This is a true story. The scary part is that this story is representative of my normal daily life in my new city.
Me: “Excuse me ma’am. Do you know of a post office near here?”
“Sure, but it’s really far. It’s on Avenue Juarez.”
She continues to describe how I need to take public transit to arrive at a location less than a five minute walk away. I thank her and continue on by foot.
Then, stopped in my tracks, I spot a shop that sells soy products. Curiosity walks me in the door. No way, they sell WHEAT GERM and WHEAT BRAN! Score!! A bit of normalcy returns to my topsy-turvy life; now I can bake my favorite Irish Soda Bread at home. While at the register, I remember the useful advice from Peace Corps staff: always ask at least two people where things are located. So far, this has been good advice. I decide to pose my question to the short man behind the counter. He tells me that all of the offices are in Mexico City. Clearly he did not understand my question. I ask again, this time phrasing it differently:
“Are there places near here where I can send mail?”
“Sure, I’ll write the address for you.”
Awesome, I think. Until he hands me a paper with his boss’s email address. Never mind then, I will try asking someone else later.
Five minutes down Avenue Juarez, I enter a local theater and find a man working the front desk. This time I am more specific to ensure that he does not misunderstand my question.
“Excuse me, I am looking for a place to send post cards. You know, a place like a post office. Do you know of one?”
“No problem! It’s just up that street, maybe two blocks. At a stoplight you’ll see Avenue Victoria. It’s about 100 meters from there.” He says with certitude.
“Avenue Victoria?” I ask for clarification.
He seems so confident. I guess that first woman must have been mistaken. I continue down the road, away from Avenue Juarez. Farther, and farther, with no traffic lights in site.
Wait, are those rain boots? I need rain boots.
“Excuse me, how much for the rain boots?”
$16 American dollars! That is too much for my PC budget just yet. Maybe next month.
Two storefronts later, the smell of browning butter stops me in my tracks, incredible! Mental note: return when not trying to find a post office before closing time.
Finally, a traffic light…and it’s on the cross street of…no! It’s not Victoria, it’s DORIA. Maybe I mis-heard the man. Hmm. It is worth investigating.
Ten minutes later, no post office. I find a woman working in a nearby hotel and ask my question for the fourth time.
She tells me: “There has never been a post office near here. You will have to go very far to another neighborhood.”
Since I have no idea where it is, I thank her and give up for the day.
On the way to the bus stop, I am sidetracked yet again by the tempting scent of corn with lime, chili, and cheese. I start chatting up the woman while she prepares my impromptu dinner. I am sure to tell her that I enjoy eating spicy food, after all, part of my job here is to dispel misconceptions about Americans. She responds by suggesting that I add some of her special salsa to my corn.
“Seriously? This salsa is made of only peanuts and chilies? That’s really neat!” I say as I pile on a healthy portion.
Fifteen minutes later. I never knew that my sinuses could be cleaned out that thoroughly; the corn, which I topped with both chili powder and salsa had also been cooked in jalapeños. A delicious inferno!
After my fire-corn, it was time to hear home. Now where was that bus stop?
P.S. I caught the wrong bus on the way home. Twice. And I had to take a taxi the rest of the way. But no worries; I got a thorough tour of the city and ended up finding a chocolate covered churro and a very cute knit headband that is currently keeping my ears warm. An adventure for less than five American dollars.
And you will be happy to know that the next morning, I found the post office. It is conveniently located on Avenue Juarez…
Currently making me smile
- Hearing my boss say: “piña por la niña” when choosing a pineapple soda for himself (Translation: pineapple for this little girl!”)
- Watching a man with a giant silver belt buckle adorned with a scorpion design, walk his horse along a windy mountain road. The horse was adorned with a giant ax tied to its flank
- The smell of burning firewood against the crisp clear air
- Little Zapatistos running about the tiny, winding streets; an afternoon free after the Revolution Day parade
- Watching a volcano errupt in the distance along my commute
- All of the incredible views from the peaks at work