Wednesday, August 6, 2008
"...and you're (NOT) fat."
I've been in Mexico for just two weeks, and already I'm thinking that it's a better fit for me than Japan, which served as my home for the past year. Don't get me wrong; I loved my time in Japan and very much miss all of my friends there, but there's something about this place that just feels, well, right.
It's not just that I speak Spanish a heck of a lot better than I speak Japanese. Or that I like tortillas better than rice. Or that I can actually, you know, read here. Literacy is a good thing.
No, it's much more superficial than that: It's because I'm not fat here in Mexico.
A bit of a back story is required. In Japan, I was a giant, blonde, XL-sized-clothing-wearing gaijin woman who often induced open-mouthed gaping when I walked down the street. The fact that I am much bigger than the average Japanese woman (and, let's be honest, the average Japanese man as well) was once reinforced to me by, of all people, a rather large guy from Miami whom I met in Osaka. We'll call him "B." On that ever-memorable evening, B took me out for drinks, chatted me up, and showered me with compliments ("Sara, you're really cute, I like your personality, and you have a great sense of humor..."). I was eating it up.
And then B broke my heart.
"...and you're fat!" he said.
And then, realizing he'd really f*cked up, B tried to spin it as a good thing.
"...and I like that."
Dude had obviously been in Japan too long. Maybe he should come on down to Mexico to get a reality check. Here in Culiacán, I'm surrounded by curvy women and well-built men who actually weigh more than I do. It's fabulous.
And there are little esteem-boosters everywhere. Like on the bus.
The bus system here in Culiacán merits a blog entry of its own. As I don't have a car here, I rely on it to get around town, and each ride is an adventure. Buses here cost about 50 cents (USD) and are well worth the money in entertainment value alone. For example, on my way into work this morning, I boarded at 6 a.m. The sun wasn't even up yet, but there was a full-on party inside the bus. The interior was dark, lit by blacklights on the ceiling. The driver had installed a serious bass system, and had banda music blaring through the speakers. A strand of Christmas lights adorned the front of the bus, surrounding a spray-painted plaque that said "Martín" (I'm assuming this was the driver's homage to himself). The lights were wired to flash in time with the bass of the music.
It was absolutely hilarious.
I cursed myself for not bringing a camera to caputre the insanity. (Instead, I've stolen a picture of a Mexican bus from elsewhere on the web and have posted it here. It's more or less true to life.) And I cursed myself again this afternoon on my bus ride home from lunch. I wasn't on Martín's bus, so the spray-painted plaque was replaced with something else. It was a different sign, completely random, but seemingly a message made just for me:
"Ni eres gorda tú."
Translation: You're not even fat.
Ha! Take that, B! God, I love Culiacán.