Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tias, Tacos, and Televisions

Unless a wave of inspiration knocks me over in the next twenty-four hours, this might have to be the last of the alliterated highlights from our trip to Mexico City. I already have a couple ideas for a writing-based post, but we'll see.

Tia means aunt, and not only did we get to visit with two of Ibis' aunts whom I adore, but I was referred to as Tia by several people who seem way too old to be calling me that. It's one thing when our four-year old nephew runs around saying "Tia, Tia, Tia" -- he only comes up to my hip. My "nieces and nephews" on this trip ranged from fourteen to twenty-seven! Fortunately the oldest just called me by my name.

Ibis's mother was the youngest of thirteen children so her siblings' children are somewhere between our age and that of our parents. It seems weird to be calling people I associate with my parents "cousins" and I found myself relating more to the younger generation. I guess that shows my immaturity, lol.

On the fourth day of our trip when the cousin we were staying with asked me my name for the hundredth time, it occurred to me that the youngins might have chosen to call me Tia because they couldn't pronounce my name. That I am used to here.

As you all know, I've been living in Mexico for well over two years, and in my time here I've had lots and lots (and lots) of traditional Mexican food. Molé, enchiladas, carne asada, tiritas, postres... you get the idea. Well for whatever reason, his family was under the impression that I've never eaten any of these things and they were all determined to introduce me to "traditional" Mexican cuisine.

The most common meal? Tacos.


Don't get me wrong. I love tacos. We eat them all the time. In fact, I was introduced to real tacos (meat, onion, cilantro -- nothing more) while still living in Chicago. I have nothing against tacos. But when we're in the capital of an entire country, surrounded by restaurants from all over the world -- most of which we don't have in Zihua -- I don't want tacos. At one point I even said to Ibis that is seemed like they were treating us like we were visiting from the US, not another part of Mexico. Oh well, I made pasta when we got home and the Thai will have to wait for another trip.

Finally, Televisions.

I think I've been surrounded by near-poverty for too long because I almost fell over every time we walked into another family member's home and were greeted by a 60+" flat screen tv. Often times there were three or four in each home. Wtf?

We have a nice flat screen in my parents' basement, waiting under a blanket for us to return. (Actually, I think my dad finally made good on his threat to hook it up, but it's still in the basement.) We've made do with our 13" television for so long that I had forgotten how lovely it is to sit on the couch and feel like you can reach out and touch the actors.

This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but I noticed it in each home, to the point that I started to wonder if they all went in and bought them in bulk or something. Can you do that with electronics?

In all seriousness, the best thing about this trip is I felt more like myself than I have in a very long time. No one stared at me, they just treated me like a normal person, even if I am lighter than everyone else and my eyes are blue. I didn't feel out of place and I truly enjoyed meeting my family. If I was disappointed about anything, it's that it took us two years to go visit.

The nephew that prompted this get-together is studying medicine in England and won't return to Mexico for another year and a half, so we're already talking about going back for that. He joked that we should all come to London in 2012 for the Olympics, so of course Ibis started inviting everyone to Chicago in 2016.

Only time will tell.


Penguin said...

OMG, a 13" television???
I could not live without my 65".
That would be enough for me to drive all the way from Mexico to up here and get it then drive all the way back.
But then again I have no life other than to watch movies.
You have other things to keep you occupied.

Melanie Avila said...

Yeah, my computer is actually a teeny bit bigger than the TV so we often watch movies on it.

Robin said...

That sounds so fun! I'm really glad you had a nice time. It's also a relief to know there's more than just poverty in Mexico!

Your story about relating to younger people reminds me of when we took my friend to "Mama Mia" for her 40th birthday. We said, gesturing towards the mother in the show, "Wow. That's going to be us one day!" Our husbands said, "Ladies, that's you right now!"

Melanie Avila said...

ROFL!! Robin, I actually wondered if there's something wrong with me that I seemed perfectly comfortable with the teenagers. I do NOT feel like I'm in my MID thirties.

JLC said...

This was a beautiful post. I loved how you segued into each topic and ended it on a very poignant note.

I've learned this week that the true essence of family is a blessing. In-laws, blood relatives.. it doesn't matter.
Glad you had a great time. These experiences are creating awesome memories. (Yes, even the bathroom!)

spyscribbler said...

That's wonderful! Family is nice. We have a huge TV, but it's an ancient projection style. It's the blurriest thing you've ever seen. I tend to watch on my computer, but we'll probably get an LCD one day, so we can hook it up to our computer to watch things, LOL.

Tacos like that sound great. That's pretty much how I get them at the local restaurant. No cheese for me, and they put the lettuce on the side. I wish they added onions! Yum!

Okay, now I want to go for lunch.

Melanie's Mom said...

Today is "Taco Tuesday" at a local restaurant where we usually meet some friends for dinner on Tuesdays. But the tacos are so bad -- they aren't anything like Mexican tacos -- so I usually order something else. I do enjoy Mexican food, but not everyday...

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks JLC, I always feel like my transitions are weak and that I end weird, so I appreciate you saying that.

I know I come off as jaded about Mexico a lot in my posts, but I really do try to see the positives too.

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, tacos with cheese are generally called quesadillas or pescadillos, but not tacos. That's not the authentic way. And I hope I didn't just piss off the person I commented after on your status!

Melanie Avila said...

Mom, I can't eat Mexican every day either and the family there just wasn't getting that, even after we had a big conversation about how Ibis and I like foods from all different countries. Oh well, at least it was tasty. :)

Nadine said...

That's cute that they wanted to introduce you to Mexican food as if you had just arrived. It sounds like they were thrilled to have you both visit.

People here call everyone Auntie or Uncle when referencing an older person. So I am Auntie to the teenagers next door which is weird cause I feel as if I'm the same age as them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling me that real tacos are meat, onion, and cilantro. Yum! Here I was, adding all this other stuff. The real way is so much easier!
("stormie" from AW)

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, that would be weird. My family doesn't say aunt and uncle as often (or maybe that's just as I've gotten older) so it really stands out to me that they use it more often here, and often in place of a person's name.

Melanie Avila said...

Anne, I add lime and tomitillo sauce (green salsa) -- very yummy!

Benjamin Solah said...

Is it weird to have craved tacos after reading this post?

Oh and I need a nice big TV too! I'm kind of glowing long-distance blind from being in front of computers non-stop so need a big one and need to sit close.

Melanie Avila said...

Ben, several people have told me they wanted tacos after reading this post, so you're not alone. :)