Thursday, October 13, 2011

Idiots who pilot boats

Rena + Astrolabe Reef = A disaster that never should have happened.

NZoilspill.jpgSeriously how in the name of all that is a higher power did the captain manage to hit a reef that appears in maritime maps? Did he think he was the captain of the Titanic, that the reef just appeared out of nowhere, that he has no blame? It was the captain`s birthday, can we as reasonable people having no evidence to support our assumptions, assume that the captain and indeed almost all of the crew were celebrating this grandiose event with something a little stronger than soft drink or fruit juice?

The photos of the dead birds, the horrendous state of the local beaches, the oil-covered dead fish, suggest that someone was not at their post and paying attention. Did the bastards wake up when they got thrown out of bed when they hit the reef (a romantic notion that I truely hope happened), did they try and get off the reef, did they try and do anything other than call the owners and say "Boss, we are in the shit"?

Living in Mexico far away from the disaster (there is no other term for it) I am still angered by what has happened. It happened in my backyard, it happened almost directly in front of the house where I grew up, the beach of my childhood is a complete mess. There is not a word that I can think of that accurately describes with enough sentiment the disdain I feel towards the captain and the crew of that ship, is there a punishment severe enough for them? Short of getting them out there to clean up the oil spill themselves, that they pick up the dead animals they have robbed of life due to their ineptitude, I can not think of anything that would fit the crime.

In preschool we make children accept responsibility for their actions by "making things right" with the aggrieved party, how are these adults going to make things right with the communities they have affected?

Pissed off and pensive in Mexico.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Single Parenting

There are many pros and cons to being a single mum (and I imagine to being a single dad as well). Sometimes as a single parent you wonder if you are doing enough or doing too much, if your child is doing ok, if they are not doing ok, the guilt that comes with single parent territory I would venture is almost double that of a two parent family.
Reprimands for inappropriate behaviour begin to eat at your conscience. Cereal for dinner begins to eat at your conscience. Doing the dishes instead of playing begins to eat at your conscience. Putting junior in front of a movie so you can have a brief moment to yourself begins to eat at your conscience. As a single parent (perhaps even in a two parent family) each decision that you make you are always asking yourself, "Is it the right thing to do?". I would contest that if it happens too often then no, it is not the right thing to do. But, if it happens only on occasion, I personally see no wrong in getting a few minutes respite or doing the dishes instead of playing when it is what needs to be done.

The daily routine, school, school lunches, work, study (mum's), playtime, meals, bathtime, bedtime, birthday parties (for the offspring), cleaning the house, socializing or adult time (is there any really?), time for self (again is there any really?), there are a lot of activities to juggle for us single parenters. But we do it and often with looks of admiration from two parent families, looks of wonderment from two parent families, and ultimately I think utter disbelief that we do as much as we do and we have kids that are well-behaved and polite.

Is it any easy job? Parenting in general is not easy, but it is a joy. Single parenting offers you so much in terms of bonding with your child, playing with your child, creating with your child and learning with your child. And selfishly knowing that at the end of the day, after school, you are the one that that huge smile is for, you are the one that the excitement is for, you are the one that they wait all day in anticipation to see and blurt out all that has happened that day. Selfishly knowing that all the stories that are invented more often than not have you in them, that you are the hero in the moment (although yes sometimes you are also the villain of the hour), that all those kisses and those enormous bear hugs are yours, that you have the absolute confidence of your little one, you are their world, you are their universe and they are yours.

Without exception. Unequivocally. You are them and they are you.

Parenting is a gift and a treasure. Single parenting is the jewel that sparkles the most in the crown.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


"¡Me pegaron! ¡Me pegaron!", a voice cried down the phone (They beat me up!). "Help me! I can't see! My eyes are swollen shut! Tell them to stop!" (all in Spanish).
Out of the blue my phone rang. This was what I heard. Imagine. First thoughts; a loved one. Then the horror, the shaking hands, the jumbled thought process.
"Where are you? Why? What happened?", I (not that calmly) answered. (all in Spanish).
Enter a gruff, agressive voice; "We have kidnapped him. I'm the leader of the blah, blah, blah cartel and we'll kill him if you don't pay us!" (all in Spanish).

Well fortunately (or unfortunately) my Spanish is not that good when being yelled at, so the above information was gathered on the second attempt at threatening me. Poor bastards. It really only got worse for them from then on in.

After repeating often that I didn't understand Spanish and if they did indeed have someone who knew me with them, then I wanted to speak with them. This offer was met with a long string of profanities, which if I was Mexican would've been highly insulting, as I'm not, I found them highly amusing. And I told them so. Again this was not received well. Another long string of even worse profanities followed. I repeated that I didn't understand Spanish very well and if they did indeed have someone with them, they should ask that person what language I spoke and speak to me in my language please.

This offer was met with stunned silence, then a hesitant voice said, "Arabic?". No.
The voice tried again in what I can only imagine was English because the only word I understood was "dick". Again, no.
Another language was attempted. Well I imagine it was a language as something garbled was spewed forth at me.
Again, no.
More profanities.

By this time I was unashamedly enjoying myself. So I began to play along. If they can use profanities why can't I? In English I'm a master of the insult, in Spanish? I'm but a mere novice, however I do know how to insult the male ego and add in a few choice phrases for good measure. Which I did.
As cellphone credit can also be part of the process, I informed them that they were wasting their time if they wanted to steal my credit as I had none. They were wasting their credit (I assumed they were calling long distance) because I was having fun "telling them off" and I wasn't going to hang up. By now the urgency was gone from the voice. The silence was punctuated by the occasional profanity and then they hung up.

Come on, in the first place why would the BOSS of a drug cartel be ringing me to tell me they've kidnapped someone? The BOSS? I highly doubt it.
In the second place where am I gonna pull money from on such short notice? My derriere?
And lastly, scare tactics are not usually high on a kidnapper's list (I could be very wrong and very naive in that aspect), it's usually more serious stuff involved.

As I am in Mexico and kidnapping is something that happens a lot over here, one must always listen with caution to the warnings about these things.
Ok, I didn't exactly act with caution but those poor buggers chose to "pick on" the only foreigner in the area with no money, who had just finished a day with a bunch of 2 year olds, and who has a mental block to being yelled at.

Life in Mexico. Never a dull moment.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The arrival...

I was feeling the urge for something sweet so I headed to the local OXXO (the Mexican convenience store chain) to get me that chocolate fix, and lo and behold I spied a Cadbury's Crunchie bar. By gum and by golly I've not seen one of those little gems outside the Southern hemisphere!
Have yet to try it and maybe the Moro, Pinky Bar, Picnic or the Flake will turn up soon. Here's hoping!
Yay for Cadbury making a foray into Tequila Land!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A slap and a kick...

"I slept like a baby". How many times have you used that or heard someone else make that claim? A statement that implies a deep, still sleep. Has anyone making this claim actually slept with a baby?

Still they are not. The little blighters wriggle and move and kick and punch and slap and scratch. Quiet they are not. Grunting, snorting or making some loud exclamations at whim. Babies sleeping do not imply a restful night for me. Not any more.
You would think that a balled fist the size of a cherry tomato could not do any harm to a full grown and resilient adult. You would think that a weeny foot half the size of a cell phone could not cause an "oof" or some other type of grunt to escape from the same full grown adult. You'd be wrong.
Sleeping beside the offspring (in as deep a sleep as is possible for a new parent) thinking that junior is in fact sleeping deeply and immobile, one is suddenly woken by a kick in the solar plexus, a punch in the face, a kick in the boob, a scratch on the cheek or some other form of physical-ness that indicates the youngster has gotten a fright or that you really need to be awake now to attend to their needs.
Of course there is the odd occasion when the little 'un will wake quietly and allow you a few minutes grace. There has been more than one instance when the Big Maori has woken face to face with the Little Maori. Opening my eyes to find a smaller yet very open and wide gaze staring intently at the bigger version, or big ugly nose to small cute button one, tip to tip.

So the cute factor will always apply with the term "sleeping like a baby", but for me now, if I want to imply I slept soundly without actually saying that, I'd be more inclined to use "I slept like a log" or "I slept like the dead". These two things really don't move.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Instuctions please

The internet is a marvellous thing. It seems newborn babies don't come with an instruction manual bugger it all. Everything else in the world does, but parenthood and babies are left out of the loop. How the hell did that happen?
This is why the internet is a wonderous invention. It is the modern day guide or "how to" for whatever your dilemma may be. And believe me when you are miles away from any family with any hands on experience with wet bums, crying (screaming), leaky boobs, strange rashes (baby's), an instruction manual is more of a necessity than a desire. Throw into the mix being in a different country with their own weird and wonderful "advice" and you too would be glued to the screen trying to make sense of it all.
And people always want to give you advice, or just want to tell you how much they LOVE babies, how cute/precious/beautiful your little bundle is, what they did/are doing when their baby was born and blah, blah, blah. Of course you end up smiling and nodding and tuning out or as is quite handy being a foreigner simply saying "I don't speak Spanish" in English and they bugger off. Superb!

Here in Mexico they bind women after they've had a cesarean, not sure if it's the same with a natural birth or if this occurs anywhere else in the world. I for one am very happy with this little tradition, my puku has not been this flat for many a decade, I feel quite decadent displaying my midriff. Oh-er!
Some other traditions I have discovered and am a little puzzled by are:

* to encourage a dimple, a bean is placed in the cheek of the baby
* to encourage a plentiful supply of breast milk, drink a bottle of beer a day
* to stop illness wrap the baby up in layers of blankets even if it's 28C and sunny
* to stop your breast milk, bind your boobs

Think I'll give three out of these four a miss, and maybe not be quite such a consumer on the remaining.

Pregnancy and babies. They don't come with an instruction booklet. They come with their own set of "traditions" and advice, solicited or not. They come with a whole lot of love and bias. Even if you swore that you would say your baby was ugly if it was, you just can't. It's love at first sight, no matter how cynical, how realistic you are. It's love baby. There ain't no stopping it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stalled at the finish line

Yes it has been a while between drinks here on the Maori in Mexico site. But all has not been dull in the life of this Maori.

To fill in the gaps...

Most people arrive in Mexico to take advantage of the cheap and ever plentiful golden, bubble filled beverage beer, sample the local delicacies (cran -bull penis- tacos being a speciality here in Toluca), dare each other to eat the hottest chilly, and inevitably catch some little bug that keeps them glued to the porcelain god for some of their holiday.

Never to quite do things per the "norm", this Maori did some of the above (forgoing the exotic taco) and instead of catching a bug, I caught a baby. Yep. Got "up the duff", "bun in the oven", "hapu", "with child" and any other slightly more colourful analogies you can come up. Imagine. Preggers. In a country very foreign from my own. With their own weird and wonderful way of doing things. So after the initial freaking out period, I embarked on an interesting learning experience.
Here in Mexico you can do your whole sprog thing private or public health system (like anywhere). Private here being expensive (cheap when compared to other countries), and public being well, scary.
The public hospitals, people assured me, are fine and provide good quality care and attention. I am sure that's true, but after visiting one (recommended by a doctor) where during the pelvic examination (without a curtain), legs splayed in the most unladylike fashion, doctor's hand up my wo-hoo, ordelies, doctors, nurses, relatives of other women (it was a veritable "stages of pregnancy" live action show line up) passing by, the "receptionist" watching tele and a general lack of visible hygiene, I decided to give the public sector a miss.
Call me anal but first impressions do count. So we went private. A very small, very clean, very friendly clinic opposite the aforementioned public edifice. And they treated us goood.

Baby's arrival date was predicted between June 3-16 by my private sector doctor and June 19 by the public sector doctor. Junior showed up on June 10. Money well spent furnishing luxury offices I reckon, private dude knows his stuff.

The whole labour thing was a bit of an anti-climax really (probably because I was well drugged up). From whoa to go, or in this case from go to whoa, it was about 5 or 6 hours. Junior started the descent just before midnight on June 9, and was in one hell of a hurry to get out. Making my hips and back feel like they belonged to someone much older, frailer and quite frankly in need of some serious reconstructive surgery. I tried to endure the back pain, the hips were fine, but the dancing on my lower back was quite energetic and well, crippling. After a couple of hours we were off to the hospital, being driven by the expectant granddad who had never driven on the "wrong" side of the road and being given directions by the non-English speaking father via the pregnant woman in pain and on all fours in the back seat. Two red lights run, some speeding, no wrong turns and fifteen minutes later I was in a hospital bed, with a HUGE disposable nappy under me, awaiting the arrival of the doctor and expelling the odd expletive. That was around 2am. Around 5am I got the instruction to push (see what I mean by in a hurry), but lo and behold junior suddenly got all shy and refused to come out. Little bugger. There I was feeling almost nothing due to the epidural they gave me, but pushing my little heart out and junior just would not co-operate. At all. Even going so far as to bloody well roll over and be face up, thus preventing even the doctor's best efforts to bring the wee one into the world. So they decided to slice me open and drag the little Maori out.

They made a few calls, got the "team" in (another gyno, a pediatrician and someone else I think), drugged me up some more, played some music, left me alone for a bit, came back, shaved me, and as I was not wanting a cesarean I was quite ready to get up and leave at this point. Legs were having none of it and neither were the doctors, unfortunately. So arms splayed in the crucifix position, full of drugs and hormones, I took the only option available to me- I cried. Yes pregnancy hormones can turn even the strong willed stubborn types into blubbering lunatics.
Ignoring the crying mess on their table, the surgeons got on with it. In my drug addled state I did have time to register and disapprove of the person who in the middle of all this had decided to cook toast. Yes toast. I was not impressed. Then it dawned on me that it was my flesh being cooked (cauterized) and there was no toast. I would have laughed out loud if I hadn't been nauseous from the drugs.
An hour and some later, the next travelling Maori made an entrance. With very little fanfare, not a whole lot of wailing, and a kiss from an emotional, teary eyed female lunatic that the poor sod will have for a mum. Sigh.

Now the adventure truely begins.