People think diplomatic life is all crystal and fine china. What the movies don't show you is that the diplomatic lifestyle can be isolating and lonely. Yes there are cocktail parties but as the spouse of a mid-career diplomat these occasions are only a handful of times a year, if that. I am lucky to be in a posting where I speak the language fairly well but it takes a LOT of mental bandwidth to be social in Spanish. My personality is different in Spanish. I am more shy and less witty. If I really want to relax and connect with people with ease, I have to seek out a few other expats who speak English to really feel like my full social self.
As I have done that by joining expat groups in the city, it has been fascinating to listen to other foreigners perspective on Mexico. They don't want to leave! We have diplomatic friends from the UK who I really wanted to have a nice transition to Mexico. The wife and kids know zero Spanish. We met them the first week they arrived and I checked on them often. A few weeks in I asked how they were feeling living in Mexico and they assured me this monstrous city was a piece of cake compared to their last posting in India. Mexico City was like a lush assignment. Life here was western and much easier than where they had been. They were already off and exploring the city and country and taking Spanish lessons.
Then this week at an English speaking moms coffee I met a women from Barbados and one from Turkey. Their husbands are engineers in Mexico on a project. They were talking about how they didn't want to leave Mexico. They love it here. The mom from Barbados said she never wanted to go back to island living. My jaw dropped. "Why" I asked. I mean I have been bugging my husband about when we can get posted to St. Lucia so I can just hang out beachside all day. She explained that you cannot get all the creature comforts on the island that she had grown accustomed to here in Mexico. She had gone back for a visit and said she was cursing people daily for not having the stuff she wanted available. She was told by store clerks that the next shipment of stuff would arrive in 6 weeks. Also, she insisted the food was bland. All the years in Mexico with salsa, chile, and every delicious sauce one could want had spoiled her tastebuds. She was praying the project would continue for at least 4 more years.
The lovely mom from Turkey was talking about other available projects in Saudi Arabia, Barbados, Paraguay, Thailand, etc. She said she really wished she could stay here forever. That this was better than home (for political reasons) as well as the other available assignments. She mentioned how from Mexico City you can drive an hour or two in any direction and end up in another great place to explore for the weekend.
As these women were speaking it struck me, the irony. All the rhetoric going on in the US about Mexico, all the bad press, the bad hombres, all the travel advisories to reconsider travel to half of the states of Mexico. Foreigners from everywhere else in the world loved it here, and some even thought it was an ideal place to live and raise their kids over their home countries. I guess it is all a matter of perspective depending on where you came from, but it is amazing how hyped up rhetoric about a place can tarnish its reputation to one group of people, while the rest of the world is clamoring to get to stay.
Ask anyone north of the border what is a margarita and they will likely say it is a Mexican cocktail made with tequila. And oh do Americans love their margaritas. The funny thing is Mexicans don't really drink margaritas, and further, of the 5-6 stories about the origins of the margarita several don't even claim the drink originated in Mexico. If you are headed to the beaches on vacation, go ahead, order away because these places are equipped to handle American taste buds. But I will advise anyone heading to the interior of the country and planning to patronize small local restaurants and bars, you might get some side eye if you order a margarita. Of course you can find margaritas in Mexico City at large hotels and upscale bars, but don't ever show up to a house party or your in-laws Sunday comida and ask if they can whip up a margarita.
Lucky for you there is an alternative. The Paloma! You will still get a nice salt rimmed glass, lime juice and tequila but the other ingredient is grapefruit soda such as Squirt or Fresca and it comes without the side eye and hushed giggles about the gringo who wants a margarita. Somewhere along the line my husband introduced me to this drink to help save me from embarrassment and I never looked back. The Paloma is a well loved, widely consumed drink in Mexico and I wonder why it doesn't get the same love north of the border. It has been referred to as "the lazy man's margarita" as well as "the poor man's margarita." Either way, in my opinion, it is better and more refreshing. The Paloma is my go to Mexican cocktail and it should be yours too. Or you could, of course, just woman up and drink tequila the way it was meant to be. Gasp (clutching my pearls)...no not like that you teenaged college binge drinker...it is not meant to be shot or poured into your friend's belly button. The complex flavors of a good tequila are meant to be sipped slowly and savored over time with friends and family.
-Served in a highball glass
-Add lime and salt to the rim and fill with ice
-A shot (or two) of tequila (depending on your goals)
-Anywhere from a tablespoon to the juice of 2 whole limes (depending on your tastes)
-Fill with Fresca, Squirt or other grapefruit soda to the top
-Garnish with a lime wedge
-As the night wears on forget the salted rim, lime garnish and even the lime juice. Who has time for all that juice squeezing? You can't miss Tío Lucio's* lost in translation story about the time he accidentally asked for a nipple instead of a napkin at a restaurant in San Francisco. Refill your glass with tequila and grapefruit soda as needed.
*Name changed to protect identity
In Love & Tacos
Rants of a Diplomat's Wife
Hola, I am an American married to a Mexican Diplomat. I am on my 3rd post as a trailing spouse. The first two posts I joined were in the US, and in July 2018 we moved to Mexico City. Maybe it was the fact that I was pumping out my diplo-babies, or maybe I didn't think anyone would be interested in diplomatic life at my US posts, but I didn't blog then. Now I am in Mexico, and perhaps you might find it interesting to know what life is like here. This is where I share my adventures and thoughts at my current post.