So many of the things I see and experience on a daily basis don’t necessarily inspire involved posts but do make me smile, grimace, and think. From now on I’d like to share these ever so often in a feature I’ll call “lifebytes.”
Those of you who’ve been to Mexico have most likely seen and heard aged ladies with aprons and big pots vocally persuading you to buy their “TAMALES!!.” There’s all sorts of street food for sale, but probably my favorite from the metro stops of Mexico City (my last home) is the ALEGRÍA, which in English means “happiness” and you can buy two of for 10 pesos! The seeded molasses treats are actually not that bad ;), though eating too many of them will probably result in obesity rather than ecstacy.
The thing about Nogales, Mexico that makes me miss southern Mexico is the relative absence of economic activity in the streets. Some sweet and salty treats are sold, but I can’t buy them in good conscience because for some reason here they’re served in styrafoam instead of regular plastic.
I was really amused this week when I encountered a 21st century version of street life not on the Mexican side, but on the US one! While loading up groceries in the Walmart parking lot, a car pulled up and an old Mexican woman leaned out and yelled something. At first I couldn’t make out what she was saying because the context suggested that she was asking something about the parking spot. But then I realized all of a sudden that she was yelling “TAMALES, TAMALES” to see if we wanted to buy any from the back of her nice silver car. AMAZING. It reminded me of a recent trip to the Yucatan Peninsula when my boyfriend and I saw a traditional Mayan palapa being used as a car garage. Just goes to show that traditions will persist and mold to the times in the most unexpected ways.
After doing a training, I was giving two participants a ride home when we started talking about (in)security in Nogales. In the span of a 5-minute conversation, one participant told me that a friend of hers had been shot the week before, and that though it was sad, los que andan de malo acaban mal, those who are involved in bad activities meet bad ends, kind of like people get what they deserve. (The friend was an ex-cop.) It was partially surprising to hear it said so plainly, but only partially, because I hate to use the term in two subsquent blog entries, but I’ve noticed a sort of cognitive dissonance in Nogales such that people think that those involved in the drug trade will get what they deserve, so therefore they think and hope, I will be okay. Turns out her husband is also on the sidelines — as a towman he’s towed several cars after they were shot up in gun fights. Scary stuff. It seems like everyone in Nogales is just one degree of separation away from someone who is involved in the drug wars.
As I pulled into the gym today, I saw the most curious thing. There was a parked SUV with the guy in the driver’s seat dressed in what I always imagined to be traditional Native American clothing. He wore a small headdress, was shirtless and his chest bore small probably symbolic tattoos. I parked right in front of the car and saw that the license plate said Cherokee Nation, Alabama. I got out and purposefully walked around the car on my way to the gym. As I got a better look at the vehicle, I saw that it had a ladder on the top and on the side it said Media.com, a local cable company. I walked into the gym and asked the guy at the counter if he knew anything about it; he didn’t and only said that this man’s partner was inside fixing the cable.