You would think that after four years I would at least start to "get it". The flow of life in Mexico is very different than in Upstate New York, of course. I have no grand illusions of changing the way things work here just to suit my standards. I have made many adjustments and concessions to my normal and customary ways of doing things. I have learned to be patient. I have learned that only I find value in my time. What I haven't learned is how the heck everyone seems to always know the proper protocol for things and I don't. Our recent outing to an evening of Mexican professional wrestling, Lucha Libre, really drove this point home for me. Our evening of Lucha Libre was a last minute affair "organized" by friends and fellow ex-pats John and Libby. While, the last minute notice made it easy to blow off, I know that this opportunity only comes around once a year, and what the heck, my kids would really get a kick out of it.

So, first thing Thursday morning, off I go to Walmart to buy our tickets at the Tourist Information Center. Walmart is open and bustling. Tourist Information Center...closed. Damn it. I buy $247 pesos worth of things I don't really need and return home without tickets. When the kids and I finally returned to purchase our tickets, the circus that I have now come to expect ensued. I ask for two adult tickets for Connor and myself and two children's tickets, for Birdie and Cole. When I tell him the ages of my children, the friendly ticket vendor informs me that there is no charge for Cole. Yippee!. More money for craptabulous stadium food. I hand over the $460 pesos and he hands me two tickets, one adult and one child. Hmmm. Although I am in Mexico, the place where scams were invented, this appears to me to be an honest mistake...perhaps a miscommunication. I reiterate that I need two adult tickets and one child. He takes the tickets back from me and hands me, again, two tickets, this time two adults. Deep breath. I politely remind him that I still need a ticket for Birdie to which he replies " We don't have them." Grrrrr. Calmly, I remind him that he had just handed me a child's ticket a moment ago. "But if you go to the stadium, maybe they don't charge you for her." was his reply. Fast forward through five more minutes of me convincing him that I was happy to pay for my daughter's ticket and that I would rather do it here than risk waiting in a long line at the stadium. (Insert smiley with steam blowing out of its ears here) We dash out of Walmart, clutching our tickets, quickly find a cab on 30th and off we go to the stadium in the ejido. Despite the ticketing debacle, I am still on time to meet Libby and John at 7:00pm, a full half hour before the big event is scheduled to begin. Perfect, this is going off without a hitch!

On arrival, the cab pulls up in front of the stadium. Two long lines have already formed, leading to the ground level entrances. We head for the closer of the two and claim our spot. John and Libby arrive shortly thereafter and join us. Now, we all know that nothing ever starts on time in Mexico and we are prepared to wait. What we are not prepared for is the lack of bathroom facilities anywhere. After about an hour, Cole finds some nice bushes to relieve himself in while the rest of us wait, legs crossed. Another new source of concern is now hunger. John and Libby, having previously attended a Mexican baseball game, told us to bring our appetites and enjoy all the great stadium food that would surely be in ready supply. As a family, we too have been to dozens of soccer games, each one packed with vendors selling chips, fresh fruit, sausages and beverages. So far, we had seen just one vendor selling "chicharrones" with salsa picante. Surely, there would be others inside. The lines on either side are growing as more and more people arrive. We amuse/distract ourselves taking pictures and taking turns wandering about, checking out all the crazy wrestling swag.

Finally, at about 8:30, the line starts to move. We progress at a snail's pace toward the entrance and, hopefully, the restroom facilities inside. Tickets in hand we approach the door staff who take our tickets, smile and hand them back. Apparently we are in the wrong line. There, taped to the door is a small sheet of paper with the words "Ringside Access" written on them. Having decided not to get too close to the action our first time out, we had all purchased regular stadium seating, the line for which now stretched outside of the grounds and around the block. Grrrr. Embarrassed, unhappy but undaunted, we walked to the back of that line. This is how I know that I will never really assimilate in my new home country. How is it that we are the only people, out of the 800 plus in attendance who did not know whch line to be in?!?! Did each and every one of them walk up to each door to check which line to get in? I think not. Somehow, they all just instinctively know and I do not and never will. So be it.

Pretty sunset over the line we are supposed to be in.

Mercifully, this line progresses very quickly and soon we are entering the arena. Most of the seats close to the only point of entry are taken so we pick our way through the crowd to the other side of the stadium and claim our spots. By now, we are all doing the potty dance and looking for the nearest bathroom. There are none to be seen. We look for the vendors who we were so sure would be hawking delicious snacks and goodies. There are none to be seen. What we do see are four Sol beer coolers, set up in a corner, that are just now being stocked with beer and ice. Did I mention, it is now 9:00 pm? Libby, frustrated and starting to fade, takes it upon herself to leave and go across the street to a tiendita to purchase some snacks and sodas. She was, of course, stopped at the entrance and told that she could not bring anything inside. She manages to convince them to let her sneak in a few bags of chips, but the beverages were a no go. Super. After a bit of asking and searching, we do locate the restroom which (and we should have predicted this) has not a single scrap of toilet paper or paper towel anywhere. This time it was my turn at the tiendita purchasing a single roll of toilet paper for our now slightly jaundiced troupe. Thankfully, security saw nothing sinister about my purchase and allowed me to enter. Beer sales had commenced and Libby was able to snap several of the sodas available for the kiddos. Finally, bladders emptied and thirsts quenched, we all settled in and the match began.

Eventually, a couple of vendors did come around with the ubiquitous "chicharrones" and hot sauce. We also dined on slices of mango and beer. Not exactly the stadium food extravaganza we were hoping for but at 10:00 at night, we were in no position to be picky. To say that this event was "low budget" would be kind. No colored lights, no strobes no fog machines. They did, for reasons unknown, project real time video of the match onto a wall at the end of the room. Of course, the arena lights were all on as well, rendering their efforts useless and ridiculous.

A multi-media extravaganza!

Throughout the evening, there were four matches, three men's and one women's which I think turned out to be my favorite. All of the boughts pit good against evil in a formulaic program of events, typical to all professional wrestling. Bad guys womp on the good guys. Good guys pick themselves up and womp on the bad guys. Bad guys pull out the bag of dirty tricks to get over on the good guys. The ref gets tossed around a bit. Time is spent on the stadium floor and in the audience. Chairs are thrown. Mock injuries result. Representatives from the Red Cross treat said "injuries". Offending spectators are reprimanded and cuffed by security only to be released back into the general population to enjoy the rest of the match. Good, ultimately triumphs over evil. All in all, an evening full of good fun, very similar, I'm sure, to professional wrestling in the United States with the added mystery of masks!. Of course, I would never attend such an event in the US. In the US, it's déclassé and trashy. In Mexico, it's a cultural event not to be missed. Yes. I see the irony. Move on.

My future blogger at work getting the shot! Don't worry Grandma. This was during intermission.

So thank you, Libby and John, for a fabulous evening of drama and culture. Our lives have been truly enriched by this uniquely Mexican experience. Either that or I have killed off a couple hundred more brain cells. Oddly enough, I was unable to convince my children's teachers that an evening of such significance justified their absences the following day. Clearly, I will miss out on that "Mother of the Year" award I was deep in the running for. My kids were delighted so I think it was worth it.  Next year, I'm sure we'll all know what line to get in.

For more pictures of our evening, check out our album HERE!