What I’ve been up to lately…
So I have been in Mexico since the 1st of this month. The first night I spent in Mexico was in Saltio. Saltio was a nice clean city, very populated with a large ceramic and tile industry…hence the saltio tile. Upon entering the city I was sitting in my Uncles van and heavy traffic was going by and an old man in a wagon being pulled by a burro crossed with the traffic as though he was one of the cars. It was awesome to see, I wanted to take a picture but didn’t get to my camera in time. Hopefully I’ll see something like that agian.
On the 2nd I made it into Jerez in the fine state of Zacatecas. For about the next 2 months I will be living in Jerez. So far the city is vastly interesting. Jerez dosen’t take up the most physical space but it is very dense in population. The houses are all old, mostly adobe style and built right next to eachother, no yards. The city is very lively. There are always people in the streets, children playing with flat futbols and running around. Most of the cars people drive are either chevy or fords and are older, very few new cars are in the city. Most people ride bikes or drive older cingle cylinder motorcycles. I see grown ass men in ostrich boots and cowboy hats rollin’ by on a 10speed. The streets are all cobblestone which is gorgeous and terribly bumpy.
There is a church on nearly every other corner. They are gorgeous, old catholic buildings that have existed for a couple hundred years. The house I’m living in is 2 levels and the bottom level is made of adobe and is said to be about 150 years old. The house was built for a woman about 4 and a half feet tall and a man very little over 5 feet tall so the doorways are low as are the sinks. I think I have hit my head about 10 times on these damn doorways with my 6 foot 2 self.
The weather is gorgeous. Warm during the day but breezy, which helps since the house I’m in here has no Air Conditioning or swamp. We just open the windows and hope for a cool day. There is seemingly no designation of commercial land and residential land. Business are mixed among the houses though most of downtown is commercial.
I am getting by on my basic knowlege of spanish, with “Me llamo Nah-tan” “mucho gusto” “como te llamas?” and basic shit like that. I can’t yet carry much of a conversation, but hopefully emmersion will work to my benifit. I am also going to take private lessons with a guy who is true bilingual, speaking perfect Los Angeles english and perfect Central Mexico spanish. My uncle is also teaching Tae Kwon Do classes so I’m gonna hit that 3 times a week. Which is good considering I currently lack agility.
One of the things I love about this city is that people are everywhere and so polite. Everybody says “buenas noches” or “buenas tardes” even if they don’t know you, unless your in downtown where theres to many people to be polite. The city is also very musical, and there are musicians everywhere and concerts every Sunday night in the center of the city which I am looking foward to attending.
At night I have to sleep with the windows open to keep cool, and keeping in theme with people always being in the streets the nights are not quite. Last night people were singing in the street. None of the noise seems to bother me. I have almost always had noise at night where I lay my head.
In Tucson it’s the birds talking to eachother in the trees in my backyard or maybe the low low rumble of traffic from Grant road. In Tempe it was college kids and parties. In West Phoenix it was gun shots and police helicopters. So far I’ve only heard 2 gun shots in Jerez. Jerez has rival gangs, known as XV3 (28th) and Trece (13). Jerez also has a couple feuding families. All these groups are involved in drug trafficing which is alive and well in Jerez. The feuding families especially get to me becuase in Teocaltiche and Aguas Calientes it seems as though the Olivarez family (my family) and the Lopez family are feuding and over the years both side has seen loss. Nonetheless sleeping with the noise of city life is something I actually enjoy. I like feeling like I am in the middle of movement, of people, of life and Jerez in many ways is a city you can see just through its noises.
Another noise based thing I’ve noticed is that people who listen to their music listen to Mexican but just as many people listen to Daddy Yankee, 50 Cent, and I even heard a car playing music from that girl who won American Idol (I hate that show). Also there are small trucks that drive around Jerez’s 1 way streets (yeh, all of ’em are 1 way) and sell natural gas and water. Both have a signature doo doo de doo kinda noise before prounoncing over a loud speaker what it is their selling. The gas truck says “El GAASS” and the water truck says “AHG-WAH”. In a given day you might here the trucks at least 4 times. The trash man comes once a week and rings a cowbell and people rush out of their homes carrying their trash and throw it in the bed of the truck.
I miss a few things from home so far, but the only thing I really really miss or get emo about is Delfina. I love her so much and not having her with me to see the beauty of Jerez and my time here and me not being able to share in the beauty of her summer is tough. I miss her being a call or a short drive away.
I really feel like I am slowly getting to know Jerez and develop a relationship with Mexico. I am finding my Mexico. Seeing my sites and smelling my smells and hearing my sounds. I am finally getting to know Mexico for myself, not Rocky Point when thousands of drunk Americans make a mess of it or Tijuana for a couple hours but existing in Mexico on its terms.