Monday, 19 May 2008

Going to the chapel..

Sorry for the very long break.
Suresh is now here with me in Aberdeen and I have been well.. very busy.
Also as you might remember, I no longer can post in the office so I have abandoned my blog.
But here I am to announce that we are so happy together and next year we are going to get married!
I have already started looking for venues, and we have visited one nice hotel to assess its suitability. I know it's early days but everyone wants to get married in summer and the sooner we book it, the better.
We will have a civil ceremony followed by a wedding breakfast. They call it that not because it's eggs and bacon, but because bride and groom are supposed to fast the day before, or something like that.
So excited already!
I also went to Milan last month because my best friend ever got married there and I was her witness.
Work has been ok. The excitement of the first days is gone and I am fine there. When I have a good project I enjoy it a lot, but when not.. I get so bored and I can't even blog ha!
I took 5 swimming lessons at the gym and I am very proud of myself. Before that, I couldn't even smell chlorine without feeling frightened and now I can do breast stroke with my face in the water but with a float device :)
I have taken to yoga with my Suresh who loves it and is great at it.
We have our ups and downs, mainly about food, him being a strict vegetarian and me salivating by seeing a lamb running.. too gross?
TV.. oh my God.. I miss seeing what I wanted. Now it's a compromise always. He can see Star Trek at 9 if I can see House at 10.
But all in all, I am much better than last year and next year.. we are getting married!
Will keep posting the latest news.
Thanks to you all, especially Fned who just came back from Japan. Wow girl, impressed!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Meeting Elizabeth

Our time to stay in Villahermosa was about to finish so I decided to meet Elizabeth and of course I was very nervous.

I met Elizabeth in High School. She moved from Coatzacoalcos because of her father's job in the middle of a semester and I didn't notice her much, I mean, I already had a BFF (best friend forever). As months passed by, she became friends with my same friends and we started to hang out more so I got to know her better. She was frail and in a way insecure. She became the girlfriend of a guy I disliked a lot for being sarcastic and obnoxious. Everytime they fought, I fell really bad for her and once I even got gastritis out of anger and impotence. Now that I think of it, maybe he was not such a monster but he was clearly not for her.

We finished High School and had to decide where to study the University degree. I studied in a private school so it was common for people to go to Uni in another state else since the academic offer in Tabasco was so poor but for many different reasons my BFF Lila, Chris (the vet), Elizabeth, her boyfriend and I stayed and enrolled in the State University UJAT.
Note: My reason was economic with the December error.

Elizabeth and I took Chemical Engineering. Having to go to classes to another municipality, take the bus and endure a different environment with absent teachers and fossil students, made us even closer friends.

One day the guy cheated on her and they broke up. It was very difficult for her and I was there for her, celebrating her decision though.

Among all this, I met a guy. He was in my same class and was as brilliant as I, probably a wee more. He was sweet, very religious, smart, kind of cute, essentially a good guy and hey, he fancied me. He was my first boyfriend. With him I felt secure, very loved, taken care of and confident in a way I wouldn't experience again until with Suresh many years later. With him I experienced my first kiss, first walk holding hands, well, let's just say first of everything.

Of course I loved him, but as I already mentioned, he was very religious (Presbyterian) and since his family was having a rough time, they disapproved me. We were very young (19) so the pressure was too much for him and after sneaking around for a while, he broke up with me.

I was devastated but one day I noticed a guy in my class. He was a chilango (from Mexico City), more worldly that Rodrigo, more flirty and seemed more interesting. I fell for him believing we could have a relationship as fun and stable as with Rodrigo, but soon I realised he was hiding something. In short, he was manipulative and liar and had had a steady girlfriend for 5 years or so.

I know that being with the chilango hurt Rodrigo a lot. I just didn't realise it then. We never really stopped being friends if you can say that, and I should have known better. Anyway, when I broke up with the guy, Rodrigo was there for me, and although I was still hung up on the chilango and I wasn't really ready for a relationship, we could be friends.

By then Elizabeth had had her fair share of "chocolate boyfriends", as she called them after the "chocolate cars" that were not really legal. She was healed from the ex-boyfriend but hadn't found anyone really worth it. The 3 of us used to hang out a lot and foolishly I thought it was implied that Rodrigo and I were meant to be together.

One day Chris, Lila, Elizabeth and I got drunk for the first time in my house and Elizabeth told me he liked Rodrigo. That he was so nice and loved me so much that she would like to find someone like him. That should have warned me, but I dismissed it as drunken talk.

A student election was going to be celebrated the following year and rodrigo was invited to represent a planilla, while I was invited as a chem Eng representant too. We talked and agreed to forget the past and be boyfriend and girlfriend again right after the election day.

We worked really hard but something was wrong. He was distant and gave me excuses for everything. I thought he was just too busy, too stressed and kept in my mind the promise to get back together after the election.

That day came and well, we won. By then I had heard the rumours that elizabeth and rodrigo were together but I just couldn't believe it. She told me first. She came to my house and after some small talk she just said it. It was true, they were together and had been an item for a few months already but decided for my own good not to tell me. She apologised many times, she never gave details and in the end she said she would always feel threatened by me for being his first love.

I appreciated her courage. I was waiting for his. We met the next day. He took me to Plaza Crystal and in the most insensitive, thoughtless and rude way he said: "You know I am with your friend and you know how I am as a boyfriend so please don't try to do anything to separate us and stay away".

Those were his last words. It's been almost 10 years and it still hurts to have been put aside like that. So I lost Rodrigo as a friend, I lost my dear friend and complice Elizabeth. Our group of girlfriends tore apart when Chris took her side and Lila mine. People in the classroom took sides too as well as almost everyone we knew.

It was the most difficult time in my life and it was like my world fell apart. I tried to stay friends with her but although polite, she always seemed to put a world between us so I gave up. I got closer with my classmates and fell for the chilango again. That was my craziest partying time drinking, staying out late, trying not to bother anymore and just waited till school was over so I could escape that environment.

I left Uni with good marks and all and took the job as English Teacher at HH. Then the engineering job and all else, but that is another story.

I saw her once or twice, sometimes we said hi, sometimes we tried not to face each other. I only knew they were still together and got married in 2004 and that was it.

But last year my mom called saying she read in the newspaper about elizabeth and rodrigo. something terrible had happened and I felt it was the chance to try to talk to her again. I felt happy and stable now and in my heart I had forgiven her. Besides, as lila said, the distance gave me the courage.I emailed her and she replied thankfully, not distant anymore and willing to rebuild our friendship. We exchanged many emails and little by little got to a trusting point again.

We met on Xmas holiday 2006. she picked me up and could catch up. We apologised for our silly behaviour then, we talked like in the old times and I could notice how our lives have really grown apart but something in us is just like our fisrt years in the Uni. I still care for her a lot and I wanted to see her again since now she is pregnant with a girl.

Suresh told me if it was really necessary for him to meet her. My siblings kept making fun saying: "don't introduce them or she will go after him too". Part of me wanted to show her I was really happy and she shouldn't have to worry about me. Part of me wanted to secretely thank her for whatever happened that made me know the world and Suresh and have the life I have now and be really happy.

So we met. We talked half in english half in spanish. It wasn't as emotional as the previous year but it was very nice to see her again. I am not very often in Villahermosa so I have to take advantage of every time I have. We said good-bye and wishing the best to each other.

On the way back home I confirmed Suresh always knows what to say. He just whispered: "You are much prettier than her. More independent and smarter and I got the best deal".

And although he always tries to correct my English he said that compared to all my friends in Mexico, my English is far superior in fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation and he is really proud of me.

Note: I couldn't help crying while typing. come to think about it, it was the best for all. She needed someone just like him to rebuild her confidence and make her stronger. I still needed to experience more and literally see the world before settling. Luckily I found the best man in the world, now that I am wise enough to recognise and value it.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Settling in Abz again

I haven't written much lately. Since I have a new job where I actually work and blocks access to blogger on the internet, I haven't been able to post from work.

Not only that, I have had to change my whole routine and readjust. I joined the gym closer to my new office and have tried to go every other day. I have had to go back to cooking every day fresh healthy food to resume weight loss since I gained 5.5 lbs in Mexico.

But mainly, I have had to make peace with the idea that I am back here. I miss my family a lot and not having Suresh around yet makes me feel worse. He is right now in Brazil by the way. Working offshore, not in the Carnival! And his work permit might be ready next week so he can give his 30-day notice and finally come to live in Aberdeen by late March.

I feel better now and have got back my momentum so I will go back to writing more often. As everything else, it's just a matter to make time for it.

I have lost only 2 pounds more but I am on track again and have dedicated a few hours (much more are required) to clean the flat and make space for my dear Suresh.

The office is fine. Many friendly people on the same floor but I talk mostly with Etienne. I have been very busy with a project after another but everyone is really helpful and with so many people around, it's easier to ask. Besides, my boss sits in another floor so I don't feel the pressure of someone watching every move I make.

I meet my friends from the other office Carla and Sari every week and last weekend I went out with Lisa who just came back from Malaysia. We will celebrate Chinese New Year this Friday so let's see how it goes.

I still long for Mexico but I know very well there is no way I can live there any more, at least not for now.

So my life seems to be back to normal.

Palenque



The next day we were woke up by my mom as usual for breakfast. We had tlacoyos my mom had ordered from Mexico City and drank Coca-Cola which would be a constant habit at my house which by then felt mine again and not only my parents's.

As in the really old times, we decided to hit the road and make a trip to the mayan ruins of Palenque which are 2.5 hrs from Villa. We rode in my dad's van with the dog included.


When we arrived there, we found out dogs were not allowed so my brother stayed outside while we entered the archaeological site. If you haven't been there, you don't know the overwhelming sensation it fills you when you enter. To see a thick jungle and a few steps ahead to find he Inscripciones Temple. The tallest and more imponent on the site that used to house the tomb of King Pakal.

The picture shows Suresh and I at the top of this pyramid.

It is no longer allowed to climb this pyramid or go deep down to see the actual tomb, but we could take pictures from ground level. There we lost another one. My father decided that was it for him, so he chose a nice shaded spot to lie down and wait for us. Just like that. So my mom, 2 siblings, Suresh and I continued the visit. We saw other pyramyds and headed to the Queen Bath (river shore where they say the queen used to bathe) when we lost another one. My mom announced she was tired and wanted to join my father so we continued the visit.We walked along and climbed a few more pyramyds when we decided to make our way back. I was tired too and it was really hot. We found the other 3 having lunch in a restaurant outside the site and joined them.


On the way back, Suresh got to talk a lot with my brother Leo (the one with the dog) who has a good English, quite American accent though. Also we almost had an accident when a pick-up overtook us from the right and decided to take a U-turn suddenly. Quite scary but the van's brakes worked and nothing happened.

We went back home, had dinner and went to bed.

Pet Food hates

Being born in certain country gives you exposure to certain kinds of foods and combinations you might like or not so your taste buds are conditioned to certain flavours. But when you move to another country, you are suddenly exposed to new flavours that for others might be just as common and you might like, dislike or not even dare to try.

Last week there was an article on the Guardian/Observer http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2008/01/hate_springs_eternal.html where the writer expressed a simple dislike to an English cheese and asked readers which were their pet food hates. I read most of the comments, and found funny that some foods people find disgusting, are of my big liking such as:
- Tripe, but fried in tacos
- Cucumber. Love it with salt, lime juice and chili powder (salivating already). Talking about cucumber, is it odd that we in Mexico cut the 2 tips and rub the rest of the cucumber with them to avoid bitterness?
- Raw tomato. Which home made salad would be without these too? I can eat a whole tomato like an apple or sliced with a pinch of salt.
- Capsicum or green peper. I like it even raw. How would you make a proper alambre or tex-mex fajitas without it?
- Oysters, but only Paraiso Tabasco style "al tapezco" with lime juice and Tabasco sauce.
- Green beans. Also known as ejotes are somehow staple. Not crazy about them but I do buy them and eat them. Outside my office there was a woman selling tacos filled with scrambled eggs and green beans so there must be a market for it.
- Goat cheese. Fresh taste and creamy texture reminds me of Chiapas cheese.
- Olives, green not black. Used to hate them but found their goodness while on Atkins and love them now.
- Mushrooms. Just great! In an omelette or pasta or just grilled cheese. Love them to substitute meat for Suresh.
- Celery. If you were given a celery-carrot juice every weekend by your mom like mine, you would get to like it. I prefer it raw on salads as well as spinach.
- Raisins. I was brought up knowing candy was a one-off thing just for birthday parties so raisins were my only treat.
- Tongue. Prepared in barbacoa style is delicious.
- Coriander. Raw again, chopped along onion on tacos or any soup.

Suresh finds funny that I like:
- Potatoes just boiled and with a pinch of salt. He finds them bland and needing more spices.
- Lime juice on everything. From salad to fruit, popcorn, soup, marinating, I use it for everything.
- Valentina sauce on popcorn.
- Salsa, if available, on anything that doesn't have any chili already.

But I also have many pet food hates:
DAIRY
- Milk. Let's start saying I don't like milk since I remember. The taste makes me gag as well as cream.
- Consequently, I don't like anything with added milk such as:
Breakfast cereal with milk, I rather have it alone.
Porridge, which is oatmeal and a typical breakfast here.
- Yogurt. Dairy as well but an odd acidic taste included.
- Butter. I will have it if needed in a recipe but never spread on anything.
- Blue cheese like Stilton. What's wrong with it. It smells like a rubbish bag.
On my defense, I love other kind of cheeses, soft or hard.

- Egg Yolk. I don't like the taste or sight of uncooked yolk such as soft boiled egg, fried egg, poach egg, etc.I love scrambled eggs and very boiled egg in exchange.
- Mayo. Disgusting flavour. Therefore, don't like many sandwiches and salads you find already made in the high street.

- Marmite. It is odd looking and foul smelling. Reminds me of burnt car oil. Haven't dared to try it.
- Liver or kidney. No thanks.
- Brussel sprouts
- Turnip
- Beetroot. Can't find the goodness in any of these.
- Mushy peas. I can have peas but the mushy thing that accompanies fish and chips is disgusting.
- Coleslaw. It's the mayo in it. They love it here.
- Strong mustard. French or English. I can add the american kind to my hot dogs though.
- Tofu. Can't stand its semisolid consistency.

Mexican:
- Nopales. slimy texture, sorry, not for me.
- Atole. Milky and thick.
- Papaya. It's not mexican but too exotic here. Smells like puke.
- Buttered mash potato. My mom makes it to give it "texture". I can immediately tell if it has butter and I can't have it then. I like the KFC one though.

Can you tell me about yours?

Villahermosa at last

Overflying villahermosa at night gave a twist in my stomach and deep excitement. When we got out of the plane, I could feel the warmth and humidity characteristic (even in the air conditioned airport) that felt so familiar. I sent Suresh to pick up our bags while I stopped at customs to get my small pink bag that didn't arrive with me from Amsterdam. Luckily I got green light and I could leave immediately. For those who don't know, in Mexico, when you arrive from an international flight, you have to push a button at customs. If you get a green light, you can enter the country with no problems; if you get a red light, they open your bags and search for prohibited items. Suresh found it peculiar because in the UK no one checks your bag by hand anymore, they are X-rayed I guess and they trust you don't bring to the country any dairy or meat or live vegetables (needless to say I have brought all sorts with me).

Anyway, we got the rest of our luggage and when the doors opened I could see my family, all of them and then I knew I was home. My father had brought the van (Voyager) and my brother his own car for him and his dog Vince (note: it is a Labrador so obviously it's named after the one in LOST).

The introductions were casual and half English half Spanish. The men in my family were of course happy to see me but seemed a wee uncomfortable, well not that uncomfortable, probably just odd to see me with Suresh, who is a vital part of my life, who looks and sounds so foreign and who seems to love me so much. It was like confirming that I have grown up. Mom and sister on the other hand, had met him before when they spent summer in Aberdeen so they were more open to him.

The ride home was a chance to see the city after the tragedy and my dad kept showing me how high the water had reached in every part of the city. There were no Christmas decoration and no nativity scenes. At the important intersections there just were big signs saying: "Tabasco de pie", or Tabasco still standing, and many cars with a rear sticker saying: "Yo amo a Tabasco mas que nunca" (I love Tabasco more than ever as in NY after 9/11). That phrase would stay with us all the trip.

We reached home soon. It was late but we weren't really hungry so we proceeded to give away presents. In my family we don't really have the tradition of exchanging presents in Christmas so it was more of let's see what Anilu brought from abroad. Everyone loved their presents and Suresh had especially bought a bottle of Irish whiskey for my father which he appreciated. (Note: apparently if it's Scottish is spelled whisky and if it's Irish is whiskey, no idea how is it if it's american).

Then the sleeping arrangement. I have slept with Suresh for a long time. It seems an obvious step in a commited relationship putting the economic side apart. All in my family know it, but it is still a traditional mexican family for whom sleeping with my not-husband is a complete no-no. So instead, my brother gave away his room for Suresh to sleep there while he would stay in the living room and I would sleep at my old bedroom with my sister. My mom was the one to tell me that it was mainly for my father and the example to my younger siblings blah blah.

So we went to bed. I immediately turned on the AC in my room and in Suresh's but he programmed his for just 30 min. I had it the whole night. It's hot in Villahermosa! And I talked to my sister before closing my eyes, sleeping on my bed, just like the old times.

CU and Coyoacan

The very next day after Garibaldi, already a Saturday, we went with my cousin to have breakfast with her father to Vip's. Suresh ordered an omelette and I had a concha (love them) and a milanesa (I was really hungry). After that, my cousin drove us to see her Alma Mater UNAM which is the National University and the oldest in Latin America. I had been there before but I couldn't stop marvelling by its beauty. Then we went to the typical Coyoacan where we had some ice cream and walked around its downtown.


I was sad to leave Mexico City because there were many places we didn't visit, but very excited to finally go home, where I really grew up and to meet my family.

By then I have to note that my intentions to keep my diet had gone to the deepest part in my brain and would remain there until I touched british soil again.

Suresh already knew how to say orange juice "jugo de naranja" with hardly any foreign accent. On the plane I had a Sprite and when they asked me if I wanted ice I just said "poquito porfa". When it was Suresh's turn, he said the same words and I swear the flight attendant didn't even realise he was not mexican. We were very proud.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

New office

Coming back to the present, my new job has been very busy. The night before I just couldn't sleep. I felt like the first day back to school for a new year. Will I like it? Will they like me? I was also jetlagged so no much sleep then.
I had to wake up early to take a shower and get ready. My contract said I had to be there from 830 to 1730 and I didn't want to be late the first day. The HR manager was not in that day so they called my Line Manager (Process Eng) who had interviewed me. He explained me a few things and then took me to the girl I would be working with (he is too senior). Then she took me around and introduced me to people and took me to my desk. At first I had no email nor internet. I panicked. Was it a wise move to work in a company where you can't even use internet? Then my computer was new and all but I have no privileges on it. I can't install or uninstall and I can't even change the appearance of the desktop.
Good thing is that Etienne sits exactly behind me so it's not very different than my other office. The people around seem very nice and friendly.
Well, I was still adjusting, I got some information for a project where I had been nominated as the originator of a Basis of Design. Wow! Work on the very first day. That has would keep me occupied.
The next day I managed to get email. I went with a Subsea guy to meet a client and it was just nice to feel I could do so much and being valued. I admire a lot my previous boss, but he always treated me like a little girl and he never allowed me talk to clients. Now I was there alone asking questions and giving my inputs. It felt really good.
The next day I got internet access but realised I didn't have access to blogger or facebook. They are blocked and so I won't be able to post my blogs from the office. I can write and post it later but I have been really busy these days. I will try to post faster to keep recounting my marvelous trip to Mexico.
This Saturday I went to a party organised by my ex workmates. It was great to see them again and we spent some time playing Singstar on Playstation which is like karaoke. I beat all but ibe girl. Who knows. Next year I can apply to the X Factor (like American Idol with the same Simon Cowell but with Sharon Osborne instead of Paula).

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Puebla - Garibaldi

The oldest friend I have is called Chris and she lives in Puebla. She is not really that old but we have been friends for the longest time, since we were 7. We had been very close friends until we fell out after the Elizabeth affair (which I will discuss later) and she left to study a postgrad in Small Species in Toluca. She is a vet by the way.
When I was living in Mexico City, she had a baby and I could meet her when she was pregnant and after her baby girl was born.Things were never the same between us after the row we had.

We used to be best friends and before her pregnancy, we hadn't spoken to each other for 8 years. We had grown apart and followed different ways, but I believe our friendship is valuable and can be brought back to life.This time she was pregnant again and living in Puebla so I decided to meet her again.

So Suresh and I headed to the TAPO (Coach Station) to take the bus to Puebla. I had told him before that there are no trains in Mexico so for terrestrial travel, we have to rely on buses or coaches as they are called in the UK. He said it was a very clean and well kept station. He also commented that even those deemed poor here dressed well and looked clean, unlike in India where you can find people wearing rags in train stations.So we took the bus and my friend picked us up in the station. I had been worried that she might have forgotten that Suresh was vegetarian and she said she had been worried about what he would eat. In the UK it is always easy to get vegetarian options in restaurants, supermarkets and take-aways, but in Mexico we are not used to the concept. In the end she made some beans (always good), courgette with tomato and onion and mash potato flautas. Very good. Her two girls are gorgeous and her mom was there too so we had a nice time.On the way back Suresh said he felt our relationship was a bit cold (Chris and I). I noticed it too. I felt bad because I do have great memories of us, but probably it would take longer to mend our friendship.We also saw the sunset behind the great volcanoes Popo and Ixtla on the way back :) Then, they played a movie on the bus, dubbed to Spanish of course and Suresh understood what he could and enjoyed it.

When we arrived in Mexico City I called another friend Ari who is chilanga but worked with me in Villahermosa. She has hosted me in her place in Mexico City and once she visited me in Manchester so I consider her a very good friend. She was celebrating a Posada with her boyfriend and other 2 friends in a hotel in Polanco so there we went. It was around 8 but they had been drinking for a while. The guys were a little closed with Suresh but when after his attempts to speak Spanish and drink tequila at their rate, they loved him and became best friends, in the deep kind of way only alcohol sharing brings.

I didn't have mucha chance to talk to my friend Ari and the guys kept insisting we should go to Garibaldi. When I said it was not a good idea, they called Suresh "mandilon", condition he accepted as his fate :) In the end we just drove near Garibaldi and pulled over to have a mariachi sing 5 songs for us on the sidewalk. It was lots of fun and Suresh was delighted on how we Mexicans are so open.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Turibus

The second day we decided to take it easy. We took the same micros to go to Torre Mayor and we could finally meet my friend Marga. She had undergone surgery recently but she was doing quite well. She and I connected at a different level since she used to live in Norway and understood better my longing for Europe and why I was unhappy in Mexico City.

We met and she was happy to meet the love of my life and we agreed to meet later for dinner.


Afterwards we had more quesadillas and headed to Chapultepec. It had been a while since I visited the Bosque and it amazed me like it did when I was a little girl. We thought climbing to the castle was not the best idea so we looked for the Turibus instead and decided to take a ride around the city. Waiting for it we discovered 2 things: 1) Suresh is not very inclined to visit museums, and 2) People in Mexico City seem to be eating all the time. That is a theory deeply ingrained in him now and even after I explained him long commutes prevent people having lunch at home and having to munch anything on the way. He claims he saw people eating snacks at all times not only lunch time and wasn't 2 PM supposed to be the main meal of the day. Couldn't find more arguments against the statement.


The Turibus was just great. We took route number one that goes to Polanco, Condesa, Roma, Reforma, Centro and of course Chapultepec and we saw the city from above, even places I had never see before so it was nice to see them with Suresh for the first time. And the weather was lovely. I have taken the Edinburgh turibus while raining and very cold, and the Rome one in summer where the sun hits hard, but in Mexico city was a delight to be on top.

Afterwards we went back to Reforma and had a cup of coffee in a Sanborns near Torre Mayor to wait for my friends to finish work and to meet my cousin. We had dinner in a Condesa restaurant which seemed to me a little pretentious and trying to have a bohemian-cool-european concept which was just ok. And so was the end of day 2.

Right now I am back in Aberdeen. I couldn't write much while at Suresh's place because I slept most of the day when he was at work and when he was home I wanted just to be with him. Thanks dear Fned and Canuck for your comments. Will go back to you soon.

I miss my bf too much since I got used to being with him 24/7 but I am happy knowing he will work in Aberdeen soon. We had beautiful days in Stoke as well and yesterday we went to Trafford Centre in Manchester by car using the TomTom I gave him as Xmas present which I have to say is the best invention for direction challenged people like me. You just type Trafford Centre and the bloody gadget chooses a route and guides you visually and orally to your destination. We looved it.

I am also very nervous for my new job tomorrow. I know it will be good but it's the first rush of excitement. How will it be? What about my workmates? Etienne briefed me in an email so at least I know a little but still a little nervous :)

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Exploring Mexico City

The next day we woke up on time to say good bye to my cousin going to work. We had a concha (delicious pastry) and toast with cajeta for breakfast and then headed to Torre Mayor.

In the time between I finished my master degree in Manchester and found a job in Aberdeen, I went back to Mexico and worked in a company in Torre Mayor for 7 months. Those were the most awful months of my life but that's another story. The only thing that made it bearable were the 2 friends I made there: Amalia and Marga who I was dying to meet again.

So there we went. We took the 2 micros (microbuses) required to arrive there and all the way Suresh kept saying how it looks like India. So much that we created a finger symbol so every time he felt it was "just like India" he wouldn't have to vocalise it and I will abbreviate as JLI. He meant the traffic, the speed driving, the music out loud in the micro and everywhere outside and the ambulatory vendors in every traffic light (and soon we would see everywhere).

We rode along the magnificent Paseo de la Reforma and we finally arrived at Torre Mayor. I knew the drill so we registered and took the super fast lift to the last floors. One of my friends had a doctor appointment and we couldn't meet her but we had a good chat with Amelia promising to be back the next day.

We were hungry again by then (that hunger will stay with us the whole trip) and thought a good idea to taste some street food. We went to the corner of the building and ordered the typical sopes and quesadillas. Luckily they had mushrooms and potato and we asked for extra rice for Suresh. I was waiting for my quesadilla de chicharron (I was on holiday) and told Suresh to pour some salsa on his own quesadilla. I didn't realise what he was doing but he says he saw the others topping freely their own dishes with lots of green salsa and as he remembered the previous night enchiladas, he didn't think it would be harmful. Big mistake! He is Indian but the chilango level of spice is too high to match and he got really enchilado and begging for his life. The funny thing is he kept eating until he finished it because it was still tasty.

He washed it down with a tamarind jarrito and to ease his suffering, we took a walk along P. de la Reforma and stopped in front of the Angel. We just sat there contemplating the scenery and people passing by. Suresh is the coolest traveller companion. He strongly believes that to know a place we shouldn't exert ourselves trying to visit every single place or we wouldn't enjoy it, but we would rather take a spot and observe. It was just great. I had forgotten how awesome the weather in Mexico City is. The sun shone mildly but enought to feel warmth in our skin and a tree gave a shade and breeze cool enough to feel comfortable.

When the chili effects had passed, we moved on to take the "sacred route" aka the walk from the Independence Angel towards the Zocalo. I showed him every monument, we had some esquites and chicharron in the Alameda where we stood for a while as well. We saw the Bellas Artes palace, crossed the street to Eje Central where we tried to buy some pirate DVDs (bad bad, we bought nothing in the end) and I was almost run over since I had forgotten how to cross the streets in crowded Mexico City centre. We walked along Madero and saw the old buildings surrounding the area. Then we stopped at MixUp (record store) which was crowded as hell. He wanted to browse among Jazz CDs and I wanted to see some DVDs so I told him if a girl approached him he would just say "tengo novia" (I have a girlfriend) to send them away.

That would be one of the many phrases he would learn and pronounce so perfectly that he could pass as Mexican for many. He has a similar Mexican look which helped too.

After arriving in Zocalo, take a look at the mega ice rink, we took the metro to meet my cousin at work and have dinner together. Suresh thought the metro in Mexico is the cleanest he had ever seen and I also noticed how there is always someone cleaning and how really clean are the stations and wagons. It is refreshing when someone else notices something good about your culture that you take for granted.

We arrived in Insurgentes station and then took the Metrobus (awfully crowded JLI) a few stations down to la colonia Roma where my cousin works. She gave us the wrong station so we had to wait at a corner for more than 30 minutes so Suresh decided to buy some chewing gum. I let him go alone to the candy stand a few metres from the traffic light since I didn't want to miss my cousin's car and when he came back he was convinced he was cheated and overcharged for a piece of gum. We didn't have time to find out since my cousin arrived but 2 things could have happened: 1) Prices have gone really high and a piece of gum is actually 2 pesos, or 2) the guy tried to get one easy peso from a non-spanish speaker. I'd rather believe number 1 and hey, it's only 1 peso loss, but Suresh has in his mind that chilangos will try to con you if they can.

With my cousin we went to see his father at his fonda where Suresh charmed every customer and my uncle taught him how to say "pinche suegro". Oh God, I was mortified he would actually let that phrase go while in Villahermosa, but it never happened, and afterwards we had dinner at el Pendulo libreria where I got the book "Noticias de un Imperio" which I was dying to read and Suresh had pasta with huitlacoche which he loved. (Note: by then I was still a little restrained with food so didn't eat much). So we went home and that was the end of day one.

I am tired already recounting it all, but I feel so happy to relive it again.

Arriving in Mexico City

I am back in the UK. My holiday is not over yet since I am taking a few days off at Suresh's place before starting my new job on Monday. I will recount my trip to Mexico as it happened.

On Monday 17th, I finally finished packing and headed to Birmingham to spend the night in the airport hotel with Suresh and wait for our early flight the next morning. Just and incident. Mid morning I decided to have a relaxing bath which I hardly ever use since I prefer to shower. I don't know if the water was too hot or what but I felt my blood pressure decreasing as if I was about to faint. I immediately jumped out of the tub and lay down in bed for a while. Weird!

Anyway, our flights were Birmingham - Amsterdam - Mexico City and both were delayed so it gave us time to see around the airport. I had never been to Schiphol since I usually fly with British Airways and a stop over in Heathrow but I loved it.
Even though it is Amsterdam, everyone speaks a perfect English. As we were only on transit, we never had to go through immigration (as in CDG). They provide cute trolleys for hand luggage to carry around the airport which I had never seen before and come very handy because we usually over pack even our hand luggage and it gets difficult to carry around while shopping. And the funniest thing was the announcements. When someone checked in and hasn't boarded the plane, they usually say: "Please all remaining passengers make your way to gate X", but in Schiphol they say: "Mr so-and-so you are delaying the flight, please proceed immediately to gate X" which I found quite funny.

My dear Suresh has one irritating habit. He likes to leave everything last minute. He would return to the house to check if he turned off the heater, I would be ready to leave the house and he would still wear his shoes at the very last minute, he would search for the car keys the moment we arrive in the car even if raining and yes, he would go to the toilet minutes before our flight is set to depart. Luckily our names never were announced in the PA as delaying the flight but I was terrified it would happen and Suresh was quite amused by my apprehension.

The flight was ok. Somewhat uncomfortable since we travel during daytime. Food was great for Suresh (he requested asian vegetarian) but entertainment not so great. British Airways gives a personal screen per passenger where you can choose what to see but in KLM we had a common TV so I didn't enjoy it much.

We arrived in Mexico City and it was really great. To get off and see the airport I know so well, the stores and especially so many mexicans, so much Spanish spoken around and loud music with old known hits.
My immigration queue was quite fast but Suresh took much longer. One of my bags didn't show up (as usual) and I asked it to be sent to Villahermosa directly. We exchanged a few pounds we had for pesos and took a taxi to my cousin's house. The whole ride Suresh mentioned how it looked just like India. Taxi driver without seat belt and listening to loud music and driving like mad included.

My cousin was already home and received us gladly. We decided to go to Vip's for dinner to find him something vegetarian. He loved the concept of Vip's, like an upscale diner or cafe as they are known in UK but I was surprised to see the prices were much higher than I remembered.
I realised there are not really many veggie options so Suresh decided to go for some green enchiladas and when the plate arrived he was surprised. They were filled up with panela cheese, topped with grilled cheese and cream, and the side order of beans had grated cheese on top. It would be one of our recurring jokes to realise how much dairy we mexicans actually have. In any way, he loved them and the prepared orangeade with freshly squeezed orange juice and sparkling water. We stopped by WalMart to buy a few things for breakfast since my cousin's kitchen was virtually empty and gorged around the many vegetables and pastries (mmhh pan dulce) available. We went to bed early to be ready for next day.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Great holiday

I am literally having the time of my life. I am right now in Plaza Forum in Cancun and my Suresh and I are checking some emails. Will go back to update on the whole trip. Thanks to my dear bf who kept a diary of every single day to help me recall what we have done. It has been really great and I dread the way back home. I might even post some pics. Take care and the best for this new year. I will be back in cold and grey UK on Tuesday.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Last day at work

Today was my last day in the office. It was going all well and I spent most of the time copying my files to an external hard disk and really clearing my desk. I went to Starbucks with my venezuelan friend Carla around 11 and thought how I would miss that occasional grande latte with skimmed milk and sugar-free vanilla syrup.

I was ok, really. People kept asking me how I was and I kept answering that I couldn't wait to go home and take the plane to Mexico.

Then, the time came to have the Exit meeting with the financial director. She explained my last salary (deducting 1,150£ from relocation expenses and laptop, ouch!). I was ok with it, I knew beforehand I would have to struggle financially for a few weeks. I signed the form, gave my keys back and the questionnaire started.

It is the third time I quit a job (4th if I count the EFL school) and it's the first time I get such a dedicated process to say goodbye. It might be because it's the first time I quit in Europe.

Anyway, I don't know how or why, but when she asked "is there anything we could have done to keep you?". I just started crying. Sobbing actually. Like when you can't say a word because your breathing changes. I felt so daft. But then she said the words I actually needed to hear. That she was sorry on behalf of the whole company. She apologised for having let me down. For not having given me enough work to make me want to stay with them. For not fulfilling the promises they made when they hired me and brought me here all the way from Mexico. That I will be very missed, they wished me all the best and they would try to get me back if the workload increases.

By that time, I was completely in tears and my face all red. I actually needed it. I needed the reassurance that my leaving doesn't mean betraying them, not my fault, but a natural career progression.

It probably is the third world I still have in my mind that kept me thinking that I was letting them down after all they had done for me when in fact it is the other way around. And to hear it from the management was cathartic.
In Mexico if you are lucky enough to have a well-paid job, you don't leave it.. ever, unless you are sacked.
My previous 2 resignations had been full of guilt, but now I feel really peaceful.

After I had washed my face, there was a nice surprise for all employees. A hamper full of Scottish goodies that can only be translated as "arcon navide~o". It has shortbread, chutney, mustard, port, wine, crisps, sausages, cheese, bacon, oatcakes, chocolates. I can take the non-perishable to Mexico, but the rest... I need to share all with someone or it can really jeopardize my weight loss even before taking the plane.

Still lots of shopping to do. At least I have 2 more days.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

23 pounds

Last night was mi last weigh-in of the year achieving a grand total of 23 pounds lost in 3 months. It is a great achievement and I still have some more to go. My leader congratulated me in front of everyone and gave me a stocking full of WW chocolate bars and candy adding up to 9 points instead of 30 it would usually have.
I can't wait for my mom and others see me in Mexico. My clothes are loose now and I have managed to get into a size 14 again. I hope I can behave in Mexico.

My friend Etienne is not here today. Yesterday was his last day and he just left. He will start working next Monday and the following week he will be on holiday. I will meet him next year (in the new company) and I asked him to bring from France one of the bags from Monoprix my friend blogger Fned talked about in her blog from Paris (was it cheeky or confianzuda Mexican?).

The weather is not as bad as on Tuesday, quite windy though, but not freezing nor raining.

Suresh's visa to Brazil is not ready and he asked for his passport back so we can travel on Tuesday. I am very relieved because this means he will come back with me. Well, let's see. So far the plan has changed:

Original Plan: I fly to Birmingham on Saturday with 1 checked bag (the other already in his house), we spend some time together in Stoke and take the train together on Tuesday early morning to Birmingham airport. Fly to Amsterdam to take the next flight AMS-MEX.
On the way back, we fly from Cancun to Mexico City, then to Amsterdam, then to Birmingham where we take the train to Stoke together and I spend a few days there before starting in my new job.

Plan No. 2: Since the incomoda cousin appeared, I am no longer welcome in Suresh's flat so I fly to B'ham on Monday evening, Suresh joins me and we spend the night in the airport hotel. On the way back, we arrive in B'ham and he alone takes the train back to Stoke with one of my bags, then I take the flight back to Aberdeen with one bag only.

Plan No. 3: The way to Mexico is the same but Suresh stays in Mexico City one more day to take a flight to Brazil for work (no Rio Carnival) and I come back alone with my 2 bags. What a dilemma now. I can't change my flight (cheapest fare means no changes), buying a new ticket from Amsterdam to Aberdeen is 500 euro (too expensive), what to do.

Plan No.4: Go back to plan 2. I am so relieved. It's not that I am so jealous I don't want to leave him alone in Mexico City for one night, but it gives me a better peace of mind to think he will be with me till the end.

Just now I am back from a nice lunch with my friends Carla and Sara from the office. We went to a pub and I had Xmas turkey. They had soup and salad because they said I am like their WW leader and didn't want to disappoint me. It was quite nice and I will surely miss them when I am in my new job.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Frosty morning

It is freezing here and not just figuratively but very literally. If you read the weather in Aberdeen (right side), it is -3C at 10 AM.

I lived most of my life in Villahermosa where the average temeperature is 32C peaking at 39C some times, and at 19C people wear their fancy jackets because it's getting cold.

But here I am now. You know in Physics class how they explain that darkness is just absence of light and cold just the absence of heat? Believe me, when I left home in the morning I literally felt the absence of something. Cold gets you, surrounds you and you feel like walking in the nothingness of space.

I may be exaggerating a little but today I really felt cold. There were tiny pieces of ice on the road and small ponds of last night rain were covered by a thin film of ice. When people talked, a cloud of white vapour could be seen from their mouths and if I stopped walking, my feet and hands got numbed. It's not the first time I see it, but the first this year and I actually paid attention.

I thought that for many people Christmas time means snow and scarves and cold. But for me Christmas is still having dinner at 11 PM with the air conditioned on and able to wear a vest (tank top) and sandals if I want. And my mom trying to get us to go to mass, and I in charge of tasting the spaguetti before anyone else to test the amount of salt in it, and the fireworks all neighbours start at exactly 12 PM lasting for hours.

Can't wait to be home.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Mexican Christmas dinner

On Saturday I did some shopping and at night I had a Mexican Christmas dinner. There aren't many of us but it was a good chance to see some friends like William who studied a PhD in the University of Manchester like me, Marina who is married to a Scottish, with a girl and originary from Tabasco like me and Luz who studies English with me.
I met another girl who is married to a Scottish and was good fun and a couple from Monterrey and Mexico City.

Usually when we are abroad we tend to look for people from our country and feel connected in ways we will never be with other people. But there is a limit. This couple is the kind of people I would never befriend in Mexico. They were overbearing, making constant fun of my friend William, banter if you want but so constant and loud was annoying. They seemed to me too cliche of what I ran away from in Mexico. He studied in the Tec, a posh private university and lived in Villahermosa. The facts I disliked about them were:
1. Since he lived in Villahermosa, he claims he knows high people and has been to all the cool nightclubs. Ok, not too bad.
2. She dismissed my opinion of Mexico City and why I left it. First sign of "only my opinion counts".
3. She was quick in criticising my relationship with Suresh saying how could we still be together and his family would never let us be happy. Ok, we have family issues but you don't go around telling people you just met that their relationship is doomed.
4. He said he'd rather die than be seen in Primark. Primark is a cheap clothing retail and I am not ashamed to buy some things there.

So all in all, it just reminded me why I am not in Mexico. Why I'd much rather have a meaningful life not caring whether I am friends with rich people, or have the latest car, or appear in the social pages of newspapers, or pretty much the opinion of people I don't care.

I have a loving boyfriend who shares my vision of the world and we definitely don't need this kind of people.

I will know I am approaching Mexico when at the gate to take my flight home I start hearing: "no mames wey", "que poca madre", "papi me dejo de mandar lana", etc in the most fresa tone you can (as if you had a potato stuffed in your mouth).

Mexico is much more than that and I need to be there with my people to recharge for a new and exciting year.

Graduate training

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were dedicated to something more useful than surfing the net in my office. We had a graduate training course and although I finished my bachelor degree (or licenciatura because if I say career meaning carrera, it is a very different thing) 8 years ago, I was classified as graduate. It had to do with the fact I have been more involved in Flow Assurance than core process activities and therefore I was happy to take it.
It started quite well and I learn one or tow new things. The organiser is an australian girl who has worked for the company for a long time and is knowledgeable and approachable. The other guy who presented some topics is from Glasgow, I can hardly understand what he says because apparently opening your mouth to enunciate is far from his gasp, and he is rough and unapporachable. I haven't liked this guy since I started in the company and I think is the one I will certainly not miss.
But then on Thursday it was my turn. I had a 1-hour slot to present my specialisation subject. Oh God, I enjoyed it a lot. When I finished Uni (yes, 8 years ago), my first job was as an English teacher and a couple of my students worked for the Petroleum Institute so they introduced me to a project leader and got my first engineering job. But I didn't leave my English school so for 4 years (more or less) I spent every Saturday teaching the advanced and proficiency levels of English. It is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had and to be in front of a small audience made me repeat the nice feeling of being a teacher.
I don't want to show off, but I think they enjoyed my presentation because they even clapped at the end of it and the organiser told me I had very good feedback.
On Friday was the last day and they didn't mention my resignation in the final meeting. Anyway, I think I have done a good job and told everyone I could about it.

Then we had a Secret Santa. This is not to be confused with the Amigo Secreto we have in Mexico. The person you are to give a present is chosen in the same way but they will never know you are the one giving the present. I think this is not fair. In Mexico not only you give a big present on the designated day, but you spend the previous days leaving notes or candies to your "secret friend" and the last day you announce who was your friend and everyone hugged and thanked, or not because you didn't like your present, but at least you knew who did it.
Here, since your secret santa is never announced, you never know who to thank or even hate if you get a crappy present and I have seen this happening a lot.
My present last year was a simple mug. This year I got a shower gel and body spray which Suresh thinks I got because I might smell. Just kidding. Ah! and a box of chocolates which I won't eat and will go directly to my family in Mexico.
I bought a very nice present consisting of a USB fed mug warmer and mini vacuum cleaner. I would have loved to receive that as a present, but my receiver wasn't there to open it.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Interview or not

Wow, my weekend was really great. I enjoyed a lot being with Suresh. I feel I love him more than ever.
We didn't do much. I am not exactly a wild party person or an outdoor person for that matter, and what we enjoy more when we are together is do the normal routinary things a live-in couple usually have. Have breakfast, do the dishes, have tea, see telly, just ordinary things.
On Friday after work, I arrived home to find him in. He had been seeing the last episodes I downloaded of Heroes season 2. We had dinner and went out to see a movie. Darjeeling Limited. Not very impressed but India was depicted more or less accurately (or so my own indian says). His only complaint was that a stewardess, even in a luxury train, would not have such an understandable accent in English and of course wouldn't sleep around. I choose to believe him.
On Saturday we had lunch in an italian restaurant in front of the Union Terrace Gardens. The food was great, so fresh you could actually taste the ripe tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
At night, we went out with our Malaysian friend Lisa to a pub with some of her friends. On Sunday, we just took a walk around the centre and had some coffee at Cafe Nero, then packed up to go to the airport.
So sad to see him leave. So excited we will meet in 2 weeks to go to Mexico.

Back in the office, the cleaning my desk hasn't seen much progress. I had been told I had to interview a new prospect for Project Management and therefore I was preparing for it, studying her CV and figuring out what to ask. It was going to be in half an hour but just a few minutes ago, the Recruitment lady came to tell me the Management decided it wouldn't be suitable that I carry out the interview and she would do it herself. I felt bad. I mean, I am still part of the company, aren't I? I had invested time in this and was looking forward to it, but now I won't make it.

Anyway, in a much brighter subject, Suresh received a call from our agent saying the interview went very good and he was going to receive an offer these days. So excited! We still don't know how much they are willing to pay or the terms and conditions but it is a great step for our life together.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Resignation

I did it. I saw the director alone and nobody was around him so I just sat in front of his desk and told him I was leaving.
he said he was disappointed but he understood why I was leaving and he was sorry he couldn't get me more work. He said he could not promise any project to start soon and that he had no option but to let me go.
He felt sad that I was going to the same company as Etienne but I told him how our negotiations had been independent and that company was the best in town for my career development.
I felt so sad and relieved at the same time. I felt like crying when I told my friends in the office.
There is a "state of the nation" next Friday and I am sure he will announce it then.

By the way, state of the nation is like a presidential inform in Mexico and it is like the final meeting in the year where the company addresses the employees with a summary of activities and results in the past year.

Now, to prepare for my departure. The saddest thing will be to clear my desk. :(