I have issues with the concept of sanitation here sometimes. I’ve learned to accept that some things are going to be more questionable, like handling raw meat then serving food, or simply not having a sink available. The people here try, but it’s half-hearted at best. They do what they can, but they get busy and start cutting corners, and as an American, this disturbs me sometimes. Like I said, I got used to most of it, but some of the things I’ve seen still weigh on me. The guy giving out lollipops at the meat counter is going to be one of those.
It was like there was nothing wrong with it, and I know the part I eat is wrapped, but there is something deeply disturbing about it, almost to the point of being amusing. It was surreal enough that I took one, if only to keep the relic of such an event for as long as I can, like the movie ticket from a first date, if that date was possibly contaminated by raw meat.
I thought I was beyond culture shock here, but there are always surprises. Fortunately most of them are good, like la Feria de los Flores. It was held on Chapultepec this weekend, small but interesting. There were a number of displays made of flowers, dancing, and some food. There were a remarkable number of clowns, even for here. I think they were more dressed up for the day rather than the usual street fair clown we usually get here. It was cool, a nice surprise, even if it wasn’t as epic as it could have been.
At least I didn’t get burned like last weekend. The sun is deceiving here. I lived my life in San Diego, I know what the sun can do to you when you’re in the water, but here, it’s worse and yet less painful. I was as red as I’ve been in years, but it never really hurt. Something about the mountains makes it harsher and more dangerous. I think most of the reason I was surprised is because the sun and the shade are so different from each other here that it feels really good to get out of the shade for a while. Just one of those things you don’t really expect.
I still find the behavior patterns here interesting. I’ve noticed that no one really smiles in the streets. Sometimes there will be groups walking and laughing, but most people look like their in a hurry, or just plain upset. It’s amazing how fast that changes with the location. I can leave the street filled with frowning people, walk in to the big computer company I teach at, and the same people I was just walking with are now all smiles. I doubt that is much different from anywhere else in the world, people tend to smile more when they feel safe. I am always fascinated by how people are so determined to change their lives, but never realize that it can be as much about location as it can be about who they choose to be.
I did discover one very important thing this week. Fresh raw coconut tastes like walnuts. It reminded me of Christmas, all those years of getting walnuts as filler in the stocking. We’d usually eat one or two, then the rest would disappear. I’m guessing our parents ate them. I was hoping the memory might help me enjoy it, but after a while it’s just too much. I understand now why most people cover it in chile and lemon. You get a surprisingly large amount of coconut for a dollar.
The biggest change is that I found a kung fu studio here I like. It’s relatively close, extremely cheap, and difficult enough to be worth the effort. The style is Cantonese, so I have to learn new names for everything. I think that will always be one of the interesting parts of martial arts. To get into most of the traditional styles, you have to learn some of the culture and the language also. The bad part is that these guys are missing some of the details that I have been taught. Little things, but I’ve seen the difference between fighters and technicians, and these guys are technicians at best. They know the forms, they have the strength, but they don’t have the details that make a fighter. They tried to correct where I put my thumb for a punch to a place where it invites people to break it. Good exercise though, and I needed the change after Chi Gung.
I also started taking piano lessons, so we’ll see how that works out. One of the guys renting a room here is a musician, and he teaches. I wish I had learned that six months ago, but you start when you can. One of the biggest things I’m trying to learn here is to stop looking back. Everything that is in the past is there for a reason. I enjoy the memories sometimes, but regret is something I try to avoid. There is really too much ahead to keep looking back.