We are now eight months into our Mexican life. Sometimes it feels like the time has gone by really fast and just yesterday we were unpacking our dishes. Other times I feel like time is standing still and we’ve been here for-freaking-ever. I will say that the “winter” here is amazing, especially to us transplanted Chicagoans. Low humidity, cool breezes and temperature ranges between 60s to the 70s. Being stuck in Latino-limbo isn’t so bad while we enjoy the warm sunshine and fresh air coming through the open windows.
Meeting and getting to know some of the people here continues to be one of our favorite items about our current expat life, and I’m going to start interviewing some of my favorites – they all are very fascinating (some quirky), come from interesting and different backgrounds (Mexicans and fellow expats) – and I’d like to introduce a few of them to you, via my blog.
I’m starting out my series of interviews with our Spanish teacher, Liliana (for you English speakers, it’s pronounced Lee-lee-ana). She’s Mexican, born and bred, but also lived in San Fransisco for 5 years in her late 20s. She studied ballet from age 8 until 21, has one sister and is an amazing cook. She’s been our maestra for 7 months – coming to our casa twice weekly (our daughters have a separate teacher, who is on my interview list so you’ll meet her later). Liliana seemed tickled that I wanted to interview her for my blog and immediately agreed (also providing me an opportunity to speak español as I tried asking all my questions in Spanish, although it’s probably a very good thing that she speaks English so well…) Here are my questions and her answers as well as my comments (because it’s my blog):
What’s your name, age and occupation?
Liliana, age 53 – Lic. en Lengua Inglesa (English professor at the local University, as well as private tutoring to folks like us)
How long have you been an English professor?
What is your favorite thing about your country?
Las artistas (the artists) – I admire the talent of the Mexican people and the art they can make with wood, glass, fabrics, leather and weavings. Besides that, my favorite thing would also be la comida mexicana (Mexican food – and we wholeheartedly agree with that!)
What is your least favorite thing about your country?
The corruption of the government. (my blog will never become political, so we won’t go into further details, except I will share that although Liliana shared with us her disappointment and concern about her country’s reputation [deserved and exaggerated], especially how it’s portrayed in the media and in movies, during this point of the interview she repeated several times of how much she loves her country, and that was really beautiful. It also makes us miss the U.S. and feel very grateful at the freedoms and safety we enjoy there, that isn’t necessarily available to the wonderful people here.)
(as I already mentioned, Liliana lived in San Fransisco for 5 years) Was it hard adjusting to living in the United States? Yes, at the beginning everything was difficult: the language, the culture, the meal schedule as well as adjusting to not being near any family or friends. (Gee, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
What was your favorite thing about living in the United States?
The shopping! (Amen to that, Liliana!) The shopping in the United States was great – better variety of goods and the prices were better.
What was your least favorite thing about living in the United States?
The people – compared to the Mexican people, the U.S. people weren’t as friendly, outgoing, social or as neighborly as they are in my country – I missed that interaction very much. Everyone in the U.S. was nice but mostly just kept to themselves.
Why should someone visit Mexico?
Mexico’s people are warm and friendly, the food is delicious, and it has lots of beautiful places to visit near its beaches, in its mountains and lots of historical views at its archeological sites; quaint colonial towns to visit, including Mexico City, one of the larges cities in the world! (we TOTALLY agree, Liliana! We’ve only been here 8 months and have already seen some amazing places and can’t wait to see more! In fact we’re visiting Mexico City ourselves soon and are very excited).
What are some places in Mexico that you would suggest people see and why?
Queretaro, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Oaxaca. As to why: these places, like many, many other places here in Mexico are beautiful and rich with cultural history. (This reminds me to get hubby to try and obtain more vacation time – we’ve got many places to see while we are here!)
What’s easier? Learning English yourself or trying to teach others Spanish?
Learning English myself is easier – learning Spanish is hard! Spanish is a tough language to master with lots of words and verb conjugations and needing to know the forms of past, present, preterite, skipping subject pronouns, having to remember to stick the NOUN first and THEN the adjective afterwards and needing to know if words are masculine or feminine and whether you are speaking in formal or informal or rollings your r’s correctly or remembering that you never pronounce the “h” in any Spanish word (then why does the Spanish alphabet have a letter “h”?!?!)… (sorry, I think I may have hijacked most of this answer myself, but honestly Liliana did admit that learning English, as a Spanish speaking person, is much easier than teaching Spanish to an English speaking person)
Speaking of the yummy Mexican food, what are a few traditional dishes you would recommend for a newcomer to try? Chicken mole (el mole con arroz) (don’t let the brown sauce put you off – try it – it’s amazing, especially when Liliana cooks it for you!)
What’s your favorite thing about teaching languages?
Meeting new and interesting people – from different places.
(and last, but not least, and probably the most important question I had for her…):
Who is your favorite student – me or my hubby?
(we were laughing too hard for Liliana to actually answer this, but I will say I’m pretty sure she winked at me)