It is not that living there was easy, it hardly was, I'm not totally sure why I liked it there. I try to think about it as I hear the typical mexican sound of the man who comes selling hot sweet potatoes --it is like a flute, a very annoying one -- and I drink my coffee. I'm in my room. It is a peaceful morning, I see through my windows the buildings, the imperfect blue sky... a view nearly impossible in the often grayish Beijing. The sun too, here it is warm and friendly, there it was too hot and it burnt bad. As a side note, it is 11th November and the weather is still perfect while I know in Beijing it starts to freeze. Anyways, my heart longs. "Why I liked China?" I ask again... well... Maybe because of the feeling of adventure. Now, every time I talk to someone, even a driver or a cashier, I appreciate it so much --- finally speaking spanish, my dear and beloved language, and the best one. But then I think "I sure miss asking for 're cha' in the boba tea store outside my University". I also miss the faces of China. People with daring fashion styles, haircuts many Mexicans would be afraid to try, feminine girls, adventurous boys and of course those almond eyes you can hardly find here. Needless to say, you stand out there. Some people looked at me with curiosity or surprise when I was there, I was 'the different one', another feeling I never really experienced before --not even in my time in the super cosmopolitan London -- I was the laowai, the foreigner. I know many people do not like being labeled like that, for me, it was just a new experience and a new adjective for my identity. Here in Mexico I'm just a Mexican, as well as the Japanese kids born in Mexico or the Spanish friend who has been living here for fifteen years so he or she prefers tacos over paellas. I've noticed that after living here a while and if people really embrace the culture we don't have problems calling 'the foreigners' 'Mexicans' or even 'half-mexicans' or 'almost Mexicans', maybe literally speaking they are not and never will be -- like my Swedish teacher who was in Mexico for maybe ten years and spoke a very fluent Spanish. I remember one day, without him being present, we said "Oh but I think he is more Mexican than Swedish now" It is not that he ceased to be Swedish, but a part of him belonged so much to Mexico, we, bornt and raised Mexicans, already considered him a part of the society...something impossible in China. There, you and me, we would forever be foreigners. But I digress.
The food was also hard to swallow at times. To many species and a lot of oil. But after a while I got used to it, I enjoyed it. And my life without rice seemed so lost. And then talking to people, oh god...no one spoke English there. So instead of being stubborn, I learnt some Hanyu -- Mandarin -- You know, even though Spanish is my first tongue, after learning English at a quite fluent level you become lazy. A part of me understands why most English speakers don't learn another language. I remember when I started French lessons at the age of 12, I was like whyyyyy, this is so boring, "I already speak English! Why do I need to learn French!?" When you speak English you feel life will be fine, because English is the international language, isn't it? If you go to France, speak English, they must know! If you go to Mexico... Mexicans have English lessons so it's fine we speak English too! and in China, it has to be the same right? Well, that's a horrible way of thinking to be honest, but at twelve I was an entitled little brat. So even though I took on the adventure of learning Swedish after French, and I already spoke English and Spanish, I went to China thinking "okay but Chinese is super difficult so no one must spect me to speak it, right?" And chinese people actually don't, if you say something in Chinese they are fairly surprised. But still, you should arrive at least knowing the basics. That is: xie xie = thanks; i ge = one; zhe ge, na ge = this/that ; duo shuo qian = how much does it cost? Well, I only knew ni hao was hello and that is not of much help. But later I was amazed at how well I handled life with just a few words and some phrases. I took the metro, I asked for food, I walked around Beijing and I even traveled both in China and overseas and ooooh I was so happy and surprised when I arrived to Hong Kong and discovered people --even elders -- spoke English fluently there! I was never so grateful about the ability to communicate with others. There were many feelings and many surprises there. Sometimes I was lonely and I learnt how to be happy with myself, how not to depend on others ... do you want to go to The Temple of Heaven? just go! Are you dying for visiting Tokyo? Take the flight...oh yeah, I was also so financially careless...what a blessing. I didn't have to worry much about money back then because the school gave me an scholarship that seemed endless. So yeah, China has its ups and downs, but I was very amazed with the daily views, the asian aesthetics, the sounds of the language and that feeling that traveling gives you. It's joy, amazement, sadness, happiness, frustration and then accomplishment. Of course, mostly, I think gratefulness. To learn how wide this world is, how different we can be from one another but lastly, how similar too, since we are all humans always asking for a wifi password, mei-fai mima, wifi mot-de-passe, wifi lösenord, la contraseña del wifi, or the wifi passuwodo.
Anyways, a woman in Mexico...it takes guts. but it is still my place, my colors, my flavors, my sounds, the way to dance, argue and even fall in love... I've notice the differences, believe me. Or maybe I'm like Jean Rhys, thinking, overthinking, about places and spaces... but for me, well for me it is like this. Somedays I love Mexico so much, i feel like I don't ever want to leave...then my ears listen to 'Tian Mi Mi" or watches a picture of the Tokyo Tower...my heart longs for the other side of the world, for the foreigner adventures, the Asian cosmovision, so, so distant from the Latin one, the Western one, ah.... what a wonderful world we have to explore, and how many meetings, how many goodbyes that will tear our heart and will make us appreciate more what we have had and what will come...
China, eras complicada, rara, no siempre te entendí y sin embargo... dejé tanto de mi en ti y trajé algo de ti conmigo. Patrick Rothfuss, uno de mis escritores favoritos dijo algo, y ahora lo entiendo perfecto, después de China: "to love something because, that is easy, but to love something despite...that is the true beauty."