Wednesday, 27 April 2016

O' Canada


The best place is the in air, between countries!  I am Canadian, and my family lives there, so it is therefore, 'Home'?  I live in Mexico, have an 'adoptive' family here, and many, many, many, wonderful friends here, so is this 'home'?  Thus, the airplane is a good place to be; between countries.

We are headed to Canada in about a week's time.  I am living in a state of tension.  You see, I am the kind of person who, when living abroad, makes that place her home.  I commit to relationships, I make friends, and adopt family.  As a friend at the gym said to me this morning, you plant roots.  Yes, and right now, with the thought of leaving, I feel like I am being uprooted.  You see, I love these people.

That said, I have not seen my parents for like two and a half years!  I had the blessing of my kiddos coming twice for a couple of weeks, my brothers and their wives also came of a week, plus Ernie's brother came for a couple of days.  So, returning 'home' has its draw.  To be able to (what word says what I want to say?) 'convivir', which translated means 'live with'.

Ernie has been back to Steinbach twice during these past 2 1/2 years, each time for a week or less.  That is such a short time so you don't really get to 'convivir', but rather just pass through. Going back for 3 months will be a blessings.  To live with our family and friends, to re-establish relationships, to bond.  To hang out with our kids.  It will be a priceless gift.

Each end has its joy and sadness.  The heartfelt goodbyes at this end, the joyful hugs and hello's at that end. Then reversing that, and experiencing those heartfelt goodbye's there, and the reunited hello's here.  Now you know why the airplane feels neutral, and seems like it's the best place to be?  Your heart gets torn repeatedly.  But it is not so terrible that I am not willing to go through it!  It means you love deep and have some wonderful relationships - which I do.

So, we will take this next week to enjoy our 'despedidas' with our friends.  We will laugh and feel our hearts tear just a little.  We will turn our house over to the care of our intern, Jessy, pack up and anticipate the joyous hugs at the other end.

Let me encourage you to love deeply.  Each relationship has with it the possibility of pain. But love deeply.  Each relationship has with it the possibility of great joy, of blessings beyond measure, or memories beyond compare.  So love deeply, my friends.  With technology you can be apart and still be a part of.  Love deeply.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

From the Other's Point of View


As tends to happen at the gym, a bunch of ladies from my favourite classes were chatting while waiting for our class to start.  The classes that this bunch of women faithfully attend are intense classes.  My personal favourite is Tono Muscular (muscle toning) and the other Danzika, aerobics mixed with dance. The funny thing is that neither class has a Mexican as the teacher, but rather Columbians.  

The discussion was begun by my friends, and I was listening, as they were discussing Mexicans.  It was said, by someone who will remain nameless, that Mexicans like thing 'easy', they don't want to think.  I would not give such an opinion, even if I had thought it - not that I have.  The interesting thing is that the ladies agreed! They went on to say that that was the reason it took so long for Danzika to take off in Mexico - it's hard.  One of the women, who just happens to be very much like me 😩😄, said that that is why she refused to give up.

I don't want to actually talk about whether Mexicans like things to be easy or not, but rather the idea of evaluating a criticism of your own culture, of being able to recognize the truth in a comment that paints them in a negative light.  

Now we probably have stereotypes for many cultures, Mexicans are often thought of as lazy, Columbians are all drug lords, Nicaraguans are communists, Americans are arrogant, Russians are communists, ready to bomb the world, Canadians are....? etc. etc.

That is what I am wondering about.  What do people think of me, as a Canadian?  I see lots of meme's on Facebook about us always saying sorry, of being overly nice, etc.  I shockingly heard here that Canadians are thought of as stupid.  Why? Well, the McKenzie Brothers sure didn't help our image, and a few other T.V. shows also portray us as stupid.  

Well, just like Trump has now portrayed ALL Mexicans as terrible people, I don't think any culture is all bad.  I certainly don't think ALL Canadians are nice and polite, nor do I think we are stupid, nor are any of the other above mentioned cultures all like their stereotype.  However, can I listen to what people say about my culture and be open minded?  Can I recognize my own culture's weaknesses, and identify whether I personally possess that trait, and whether I should look at changing it?  

What I do know is that I am not perfect, not are my Mexican friends, so we make a good team! Together we try to make each other better people.  One must always be willing to evaluate oneself and one's culture.  Growth and change are good. 






Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Loud Music and Talking


I love listening to Mariachi! Especially a really good one. Yes they do have some that are less than stellar.  But, as you can see from the photo, they come with many instruments, one, or more of which is a trumpet!  It makes for a very loud event.

At many a Mexican birthday party there is a Mariachi, at the very least music is present in some form.  And it is LOUD!  I have never heard a quiet Mariachi, or actually been at a quiet party.

Now, like I said, I love Mariachi and I love Spanish music.  As a matter of fact, one thing about Mariachi, and music here, is that everybody knows the songs!  A good Mariachi has all the classic songs memorized and is at the ready to preform.  They go from table to table and ask the guests what they want to hear.  It is quite amazing.  But not only the Mariachi know all those songs, the guests do as well.  Everybody joins in and sings with them.  I have a few that I like and can now sing a line or two.

But, alas, I digress. My point was that while I like their music, and love to be entertained by a good Mariachi, I find it ever so hard to have to visit on top of the loud music.  Inevitably I have the trumpet right behind me!  However, they could be across the room and it would be loud.  So, there I sit, and try to talk to the person next to me...emphasis on try!  I may be getting hard of hearing in my old age! Hearing aids probably would not help as they would just amplify the music!!

But this is the norm at almost all social gatherings, loud music.  An event can be as simple as a couple of families or some friends getting together for supper, someone would inevitably put music on.  I think they would find an average Canadian event rather quiet which equals not 'alegre'.
As it is said:


Here is a video a friend sent to Ernie so he would miss Mexico while he is gone this next week.  It's a well known song, done beautifully around the world.  Enjoy.

La Bamba:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlm-TIhddZY



Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Late or not Late, that is the question...

"Doc"  - Hector
On Saturday we were invited to our friend, Hector's, (also lovingly referred to as 'Doc' or 'Ochoa") birthday party.  It was held at his weekend place in Ajijic, about an hour's drive from GDL.  Friends, who were also going, asked if we wished to just go along with them, which we said yes to.  Wherein lies the rub...

We arrived well after it had begun. We got a phone call before we were even out of the city, asking where we were.  For, you see, we are known to be early, or right on time.  Thus the question began to circulate as to where we were.  Yet, by Mexican standards, one is NEVER late! So, were we late or not?

I felt late.  Ernie tried not to feel late because we went with friends (who I might add are not usually late for things).  They, most likely, would not have felt late, aside from the fact that many made a huge thing out of the Koop's being late.  It was interesting to experience.

You see, here is what I am been pondering; is time a core issue or a flex issue? Mexico has been notorious as a culture of 'mañana'.  They are known as a people who are not very time conscious, arrive late for everything, and overall don't consider time important.

While those from the Western world are known as extremely time conscious; almost a holy grail.  We run our worlds by the clock.  We punch clocks.  We set appointments and show up to them on time.  We live in a hurry hurry world of rushing from one event to another.

To personalize this somewhat, I was raised to be time conscious.  My mother said her father used to say, "if you were always late you would be late for the rapture."  Covertly said things like that, and our culture's subliminal messages regarding time,  getting marked late, one learns to be on time.  I, being somewhat Type A, found this easy to embrace and was always punctual, as was my husband.  Fifteen minutes early was 'on time', arriving at the given hour was 'late'.

Thus you can imagine we need to constantly adapt to this loose idea of time.  Constantly needing to remind ourselves that if we are invited for 8, best to only leave the house at that hour, not arrive at that hour.  But we are often one of the first to arrive.

I would say that time is solidly in our core and not in our flex.  I feel like I am losing my 'self' if I am late.  I have found that it is harder to adjust than one would think.  I think the shift is required in order to not live in frustration.  However, as noticed by the above story, time may not be as solidly in the Mexican's core either.  I have noticed a much more clear time consciousness amongst the middle class, or the city folks, over the rural mentality.

So I continue to battle this issue.  It was not the first time I have encountered it.  I have heard my friends speak ill of a person for always being late, or mocking someone for showing up late. I have been part of discussions where they have referred to those who are always late as being rude and inconsiderate.  On the flip side, I have heard the saying, "Tarde, pero sin sueño.'  {Late, but not tired}

So, what do I do when I arrive 'late', and feel somewhat out of sorts because of it?  I put on my game face and try not to lose the joy of the event. Because, in the end, its about people and relationships.
Porfirio and Ernie
Ernie, Claudia and Carmen 
kneeling: Gaby, left of her, Karla, me, Tere, Turning away, Betty, Carmen and Martha