I've been back in Monterrey now two weeks and while time seems to have stood still at the same time I still feel so much like an outsider in my own home city!
It really is a feeling of 'neither here nor there' as I have been living in the UK for nearly 12 years now and a lot of the more practical things I've done I've only ever done over there, like buy a house, pay my bills, manage a bank account, shop for groceries, etc. So things I've never really noticed over here and take for granted in the UK - like direct debits - are practically unheard of here and it makes me wonder how people cope.
So being here isn't just about how much better things are here (like food and weather) and there are lots of things that I've now noticed here that I only notice because I live in the UK and have experienced a different way. The biggest thing that is bugging me all the time is in terms of environmental awareness. Here in Mexico, like in the USA, environmental concerns are there but certainly not in the way they are in the UK, where it is so engrained it is almost a part of life, especially when it comes to waste.
Everytime I go shopping for groceries here I get help packing (now, this bit I do miss!) and the packer gives me too many bags - in some cases he or she only puts ONE thing inside a whole bag! It may be a bottle of bleach or something and I understand the concern but it still strikes me as incredibly wasteful. In the UK it is becoming more and more common for people to use their own bags, fuelled in part by retailers making a charge for each bag. But the net result is that fewer bags get used and it's all good.
Reusable bags are available here but they are TINY. It almost seems like retailers make them available but don't really expect anyone to actually use them... and compared to even the most modest of reusable bags available nearly everywhere, the bags here are laughable. No wonder people do not switch over, the reusables are a joke.
I probably would have never really noticed just how many plastic shopping bags get used if I didn't live in a place where these things matter. I am trying my best to make my mom understand that she doesn't need the packer to give her a dozen bags for a modest shop but she doesn't get it. Sure, she understands the global environmental issues but doesn't really tie that back to the plastic bag waste and I'm pretty sure that is cultural. People here just don't understand these issues at all.
Examples like these are many and it does make me feel like such a foreigner when I notice that people around here love to drive and switch lanes constantly, or watch television programs that have no value to them whatsoever or do not seem to notice senseless waste. I only hope I can manage to pass on the best of both worlds to my kids!