Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A visit home

On Monday I found out my Mexican visa had expired on Sunday. Jose and I had a meeting with an attorney who told us about the different visa options for me. They were all expensive, took a lot of work, and didn't have any benefits. We have decided that I will leave Mexico every six months when my visa expires and come back in and get another tourist visa, so for the next three years I will just be a tourist. I can get a 6 month tourist visa when I come back from the U.S., or we can take a trip to Guatemala or Belize. Keeping a tourist visa instead of the long-term visas will save enough money to pay for 2 trips to the United States per year for 2 years. Plus, it will be better for our case when we start Jose's U.S. immigration again, because we will be able to show that I was never interested or able to start a permanent life in Mexico, causing me hardship.

So, today I am flying back to San Francisco in a last minute trip. We found out on Monday that my visa had expired, bought tickets yesterday, and I'm leaving this afternoon. I'll be in California for 7 full days. I'll be in Shasta with my family for two days and then be home in Healdsburg for the rest of the time, finally seeing my family again after 6 months.

I am excited to visit, but it is also hard because when we left the United States I thought the next time I went back it would be triumphantly with Jose entering legally. Now it is me going and leaving him, and it reminds us again how wrong everything went in Ciudad Juarez.

I'm sure I'll have a great trip. I think it is also going to be weird to speak to everyone in English in public again. I'm really interested to see what differences I notice after being gone and getting used to Mexico. There are some things that I like better about Mexico, and I'm excited to compare them to the United States while I'm there.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Couch Shopping

Our first major purchase for the apartment was a couch. I was set on an L-shaped couch because, honestly, I think the comfort that comes from the L puts all regular couches to shame.

We found a couch while my parents were still here, and went back to buy it. I had read a bad review online saying that the store says they will deliver purchases within 2 weeks but often don’t for more than a month. I didn’t believe it since people tend to use the internet to rant, but sure enough we got to the store and a customer was angry because after a month they still hadn’t seen their furniture. We were already at the register, but we ran out of that store as fast as possible.

We had spent time before checking out all the major department stores, but everything was either way to expensive or way to ugly. We had no idea where to find a couch, so Jose asked a man selling magazines on the street where we could find couches and he sent us to the perfect place.

A great thing about Mexico is that there are streets dedicated to selling just one thing. The shoe street, the camera street, the paper street. The magazine seller told us to walk until the end of the wedding dress street (oh how I wished I wasn’t yet married then) and we would find the couch street. Sure enough, suddenly every store was jam packed with couches.

The first stores were total rip offs. We realized that the farther we walked down the street, the cheaper the couches got and the shadier the area got. Before we knew it, salesmen were taking us across streets and around corners from one store to another. We went up homemade stairs, walked through second stories made of plywood that bowed and creaked, and ducked our heads under extremely low ceilings.

We spent a few hours looking at different stores and couches. Many couches were close to what we wanted, but not enough to buy. Many were the dark brown couch I was looking for, but they were all too expensive. Finally, we found an L-shaped green couch with lots of pillows. It is nothing like what I had in mind, but I love it. It looks great in our floral wallpaper living room and it gives us a comfortable place to watch movies. It is bigger and cheaper than the first couch we backed out of buying. It was even delivered just a few hours later.

Our shopping experience left us exhausted and hoping we’d never have to shop like that again. Being escorted from one store to the next, looking at hundreds of couches in such a short time, and talking with relentless salesmen was more than we could handle at once. It was overwhelming and kind of miserable, but it was a very Mexican way to shop, and at least we got a good couch out of it.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Swedish lessons

Our life here really is taking off. Jose, Anna, and I had our very first Swedish lesson! Its been a dream for us to learn Swedish and try to reclaim some of our lost family heritage. The closest Swedish lessons I have found to Healdsburg are in San Francisco and ridiculously expensive, so we thought it might be a dream we couldn't fullfill. Then, suddenly, in the most surprising of places, we found Swedish lessons in Mexico City!

Our teacher is a blonde Swedish woman who has lived in Mexico since 2004. She speaks Spanish, English, and Swedish. We are learning Swedish in Spanish, which is a really interesting experience because we are all working on our Spanish simultaneously. For now it works, but we might need to switch to English when we get to more complex Swedish.

We have class 2 hours a week in a Starbucks in Polanco, a nice area of Mexico City. It takes about an hour each way to get there, but we only use one metro line and then board a bus that drops us off in front of the Starbucks. It takes awhile to get there, but it is exceptionally direct and fast considering how big Mexico City is.

The first class was really fun and laid back. We learned numbers, family relationships, and the basic I speak.../I am from.. sort of thing. We have been practicing throughout the day with flashcards and quizzing each other. Jose already has the numbers down perfectly. Jose and I have taken our Swedish to the park and studied while Cholula ran around. We went to a cafe this morning and made family trees with our relationship to each person in Swedish. By the second class we are determined to know everything from the first class like the back of our hand.

We are going to study hard, and learn everything we can from the teacher and with our own materials and research. Hopefully we can visit Sweden sometime in the next few years and return to our great-grandparents' homeland speaking the language. It will be our own "Return to Sweden!"

We are really excited about starting a new language and having something to focus on and improve. In addition to Swedish, Anna and I are taking an Economics class online from a California community college. If Swedish is considered a college class too, that's like having 7 units and that is pretty decent. Already I feel more productive and fulfilled. I'm not losing out on opportunities now, I'm actually learning things I couldn't have in the United States and I'm making improvements to my life that will always help me.


Sunday, February 7, 2010


Coyoacan is filled with beautiful parks. We have three just a few blocks from us, plus the plaza in the center about 10 minutes away. For the last two days Jose and I have taken Cholula to a park for an hour or two. It is a lot of fun for us and her.

Dogs aren't required to keep their leashes on in the parks. Cholula is surprisingly good without her leash. She runs ahead of us a few feet while we are walking and turns around every 30 seconds or so to make sure we are still behind her. She is so happy to be in the dirt and without her leash that she prances the whole time. There are many other dogs in the parks who she gets to meet and play with also.

Our favorite park is one that we visited with my parents (pictures on Facebook at It has bench-lined paths running through gardens filled with a huge variety of trees, plants, and grass. Each area is a little bit different, either with shade or sun, and open grassy areas or plant filled forest. Jose and I like to sit on a bench and read and talk while Cholula explores the gardens and other dogs.

Visiting the parks is quickly turning into my favorite part of the day. I'm sure that we are going to continue with it, which will be good for Cholula and us. The parks are relaxing, beautiful, and filled with people to meet.

I love Coyoacan!