You know when you have adapted to a culture when you stop making statements like “Oh, oh it’s so different here because…”. Focusing on the differences is a way we distance ourselves. It is safe - kind of like having reservations in a relationship. If we keep our distance, there is no way to fall in love. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I let go of my distance; I got intimate with a culture; and I DID fall in love. That’s why I’m about to do what one does when they need to get over a breakup. Having just moved back to the United States after spending nearly a year in Mexico, I’m going to make my “oh, oh, it’s so different here” list. I do this to distance myself, lessen my grief, and share with my fellow compatriots some of the observations that are worth sharing (at the risk of sounding like a little boy tapping his finger on the aquarium, obnoxiously disturbing the goldfish). The point is, I adapted. Now, it’s time to reverse that. Oh, oh it’s so different here because…
Fireworks explode at random times. It doesn’t matter the time of year. They just always explode.
Shoes are worn at all times. In the house and in the shower. Being barefoot or wearing socks while lazying around the house does not exist.
It is universally accepted to make fun of telenovelas (soap operas), but also universally accepted that every family watches at least one.
Everyone has a hotmail account.
Young people drink a lot here - and it is common to do so while driving in circles around the town center.
The police carry large, in-your-face guns.
Everyone is Catholic.
The above is a loaded point - this implies many, many cultural nuances. Catholic guilt. Sexuality as taboo. Everyone crosses themselves when they pass a church. There is a Virgin Mary in every establishment - the hair salon, the Walmart, the local…
Bumper stickers don’t exist here. I’ve seen posters that cover the back window of cars, but not bumper stickers.
Zoning regulations don’t exist. The result is colorful, chaotic and alarming. Lots of different buildings of different sizes and colors and materials and used for residential or commercial or agricultural or whatever purposes.
People do not have dishwashers nor dryers. We hang dry our clothing and we hand wash our dishes.
It is very, very common (even in middle class families) to have a Señora help with the house work. And she almost always is more morena (darker).
On that point, people are not afraid to talk about race here. There is no such thing as “political correctness” and euphamisms exist in the political realm, but not ever regarding race. A common distinction is to call someone morena or guerra - dark skinned or light skinned.
All men gel their hair when they are getting dressed-up. It’s a mix between European and metrosexual and my 8th grade classroom of boys.
Women wear high heels often. Extremely high heels. Even during the day. Heck, I’ve even started to wear them.
When you order something at a restaurant, it will never come out together. Your friend ordered one thing that will arrive 20 minutes before your food will get there. You’ll think that the waiter forgot your order, so you’ll notify him, and he’ll tell you that you’re food will be out “ahorita.” The definition of “ahorita” is a whole different tangent. Literal translation = right now. Adjusted for cultural context definition = anytime between right now and within the next hour. Or maybe more. Really, whenever I feel like it.
Infidelity is common. I don’t know that it’s not common in the United States, but it’s a near-universal accepted truth here. Hey, as long as you confess before mass on Sunday, it’s ok, right?
Seat belts in the back seats of car are tucked behind the upholstery because it is commonly believed that belts are only necessary in the front seat.
When you compliment the outfit, jewelry, whatever of another person, the response is “cuando gustes!” (whenever you’d like to wear it, it’s yours). Similarly, whenever you ask where someone lives, the response is “Your house is located right over by that business. Whenever you’d like, that’s where your house is.” It doesn’t matter if you met the person 5 minutes ago, that will be their response. It makes our concept of Southern Hospitality look like child’s play.
The list could go on, and will continue to grow. All I can say is: I miss it. Every absurdity that became a normality. Every acquaintance that became an true relationship. It’s a part of me now. Te extraño y te amo mi Querido México. Te voy a volver pronto ;)