Yesterday was a whirlwind of an evening. I had a dentist appointment scheduled at 5:30. Due to the dentist being very, very pregnant and Christmas approaching, it was the first time that I've encountered a Mexican medical professional whose schedule was booked. I had to take the 5:30 appointment. Which meant that Mario couldn't drive me AND I had to find someone to watch Clara while I got my teeth drilled yet again.
Fortunately, my friend Sheila was only too willing to watch Clara. Unfortunately, she lives at the polar opposite side of town from me. Meaning, we had to leave the house at 3:30 in order to make it to my 5:30 appointment on time. Every once in awhile, I'm not a huge fan of public transportation. This was one of those times.
While hanging out in the dentist's chair, I noticed that dark was quickly approaching. Why does December always do this to me? Sigh. So I walked from the dentist's house to the mall in the twilight, knowing that my best chance of getting any kind of transportation out to Sheila's at that time of day would be one of those taxis that is constantly skirting the mall.
Getting in the taxi, I let him know that I needed to get to Sheila's neighborhood at the waaaay north side of town, and if he would wait for me, we'd then need to go to my house downtown. I was a bit nervous trying to make myself understood and probably spoke way too fast. The mouth full of Novocaine didn't help anything. Even on the best of days I can't pronounce the name of Sheila's neighborhood well (which is REALLY embarassing, as it's my husband's last name . . . and a common one at that . . . [really deep sigh]).
After giving very specific directions to Sheila's house instead and receiving a tutorial on how to pronounce my husband's last name (after which he may have finally realized that I wasn't kidding about having a mouth full of Novocaine), we were on our way and he switched our language of conversation to English.
Have I mentioned how much I hate that?
Now, I understand if your English is better than my Spanish. I'll happily speak English then. But 9 times out of 10 my Spanish is better, which makes an already irritating conversation just about unbearable. Yes, I'm one of those who prefers my taxi rides to be silent.
And given the extra-long nature of this ride, I'd be spending the better part of an hour with this man. Perhaps I should have waited for the next taxi. Can't they post signs on the door, saying "I'm a chatty taxi driver!" or, "I'm a silent taxi driver"? Of course not.
After picking up the kid (who did not cry at all the entire time I was gone--highlight of my week), we headed off the long ride back home with Chatty Taxi Driver. Before we even got off the highway, he told me that he had lived in northern California for six years. It seemed like he enjoyed it.
As we continued talking, though, he and I both came to the conclusion that there is something nice about living here in Mexico. As he put it, "there's quantity and there's quality. While we may not have too much here in Mexico, in a number of important ways, I feel that the quality of life is better here."
Obviously, quite a few people will disagree with him, or there wouldn't be so many Mexicans living in my country. However, I have to agree. In many ways, life certainly is easier in the US, but is the quality of life any better?
So often I feel like I'm stuck in a time warp, thrown back a few decades to a simpler time that so many reminisce about. Clearly, memories are fickle things, and all too many things about the realities of life in Mexico are anything but idyllic. However, in my experience, I have to agree with Chatty Taxi Driver. Life just isn't as notoriously busy here as in the US, and that in itself is a huge improvement in the quality of life. Yes, working hours are longer (and for less pay) but that never-ending busy-ness? In my experience, it just doesn't exist.
For this and other reasons, I am glad to live here. Despite a number of uncertainties, I do feel a deep sense of peace, which in part comes from my experience living here. Could I find that in the US? Absolutely. I think it would just require a bit more searching in order to find it.
(This conversation excluded the reality of the violence that plagues this nation, of course. That's a whole other can of worms and fortunately isn't quite the reality here that it is in so many other cities.)