Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shopping Challenges On This Side of the Border

I am just barely above average at 5'8" tall which is mountainous compared to the average Mexican woman (or man), weighing more than I should, and wearing size 9 shoes.  I tried to buy shoes once in Durango.  The largest shoe size anyone carried was a Mexico size 6 which, according to the conversion charts, is a size 9 in the US.  Huh, uh!  Feeling like one Cinderella's ugly step-sisters, I tried to stuff my foot into the shoe like a sausage.  Finding clothes in the 14/16 range is only slightly difficult, but I find that pants are cropped for petite woman so they end up a couple inches above my ankle.  Is showing the belly button still in fashion with wearing shirts too short?   So what's a gal to do?  Well, like thousands of Mexicans, I head for La Plaza Mall in McAllen to do my shopping.  Even on the Texas side, I often find the clothes too petite.  I'm getting used to wearing clothes Mexican-style (too tight).

I do love Mexican food with all types of salsas but shopping for food can be a challenge too, especially when I crave some white people food.  Frozen food section at S-Mart, Soriana, or HEB? Yeah, right! Practically nonexistent.  No self-respecting Mexican would eat an .88 cent Banquet frozen dinner.  The produce section is usually the brightest spot of the stores, although sometimes the tomatoes are a sorry looking bunch.  I miss the good 'ol big boy tomatoes from Iowa.  Peppers are abundant with 3.2 million different varieties.  I already did a blog on the oil section, er, I mean, oil aisle.  However, what throws me off is the cuts of meat.  In Iowa I had never seen thin slices of chicken legs/thighs, bones and all.  Many of the cuts of meat are sliced thin like bacon.  I won't even go into the chicken heads and feet I saw at the tianguis in Mexico City, but what's up with the whole chickens?  They are like really super yellow.  I'm scared to eat them 'cuz I think the chickens died of jaundice.  And when I am dying for a good ol' Yankee pot roast, I have to head to the Texas side to find a huge hunk of round meat. Even on the Texas side it is difficult to find a roast section at the stores.  While I'm there in Texas, I also pick up Swiss cheese since I am unable to find it in Reynosa.  The turkey I bought for Thanksgiving was bought in Texas which brings up a whole other topic... stoves.  Most Mexicans use their stoves for storing dishes and tupperware.  Amazingly, our Thanksgiving turkey came out steamingly and juicely delicious even though we had no thermometer and the stove was set at 5 (as in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5). How do you translate that into Fahrenheit? Or Celsius?  I can deal with Celsius and other odd metric measurements as long as I have the internet to do a conversion.

I'd love to hear from others about their food and clothing challenges especially if you don't have the luxury of shopping in Texas regularly like me.  How do you cope?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Donkey Carts

UPDATE: I was informed that animal above is not a donkey or a burro, but a mule. DUH! Like I know the difference.  I was raised in Iowa so I can educate the people about the differences between corn and soy bean fields or cows and pigs.  And just because I was raised in Iowa doesn't mean I was a farm gal.  I was raised in the 2nd biggest city in Iowa, a huge metropolis with more than 100,000 people.  OK, maybe I should have left it at the 2nd biggest city, but then people will actually give me a deadpan stare and ask, "There are cities in Iowa?"

On my first trip across the border a few years ago, I saw a donkey cart.  I thought donkey carts only existed in caricatures on pots for plants.  Lo and behold, they still exist in Mexico.  Trying not to stare too hard because I didn't want to appear like I'd never seen such a thing before, I tried to figure out the purpose of this antiquated mode of transport.  As near as I could figure, it was full of garbage.  In the US, I know certain types of scrap metal is worth money, but this cart was full of corn husks, scrap wood and a CD nailed to a board among other things.  This guy regularly goes down my road. What is the value in this junk?  Are people paying him to haul away their junk?  Please enlighten me.