Sunday, December 12, 2010


11 PM. I fly out tomorrow. Instead of going to bed, I am up. Sitting on the floor of my empty room, staring at suitcases, literally grinding my teeth and deciding whether I feel more like crying or vomiting.

Ya, I think tears win. Definitely going with tears.

For some reason, going home is making me so much more nervous than my trip here. Once decorated with cheesy crap like giant sombreros, lucha masks, and cactus salt and pepper shakers, my now vacant room is a slap in the face. It’s like I was never here. This home I made for myself for 6 months, the people I grew to treat like family, the guy who always waves from the taco stand, the security guards at my apartment, hell, the waiter at la Bipo. A whole life, or at least 6 months worth. And it’s like some strange delusion I had that nobody will ever fully comprehend. Even though I lived it with other people, we go back to our respective schools, and are left alone with slowly fading memories of extraneous and isolated incidents.

6 months learning a culture, a language, street names, restaurants, metro stops.
And then it’s gone.

My dad’s only had his apartment for a few years. My mom moved to Texas. My sister works. I’ve never even seen the place I’m supposed to move in to in Berkeley. Maybe I was looking for home, and found it where I shouldn’t have. Maybe I got too attached. Maybe I’m over-thinking all of this. I knew the deadline, but I kind of tricked myself into believing I was starting some new life here.

Wow. Terrified to leave, actually. Will I feel like a stranger? Like I’m lying by trying to act like it’s all back to normal? Like nothing happened? Like I had some double life, to which no one I know will ever relate?
Maybe I’m scared because I know I’ve changed, or even worse, maybe I haven’t.

Maybe this whole “live life to the fullest, do it just to tell the story, culture and adventure and wordliness” Melanie is some temporary façade. Maybe I go back to Berkeley and lock myself in my room writing papers. Maybe I’ll look back on these times as mere follies of my youth. Wasted dreams of an international, jet-setting future. Bright optimism of a spoiled teen, soon to be obliterated by the bleak promise of office work in romantic Ohio.

Okay. This is dark. I apologize. Just kind of nervous.

But here’s the bright note: Yes, I have shed tears in Mexico. (Just wait, it gets lighter) But most of them have been happy. Ya, that’s right. I cried out of joy here. Kind of a lot. I know it makes me a giant vagina, but sometimes I would come home and just look out the window and realize how lucky I am to have this opportunity and cry a little bit. I would be on the metro, and think about how 12-year-old Melanie wanted nothing more than to travel the world and live in the big city, and I would get choked up by how many of my dreams have already come true. In Playa Azul, we took this little boat to go see mangroves. We also saw iguanas, alligators, and cranes. My little environmentalist heart fucking exploded, and I started balling. Uncontrollably. Everybody on the boat had to awkwardly pretend not to notice, but I didn’t care. I was just overcome by how many amazing things I have seen and experienced in such a short lifetime. In just these six months, I’ve lived more than the last two years.

I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to fall back into routine. Go home and be the same. Be comfortable. Numb. Yet, with some determination I think I can fight off Berkeley Melanie. Mold her a bit into Mexico Melanie.
Cuz what’s the point of coming here, if I don’t bring it all back with me?

And with that, kids, I end my over-sharing via self-obsessed internet diary. When I look back at my first entry, I was so excited and didn’t know what to expect, and all I wanted was to learn by doing and living.

Done. Check. Down.

Mexico was 10 times better than I could have possibly imagined. I have been so happy here, despite the occasional angry blogpost. Wonderful times with amazing people, and an astounding wealth of knowledge in a very short time. Most of which, is of course, the knowledge that I know nothing. Just to be a cheesy asshole like that.

It’s been real.

Love, man. Love for the city. Love for the people. Love for the lifestyle.
Love for my Mexican adventure.

Guera out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

This one goes out to the homies...

Year’s windin’ down. People have started heading home. Our little study abroad family’s breaking apart.

When I look back at Mexico, I’m not going to think about the museums or the parks. I doubt I’ll remember much about the beaches or churches. But I could never forget Sunday mornings, sitting on the makeshift floor-bed, watching Jamie Oliver with Alisa. Ordering late-night cheesey popper pizza with Kevin and Anthony. Joe’s debates and Beau showing up weekly with Indio and a few more centimeters of mustache.

The people that come to Mexico aren’t your average “study abroad” kids. We’re a different breed. We’re weird. We didn’t do the usual, “I want to go abroad. Maybe I’ll go to Paris because it’s pretty, and I like the food.” When we told people we wanted to study here, we were greeted with a lot of blank stares and, “…But, why?”s. We didn’t go to Mexico to escape our American reality, have a vacation, or realize some fantasy of mystic exoticism in a foreign land.

We came here to better comprehend our reality. To learn, to understand a shared history. Some came to get in touch with their own Mexican culture, and others went to gain a better awareness of the neighbors who define our future as much as we do theirs. From the first day, we’ve grown together. A rag, tag group of open minds soaking up every experience that came our way. We’ve lived every second to the fullest. Even our downtimes have been filled with discussion, debate, fascination, and fun. So, here’s to the good times and the better times. Let’s relive a few, shall we?

-Toma todo, Footie pajamas, Nutty Professor, Lord Rara, Police run-ins, laced mezcal at La Bipo, Hey Mickey at Living, the Burger King in Zona Rosa, the Burger King on Copilco, club on top of the Burger King in Cuernavaca, douchey model guy, daggering, Skybar incest, waterpark cave drinking and lip busting, sale-vale, Jessica-Handsy-Hom, Pinche Steve/Shifty-eyed Steve, Buttshow Joe/(and the well-earned) Ballshow Joe, Double Down, Double Dicks, Tigger, Wild Turkey, island rooftop wave, bottles breaking on Beau, Joe’s tabletop dancing, free jager for Marina and me, ordering “botas”, discounts for Kate’s jetski death, Eva’s stanky leg, many fatty nights, Anthony’s moonwalk, backpack guy, Kevin’s stories, taking moments, Ron’s rave dancing, Alisa’s cigarette burns, violent drelanie, Suleika’s salsa, Harry Pottery, Puebla Martin, el Duende, the laundry room, and…. of course: the Acapulco Underwear Incident.-

So, in conclusion, we are an awesome group of hilarious people. The highs and the lows, every second was worth it and I couldn’t imagine a better group with which to share these memories. As we depart with smog in our lungs, fat in our hips, and tears in our eyes, the planes will be weighed down with the heaviness of our hearts.

Thanks for the laughs. All 6 months of them.

Nos vemos pronto.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not interested.

At first it was odd, but kind of funny. Then, it was like an uncomfortable ego-boost. It quickly became irritating and evolved into insulting. Now, it just fills me with seething anger. I can feel this sense of repulsion bubbling in my stomach every time I accidentally make eye contact, and await mental disrobing by some 40-something man who lacks that good, old, puritanical, American sense of shame that I've really grown to miss.

I can deal with the stares, though. I'm used to it. Plus, I'm white. I'd stare, too. In fact, I generally do, while thinking, "Hey! Another cracker! Where could this honkie be from?" I guess now, it's the noises that get to me. No, you know what? I can deal with that, too. The worst of all, is the thing that a lot of Americans would probably find the most respectable. Not the gawking, not the catcalls... the conversation.

It's actually when people talk to me. Men using the little English they learned in high school language classes, assuming that my genitals will undoubtedly erupt in fiery, erotic lust at their broken interpretation of my native tongue. How could I POSSIBLY resist such confidence? They're so right. Nothing makes me want to jump on a complete stranger's tiny cock like the gross sense of entitlement that convinces this presumptuous fuckface that he merits, no, deserves to have his macho Mexican way with me.

Yes, I'm young and foreign. Yes, I'm vulnerable, frightened, and uncomfortable in this new environment.

But hear me, you pathetic excuse for the generic, pseudo-masculine, excrement of our sexist society: I am NOT letting you take advantage of my naivety by lowering my guard long enough to let in your sad, perpetually-rejected penis.

So, please. Stop staring. Stop yelling and making noises and honking. Stop bothering me while I eat breakfast. Don't follow me on my way home. If you can't get girls from your own country, why would you have more of a chance with an attractive, American chick half your age?

Just so we're all on the same page here:

Nunca te voy a dar mi numero. Nunca voy a salir contigo. Y, por el valor que me da la inteligencia, por el respeto que tengo por mi cuerpo, y por mi dignidad como mujer: NUNCA te voy a coger. Ahora, dejame en paz...cabron.

I'm. Not. Interested.

P.S. In case you're thinking I might be overreacting, just imagine some cocky white guy sitting next to a Mexican chick at your college dining hall. Imagine him saying, "Hey, gorgeous. Look, I'm gonna teach you all about American culture. Why don't you go ahead and give me your number, and I'll show you around the city, sound good? I'll even let you come back to my place and practice your English with me over dinner." Now what would be the girl's proper reaction to such a condescending form of objectification? Swift kick in the balls? Agreed, but you know what I do? I uncomfortably smile and say "Thank you, but I'm meeting someone" or "I have a boyfriend, but thanks anyway." Then I eventually have to leave, or walk the other way, or pretend to answer my phone because they don't take no for an answer. It makes you feel powerless, and stupid, and weak. It also makes you question your self-worth, like, "Why is he so certain that I have low enough standards to go off with some stranger? What's wrong with ME, that would make him think I don't have enough value to reject his advances?"

NOW try to tell me this rant is harsh.

There are some things I'm excited to leave in Mexico.

Friday, October 8, 2010

For fools?

So, I don't like school. Yep, folks, you heard it here. Melanie-"lover of all things academic, tears of joy after her first day at Berkeley"- McCorkle hates sitting in class. Lots of philosophy, lots of rhetoric, lots of student presentations and discussion. Not a bunch of structure, facts, lecture, or things I realize now were vital to my idea of learning back home. I feel like I'm kind of wasting my time, and my knowledge base isn't really growin' like I had hoped.
On top of that, feeling stupid is really friggin hard. For a dame that puts a lot of value on her own intelligence, I'm kind of hurtin' for self worth right now. Not being able to express myself correctly, not wanting to speak for fear of public failure and humiliation, understanding two thirds and pretending to comprehend everything, having people talk to me like a child. Being foreign is accompanied by this feeling of powerlessness that I must admit I am not accustomed to. It's a rough road, I won't lie.
Here's the sad truth: I've relapsed. I tried to be laid back and go with the flow. Who cares about school, right? Homework, grades, they're not important. What's important is this experience, culture, life. Wrong. I'm not laid back. I love school. I love homework and grades. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies hard work and intellectual growth, I miss that. I'm a child of the system. My comfy, cozy Berkeley system with syllabi and due dates and guidelines. This whole salon-like, discussion-based, see where the class leads us, kind of system is like trying to stick a very square Melanie into a very round Mexican hole. It don't fit, and it kind of hurts to try.
That being said, I'm learning from the changes. Constantly attempting to round my edges a bit and embrace the culture. Trying not to stress, failing a little... okay, a lot. Definitely beginning to place more value on the freedomless homogeneity of my formulaic "lecture, discussion, midterm, paper, final" courses back home, and I'm actually pretty excited to see the final attitude that I come out of this with.


So, I wrote the first part of this in class, very stressed and trying not to tear up. That weekend my sister and dad came to visit, which was incredible, but I found myself holding back the waterworks the entire trip back to my apartment after I said goodbye. No tears, mission successful. The next day, I found out that Greg Giraldo died.
One of my favorite comedians. Someone I practically grew up with. He had his hand in a lot of things, so his voice was like a running commentary in my life since I was a kid. He died so suddenly, and his career was in a really good place, and I was just heartbroken. It was like all of the stress I've been trying to push down completely burst out of me. I couldn't stop crying for over an hour, about a man I've never met. When a comedian dies, a person who you associate with happiness, someone who has brought you laughter for years, it really feels like this limited supply of light in the world just dims a little bit. It was shocking and I'm still kind of shaken up about it. Kind of a hard week.
But it seems so silly to be sad here. I sort of snapped out of it and realized that I'm in an amazing country, experiencing the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so blessed to be here, to be in college, getting an education. I am so blessed to be American and have the wealth to go to a school that allows me to travel the world. It can be rough some days, but all and all, I am still very much loving the life I lead. My new, exciting, Mexican life... como una guera. Pero, una guera feliz.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another side of Mexico...

Everything I've said previously about the character or culture of Mexico, does not seem to apply in the touristy beach areas, or at least not in Acapulco.

On the bus ride there, which nearly makes the trip worthwhile in itself due to scenic views of mountains and rainforests, the fist ominous sign appeared when we stopped at a toll station that had been taken over by a band of 30 or so masked men. There were two police cars and several armed police men, watching the guys with shirts wrapped around their faces rob passengers and siphon gas from passing cars. Clearly the cops were getting some sort of cut. Sign number one that we were not in for an ordinary vacation.

For all six of us to stay three nights in a pretty classy beachside hotel with a bangin pool and nice view, it cost about 45 bucks per person. Cheap lodgings are definitely a perk of Mexican vacationing. However, things did get a little expensive. Normal Mexican prices don't really apply in tourist spots. Food was pricey, bars were pricey, and then there was the continuous slew of people trying to rip you off. In my experience in D.F., people are pretty damn nice. They're honest and up-front with their prices, which are fair but can still be haggled down. These people were not really like that. They know you're only gonna be there for the weekend, they aren't gonna see you again, and they assume you're just some wealthy white American, so what's the harm? Waiters ripped us off, cab drivers tried to rip us off. Even the police were looking to charge us.

We were walking along the beach and two cops came up and started asking us for our IDs. It was dark and late and they were looking to find kids with drugs, that they could blackmail into paying them. They thoroughly searched the guys in the group (apparently they aren't allowed to touch women) and only backed down when my friend Joe started yelling in Spanish, "What gives you the right to do this? We weren't doing anything suspicious. Hey, this isn't Arizona!"

I'm sure they make a good profit doing that because drugs seemed to be pretty friggin popular there. Everywhere we went, didn't matter if it was ten in the morning, someone wanted to sell us coke. They offered my friend Steve prostitutes a couple times. Is this really our image abroad? They were so sure that we wanted some. We're Americans, why wouldn't we? Apparently, that's what young Americans do on vacation. We reap the benefits of gang violence and sexual exploitation because, hey, we're just looking to have a good time, right? Who cares if the entire tourist economy is catering to our vices, and Latin Americans are degrading themselves to make a buck? It's not my fault. Right?

The beaches were pretty, and when you got out of the resort areas, people got friendlier and stopped trying to make a buck off of you. There are some beautiful rainforest areas, including an island you can hike up to get a view of the city. There's also a pretty awesome hike you can take to see ancient petroglyphs, which was my nerdy dream come true (history AND a rainforest? Great stuff). However, the further you got from the beach, the more poverty you saw. It seemed like most of the city didn't gain much from the tourism. I guess when so much of the money comes from drugs and other tax-free ventures, money goes to cartels and there's not much left over for infrastructural and social reforms. Then again, if the cops are any indication, state organizations might not be the most trust-worthy. So, even if the government was making money, there's nothing to insure that corruption doesn't stop it from getting back to the people.

If I didn't speak Spanish, I don't think I would go to Acapulco. Even with my Spanish I don't think I'm going back. You couldn't stroll down the beach without being offered twelve thousand products. It made me feel guilty for my privilege and angry at the lack of options these people had to make a living. I was also angry about being taken advantage of so often. Even on the way back to the bus station, the taxi driver tried to charge us about twice the set price to get there. The SET price. It was on a sign at the hotel and he was driving a hotel taxi. He said it cost more because it was raining.

It was worth seeing just to be exposed to that part of the country, that kind of culture. However, I don't think the experience is really worth the money, nor does it reflect what I've come to appreciate as the spirit of Mexico. Maybe white guilt is making me feel bitter about the whole thing, and I just want to turn a blind eye to how so many places in the world work. I guess it's like, coming to the U.S. and only seeing Hollywood. You would think there was a lot of cheesey tourism, homelessness, drugs, prostitution, and people trying to overcharge you for everything. Oh wait...maybe that is how the country is. I just don't have to deal with it that much because I'm wealthy enough to go somewhere else. Like here, I can go somewhere nice in the city, or somewhere quaint like Cuernavaca. Stick to the museums and churches and you don't have to look at the people on the outskirts. Only when you're at the beach, and people won't leave you alone, are you faced with the consequences of your own country's selfish foreign policy and the economic dependency we have all helped create.

Sorry. That was preachy and kind of a downer. Moral of the story, I didn't really care for Acapulco.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chilongo Likes and Dislikes

Some things you might not have known about Mexico City. (I understand these are massive generalizations, just things I’ve observed)

Things Mexicans love:

Yoghurt- So, Mexico has an obsession with yoghurt. I began noticing how often people walk around drinking yoghurt, and how many street vendors sell yoghurty fruit concoctions, and then... I saw Wal-Mart’s yoghurt aisle. Oh wait, did I say aisle? I meant 6 AISLES. It’s like yoghurtopia. Yoghurama. Apparently, the yoghurt helps with digestion problems or stomach issues related to the bacteria in the water and the food and all that. So a logical obsession, but surprising at first glance.

Making out in public- Spend a week in Mexico, and you will see at least 12 couples straight MACKIN all around you. The younger people do it because cultural norms dictate an open-door policy in most households. Because young Mexicans aren’t really allowed to make out at home, they participate in full-fledged tongue fiestas on the metro, in parks, at school. We’re talking straddling and rolling around. It can take a while to get used to. But you know the weirdest part? It’s not just the kiddos. It’s old folks, too. REAL old folks. You might think, “Aww that’s so cute! Old people canoodling.” It’s not cute. They do the same crazy public dry-humping that the kids do. It’s creepy.

Dogs- So, this one’s pretty simple. People just really like dogs here. They’re everywhere. From German shepherds to Chihuahuas, and none of them wear leashes. Pets are called “mascotas” here, like mascots. Isn’t that awesome? Wouldn’t you wanna pet if it was your mascot? It's like having a little fuzzy cheerleader. Just saying.

Chili/limón- If they could put lime and chili on the flag, I think they would. They put it in beer, on fruit, on candy, on french-fries, in ramen. Anything you can shove some lime and chili in to, go for it. At first it was like, “Whoooa guys, let’s take it down a notch. It doesn’t need to be in every single thing we eat.” I was wrong. Yes. It. Does. I’m so addicted now. I’m gonna come back to Berkeley and put tajín on my bagels, eggs, pasta, soup. OH WAIT, I already do all that. And it is delicious.

The Simpsons- You can find the Simpsons dubbed, subtitled, or just in English on at least four channels at any point in the day. Every art stand sells weird Simpsons shit, like a Simpsons Abbey Road poster, a Simpsons Michael Jackson shirt, a Simpsons Jim Morrison commemorative plate. I guess the humor just really works here. It is a hilarious show. But, it also makes me wonder how the U.S. looks to people, because I don’t really think fat, lazy, stupid, alcoholic Homer is a good representation of our country. Well, okay, he’s an accurate representation, but not the nicest image to present globally.

On to the things they don’t like:

Accessible toilet paper- So, in order to save paper I guess, toilet paper isn’t in the individual stalls here. It’s up at the entrance to the bathroom. This is a good idea and I really don’t have an issue with it. My issue lies in my stupid inability to remember to get some before I lock myself in the stall. At which point, I usually think “Oh…damn,” and try to find a napkin in my backpack or just go with it. Too much information, I know.

Being on time- Okay, so I know this might sound offensive. But, it’s friggin true. Movies don’t really start on time here. Class starts whenever. Students regularly show up an hour late to a three hour class. My teachers will come late, or sometimes not at all. No explanation necessary. At restaurants, you get served whenever they feel like it. Someone might get their food 35 minutes before the other people at the table. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually really cool. It’s teaching me to be more laid back, not sweat the little things. People just have their priorities straight here, I think. They do what they need to do instead of stressing about the timeframe. When they show up to class, they’re prepared and spout smarter ideas than I could ever fathom speaking. When the food comes, it’s perfectly cooked and seasoned. You just have to learn to live by a more flexible schedule.

Flushing toilet paper- So, I don’t know why the bathroom stuff is so interesting to me. But ya, they don’t really flush toilet paper here. I guess it’s about not clogging the toilet or something, but everyone wipes and throws the paper in the trash. I’m not really cool with it. I mean, I am, because I have no choice. But there is some shit I just don’t want to have to look at... literally.

The sound of silence- Ya, they don’t really do “peace and quiet” here. There’s music everywhere, all the time. Every Saturday morning a guy plays the most outrageously loud trumpet outside my house, just cuz that’s where and when he wants to practice. At my old place a dude played the violin all day. People have parties and play music as loud as they want until whenever they want, and you just deal with it. I thought it would bug me, but it doesn’t. It’s like having this constant, lively soundtrack to your daily activities. Even in class, people play Michael Jackson and Nirvana outside the window and nobody closes it. Kurt Cobain just streams in and accompanies the professor’s lecture on colonial religious structures. It goes with the whole “not sweating the little things” attitude. The world is not sectioned off into your space and that guy’s space, where he can’t bump you or make noises that might bother you because that’s an “invasion”. Mexico’s like a big community. He plays his music, and tomorrow I play mine, and I’m gonna laugh as loud as I want because I’m having a good conversation and I refuse to worry about what that guy thinks, and he doesn't care, because my volume isn't really any of his business.

Blank surfaces- Beige doesn’t happen here. It doesn’t exist. Every building has blue, red, pink, or yellow. There’s never a white wall or median. Bright advertisements are spray-painted on the concrete, or of course, there’s the street art. Street art is HUGE here. It comes from a long tradition of mural painting and accessible artwork. There are some pretty amazing stencils and posters. A lot of it is political. Communism is pretty popular among the city’s liberals. Calderon is also not the most popular guy so a lot of it revolves around him. Many of the pieces are incredibly detailed, full-on public art installments. They can be scary or sexy or pensive, but no matter what they are, they’re beautiful. They cover the city like a rainbow of exploding experimental creativity from brilliant minds, focused through brushes and spray-cans, and then shared with the people in a public display of affectionate guerrilla beauty. It’s a great place to live.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm gettin too old for this

Dear heavens. So, I don't want to characterize my trip as a frivolous, tequila-drenched free-for-all, but I've got to say, the partying here is pretty fantastic. Being underaged in the states, I am definitely taking advantage of my lovely new adult status. However, as fun as it is, I'm an old woman at heart. I'm slowin down. Mexico city is a party 24-7. Even if you're not drinking or staying out, there's just way too much to do. There's always another museum or park or trip to take. There's no staying in and relaxing, it's a fast-paced city and you don't want to miss out. I, however, am not so fast-paced. A lot of the people on the program are from Santa Barbara, which means they're used to this. I'm not. In Berkeley, I go out on weekends, but alot of my time is spent at home writing papers (by which I mean watching crappy reality television). This city's a lot more excitement. Bars made of ice, gay bars, salsa clubs, fancy places, ghetto places, house parties. And then the next day it's climbing pyramids or going to museums. It's great, but exhausting. And now, on top of it all, I'm starting school.

UNAM, my university, is one of the biggest and best schools in the Americas. My section, or facultad, is called Filosofia y Letras. It's FULL of hippies. We're talkin' dreadlock, name-changing, incredibly opinionated, anarchist hippies. They're seriously liberal and seriously intimidating. Their studies aren't as flexible as ours, so the students stay on one track and become very well-versed in their chosen fields. They're also all older than me. Oh, and did I mention Spanish isn't my first language? Because when you put all of these things together, it equals Melanie looking and sounding like a stupid, uneducated American in front of a lot of frighteningly intelligent students who already hate the U.S., with good reason. I've already made a complete ass of myself in one class. We were talking about racism in Mexico and I, being over-confident and wanting to contribute, thought it would be a fantastic idea to chime in. So, I go on and on about how racist everyone is and how I received so much privilege here and how Mexicans don't value their indigenous heritage like Mexican-Americans do blablabla. For some reason I didn't realize that all of this, coming from a foreigner, was highly offensive and insulting. Oh, and I also meant to say that in Latin America, a culture has developed in the shadow of imperialism. A culture of both living with and struggling against external forces and foreign powers. Smart right? Not really, because it apparently sounded like I was talking about the U.S., and saying that our culture is defined by fighting foreign influences. In other words, according to a guy I talked to afterwards, they basically thought I was saying that I didn't like Mexicans in my country. I don't think I will be very popular in that class. I also think I should never talk again, for my own safety. Maybe a valuable and wholly applicable life lesson that I can take back to the states. Awesome.

Besides that little bump in the road, school is really fun. The professors are awesome and really care about your input. They actually ask all of the students what they study on the first day, and then tailor the class to fit people's interests. Like, in Historia de la Cultura de America Latina, someone might be interested in gender inequality in rural Argentina. The teacher might change the lectures to talk about gender in indigenous communities, or assign a book on human rights movements in the Argentine pampas. It's pretty cool. The students also seem pretty cool. A lot of them have known each other since high school, so it can be a little clicky. However, a lot of people have studied abroad and are down with foreigners. Also, I keep meeting people in the area that go to the school, like a guy I talked to at Wal-Mart the other day. I'm hoping I'm making friends, and not just creeping on people. Social interactions are a bit different here. For instance, I gave a guy my number and he was really shocked. He said that only happens in the movies, and it was really cliche that I just met him in class and then gave him my phone number. So, I might be coming off as a giant slut or something. I don't really know how to deal with that.

Other good news, people still like me as a brunette. It's definitely helped with the whole, people staring at my like I'm a naked alien thing. Less whistling, less honking, less kids pointing and yelling "MIRA, MIRA" whenever they pass me. I definitely feel like I belong a little more now. I can kind of pass for a light-skinned Mexican, which is nice when I go to a sketch-balls place like Tepito. Tepito, by the way, is the most awesome market full of illegal goodies like my new, rip-off Nikes I got for 13 buckaroos. But, I would never go there alone, and I wouldn't go there blonde. Not being automatically recognized as a foreigner gives me alot more confidence in those situations. I also feel a bit prettier now, because when people think I'm cute it's not just because of my exotic hair color. The only time you see blondes here is in porn, so we're highly objectified. Now I feel like I can flirt and stuff, and it's not just a creepy, sharks descending on the prey kind of hyper-sexualized thing. It can just be nice and kind of innocent. Okay, you're right, it's me. So not that innocent. But you catch my drift.

Very long story short, things are still fun. I'm tired, but it's well worth it. Oh, and I miss you all.