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Reacclimation

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So, it has taken me most of my first day back in the US to get used to being in the US again.  There are various habits that I picked up in Mexico and it’s taking some time to get used to American ways again.

It started on the flight out of Oaxaca.   We had an English speaking crew, and although my Spanish isn’t where I would like it to be, I still had the feeling that I should be attempting to speak to everyone in Spanish.  I can start to see how we develop these habits (I should speak language X to this group Y, I should speak language X while I am in location Z, etc.) which might affect language vitality.  So, I have seen repeatedly here how people speak Spanish to younger people, because that is simply what you do, even though small children could acquire Zapotec and there is some desire for them to do so.  And Margarita actually had been in the habit of speaking of English to Benjamin before we came down here.

Another habit I had to consciously relearn was to put toilet paper down the toilet.  In much of Oaxaca, the plumbing isn’t good enough to allow toilet paper to be flushed, so you have to put in a trash can.  I kept doubting whether I was really supposed to flush it here in the US.

A final habit I’ve had to relearn is seatbelts.  As I was surprised to learn last summer, Oaxaca does in fact have seatbelt laws.  Apparently, those in the front seat are in fact supposed to buckle up, but like many traffic laws here it seems more like a suggestion than something rigorously enforced and followed.  Most of the time, I don’t see people putting on seatbelts and oftentimes they are hidden away in the seats, clearly unused.  So, when my stepson Edgar picked me up at the airport and let me drive, I can’t remember for the life of me if I actually used my seatbelt, though I have the uneasy suspicion that I didn’t.  Unless of course the LAPD reads this, and then I probably did, or at least don’t remember.

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