two foreign countries

Yesterday at last, I managed to get to Mexico. I have been ashamed of myself for never having been. What kind of traveller/adventurer can I claim to be if I haven’t even been to Mexico? It’s a short drive away. A day trip.

And so I took a day trip and went. My favorite traveling companion was most unwilling. Chris reads newspapers and has decided that Mexico is a place of unrelenting corruption and danger. People are stopped, and thrown into jail if they do not bribe the policemen properly.

“So, make sure to budget in some bribes,” was my response.

He objected to the idea, on moral grounds, of bribing a policeman.

“Hey, that’s their culture. It’s not great, but they are hardly the only country that does bribing. In fact, I think that Americans are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to international business. We should require Bribing 101 for MBAs.”

He was not amused. So, with the threat of incarceration and the deep fear of Montezuma’s revenge, he drove us down to San Diego to catch the trolley to Tijuana.

He refused to drive , stay overnight, or eat while we were there.Honestly, I was sorry for him, that he had all these fears. But I was proud that he would accompany me anyway. He said someone had to keep me out of trouble.

I wanted to shop and have a Margarita. Actually, I wanted to try the other yummy foods, too. But I had some constraints with Mr. Worrywart at my side.

He was marvelous, though. We went in, and he kept track of where were were going and how to get out.

We got there about 2:30. It was hot and muggy as hell. I was very glad that we had not driven. Walking in took no time at all, and the line of cars out of TJ was enormous.

It was beautiful. It was so colorful, I liked it very much. I was pretty much focussed an the shopping, and it reminded me of all the other open-air Markets I’d been to- the Arbat in Moscow, the various markets I’d stumbled across in the UK and Ireland.

The Mexicans called out to you though, asing you to come into their stores. The men used their charm as liberally as they could, “Mija! Curly! Come inside to my store, I have beautiful purses and jewelry you will want.”

I was called curly rather frequently. It made me smile. Chris was not addressed at all. He had his arms around me, or was holding my hand the whole time.

“Half Price for the honeymooners!” they would call out to us.

You know, at the malls here, it is sort of amazing to get noticed at all, let alone with that kind of detail. I loved it.

The first man that called me Curly, I fell for. “Curly! Come look here! Mija! I have some earrings just like the ones you are wearing.”

I know it is a sales tactic, but it was very sweet to be called Mija at every turn.

“Your hair is so curly. Is that natural? It is so curly. You should give me some, I would keep it with me. Look at these bracelets…Do you like them? Here are some more for you. I got these at a discount, very good price for you.”

I should have bought something from him, just because he was so charming. Most of them were like that though. Imagine! A lock of my hair. Most men in America have probably never even heard of such a romantic favor.

It was nice.

Of course, like I said, Chris was entirely ignored. Which was fine with him.

There were a lot of pretty jewelry, although not as delicate as I usually like. So I passed on most of it. Then I was stopped by the beautiful pottery. They told me it was from Oaxaca, the black pottery they are famous for. I saw a cheerful skull of black pottery, it had lacy flower cut-ous and two slits for the nose.

I passed on it, but then I kept thinking about it. I have a friend who loves the day of the dead. It was perfect for her. I finally found another one and bought it for her.

The sales man told me it was meant to have a candle inside it, and that the light would flicker from the cutouts. That made me want one of my own. But not a skull. I just wanted a globe with the flower cuts.

I kept looking, thinking I might find leather or something I liked. I stumbled into a shop that sold the most beautiful lace. Bobbin lace as well as the crocheted type. I had been thinking I wanted a tablecloth. Those can be expensive.

But oh my, they had such lovely ones. Bobbin lace! And embroided with more cut outs (hmm…Is this a theme?) I found some beautiful things. THey got the majority of my TJ money there. I spent about fifty bucks on table cloths and napkins and lacey settings and doileys. A bargain, in my mind.

I then insisted that I stop and get a margarita. I could not leave without that. “It’s tequila. It can’t hold germs, it can’t make you sick.”

“The ice has water. Montezuma can still get me.”

I enjoyed my margarita, and half of his. Mine had too much salt in it, but his was okay.

That put me in a very sweet mood for a little while. We were sitting next to a brick wall, and some men in tight pants with designs up the side were singing to guitar music.

We looked over the map, and decided to take a look at the cathedral which was supposed to be nearby. It was respectably old, the map said, so I thought we should take a look. We got a little bit lost, but on the way I found a Churro vendor. Yum..I bought a bag of churros.

We found the cathedral, which looked much newer than we expected. We peeked in, but didn’t stay long. Outside there were a lot of vendors selling religious objects. There were also a lot of vans, and I think they were practicing santeria in the vans. They seemed to be offering services of some kind.

On the way back to the main shopping area, we passed a few rather bored looking prosititutes. I wouldn’t have thought they were prostitues, they were demure by my standards, except for the shoes.

We went on to try to find some black pottery from Oaxaca and maybe some jewelry. It was a very uncrowded day, really. It was hot and muggy, but at least we weren’t crushed.

We looked at everything, but we didn’t find my black pottery until the very end. And then I was still without new jewelry. I stopped at every stand on the long corridor out. I finally bought a small ring, then we made better time through to the border. Chris was getting hungry.

Basically, I had the best time. I would like to go back, maybe with some girlfriends. Chris was a little over concerned. But it was a romantic wonderful day trip, and I have at last been to Mexico.

On the trolley out, Chris said “Now you’ve been to two foriegn countries this year with me. Canada and Mexico”

2 thoughts on “two foreign countries

  1. Murphy-

    I’m amazed that Chris agreed to go to Mexico at all. On a debate trip to China in college, Chris packed his suitcase full with peanut butter (if I remember right), so that he could avoid the Chinese stuff. Foreign travel really isn’t his thing!

    Best,
    Jay

  2. Yeah, peanut butter and pop tarts, to hear him tell it. The Thin Man has certain food stubborness.

    Getting him to go to Mexico was a campaign that lasted several years. I had to use strategy. First, I needed to find something HE wanted that I could bargain with.

    I told him I would climb Mt. Whitney if would go to Mexico with me.

    We spent a year training to climb, and then the day of, Chris got shaky-fever sick. I left him at the bottom and climbed to the summit.

    That was 2001

    We finally made it to Mexico this last weekend. He’s slow, but he gets you there.

    🙂