Shopping Experience and More tidbits

This was another uneventful day, no new adventures to be had as Max was back to school today and we took it easy. As usual my good catholic upbringing got the better of me by around mid-afternoon when I started feeling antsy and guilty for not having done anything useful all day. I suspect making big progress reading the fourth Harry Potter book – never read any of them before – doesn’t count as something useful by the strict standards of the catholic church. For those of you who don’t know: the catholic guilt thing is just as powerful and deeply routed as the Jewish guilt thing and appartently neither time nor increased distance from the Vatican affects its strength. So here a few random tidbits from the last 2 weeks, for example the different shopping experience here compared to the US.

Unintended Consequences

Shopping experience
The child too often photographed!

But the first tidbit concerns Max and the dangers associated with photographing your kids too often. He is so used by now to being photographed by me that whenever somebody gets out a camera he automatically assumes that he is the one being photographed. We were strolling along the beach in Celestun when a mom with her little daughter got ready to be photographed by granny. Everybody was standing, smiling when Max casually strolled into the picture, sidled up to the completely unknown woman and smiled brightly for the camera. As mentioned several times before Yucatecos are very friendly, mellow people and love kids so everybody had a good laugh about Max intruding on the family picture.

Meanwhile Max has annexed Uli’s camera which is now called “take a pic” and is shooting away. There is a surprising number of shots showing blurry parts of his toy rockets, his teddy bear, the floor and Uli and I from very weird angles. I guess these weird angles are how he sees the world which is actually rather informative for the grown-up who is used to look down and see the top of the kid’s head rather than the hairy legs he sees when he looks at papa. Once we get the pictures off the chip I will post a few. Suffice it to say that his geeky rocket scientist of a papa forgot to bring the download cable for the camera.

The whole school thing remains to be amazingly easy. Max goes to school without complaint, even asks about it on days he doesn’t go (like this Monday and Tuesday the school was closed owing to the high holidays of Carnaval) and once on a weekend he even wanted to go by school to look at it. Maestra Rosio seems to have made an impression on him and falls into the “I am fond of her” category. It’s really nice to have somebody else look after the little troublemaker once in a while and the fact that he enjoys it, too, is just brillant.

A different type of Store

Shopping experience
Talking a nap on the job of selling housewares and flowers out go the living room
Shopping experience
Another sidewalk store

I also wanted to write a bit about doing business here. We are so used to chain-stores, big box suburban shopping centers, large stores that I keep being surprised on all the little stores I find walking around Merida tucked away in the front room of the house (which usual has a large door which opens right onto the sidewalk), the garage or the useful tricycles (motorized or paddled) they use everywhere. Right around the corner some guy sells cooling systems out of his garage, across the street is a “tendejon”, a little store that opens – it seems – whenever the owners don’t have anything better to do. A little down the street is the “cervezaria” which recently run out of beer, the shabbiest places seem to all house “beauty institutes”. You can buy paint, screws, spare parts for cameras old and new, cell phone covers, homemade sweets, used furniture, high fashion (sort of) in the tiniest spots all around the city – and people do. It’s a completely different shopping experience than getting everything either at Safeway or Target and reminds me a lot of my childhood in small town in southern Germany. Funny, though, how reluctant I have become to actually enter these small stores and ask for the goods we want – being so used to helping myself in huge shopping malls.

Tricycle Restaurants

The tricycles are also amazing. Some are used as taxis, especially, it seems in the smaller towns and pueblos, others, especially here are used to sell food. In the front – where the two wheels are – interesting contraptions get set up, a gas bottle and a burner is added, a few other items and a waffle iron and here comes the “marquesita” mobil (sweet waffles, filled with cheese and rolled up tighly). We were warned by our American pick-up guy when we got here not to eat food prepared on the carts. A piece of advise we ignored about 30 minutes after settling in and so far we have had no problem whatsover.

For the weekend we are planning the Chichen Itza trip. Max is very excited, he happily screams “big, old and very dangerous pyramid in Chichen Itza” every time he sees a postcard, book, poster or t-shirt with the picture of Chichen Itza on it – and there are many.


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