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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

Oh Mexico!: Love and Adventure in Mexico City

Oh Mexico!: Love and Adventure in Mexico City - Lucy Neville I was so wrapped up reading this funny, fascinating memoir of life in Mexico that family and friends got neglected and hours flew by without me noticing. Oh, Mexico has almost everything—travel, history, culture, romance, and even show business. Because she’s not motivated to package herself for difficult to get corporate jobs she’s uninterested in anyway, author Lucy Neville is determined to take a different path after graduating from college in Australia. Ever since childhood she’s been fantasizing about colorful, vibrant Latin America with its salsa music, its literary tradition of magical realism, and its recurring revolutions against oppressive dictators. Instead of jumping onto the career treadmill Lucy decides to move to Mexico for a few years where, she reasons, she could take her time absorbing all she learned in school while improving her Spanish. Plus it’s one of the few places her widely traveled hippie parents had never been.Lucy lands in Mexico City with little money and no safety net, but immediately finds the people friendly and helpful. Though she’d been warned about taxi driver kidnappings, the unnervingly young looking cabbie who escorts her to a cheap hotel acts more like a concerned family member. Her problem of how to earn a living in a country where people risk their lives hiking through deserts or swimming across rivers to get a job in the United States is solved by teaching English. Though inexperienced she’s quickly hired by a rather disorganized language school, which secures her visa, but since getting paid is another matter she also takes on private students. Later, when she needs extra cash for her cat’s operation, she’s forced into the ridiculous situation of taking a role in the series finale of a popular Mexican soap opera without having any acting aptitude. She finds a beautiful apartment that’s easily located because it’s a few doors down from where William Burroughs shot his wife. The only difficulty is that her roommate Octavio is so attractive she vows to never let him see her before her morning shower. Lucy goes with him to see the icon of the Virgin Mary at the church of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, which is built on the ruins of a native temple for the goddess of earth and fertility. Later she travels into the slums to see the shrine of La Santa Muerte, a skeleton in a bridal gown representing the virgin saint of death, who is often worshipped by people who feel excluded or need protection, including the poor, gays, lesbians, drag queens and those engaged in criminal activities. Lucy is adamant about not becoming part of the expat community. She makes friends across the spectrum of Mexican society and this enriches her experiences and this book. Her roommate and several of her students consider themselves upper class—a label that disconcerts her—and they have lots of money, speak several languages and travel widely. The working women in her First Wives Club English class got married at a time when it is acceptable and necessary that they labor long hours, but their husbands’ attitudes haven’t caught up so they refuse to help with cooking or household chores. Lucy has a totally positive relationship with a tattooed family of gold-toothed “viene-vienes”, illegal street-parking enforcers who protect cars for a price. They watch out for Lucy when she comes home late from class. Lucy is invited to parties and weddings and family dinners. Coworkers convince her to try recreational group electric shocks. Her fellow teachers include Edgar, who takes her to political demonstrations, and Ricardo, who is so sweet she falls for him even though that involves her in an awkward love triangle.Oh, Mexico manages to be informative without interrupting the pace of the story. History lessons, explanations of economic situations, and cultural background material flow naturally from events in the book. Lively and highly entertaining. Oh, Mexico has an August 2011 release in the US and Canada, and a June release in the UK.