FIRST NIGHT AS AN EX-PAT
OK, I’m sitting here tonight on a back street, low-rent apartment in Puerto Vallarta. It’s thundering and lightning outside and the rain comes down in a gentle torrent. There are about three different musical interpretations of this evening up and down the street. A truck drives slowly by announcing over a bullhorn the availability of pineapples, apples and tuna, cactus apples. Sounds like a theme. I’d go out and buy some but I’m very shy right now about my presence here and my Spanish is almost non-existent.
This is a first (last?) step in my master plan to move here. I’m not sure it’s a wise decision. I have a good business and a nice house up in California. Sarah, my wife, isn’t totally sold on the idea, yet, but she’s tolerant of my whims. I’m here without her on this trip.
So now what?
I’ve paid the rent for a year in advance and am hoping that I will find self-support within that time. The last few days have been hard. I flew down specifically to find a place to live here. Going back and forth in my mind about the wisdom of this action, I’ve spent 3 sleepless nights, living mostly on coffee and rum and coke. Barb, the real-estate person, tried to not so subtly hint that if the only vitamin C I was getting was from the limes in my rum, perhaps I should reconsider my diet. She’s right, of course, but these are traumatic times requiring extraordinary psycho-culinary support. No, I don’t go for that line, either, but it sounded good for a second or two coming out of these fingers…
Barb calls this apartment “funky Mexican chic.” You can tell by the description that I’m not up in the condos at the beach or in Gringo Gulch or Conchos Chinos. It’s about 7 blocks from Los Muertos Beach, up the river Cuale, right at the point where it splits to go around the upper island. The “other” side of the River from Gringo Gulch.
I suppose that by Mexican standards I paid too much for this place, about $500 a month, but by my standards, or almost any U.S. standards, it’s a deal. I NEVER trust real estate agents, but I like Barb. If she’s making a hustle out of this, it’s not a greedy one. She’s pretty easy to deal with. Certainly rough and tough around the edges, but when she lets her hair down, she’s a sweetheart. She acts as if she’s stuck here in PV, but I’m not going for that one. She told a story about having to drive in NYC in rush hour in the Holland tunnel as if that was some type of badge of valor. I’ll accept that.
The apartment is the second story of a house. The first floor is occupied by the owner, a man and his family. He’s a jeweler and works out of the house. My apartment has two bedrooms and each room is painted in a different gaudy color. The roof of the building is ours to use. If I buy a house here, I want a roof like this. The house is on Aquiles Serdan, a small street that seems like it was added to the city as an afterthought… and squeezed in.
So today I bought cleaning supplies at the closest supermarket, Rizo’s. I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do when you move into a new place. The first few days of a move, especially one this drastic, are a little confusing.
I was sitting in Cardenas Park this morning, kind of holding my head, and a local street person came up and asked me for 5 pesos, and then, after I gave it to him, offered me some advice: “Don’t worry so much about the future. You think too much.” This guy had me pegged even before the 5 pesos.
So, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably asking, “Why?”
The answer to this question is probably the same as for everyone else who’s left their country of birth for a totally different culture: I really don’t fit in where I was born. My values are different, my goals are different, and my methods of dealing with people are different.
Personally, I despise the government of the US and the culture that supports it. I hate malls. I hate Disneyland. I hate Bush and the Christian psycho-babble that he and his cohorts spout. The Bushes of the world are too greedy, too dishonest, and too moralistic (at least with other people’s lives and by my standards). The hypocrisy is up to the high-shit level and these people are murdering thousands of innocents in their war for oil and wealth. I can’t see supporting these activities with my taxes or my presence.
But these political reasons are secondary, at best. Mexico may or may not be better than where I’m from; I don’t know yet, but I do like the people and the climate here.
It’s easy to see some of the level of anger in me behind this move. I’m pretty transparent.
I so often wish that some of the Bush supporters I’ve met here could say something that would convince me of some type of integrity on the part of their Party, but all they ever do is flip out and get outraged and condemn me for being unpatriotic, as if I considered patriotism to be a virtue. I can’t see blind obedience to any country, much less to any religion or ideology as a virtue. It’s more like a handicap for those too dumb or lazy to think for themselves. This is rather blunt, I realize. The longer I stay in Mexico, the less ideology means to me.
I was so thrilled as a child to read the Bill of Rights of the US, and then I was so equally disappointed when I discovered that it didn’t apply to all segments of that society, especially mine. Now there’s not even any pretense of the US government supporting the Bill of Rights. It doesn’t exist any longer except in the Library and if you go to the official US Government web page on the Bill of Rights, you’ll see it is listed as an “Historical Document.”
Perhaps that drunk in the park this morning was wrong. Maybe I don’t worry about the future too much. Maybe I mourn a past too much. You can’t really put too much stock in the words of a drunk.