Things I have learned about life by living in Mexico 10:
Live in the moment. Just like that. There is no planning your summer internship in November in Mexico. There’s no studying for the SATs in first grade. There’s just, right now, I’m sitting with my friends and enjoying life. Or right now, I am doing this homework that is the worst ever. Or right now, I am having a diarrhea attack. Or right now, I am enjoying my last few days in Mexico and not panicking about my return. Many people in many different situations have told me “tú tranquila” (maybe I already mentioned this?). Anyways, after a while I noticed the trend. It means calm down. And not an obnoxious calm down like you see parents saying to a kid mid-temper tantrum. It’s more like a “be calm”. Or a “don’t worry be happy.”
What I have learned about life from living in Mexico 9:
Mistakes are great. Usually they don’t have deathly consequences. Usually they hurt a little bit, but then make you a more whole person. I mean all types of mistakes: eating fruit that wasn’t washed, stepping in dog poop while taking a picture, drinking too much of a beverage that was not water, not bringing enough toilet paper into the bathroom (momentarily disregarding yesterday’s post… there is a critical minimum), pretending you know what it means to have your coffee “complete” (and then being shaky nervous all day), buying a lot of Hershey’s kisses and then realizing they are not made out of the same chocolate, etc. My most recent spoken mistake was yesterday. It is the worst I have made since I got here… literally too inappropriate to post in public… even worse it was in a conversation with a child… ask me later, I’ll tell you in person. Point being… there’s no way to avoid it, only to embrace it.
Things I learned about life by living in Mexico 8:
One of the first things I learned about stereotypes of foreigners here in Mexico is that they tend to use a lot of toilet paper (and that gringos slam doors really loud). This is true. We use toilet paper for everything short of wrapping gifts (but actually that’s a pretty brilliant idea). Not to be too graphic, but I found out half or one quarter of the square inchage of toilet paper I usually use is way more than sufficient.
Things I learned about life by living in Mexico 7:
After a semester of perro boca abajos (downward dog) in my yoga class, my arms finally got strong enough for me to be able to stand on my head without even leaning on the wall. My teacher wisely pointed out that standing on your head is not really even that much harder than walking, because in order to walk you have to trust that you’re going to land every time you throw your foot out in front of you. Standing on your head is 10% strength and 70% believing that you can stand on your head, and 20% being willing to turn upside down and achieve balance from another perspective. Insert metaphor.
Things I have learned about life from living in Mexico 6:
Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. It turns out that if you’re with people who are really easy going, it’s not hard to celebrate. In fact, it’s very easy and lots of fun. Tonight, for example, was the final of a very big soccer tournament and the tunnel through which one must pass to get to my house was clogged with people honking happily and waving their towels and celebrating (augmented by some angry honking too… but hey, haters gonna hate). Even I, who couldn’t give two flying craps about soccer, got really, really into the game. Long story short: Friends are fun. People do good stuff. Celebrate.
What I have learned about life by living in Mexico days 4 and 5:
4. Eat everything.
Seriously, try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You throw up a little bit in your mouth? Or even on the floor? The great news is that carpeting is not common in Mexico, so it’s no problem. Really. Upon my arrival in Mexico someone told me to absorb like a sponge with all the five senses. Work those taste buds. Traveling is a great excuse to be a glutton.
5. Walk everywhere you can (except for if it’s really in the morning or really late at night, because that’s just stupid / forgivable if you have class at 8 am).
The traffic in Xalapa can be worse than downtown Manhattan. You see great stuff when you walk. Also you run into people you know on the street, which is the best.
Things I have learned about life by living in Mexico day 3:
Learn people’s names. They will remember yours, too, eventually, and it will be so much more fun to go to the market, the coffee shop, the laundromat, etc.
Today I saw a guy on a motorcycle with a darth vader helmet and went to 3 different supermarkets looking for pate.