Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It`s not easy being green

Ok, so the point of this post is that I am white, not green. And it isn`t all that bad, really. I just couldn`t resist using that line since it sort of kind of relates to my topic today.

Which is, as you may or may not remember, that I stand out here in Mexico. I am very much in the minority, and very much not Mexican any way you want to look at it. I draw attention on a regular basis, both good and bad.

Ever since that last post on this topic, I have actually had very little of the undesirable type of attention - with one notable exception that I will share shortly. But I have had lots of the innocent type of attention lately. It is a good thing it doesn`t bother me much (I mostly find it slightly amusing), because I have this feeling it isn`t likely to end any time soon. You see, it is based in large part simply on the fact that I look very different - and I don`t forsee that changing. There`s times that it might have to do with my not yet fluent and strongly accented Spanish, so maybe as my Spanish continues to improve it`ll cut back on those times. But really, I think no matter how at home I feel here, I will always be a curiosity to others here.

Some recent examples:
*I stopped in at a papeleria for some copies a couple weeks ago, and the woman launched right into a whole interview/discussion of where I am from, why I am here, the time she spent in the US and her desire to return.

*We recently found a new little grocery type shop that is closer than the others we already knew about and has good prices - round about my 3rd visit, the woman who runs it apparently couldn`t stand her curiosity any longer. `Maam, you aren`t from here are you?` `Where are you from?` `Why are you here?`

*I went along with my friend last week to pick up her son from school. Her son`s teacher took one look at me, turned to my friend and asked, `Where is she from?`. She then turned to me and began to explain in strongly accented and not quite fluent English that she lived 12 years in California.

*Our church helped host a large women`s conference this past Saturday (large = over 200 women). At the beginning of the first service, as everyone turned to greet one another, one woman looked at me and greeted me in English. Later on, I was asked many a question by the women who know people in our church and wondered about me.

You get the idea. It really is interesting to see when and where someone`s curiosity will get the better of them around here!

Now, for the one notable not-so-nice instance of attention. I was sitting on a public bench in the shade downtown, reading my Bible and waiting for my husband to get out of the office. A middle aged couple came and sat at the other end of the bench for several minutes, I think to enjoy a moment in the shade. So at first, when a bit later an older man (in his 60s?) came along and sat down, I didn`t think too much of it. He greeted me, I responded politely and kept reading. A moment or 2 passed, and he said something brillant like, `reading the Bible...?`. I nodded and kept reading. He continued every couple of minutes or so to say things like how pleasant it was to sit in the shade, or to ask if I lived here in Saltillo. He explained he lived in one of the small towns a bit outside of the city. Small talk, you get the idea. I never uttered more that 1-2 words at a time, always going right back to reading. You know how sometimes you just have a feeling about people? He seemed pleasant enough on the surface, but I just had this gut reaction that I didn`t want to interact with him. I kept waiting for my husband to arrive - it was taking longer than he expected. Finally, the man began to work his way around to a point. `I really like ice cream.` Pause. `Do you?` Pause. `Can I invite you to get an ice cream?` I was so thankful to be able to truthfully answer, `I`m sorry. I am waiting for my husband.` He continued with his small talk type comments for another few minutes, and finally got up to leave. At which point it occurred to me that maybe I`d be better off waiting outside the office. :)