Sunday, August 3, 2014

The 7 Wonders of My Ancient World

After nearly 4 years living in Juárez, there are a handful of things that leave me awestruck each time I encounter them on a trip back to the States. I've heard plenty of Mexpats comment that living on the border isn't like living in "real" Mexico but I never did fully understand that sentiment. To me that would be like saying that living in San Diego or Detroit is not like living in the "real" US because they are on the border. Nonetheless, I am left with a dropped jaw each time I make a visit to Missouri and see certain things that we don't have back in Juárez. And with each visit it becomes more and more apparent.

Here are 7 wonders that leave me marveling at their convenience or innovation every time I head North of the border to visit my family. Not to be confused with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this is just about things that were once a huge part of my world. Not that I should be comparing a kitchen appliance to the Great Pyramid of Giza, but whatever.

1. Dishwashers

A magic box that you put dirty dishes in and then they come out spotless and dry? The notion seems unheard of to me now. I'm blessed in that my husband helps out with all the household chores and my only real responsibilities here are to cook and do the dishes. From time to time I fantasize about what it would be like to have one of those magic cleaning boxes again...

2. Garbage disposals

You mean to tell me you can put egg shells and Ramen and jalapeño stems down the drain and then flip a switch and it all disappears? #mindblowing

3. Bath tubs

I will never understand why most people do not have a bath tub in Mexico. Baths use less water than showers and are just more efficient/cost-friendly all around. With that being said, I typically just took showers when we lived in the US, but it was always nice to know I could have a long hot soak if I wanted to.

4. Carpet

Getting out of bed in the winter with that warm, cushy carpet enveloping your feet with love? Ahhhh... Here in Mexico floors are generally tile or depending on the area, just cement or dirt. Oddly enough we have all wood floors in our current home though. Regardless, I miss being able to just run the vacuum cleaner over the floors for a quick clean up. Now it's like, sweep the whole damned house, then bust out a bucket and a mop and ugh... No thank you. Raymundo!?

5. Drinkeable tap water

The thing that probably shocks me the most when visiting my family is being able to drink the tap water. Really, in all fairness, we never drank the tap water in Arizona, but that was because it tasted like crap. Here in Juárez, if we drink the tap water, we get physically ill and small black flecks appear on our teeth. I know, I know, that was one experiment I probably shouldn't have done. I almost feel dirty drinking right from the faucet when I'm on vacation because at this point my brain is so wired to think that tap water is bad for you.

6. Refrigerated air conditioning

Late summer is the time that I miss refrigerated air the most because it's somewhat of a monsoon season in Juárez and the heavy, sporadic rains leave the air feeling thick and humid. Humidity and swamp coolers, which is what most Juárenses have if they are lucky enough to have AC, do not mix. We turn ours off all together when it's raining and give in to the sticky, sweatiness that is a given. We just try not to move much or turn on any lights. 

7. The DVR

This is the most coveted of all of the wonders for me. When I first arrived in Juárez this was obviously the least of my concerns. But after the dust settled and we had a place to rest our heads and were in search of cable service, it came up. I still remember asking a woman at Cablemas how much it would cost to add a DVR. At first I just assumed the acronym was different in Spanish because she just looked at me funny. As I explained that I wanted to be able to pause, rewind and forward live TV and record my favorite programs for later she looked at me like I just told her I wanted to ride to the moon on a pogo stick. Apparently Mexico hasn't quite reached that level of technology?

The funny thing is that although these things surprise or maybe stand out to me more and more as time passes, it's not because I feel I need them anymore. I used to long for them to be in my life again but now it's slowly turning into a, "Wow, I used to depend on that?" type of a feeling. Not with all of these things, but with a couple. Like I would really love to be laying on some fluffy carpet and binge-watching Bravo shows off a DVR right about now.

I suppose the longer you go without something, the less you need it though. That's really become a lesson in and of itself for me.

29 comments:

  1. It's funny. Even though I live in the US and could, theoretically afford to have all of the things you list, I do not have a dishwasher, a DVR (it still seems like black magic to me to be able to pause live TV), a disposal or carpet. I DO absolutely have air conditioning (I live in Florida) and tap water I can drink and a beautiful bath tub which I only use in winter, and I sort of want a dishwasher. I tell you what- I appreciate my drinkable tap water more than all of the rest of it put together but if there's a close second, it's the AC.

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    1. Black magic. Haha! Ooooh, if I had to choose, I would say AC is number one, but I'm one of those people that always hot.

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  2. HI Emily! Here in Austria we don't have garbage disposals either! Thanks for sharing your beautiful blog, I love reading your stories!

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  3. Number 6: Most of the people outside of Mexico have that idea and I do not know the reason; I have always drunk "regular water" and most of the people do and they have the whitest teeth than other parts in Mexico (Durango, Torreon or Zacatecas); so when people here in the US say those things I do not really know why, maybe one of those mthys they come up with to make people be afraid of "strange things", you see those things in people from those states moslty, not from Juarez, about getting sick in the stomach, the same. There is plenty of information online about the reason why people drink bottled water instead "regular water", and it is not because is better....Saludos!

    Ali Valdez

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    1. I don't know anyone in Juarez who drinks the tap water so it's definitely not an American-fear thing. Even the native Juarenses I know bust out their garafones and fill up for 12 pesos at the waterhouse.

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  4. Like you I recently returned home (to the UK for a couple of weeks), goodness drinking tap water was exciting! We do have a dishwasher but a simple part broke and we where told that you can not get parts for dishwashers here we would would gave to buy another one!! Rue

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    1. Maybe you could order the part online? Best of luck with that!

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  5. Haven´t you heard of SKY? You can pause, rewind and forward live tv, and you can also record your favorite programs. I have had it for several years now, you can find the info here http://www.sky.com.mx/sky

    The only thing I agree with you is tap water, every other one you can have if you are able to afford them.

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    1. I have heard of SKY but I did not know they have a DVR available.

      I'm not really sure what you mean about "agreeing with me"... This is a list of things I use to have and no longer have. Not a list of things that don't exist in Mexico. And yes, anyone can have anything they want, anywhere in the world, if they can afford it. Afford being the operative word.

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  6. I lived in El Paso, TX for 2 years and we didn't drink the tap water because the water smelled like pure chlorine! I always bought drinking water in bottles. But now, being back in Germany, I really love to drink now and then water directly from the tap!
    It's kind of funny to know that we lived just a stone's throw away from each other and there are so many differences! Like AC: In El aso everone has one. The same with dishwasher! And we even had carpet (not exactly good Quality though).

    I found your blog because I really miss El Paso, and the People (and the Food!!) and so on. And because of you, i still get some feelings from there. But sadly, I cannot understand Spanish.

    Melanie

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    1. It's tough to talk about the differences between El Paso and Juarez because everyone has different experiences. Plenty of Juarenses have central heating, cooling, carpet, etc, but SO many do not. It's really just a matter of how much money a person has, just like in the US.

      No worries on the Spanish, there's always Google Translate, right? Haha! I'm glad you stumbled upon my blog. Best to you and yours in Germany.

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  7. This is funny! My family and I left Juarez in 1993 when I was 14 years old. A week before we left, Telmex came to our house to install new telephones so that we would be ready for touch-tone dialing the following year. I guess things do still move a little slower in my beautiful Juarez :- )

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  8. Just vacuum your wood floors, too! It works way better than sweeping!

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  9. Love your blog, You're quite entertaining and informative! IF we ever get our turn at the NVC I hope to meet you and get a tour of Juarez that I've seen you offer people! Take care!

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    1. Thank you and sure thing. I hope your process moves quickly!

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  10. Our microwave is broken. It's been broken going on 6 months now. I'm finding out that I really do not need it.... I've never had a garbage disposal... when you think about it, it is kinda mindblowing that contraption!

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    1. I know, right?! Yeah I don't do much with the microwave other than some popcorn one in a while.

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  11. This list is hilarious to me because I've lived in large US cities and never had these things, either, except for water. However, I didn't even have potable water as a kid because we had a well that was polluted. No dishwasher now, never had a garbage disposal (and I'm scared of them from whatever horror movie when the guy got his hand stuck in one), no bathtub (although I had one in college and shared it with 4 others), no carpet (most places have old hardwoods or newer tile), only ever experienced central air while visiting my grandparents in another state and haven't always even had a window AC, and only had DVR for 2 years in my entire life. So its funny how we become accustomed to different luxuries in different areas of the US.

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    1. It's really interesting. Honestly, this blog is really more about things I used to have that I no longer have than it is about things that aren't available in Mexico. There are a lot of places in the US that you can't drink the tap water for instance, many times just because it is so disgusting. Although I am originally from Missouri I pretty much grew up in Arizona and the tap water there was SO gross.

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  12. Hi! I can so relate to this as we live in Nepal! We're going home for our vacation next week and I'm gearing up for the first few days of "reverse culture shock!" Looking forward to all of the above--and adding salad bars to the list! Can't WAIT to eat at every salad bar I find! :) Have a nice day!

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    1. Yes! Reverse culture shock indeed... It takes me a few days to adjust when I go NOTB, that's for sure. Enjoy your trip!

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  13. Great list BTW!!

    In Mexico City me and friends from my college did random bacteria swab samplings from the tap water in various random places including toilet water from the Mexico City subway and guess what? Not one single tap water sample came out with bacteria. The samples from prepared food at grocery stores did have some positive samples though.

    Mexico City's tap water is so full of chlorine that it's likely you won't get sick drinking it but most mexicans are mentally used to buying garrafón water. I myself just don't drink tap water, it's just something you get used to.

    In the case of bath tubs after going to Japan where it's a social obligation to scrub yourself clean and dump a bucket of warm water on your head BEFORE entering the tub so that the hot water is shared by everyone in the household, I would really enjoy a bath tub if I had one but only if the bathroom was designed more like a japanese one where you have a special drain outside of the tub/shower so that the spilled water doesn't flood the hallway and enough space to scrub yourself clean. They sell some really awesome high tech shower heads with jets of water to scrub you clean for 4000 dollars by online retailers in Mexico. If I had the cash I'd definitely design the tub to look like a Japanese hot tub. They sell beautiful wood tubs in Alaska for a reasonable price. Until then I'm okay with taking showers, I kind of feel grossed off taking a tub bath being dirty and knowing I'm sitting on top of dead skin and dirt.

    I believe most mexicans just don't care about DVR because they rent Netflix or simply download bootlegs of everything from the internet for a fraction of the price of a DVR service. In Mexico City there are several cable services that offer it for a premium price.

    I remember what it was like to have a dishwashing machine, they are quite convinient if you are like me and hate wasting time washing dishes everyday but it's one of those things that have to be purchased in the US because the ones they sell in Mexico cost a ridiculous fortune.

    I'd add to the list drying machines and central heating systems. Most mexicans prefer to hang their clothes for the sun to dry them. It saves electricity and the clothes last longer. If I had a choice I'd rather not have a central heating system if the house was large unless I had solar panels on the roof. The electricity bill would be hideous.

    As for dehumidifiers they do sell them in Mexico. Many affluent mexicans living in high humidity climates like Cancun own these machines. They also sell in Cancun regular mini split A/C's for a decent price with a special dehumidifying function. The machine not only cools the room but also sucks out the humidity when you press the right button on the remote!

    After living in a house filled with gross 40 year old carpets with mold and other gross things and how the house stinks for days if rain water shows up and floods the room, I'd rather have a house with rugs and high quality tile floor or synthetic wood that is easy to clean and gets dry in a jiff. I like to wear socks and slippers so the cold floor isn't an issue. If sweeimg the floor is an issue, prices of robotic vaccum cleaners have gone down and you can probably buy one in Texas for only 300 USD. I own a Neeto and it's quite useful. Great post!

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    1. Thank you. It's interesting to read all the feedback :)

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