1. "De verde, de verde, de rojo, de rojo, de dulce, de dulce, calientitos tamales!" How did I ever fall asleep without hearing this sort of thing? I love the sound of Mexico. When I first arrived, having come from the quiet suburban town of Gilbert, Arizona, I hated all the noise. It drove me insane and kept me up at all hours of the night, eventually leading to a questionable Benadryl addiction. Over the years, I've grown to love it though, including the barking dogs and late night soccer games. Last night I fell asleep to the sweet sounds of children chanting, "Piedra, papel, tijeras, un, dos, tres! Piedra, papel, tijeras, un, dos, tres!"
2. Street food. I probably don't need to elaborate but for anyone that didn't already know... Food Network can take their food truck wars and shove 'em up their ass. Mexico is where it's at. Hamburguesas, hot dogs, elotes, burritos, tacos, gorditas, quesadillas, paletas, you name it, Mexico's got it. Well, except pizza. They're still working on that.
3. Mexicans are the most warm and accepting people I have ever met. They have welcomed me into their country with open arms, which is nothing like the greeting that I am accustomed to Americans giving Mexicans and certainly not like the greeting my husband was given in the US. I don't get dirty looks, or judgemental remarks in passing. No one laughs at me or rolls their eyes when I mispronounce a word in Spanish or have to make hand gestures to explain myself. No one seems to judge my interracial relationship or make assumptions about me as a person because of where I came from. All in all, I have found Mexico and it's people and culture to be extremely inviting.
4. I love the easy access to movies. There may not be a Redbox at every gas station and drug store in the country but you can sure as hell get a movie on every street corner, if you know what I mean. #winkwink Not only do we have our pick of all the popular American blockbusters, we can choose movies from Spain or Italy, Japan or Venezuela, the film world is our oyster! And if you do decide to go to the theater? Oh. My. God. Cinepolis, which is the more popular choice, is the best movie theater I have ever been to in my life. Huge, plush, reclining seats, all of the yummy movie theater treats that you can get in the US (with an unlimited supply of jalapenos of course) and if you are in one of their VIP theaters, you can even order an adult beverage in the middle of the show, from your very own waiter. It's pretty bad ass.
5. Health care for the everyday Joe, err Juan, is extremely accessible. I cannot say it's of the best quality, but if my husband gets the flu, or sprains his ankle, or needs to get a cavity filled, it's all covered at no cost to us, including prescription medications. That is a huge relief considering the cost of medical care in the US is absolutely atrocious. Even though I am not covered myself, I'm still able to take advantage of it to some extent due to the availability of low priced medications everywhere you turn. The biggest benefit for me has been being able to get the allergy shots that I could never afford to get in the US. Nowadays I'm rarely the wheezy, red-eyed girl I was back in the States.
6. Tecate and tequila. These are as much of a staple as beans and tortillas are in many Mexican households. You can use them to mourn the loss of a loved one, marinate your meat or celebrate a bauptismo. Yup, I may be #thenewme, but I'm still me!
7. Northern Mexico is home to some of the most delicious cheeses in the world and I love me some cheese, but then again, who doesn't? (Read Oral Sex Or Cheese: The Truth Revealed for some hilarious stats.) Queso Menonita is a local favorite although I personally prefer Asadero. Regardless, you can find whatever you fancy on almost every street corner, like almost everything in Mexico, if you haven't noticed by now. Add it in your burrito, on top of your tacos or in a simple quesadilla; there is nothing quite as exquisite as queso Mexicana and I certainly never found anything comparable in the dairy section of a US grocer. This ain't no Kraft if you catch my drift.
8. The park! I absolutely love to hang out at the park here and celebrate... anything. Birthdays, Easter, Fourth of July, whatever. It doesn't matter what the occasion is, fun is to be had. The parks are always full on the weekends and on a major holiday? Fugetaboutit. Plan to be shoulder to shoulder with everyone and their mother... and her primo and her primo's primos too. I probably enjoy it so much because I grew up going on frequent camping trips and for Juarenses, it seems that a day at Chamizal is about as close as we're going to get. And I'll take it! There's nothing quite like biting into a big chunk of carne asada, fresh off the grill, and drinking beer secretly from a soda can as you laze around all day in the sun with your friends.
9. Soccer and its followers. Now let's get this straight, I don't really like soccer, but I love what it represents for Mexico. I enjoy watching sporting events for the most part, but a soccer game (match?) would fall somewhere at the bottom... right under golf. But the camaraderie that this country shares over their beloved deporte is undeniably endearing. I love that when I run around doing errands on a Sunday morning, I pass by no less than 9 soccer fields and every single one is being played on. People of all ages are running back and forth, leaving nothing but clouds of dust behind them, as it's rare to see fields with grass around these parts. The crowds of amigos and padres and tios and primos drink their Coca-colas and eat their Taquis as they cheer wildly from the sidelines. Then whenever Chivas or Cruz Azul is playing a televised game, you can actually hear your neighbors cheering and swearing and screaming bloody murder from inside of their homes. My husband rarely makes me watch a game so it's always somewhat alarming when I suddenly hear a booming "GOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLAAAASSSSOOOOOO!!!!!!!" and hoots and hollers coming from all of our neighbor's houses simultaneously. Although it's not really my thing, there is something so charming and comforting to me about the soccer obsession here in Mexico.
10. My absolute favorite thing about Mexico is that from what I have experienced, Mexicans don't live to work, they work to live. This is a refreshing difference from the American perspective and is something that really caused me to sit back and take a look at my own life and priorities. I think there is a lot to be said for adapting to that theory in one way or another. Since we moved here I've slowly begun to put a little less focus on my 9 to 5 and more focus on my quality of life and time with my family. I think that has drastically changed my outlook on life in general and is something that a lot of us can really benefit from in more ways than one.