I’ve got to be honest – Things are going great right now. In fact, they’re not just going great, they’re fan-friggin’-tastic!
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that my daily tweets consist of quoting Almost Famous‘ infamous “It’s all happening!” whenever I get another piece of wonderful news regarding my plans for the new year. Of course, rather annoyingly, my “It’s all happening!”s are also pretty cryptic as I don’t want to announce any changes until everything’s set in stone.
On top of that, life in the UK after nearly six months is pretty good. I actually enjoy living with my parents, knowing that this’ll probably be the proper last time (as opposed to the last last time when I swore it would be the last time – Confused?); I get to see wonderful friends as often as I can; And I’ve got a temporary job that keeps me happy for now and helps pay the bills.
In spite of this, I have a constant nagging feeling that never seems to leave my mind. Every now and again, it hits my heart.
I miss Mexico. A lot. A lot a lot.
It’s not just a case of missing the excitement of being abroad, away from everything you grew up with and discovering a new culture. It’s more than that. Mexico changed me as a person, helped me grow up and discover more about myself.
On my first day of work in January last year, my boss said to me, “Mexico gets into your blood.”
It’s true. Sometimes I can’t believe I really left. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and it’ll be worth it in the long run. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to leave.
I’m not done with that beautiful country yet and – to ensure I don’t drive the people around me crazy with my Mexico This, Mexico That (It’s been so hard to suppress everything) – I’m channelling my pinings into this blog and present you with Seven Things I Really Miss About Mexico …
1. People Who Can Dance
Music is everything in Mexico. If you’re not actively listening to it on the radio, on your iPod, at a party, or at a bar, you’re hearing it drift through the air.
As a result, most people who grow up there gain a sense of rhythm from the moment they’re born. They feel the music and know how to move with it. They communicate so many emotions with their bodies and it’s truly infectious.
Watching Brits flap their arms while drunk at a family wedding or random couples rub up against each other in a dark club while tacky generic music plays is not the same.
I miss the passion and the beat of a salsa. I miss having a partner to dance with and being led around the dancefloor. I miss watching old couples put on their best suits and dresses and go dancing in the neighbourhood plazas on a Sunday. I miss men actually having the courage to ask me to dance with them without being three sheets to the wind. I miss the fact that my friend Eduardo was teaching me how to salsa and that I was really improving.
As many gigs as I’ve been to this summer, music just isn’t the same here.
“Weren’t you the girl who wrote about how she couldn’t get used to how much Mexicans stare?”
Um, yes. Yes I was. But I’m also the girl who wrote about how she unwittingly picked up that habit herself.
I never thought I’d be whinging about this but Brits really don’t like people who stare. Seriously. It’s weird. To quote Jacko, they think you wanna be startin’ something.
Every time I see someone that peaks my interest, I can’t help but get sucked back into old habits and just stare and stare and stare.
I’m not doing it because I have a problem and want a fight. And I’m certainly not doing it to be rude. Most of the time I’m looking because someone has caught my eye in an interesting way. It might be their hair style/colour, it might be what they’re wearing, it might be their presence, it could be a whole number of things. But it’s always in a positive way. I’m staring with genuine interest because there’s usually something I find pretty kickass about them.
But still, Brits don’t get it. They definitely don’t like it.
I miss the fact that you could go kind of blank faced in Mexico and stare for as long as you wanted without being judged. They got it.
I might not have actively attended formal lessons but my language skills were improving in amazing ways. My reading and listening skills were really strong by the time I left, and my broken attempts at forming spoken sentences were also steadily improving at a slow pace. (We won’t even go there with writing – I just can’t.)
I didn’t realise at the time how much hearing two languages side by side would have an impact on me. Now that I’m back in Britain, it feels like my brain’s been put on pause. Something in my head feels like it’s missing. In fact, it feels a little dull.
I don’t just miss hearing Spanish. I miss Mexican Spanish. I miss the sharp, edgy casualness of the D.F. accent. I miss the astonished looks and eventual sniggers from people when I’d curse in frustration in their mother tongue.
I miss feeling like I’m constantly learning and expanding my mind. There’s a lot to be said about being bilingual.
Soon I’ll be focusing on a new language in preparation for the new year. For now, my monolingual self will just have to be satisfied with non-stop screenings of my favourite Mexican films.
4. Beautiful Weather
Is this obvious? I feel like it’s obvious.
Of course I’m going to miss the weather: I used to live in Mexico and now I live in Britain. Boo.
That pretty much says it all.
5. Real Mexican Food
This picture makes me cry because I can’t be near the real thing.
The smell of corn tortillas wafting through the air is a given when you walk around Mexico City. Adding chilli to anything and everything is a must. Using your hands when you devour tacos and huaraches on street corners is the only way to enjoy your food.
The fact of the matter is that heading to a Tex-Mex restaurant in Cardiff isn’t the same.
I’m a food snob, okay? A burrito stuffed with veggie chilli, smothered in ‘hot’ sauce might be freakin’ delicious but it can’t beat the street or market food of Mexico.
No chilli powder is hot enough. Jalapeños are as good as it gets here and that’s pathetic. I want habineros. I want chipotles. I want picante.
Don’t care how. I want it now.
6. Mexican Time
I won’t lie and say it wasn’t infuriating at times when you’d been waiting over an hour for a friend to show up. Dear god, it was.
But the Mexican approach to time is a completely different ballgame to how it’s treated back here.
Most Brits are excellent time keepers. In fact, we always arrive ten minutes early. If you’re so much as two minutes late, you can bet whoever’s been waiting for you has already sighed, tutted and rolled their eyes at your carelessness.
In Mexico, running late because of a traffic jam or even because you didn’t start getting ready until five minutes after you were supposed to leave is a completely valid excuse.
Mexico is the land where the word ‘Ahorita’ rules all.
When will you do the dishes? Ahorita.
When will you arrive? Ahorita.
What time are we leaving? Ahorita.
Ahorita is the unknown time that could mean ‘now’ (unlikely), ‘later’ or ‘in a year when everyone’s forgotten.’
It’s the perfect word to sum up the easygoing, laid back attitude Mexicans have towards the little things in life that many of us overcomplicate and worry about.
In Mexico, things will be done when they’re done. No worries.
7. My life
As much as I can try to break down what I miss into bullet points, the truth of the matter is that I miss my life.
Mexico wasn’t just an experience abroad. It wasn’t a long-term holiday that I planned to get over and end one day.
It was the beginning of something.
I created a world, a real life, that I’d always been looking for. I found and surrounded myself with the most amazing people I’d ever met. I knew how to get around my city and had favourite places to go out dancing, drinking, eating, relaxing, studying, shopping. I had a job I was good at and enjoyed every day. I had long weekends to go and explore more of the country I started to call my home. I was beginning to understand new depths of the culture most people don’t come across unless they’ve lived there for at least a year. I felt safe and relaxed in a place that felt completely natural to be living in.
I’d never once experienced this in the 24 years I’d lived in Britain. Seventeen months of Mexico woke me up to the life I always wanted. I just hope it’ll welcome me back with open arms when I finally return one day. I hope it’ll forgive me for abandoning it.