Some of my observations and revelations about Mexico after being here a month:
**Mexican men never, ever wear shorts, not even when it’s 35 degrees C. Shorts are for little boys and futbol players.
**Many Mexicans seem to LIKE yapping, yelping, barking dogs that go on and on and on.
**Mexicans still have the most amazing artisans, doing old traditional skills, sometimes on the side of the road. This man canes chairs on the corner of the Carretera; across the street from him another man makes plastic baskets on a box loom. Others make beautiful wooden furniture, or elaborate beadwork.
**Real life in Mexico goes on behind all those walls and gates. As Alan Riding wrote in his book Distant Neighbors: “The high walls that surround most Mexican homes, including frequently those of the poor, serve as both real and symbolic frontiers of security and authority.” Architecturally, these walled barriers and flat facades reveal little of what might be beyond; once inside those walls, an enveloping calm, perhaps with garden and fountains, may greet the resident or visitor. Outside is hot, chaos and noise; inside is cool, peaceful and gentle. Cats live here, not dogs–or rather, cats stay inside the walls to escape the dogs that roam the streets.
**Life in Mexico does move at a different pace, but it isn’t necessarily a quiet or serene one. Perhaps because we have been living here next to a construction site, my sense is that the Mexicans work hard, often doing manual labor without machines, from dawn to dusk without interruption; then at night, quite often, they party with lots of music. Mexico is a noisy place.
**Mexicans are overwhelmingly cordial, polite, and non-confrontational. Even in their chaotic traffic, manners are observed. I can’t imagine incidents of road rage here, even if there is a small bang up. We haven’t seen a bang up, small or large. That seems odd, considering the seemingly informal approach to sharing the road. We have had nothing but positive interactions with everyone we have met, and they are more than patient with our attempts to speak Spanish.
**Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe appear everywhere, and in every conceivable medium. For those of us familiar with the Virgen in California Chicano imagery, the ones we have seen here are more reverent, not–understandably- as defiantly a statement of Mexican identity and solidarity with the causes of La Raza. For those who don’t know the story of this beloved image (I must admit that even I, a non-Catholic, carry around a Virgen image!), Wikipedia gives a good synopsis of Her significance:
I’m sure I’ll have more observations in the next few days, but I just wanted to get these down. And I did include another image of cats!