Introspection Outside of Mexico

As part of my two weeks of vacation from Mexico, I made myself a promise to make note of what I missed about Mexico and how it feels to be back in the U.S. for a while. Here are some more thoughts on the topic.

There are these funny little moments when I’m surprised by the once familiar details of life in the U.S. At the airport where I made my connecting flight I bought lunch. The lady at the cash register handed me my change and I smiled to see the dainty silver colored coins falling into my hands. Then I bent my head to see the back of the new coin for the state of Washington. “Is everything OK?” asked the lady, worried that maybe she’d given me the wrong change. I didn’t have the words to explain that I’d been outside the U.S. for six years and was just surprised by the look of the money.

Since I moved to Mexico, the media has gotten out of denial about global warming. When I left the U.S. no one wanted to put in print that it was happening. They would use hedge words like, “some scientists think.” Just this year I’ve noticed that I’ve read a number of articles that cite different changes around the world as being the effects of global warming. Just like that. Effects of global warming–no hedge words. I guess we have Al Gore to thank for getting us out of denial. Anyway, at the airport I thought I should confirm that the water in the drinking fountain was potable. After all, if the media’s belief in global warming has changed so drastically, maybe the water quality in some cities has too. I asked a teenaged employee of the airport who was standing near a drinking fountain, looking at his cell phone if the water was potable. He didn’t seem to know how to answer, so I refrased the question. “Can I drink the water?” I asked. Happily, he was shocked. “Oh! Oh yeah,” he said. There was obviously no doubt in his mind about the drinkability of the water.

One thing that I love about the U.S. is that I find it easier to get exposed to media that induce deeper thought. Many of my friends and family members can tell me about interesting books that they’ve recently read on a wide range of topics. Here’s a smattering of examples, the true story of an Islamic woman who wants to change the way other Islamic women live (a great aunt read this one), the true story of two people from the 11th century (a friend), the petrolium cost of produce and how to reduce the environemental impact of the foods you are purchasing (a cousin and my mother), and a fictional story set in Afganistan (two different aunts). The movie Sicko is out and public broadcasting stations provide interesting TV shows every day. A couple nights ago I watched a delightful show where a chef went to the farms to purchase the food he was going to cook with. The environment and health were part of the focus and it left me with a positive feeling about trends in food production and consumption patterns. I find that it’s much less common to be exposed to such variety of well thought out media in Mexico.

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