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What in the hell am I possibly going to write here? I want to get something down, because 24 hours have already gone by, and if I let this continue unfolding, I am going to miss something. I probably will anyway, but I need to get something down.

Know where we are? We’re in Mexico. The first night was confusing, a little intimidating, and I found I couldn’t stop grinning and laughing for about the first 6 hours we were here. Immediately upon checking into our hotel, we went for a walk as far as we could after a long day of traveling, just to drink it all in and startle ourselves. That walk was amazing, hot, and confusing. Cars honked, we stepped into traffic, we saw things we had never seen before. But our day of traveling caught up to us, and we finally had to return here to the Hyatt where we ordered room service and ate the contents of the minibar.

It was only when I went outside, alone, for a late night smoke, that it all finally caught up to me. After thinking and talking about this for the last year, we were here. And as I strolled around the front of the hotel, the warm breeze blowing, the lights twinkling, and the palm trees singing, that I thought, “Holy shit. We may just have been right. This may be paradise.” And then, I laughed and laughed, again.

It is strange to be in a place that is SO new, and I have to admit to culture shock being a bit more of a factor than I had expected. When you arrive in a place like this, with no command of the language, even the most basic things are intimidating and strange. How do I buy water? How do I eat food? How do I make a phone call? How the hell does this money work? Where are we? Where should we be going? There are a thousand questions, and only slowly do the answers come trickling in. My cell phone doesn’t work here, that’s next on the list of things to figure out. Along with, oh, finding a place to live. But tomorrow is another day.

Traffic square near hotel

So today, after sleeping as much as we felt like, we hit the streets again. Starting immediately by the hotel, there is an entire street that looks like it may be someplace in Europe. Big, wide streets, spotlessly clean, art and sculpture gracing the sidewalk alongside old mansions, some empty, some turned into commercial space, some I don’t understand. As we walk toward the downtown areas, there are parks, traffic circles, statues of Mayan warriors. The sidewalks narrow to at least half the width of the States, and the streets start to fill with people. Upscale stores and boutiques give way to tiny shops, makeshift ice cream stands, ancient women crouching with empty cups begging for a few pesos. Everyone studies us as we walk, though not to try and intimidate, but out of curiosity. There is truly very little tourism here, very little signage in English, very few hints where you are or where you’re going. We take a turn and end up in an enclosed alleyway. As it gets darker, we continue to push forward, until we look around and realize we are in a tiny corridor made up of barber shops, surrounded by Mexican women and babies, all lined up to get a haircut.

I don’t know what this is, yet.

Though we had thought to purchase a two liter bottle of Cristal (Mexican bottle water brand) before we set out, it was gone and the heat began to get the better of us, again. We stopped off for our first real meal at an outdoor cafe, where the waiter did his best to explain to me in his broken English that our seat in front of a circular fan was “his air conditioning.” We, in turn, stumbled through our order. A few Modelos, chicken mole for Jillian, and chicken fajitas for me. Thank goodness, we are finally in a place where lunch is given the attention it deserves.

Jillian, sweaty in the park.

A quick word, here. I don’t like fajitas, and my first absurd thought was “Dang, this is some good Mexican food,” forgetting for a moment that what I was eating was simply “food.” Brilliantly citrusy and light, crisp and clean until I drowned mine in the most toxic, shockingly lime green hot sauce I had ever seen. Jillian reported that her meal was phenomenal, as well. And though I tried it, I can’t for the life of me remember if I liked it. I was wrapped up in the middle of a fajita love affair. This was easily one of the best things I had eaten in months. Dos mas Modelos,por favor, and Jillian and I just sit back, look at each other, and laugh some more. Even in this moment, actively doing it, we sometimes forget and get to remember all over again.

Another thing I have yet to understand.

Time to pay the check, where I learned that a credit card was no good. I will have to figure out the best way to handle money here, but in that instance, I thought I would just go to the bank and suck up the bad exchange rates and $5 withdrawal fee. The waiter got up to walk with me, and we began walking. I thought a bank would be a good place, but he directed me instead to a nearby rug store, who ran the card in their store. I can’t begin to wrap my mind around the arrangement there, but no worries. The receipt was legit, and they can square it away later in a rug/fajita barter. Total cost? About $30 bucks. And you had better believe we got totally gouged on that lunch, and I look forward to getting food twice as delicious for a third the price, once my Spanish is a little better and I don’t eat in a place catering to tourists.

Empty streets.

By this time, it was well past noon, and the August heat was unbearable, so we decided to walk back to the hotel for a little down time. What a relief the Hyatt is after a day of exploring, where we can take a good shower, watch Gilmore Girls in English, and lay on the bed with a candy bar. I’m not sure yet what tonight holds. Perhaps dinner at the hotel across the street, perhaps another stroll. Tomorrow, we find a more permanent place to live, even if for a little while, and potentially visit with a realtor. But more on that tomorrow. For now:

5 Things About Mexico That You Know But Are Still Surprised By:

  1. It is outrageously clean. The next time anyone suggests otherwise, slap them in the chops.

  2. It is inexpensive. Sure, they Hyatt is expensive, but everything else isn’t. 2 liters bottled water? About 70 cents. Ice cream cone? 25 cents. 6 pack of Tecate? About 3 bucks. And, these being my three food groups, I am happy.
  3. Everyone is a Mexican.
  4. As such, everyone will immediately begin speaking to you in Spanish, not stopping even when you clearly are making faces to indicate you have no idea what anyone is saying. Learning at least basic Spanish has moved way, way up my priority list.
  5. There doesn’t seem to be a big “crime-vibe,” which may be due in part to the heavily armed policemen standing on almost every other street corner. Yesterday, we saw a motorist sideswipe a man on a bicycle, and then would not stop for the policeman on foot. Within 30 seconds, a pickup truck full of armed policemen appeared out of nowhere, and the chase was on. I never, ever want to be chased by a pickup truck full of policeman. Similarly, there are special “tourist” police, though I have still only seen about four other tourists since we have been here.

Jillian in the empty streets. Time for a nap.

It is special here. And while I still don’t know if it’s 100% the right thing, there’s enough to suggest we should stick around and think it over. Who knows, maybe when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll actually believe any of it is happening. More news then.

There Are 7 Responses So Far. »

  1. Fantastic. I’m so glad for you both. This is really an awesome fulfillment of a seemingly crazy idea. Bravo and buena suerte.

  2. Whoo Hoo!! Cheers y’all. Don’t forget to give me a call when you open that bar!

  3. I’m buying tickets for the end of September. Ready or not.
    Love you, and I’m so happy for you!!!!!

  4. Hooray! Congratulations on making it. Thanks for keeping us posted on your adventure. Lotsa Love.

  5. Hola! I”m so happy for you two! What an amazing adventure – I can’t wait to hear more. Post more pictures!!! xoxo

  6. In case you haven’t found out yet, that pair of buildings are called “Los Gemelos” (the twins). I can’t remember any more details. I just remember that because I was so struck by the idea of someone building 2 identical mansions side by side.

  7. Thank you for your fantastic website. Best of luck to you both.

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