The Mundane Just Got More Complicated

Yesterday I drove for the first time in Mexico.  Yesterday marked three weeks living in Mexico.  It took me three weeks to get behind the wheel.  I drove to the grocery store.  The grocery store is less than 10 minutes away. I felt accomplished. 

When Dave’s brother first moved here someone told him that “driving in Mexico is a game of inches.”  Doesn’t that sound exciting?  Seriously though, merge lanes are a rare privilege here, lanes come, go, widen and narrow at whim (whose whim I'm not sure, certainly not mine), one way streets are semi-optional, and there’s a random guy at the corner of a major intersection in our neighborhood who has appointed himself director of traffic.  The traffic guy we like.  He occasionally gets tips when he’s particularly helpful. 

Added bonus: A picture of Eli in our rather empty apartment.
To drive here you have to be aggressive.  If you know me, you know that there is very little aggression in my petite 5’3” frame.  There’s going be a learning curve.  But last week I spoke with an American woman who has lived here for 4 years and never driven.  She’s afraid to try.  I drove after three weeks.  Check out that brazen courage!

Anyway, we went to the grocery store.  I’ve always been pretty good at finding things in stores.  Dave says that understanding the layout of stores and malls is my special power.  I’m not sure exactly what the action figure for Super Shopper Woman looks like, but I’m hoping soon you’ll be able to flip a switch on her back to put her in Spanish language mode.  In the meantime, thanks to the magic of Google Translator, I did manage to translate my whole grocery list before we went.  (Side note: Google advertising department, if you’re out there – I think I could be your next commercial, right after the girls who order Indian food.)  However, the Mexican grocery store is just a little different than the ones I’m used to in the United States.

Here are just a few of my insights: For one thing, Mexican’s apparently do very little baking at home.  The grocery store has a rather large section of fresh baked goods, but the section of baking ingredients is miniscule and I never did manage to find baking soda. Next, Mexicans don’t eat nuts.  I wanted to buy some raw almonds to keep around as a snack.  The largest package I found couldn’t have contained more than 20 nuts and cost double the amount I would have spent at my beloved Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s people, if you’re out there I will happily stand on the street corner and advertise for you if you’ll open a store in Mexico City).  Finally, Mexicans seem to believe that the main items that should be purchased in a can are refried beans and meat.  That’s right, meat.  There’s practically an entire aisle of meat in a can.  I wasn’t looking for meat in a can.  I was looking for butter beans in a can.  Butter beans are not an option in a can or otherwise.  Our tried and true White Chicken Chile will be made with Frijoles Bayo tonight (brown beans according to Google Translator), which came dried in a bag.  I currently have beans soaking in my kitchen for the first time in my life (I looked up how to do that on Google tooJ).  So, my cooking experiences are going to be a little different here.  On the upside, I will definitely become a more well-rounded and less recipe following cook.

Well, off to finish my cup of pineapple and coconut yogurt.  They don’t sell the vanilla yogurt I wanted, but I think I could get used to this breakfast version of a piña colada. More mundane to come…


  • Burt | August 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    This post had me cracking up all the way through. I can just imagine you setting out some beans to soak and then walking away, rolling your eyes to yourself in response to how ridiculous of a task it is. Praying for you guys! And great bonus pic - Eli is looking so grown up

  • Alycia Homeyer | August 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Hi cousin! I have some friends who just moved here and use Google translate for their grocery list too! And as for the baking soda, this might sound crazy, but if there is a Chinese store around somewhere they might carry it. Or find out where the international grocery store is (I'm SURE there is one there!). Dutch grocery stores don't carry baking soda either. Weird, right?! strong and courageous, do NOT be terrified for the Lord your God is with you...even in Mexican traffic. :-)

  • Natalie | August 22, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    What an adventure!!!!

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