A Little Dose of Positivity

8 Oct

ImageThis blog could use some positivity, as could I. To take some time to focus on the good things in my new environment. Because some days you might believe- and I might, too- that it’s all difficult and crappy. And it’s just not true. (And yes that rainbow is in our backyard.)

So I made a little list of things that make me feel like sunshine on a cloudy day. Number one on that list is my family here- my daughter, my partner, my awesome mother-in-law. But this is more of a cultural list, stuff that I like specifically about this place, not about the people around me.

Granted, the things that I love are mostly food-related. But I am, after all, that girl that prefers the kitchen above all other places in the house. “The kitchen is the heart of a home” said my friend Luis de Leon, and food is like glue that further binds people into loving friendships and family relationships. So I hope you enjoy my little rainbow list, and I’ll cook something for you if you come to visit!

Please not that my list is not in order of importance.

-Epazote… And you thought cilantro was exciting. Epazote is another fragrant and delicious herb that for some reason I could rarely find in Louisville. I especially recommend it for chilaquiles and for black beans. And while we’re on the subject, yerba santa (especially in black bean tamales) is pretty exquisite as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_auritum -go here for more yerba santa info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysphania_ambrosioides -go here for more epazote info.

-Chepiles… Looks like spinach, tastes like artichokes. Not like vinegar-soaked canned artichoke hearts- like artichoke leaves. If you’ve never had a whole artichoke, you need to immediately go buy one. Boil for 45-60 minutes. Melt some butter and squeeze the juice of a lemon- a real lemon. Add salt to the lemon juice. Take an artichoke leaf, dip the edge in either butter or lemon juice, then scrape off the meaty part, now dripping in butter, with your teeth. Repeat until you get to the heart, which is a seriously orgasmic example of a vegetable. Then you’ll have an idea what chepiles taste like. Here’s a chepiles tamal:

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-Tropical fruit…. including mango, pineapple, coconut, different kinds of banana, and much more are all close by, accessible, and fairly cheap (definitely cheap compared to Kentucky).

-Organic produce is cheaper than commercial pesticide-covered, genetically-modified shit…. Although it’s not labeled or anything, (and there’s no supermarket, either, but this will NOT be a complainy post), the ladies who sit on the ground in the plaza to sell produce are selling the stuff that they grow in their town, which is chemical-free, delicious, local, and cheap.

-The view of the river and the mountains from my window is gorgeous. Look! The picture doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea.

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-Almost everything is local business…. People put whatever business they feel like in the front part of their house. This is how many families make a living. So while in the cities you might have a supermarket or other big corporations, most businesses there and all businesses in towns are the businesses of the people who live there. I both love and hate the chaos and randomness of it, trying to figure out where to go to buy what we need. You might have to ask around and get sent to several different places before you find what you’re looking for- like a mosquito net we got to put around Lucia’s bed. You might have to go to a place 3 different times before you catch them open, like when we wanted to get a key made. You also might have 10 different places in the plaza that sell practically the same thing, which is just a little ridiculous. But at least it’s local. And in some ways, it’s more convenient- like you can count on there being all kinds of necessities (basic food products like tomato, hot peppers, rice, beans, eggs, etc.) right around the corner- most of the time.

-Loudspeaker announcements… okay I don’t actually love this but it does amuse the hell out of me. The local government has a loudspeaker that they put on top of a car and drive around making important announcements. Unfortunately, to my untrained ear (and Conan’s too), it mostly sounds like the parents on Charlie Brown. I hear something like “wha wha brr wha arrr importante…. Wha wha brr ig colonia 3 de mayo…. Wha wha pa arr 20 de septiembre ” The other day I caught  only the words “papanicolau” (pap smear) and “mamografia” (mammogram). But I have no idea when, where, or for whom. Oh, well.

-The products people sell via drive-by/walk-by…. First of all, there’s a bunch of fantastic street food- tamales, chiles rellenos, breads, sweets, etc.- that passes by our house every day. People walk by selling whatever it is that they’ve made (including fresh tortillas twice a day), which is unbelievably convenient when we need a snack or don’t have time to cook. And then there are the things that get sold via truck- the gas we use for the stove and the hot water heater, the big bottles of drinking water, pizza, mattresses, and more. We woke up our first morning in Mexico to a car driving by announcing “Atole! Atole!” (which is an oatmeal-based drink), and realized we were definitely in Mexico after all. Selling heavy stuff via truck is great because we (and many other folks) don’t have a car to go pick stuff up and bring it back. The downside is you have to be home and paying attention to get those things. The gas truck at least makes a weird moo-like sound, then plays some music, and announces “gas de Oaxaca”.  I refuse to buy pizza because the announcement/song is too irritating. But many things aren’t announced- you just have to watch for them, which is how we missed the water truck that has the water that tastes good for like 3 days in a row.

-Cheap(er) access to medical and dental care. What’s not to love about not stressing out about whether you can afford to go to the doctor or not?

-There’s not a lot of processed food (also a downside occasionally!).

-Breastfeeding wherever, whenever, with no dirty looks, rude comments, or even the bat of an eye…yep. I know, all you breastfeeding moms in the U.S. are jealous now.

-Street-life exists…. The town feels alive. There are always people walking to get places (and horses and cars, too). Big events happen outside, usually in the plaza. Houses are open. The environment is more public, open, not private, shut out.  

-Handmade, fresh tortillas every day…. Yes, I mentioned this in the products people sell via walk-by section. But it’s worth mentioning again. It’s pretty great.

-No lawnmowers- only machetes… First of all, people don’t have stupid lawns like they do in the U.S.  (and not a lot of grass that’s not eaten by cows and such anyway). But when there is excess grass you cut it with a machete. That’s right. No lawnmowers. No leaf-blowers (the bane of my existence/the epitome of US waste and laziness, in my humble opinion). None of that ridiculous noise and poor use of petroleum. And you can even hire someone to cut your grass. We had some insanely overgrown mess all around the back of the house and a guy cut it down for like 15 bucks (US).  I know, you wish you had a machete.

-No tornados…. That’s right, I can finally enjoy a storm in peace. No sirens. No National Weather Service beep beeps giving me panic attacks. It’s just a simple storm.

-Patriotism is reasonable and for a limited time only… Mexican independence is celebrated in September, and the whole month you’ll find flags everywhere, and other signs of patriotism. But then, it’s over. October 1 rolls around and all that blatant national pride disappears from view. Sure, people still love their country. But they’re not all up in your face about it, and they don’t go around insisting to everyone and their mom that they’re country is better than everyone else’s. It’s patriotism I can respect. Fancy that. 

….I’m sure there are other aspects of life here that I appreciate and enjoy that haven’t occurred to me in time for this post, so I’ll keep you updated, and try to keep busting out these little rays of sunshine from time to time. Since we’re almost out of the rainy season, and I’ve been here over two months now, I’m sure sharing the positivity will get easier. Stay tuned! 

2 Responses to “A Little Dose of Positivity”

  1. blueskywoman October 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    This was a delightful post…I’m so glad you’re finding rainbows…they can be so damned elusive at times, can’t they? It’s a total life-adjustment…and frankly? Losing the leaf blowers and lawn mowers is a HUGE, GINORMOUS plus (I was IM’ing your mom tonight while my neighbor was mowing the sidewalk. Really.).

    Looking forward to reading more of your adventure…

    Hug,

    Kirsty

  2. Tabitha Sprigler October 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I’m definitely jealous of the abundance of fruit and lack of tornados among other things. xo

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