A German/Mexican Couple and a English Baby Happily Living in the UK

Gabi and Till are a Mexican/German couple, living in London with their son Axel. Today, Gabi tells us all about her life in the UK, how different her life would be if she was in Mexico, and how wonderful the English labour laws are (one year maternity leaves!).

 Gabi, please tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

I am Mexican, married to a German and gave birth to an English baby Axel in 2011. I work in banking and at the moment I am off on maternity for…. a year – thanks to the English labour laws!!

March 1, 2012 4 comments

One lucky Mexican

Andrea Arzaba describes herself as ‘una chica con suerte’, or ‘one lucky soul’ in the English version. She’s a contributor to many online publications including Global Voices, and recently started an online project called The Sunflower Post, where bloggers from around the world write about local news or stories with a gender perspective. Chunks of Mexico (and the world) is Andrea’s personal blog.

Posts are either in Spanish, or both Spanish and English and cover many topics relevant to Mexico and sometimes abroad. This post about Top Gear’s coverage of the Mexican Mastretta car tackles stereotypes and how they are perceived within Mexico.

For lighter reading, check this post on Rosca de Reyes (cake for 3 kings day) and compare it with our accounts of the Portuguese and Argentinian versions.

Read more:
More Mexican blogs on Blogs of the World
An extraordinary journey: marrying a Mexican
Speaking Spanglish in Cancun

April 26, 2011 Comments disabled

Dia de los Muertos

November 2nd is Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), a holiday celebrated in Mexico to remember the departed. Friends and family get together to remember and pray for dead relatives and friends, special foods are prepared and eaten, parties are sometimes thrown, and altars are graves are adorned with ofrendas (offerings) of flowers (especially marigolds), skeleton figurines, and pictures and other items that remind mourners of the deceased, or that were treasured by the deceased.

Grave adorned with marigolds (Source: Wikipedia)
Grave adorned with marigolds (Source: Wikipedia)

Dia de los Muertos coincides with the Catholic holiday ”All Souls Day,” and traditionally following gatherings at the house, a procession will make its way to the local cemetery to lay flowers and other items at graves of loved ones, and to pray. Special reverence may be given to Santa Muerte (Saint Death); not a saint in the traditional sense, but a kind of demigod treated as a saint, who is petitioned for special favors that other saints cannot grant.

Santa Muerte (Source: Wikipedia)
Santa Muerte (Source: Wikipedia)

So why am I writing about a Mexican holiday?  (more…)

October 27, 2010 2 comments

An extraordinary journey

To be honest, the cultural differences – the immense weight of two separate histories, perspectives, assumptions, myths and surroundings – didn’t strike me as particularly significant at first. I felt surprisingly at home in Spanish, which seemed to express and accentuate my personality like a just-right pair of jeans hugs the hips, and Mexico was a natural fit – the casualness and the intensity, the reckless abandon and the human warmth, the coffee, the food, the mezcal. I’ve never eased into a community as comfortably and naturally as I did in Oaxaca; first I was here, roaming, out of it, the classic bumbling gringa, and then I was suddenly a part of things with a tight-knit group of friends and a serious boyfriend. There was a social revolution when I arrived; the streets were full of burning buses, and I went running on a highway barricaded by scorched tires and heaps of scrap metal. Nearly everyone I knew when I arrived left in a matter of months. I fell in love. I stayed through the months of federal police occupation and the fires in the streets at night, Jorge and I moved in together, and in spring of the following year we suddenly had plans to move to Beijing – I’d gotten a position as an English Composition Instructor for the coming academic year.


May 21, 2010 12 comments

Deshebrada en chile guajillo

This delicious-looking Mexican dish was posted by Siddhartha.

Deshebrada en chile guajillo

It’s a type of stew usually made with beef, but we should probably ask Siddhartha to tell us the exact recipe! Chile guajillo is a type of chili pepper which is often used in Mexican cooking.

Do you want to share photos of your country’s food? Join our photo group on Flickr and show us your photos.

Read more:
Gallo Pinto – a typical Costa Rican breakfast
Mexican blogs from Blogs of the World
Paprikas Krumpli – Another kind of stew from Hungary

September 11, 2009 Comments disabled

A truly Spanglish couple

Kelly (Canada) and Jorge (Mexico)

When I arrived in Mexico five years ago, I spoke nary a word of Spanish, “cerveza, baño, cenicero, cigaro” and the all important “por favor” and “gracias” were about all I had learned for my “vacation”. I met Hubby on the beach after only a couple of weeks in Mexico, not realizing that he would be the reason for me to stay. Hubby spoke English well and that is how we communicated, there was no need for us to speak Spanish to each other. In fact, there was no need to speak Spanish at all on Cozumel, everyone I met spoke English and that was the language of the community we played and worked in. My first six months in Mexico didn’t require me to study at all, though I certainly picked up phrases as I went along.

When we moved to Cancun, things did change. We were now in the big city and living downtown, if I was going to survive I needed to be able to communicate in Spanish. Hubby was working all day and I was on my own to take care of grocery shopping, etc., so I was forced to really begin sucking in the language. And suck in the language I did, I was terrible! Hubby certainly didn’t make things any easier, he is not the most patient man in the world so having him try to teach me was not working out. Often my attempts at the language were mocked, he still reminds me to this day of the funny mistakes I made that caused his ribs to hurt with laughter.

So, I was alone in the city, no money for Spanish classes, no computer for internet lessons, nothing but a dictionary and newspapers. I would sit with a paper and the dictionary and do my best to try to understand what was happening in the world. This was valuable, until I tried to pronounce the words, they all came out with French pronunciations! I realized that all my years of French in school in Canada was both a detriment and an advantage. I could understand the meaning of the words as they were often quite similar, but the pronunciation was a disaster, French and Spanish are quite different and my “Frespañol” was quite ugly. And so our relationship continued in English.

Over the years I have learned a lot from taxi drivers, co-workers, students and web sites like, but still haven’t had a formal class. My Spanish has improved immensely and I am able to not only survive but I can discuss politics, tell a joke, deal with household service providers, etc., etc.. In the last few days I’ve been listening to our conversations in the house more closely to see what we really use with each other. I realize that we are truly a Spanglish couple. It’s really mixed up, I’ll throw Spanish words into English sentences, ask him a question in English and he’ll reply in Spanish or vice versa, we very rarely have a conversation that is solely in one language, though English certainly is still the prevalent tongue in the house. He still laughs at my Spanish, but I’ve built up a tough layer of skin so I can laugh along with him now.

The one place that we do not mix is with Max. When Max was born we read a lot about raising a bilingual child and we decided to use the “OPOL” (one parent, one language) method. I only speak English with Max and Hubby only speaks Spanish. This method is working wonders, Max’s language skills surprise me everyday. He never, ever speaks Spanish to me and he won’t speak English to Hubby, no matter what language we are speaking to each other. If I do speak Spanish to him, he really doesn’t like it and he says “English mommy, English” and the same is true with his Daddy. He thinks it’s pretty funny when Daddy speaks English to him, it just doesn’t fit his world even though he knows that Daddy is bilingual and he usually only responds in Spanish.

Language has certainly caused some problems in our house, misunderstandings, miscommunication and even jealousy. The phrase “te quiero mucho” has been a source of angst for a long time. It means “I love you a lot”, for me a phrase reserved for my romantic partner, letting them know that they are special and different from everyone else. Hubby will use that phrase with others and it makes me very angry, I no longer feel special and I feel that it’s inappropriate for him to say that to friends (particularly female friends). He insists that the phrase can be used for both friends and romantic partners, no matter how often I tell him that it bothers me. I guess you can’t change old habits. I wish there were an equivalent to “love ya” in Spanish, I use that phrase with non-romantic friends, “I love you” feels too strong for me and doesn’t fit a friendly relation. I’ve asked Hubby to try to use “Te amo” with me, it also means “I love you” but it would make me feel that I was different than the friends he so casually uses “te quiero” with. Of course, being a man, he used it a couple of times and forgot so I am relegated to “TQM” once again. I’ll take it, being told “I love you” in any way should make you feel good, I’ve got to get over it I guess. As Hubby says, “Es tu pedo”, “it’s your fart”, meaning deal with your own issues!

I’m looking forward to the next few years to see how our language relationship develops. I have noticed that more and more Spanish is making its way into our home, in chat and text messages and in conversation as well. I don’t know if it will ever be the main language of the house, I think after five years of being primarily English speakers, we’re probably set in our ways. I do wish we had a secret language, something we can use to speak when we don’t want Max to know what we are saying, the spelling game just gets confusing for both of us! “Don’t give Max any more “C A N D Y”". “Que dijiste?” “C A N D Y”. “QUE?” “D U L C E S”. “Oh, candy!”. Great, Max heard that one, sigh, give him the damn chocolate bar……

Kelly writes about life with her bi-cultural family in Cancun, Mexico on her blog A Canuck in Cancun. This story was originally published on her blog here.

February 25, 2009 3 comments