1. You don’t have the least idea of which “race” corresponds you when filling governmental applications.
You’ve gone through this at some point, either on your first day at school or during the process to get your Social Security Number. After checking Hispanic or Latino in the ethnicity box, you’re left with no idea of how to determine your race. You’re not African-America, you’re not Indian-American, definitely not Asian… Alaska native, maybe? White? Where the hell is the Mestizo category?
2. The most touching and glorious moment you recently had was…
When you finally found a tortilla brand that doesn’t taste like plastic!
3. You now realize how wonderful the metric system really is.
Remember that time they asked for your weight in pounds and your height in feet? I’m sure you do. The Imperial units are not proportional, and discovering the equivalence between ounces and pounds can be a real pain in the ass. Worst case scenario? When the GPS is running on miles and it suddenly tells you your exit is in thirty feet! That implosion you felt inside your head was probably a mini stroke. Long forgotten are the days of kilos and grams, meters and kilometers.
4. You get to a gas station and wait for half an hour for somebody to attend you…
Until you realize these things work on a self service basis. And you even thought somebody was gonna clean your windshield.
5. That first experience in a Mexican supermarket.
Yes, you finally found the supermarket where all Mexicans in town do their shopping. They have everything you need to prepare a decent pozole, there’s a tortilleria and even butchers serving customers to the beats of La Sonora Santanera. Everything looks and feels like home and you head to the butchery to ask for “un kilo de suadero, por favor”.
– Excuse me? How can I help you?
It might sound strange, but a great amount of Latinos and Mexicans don’t speak Spanish. They can be second generation immigrants or they might have arrived to the US as little boys. Valuable lesson: never take Spanish for granted.
6. You start mixing languages… even if you don’t want to.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to maintain your beautiful language apart from anglicisms, sooner rather than later you’ll start saying librería instead of biblioteca, parkeando instead of estacionando, and you’ll feel very disturbado. Now you know how difficult was life for your Pocho cousin, and you’ll start feeling bad for all the times you bullied him when he tried to speak Spanish.
7. You cherish that moment when you discovered the tacos al pastor truck in the Mexican neighbourhood.
With real tortillas! It doesn’t matter how much of a foodie you think you are or how excited you think it is to try food from all around the world, there’s no pad thai or kebab that can ever compare to the sublime sensation of a taco filled with juicy pork meat, lime, salsa and all the unmistakable flavours that define Mexico.
8. That first time you ran away in fear from the supermarket.
El que convierte no se divierte (if you convert, you’ll miss the fun)… this saying is especially true with the current state of the Mexican Peso. Thirty pesos for a single avocado is just too much!
9. You get all excited whenever you meet other mexicans.
Maybe in California, Arizona or Florida this is an everyday event, but in some other states, meeting a paisano is still a reason to celebrate and to acknowledge you’re not alone in this adventure.
10. You start discovering the national pride you didn’t know you had.
Something feels weird inside your chest when you listen to Cielito Lindo or El Huapango de Moncayo. It’s called nostalgia.
11. You look after your limones as if they were made out of gold and you make sure you squeeze them to the last drop.
They don’t cost ten pesos a kilo here.
12. You discover that some common Mexican words and sayings can be terribly offensive on this side of the border.
The word “negro” being the most notorious one. For every Mexican this is just another adjective and we commonly use it when referring to black people, but here the historical background has loaded the expression with negative implications and it’s strictly forbidden. “Gringo” is also considered racist and derogatory, more or less the same as calling a Mexican a beaner or a wetback.
13. You don’t understand how people drink water without garrafones.
They say tap water is ok, but it tastes terrible! You suffer for a month or so, hoping to get used to the flavor, and then you find a $20 water filter in Amazon that puts an end to the torture. Finally, decent water without a garrafón breaking your back.
14. You have issues with the word “American”.
The lack of a better term to refer to the people of the US can be troublesome. You were always thought that America is a whole continent, not a country.
15. You discover the only good use for pennies…
Throw them in the park fountain and ask for a wish. Seriously, you can’t even buy a chicle with one of those.
16. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to drive in this country.
Maybe the idea frightened you at the beginning, but once you grabbed the wheel and learned the basic rules, you found out how amazingly easy driving is. Everything is signaled with precision and everyone is super friendly… They even give you way just by putting your turn signal on!