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Culture Shift

I shamefully admit that it has been weeks (sounds better than almost two months!) since my last blog post, but in fairness, there has been a lot going on. What with moving to a new country, anxiously awaiting my husband’s arrival overland by car, settling the animals, and coming to grips with a brand-new existence, it’s been a sheer whirlwind; so much so, that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose the beginning is always a good choice, so…

Luckily, I had my amazing friend Kathleen to help me on the journey to Mexico with the cats. It really helped to have a friendly face and an extra pair of hands, especially considering that we were toting a huge number of bags (if American Airlines does not declare record profits this year based solely on my being a passenger, I will be very surprised) and two cats. I feared that the yowling cats would get us turfed off the aircraft before the door closed, but they were as good as gold. I was (and still am, considering the scale of the adjustment) so proud of them. No sooner had we landed, than Kathleen dragged me straight off to Home Depot, so we could start doing up the one-bedroom guesthouse. I am all thumbs when it comes to home improvement, but Kathleen is a professional, and she wanted to gift us the renovations as a house-warming gift. I was absolutely touched.

The first few weeks were…I’m not going to lie. They were really hard. My grasp of the Spanish language is tenuous at best, and we immediately encountered situations where my good ol’ Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo exercises proved completely insufficient. Like Day 2, when I tried to talk to a gardener and a maintenance man. Or when we left a bag behind at Home Depot after we paid for everything, and had to return in the hopes they would believe us and not make us pay for everything again. No sooner had we resolved that crisis then the car refused to start, so we had to ask strangers in the parking lot for a jump-start (and then ask the folks at the garage for a new starter). None of that is covered in online language tutorials, I assure you! Just days later, while we were having dinner to celebrate my husband’s safe arrival, I was attacked a swarm of fire ants that had decided to nest on the beach, underneath the restaurant table. Imagine my horror when I developed an anaphylactic reaction and was bedridden for a couple of days. I imagine transitioning to a new country is always hard, and I was doing it with the utmost comfort and privilege, but…still!

All that said, I have been absolutely blown away by everyone’s helpfulness and kindness. Especially folks that live here – they’ve been so patient and understanding with my clumsy attempts to speak, even to the point of correcting my grammar and expanding my vocabulary. Everyone from the mechanic who drove out to Autozone at 7 PM to replace my starter (for no more than 800 pesos!) to the women attending the spay and neuter clinic where I volunteered one weekend, have been tolerant to the point of unbelievable. My biggest hope (aside from not running out of money) is that I get to grips with the Spanish language sooner rather than later, just by sheer immersion. True, there are a lot of expats here, and I do speak far more English than Spanish during my day to day life, but there’s got to be something to be said for making noises in Spanish until people understand, right?

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