I have moved once again. I moved back to the US. Pause not. Actually, I moved to Puebla, Puebla last Wednesday because a better opportunity presented itself here than in Villahermosa. Last Monday, my mom found out that one of her cousins lives in here. I knew that Puebla had a UVM campus on it, it was more of a college city, it had more job opportunities, and my uncle, who also worked for the Secretary of Education, said I could live with him as long as I needed to. I decided to take the 12:10 pm- 8/11/10 bus to Puebla, but before I could leave; I had to do two things: get a refund on my UVM admission fee, and take back the $700 peso Frigidaire microwave that I had bought the week before from Chedraui. The former was easy, but the latter was ridiculous.
It was only Tuesday morning on the 10th, I hadn’t slept in almost a day, but I had to get both of these errands done. I went to Chedraui thinking I could get my money back on the microwave because they stamped my receipt and told me I had money-back guarantee on it till the 17th. They told me that they never give refunds. The guarantee was only for malfunctions, but they still wouldn’t refund the money (I would later find out that Mexico doesn’t do refunds. They may replace items, but if you buy something, it’s assumed that you’re going to keep it.) I asked if there was a pawn shop nearby because I wanted to get some money back since I couldn’t take the dang machine on the bus with me. “One block away, just go left. It’s the PrendaMex.” As I nearing the store’s exit, I asked a female employee if she wanted to buy the microwave from me for $350. I told her that the microwave would make her hotter than any man or woman she has ever been with or seen. She laughed, but then she asked me to leave.
I found the PrendaMex, but my microwave was rejected because they only accept gold. However, I was told that if I walked another five blocks, I would reach a main street and there are a lot of pawn shops there. So here I am…walking five blocks while awkwardly carrying a 40-pound microwave in its wonderfully artistic box (My fingers couldn’t completely go in the side; it was too big to hold from underneath; and it was too wide to grasp. Heck, this microwave box was hung like a horse.) It was also almost noon, and it was about 95 degrees and very humid. There was a point where a cop stopped his car and got out, and I thought that he was going to taze me because he thought I was stealing a microwave. Mexicans—and some—like it hot, you know? After stopping a few times to rest like the girly man I am, I finally made it to the main street called Gregorio Mendez. I looked up and saw a PrendaMex billboard attached to a building. It had pictures of a TV, DVD player, laptop, cell phone, and a microwave on it, so I knew I had made it. But no, I was told that that sign is for their franchise in general, but I could walk five blocks down the street and there would be a Super PrendaMex. I couldn’t believe it. My fingers were about to fall off. I eventually I gave them the microwave and the woman behind the counter took an hour to process everything. I was also asked to show my Passport, and she confirmed it on the computer. Apparently, in Mexico, pawn shops are a serious business. I was also given a contract for the microwave in case I wanted it back. What happened to just evaluating the product, then making an offer you can’t refuse? My arms and hands were sore for two days after that.
On the bus ride to Puebla, we stopped at a checkpoint and someone from the Mexican Army stepped onto our bus and scanned everyone with a metal detector. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that my titanium dildo is immune to metal detectors. Three other things that I found hilarious on the highways were: all the iguanas on the street or under bridges; a sign that said, “VIBRADORES EN 150 M”. Yes, that literally translates to “VIBRATORS IN 150 M”. I asked my 50-year-old neighboring passenger, Jesus, what the sign meant, and he told me that it’s those things on the road that slow cars down. I told him that I was thinking of the second meaning, and he started crying from laughter; and lastly, there was a woman who bought a neck cushion and the company that makes the cushion is called Pimp. I asked Jesus what else the company makes and he told me that they also make pillows, cushions, and a soda. I realized that people are putting their heads down on pimps every night, people are sleeping with pimps every night, and people are putting their lips on pimps every day.
At the bus station, my uncle, Nahum, picked me up. He’s the guy in my Facebook pictures about Puebla. He’s about 5’10’’, thin, glasses, and he looks like he’s in his 30’s, but he’s actually in his mid-40’s. He lives near the center of the city in a two-bedroom apartment by himself. He’s been living in Puebla for about twenty years now as he moved here right after he graduated from a university in a state north of here. He’s a really funny guy and a bad driver, but he started calling me his co-piloto in the car.
I also fell in love with Puebla’s weather. It was late Wednesday night, and even though it rained, the air felt cooler. In the summer, there are only a few days when it gets higher than 80 degrees here, and in the winter, the lowest it’ll get is 45 for a few days. I found it hilarious that I saw some people wearing sweaters some nights and people telling me that it was hot outside during the day. I told them I was living in Tabasco for a while though, and someone told me, “It feels like hell in Tabasco. Thank goodness you left.”
The city is known as a World Heritage Site since the 1980’s, and downtown Puebla is completely beautiful, colonial architecture. There is a lot of tourism here and I even saw some gringas. They were either on vacation or studying abroad, but I did miss seeing pale skin. There are also thousands of gorgeous churches in this city that I hope to take pictures of over the next two years. There was one that was glowing in the dark when I arrived. It was on top of a hill, and it can be visited during the day. I put a picture of it at the top with a volcano in the background.
Speaking of volcanoes, Nahum took me to Cerro de la Paz (Peace Hill) last weekend and that is where we took a few pictures. In my new Facebook album, you can see the picture of a volcano, called Popocatepetl, which is emitting a lot of smoke. However, there is a volcano, Iztaccihuatl, to its right which is not in the picture, which is also nicknamed “La Mujer Dormida”. The legend of La Mujer Durmida (The Sleeping Woman) says that hundreds of years ago, before the Spanish came to Mexico, the Aztecs and Tlaxcaltecas shared this territory. The Aztecs were the rulers though, and they asked other natives to pay tributes to the Gods. However, the Tlaxcaltecas were tired of sacrificing their people to their oppressors, so the Chief of the Tlaxcalteca decided that it was time to finally for his people’s freedom, and a war between the Aztecs and the Tlaxcaltecans ensued. Princess Iztaccihuatl, a beautiful, young woman, was the Chief’s daughter, and she was very much in love with the leader of the Tlaxcaltecan army, Popocatepetl. Their love for each other remained in secrecy, but before Popocatepetl left for war, he asked the Chief for his daughter’s hand in marriage upon returning. The Chief gave Popocatepetl his blessing, and Popocatepetl went off to war and led to Tlaxcaltecans to victory years of fighting. When he returned, the Chief told Popocatepetl that Iztaccihuatl had passed away while he was gone. Popocatepetl was enraged, and then he took his beloved in his arms and carried her up the mountains. Upon reaching the sky, he laid down his love at the peak, and he kneeled beside her with a smoking torch in his hands. The snow eventually covered them both and formed the two volcanoes that are now seen in the horizon. I think the real reason she is sleeping is she’s bored. Her boyfriend keeps teasing her, but won’t explode. On a serious note, that is a wonderful legend, and Puebla has hundreds of them due to its rich history, and I hope to read or hear more soon.
Puebla is a very proud city, and my uncle told me that people here are sometimes stuck-up. It’s hard to enter an established circle, and even more so if you’re an outsider. It may even be worse for me because I’m going to an Ivy League school in Mexico, so all the people here have either fantastic scholarships or their family has a lot of money. My uncle’s close friend, Mauricio, said that I’ll likely be looked down upon for not showing up in a car, and when I make friends, they’ll all want to go shop for brand name clothes and will think I’m odd when I want to go to Wal-Mart. My uncle also added that if I just ignore all the possibly mocking, people will eventually be drawn to me because I’m simply different than everyone else. And because I speak English, so they’ll want help on their English homework. Time to become a bloody English pimp.
I actually applied for a part-time job as an English teacher here on Monday at Ingles Individual. You must go to their website,http://www.inglesindividual.com, and listen to their action-packed theme song. Right after my interview, something that I hadn’t seen in a long time entered the building…something that I thought I had escaped the reach of when I left the United States…an African-American. Yes, he could be from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, etc. But I could tell he was an African-American. If Arizona is allowed to racial profile, then so am I. He was the next interviewee, and my confidence in getting the job immediately declined. How am I supposed to compete with someone who is quadlingual (Spanish, English, Ghetto, and Jive)!?! Please forgive my dark sense of humor.
A few differences between here and the US that I have forgotten to mention are how there are these trucks that go around playing a song, and then they yell something obnoxious that sounds like, “DOS!!!!”. For a few days, I had no idea what it was. I figured it must be some kind of ice cream truck offering a two-for-one discount on jalapeño ice cream (That flavor doesn’t actually exist. I made it up. I figure that some of you actually may have believed me. Racists.), but I was eventually told that the trucks are yelling, “GAS!!!” because people buy gas tanks off trucks here and they are usually set in a secure spot on the top floor of a building or a roof. I thought Mexicans already had enough gas after all they beans the ate. I was wrong.
There are also no garage sales in Mexico. This relates to what I said about refunds. When people buy anything here, they are going to keep it and use it until it is completely consumed. That’s why stores assume you won’t return anything and don’t bother with a good policy. When it comes to clothes, people will wear them or use them until they have no use for the clothing anymore or the clothes are damaged. When it comes to buying appliances, such as microwaves–ugh–, people don’t have the money to buy another one, if their original one breaks. You better still have a warranty, or you’re going to fix it yourself, and if you can’t…well, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.
Most people also have their pilot turned off in their house. When someone is going to cook, they take a lighter and put it near the burner. I have been practicing this custom for hours and my uncle laughed at me because most Mexican kids know how to use a lighter to turn on the stove by the time they are four. Now I am afraid of even looking any little kids in the eye due to the fear of getting burned—verbally and literally. I suppose if I was lit on fire and started smoking; I may magically turn into a volcano. Heck, I wouldn’t mind carrying my beloved up the mountains. I’ve already had to carry a microwave 10 blocks.