Apr 18, 2004, 8:10 AM
Post #1 of 25
(Thread separated from other topic)
Insects, repellants and other folk tales
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You didn't ask short time Gringos what they think, hope this is OK. I've been here 6 months. A few weeks ago I went back for a visit. Someone in some airport asked me what I missed most about the US. My immediate answer was English! So language, which I consider a surmountable barrier (and one I work on every day) is one thing that could send people back. All the things surrounding language are not so easy to deal with, such as books, movies, videos, CDs, newspapers, TV, sports. These are things to adjust to and not for me serious issues, as there seem always to be solutions.
I'm aware of trade-offs and equivalences. For every irritation here, there is something as bad where I'm from--and vice verse. And for every good thing in either place, there's something wonderful in the other place. If you can have everything, you can't have it all at the same time.
So for me there are three insurmountables that could send me packing--at 1 year, 2, 5, 7, 10, who knows--one trivial--but still an issue--the others not.
Trivial: Insects and other creepy crawly things. After a couple hours of swatting mosquitoes, I retire to bed with a book, keeping all but my hands and eyeballs under the sheets. A whining begins in one of my ears. I swat it and while that ear is still ringing, the bug zips around to the other side of my head and whispers sweet nothings there. If by chance I manage to kill it, there are always a couple more to take its place. The suspense is better than a Tom Clancy novel, which I have handy to kill the larger bugs.
Meanwhile tiny, harmless insects are drawn to my reading lamp, where they decide to die in a flutter on my nightstand. Those who live a bit longer, make an interesting pattern on my sheet or add punctuation to my reading material. It gets to be too much! I shut the book, go in the bathroom and there's a nice big scorpion to greet me at the door, waving its electric tail up and down. I hit it with the handy can of Raid and go off to find the broom.
There on the kitchen floor is a cockroach so big it is probably the very thing (besides the cat) that is keeping the rats away. OK now I have the dead bugs swept up and I'm in bed, I've given up on reading, it's 1 a.m. and my mosquito bites begin to itch. I slap on in ascending order, a squeeze of lime, Andantol and Hyrdocortisone cream. Soon my legs and arms are a mass of bleeding scratches. The mosquitoes, like sharks, smell blood and zoom in for more feeding. More slapping, more spraying the DEET, more itching, less sleep. You get the idea.
The not trivial: Family, friends, connections. In a very real sense, especially if you live alone, you lose your identity when you move here. Sure you still are whoever you were--sort of. But my theory is we exist in relationship to one another and who we are depends a lot on who we are with. I am not so much talking about what our career was or what major or minor fame or infamy we may have achieved. The whole network and web of social, familial and historical associations we have if we lived in one place for our lives or for a long time--it doesn't move with us. Sometimes this is a good thing, I suppose. But it leaves me feeling vulnerable in much the same way I did when I got divorced. I expect it to pass as that did, but there's no guarantee it will.
The not even negotiable: Family emergencies, health problems. Enough said.
Really, there's no way of knowing in advance, no matter how much research you do, whether a make-it or break-it situation will arise. Whether one day you look at a scorpion and think, That's it! I can't take it any more! Some things you cannot find out unless you live here. And really, so what if you do go back after a week, a month, a year, a decade? You will have had that time in Mexico. It doesn't make you a failure, you did something wonderful! And your next phase of life may be just as wonderful. Don't worry about it.
(This post was edited by DavidMcL on May 6, 2004, 6:17 PM)