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Life’s Little Frustrations

Happy Halloween!

A very Happy Halloween to all those here in the US this evening! Today marks our official re-entry into Normal Life 2.0, as we arrived this evening back to Arlington, Virginia after 2 years and 3 months living in Mexico City. We’ve been on a 2700+ mile road trip starting in Denver, Colorado on October 14, had the chance to see lots of lovely friends & family along the way, met lots of precious new babies/toddlers, and suffered only one car accident– luckily no injuries to anyone except my pretty blue Nissan Altima that my suegra had kept in fantastic shape while we were away. I think the Altima may be regretting his change in ownership… :)

Some dude turning left in front of me at the last minute in an intersection was a most unpleasant turn of events as we arrived into Chicago.

But you may really be wondering, “Julie, how did you know that you were no longer in Mexico?” I know, I know… it can be tricky to differentiate, but here are a few of the signs:

1) We had to pump our own gas AND wash our own windshield.

This was novel... for like 30 seconds. How can it be that having someone else pump your gas went out of vogue in the US??

2. We got to stand next to someone taller than we are, who also has blonde hair.

Cousin Kami & her darling 4-month-old twins, Lucy & Sam.

3. We were pressured by family members to wear Uncle Sam & Betsy Ross hairpieces/hats.

This was part of our re-indoctrination process, courtesy Uncle Ken & Aunt Kathy

4. We began seeing a lot of mashed potatoes & gravy and fried chicken. Not to mention corn off the cob that lacked a layer of mayo/cheese/lime juice/chile powder slathered atop it.

Obesity problem in America?? What could you possibly be referring to?

5. Cheladas are no longer made by thoughtful bartenders; they are sold in cans in the supermarket.

I was skeptical of this incarnation of the chelada.

6. The frequency of deer-based cured meat products for sale was markedly increased. Frankly, as was the sale of non-spicy sausage products in general.

John demos how the deer in question might have looked prior to death. Additional bonus of cheese curds in the lower right. Thank you, Wisconsin.

7. Speaking of deer, we saw a dead one riding home to dinner strapped atop someone’s SUV.

This is how middle America does "para llevar". ("to go")

In summary, we’re pretty sure we are back in the States, and now begins a couple weeks of intense home improvements to our townhouse here in Arlington. After two years of renting, there is plenty of work to be done– but we received a positive sign regarding our impending home repairs at the Chinese restaurant we stopped by tonight:

My fortune cookie promised us that "You will have no problems in your home." We're also counting on the "tasty fruit" promised in John's fortune cookie after we kill ourselves painting every wall in the place.

Lest you think that I’ve already forgotten the name of this blog, today’s touch of Mexico comes courtesy of my parents back in Nebraska. My Mom passed along the below photo of my Dad, who pulled a full coordinated outfit together for handing out Halloween candy this evening. I can’t wait to hear how it went. :)

El Matematico de Nebraska could easily compete with any professional luchador with this costume, accompanied by the giant rat that is actually a basket for candy. Well done, Larry!!!

Although my favorite part is how his eyes look slightly crazed, I would like to point out that that is due to the unevenly-sized eye holes of the lucha mask, and not because my Dad actually has uneven eyes. Honest. Larry’s eyes could serve as a level for hanging picture frames; that is just how even his eyes are.

Thanks to all for your well-wishes, and more Mexico anecdotes to continue after we get settled in!

Subtle Messages…

We fly out of Mexico City bright and early tomorrow. As sad as we are to leave, I do feel we’ve been getting small, subtle signals from Mexico that our time here is meant to come to an end.

1) We got rear-ended last Thursday, 3 days after having $6000 pesos of car work done to fix up the Maxima from all the ills and suffering of driving in Mexico. We were stopped trying to merge off one major road onto another, as was the car behind us, and someone flew up & slammed into that car which then hit us. The best part was, John didn’t even stop. We just kept on going; it just wasn’t worth talking about it. :)

John mockingly offers the Mexican "thanks" gesture in the area of our bumper where we now have an imprint of a stranger's license plate. Luckily that was the only very minor damage we had. :)

2) The closest I got to seeing the much-heralded Michael Phelps at the Festival Olímpico Bicentenario was in these photos for sale on the street.  (But I did read a great quote from another Mexican athlete that it would have been much cheaper for the Mexican government to have hired some strippers to take their shirts off & entertain the crowd instead of Phelps doing the same for roughly 2 hours @ a price of $100,000.)

This was unsatisfying.

3) I unintentionally viewed several middle-age men prancing around wearing what seemed to be baggy leather boy-shorts. To be clear, men who shouldn’t have been wearing leather boy-shorts.

This image is seared into my mind forever. What sport was this anyway?

4) While on our hotel’s 16th-floor lounge/roof deck, we discovered we could still hear an organ grinder on the street level of Zona Rosa. For those who haven’t heard this sound, remove all preconceptions of “precious, old-timey music makers” from your mind. These sound like dying cats.

Stop. Please. Just stop. Learn a real instrument. Or consider having that one tuned. But in the interim, just stop.

5) A bird with serious gastric distress unloaded on our car while it was parked on the street near our hotel. Really, I’m no vet, but this bird *probably* needs some sort of medical care. ASAP.

You know it's bad when you drive around Mexico City for a day & no one volunteers to wash your windshield at a traffic light.

6) I saw an advertisement for food in the subway that almost made me want to throw up a little bit in my mouth. Just because your product has a new image doesn’t make me want to eat your Sphinx-shaped potato substitute.

What is happening here, exactly?

7) And last but not least, I was nearly attacked by a massive owl. I think he felt threatened by me.

This was a narrow miss.

It brought back terrifying memories of that time John was almost eaten by a lizard. I believe this owl attack may have been brought on by me mocking his family earlier this week.

I dropped & broke my camera that could actually take decent night photos, so you will just have to live with this vague image of me using my sweater to simulate owl-wings in front of this horrific movie poster.

All these signs combined make me think it is probably time to go, for now at least.

I’ve been considering continuing with this blog for a few more months, at least while I get through the backload of hundreds of photos I’ve snapped, trips we’ve taken, tasty restaurants we’ve discovered, hot Mexico tips we’ve learned, etc. There are still a variety of posts I’ve been meaning to get around to (Yucatan/Quinanta Roo trip, Huatulco trip, Baja California Sur trip, how to become a luchador, my friends’ witty anecdotes of dating in Mexico, where the mother lode of guayaberas can be found in the Centro, Bicentenario photos, etc.).

So, if y’all still have any interest, I may try to keep doing the occasional post until I run out of Mexico experiences to discuss. :)  And I promise to largely avoid the topic of our impending dull, American lives back in Washington D.C. unless something happens that is super-hilarious or Mexico-relevant. What do you think?  (And don’t worry; I won’t be offended if you tell me, “Julie, you just posted a photo of bird-doo on your car windshield… maybe it’s time to close-up shop.”) 😉

He’s all mime, ladies

Once upon a time, John had a great idea. We could tell by the light above his head.

The Idea Man

You might be wondering, was his idea to buy a pug?

Prop Pug courtesy Burro Hall Enterprises, Ltd.

Well, that is a constant idea in his mind… But this time, his idea was to infiltrate a clown/mime convention happening in Coyoacan this weekend.

You can imagine his displeasure when right as he discovered the entrance, he got trapped in a box.

Sign reads: "Clowns - Mimes --> Entrance"

It was pretty ironic.

Life in a hospital for 7 days: not as glamorous as Grey’s Anatomy depicts

As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve been back from Mexico in Nebraska for the last week. Unfortunately it hasn’t just been all fun and games of monitoring crime in Omaha (though God knows it’s not for lack of news).

I’ve spent the several days at the University of Nebraska Medical Center here in Omaha, hanging out with my mom, Marcia. Marcia’s had a rough week, to say the least. After a couple months of having weird fevers/pneumonia/pains in her chest/zillions of tests, she came to UNMC for a biopsy to suss out what was going on with some suspicious lymph nodes in her chest. Just doing this biopsy involved collapsing one of her lungs, so it was no small task.

This lovely array of flowers & friendly animals certainly helped to speed Mom along the road to recovery!

To make a long story short, it turns out she has stage 3 squamous cell lung cancer. This was not the news we were hoping for, particularly since she has never smoked a cigarette in her life (p.s. God: not fair). But we are ready to wrestle it into submission!! And we are feeling optimistic– during the biopsy/surgery, they hacked out all of the evil cancery-bits that they observed. Of course, this included the two lower lobes of her right lung, some lymph nodes, and a little of the exterior of her esophagus… But like I have always said, two whole lungs are just taking up excess space that could better be used for storing things like jello. Or tapioca pudding (her current favorite item on the glamorous hospital food room service menu).

The doctors indicated the final margins were all clear, meaning that all the visible cancerous areas are gone. The top remaining concern is whether there are any additional evil secret lymph nodes lurking around. So, the current thought process is some chemo/radiation action for around 3-4 months. Luckily Mom should be able to do this back in our hometown of Grand Island, which will be a lot more convenient than driving the 2.5 hours to Omaha on a regular basis. She’ll wait another 3-4 weeks to start, however, because they want her to be healed up & strengthened from the super-invasive surgery as much as possible. She’s making great progress– down to one chest drainage tube & no IVs as of today!

Needless to say, we’ve been looking for humor wherever we can while hanging around the hospital. Here are my personal favorites thus far:

I saw this sign the day I arrived. I don't know exactly what happens at this event, but I am ok with not being invited.

Given my previous post, I was relieved to see that guns are *not allowed* in the hospital.

I have also been excited about the chance to work on my medical Spanish. (I brought my Dad to the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit in Mexico City the other week, where only upon arriving did it strike me how I should have reviewed body part names in Spanish before attending...)

I brought a wee Frida Kahlo mirror as a gift for mom, largely because it was one of the few gift-like things I had lying around the house when I decided to fly back to Nebraska the next morning. :)

The Frida mirror has come in handy as a tool for Mom to visually stalk her telemetry monitor, which the nurses turned away to try & get her to stop obsessing over the stats. (typical math teacher)

We were quite jealous of Mom's elegant meal options. She simply *insists* on sparkling laxatives, never still.

We have been pleasantly surprised by the tasty ethnic dining options around UNMC in Omaha-- Mother India and Gerda's German Restaurant were both awesome. I saw this Aug-toberfest announcement @ Gerda's and had to laugh at the 6:45-7:15PM timeline for dinner shown on the flyer. 30 minutes for dinner?? That would *NEVER* fly in Mexico!! :)

Also falling into the "panicked last-minute gift" category was this ear-of-corn thong. The corn thong seemed like an appropriate solution for Nebraskans, and a good way to spice things up once Mom & Dad get back home. 😉 My mother & I have been having an ongoing battle of me putting it on display & her hiding it from visiting surgeons each day.

I finally convinced my dad to model the corn thong, but he decided to go with a "Uni-corn" look... My mom had to hide her face in shame behind her new heart pillow. :)

Probably the scariest part of the week was when an elderly female clown stopped by. Luckily, Mom feigned sleep so the clown didn't stay to chat. She just dropped off this sticker instead. I felt like the clown might have missed the memo on which floor was pediatrics...

Marcia is hoping to escape the hospital this Saturday if she can get rid of this chest tube tomorrow.  If any readers are so inspired– any cards, witty commentary, and/or photos of cute dogs (Mom’s favorite) are welcomed & appreciated!! (Let me know if you need an address!) Mom will have a challenging few months ahead, but we have total confidence that she will get through it with the support of all our amazing friends & family.  Thanks to everyone for all thoughts & prayers sent our way. For more info or to leave a message for Marcia directly, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marciacarmann.


My husband protects me from screaming, naked girls

Today marks the 5th full day of our Yucatan Peninsula vacation, and we’re currently in beautiful Tulum on the east cost of Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Isla Holbox & Valladolid were great; more to come!) We’re staying in a house (Casa de las Olas) on the very south bit of Tulum’s beachfront, literally the last property before the Sian Ka’an bioreserve & right below Rancho San Eric shown on this map.

We have a lovely 2nd floor vista of the beach & ocean, with a balcony whose doors we leave open in hopes of luring any nearby breezes into our non-air-conditioned eco-room. Being good little temporary eco-hippies, we went to bed fairly early last night with hopes of being lulled to sleep by nothing but waves crashing against the beach.

A shot of palm trees, beach and ocean from our balcony at Casa de las Olas

Instead, our attempted slumber was interrupted by screams of increasing volume from the beach. No, it wasn’t what some of you Mexico skeptics out there may be thinking–  these were not screams of narco violence. Rather, these were screams of moron college girls prancing around naked in the surf at midnight.

We both ignored it in silence for a bit. I can understand that when you’re running around in the ocean, drunk and nude, there may be the occasion for a scream every now and then. But it quickly reached the point where I began to wonder if these girls had encountered a new nesting grounds for poisonous jellyfish, or if all of Tulum’s fishermen had suddenly arrived on the scene & had begun to vigorously tickle these twits en masse. Right in front of our window. Ok, I thought silently. That’s enough.

Apparently John sensed my “¿¿en serio??” vibe, as he got up from the bed right about then. “Idiots. They’re probably out there skinny-dipping,” he grumbled.

“Oh, they definitely are,” I informed him. “Didn’t you hear the one shout ‘OMG, are you naked?!?! tee hee hee!'”

John began to glance around the darkened room. “Where’s your camera?” I pointed him towards the camera lying impotently on the side table, with its battery tucked into the charger & rudely suckling away at the house’s limited solar energy reserve…  He reassembled the camera, and headed for the balcony.

“This should take care of things pretty quickly,” he said confidently.

He stood at the edge of our terraza, which as you can sort of see from the photo above, is set back a ways from the actual ocean behind the beach, a few palm trees and the roof of the suite on the 1st floor. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to take a photo of someone in the ocean, much less at night. This much is clear to you and I and John. But for all those girls knew, John was a professional journalist with a telephoto lens. 😉

He began snapping photos with as bright of a flash as our little Canon point-and-shoot could muster. The palm trees lit up brilliantly with each click. It took a couple pictures, but suddenly the girls erupted in a flurry of new screeches of actual concern.

“Someone’s up there taking photos of us!!!!” one yelped. “Aaaaaaaaahhh!!!!” shouted another. Most of their other words of wisdom were conveniently blurred by the sounds of the ocean.

The naked beach party quickly began to shift its location, in so taking with it the high-pitched shrills of tipsy coeds. Who knows where it went, but it was no longer directly in front of our peaceful balcony.

I sat on the bed giggling as John finished his photo shoot and returned to bed. “That was easy. But if they come back, I’m going down to the beach with a camera AND a flashlight.”

“Of course you are honey.”

This was the best photo from "The Night the Drunk Coeds Confused Tulum with Señor Frogs in Cancun"... (and this was only *after* I used Picasa's "I'm Feeling Lucky" photo editing feature, where it magically shows you the photo you meant to take if you were a master of the time-space-camera continuum). :)

John may not having a glowing future as a paparazzi, but if I’ve learned nothing else, it is that he will always be happy to intercede between me and annoying, drunk, naked, screaming girls. :)

Moments when I question my choice of Mexico City spa service providers

It hit me last month that our time in Mexico is quickly coming to a close, causing me to spring into action on a topic that I’d been mulling over for the last year and a half: laser hair removal. (It’s ok, boys, you can stop reading now & I won’t be offended.)

With an eye towards taking advantage of Mexico/US pricing differentials, I figured hitting a spa around here was at least worth a shot. The cost for a package of ten laser treatments here appeared to be in the same ballpark as one laser treatment on the East Coast, which appealed to my midwestern value-oriented mindset. I also assessed the situation based on what is now my most commonly-used phrase in Mexico: What Could Go Wrong? (*see footnote)

The “What Could Go Wrong” analysis led me to select only two areas for laser treatment: underarms (axilas) and bikini line (bikini). You will note that both of these areas (on me at least) are rarely exposed to the public (but when they are, they shouldn’t be furry). This ensured I would not be subject to daily awkward stares at some horrible blotchy laser explosion scar on my calf. I don’t even know if that can happen with lasers, but this scenario was nonetheless factored into my What Could Go Wrong vision. (I get enough daily awkward staring that I don’t need to offer up any more ammo.)

I opted for a spa in Polanco based on the recommendation of an Embassy associate + the fact that it was within walking distance– key for maintaining my motivation to go. My first visit, near the end of March, was fairly uneventful, mainly because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I did discover that my 4th-grader-Spanish left something to be desired when it came to chatting about a high-wattage laser zapping my body. But I suppose that’s to be expected, given the number of 4th graders who have the need to discuss hair removal, period, much less using a laser. :)

After my two visits, I’ve identified the following questions/observations that are confusing to me as a photoepilation novice. Perhaps there are savvier ladies in my reading audience who can shed some light/comment on any of the following:

  1. The doors to the spa rooms where the laser treatments are done have big signs indicating “WEAR EYE PROTECTION!”  I, the client, was given eye protection in the form of some hippie-colored plastic glasses. However, my practitioner DID NOT WEAR ANY EYE PROTECTION. She instead opted to just CLOSE HER EYES each time she clicked the laser gun.  WTF???  I mean, I didn’t take a *lot* of laser-related classes in engineering school, but I am pretty sure that our micro-thin eyelids are not sufficient for blocking out intense bursts of laser light….right?
  2. When I called, they asked for my name. When I got in the treatment room, they asked for my name. When I was ready to leave, they again asked for my name. Finally it became evident that they had no record of me in their magical computer system, despite my prior lump-sum payment. Tricky data entry! (Though to their credit, they actually let me leave after just writing my name down, promising they would search later for my account details. Recognition: one of the benefits of being a 6’2 guera in DF.)
  3. When I left my first appointment, the lady informed me that I should shave my underarms a few hours after I got home. Looking at multiple websites, I gathered that one should not shave for a few *days* after the treatment. Which is it, and why does it matter?
  4. Today I tried to explain to her that it didn’t seem like much of the lasered hair had fallen out, as she had told me it would. We had an awkward discussion in Spanish which follows:
  • Me: Uh, so it didn’t seem like any of these underarm hairs fell out like you said.
  • Her: Let me look.
  • starts lasering away–
  • Me: Uh, so do you know why it didn’t work?
  • Her:  Leriwhelh Hdlisehr weroj joiehQ ELHIoppz. It will take 10 sessions for it to work.
  • Me: Huh, you told me 3-4 sessions last time because of my magic skin/hair color combo.
  • Her: Well you will see progress in 3-4 sessions.
  • Me: okaaayyyy… totally not what you said last time.
  • Her: How many times did you shave under your arms since last time?
  • Me: How many? Well several, I don’t know exactly…
  • Her: Ohhh… see, what you are doing is stimulating the hair to grow. Each time you shave the hair grows more. You won’t see any results if you do that. You cannot shave more than 2 times during the month between appointments.
    • Note: I perceive this line of reasoning to be faulty, according to much-respected myth-busting website snopes.com. Review their comments here.
  • Me: Uhhh… but isn’t the laser killing the hairs? Why would it matter how many times I shave? If new hairs grow, won’t they just get killed by the laser?
  • Her: [indecipherable] You can’t shave more than twice or it won’t work.
  • Me: I don’t understand. Isn’t this killing the hairs? After 10 sessions won’t most of the hairs be dead? Why am I here?
  • Her: [sighs with frustration]
  • Me: [decides to stop asking questions & ask the innerwebs later, and instead lie there wondering how many years it will take for the practioner’s retinas to burn to a crisp]

In summary, I am increasingly unclear whether either this woman has no actual training in laser hair removal, or she knows facts about laser hair removal unknown by any other website. Any laser aficionados out there who would like to shed any light on do’s/don’ts of this process, your wisdom is welcomed. :) In the interim, I will continue slogging through as many of my remaining 8 visits as I can before we depart, each time bringing a new set of sciencey questions to further frustrate her.

* Copyright 2010, Julie’s Measures for Assessing Activities in Mexico. All Rights Reserved.

Now included on Mexicana flights: free Scandinavian escort!

My recent blogging delinquency has stemmed from our recent vacation to Baja California Sur over Semana Santa (Holy Week) here in Mexico. As you can look forward to hearing about in painful detail in a subsequent blog post, we had a VERY BAD experience with AeroMexico trying to get from Mexico City to La Paz.  AeroMexico had been enjoying a honeymoon period as “my new favorite airline”.  Unfortunately, its rotten lying employees & willingness to let teen girls board an aircraft even after throwing up on the carpet 5 feet outside the airplane ramp entry point has sent Aeromexico plummeting to the bottom of my list. (well, let’s be honest: at least until it has the cheapest price for somewhere I need to go)

Long story short, I have begun to pay closer attention to AeroMexico’s top rival, Mexicana, including the 20 emails Mexicana sends me each week touting their hot deals. For whatever reason, the promotional email I received today seemed particularly noteworthy.  Maybe it’s because of the Marketing class I am currently taking in my MBA program, where we recently discussed how certain advertisements use different tactics to sell a product. Let’s just say, airline tickets seem to be the last thing on one’s mind when you look at this ad:

Sex sells, anyone?

A few follow up questions:

  • Does that guy live in Mexico? Because I haven’t seen him.
  • Or is the point supposed to be that you will meet that guy if you fly to Canada? Because seriously… (Am resisting making a snide Canada-joke here, in the event that I have unknown Canadian readers.)
  • Am I just having trouble with depth perception, or is that a 3rd person’s arm grabbing the edge of the tub on the right?
  • These people haven’t even OPENED their bottle of wine. How realistic is that?
  • That “from $218 USD” price clearly only reflects flights between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo. Because I have never seen a flight that cheap from Mexico to the US.
  • Not to be redundant, but again, are they implying that guy will fly with you from Mexico to some international destination? Because either he doesn’t live here, or someone needs to tell me which colonia he resides in within Mexico City so I can alert my single friends.

Soon to come!! Tales of the good part of our Semana Santa trip– Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz. Note to self: the beaches of La Paz are a must do. Book your flights now! (on Mexicana)

Missed business opportunities…

While in Madrid, I discovered that the niche tall-people shop I was planning to open in Mexico City already exists.

Looks like my Spanish-language tall clothing store has already been done...

Looks like I'm too late for my Spanish-language tall clothing store...

 I wonder if the Spanish folks behind the tall clothing at Masaltos.com (roughly translated: Taller.com) have considered getting into the business of larger showers that you can actually move in.

This shower was so small that if you drop the soap, just let it go, cause man, it's gone.

This shower was so small that if you drop the soap, just let it go, cause man, it's gone.

 Back to the new business idea drawing board, folks…. 😉

What really constitutes a “car accident” in Mexico City anyway?

Yesterday marked my first car accident (if you can even call it that) in Mexico City. Frankly, I am somewhat amazed that it took this long for my car to come in contact with another car. Before anyone gets concerned (Mom), know that my car was moving at roughly 0.5 mph, as was the other party’s, through one of the crappiest intersections in Polanco. Rather than attempt to describe said intersection, I will set the stage through this truly-lifelike, high-res drawing done in Powerpoint, graphic design tool of the world’s finest illustrators… (click to make it semi-legible).
Intersection of Ejercito Nacional & Cuernavaca in Polanco. Left-turn lanes do not exist here (it's more of a pile-on approach), and the thought "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't go because the light will definitely turn red & I will be blocking 4 lanes of traffic" has never crossed anyone's mind.

Intersection of Ejercito Nacional & Cuernavaca in Polanco. Left-turn lanes do not exist here (it's more of a pile-on approach), and the thought "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't go because the light will definitely turn red & I will be blocking 4 lanes of traffic" has never crossed anyone's mind.

Here’s a quick loosely-recalled run-down of the incident for those of you perched on the edges of your seats with suspense:
(For realism, translate all statements said aloud into Spanish. Garbled letters/numbers/symbols signifies where I did not understand actual Spanish; does not signify obscenities.)

Julie, to self: I am never going to get through this goddamn light. ADELANTE, you rat bastards! Please, feel free to continue streaming in front of me despite ME having the green light.

[Inches forward more into intersection. Slight scrape-y sounds causes her to realize she has underestimated length of husband’s car]

Julie, to self: Crap. Great, he seems to have noticed & is waving at me. What does he want me to do, get out in the middle of the intersection? This surely is not an uncommon occurence. Do people even stop in Mexico when someone touches your rear bumper at 0.5 mph?

Dude with bushy hair: 3C(js93!. Do you have your license? Let’s go over to that street to look at the damage.

Julie: Yes, of course

Dude: Give your license to me so I know you will follow me over there. Otherwise how do I know you will follow me [repeat 3 times]

Julie: I WILL FOLLOW YOU. Trust me.   [we drive to street on other side of intersection]

Dude: See, there is a scratch. This is not my car, it’s my bosses. j2(S*@@ DK#$kaei@ 8i2 12MVNnw0. This will cost money to repair. Do you have insurance? Do you want to wait?

Julie: Of course I have insurance. Note that you were cutting in front of me when I had a green light. That intersection is crap. It looks like a minor scratch. I am FINE waiting for insurance. Do you want to wait for it over this scratch?

Dude: That is how things work at that intersection. 290DJK@0!)!  ehw%20s  &* 239Sbm 30S*@.

Julie: Hey, whatever, I am happy to call my insurance.

[Policeman arrives onto the scene]

Copper: What happened?

Julie: I barely touched his car while he was cutting in front of me when I had a green light. [essentially true, only detail left out was 0.5mph speed]

Copper: [looks at scratch on his car, looks at me as if to say “WTF? Is this really worth dealing with?”, asks Dude:] Is this really worth the trouble? The scratch is blue, her car is gray.

Julie: [wrings hands & rolls eyes supportively in agreement of cop’s assessment of frivolity]

Dude: sd##) sklQPO!)!! @*K  @()@*KJDA!#>.  This will cost money to fix, it’s not my car etc. etc. etc. You are just taking the side of the pretty lady instead of me. She’s going to call insurance. See, look how this rear portion of my car frame moves [when I vigorously pull it back & forth with my hands].

Julie: I imagine the other side moves the same way if you tried it on that side. Also, the scratch is blue. [ignores blue lettering on her license plate]

[Dude is not convinced, continues whining about how it is his boss’s car]

Copper: [sigh] Fine, call insurance.  [exits stage left]

Julie: [Calls insurance, who is surprisingly easy to interact with in Spanish. Apparently they will call back shortly to advise who is coming to assess & when assessor will arrive. Perfect! Informs Dude of status of waiting for impending call. Asks him if he has called his insurance; apparently not, just hers is enough. Julie is uncertain of validity of this statement, but whatever; it’s his problem if her insurance is mean to him.]  Sidenote: according to John’s similar experience, you in fact need BOTH parties’ insurance adjustors there to resolve the issue at the scene.

[Fill in waiting time with awkward chatter that I barely understand. Eventually resort to pretending something super-important is happening on my cell phone screen.]

[Insurance calls back! Yipee, someone will be here in 5 minutes! Que suerte!!  Julie informs Dude of impending arrival. 2 minutes later, Dude makes call to someone. 30 seconds after hanging up, Dude slowly ambles over to where Julie has retreated to sitting in passenger seat of car, to avoid angry honks of traffic who is hating us for blocking 1 of 3 lanes of traffic.]

Dude: Did you already call your insurance?

Julie: Um, did I stutter during the 10 updates I gave you about me calling them & them calling me back & someone being 5 minutes away?

Dude: Well, the thing is, I called my boss & told him the situation, and he doesn’t really care. So, I don’t know if you want to wait for the insurance, or if you can cancel it or what…

Julie: WAIT, you’re saying this DOESN’T have to be an official accident anymore? Um, YEAH I can cancel the insurance guy. Don’t give it a second thought. I can DEFINITELY cancel it. [tries hard to be polite and friendly during window of hope, despite wanting to yell “See I TOLD YOU it was just a stupid little scratch; we live in MEXICO CITY, pal! If part of your car isn’t dragging along the ground, it’s not worth even stopping for! And why did you wait for 30 minutes to call your boss??”]

Dude: Ok then, I will go.

Julie: [awkwardly offers handshake while seated in car. Dude shakes hand & drives off. Calls insurance to share the good news.]

After this interaction, I was able to see one of the many internal cultural shifts I have experienced after a year in Mexico. If my car had touched someone else’s car in any way in the US, I probably would have been slightly panicked & had my phone poised to call insurance ASAP. Unless the other party immediately waved it off, I definitely would have called insurance just to avoid any unknown drama. I would have been 100% up-front with any cops that had arrived on the scene. I never would have blocked 1/3 of a very busy street for 45 minutes.

In Mexico City, my first reaction was literally surprise that he wanted to get out and look at the scratch. Once we saw the scratch, I was just annoyed that we would have to do the insurance-calling dance. While getting death-glares for blocking a key lane of traffic, my primary thought was “I will be pissed if someone hits my car while I am sitting here.” I barely went around to look at my front left bumper, knowing that any damage retained from a 0.5 mph collision would likely be overshadowed by the next large-sheep-sized pothole that we hit.

The cultural evolution continues… 😉

I may have descended from statues

Since I am too lazy tonight to summarize our full San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato trip AND because I feel we have moved beyond the need for regular swine flu updates, I will instead share with you one of the more horrifying pictures we took during our weekend away.

Please find below a photo taken in the courtyard of the hotel we stayed at in San Miguel de Allende, Hotel Mansion Virreyes. (For those interested in hotel recommendations, this one fell into the “it’s ok” category, with reasonably clean rooms, better-than-average beds, decent brekkie, great location, parking included but slightly stuffy rooms and below-average bathrooms. At the risk of sharing too many details with my readers, let’s just suffice it to say that when you are eating & traveling in Mexico, it’s worth paying a few extra pesos to get a bathroom that has a vent fan.)

Anyway, I am hoping that perhaps it is just the color settings on my computer screen (???), but I am pretty sure that I actually have LESS skin color than any of my three statue friends. I mean, God knows I’ve never been mistaken for “tan” or even “not resembling a sheet of printer paper”, but I think this picture strikes a new low in my personal history of “Documented Incidences Where Julie Resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost”.

Seriously, is this a lighting issue, or is my arm seriously that white? I am leaning towards the latter. Needless to say, I have learned never to take photos again with stone statues that try to show me up.

Seriously, is this a lighting issue, or is my arm seriously that white? I am leaning towards the latter. Needless to say, I have learned never to take photos again with stone statues that try to show me up.

Possibly a long-lost sibling of mine?

Possibly a long-lost sibling of mine?

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