Carnaval officially begins in two days, and festivities in Mexico are already underway. An afternoon trip into nearby Puebla meant catching a parade of street performers with feathered headbands, colorful masks and plenty of live music. Since carnaval is all about living it up then afterwards cleansing and undergoing personal reflection during Lent, who am I to buck with tradition?
I’ve had my fair share of food and drink since arriving here. I know that once I return home, I’ll certainly need to refrain, restrict and cleanse. But in just two days (48 hours) I’ve made some great strides in adapting to the landscape. For a person who really likes things my way, that says a lot!
I’ve adapted from a luxurious 15-minute hot shower to a quick 5-minute scrub down. Go any longer than that, and you’ll be bathing in tepid water. I’ve also learned how to brush my teeth with minimal amounts of bottled water, as the tap just can’t be trusted.
I’ve adjusted to being around strangers for extended periods. Instead of traveling with friends, I’m in a bed and breakfast, cooking and learning with people I’ve never met, but have also traveled here from the U.S. I’ve learned patience in adapting to their habits and personalities, while also learning to be grateful for their kindness, grace and generosity towards me.
Instead of complaining about the un-expected cold front, I’ve learned to build lasting fires in my room chimney, stacking the kindling and wood appropriately, while sleeping with socks on my cold feet. Of course, a fire can only last for so long, so I found myself resorting to a true American habit: when I needed something, I went to Wal-Mart. I bought a fleece and some tube socks and felt a little grateful for the familiar convenience.
I’m starting to get comfortable with noise. Being out in the country, noise carries. In fact, it resonates and echoes for miles! When the fireworks went off on Sunday morning at 4 AM (then continued non-stop throughout the day) I had no choice but to cope. There are a lot of dogs that roam the streets here (all very friendly, just not allowed indoors) and if one barks, they all have to…. For hours on end! I’ve learned to deal with it. Finally, there is the language barrier. As much as I would love to pick up Spanish, it is very difficult for me. I’m so thankful for people who take the time to listen to my non-sensical string of words.
So yes, in the spirit of Carnaval and Lent, I am both living it up and I am also reflecting. So far, I know it’s important to experience other cultures and traditions, but more importantly, that no matter where I go or whom I meet, it’s always better to be kind than to be right. Besides, what’s really right anyways?