As my time in Mexico draws to a close, I begin to reflect more and more on the experiences I’ve had and the life I’ve laid out here. One of the conversations that’s been dominating my time with friends recently has been on what I’ll miss most about this country. While my fellow Mexpats are always eager to add their two cents, my Mexican friends can’t help but sit there, amused at hearing about all those little things foreigners love about their birthplace.
These conversations then turn to what we’ve affectionately called our “Mexicanisms” – those little characteristics typical in most Mexicans that we’ve inevitably picked up during our time here.
And after reading Amanda’s list of Koreanisms she’s picked up from 2 years over there, I knew I had to write out my own list … just so my family and friends back home are prepared next time they see me.
The weather’s hot today, no?
Anyone who speaks or is learning English knows that we have a variety of tag questions in our language: “This coffee is bad, isn’t it?” “You don’t know where you’re going, do you?” “We’re lost, aren’t we?” “You’ve been to Cuba, haven’t you?”
In Mexico, it’s pretty easy. If you want to turn something into a question, add “no” to the end.
“There’s a football game on Sunday, no?” “You’ve had a lot of work recently, no?” “This pizza’s good, no?”
This was a habit I hadn’t even realised I’d picked up until my friend Michelle mentioned it the other night. Since then I can’t help but burst into a fit of giggles whenever that word escapes my – or any other Mexpat’s – mouth.
The Finger Wag
It’s as though nodding your head to agree with someone isn’t good enough here. Instead we replace it with the finger wag.
Unlike the finger wag we use in Wales where we use a straight pointed finger and shake it from side-to-side to scold a child, this finger wag looks more like something Danny from The Shining does when he’s talking to Toby.
When someone’s just finished talking, we waggle our finger – Danny Torrance style – as a way to agree with them and say “yes”.
I’m guilty of it and I like that the country’s full of little Shining people.
I love that women here generally don’t seem to give a shit about what their body shape is when it comes to clothes.
It’s fashionable to wear high heels (at a minimum of six inches) to work but, outside of work, it’s all about tight clothing: Tight jeans that show off the curves of your arse and thighs, and tops that rarely cover anything below the stomach.
While I’m well aware that there’s still a craze for faddy diets and exercise here, I love that body shape isn’t an issue the way it is in the UK. And I’m proud of the way my body looks now – even if my weight is forever going up and down each month.
There was a time when going shopping for clothes and not being able to find a pair of jeans that fit used to depress the hell out of me. I’d be down for the rest of the day, trying to keep myself from crying in public, and vowing not to eat anything until I’d shed the weight.
But now I don’t care.
The last time I bought new jeans was in December. Rather than throw a temper tantrum when I couldn’t fit into a pair of my size, I shrugged and bought the next size up, thinking, ‘Looks like I’ve put on a few pounds. Oh well.’
And while I won’t be forcing myself into anything that shows off a dreaded muffin top any time soon, I wear skinny jeans and tight tops proudly, happy to show off what I have.
Remember when I wrote about this cultural difference I never thought I’d get used to?
Sometimes the staring does still bother me if I’m having a bad day but my reaction has cooled down since then.
What I never expected was that I’d now start doing it myself.
While I’m still not on that creepy I’m-gonna-stare-at-you-for-10-minutes-without-blinking level, my curiosity in people does get the better of me and I’ll be happy to people watch on the Metro for a lot longer than usual.
But the worst part?
My staring comes into play tenfold when I see a light-blonde foreigner.
More than a few times a 6’0″, blonde, European-looking backpacker has boarded the Metro or Metrobus and I, along with most of the other citizens, will gawk away at this rarely-seen beauty.
I’m hoping I can slap myself out of this habit before I head to New York and start doing this on the Subway. Otherwise I sense some very dangerous altercations.
This was the first thing I picked up and I can’t not do it now.
We’ve all heard the way Mexicans say “Oh my God!” (“Ay! Dios mio!”)
Well, that “Ay!” isn’t just used as a substitute for “Oh!” It’s used for everything!
If you drop something, “Ay!”
If you bump into someone, “Ay!”
If you accidentally stub your toe, “Ay!”
I can’t physically say “Ouch!” or “Oops!” or “Ow!” anymore. It always comes out “Ay!”
What characteristics/habits have you picked up as an expat?