Friday, August 21, 2009

Neighborhood Initiation

-ability to drink copious amounts of chelas (beers) and/or tequila until last man standing/sun comes up/need to go to work.
-ability to participate in the discussion (ENTIRELY in Spanish).
-ability to play AND understand jokes (ENTIRELY in Spanish).
-ability to dance to local music without making an ass of one’s self (ok, I do not think I passed this test).

Result: many laughs with my new neighbors, the learning of new Spanish vocabulary (including slang and typical local expressions), a massive tequila hangover, sore feet (and not just my dance partner) AND………………insert drum roll here………………………a sense of community and BELONGING.

Here is how the intitiation came to be. I arrive home from a dinner party at my friend’s house around midnight. A full party is in effect on the street in front of my house with tables, booming stereo, tequila and the works. When I get out of the car, they ask me politely if we would like to join them and if not, is the music and festivities too loud???? They explain that it is the birthday of the senora that runs the shop across from my house. Again, they say that they would really like me to come and they hope we can join them.

My girlfriends politely decline as they need to leave and wake up early for their work. I also need to do some work in the morning but realize this is an important opportunity to get to know my neighbors. I think and analyze and think some more when finally I decide that I HAVE TO go. Unlike my other neighborhood, I feel like an outsider, perhaps because I am one of the only foreigners in the neighborhood. Or perhaps it is because I am a single woman living alone with a bunch of animals. Here, this is NOT typical and I get asked almost on a daily basis where my husband or boyfriend is and why I have so many animals. To add to my “strangeness” factor, I walk with BOTH my dogs daily AND with them both on a leash. Again, not typical in this or most neighborhoods. Admittedly, in my neighborhood, I will see a few locals walking their pets on a leash but this is certainly not the norm. Or perhaps I am seriously overanalyzing this and I do not feel accepted solely because they have not had the chance to get to KNOW ME!!! After 20 minutes or so of internal debate, I decide to go.

I show up to immediate warmth and generosity and eventually find myself dancing in the middle of the street and learning slang, jokes and the idiosyncrasies of the extended family/neighbors in the fiesta. After many cervezas and tequilas, I manage to extract myself from the fiesta at 5:30am! The party continues without me (even though the senora who is the center of the party has to open her store at 7am) but they have left me with an invitation to join them the next afternoon for homemade ceviche. And I must tell you that the ceviche was DELICIOUS and the best I have ever had here. For those of you unfamiliar with ceviche, it is a citrus-marinated seafood dish. Both regular fish and shellfish are used (raw) and they use fresh lime juice to "cook" or pickle the fish and seafood without any heat.

I am so happy that I had this opportunity. It was wonderful to get to know some of these people a little more and I discovered they are LOVELY, real people who are simply wary of newcomers to begin with.

All in all, a FANTASTIC night. I finally feel more connected to this neighborhood and the people that live here.


Leslie Limon said...

Yay!!! How very exciting! Reading this post, all I could do was cheer for you and your new friends/neighbors!

Steve Cotton said...

Congratulations! I am not even certain I have neighbors. Well, I do. But they are mainly absent Americans and Canadians. Maybe I will have better luck at the new house.

CancunCanuck said...

Felicidades! Your post actually made me a bit misty-eyed, one of those very special moments in the adventures of moving to Mexico. I'm really happy for you, I hope this is the beginning of some lovely relationships. :)

New Beginnings said...

Thanks everyone - it was a wonderful opportunity to get to know my neighbors and I do not feel like an outsider anymore.

John in LA said...

Hey New Beg!
That was such an enlightening post! I can totally relate to how you feel and I understand how important these kinds of things are.
I was so happy when I was able to have conversations in Spanish. I really can't explain how happy I was because it was like 'being in a different world' HAHA! I'm sure you know what I mean and I know somewhat what you're feeling.
Every time I check your blog I really am cheering for you and I find you quite an inspiration! (it's my goal to move down to Mexico and live for a few years...maybe forever.)
Man...This internet thing is pretty cool!

Take care,
John in LA

PS- I'm not sure when my cousin is coming over from Ireland to do our trip to Mexico, but I'll be sure to drop you a note when we're passing through Manzanillo to have that beer with you.

New Beginnings said...

John - fantastic goal,I am cheering for you to achieve it. Yes, give me a shout when you are coming down.

VisitLaManzanilla said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.