A wannabe Mexican local

A mere 15 years ago I moved to Mexico City where I spent 2.5 years of my adolescent life. Mostly what I remember of it is crazy traffic, crazy pollution, stray cats, and street performers. Apparently those are the things that stick with an 8 year old. Also one time I almost got lost on a field trip to the city center. That was traumatizing but irrelevant.

I hadn’t been back to Mexico in 12 years, but I broke that streak last week when Michael and I found ourselves flying down to Puerto Vallarta for a late honeymoon (which didn’t feel like a honeymoon, but more of an adventurous free trip, which was awesome). And that’s when I remembered why I love Mexico and speaking spanish and eating tacos. So here are the reasons why I am a wannabe resident of Puerto Vallarta:

1. Street tacos. Nowhere in the United States, or any other country for that matter, will you find tacos this good. Plus, they are like 30 cents so it’s a budget friendly meal. I could go on and on about these but it just makes me want them so I’m going to stop.

2. Music. Thankgiving night we walked along the Malecon, the area down by the beach with restaurants and shops. We ran into a giant procession of mariachis and their mariachi children. It was magical. Also, tons of restaurants have mariachis that sing to you and you find yourself singing along with everyone else in the restaurant and clapping your hands and then you are up dancing around before you realize what is happening. There is no way you cannot love life when a mariachi band is around.

3. Adventure. We spent an entire day zip-lining. It was exhilarating and exhausting. I think they should turn zip-lining in a sport, just so I can compete. At one point that day I was laying on my stomach, flying over a canopy of trees. This lasted an entire 4 minutes, which might not sound long, but when you are flying over a forest at 60mph while only being held up by a wire, it’s the longest and best 4 minutes ever. I was a bird for 4 minutes! If I believed in re-incarnation I would definitely shoot for the level that lets me come back as an animal.

4. Fiestas. Mexicans love fiestas, which is awesome. Fiestas are a mix of some of my favorite things: food, music, dancing, and pinatas. (I can’t find the squiggly line that goes above the ‘n’, but you know what I’m talking about). So yeah, obviously I want to be at a fiesta all the time.

5. Great Coke. Talk to any Coke junkie and they know, Mexican Coke is delicious. Probably because they still make it with cocain or put loads of sugar in it, either way it tastes great. Plus, they give it to you in a cool bottle that is kind of sticky and has sand on it, reminding you that you are in paradise.

On putting up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving

A few weeks ago I let myself wander into the Christmas section of Target. Bad idea. If you can avoid it, don’t go because you will want to buy everything and you will sit and stare at the tinsel and knitted stockings for hours. And this was the beginning of my downfall. I admit it, this year I became an advocate for putting up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. BUT, before you throw a tantrum about how I hate gratitude and pilgrims and cornucopias, let me explain.

If I were to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up a tree, I would only get to spend two weeks with this tree. Between traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am only in my apartment for two weeks in December. Sooooo, after I picked up a steal of a tree last week (after finally breaking free of the Target Christmas wonderland) and letting it sit in the box for a few days, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to spend as much time with the lights and ornaments and green tree as I could. I was going to squeeze every bit of Christmas goodness as I could out of my little tree. And so it happened. And it was wonderful.

I still love Thanksgiving (keep  your eye out for some south of the border Thanksgiving posts soon), and I love turkeys and family time and giving November all the glory it deserves, but I have no regrets about putting up my Christmas tree early. Every night when I look at that twinkling 6-ft beauty, it warms my heart and no one can take that away.

 

Why you should travel to China with friends

Right before my senior year of high school my family up and moved to Shenzhen, China, a “small” city on the southern coast right across the water from Hong Kong. I got my first taste of solo international travel with a few friends as we would catch a ride on the ferry over to Hong Kong and spend days exploring. We would find the best places to eat, shop, and overlook the city. And then we made friends with some ‘locals’ and sat on rooftops overlooking Stanley Bay and became adept with the metro and bus systems and fell in love with the city.

After moving back to the States for college, I would head back to China to visit the fam about once a year, and I would try to convince as many people as I could to join me. There’s something thrilling about showing people you love a place that you love. I succeeded in getting a few people to make the leap across the world, and today I’m reminiscing on some truly hilarious and wonderful trips to communist land.

So here’s why you should travel to China with friends:

Impromptu wrestling matches on the beach

For embarrassing airport scenes

To make sure you aren’t the only white person on the scary trains

To always have someone who will take pictures of you

To not look like the only tourist

To laugh with, do ridiculous things with, and have someone to reminisce with later

And of course, to take pictures when you get engaged in the tallest tower in Shanghai

Rage against the squeaky clean machine

I’ve moved around quite a bit and have managed to ‘stick it to the man’ in some way in each of these places. You know, like sneaking out of my house as a teenager, climbing a fence with a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, running from the junior high security guards, doing an undie run through campus, the usual. So here in Provo,  Utah, things were no different. Put 30,000 20-somethings in a small space, throw a bunch of rules at them, and you’ve got a million ways for us to rage against our squeaky clean machine.

Sophomore year I was living with three amazingly hilarious and great girls. We stayed up too late, ate way too much junk food, and ditched one too many classes. But that’s normal for a sophomore in college. Now, what happened next was also normal by any other person’s standard. We were living in our first off-campus housing and the boy’s apartments were across the way. We did have a curfew, boys had to be out by midnight. Of course, no one follows that rule unless they grew up only watching Disney movies and never having a social life. The girl who lived below us was one of those girls. Needless to say, after months of angry texts, we ended up in a battle with our housing complex and threats of bringing in the cops. After being interrogated, my roommate and I were put on behavioral contracts. WHAT EVEN IS THAT? Yeah, a behavioral contract for having boys stay a little after midnight…sheesh, we are rebels.

Fast forward to today. I live in a 450 square foot apartment on the third floor of a building in a small conservative town. This quaint little studio apartment has it’s pros and cons, one of the cons being that if something is smelly, the whole apartment will smell terrible. Fruit peels, vegetables, and meat are all the worst culprits. My solution…throw the fruit and vegetable peels out of our window. We don’t have screens, and there are some plants below the window that could use some biodegradable mulch. It seemed like the perfect solution to me, and our apartment went odor free for a month. However, our neighbors didn’t seem to like this plan as much as we did. Hence, this cease and desist letter we received last week:

It seems my rebellious ways are still getting me in trouble with ‘the man’. Who knows what I will be up to next, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.