Monday, August 10, 2009

Phase One: Honeymoon


So, maybe some of you don't know this, but I studied Intercultural Communication in grad school. Specifically, I studied adaptation to new cultures and for my thesis wrote a training program to help expats adapt to Singapore. The longest I've lived in a second culture was only six weeks, in Nepal. Six weeks was not enough time to experience adaptation. And studying it obviously isn't the same as experiencing it. I'm going into this eleven months in Mexico knowing the theories behind adaptation and the steps that I should be going through and I'm looking out for the signposts that will help me recognize where I am in the adaptation process. But this is my first time being immersed in another culture for an extended period of time. And, I'm aware that eleven months won't be enough time to fully adapt to the Mexican culture, but hopefully it will be enough time to facilitate personal growth and some second language learning.

Here is my first observation of my adaptation status. Today, I decided that I'm definitely in the honeymoon phase. Culture shock, which is one part of adaptation to a new culture, has four stages:

1. Honeymoon
2. Crisis
3. Recovery
4. Adjustment

I'm sure I'll talk about the other three phases at some point, but right now let me tell you how I know I'm in the honeymoon phase.

I love food. I love to cook. I love colorful, ripe, just from the farm produce (even if when it's not organic, though I always buy organic if I have the option). I'm also very cheap. I'm willing to spend a lot on a few high quality items, but I don't think buying good produce should break the bank.

So this afternoon I ran down to the corner produce market which is about a three minute walk from the house we're renting here in Mexico. The produce is gorgeous. It is all ripe. Some of it is a little battered and bruised, but it should be because it was taken out of the fields ripe or very, very close to ripe.

Get this.

I bought a dozen bright red, perfect tomatoes, three zucchini, and a perfect yellow bell pepper for the equivalent of...drum roll please...one dollar and twenty five cents! The tomatoes alone would have cost me around eight dollars at home and the bell pepper about a dollar or even a dollar twenty five. What's not to love about the produce here? Which has a tiny carbon footprint and tastes awesome? Not to mention the incredible fruit, which we save for special occasions at home. That's a whole other post, though.

Scott is also in the honeymoon phase. He found seven-packs (yes, seven-packs) of his favorite Mexican beer, Indio, for the equivalent of $3.23. He bought six of them. Maybe he's not in the honeymoon phase. He just thinks he is in heaven.

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