It is eerily quiet here in Mexico City. It is the Saturday of Semana Santa, and everyone has left town. I just took a long walk this morning and the streets are all deserted. It is kind of nice, very peaceful. And peaceful isn’t a word one associates with DF very often. I went for coffee earlier with an Argentine friend of mine named Mariano. It is amazing to me how dissimilar sounding various forms of Spanish can be. There is a vast difference in vocabulary and usage between Mexicans, Spaniards and Argentines. I suppose this is also the case with English speaking countries, but the differences don’t seem as marked to me. Then again, there have been times when trying to decipher a Scotsman has been quite the challenge.Hay un silencio misterioso aquí en Ciudad de México. Hoy es sábado de Semana Santa, y toda la gente se fue. Acabo de caminar mucho y las calles están vacías. Es muy pacífico y agradable. Y pacífico no es una palabra muy usada para describir DF. Tomé café con un amigo argentino que se llama Mariano. Me sorprende como es tan diferente a mis oídos todas estas formas de Español. Hay una diferencia enorme en vocabulario y uso entre mexicanos, españoles y argentinos. Supongo que es el caso con el Ingles también, pero no me parece tanto. Sin embargo, ha habido veces cuando no pude entender a un escocés.
There is one major difference between ATMs in the US and Mexico. In the US, most machines force you to remove your card before you take your cash. Not so here in Mexico, which makes it sort of easy to walk away and leave your card in the machine as I did the other day. I am basically a prisoner in my own house for the next few days as I wait for a FedEx emergency replacement card from my bank to arrive. Sigh. Live and learn.Hay una diferencia mayor entre los cajeros de los E.E.U.U. y estos de México. En los E.E.U.U, la mayoría de los cajeros te obligan tomar tu tarjeta antes de tomar tu efectivo. Aquí no. Por eso es mucho mas fácil dejar tu tarjeta en la máquina, como lo hice el otro día. Más o menos ahora estoy prisionero en mi casa hasta que llegue mi nueva tarjeta. Así es la vida.
Pruebo un plugin para mostrar articulos en mas que una idoma. Aprieta el link de “english” para cambiar este articulo a ingles. Espero escribir mucho más en español en el futuro.I am testing a multi language plugin to see if I can display posts in more than one language. Click on the “español” tag above to see this post in Spanish. I hope to be writing a lot more bilingual posts in the future.
I sure as hell hope so. If you haven’t seen (or read) Obama’s speech on race (and care at all) click here. I found myself incredibly moved by the content of the speech (which I read beforehand) as well as its delivery. This was the first time in my political memory that someone stood up to declare that not everything can be reduced to a sound-bite, that issues such as race are complex. I have watched the political discourse in my country erode over the years to simple shouting matches with no real substance. I have watched the news media encourage this kind of simple blather. I have watched them avoid issues which didn’t reduce to neat mottos or phrases. I have watched this complete disservice to the American people in order to sell more scandal and acrimony. Obama took what could have been a crisis for his campaign and used it as a teaching moment, reaching out in a balanced and nuanced way to every American that has a stake, which is to say every American. His speech implored us to be honest with our feelings, and honest in searching for solutions. It appealed to the very best in all of us, and made me proud and humble at the same time. With every step forward such as this, I have a little more hope that we can move beyond the hatred and shouting matches and towards a politics of honest dialogue. This is why I support Obama.
One item I neglected to talk about during my road trip with Aranud, even though it was a main feature of each and every day, is the profusion of topes (speed bumps) on every road and in every area we visited.
Mexico is a country of speed bumps. Sometimes there are signs warning you of their existence, sometimes you just lose a muffler or bang your head into the roof. They come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes a single, sometimes a triple, sometimes a small mountain. Sometimes they are painted to warn you, sometimes they blend in to the road with greater camouflage than the best chameleon. Sometimes they are built by the government as part of the road system, sometimes built privately by people that want to slow you down for any number of reasons such as children in the area, the desire to slow traffic to allow them to exit their driveway more gracefully, or the possibility that you might see their shop and stop to buy something. They are not restricted to residential areas and may show up in the middle of a highway. To make things even more confusing, often there are “mini” speed bumps called vibradores in advance of larger speed bumps, toll booths or just because someone was feeling perverse enough to lay them down in your path. I assume all of this helps to reduce traffic fatalities, but it must exact a heavy national toll on auto repair.
Arnaud and I said our goodbyes yesterday at Cancun, and each boarded our respective planes for home. After a few delays I got back last night. Being that this is the beginning of Semana Santa, it seems like the whole world is partying. My good friend George is here visiting from LA with his boyfriend Mark, and although they invited me to a big dance party last night, all I really wanted to do after the last two weeks was stay put for a night. Today is a different matter. I am apparently going to a pool party. Hm, that doesn’t sound all that holy now does it?
Even though I am not really on “vacation”, I still find the end of a big trip a bit of an anticlimax. This is sort of inevitable when one has logistics to take care of, such as returning a car, getting to the airport, etc. Arnaud is taking a last walk on the beach but I can’t be in the sun anymore without burning, so I am updating the blog instead. It isn’t so bad, really. It is kind of like a disco party here in the internet cafe, what with them playing songs such as “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt” and “It’s Raining Men“.
That said, the last few days have exposed us a bit to the ugly underbelly of mass tourism. The beaches are truly beautiful here, but I have a hard time imagining spending two or more weeks on a package tour just burning in the sun, drinking too much and singing Jimmy Buffet songs. A couple of days is enough, and we had a good time, but I am ready to get back to Mexico City and reapply myself to learning Spanish.
Yes, that is Italian not Spanish. But somehow over the last day our so we have found ourselves to be on the Italian Riviera within the Mayan Riviera. The hotel we are staying in and the one next door are both overrun with Italians, owners and guests and restaurants. They seem to love the sun much more than I do, slathering on the olive oil and laying for many hours baking in it. And the restaurant next door, although serving excellent food, is run with all the capriciousness of a New York nightclub, especially when deciding which guests will be given the “honor” of being served.
Today is the last day of our “vacation”. It seems odd to call it that, at least for me, since I have more or less been without work for the past year and a half. I have nothing I need to vacation from, and so the project of relaxing and recharging in preparation for going back to a grueling work schedule is pretty meaningless. So for me it is the last day of our voyage.
…yet here I am in a goddamn hammock, at the edge of the Caribbean, drinking a cerveza and blogging away with a WiFi connection and a laptop. Now, if I only had gainful employment without having to move an inch, I would have it made.