Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Hair today, gone tomorrow

“SHE’s asking how many fingers you want…?” Jacky explained to me as I sat perplexed in the beauty salon chair.
“Er, can you tell her it’s very kind of her to offer, but I’d rather just a 'short back and sides' for now…” I replied.
My British humour was once again lost in translation here in Mexico.
Of course the young hairdresser was asking how much hair I wanted cut off, and referred to ‘fingers’ as her guide.
I’d never been asked that in a hairdressers’ chair before, so of course I resorted to comedy to at least get a laugh.
Epic fail.
*Anyone else see that tumbleweed roll past?
As many travellers know, it’s the seemingly innocuous things that provide the greatest confusion and hilarity.
Back home if I want a haircut it’s normally easy.
“Hi, trim please…”
Twenty five minutes later – done.
But in a foreign land everything is a challenge if you don’t speak the language.

And maybe a little more off the other side...?!

Due to me being a giant here (most Mexicans are very short) even the process of positioning me in the hairdressers’ chair provided hilarity.
Imagine someone getting a ladder to trim an overgrown bush and you’ll have some idea.
Due to my height – and the vertically challenged nature of the hairdresser – she deflated the chair to its lowest form, and then asked me to slump down as far as I could so she could reach the top of my head.
I ended up sitting about two inches off the floor with my arms on the armrests so my shoulders were actually level with my ears.
And while some of the people waiting to get their haircuts chose to read the magazines strewn about the salon, others just stared at me and laughed for alternative entertainment.
“Trim please,” I said finally in position.
“Que?” came the reply.
“Um… t-r-iiiiimmm…?” Just in case I needed to emphasize what I’d said prior.
“Short back and sides? A little off the sides and top? Er… like now but shorter than?!”
*Hairdresser points to her fingers.
“Okay, dos um… fingers” I added confidently.
About 25 minutes later the hairdresser had made her way round to the back of my head, and began asking Jacky – now in hysterics – something in Spanish.
“She wants to know how you have your hair at the back?” Jacks told me.
“Uh… shorter…?”
“I can’t see the back of my head so it’s difficult to know how I usually have it.”
Cue more Spanish discussion.
“Level or rounded?” Jacks then asked me?
“Oh, whatever,” I replied now tired of the unexpected fuss.
Eventually I walked out of the salon feeling confident I had something which resembled something my regular English hairdresser usually creates.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the Mexican hairdresser had somehow forgotten to cut one side of my head.
“Awwww… you can’t blame her, she was nervous!” Jacks pleaded.
“Nervous?! I was terrified! And now I look strange!”
AND my English hairdresser (Jon) is going to throw a fit when he sees me!
Needless to say I won’t be going back there again.
Jim Morrison of The Doors fame once (reportedly) said: “some of the greatest mistakes in my life have been made in this [hairdressers’] chair”.
I can emphasize with him.
As much as I try I will never truly blend in, here in Mexico.
But I do try and avoid anything which makes me look even more foreign or weird than I know I am.
Apparently my nickname is ‘el guero’, translated as ‘the blonde’.
Take from that as you will.

Oh, before I forget... thanks again for all our birthday messages. Can't tell you how weird it is to share your birthday with your fiancee!

Oh, and oh... I'm on Twitter to... 'tristan_nichols'.
Shameless plug yes, but lots of banter and other funny observations from an Englishman (or 'idiot') abroad.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It's a kind of magic...

IN times of economic meltdown and global hardship, people are wishing on their lucky stars for a bit of good fortune.
So it seems only fitting really that some people are turning to the more 'alternative' methods of the 'dark arts', AKA voodoo, to help them out.
In some of the more traditional markets here in Mexico, tucked in between the bustling vegetable and fruit stalls and herb stands in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, you’ll find bizarre market traders selling weird and wonderful spiritual help-me-outs.
Colourful and creepy good luck charms and figurines, potions, spells, ointments, elixirs, herbs, amulets and candles are all crammed onto busy shelves offering different magical powers to target specific issues in every day life.

Spell-bound - a potion for every occasion

Some trinkets are said to bring good luck, while others are said to offer protection.
Some of the potions are meant to be drunk like tea or mixed with holy water; some powders are spread out on the ground in the shape of figures or signs; some herbs are burnt; and some powders are thrown over lit candles while the user whispers their wishes during rituals.

A flicker of luck anyone?

Wouldn’t it just be amazing if these potions actually worked?!
Want a successful business? Want that crazy woman/bloke to leave you alone? Wish they were dead?!
Just add boiling water and two sugars.
The spells are sold in small envelopes similar to those that normally contain teabags.
And they cater for a huge range of predicaments.
Some claim to help businessmen and women keep clients; some claim to help you get a pay rise at work; some target generic fears; and some claim to assist you in getting someone to love you.
Others apparently help to ‘send someone away’ who has been cheating on you; and some also claim to bring ‘death’ to a person boasting a “reinforced dust formula”.

A spell to stop your man from cheating

God only knows what ingredients are used. A quick search on Google highlights ‘dried snakes' skin’ and ‘cactus’ as being just some of the ingredients used in such concoctions.
Mexico, like many other countries around the world, is a deeply spiritual place.
Religion is closely related to folk traditions, intertwined with mythology and magic.
While the vast majority of people do attend church to pray for luck, it seems a great many people here do trust in the more magical and mysterious methods.
Personally speaking, as a Brit these sort of potions have certainly never been on any one of my weekly shopping lists.
1. Bread.
2. Milk.
3. Bananas.
4. Spell to help me find a job.
But hey, anything’s worth a try right?!
All this aside, it actually wouldn't be right to talk about all these weird and wonderful things and not mention UFOs.
A number of people I have spoken to here in TJ claim to have seen "weird shapes" or "lights" in the sky.
Everyone seems to know someone who has seen a UFO.
Jacky's mum and dad claim to have seen several - one here in the sky above the house, and a couple in Mexico City where they once lived.
The relative proximity to New Mexico and the notorious 'Roswell' only help to fuel the fire of belief of aliens visitors.
News reports here on Mexican national television also seem to show amateur footage of UFO sightings on regular occasions.
This one, in October last year, was a huge talking point among Mexicans after the footage emerged:

The volcano shown is just outside Mexico City which is one of the busiest places on earth. Hence it the sight attracted a large audience.
Mexico is said to be a 'hotbed' of UFO sightings with more sightings than most other countries in the world.
Is the truth stranger than fiction? Decide for yourself.
I'm off for a cuppa (of Tetley as opposed to a love potion).