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Homesickness for Mexico comes in waves, and for the past few weeks the tide has been high. As a remedy, I tried to list the things I don’t miss. The list is pretty short.

Making do with a makeshift kitchen. We bought some kitchen goods when we got there, and even brought a couple of items along that we didn’t think we’d be able to find (we may be the only people ever to carry a mushroom brush across an international border for purposes other than import), but it was still a pretty bare-necessity kitchen, which gets old when you love to cook and you’re there for six months.

Small gas tank / water tank. Neither gas nor hot water flowed in great quantities, so that it was hard to get the oven up to baking temperatures, and our gorgeous big bathtub filled to only 4 inches of depth before the hot water ran out.

Lack of good Chinese food. We made our own, but once in a while you just want a real Chinese dumpling made by an real Chinese person. There was good Chinese in Mexico City, but not in San Miguel. We went to dim sum several times in the week before we left for Mexico, and again in the week after our return.

The heat. Even in San Miguel, which is at about 6000′ and has weather not dissimilar to San Francisco’s, it can get pretty hot. May and June would have been more comfortable for me if I’d adjusted to the idea that I should just hunker down and stay inside for a few hours each midday.

Limited reading material. I didn’t come close to running through the English language collection at San Miguel’s impressive biblioteca, but still, I sometimes missed having easy access to books that, in the U.S., would have been no farther away than the main library.

Having a child under stress. There’s no question that living in Mexico was great for the munchkin, and she adjusted admirably to being uprooted from the places, people, and cats she knew for what must have seemed to her 3-year-old’s perceptions to be close to forever. Nevertheless, she showed signs of the strain. After all, as much as she liked school, she had no friends there or anywhere who spoke her language. Looking back, we realize that the high incidence of tantrums during those six months was probably not due purely to her developmental stage.

Being far from friends and family. We got a fair number of visitors from home, but there’s no substitute for seeing your mom every couple of months and your closest friends every week.

I can’t help noticing that most of these are not only trivial, but could be mitigated quite easily. Not to mention that they don’t outweigh the many things I do miss (see any entry from July 2010). I guess I’ll just have to wait for this particular wave of Mexico-missing to recede.

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I’ve been on study leave this week, and pursuing projects under three categories:

Reading:  From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America, Christopher Finan, and In Between: Memoirs of an Integration Baby, Mark Morrison-Reed. Maybe a book on strategic planning in congregations too.

Spanish: Remember the old days of language lab? Now you get CDs with your textbook–much better. I keep the CDs in the car and do the exercises while I’m driving, but I’d gotten past the chapters that I’d studied, and didn’t understand the grammar the CD was trying to make me practice. So, I’ve gone back to the textbook to review the subjunctive, discover just how much basic conjugation I’d forgotten, and at last learn the imperative properly. That plus some vocabulary about clothes from the same chapter will help me practice with Munchkin as she’s getting dressed in the mornings. Together we’re going to become bilingual.

Cleanup: Okay, this probably doesn’t count as a study leave project. But it is a wonderful feeling. Joy threatened to throw out any of those old boxes of my stuff that were still in the garage come January 1. I welcomed the challenge, knowing I’d never go through them if I didn’t have a firm deadline. Some of them have made several moves with me, unopened; not surprisingly, most of their contents turn out to be completely unimportant. My spiritual guide as I decide what to keep and what to toss: an elderly man at church who said he had a dozen packed file cabinets in his house and never looked into any of them.

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