Some things should not be a taco. While this seems like common sense, I was surprised to find myself thinking these words twice this week. The first time, a man was putting spaghetti on a tortilla, and not good looking spaghetti. It was distinctly pink rather than red and I could see how overcooked it was from the way it turned into a gel, like a reject from a school cafeteria. The second was a hotdog, and the taco was deep fried. Looking at it made me feel greasy. The spaghetti was just a guy on the corner, it could have been home made. The hot dog taco was mass produced, and it’s not the only time I’ve seen it here. If you ever decide you want a hot dog, and you’re in Mexico, sit down and reconsider your choices in life first. Something went very wrong if that is a craving you have. Or you’re Mexican. When you grow up with a food it makes sense to like it. Look at America’s infamous lunchable and hot pocket industries.
It’s been a strange sort of a week. Statistics is done, thank God, and I’m moving on to more interesting classes. Work has balanced out pretty well now, and I’m more or less settled for the moment. I wish I could move on from Guadalajara, move further into the world. I’m sure I could, but for now it’s best to stay where I am. I wonder if that’s the best choice or just the lazy one. Every time there is no hot water here, I want to move, but I don’t want to deal with moving. Part of starting on a life like this is getting used to abandoning comfort. I’m not sure if I’m there yet. There are so many places to see, but I have to have wifi, and that’s not always a guarantee.
I found myself wandering the city today, looking for Cerro del Tesoro. It’s a mountain in the South, but still within the city limits. I remembered afterward that the Diplomat told me it was closed to the public. Fortunately, like most things in Mexico, closed and off limits are relative terms. There were no signs saying keep out, no fences or barricades really. The only fence blocked cars, not people walking, and was marked as bus parking. It was strange, being in the wilderness, but without being in the wilderness. I still had wifi available, if I knew the password. Distant and alone, but still surrounded by the city. I practiced my forms and waited for sundown.
The sunsets in the mountains are usually subtle, soft, and just fade into darkness. I’m guessing it has something to do with how thin the air is up here. The thing about the view here is that it always looks like something is on fire. Sometimes it is, like the mountain to the East the other day, and the field outside of pioneer. No one cares, but things are burning. Today it looked like it might be a factory to the south, but it’s hard to know. If it was fire, no one did anything about it for an hour. That doesn’t tip the scales in either direction here.
It was a good day out, and I got to practice my Spanish with the police on the way out. Apparently the wide open fences with no signs on them meant the park closed at 7pm. The guy seemed mildly annoyed, but then just opened the gate and told me “que le vaya bien.” It’s probably the same reaction I would have gotten from the police in the States. It was a short walk back down the mountain. It’s probably the best way to start mountain climbing, following well worn trails to the top of something that would count as a hill in San Diego. It’s only a mountain because we’re already a mile up to begin with here. It reminded me of the Prince of Peace monastery in Oceanside. It’s not far enough from the world to not hear the traffic, but it’s still peaceful in it’s own way.
I did find out one thing of interest. To get my degree I need 150 hours either volunteering or as an Intern somewhere. Being in Mexico only means that I have to be sure the person in charge speaks enough English to report to my teachers in the States. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but we’ll see. My Spanish teacher works with the indigenous Mexicans and she said she’d talk to the people there and see if we could work something out. I’ll have to keep looking around for other things too. Maybe I’ll take some time at the end of the year and do all of the work in a month. I just want something unexpected and interesting. I could look for things I like to do anyway, but I’d rather use the time to try something new, to look around and see what else I can find in the city.
A good thing to note is that if you take classes online, be sure you notice the fine print. Something like this could me more of a problem for someone who doesn’t have the option to not work for a month, or has too much to do to fit it in their schedule. I’m glad of it, personally. I was looking to do volunteer work anyway, this just gives me a push to go and find something. There are a few others here too, but I may start looking in other countries also. There are a number of internships available in China, and I’m sure there are other countries with interesting things going on. This world in never short of people needing help.
I was having a discussion with a few people the last couple weeks, and I realized something. The biggest problem in Mexico might just be the cutting corners and jury-rigging that I found amusing and irritating. It’s rare to see anything here that is done perfectly rather than just patched together and forgotten. The houses, the buses, the streets, everything looks like someone started to fix things, then got distracted halfway through and wandered off. Good enough, some say. I step over massive holes in the ground, hanging electrical wires, and duck loose barbed wire. The buses have breaks that scream and holes in the floor patched with plywood.
Starting with this mentality, is it hard to connect why everything here is falling apart, from the government to the schools, the justice system to the streets? If you never learn to follow through, to fix things right the first time, to strive for quality over “good enough,” how can you fix anything? Not just the society, but anything at all? I always found that when I cut corners, I wind up doing the work twice. Here, they just leave it half finished. I wonder if it’s the sociology training or if I’ve just been here too long.
My student asked me what I would be doing if I was a citizen here. I told her I would be doing the same thing I am now. The world needs good people more than anything else. People able to change things. I’m not that person, but I’m trying to be. Maybe I can learn, maybe I can be good enough. For now, I’m happy being the Bard.