Thursday, February 12, 2009


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 The US seems frigid to me now--even 'sir' or 'madame' have become outdated.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!

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