I like to look on September in Vallarta as my own little endurance test. If I can get through the whole back to school schtick while wading through 91% humidity and still keep a smile on my face, I can do pretty much anything. At first things like finding crabs behind the block area in my classroom and sweating all day starting at 6:04am made me wonder if Manitoban winters were really that bad.
But then I had kids and realized that there were more September challenges that Mexico wanted to throw at me, such as greeting your child after a 34C physical education class. There’s nothing like gathering the courage to navigate the high seas of a tired, sweaty little person who still has to face violin class and homework before the day is done.
However, thank you very much, I do think I’m becoming more and more local with every September I manage to survive. For example:
1) Not only did my daughter sport two evenly parted braids this morning at the Independence Day ceremony, they were FISHTAIL braids, yo. Granted, they took at least an hour to make, and I was sweating profusely by the time I finished. I didn’t have the time or skill to braid my own hair, so my husband did it. My Mexican co-workers, kindly diplomatic, complimented my handiwork on my daughter’s hair, and then made a coughing sound instead of mentioning mine.
2) On an insane impulse, I bought my son a festive, plastic tri-colored horn that sounds exactly like a zebra is being strangled and which has so far brought him a joy that is inversely related to how much irritation it causes the rest of us. In other news, I’ve decided that my brother’s children will each receive one in their care package at Christmas, in order to share in the joy of Mexican Independence. The thought fills me with such delight.
3) I put bright red lipstick on my eight-year-old daughter so she could dance onstage with her class. And didn’t even feel weird about my baby wearing a lipstick shade called Dangerous.
4) I spent a whole evening going to every Walmart in town because my daughter said that’s where I will find her required dress for the Independence Day ceremony. I realized once I got there that it was the same vestido tipico that was already hanging in her closet from last year’s dance. And I didn’t complain. A lot.
5) I found it a little “cool” a few nights before Tropical Storm Odile passed the bay. I actually needed a top sheet in order to sleep without getting chilled.
6) Our family went to check out the waves during Odile’s passing jaunt, and I was one of the only expats to brave the Malecon. I got soaked by the spray along with the rest of the locals and the first shriek out of my mouth was “Orale!”
7) I wear long pants every day to work without writing passive aggressive texts to my husband when he writes to say there’s nothing for him to cook at home.
8) My students come into the classroom on September 15 with drums, horns, and face makeup that they use to decorate other people, furniture, and items of my clothing. So I get them to paint my cheeks and then pass out the Mexican flags.
9) I cannot shout “Viva Mexico!” during El Grito de la Independencia without getting a very large, very proud lump in my throat. Because, with all my heart, I know that my Mexico Lindo will live forever in me, as well as on most of my clothing. And I wouldn’t change it for all the snow in Manitoba.