July 15, 2016
This afternoon was my last afternoon hanging out with my host cousin, Diana. I had a great time hanging out with her and another of her friends. Tonight was also the opening night of Querétaro’s annual international Jazz Festival. I met her and Marlene in the Plaza De Armas, around the time that we had previously agreed on. It is amazing how often people get stuck in traffic in Querétaro right around the time you are about to be meeting up with them…. It’s just another of several cultural differences that I have noticed while living in Mexico. The traffic is always reported to be horrendous around here and makes people late all the time….
For the kick off of the Jazz Festival, that would more appropriately be called a music festival since it features many types of music from performers who travel from all over the world to join in the week long line up, there was an opening march through the streets. The three of us met the start of the march in a nearby plaza and waited for the clock to strike 6:30pm. My host cousin was very excited to point out to us her saxophone teacher, who she is quite smitten by. Once the banner was in place and the flag bearers where lined up representing the countries participating in the Jazz Festival festivities, the march began around the plazas and through the streets of the Centro.
We walked along through the streets stretching on tip toe for our own photos as many others did the same. From above, people looked down on the crowd from the balconies of old buildings. Everyone was shouting, clapping, and cheering along.
This was the day after the attack in Paris, admits the hate crimes being committed in the USA between police officers and public, among an ongoing feeling that countries are constantly glaring at one another with the Mal Ojo and people can’t find commonality but only differences between one another to use against each other.
Participating in this march around the plazas of Querétaro with so many different people coming together to celebrate and have a good time was heartwarming. Seeing the flags of several nations being held high and proud was a reminder that not everyone hates, that not everyone wishes to harm, and most of all, that it is possible to celebrate differences together and find commonality in simple joys such as enjoying great music while dancing and cheering in the streets.
When the parade ended at the main canopy and performance area in the center of Plaza de Armas, there were hundreds of people filling the plaza shoulder to shoulder. We were able to take a few photos in front of the JAZZ letters that I really love and surely could not leave without taking a couple selfies with Diana’s selfie stick.
It was bitter sweet knowing that my time with my host cousin was almost up. While she was getting very excited to leave Mexico for the first time for her trip to Poland, she was also getting a bit nervous, especially with all of the hate going on in the world. We didn’t dwell on the negativity though. We kept right on celebrating and enjoying every minute that we had together.
We spent some time enjoying the music and got frozen yogurt. I was surprised that instead of having choices of flavors, as we do in the US at frozen yogurt shops such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, caramel, and cake batter, this shop only had one flavor. I assumed that since it was white, the flavor was vanilla. After adding chocolate and Oreo cookie crumbles on top, I took a bite and was surprised to taste not vanilla, but, just as advertised, yogurt. I mean, it makes perfect sense; it just was not what I was expecting. I must say, I prefer to stick to fresh fruit ice creams in Mexico and save frozen yogurt for the states.
Next, we walked through the streets towards the bus station so that we could catch a ride to her house. I happened to see one of my classmates, Addi out enjoying the music too. Along the way, I bought two pairs of Mexican Silver stud earrings. Diana had offered to pierce my ear after sharing that she had pierced her friends’ ears a couple days before. I do not think that she expected me to take her up on the offer, but my reply was asking whether or not she could make three new holes in my ear. It turns out I have wanted my ear pierced again for over two years. However, I have been too cheap to pay over $150 to get it done at home. But, when your host cousin happens to be a professional and silver studs cost less than $5 from a street cart, it seems like the perfect opportunity. And, I figured it would be preferred by my parents and grandparents over a tattoo.
As we kept walking, Diana and Marlene pointed out more street food that would be great to try. If only I had more time, I thought to myself. Even though I still had about ten days left in Mexico, I was not yet ready to begin the saddest ten day count down of my life thus far.
I ended up buying a still-warm 10 peso bag of five mini Gorditas. They were pretty much two inches across and a half inch thick pancakes made from a very sweet batter. Diana’s friend got off the bus before we did. She promised we would hang out again before I was to leave, and I was very appreciative and excited to hear so. I love hanging out with Diana and her friends and I was happy to know that even after Diana left, I would still have her friends to hang out with during my last week here.
Diana and I get off the bus at the stop by her house. This was a neighborhood that I had never been to before. It was a nice, quiet neighborhood. The front half of Diana’s house is a salon. Her mother has been a hairdresser for nearly thirty years and her dad does nails. When we walked in, her mom was finishing a lady’s hair and her dad was in the back of the house in the kitchen fixing a snack.
Diana showed me her room and I loved the nest-style chair hanging from the ceiling in the living room. After chatting for a few minutes, it was time to get to work. Diana washed her hands, grabbed pair of gloves, and got my earrings disinfecting in a solution. Then, I got comfy in a chair all set up for pedicures and asked Diana for a mirror so we could figure out the exact placement of my earrings. As we drew dots on my ear with sharpie, it took a few tries before it was just right. As we moved dots fractions of an inch up and down, a very popular song in Mexico right now with the chorus being “Picky-Picky-Picky-Picky” was playing. I pointed out that it was my perfect song at the moment, but by the third set of dots, I was content and Diana was ready.
Although Diana recommended it would probably be best if I didn’t watch, I told her that I have given enough sheep ear tags and shots that watching her pierce my ears wouldn’t bother me at all. She sprayed some liquid on my ear that she said would help numb it a little and she held an ice cube to my ear a while longer. In a few minutes, she was ready for the first earring. I could not help smiling like the total dork that I am. I was so stinking excited to finally get this ear piercing done!
As she pierced the first of three holes, she kept asking if it hurt. I told her that she did a great job and that I hardly felt a thing. After the getting the earring though, she prepared for the next hole as I smiled even wider and admired the sparkling object on the edge of my ear. Her mom walked in to see how it was going during the second piercing. This one hurt a little bit, but still was not anything bad at all. Diana couldn’t believe that I wasn’t flinching or minding the fact I was watching her through the mirror. During the third and final piercing, my ear began to bleed and Diana got a bit worried. I told her that it was no problem, that I was perfectly fine. Once the bleeding slowed, she got the earring in and that was that! So easy! I couldn’t stop smiling and just wanted to keep looking at them in my ear.
As I held an ice cube to my ear, Diana led me to the other room in the salon and sat me down in front of a box of nail polishes and told me to pick what I liked. She had just pierced my ear three times and was also going to paint my nails?!?! It was a total make over day! And I was having a blast being totally girly with Diana. I usually always have my nails painted, but while abroad, I figured it would be easier to keep them natural. I had been regretting that decision since I left home though and was so excited to have pretty hands again.
I chose a dark reddish and sparkly gold for an accent nail. The polish was the currently very popular Gellish style. I had never had a manicure with this type of polish before. I knew that it was supposed to last for like three weeks, so I was looking forward to trying it out. The secret to this polish is that it is set with a snazzy UV Ray light that immediately sets the polish rock hard. Diana informed me though that removing the polish requires soaking for finger tips in nail polish remover for like 20 minutes though. This concerned me a bit cause that sounded really bad for the skin of your fingertips, but plenty of girls get this done so I figured it can’t be that bad. Wrong.
(NOTE: This weekend when I got home, after about ten days of this gellish manicure, it had grown out and chipped some near the cuticle so I decided since I was home I wanted to give myself a fresh manure. Welp, I spent over two hours soaking, wrapping my fingertips in tinfoil with a cotton ball soaked in 100% acetone nail polish remover on the nail, and filed and scraped the layers of polish off. It was not a great experience and I would not recommend a gellish style manicure. At one point, I poured some nail polish remover into a red solo cup to soak my fingertips in, but didn’t last long because within seconds, the remover had dissolved the bottom of the solo cup. So yeah…soaking my fingers in this for 20 minutes shouldn’t be bad at all, right?….)
But, at the time, I wasn’t too worried about removing the polish. I was simply having an awesome time spending my last evening with my host cousin. After the top coat was set, Diana and I hit the neighborhood streets to go get tamales around 10pm. The shop was unfortunately closed, but Diana had another idea in mind. Around the corner there was a street side burger tent that Diana said had awesome burgers. She was right. For 80 pesos we got two burgers with grilled pineapple, cheese, toasted buns, and the usual burger toppings.
After licking my fingers and finishing my glass of water, I had finished holding the ice cube to my ear and was dreading saying a final good bye to Diana, but we knew it was time. They called me a taxi and we promised to talk lots, send post cards, and keep in touch. Diana has plans to come to Oregon next February and I am hoping to have the opportunity to spend a day or two with her in Astoria at the beach. I would love the opportunity to show her around my home town and return to her the generosity, love, and amazing memories that she gave to me in over whelming abundance these last four weeks.
When the taxi pulled up, we gave each other one last hug. I started crying first. I couldn’t help it. Diana had made my experience in Mexico amazing from day one. Without her, I would not have met any of my other local friends. Without her, I would have had a totally different Mexico expedience. We wished each other safe travels and I closed the door to the cab.
By the time I got home, my heart was still over flowing with love, generosity, blessings, and joy that I had received all evening. I feel like a broken record for saying it so much, but I am so thankful and blessed for the host family that I was paired with for my study abroad experience. They went above and beyond for me in so many ways.
Muchísimo gracias, por todos, Diana. Safe travels abroad.