I See Paris, I See France

mexican saucesThanks to Satellite TV and the cultural homogenization of the internet, Mexican retail has tried to love the narrow athletic model of feminine pulchritude embraced by fashion houses in the States, but the Latin heart isn’t in it. The Mexican ideal, if you scratch the surface, still involves pointy bosoms and a big round ass, and if the local bombshells could find a whalebone corset, they’d grab onto the nearest bedpost with gusto in order to get laced down to a seventeen inch waist.

Before putting on the knit suits they wear to church and lunch, affluent Tapatio women first put on girdles, and like it or not, those babes never give up on sex appeal. A popular item of lingerie looks like a one piece bathing suit with the front cut out to acommodate the bra of the wearers choice, most likely something that would blow up the security gate at an airport with it’s titanium stays and steel underwires. The smooth latex silhouette favored by the city women is eschewed by local girls, who love a muffin top spilling over their jeans. But girdled or no, the overriding impression is that Mexicans like flesh, a situation that certainly allows me to sleep easier at night.mexican model

Shopping for these various types of lingerie, along with everything else a girl’s gotta buy, is something that has to be relearned upon moving down here. Americans like their shopping to be all in one place, preferably under one roof. We’re used to the security of being able to miss the exit for a shopping center, knowing there will be another one at the next exit with the exact same stores. No surprises on our list! Around here, there’s nothing but surprises.

You won’t find a Lane Bryant at the local mall, let me just say that. I go to the Mall for people watching and lunch and a shot of big city glamor. The mall is one end, the very high end, of the spectrum. At the other end, the intrepid shopper will find more options. One is the tienguis, or street market. These floating bazaars travel from village to village, each having its own day of the week, and one way to shake up the local population would be for the tienguis to not show up for some reason. We’d all starve, since this is where we buy our vegetables, jewelry, cheese, yogurt, shrimp, textiles, and art made from spray cans, along with frazzled paperback bodice-rippers and bootleg videos of martial arts movies.

Our friend Anita engaged in a vigorous haggling match with a waif at a traffic light. The light changed, the drivers honked, and still Anita and the little match girl wrangled over what looked from the back seat like a badminton raquet. Once the bargain was struck however, and we realized that the raquet was designed to electrocute bugs, we couldn’t help but congratulate her on an excellent purchase, one I duplicated at the next opportunity. Shopping at the traffic light is not for amateurs, however, and the return policy is difficult to implement. This doesn’t scratch the surface of the ways that there are to exchange money for goods in Mexico. I could go on and on.

Overwhelmed by the choices, my friends and I save our big shopping blow-outs for visits to the States, where we can plan with military precision how to buy everything we need with one trip to the Target shopping center. It’s much more efficient than trying to find your bra size in a jungle of pinatas. But good luck finding a bug raquet.

Elliott Joachim pulled the plug on life in Metro D.C. and headed South of the Border. In her blog, Lifestyle Refugee (honey, what the hell are we doing in Mexico), she regales you with how a middle range baby boomer builds a new life in Ajijic.

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