I screwed up. I was going to take Flynn to a movie. We picked the only movie for kids that was in English, because I’d shown Flynn some trailers in Spanish and he’d seemed a little overwhelmed. But we got to the theatre late. And I was in a hurry buying our tickets. And I accidentally bought ones for the Spanish screening of the same movie.
“I thought this movie was going to be in English,” Flynn said a few sentences in.
“I’m sorry buddy, I messed up,” I explained, expecting a major tantrum to follow.
“That’s okay,” Flynn assured me. “I’m learning more and more Spanish every day, you know. I think I can practice during the movie. I think my teachers will be very proud of me.”
You might have heard the buzz about Costco’s big bears. They’ve arrived in Mexico too. Jonah’s not exactly a fan.
Yes, we have Costco here, and yes, we’re members. We never joined stateside, but here they carry some products you can’t find elsewhere, so we caved.
It’s hard to feel sorry for our “hardship” of living overseas given the existence of a Costco in our post of assignment, isn’t it? We would have killed for one when we were in Benin. And this Costco happens to be right across the street from a swanky mall with an Outback, a PF Chang’s, a Cheesecake Factory, and any American clothing store you might want, too. And it’s just one of many swanky malls in town.
We’re trying to steer clear of American chains as much as possible, because we didn’t move overseas to live like we would have back home, but I’m not going to lie — it’s nice to have the option to visit familiar places from time to time.
Although I maintain that living without a Trader Joe’s still constitutes some level of hardship.
Trompo Magico is as nice as any children’s museum I’ve ever been to, and $30 later we’re members with unlimited visiting privileges for the next year. We were too busy to take many pictures, but here are a few we snapped.
We even ran into a few Mexican friends Flynn made last week at a park playdate. And earlier in the day, at a music class, we ran into friends from a different visit to a playground as well as someone who’s from the same town in Illinois where my sister lives. Though it has a population of 1.5 million and all the culture and activities one could want (like, say, an excellent children’s museum), Guadalajara’s shaping up to feel like a small town — in the best possible way.
Every year on October 12, millions of Catholics participate in what is said to be Latin America’s largest religious procession. It’s sort of a big deal. The sale of alcohol is forbidden for the day. People travel from long and far, sometimes on horseback, and then camp out overnight in parks and public squares in order to participate. This year, we were part of the crowd.
Known as the Romeria, this event involves transporting the revered Virgin of Zapopan from her the cathedral in downtown Guadalajara to her ancestral home in suburban Zapopan. (History and religious buffs, read more here.) Of course, there is much fanfare surrounding this pilgrimage, and frankly that’s what interests us a bit more. There are elaborate traditional costumes.
There’s loads of delicious street food.
Flynn had a nice view of the action.
But Jonah and I managed to get up close and personal too.
Since we were out with two little ones, we didn’t stay at long as we might have otherwise liked. We didn’t try as many foods as we could have. We didn’t interact with the locals as much as would have been ideal. And I’m not going to even mention the parking situation beyond saying that it was not good. But still, we were there, and in fact we were the only gringos we saw.
A zoo is a zoo is a zoo is a zoo, right? That’s mostly true, although do you remember this sad excuse for a “zoo” that we stumbled upon in Benin? That was most certainly not a zoo. I’m not sure whether Guadalajara’s zoo is any better or worse than most, but that’s exactly the point. It’s a real zoo. We’re so excited to be in the sort of city that has a real zoo!
But the great thing about living somewhere like Guadalajara as an expat is that not only does it have pretty much anything one might want, like a real zoo, but a different economy is at work here. So you can buy the fancy package with all the extras — like a safari ride where you get to actually feed giraffes (see above) — for less than the cost of admission to a regular zoo in the U.S. Pretty cool.
A co-worker happened to mention that her family has a Friday night tradition: they gather together for pizza and a movie. Hey, we like pizza and movies, and we’re always in on Friday nights anyway. We decided this was a tradition our family should take on too. So we explained to Flynn what a tradition was. He was a little fuzzy on the concept, but he did understand that ours would include pizza and movies, so he was on board. We decided to start the following Friday.
Every day that followed this conversation, Flynn asked, “It is traditional day yet?”
“You mean, pizza and movies? Our Friday tradition?” we tried to correct him.
“Yes, that’s what I said. You’re not listening to me. I said ‘traditional day.’”
He’s not exactly wrong. What’s more traditional in our native culture than takeout pizza and a good picture show? Frozen. Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Wizard of Oz. Sometimes we even get our pizza from Dominos or Little Caesar’s.
Friday is upon us again. Happy traditional day to one and all!
Flynn’s been at his new Mexican preschool for about a month now, and according to him, he still has no friends. Every few days he’ll come home and tell us he learned a new boy or girl’s name.
“Oh, is that your new friend?” we’ll ask.
“No,” he’ll say.
“But how did you learn his name?” we’ll ask. “Did he play with you?”
“No,” he’ll tell us again. “I need to learn Spanish first. Then he’ll be my friend and play with me.”
“Did he tell you that?” we’ll ask.
“No,” he’ll reply. “I just know it myself.”
It’s kind of heartbreaking, right? We ended up sending him to a bilingual preschool in the hopes of easing this transition, but it seems that only the teacher knows English. The kids are all there because their parents want them to learn it, but they don’t speak any yet. I don’t think anyone’s being mean to Flynn. And I don’t think he’s unhappy. Every day we ask him if he likes school and whether he wants to go back, and to those questions we always get an emphatic yes.
But still, I hope he makes some friends soon. Or picks up more Spanish. Actually, both.