And so here I am in Mexico. Of this there can be no doubt, for I comprehend about half of what is said, and then have very little, if anything, with which to respond. Not so abnormal, I suppose.
Arrived at 5 this morning. Had an intense nap on my hostel cot. Showered far longer than normal, then took to the streets. I managed to buy water. Failed to find a proper school notebook, though I think I now know where one will be found. Strolled the streets of Guadalajara, gave myself a downtown orientation course. I zigged and zagged and did my darndest to misdirect my sense of direction and am happy to find I failed. Pretty simple city it seems. Some spectacular old churches, the very best of colonial architecture standing nobly in the midst of a bustling commercial district - an open-air mall (almost, except I think it went underground and indoors through passageways I was not yet willing to explore) chock full of colorful linens, questionably brand-name electronics and funky sunglasses.
In the central square I stumbled upon a mime show. I stopped to watch. Turns out my Spanish is sadly lacking, for I was unable to comprehend even this, a silent drama.
Surrounding the central mall, two styles of store are clearly dominant. Wedding gowns and mattresses dominate the landscape. I'm not saying they are related (though this is a thoroughly Catholic country), but one after another they align themselves down the street, los vestidos de novia elegantly displayed in window after window along el Calle de Juarez, walking East towards downtown, the white gowns interrupted only by sidewalk construction and showrooms putting every sq ft to good use with fresh bright white colchones. I suppose people gotta sleep and get married (not necessarily in that order) no matter where one goes.
Seriously though, I do not speak Spanish. I find myself shy about using even the few phrases I assumed I knew. Speaking aloud in English, muttering the proper Spanish under my breath, after the fact. I trust that this must change before too long (tomorrow, maybe?).
This is good though. I believe I have successfully exited my comfort zone -- a zone which, as it turns out, is rather expansive, showing me new and old hometowns that stretch from Maine to Carlsbad, NYC to LA, and includes places I failed to find this time. I am ever more amazed at the grace I encounter on a daily basis.
And to be perfectly clear, human grace continues to unfold before me more and more. Most everyone I've met (ie smiled at) since I crossed that Southern border has been kind as can be. It's just that I don't yet recognize the vocabulary they employ in the process of explaining just why exactly it is that they're smiling.