July 13, 2008
Right now in Monterrey, Mexico, it feels like 102 degrees. The UV index is 10+ — “Extreme”. Compare that to Conway, Arkansas, where it feels like 85 and the UV index is a “Moderate” 4.
After a visit to Weather.com, I have just added “sunscreen” to my mental packing list. I have two weeks to figure out what else needs to be on that list. I know my poor, pale skin will not be prepared for Mexico. I just hope the rest of me will.
I have spent the weekend reading The Rough Guide to Mexico and Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish. I’ve also been desperately attempting to finish Guns, Germs, and Steel, a non-fiction book that has been on my to-read list since — literally — sophomore year of high school. Added to that list are the three books my older brother just sent: El Viejo y el mar by Hemingway, Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia by Rigoberta Menchú, and A Journey of One’s Own: Uncommon Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler by Thalia Zepatos.
I’m also trying to prepare for a trip to India this winter, so I’m about to order another handful of books from Barnes and Noble. That list — like the other dozens of lists I’ve written in the past week — is located in the little black notebook I bought for that purpose.
A little story: while I stood in the stationery aisle at Wal-Mart a week or two ago, trying to decide which size notebook I should select, a mid-30s Mexican man stopped and asked me where he could find the magazine aisle. After I pointed and explained, he paused. “You have beautiful eyes,” he said. “Where are you from?” And thus began a 30-minute conversation, half in Spanish, about everything from bicycles to divorces — all in the middle of the stationery aisle.
All my other stories from the past few weeks run along that theme: nice little happenings set within the calm and friendly environment of this summer. Yesterday, I made a fantastic spinach salad with mandarin oranges, almonds, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, and a homemade vinaigrette, which I brought to a reunion dinner with several of my London companions. Today I “ran” five miles on the elliptical — the farthest I’ve ever run in my life, by far — and I had a nice converation with the weight room supervisor. I watched seven movies in the past week, in an attempt to become literate in American pop culture. It’s little things like these that have made my summer really charming, but boring to tell other people about.
It’s been even more mundane to move through the to-do lists I’ve made. “Make doctor’s appointment; check if vaccinations are up-to-date; read up on safety in Mexico; FINISH THE BOOKS!”
One odd item was #9 on the list: “eat some meat.” I have it on good authority that it would be dumb, if not impossible, to live in Mexico for five months as a vegetarian. Unfortunately, I’ve barely eaten meat in the past three years. A recent foray with ground beef left me feeling quite ill. So I’ve been taking it slowly, starting with a little chicken here and there. Trying beef again will be on the to-do list soon.
Other upcoming list items:
- post pictures of my Spring Break trip,
- write another two or three stories for the website,
- pack up all my stuff and clean my apartment,
- say goodbye to Hendrix and go home to St. Louis, and
- try not to cry as much this time as I did last year.