The monthly magazineINSIDE MEXICO calls itself the 'The English speakers' guide to living in Mexico'. It's been around for a few years now in paper format, but just this week launched it's on-line version. Even if you don't live in Mexico, you're bound to find something interesting here. You can sign up and get it delivered on-line for free.
Take a look at my favorite segment of the current issue. Yes, I'm biased, but I think the guy in this video is pretty cute--
One attraction of living in Mexico City is its constant capacity to surprise me.
El Distrito Federal has just registered the first birth certificate for an adult who has changed sexual identity.
In August of 2008, the city government passed legislation making it legal for transsexuals to request a new birth certificate showing their new sex.
This, along with recent laws liberalizing abortion and providing legal rights for non-married and gay couples, puts Mexico in the vanguard of world opinion about personal freedoms of expression, belief and sexual orientation.
Next time you find yourself in a conversation about how backward and third-world Mexico is, think of this.
Being an ex-New Yorker, I'm used to travelling by subway. Mexico City's metro system is smaller than New York's, but cleaner, quieter, faster, and cheaper (2 pesos or about 14 cents at current the exchange rate). I do find that most riders are a few inches shorter than me and a few shades darker. 'Gente nice' generally don't ride the metro here--their loss in my estimation. One of the joys of a metro ride is the non-stop action of passing musicians and vendors. All sorts of things are for sale, from gum and candy to pirate cd's and dvd's, sewing kits, tools, socks--almost all of it selling for either 5 or 10 pesos. I got a great compilation of marimba music recently, which I'm sure will come in handy for a party one day. Last week I got a little envelope of 10 band-aids, perfect for tucking into my tote bag. Today I bought a tiny book entitled 'Correspondencia Comercial, Oficial, Social y Familiar' which explains how to write letters correctly in Spanish. My friend Erika once told me that there is no such thing as a one-page business letter in Mexico. You need most of the first page for the 'saludos', and most of the second for the 'despedidas'--any real concern gets buried somewhere in the middle. Etiquette plays an important role here in Mexico--thank God! The US seems frigid to me now--even 'sir' or 'madame' have become outdated. Here you can choose from distinguido, estimado, apreciado, muy estimado, señor, señora....and muy señor mio or muy señora nuestra. And don't forget maestro or licenciado for anyone with a college degree or high professional position. You know where you stand on the social ladder more easily here, which makes balancing on it less difficult. If I hadn't taken the metro I would not know (as I now do) the correct form to request a patent, how to get a permit to install a motor to run my corn mill, or one to set up a carousel at the next Tres Reyes festival. And all that for just two pesos!
I had an interesting conversation last night with my friend Veronica who works as an economist for Luz y Fuerza, Mexico's mammoth, beaurocratic utility company. "We find it funny how Americans are so shocked by the economic crisis. Mexicans just respond with "oh, another one?" We grew up with a crisis every few years, so we've learned to roll with the punches. Suddenly everything costs more, so you buy less, you have fewer things, you're in debt again. Ni modo! The sun still shines and you can always afford fresh tortillas."
Ni modo is a phrase one hears often in Mexico, which roughly translates as 'Whatever', or 'There's nothing I can do about it, so why get upset?'. If you live here for even a short while, you'll find yourself using it frequently. Here's a link to a blog that discusses the pros and cons of this oh-so-Mexican attitude toward life.