Tecate take 8

courtesy of tecate.com

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

The weekend is upon us again..!! It sure came fast.! I have to say I’m not sure I am ready for this one just yet. I am still getting over Memorial weekend. haha… But I will get over my trepidation quickly as I am going to the new Star Trek movie and another bbq. And as usual I am sure there will be tasty beverages in my weekend plans.

So I leave you with this Tecate commerical to ease you into your weekend plans. The commerical is called Un Hombre Sabe Que Lo Quiere which translates to a man who knows what he wants. There are no subtitles. In the commerical a man is out with a woman doing all the things she loves because of course he wants to be with her. She spends the whole commercial complimenting him on being artistic, sensitive, a dog lover, athletic and even a mambo dancer..!!

His friends look at him strangely..!! But of course he is doing it all for love…or because she’s really hot…!! jajaja… Not sure which one just yet. Enjoy your weekend..!! Salud..!!

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smoke and mirrors

courtesy of rapgenius.com

courtesy of rapgenius.com

So when I first started writing this blog, I told you that I would write about the good, the bad and the ugly plus the truly magical. I believe my posts have covered all those ideas…well except for maybe the ugly… I think I initially shied away from “ugly” posts because I wanted my blog to be a good experience. I did not want readers and fellow bloggers to come to my site expecting a rant each and every visit.

Or maybe I just wanted to hook you in first with delicious treats before I fed you poison…tee-hee… Ummm…just kidding 🙂 I think the real reason is that I am generally an optimistic individual. However, I did promise I would talk about not so pleasant events as an expat. My professor dubbed these insights as culture shock. Those moments when you realize that no matter how much you love a culture – you still view some things as an outsider. So today we will start with the concept I dubbed “smoke and mirrors.”

courtesy of preparingyourfamily.com

courtesy of preparingyourfamily.com

The term “smoke and mirrors” means something is not really as it appears to be. According to Dictionary.com, it is “something that distorts or blurs facts like a magic trick”. On the other hand, Merriam-Webster.com describes it as “something intended to disguise or draw attention away from an often embarrassing or unpleasant issue”. I think both definitions work even though the first definition is more suited for the artful deception of a magician. It still embodies my concept of intentional illusion.

In Mexico, I found people often put up “smoke and mirrors” to hide something or avoid an unpleasant conversation. For example, when I would throw a party, I would invite all my friends and co-workers. The expats would usually be forthright with their rsvp’s regardless of whether it was yes, no or maybe. However, my Mexican friends always said yes even when they meant no. At first I was really insulted. I thought maybe they weren’t really my friends.

Eventually, someone explained to me that Mexicans have an innate desire to please. Since they are so agreeable, they will always say what you want to hear. It is amazing how a simple word like yes can be so entrenched in one’s culture. Apparently, Mexicans view the word no as uncooperative and even insulting. They will avoid saying no by saying yes. I was flabbergasted. Growing up in the States and being Croatian, that small reply seemed like a lie to me. Not a huge lie, more like a fib, but a lie nontheless.

courtesy of esl.culips.com

courtesy of esl.culips.com

However, it doesn’t end there. When I first fell in love with Mexico during my study abroad, I began interviewing with Starbucks Mexico. I had my first interview in Mexico City and my second in Cancun. They loved me and told me that I was extremely qualified. They wanted me to start working in the fall of 2010. So, of course, I packed my whole life away and moved to Mexico. I waited and waited while they constantly pushed the start date out. Until, finally one day, I called and found out the woman who was supposed to hire me had quit. And no one else knew what I was talking about.

Did I mention I had just moved to another country?! I felt totally lied to and ripped off. I could not understand why someone, anyone, could not have sent me an email, text or carrier pigeon and told me they had no plans to hire me?! I was completely baffled. Eventually, I did find a job I enjoyed which led me to meet really fantastic people. It set me on my current life path. But I still can’t help question the “smoke and mirrors” routine. In the end, I ended up being hurt more than if I had just received a simple no from the beginning.

courtesy of boiseweekly.com

courtesy of boiseweekly.com

My final example involves my first boyfriend in Mexico. I met this really great man or someone who I thought was a really great man. I thought we were in love. We planned a whole future together.! But sometimes, things just didn’t add up. The red flags had become neon flashing signs. Eventually, I figured out he had a another girlfriend. I was the other woman..??!! What incensed me most were not his lies. I actually understood why he was lying. He was trying to protect himself so that he could have us both.

I was more upset with his friends, who I thought were also my friends, because they participated in the lie. With me and with her. Did I mention I was gobsmacked?! When I asked our friends why they just didn’t tell me, their replies were always the same – “But Rosa, we didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” Huh?! All I could do was shrug my shoulders because it made absolutely no sense to me. I felt betrayed. Of course I got over that too and met a really great guy who was a really great guy. But the situation still left me scarred and I was never really close to that group of friends again. Even all my schooling had not prepared me for the reality of this culture shock..!

courtesy of 4squareviews.com

courtesy of 4squareviews.com

When I was getting my master’s degree, I took an intercultural communications class. We studied Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions among countries. It was fascinating. There are six components listed in the graph above. But one of them embodies my concept of “smoke and mirrors”. It addresses whether a country is individualistic or collectivistic. The U.S. scored a 91 on this dimension. In other words, Americans tend to be more interested in themselves and their family then the proverbial village as a whole. They are also more adept at direct exchanges between each other and strangers. Note the word ‘direct’ – yes, no, maybe.

Mexico, on the other hand, scored a 30 on this component which makes them a collectivistic society. They are group oriented rather than individualistic. Mexicans have close relationships with family, extended family and extended relationships. They would rather maintain harmony and peace in the group for the greater good. Also, loyalty is paramount in their society even if one of their friends is cheating on another friend as I found out firsthand.

Unfortunately, even with all of my schooling on intercultural communications and cultural dimensions, the reality is far different. Sometimes you experience the culture shock immediately like getting off a plane in Saudia Arabia for example. But other times, it slowly creeps up and when you least expect it, you realize I really am in a different country. It’s kinda like getting over the honeymoon phase of a relationship. You see each other warts and all and you have to decide to stay or to go. I have to admit as much as this concept irritates me and believe me it does. I am a very direct person. I have learned to live around it and expect it. But it wasn’t easy. I have the scars to prove it.

http://geert-hofstede.com/

“calmate rosa”

courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

A todos mis amigos Mexicanos que con frecuencia decían: “Calmate Rosa” – al parecer no es posible – jajajaja..!! Or in English, to all my Mexican friends who frequently decried: “Calm yourself Rose” – apparently it’s not possible – hahaha..!!

In one of my earlier posts, I described the Mexican concept of mañana. In this concept, life is too short to be lived on tight schedules and should be enjoyed. Rigid schedules are only for buses and airplanes. Since this was Memorial weekend here in the states, I decided to embrace the concept of mañana again..!! I had several friends visiting and I wanted to enjoy the weekend to the fullest.

But this weekend, I was also thinking about the Mexican phrases calmate and tranquilo – calm yourself and tranquil. The weekend was such a hectic blur of people, traffic, cars and crazy energy..!! So many people looked stressed out and were pissed off at the traffic. And I was surprised at how calm I was watching everything unfold.

One of the people I was driving with kept yelling at the other drivers which kept ruining our conversation and the scenic drive. Now I am sure that several of my friends in Mexico would laugh hysterically if I ever described myself as calm. I am an American city girl by birth and Croatian by design, so I am naturally hardwired to be a little intense. Hence the reason, I heard the phrases “calmate Rosa” and “tranquilo Rosa, tranquilo” all the time while I was living in Mexico 🙂

courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

But I have noticed since my return to Chicago that I am calmer than most other people I run into. And I have to say – I really like that..! It allows me inner peace regardless of what is going on around me. It reminds me I cannot control the actions of those around me or the world I live in. It also keeps me from constantly bobbing from one emotion to another emotion – reactionary emotional hedonism as I like to call it. All of this then gives me the freedom to enjoy the moment I am in regardless of the drama going on around me.

So apparently, it is possible for me to be calm or at least calmer..! And while there is no longer anyone who says “calmate Rosa” to me here in Chicago. I have started to listen to my inner voice which strangely enough speaks to me in Spanish… 🙂

Tecate takes a holiday

courtesy of bacardi.com

courtesy of bacardi.com

Since this is a long three day weekend celebrating Memorial Day – I thought I would give Tecate the time off..!! I know what you are thinking, “But Rose, this is a 3 day weekend..! We need Tecate more than ever to jumpstart our holiday fun..!” And I agree..!! I have many good friends in town this weekend. Lots of dinner plans, bbqs and tasty beverages to be had..!!

So in its place, I am bringing in a heavy hitter known as Bacardi Rum..!! I think we’ve earned it…we deserve it… This weekend necessitates more than beer. It’s time for rum and cokes and mojitos..!! The Bacadi Masero or Bacardi Waiter commercial has English subtitles, so no need for me to interpret. Enjoy the change of pace..!! Enjoy your weekend..!! SALUD…!!!

si, si, comprendo…

courtesy of software.productwiki.com

courtesy of software.productwiki.com

A universal translator is a device that allows instant translation of any language. It is usually found in science fiction movies and the languages translated are usually alien ones. One example is the universal translator used by Uhura in Star Trek in 1966. Another example is an actual robot that can translate, R2-D2 himself, in Star Wars in 1977. I remember as a kid thinking that the universal translator was a cool device and I wished it was real. Remember, I learned English at the lovely age of 5. But of course that idea seemed as farfetched as Scotty beaming us down to another planet.

courtesy of k-international.com

courtesy of k-international.com

However, unlike the ability to beam, some science fiction ideas have come to fruition in the very recent past. Now, most people communicate with each other through a Bluetooth. A device very similar to the coms used on Star Trek. And my personal favorite scifi device – the language translator app was created. iPhones have one. Google has one. The amount of discourse this app has given me is unmeasurable and priceless.

I remember when I first moved to Mexico, my landlord spoke English. However, his aunt, the property manager did not. And she was the person I spoke to the most about water, the air conditioner and whatever other issues came up with my apartment. If it wasn’t for Google translate – I am sure I would have spent a good deal of time beating my head against the wall. Of course, the more Spanish I learned the less we had to rely on the translator app. But, in those early days, it created sense out of confusion. It also formed a bond between us as we sat next to each other on the computer “type talking”. To this day, we are still friendly even though I moved on to other apartments.

courtesy of slashgear.com

courtesy of slashgear.com

Google translate also came in handy at my job. By the time I started working at the hotel, I was fluent enough to attend meetings in Spanish and reply in simple sentences. However, most of the employees spoke English. The reason the translate app was so important was because the hotel, really the entire Riviera Maya, had started to receive many more tourists from Russia. The Russian tourists usually did not speak either English or Spanish. And even though both Russian and Croatian are slavic languages – one in 20 words might be similar.

courtesy of firsatstokta.com

courtesy of firsatstokta.com

Therefore, the translate app was necessary for all of us to speak to the Russian tourists. I clearly remember one lovely family – a husband, wife and their 7 year old son. She was sent to me because everyone else she talked to could not seem to understand her request to change rooms. I sat down with her and put the computer between us. At first, she seemed surprised. But when she saw what I was doing – she started typing a novel. It turned out she just wanted a room on a higher floor because she wanted to keep the balcony door open. And since there were animals on the property, iguanas and such, she was afraid to leave the door open on the first floor. Once I explained this to reception, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and changed their room.

During the translation process, I asked her many questions to discern what she needed. But what Google translate also allowed me to do was relate with the guest as well. During our discourse, I also typed in, “I like your hat.” We had both been so serious during the entire exchange – it’s amazing how exhausting explaining yourself can be with a language barrier. However, she immediately broke into a smile upon reading my comment. It would have been much harder to reach across the divide without the translator.

courtesy of witslanguageschool.com

courtesy of witslanguageschool.com

The guest came to see me one more time because her son was sick. They had purchased medicine but she wasn’t sure if she was reading the directions correctly. Now mind you, I had to translate the Spanish into English just to be sure that I understood exactly and then into Russian. Once I figured out that she was supposed to be giving him 2 teaspoons twice a day – I relayed the message to her. She looked at me with a strange look and asked in Russian, “What happens if I have given him that amount but 4 times a day – an overdose?” I explained to her that her son might have some nausea and possible diarrhea, but he would be fine. She looked extremely relieved and touched my hand and thanked me.

I know the anguish of being in a foreign country and being sick. Even if you understand the language, the surroundings are not familiar. You are out of your comfort zone. To be understood is paramount in such situations. I am grateful that I was able to help the family get a more comfortable room and help them with the medicine dosage. They were understood and their needs were met. It also gave them comfort. But the translator app also allowed us to get to know each other. And that is what I like the most. So in the future, there will be far less, “No comprendo“, and far more, “Si, si, comprendo“.

watchu talkin’ bout willis..??

courtesy of layoutsparks.com

courtesy of layoutsparks.com

Double meanings are present in all cultures. In France, they are called double entendre. In Mexico, they are referred to as doble sentido. Mexicans pride themselves on the serpentine doble sentido of their language. I guess one of the reasons is because their language is so colorful and they enjoy joking around with each other. But I have also heard locals tell me it’s because the Mayans were forced to learn Spanish during the Spanish conquest. Speaking any Mayan could have gotten them in trouble. Thus, they learned to add a second meaning to words so they could speak in code amongst themselves.

Regardless of the reason, doble sentido is all the rage in Mexico and usually at my expense..!! Doble sentido refers to a word or phrase that has two meanings. One is innocent and literal; while, the other is risqué, bawdy or ironic. It is similar to an innuendo. American examples include referring to marijuana as herb or grass. Or nuts as nuts, crazy and testicles..!! There are so many examples of doble sentido in the Mexican language. So I thought that today I would start with just the words that double as references to sexual anatomy…!! So here goes –

courtesy of acozykitchen.com

courtesy of acozykitchen.com

Penis –
el pepino – cucumber
el chorizo – sausage
la pistola – pistol
la banana – banana

Testicles –
los huevos – eggs
las bolas – balls
los aguacates – avocados

courtesy of tastespotting.com

courtesy of tastespotting.com

Breasts –
los limones – limes
los melones – melons
la pechuga – chicken breast

Vagina –
el queso – cheese because cheese goes with sausage
el chango – monkey because monkey goes with banana
el conejo – rabbit (still working on this one)
la concha – sea shell so actual sea shells are referred to as conchitas
la torta – sandwich (Mexican) or cake (Spanish) – yeah I got no answer for this one either

You will probably notice I spent more time on the lower female anatomy..cough cough. I think this is because even as an American, all the other double meanings made sense to me. But the female vagina vernacular completely confused me. I spent a good deal of time running around asking “But why queso???” Needless to say my confusion and constant doble sentido questioning just made my friends and novio crack up laughing. At least I was amusing in my quest for knowledge 🙂

By the way las conchas are also popular bread desserts shaped like sea shells. Please refer to these as conchitas also or the people behind the counter will enjoy a good chuckle on your behalf 🙂

courtesy of foundbaking.com

courtesy of foundbaking.com

Tecate take 7

courtesy of tecate.com

courtesy of tecate.com.mx

Hello world..!! It’s Friday..!! End of the workweek and start of the weekend 🙂 I’m looking forward to rest, friends, tasty beverages and great stories..!! I wish the same for you..!!

So today I bring back our beloved Mexican parents from the Tecate Light commercials to jumpstart our weekend. Our parents are in for a small surprise today..!! But they rebound nicely. The commercial has English subtitles so there is no need for a recap. Enjoy..!! Salud..!!