" adds to its sex appeal. And also curious how that foreign attribution gets all screwed up. Cases in point: In the U.S. we call those slatted window coverings "VENETIAN blinds" (as in from Venice). Here in Mexico, the same thing is a "Persiana" (or Persian blinds). In the U.S. and Germany, when we have a cut of meat pounded thin, breaded and fried, we call it "Weiner schnitzel" (as in Wein or Vienna). Here in Mexico, the same thing is called "Milanesa" (or from Milan). Go figure. They sound exotic either way.
A Little Tart
One of my great delights here in Mexico is to make myself fresh-squeezed limeade every day. I never buy or drink soda pop. Why should you when the fruits here are plentiful, cheap, and wonderful? I buy a bag of fresh green limes each Sunday at the market. When I want a cool drink during the day, I cut a lime in half, squeeze it in a little hand press right into a glass of purified water, add a teaspoon of sugar and, voila! limeade. It's tasty and good for you, too.