Mexican Mythology: Aluxes and the Cancun Airport Bridge

Those year end statistics that WP kindly provided held a surprise for me: Whereas my German blog got the most hits by people looking for “nudity” (yes, Germans are kinky – and imagine their disappointed faces when instead of some juicy video clips they get to my little blog!), English readers apparently are most interested in Mexican mythology. In fact, most hits I got by people looking for stories on duendes and aluxes, those little fellows in Mexican mythology that I already talked about in a previous post.

Cancun Airport BridgeI, too, love all things mystical, and that’s why it always gives me a little kick when we drive to Cancun: Before you enter Cancun, you pass a bridge that leads to the airport, and underneath this bridge there is a little stone building like a miniature temple. For a long time I didn’t know what this was all about. Clearly, it is too small to fulfill any purpose such as holding tools or I don’t know what – even for not so tall Mexicans. So I decided it must be for decoration purposes only. I found out I was wrong when finally, a colleague of my husband’s shed some light on the dark: It’s a home for aluxes (pronounced alooshes), those small fellows dressed in Mayan costumes who can make themselves visible if it serves their purpose. Some may remember that aluxes often ask people, mostly travellers and farmers, for offerings. Grant their wishes, and they will bring you good luck, but in case you don’t oblige they can cause pretty severe damage. The latter happened in this case.

You see, when they started to build the bridge leading to the airport, the construction workers received a warning by a Mayan leader that they had to ask the aluxes’ permission first as they were about to build on land that belongs to these little fellows. Of course, nobody believed him but sure enough, the bridge collapsed soon after being built. Still, nobody took the warning seriously but after rebuilding the bridge, it collapsed again although even the smartest engineers couldn’t find anything wrong with its construction.

That’s when it was decided that the Mayan gentleman should take up negotiations with the aluxes. The price claimed by the aluxes was a little house for them under the bridge (I still wonder why they didn’t pick a more idyllic spot…), and believe it or not, after the house had been built the bridge collapsed no more.

So if you ever pass this bridge, I suggest you give them a friendly wave. Do not call them by their name, though, as this is supposed to provoke them – or at least have some food handy then. I would hate for your car to break down just because you insulted a little alux!

Grocery Hunt, Part II

It’s already 2 weeks into the new year, and slowly, supermarkets are starting to stack up on products again. Before, many shelves had been empty, fruit and vegetables seemed quite rotten. But at least there was a sense of community while we were all browsing through mushy tomatoes to find a few good ones. Chitchat shouldn’t be underestimated, right?

Yesterday I spent an hour hunting down 3 jars of unsweetened yogurt, one of the few essentials I feel I can barely live without. Which is crap, of course, I mean, I have never heard of anyone dying of yogurt shortage, but hey, you never know.

In a previous post, I already expressed my frustration about the daily grocery hunt. However, since then I feel that things here have improved, we actually get more stuff more frequently, and I have no idea why (certainly not because of my little blogpost, but it almost seemed like magic!). But still, some days should be avoided when it comes to grocery shopping, like payday on every 1st and 15th of the month or apparently the beginning of a new year, that’s when you have to queue up for hours, yet end up getting nothing.

And while this fact can be annoying, it also makes me realize how spoilt we all are being used to getting anything anytime. In Seattle, we were very lucky to have a World Market just around the corner, so we could even buy German gingerbread and marzipan for Christmas. And yes, it is nice to get a touch of home every now and then. As long as it is only now and then, because otherwise, things become ordinary and we enjoy them much less. Same goes for produce, I find. I don’t want to eat strawberries all year round, even though it is possible. For me, strawberries require sunshine, eating them in winter feels just wrong.

483500_10151251065709861_213020058_nHere, I came to appreciate some things more than I did before. Like the other day when I discovered stroopwafels, most delicious Dutch caramel wafers that always take me back to a dreary autumn day in a suburb of Amsterdam where I met with a colleague to sort things out for a big promotion. There we were in this large, dusty warehouse, getting things into order while it was the raindrops kept lashing against the window panes and the cold crept in, and we felt tired and terribly dirty, and then this lady popped up with mugs of hot tea and stroopwafels that we placed on top of the cups so the caramel got all soft and chewy inside – it tasted like heaven.

So now I spotted them here and bought a pack (yes, I restrained myself!), but I know this is like a one-time thing only and not the standard assortment, and actually, I am glad for they remain special and this is something so rare nowadays! We are so used to having access to everything all the time that everything has become more common.

English: A pile of Maltesers candies and one s...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember when I was little and we were travelling to England, we were always looking forward to Maltesers, those little round things that have crunchy biscuit on the inside and milk chocolate on the outside, and to Walkers shortbread. I don’t know why but English sweets always tasted so much better than what we had in Germany. .

A few years later, I was excited to see that you could actually buy Maltesers and shortbread in Germany, too, but the truth is that they became just ordinary things after a while. Well, luckily, I suppose, otherwise I would have turned into a big fat Malteser ball myself!

My first attempt at bagels - I feel I have improved since then...

My first attempt at bagels – I feel I have improved since then…

So yes, undoubtedly there are a few things that I would like to have access to on a daily basis, like e.g. unsweetened yogurt. Other things I learned to make myself like bagels which frankly are a pain in the a** to make, BUT our Sunday bagels now are a real treat. (Come to think of it, maybe I should get out my old yogurt maker and make my own yogurt again…) And with other things I just have to be patient and wait until we are in the respective country again – which is not too bad given that some things never taste right anywhere else, like Swiss cheese fondue. Which we can buy here, by the way, but only the instant version that Mr. R. and I snobbishly sneer at.

How about you? Do you miss things from home? Or do you actually feel you get to appreciate some things more because you cannot get them just anytime?

Baboon Butts and other Commercials

Commercials in foreign countries never fail to fascinate me, for I believe they tell you a lot about people’s needs and desires. I haven’t watched German TV commercials in AGES, but probably they are still a lot about beer, finances, and laundry detergent. (I fondly remember the 80s when there were still a lot of commercials for liquor, and tobacco!) In the US it struck me that there was a big demand for diet pills, home trainers and microwave food. Here, people apparently also love their home trainers, but then there are 3 more things that get highly promoted: Cleaning supplies, hair growth potions (really? I hardly ever see balding Mexicans, but maybe that’s because of that, right?), and body toning undergarments.

Home trainers seem to be designed for people who want to tone their bodies without exercising. You basically remain almost motionless while the machine is doing all the work. (That may remind some ladies of their Saturday night routine.) My favourite commercial is the “Body Shaker”, because I can’t get enough of all those wobbling butts and thighs.

What came as a surprise to me was that people here seem to be more interested in squeezing their fat pads around than in actually losing weight. And those commercials are the best! I always enjoy watching out of shape women getting ready for hot dates: The secret lies in squeezing the boobs up, belly in and butt out.

Because while I and possibly you are trying to maintain or get flat butts, Mexicans love their behinds well rounded. Just have a look at this commercial that to me seems totally wrong for more than one reason: a) Wearing leggings should nowadays be punished, and b) Please don’t expose your butts this way, you are not a baboon! (And if you are wearing those leggings after taking an overdose of prozac, please stay inside, otherwise you may end up bouncing around in a public park, and that’s something only Gene Kelly can pull off.)

If these stylish leggings are not enough, though, you can go for a full body armour. Can you imagine your first night with the love of your life (or the hot pizza delivery guy): He slowly undresses you, whispering naughty things in your ear, and this is what he uncovers:

The Thing about New Year’s Resolutions

So it’s been a while since my last post, therefore, I would like to wish you all a very happy new year first!

Why I have been so unusually quiet? Truth is, I don’t really know. I think it had something to do with the holiday season. I just didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in front of the computer. And also, I wasn’t in a very chatty mood because I felt a little left over given that all my collagues and friends went home for the holidays or got visitors from home. As much as I love Christmas, being far away from our families doesn’t make this the jolliest time of the year for me.

Here, the holidays were very quiet. For me at least, though not for Mr. R. who was busy, busy, busy at work. After all, it is tourist season at the Riviera Maya!

Jaded Bullyvic Says: My New Year's Resolution,...

(Photo credit: ImNotMraBut)

In my last few classes before the holidays, my students asked me about my new year’s resolutions. Like every year I have to say: I have none. And I don’t really get the concept behind this. It seems like a lot of people are waiting for the new year to commence to make a necessary (in their eyes) change, but honestly, why wait? Once I determine the things I want to change in my life, isn’t it time to get crackin’?

A lot of resolutions are about healthier living. People want to eat less sweets or fatty foods or drink less alcohol and whatnot. So until 31st of December, they stuff their faces with whatever they crave for, and then boom! As of 1st of January, it’s only salad and water. Or they want to start an exercise routine. They have known about this for months, but also for months, they haven’t gotten their butts off the sofa. However, come new year, you can see them going for half hearted jogs blowing their lungs out. By March though, their enthusiasm has long faded away, and they fall back into their lazy routines – until come new year…

Well, I guess it is good they are making an effort to change, and some of course do stick to their intentions. Many however, when they talk about their new year’s resolutions, they say “I’ll try to do this and that.” That never fails to baffle me.Try? Why try? It sounds as if it were beyond their control when it is in fact in nobody’s control but theirs. Whenever somebody tells me that he or she “will try”, I know for sure that they will make some effort for a few weeks and then give up. And I mean, that’s ok, they just don’t have the willpower or the energy or whatever you may call it – not for this particular task. In the end, I believe it comes down to passion and motivation. How badly do we really want to change? And why do we want to change?

The curvy woman who finally wants to rock those skinny jeans but otherwise feels happy with her looks will probably not muster the willpower to really follow through on a strict diet. Or the smoker whose physicals always show great results will probably not be truly determined to quit smoking. Instead he will say, “I will try” – and fall off the wagon again after a few months of grumpiness. (I know what I am talking about, my dad quit smoking at least 10 times in his life, and I am not sure whether he or we were suffering more…)

I just never can resist a good (or in this case: somewhat good) cheese cake!

I just never can resist a good (or in this case: somewhat good) cheese cake!

I generally have a lot of willpower. (Wicked Mr. R. calls that stubbornness, though.) Once I decided I would get up every morning at 5 to do my yoga asanas, I just did it without thinking about it any further. But of course, that’s because I am passionate about yoga. On the other hand, I have an extreme sweet tooth, yet sometimes I come up with this crazy idea that I should eat less sweets. However, if I hadn’t noticed any weight gain in advance despite having eaten tons of chocolate and ice-cream, I can be sure that I will creep around the pantry nibbling on carrot sticks for a couple of days before I happily give in to my cravings again. The minute though that I see the numbers on the scale going up, I won’t touch anything sweet anymore for my vanity is even stronger than my sweet tooth. In fact, being the shallow being that I am, vanity is one of my strongest motivators.That’s nothing I can be proud of, but it’s a fact. You think I should make it my 2014 resolution to change that? 😉

In the end, I think it all depends on how important this matter really is to us. And when something is that important that we are willing to change old habits, it would be foolish to wait for the new year to start. When we are truly determined to make a change, we should hardly be able to wait until the next day, don’t you think?

How about you? Do you normally have new year’s resolutions? And do you stick to them?