Travel tip of the day: Always carry $20 with you in your bra or sock. If your wallet gets stolen, you have enough to get you where you need to go. 250 pesos can get you anywhere in Mexico City.
If you read my first post, you’ll see why I chose the name for my blog. Asian people are a commodity in Latin America, and so I get a few more stares than most people. However, not everyone assumes I speak Spanish or that I understand it completely.
Last weekend I went to Xalapa again to hang out with Carlos, Christina, and Amaury. We went to the waterfall in Xico. We drank a couple beers, swam a bit, took some pictures, and then we headed back to the car. As we were walking back Carlos and I passed a family of 7. Carlos had his adorable puppy. The mom of this family of 7 had her child clinging on to her and he’s a little scared of the puppy. As we passed she said, “Look! A puppy! (Mira! Un perrito!)” Then, she saw me and said, “Look! A Chinese girl! (Mira una chinita!)” I heard this and could not believe that was said out loud. I knew she meant no harm, but it was as if she had put me into the same category as the puppy - a spectacle to be looked at in awe. I was in such shock that I didn’t have a come back. I could’ve said, “Hey lady, I speak Spanish.” But I was laughing at what had just happened and in such disbelief, that I kept walking and ranting to Carlos. He was dying laughing.
Then, I told this to my friends Chrisitna and Amaury who were trailing behind us. They laughed about it, and then Christina asked, “I wonder what people think when they see all four of us together? A white girl, an asian, and two mexicans.” I’ve thought about this too. We get a lot of stares walking around. I’m pretty used to it now. However, it’s just kind of daunting to be reminded that after you feel like you’re adjusted to the culture, someone says something and it reminds you that you’re like a different species.
What can I say? Here I’m china or chinita. I use the whole “Yo soy china” when the taxi dispatcher asks me what I look like when he or she sends a taxi to me after work. However, its a no fail approach so that the taxi doesn’t second-guess who I am and give my taxi away to someone else.
Hello everyone! Sorry I have been MIA for awhile. I haven’t been really inspired to write until now. Work has picked up a lot, and I’ve been traveling (YAY!). The reason I am writing this blog, is to express some of the frustrations I have been having within the Mexican culture since 2013 started. My roof collapsed and room flooded, my money was stolen, my old landlord still owes me 4/5 of my deposit and meeting up with him is such a pain in the ass because of conflicting schedules. Most of the time I just think he’s waiting till I leave Mexico and its like Oh well. Well guess what, I’m staying a little longer, so sucks for you bro.
2013 has not been bad, but it could be better. Work is probably one of the only things I don’t have a “Well, things could be better thought.” Don’t get me wrong, I have no general complaints about life or any hard struggles, but there have been a lot of small inconveniences and cultural quirks that seem to stress me out and make me want to yell at a few people. I think this is my curse of being too observant sometimes.
Frustration #1: Indirect communication
When people talk in this weird spiral pattern that takes them 20 minutes to tell me how to get somewhere, how to do something, a favor that needs to be asked, or if they can borrow something. I think I want to blow my brains out. It has gotten to a point where I sometimes end up interrupting and just straight up ask, “So what is it that you want me to do SPECIFICALLY?” Then, after all the small chit chat and the unnecessary “don’t pass this part or this part or this part or you’ll be going in the wrong direction”, and they just tell me the necessary information, I always think, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?! That’s all you WANTED?!” or “WHY WERE THOSE DIRECTIONS NECESSARY IF I’M ONLY SUPPOSED TO GO LEFT AND THEN RIGHT!?” Also, a lot of people never tell me due dates until 30 mins before the deadline or they don’t tell me the end goal so I end up doing more work then necessary. I’ve learned to ask for a deadline and end goal because I know people aren’t going to tell me unless I ask, or they just assume I know. Additionally, my roof still hasn’t been fixed for a month. These damn repair men keep telling my roommates, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow and they never show up. I just want to sleep in my room again. I’m still living in this damn guest room. At least there’s better wifi in this room.
Frustration #2: Passive aggressiveness
This isn’t just a cultural thing here in Mexico, I know too many people who are passive aggressive and evasive. It is extremely annoying. I’m like OMG just ANSWER THE QUESTION. Here, a lot of people are passive aggressive to save face, and they think by being direct it can come off as rude and an attack by the other person about their character or being, so a lot of people don’t tell me what they actually want to say and I have to read in between the lines ALL THE TIME because they think my feelings will get hurt. Well in the U.S. we’re a pretty straightforward culture. This correlates with my Frustration #1. I am always thinking JUST TELL ME. YOU WON’T HURT MY FEELINGS I PROMISE! Also, when people know that there is conflict on the horizon, they avoid it or they just forget to text or call you back. I am currently dealing with getting the other 4/5 of my deposit back from an old landlord, and I am extremely annoyed by the fact that he hasn’t called or messaged me back even though last week he said he would. WTF. If you want to save face with me, just be honest and direct with me and answer my damn messages.
Frustration #3: The inability to say NO.
This goes back to saving face. When people say “No” directly, it is considered a little offensive. Why? Because when you say “No” right off the back, it means you didn’t even want to come to the event or didn’t even consider it. Sometimes when people say, “Ahorita” or when they say they’re coming but never mention any specific times or details, I just want to be like don’t get my hopes up. You’re not coming let’s be honest. I guess this is my US attitude blowing up in my face right now. I don’t want to be waiting around all day for someone.
Frustration #4: Public Transportation to work
It is a hot mess in that commute everyday. Why does traffic suck in that part of town? Oh yeah, because there isn’t enough public transport and putting a metro line there is seen as too “dirty” and beneath Santa Fe. I’m sorry, but you wouldn’t have all your workers come in late if there were more buses (*cough* metrobus *cough*) and a metro to a place that holds about 1 million workers everyday. Additionally, carpool lanes, carpools/vanpools in general, the traffic wouldn’t be as bad. To go 9 miles to work everyday and it takes an hour is absolutely ridiculous. I realized this frustration when I had to go to class and a race in Cuajimalpa this weekend and I had to take a taxi there both times because 1) I didn’t wake up early enough 2) The bus would’ve taken 2 hours to get there. 3) I’m pretty sure no buses go to Cuajimalpa’s nature bosque park thing on Sunday that early. I take a taxi everyday, and I pretty much fear for my life that I’m going to die in a freak car accident. I could never drive in Mexico City. It makes me too nervous and anxious.
Frustration #4: Stop asking me about China or mentioning China to me
I think more Asian-americans need to travel around the world. Especially here to Latin America. Not a lot of people realize we consist of about 5% of the population in the U.S. This also might just be a problem with the lack of exposure of Asian-americans in the media. But I have this script memorized in my head, “No I’m not from China. I’m from Las Vegas. No I don’t speak any Asian languages. Only Spanish and English. I was born in Texas. My mom and grandma were born in San Francisco. My dad was born in the Philippines but moved when he was 7 to the States. My parents don’t speak Chinese or any asian language. My family is super gringa. Yes, there are lots of Asians on the west coast of the U.S.” All the Asians in DF are Korean, Chinese, or Japanese and they are like straight from there, so I understand, but I find it weird that people think it surprising that I am from the U.S.
Frustration #5: The lack of ingredients for cooking
I’m a food snob. I love to cook and I have expensive taste sometimes (Thanks mom and dad!). I get these cravings for things like eggs benedict, sushi, truffle fries, a burger with blue cheese, goat cheese pizza, smoked salmon, etc. I have to go to a GOURMET grocery store for English muffins and onion bagels :P
I’ve been going through the ups and downs of culture shock, and sometimes I just want to go home and walk into a grocery store and buy whatever i want because I know I can find it. Also, I can just drive there because people stay in there lanes back home.
I’ll get over this soon. I just need an outlet to express the frustrations and annoyances. More travel tips to come soon :)