Saturday, September 14, 2013

This week kind of did not go according to plan when my computer died in the middle of our morning math lesson and I lost all the lessons I had planned up until that point. It was annoying, to say the least, but at the same time the resources I have here are incomparable to my school in Cozumel. Going from having no printer, copy machine, books, curriculum, materials WHATSOVER means I know the situation can always be worse. I worried (and it's still early in the school year) about what the transition back to Mexico will be like for the next school year, but I think it's part of the experience, too; traveling, teaching in a new setting, being challenged and learning from it.

A little bit about Mexican schools since they've been in the news a lot lately.. and let me preface this by saying that as I'm figuring out where to begin on this I'm having one of those overwhelming moments where I think "This is real life?" I get these, regarding Mexico. I've spent a lot of time there and I'm well aware that Cozumel, being an island, for one, and being a main port for cruise ships in the Caribbean, has a different reality than you might find in other parts of the country. It's so isolated, in fact, that I've been almost nowhere else in Mexico except for Mexico City, when I went for Mono's graduation. I haven't even taken the ferry across to Playa del Carmen. On many occasions I'll read a news story or hear something from Mono's family or be complaining about low Mexican salaries (mine, specifically, because I'm selfish of course), and I'll have a mini Oh-my-goodness-this-is-not-all-tacos moment. Mexico is so close to the United States. Cozumel is the easiest place I've ever flown into. The plane lands and the passengers file down the stairs onto the tarmac as the sun beats down and palm trees droop lazily in the lack of breeze. After a long but painless wait in line for immigration, I bypass the crowd of tourist looking for their shuttles and Mono and I walk across the street for a three dollar and five minute taxi ride to the apartment. Nods at the iguanas, hair up in a ponytail as the heat presses in (bliss), and I'm home.

And in this time, I will huggle my little baby Manchas and try to get her to poo inconspicuously in the overgrown lot down the block. I'll go on bike rides and try not to break my arm (that happened too this past year, whoops). Happy hour. Morning coffee. Walks down the Malecón. I'll go and sunbathe on the lounge chairs of a beachside restaurant and almost certainly get sunburned but I won't care. It's all very simple and when I live there I complain about it being boring but it's very much apart from the poverty and violence and *differentness* that I at least abstractly know exist elsewhere in the country. I don't know how to identify with those things and so when I see glimpses of them I try to latch on because I think I should know, right? 

So much has changed in the past year. I emailed Nicole today about Thanksgiving plans and I realized that it was just a year ago I was in Munich. I don't even know how the time passed but at the same time that seems like another lifetime - not even another lifetime, but another life. While I was over there I bought some book called "Mexico: What You Need to Know." Something like that. I was not happy in Cozumel and felt far away from family and although I liked my job, I didn't like that my coworkers were all in other parts of the world. I didn't mind working Saudi Arabian hours and therefore overnights, but I think as I sat alone in a sleeping apartment, with sleeping neighbors (except when they partied aka often, but usually the volume waned a couple hours into my shift), I ended up feeling more and more isolated from Cozumeleña life. 

This story is going no where fast. Anyway so I bought this book thinking I needed to prepare myself for the worst and make sure that I could hack it. I remember I was concurrently reading three books at the time, the other one taking place in Medieval Germany, another a memoir of a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and the third Suze Orman's "Young, Fabulous, and Broke." Books are a window to the soul and the psychoses, are they not?

No where fast. 

I bought that Mexico book to figure out if I could hack it, and then a couple months later I was in Mexico City for Mono's graduation and on our last night there we watched a movie about wild animals in Africa or something and I cried partly because of the baby lion cubs but also because I didn't want to live in Mexico City and between the two it was all just a bit overwhelming. 
Not Manchas but a one-day future friend???

This is too long to start talking about Mexican schools now but I promise there is a point ("point"), and that in broad terms is the evolution of my realization and sometimes tearful acceptance of the fact that Mexico is in fact different. And while for a time I wasn't sure if I could be tough enough for it, now that I'm here I think. I probably. could.

And in those other moments I'll blame it on the lion cub.

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