Blog 2: Cultural Customs

Punctuality is not a thing here. For real. Every single day we arrive at the bus 10 minutes late or so and no one seems to care. The culture here is so much more laid-back, and it stresses Diya and I out a lot (ironically) because we are so used to being punished if we aren’t punctual and being stressed out about making deadlines. Now I’m realizing that not all cultures are so strict this way. Maybe it would be good if I got used to this more relaxed time schedule… I mean I was already late to school like 50% of junior year so it wouldn’t be that much of a leap, huh:-)

Catholicism is a large part of Mexican culture. Coming into the country, I knew that Mexico had an overwhelmingly Catholic population, however I didn’t realize the scope of opinions on Catholicism and impact of religion as a whole. All of the cities I’ve visited are home to the most beautiful churches. It is also intensely engrained into Mexican History in first their colonization, and secondly, their fight for independence from the Spanish. As David (our tour guide who so graciously explains everything to the best of his ability in English) has explained to me, the Spanish conquerors converted Native Americans to Catholicism. While this clearly had countless detrimental effects, he tells me that it also stopped the sacrifice of many 15-year-old girls in Teotihuacan culture as we saw in the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City (which trust me, is very gory), and it ended other violent practices that y’all can research on your own.

So many churches.

Some of the students I’m traveling with did give me a very interesting perspective on their Catholic school in particular. On the bus today (June 12), I had an in-depth conversation with one of Nancy’s schoolmates, Laura, about Catholicism. Basically, what she said is that at her school, people either feel the need to constantly show how religious they are publicly or are self-proclaimed atheists. She, herself has converted to Buddhism and believes in the importance of meditation and chakras, etc. We had a full conversation about Astrology and birth charts (anyone who knows me knows that that is one of my favorite topics haha). Laura and Regina, another girl, told me about what they think is hypocrisy within the way Catholicism is practiced within their school and Mexico (in their eyes). They feel like there is a lot of hatred towards certain groups of people and a lot of judgment towards people whose beliefs are different. In a religion that preaches kindness and acceptance, why is there so much hate? (in their eyes. again). Of course, this is just one person’s opinion, however, very valid.

What I love about religion, in my experience, is that it tends to give people a purpose to go on in times when they feel like they lack meaning and a drive to succeed. I don’t know if this makes any sense because I’m sleepy, but that will have to do.

Another thing about culture—driving. While the driving age is 18, kids drive at as young as 14 with parent permission. Also, policemen can be bribed with cash into overlooking the fact that kids drive under the driving limit. Though police departments in the US have their fair share of scandals (I won’t even go there), it’s not normal for policemen to be bribed into overlooking violations of the law. Interesting.

Also, there seems to be a more traditional family structure in Mexican homes. Typically, the dads work full days in their specified profession while mothers either work from home or don’t work at all. Mothers also typically do their children’s laundry (if they don’t have a maid), drive their kids everywhere, and make meals for the whole family. In the US, there is a larger variety in family structures, with 63% of families having two working parents. Kids typically take a larger responsibility in completing housework and are also more independent from their families.

More random shorter observations somewhat related:

  • I can understand social cues however, though I am still getting used to kissing everyone on the cheek. Here, kissing is less intimate than a hug. Not gonna lie, it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable kissing strangers. But every single person that I meet here makes me feel so much at home that by the end of the night they are no longer strangers (see how I turned that around).
  • There are churches everywhere, and they are sooo beautiful. Each and every one of them. You can sense a presence in some of them that is both haunting and comforting, it’s hard to explain…
  • People dress a lot nicer. All the girls on my tour group dress so nicely that it stresses me out haha.
  • I’m not joking, NO ONE here is an introvert. Seriously. Everyone seems to be able to keep going on these 16hr tour days. Non-stop. Always talking. Always laughing. Always listening to loud dance music in the bus at like 10pm. I need sleep. Sometimes I really just want to hide in my room. But at the same time, I’m glad we’re so busy because it’s pushing me to concentrate my limited energy on social interactions and intensive learning.
  • There is always a lot of food. Thankfully.
  • lots of stray dogs. Very cute ones too.

Videos of cute dogs below since WordPress won’t let me post them:(

  • Everyone is so kind and welcoming. I could give a million examples of this but I think I can sum it up all with this: Stereotypes of Mexican that you hear, whether from figures of authority, the media, or your next door neighbor are not necessarily true. Don’t assume. And most of all, don’t give a group of people one adjective and call it even. Everything and everyone has intricacies and layers and shades of grey, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

Beautiful, kind people. Everywhere.

Okay, I probably have to end this because Diya is screaming this annoying song, and I can’t concentrate. Thanks a lot chica…:-/

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