Christmas and Culture Shock

Hello all! I’m back from good ole Richmond, Virginia, and it was a very Merry Christmas indeed. This was my first time back in Richmond after more than 3 years, and I got to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in forever.

Jorge LOVED the US. He liked the houses, mainly because they “don’t have bars on the windows, like in Mexico”. Very true. I took him to my favorite outdoor mall, and he was a bit overwhelmed but definitely enjoying himself. I have to admit I miss US malls, too… although I did feel bad for the shirtless guy standing in the freezing cold of the Abercrombie and Fitch entrance.

I was excited to be back in my hometown of Richmond! I got to see lots of friends and family I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. Jorge got to see my high school, middle school, elementary school, church and old house.

Everything seemed so much bigger and grander than I remember. In Cancun all the houses are right next to eachother (no side yards, shared walls) and yards are usually just tiny squares of concrete. The bigger houses here have walls around them, and almost all houses here have bars on the windows. In Richmond, the yards were so huge and the houses so much larger than they needed to be that I felt like I was way in the country or something (even though it was just the suburbs). Even houses I used to think were small growing up, today they look immense!

All the shopping centers and restaurants looked so pristine it was overwhelming. Immaculate storefronts were surrounded by massive amounts of parking space. Where were the flimsy taco stands? Where were the family-owned corner stores? Why are there so many SUVs? Who would go to a huge shopping center in the middle of nowhere? (a lot of people, apparently)

The only thing big about Cancun is the potholes.

I was seeing the first stages of reverse culture shock, and I was only there for 3 days. Everything from the cars to the houses, restaurants, movie theaters and malls was just so BIG and PERFECT. It was lovely, but I was glad to get back to the sun and tiny concrete houses of Cancun.

Here are a few pics. The lights are from the James Center in downtown Richmond, and the rest are just family photos taken at my grandparents’ house.

How was your Christmas?

My Christmas Posada Parties in Cancun

I’ll be straight with you… I’ve lived in Mexico for 6 years and I still don’t know much about what a traditional Mexican posada entails. I know they’re parties held in December, kind of like our Christmas parties in the US, but with more traditional elements like star-shaped piñatas and bowls of ponche to drink. People also go from house-to-house singing a traditional song to pedir posada (or “lodging”, a la Mary and Joseph looking for an inn) until they reach the home of their party host, who lets them in.

And yet, I have seen none of this in Cancun. No ponche, no donkeys, no songs and no star-shaped piñatas for this gringa.

I have, however been to several Cancun posadas in my time. Young people in Cancun just do things a bit differently than the rest of Mexico. Why? Because who needs tradition? Bring on the dancing and the crazy house parties!

Here are some pictures from my first ever Cancun posada at a house party with my univeristy friends, circa December 2008… whoa.

That's my logistics professor in the background!!

Gotta love living in a city where you can wear spaghetti straps outdoors in December.

In 2010, I was a bit more tame and I only went to my office’s posada. It’s nice to see everyone dressed up and out of uniform.

2011 promises to be the best year yet for posadas and me! I’ve been to two already, including yet another work posada. For our first posada of 2011, Jorge and I went to Muellecito bar with a group of his friends from elementary school, then the group headed out to Alebrije nightclub, which I hadn’t been to yet.

Jorge with his friends from elementary school

Screen in back translates "Welcome to Mexico Jesus!!" I like to think they're referring to Jesus Christ and the posadas tradition, but since we're in Mexico it's probably just some guy named Jesus.

Tomorrow night we’re hosting a posada party at our house. Just as with all my other Cancun posadas, it’s looking to be very untraditional with no singing, no donkeys, no piñatas… because apparently our friends want to grill burgers.

BURGERS.

Whatever, that’s how we roll in Cancun.

 

This post is part of a Blog Hop on posadas! Want to read more about Mexican posadas from some of my friends, or add your own posada post to our Blog Hop? Check it out below…

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Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

My Mexican Thanksgiving

As I was going through some pictures yesterday, I realized I hadn’t told you about my Thanksgiving!

Back in the US, my family does Thanksgiving just like everyone else’s family… turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy and lots of desserts! When I was in college in Cancun, I never had any fall breaks. Now that I’m working, I only get back home for Christmas. So I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2005, I think. (or seen any fall weather, for that matter!)

This year, my suegros took pity on me and prepared a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. They invited some of their friends, and I invited some of mine. We had a pretty big group (not all are pictured), including an American priest from the church my suegros go to.

There was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and lots of veggies! Everyone seemed to really enjoy all the American food. I was almost expecting them to break out the tortillas, but they resisted.

Thanksgiving dinner still had some undeniably Mexican touches to it, though… dinner didn’t begin until 10:30 pm, the turkey was heavily seasoned with lime, the dinner was blessed by a Catholic priest, and the priest had to explain the Thanskgiving story several times to our Mexican guests. Close enough!

Me being a dork

Oh mashed potatoes… it’s been too long since we last met!