For those of you who are caught up with my blog…you know that last night I met an old friend for a drink who had work colleagues who need to practice their English. To my nice surprise, it turned into an opportunity for me to practice my Spanish (which really impressed my friend since he and I only chat in English). It was easy for me…I have developed my own fluidity and his friends were all really impressed with both my Spanish as well as my accent (being that I am so obviously American).
My friend had roughly told them my story…about how I had moved to Cozumel over 7 years ago to dive, then had a boyfriend who moved me to Puebla over 4 years ago but with whom I had not been with for almost two years…but that I had remained here. These were all women who claimed to understand a bit of English but who were not comfortable talking in English…except to tell me how brave they thought I was. I was very flattered. I don’t think of myself as brave…But it’s so nice to hear from fellow women, who are around my own age range, to tell me that! I spent the night giving them more details of my life, both here as well as in Cozumel…all in Spanish. I guess I was pretty proud of all of it.
Eventually, I did hit a wall…having spent the day celebrating with my friend during her graduation, I was spent long before 11. But as I drove home, I realized that it really is true…my objectives here in Mexico have changed quite a bit. Remember, I moved here just to dive. I now live in one of the states where there is no diving. Clearly, I’m no longer here to dive. But as I say this, I realize that I LOVE living here…love being here…I love being the example I’m trying to set for the rest of the world.
Earlier this week, someone gave me a “homework assignment.” In his scenario, my job was to imagine that Donald Trump was arriving at UDLAP and that my job is to greet him at the gate and walk him to the main offices during which time I will have three minutes to tell him what about Mexico is so different from the impression he seems to have. I have to tell you that I have not really been able to come up with a stream of thought that could possibly use to get into the mind of the man who I have grown convinced to just be the most ignorant human alive. But I’m working on it…
But I can say that while I have met all different types of people here…what I love is when I run into someone I know who greets me respectfully. While out last night, I saw our “normal” waiter who used to be my tailor here in Cholula, who I’ve always been quite friendly with. (Though back in the days when I was still a rookie here, he was not the friendliest tailor.) It has been a few months since we’ve seen him at that location of this restaurant and so last night I asked him where he’d been. He came over to me, kissed me on the cheek and just expressed authentic appreciation that I had gotten up to go over to say hello…having missed him at our new favorite pizza place where we can sit for hours nursing a bottle of wine while eating some of the best pizza here. I was very touched.
As I drove home last night, I realized that I am continuing to see a change in the people who I meet here. I am continuing to see a nice sentiment coming off of the people I meet…or am acquainted with…as they see my consistency and respect for this country grow. I felt so proud to have experienced last night. I never felt out of place…or different from the people I was chatting with all night. (Of course it is difficult to ever make me feel out of place…me and my habit of always making myself at home…everywhere I go!) But I also sensed a commonality with these women…a shared drive. And we didn’t even get into details about our jobs or relationships or financial statuses. It was more of a sense of comfort that I felt come off of each of them. Maybe it was because I was easily speaking their language, or maybe it was the circumstances under which we met…super casual, no pretentiousness, nothing phony at all!
I am sure that I shocked them, not only with my Spanish, but also with my contentedness while living here. How we all seem to be able to enjoy an evening of red wine and good pizza among friends to chat with all night about politics and family and our dogs! I loved it!
Then today, after lunch, my waiter asked me where I was from… UGH! I guess I will just need to accept that as well…c’est la vie!