For all my worries about crossing the border into Mexico — Will we have the right documents for the pets? Will it take hours to clear customs? — we sailed through the automated system without talking to a soul.
I am confident that that’s the easiest transition we will make.
Certainly the consulate employees do their best to make that first day a piece of cake. Stephanie, a Foreign Service Officer assigned to our family, met us at a Vons grocery in Southern California and led us across the border and to our new home. A good thing, too, because the maze of (some unmarked) streets in Tijuana was overwhelming. Even she got confused at one point.
That said, the driving wasn’t as unpredictable as I feared.
And when we got to our home (whose location I can’t describe for security reasons, except to say it’s in a lovely neighborhood), several folks were waiting to orient us to security features, telephones and wifi, utilities, and amenities.
We had seen pictures of the house, but in person it was even better:
— Three bedrooms and three and a half baths;
— Outdoor patio with dining set and outdoor sink and grill;
— Walk-in closet and double sinks in master suite;
— Spacious kitchen with island and new appliances;
— Two built-in hallway desks and a family room with hookups for television;
— Open living room adjacent to large formal dining room table that seats 8;
— Separate laundry room and separate maid’s quarters if needed.
Wow, was all we could say at first! And then we began to notice some less convenient features — no dishwasher or garbage disposal, no potable drinking water (you buy it in big dispensers), very little grass in which to water one’s dog. Still, this is the newest and, in many ways, nicest house we’ve ever lived in. “I feel spoiled,” Jack said.
After the orientation, Stephanie guided us back into town for lunch at an open-air taco restaurant. We also stopped at Calimax, a Mexican supermarket, because, even though we had shopped for necessities at Vons, I had forgotten to buy the first item on the list — milk. Stephanie was again our navigator for the language. Mark was eager to practice his Spanish after six months of training, but when the cashier rapidly asked him a question, he had no idea what he was hearing for a moment.
After Stephanie guided us back home and returned to work, we took it all in (and I of course napped). We each walked the dog to explore the small, gated neighborhood. A friend from Mark’s Foreign Service training class who lives around the corner stopped on her way home from work to say hello, even though she had guests waiting, which we greatly appreciated. And then we ventured out for dinner on our own, hitting a seafood taco bar (which is pretty much what it sounds like). Mark got to practice his Spanish again and very capably got us all fed! I drove us home to get a little experience in light traffic, and we all stumbled inside to collapse. OK, I collapsed. Mark and Jack were more productive 😉
Today Mark headed out shortly after 7, with our neighbor, to spend the day in orientation at the consulate. Jack starts school on Monday. And I’m figuring out my next steps. The first is to unpack and prepare for our shipments from Louisville, which will come in a few days and in a few weeks. Another is to review my Spanish lesson for tomorrow. Another is to practice my relaxation techniques (maybe I’ll move that one to first). Onward!!