“October is the best time to go to Mexico,” he says, holding the car door open for me. I still have to get used to the gallantry of this Russian culture. Doors are opened, and bags and suitcases are carried. Even if I want to carry my suitcase, I’m being told off by the Russian Mother; ‘You are a woman first, then Dutch, never carry your suitcase! I nod and make a mental note.

Together with my friend’s daughter and mother, we leave for Mexico for a few days. It promises to be a special trip. It is a mix of American, Russian, Dutch, and Mexican cultures in one car. My head is spinning hearing all the different languages.

The Mexican landscape is not much different from desert-like Arizona. Cacti and mountains. The villages we drive through look dusty and impoverished. I quietly look out the window at the half-finished houses, the poverty, and the will of these people to make something of it. Softly I count my blessings. I realize again that I have been so lucky in my life. Yes, I came from rock bottom where everything was taken from me but I was able to build a life again for myself and my children.

“Shall we go swimming right away?” a small voice squeaks next to me. I stare into a pair of hopeful brown eyes. “I have three bikinis with me.” She continues without waiting for an answer. A pink one, my favorite. A rainbow bikini and one with ice cream on it.’ I smile and nod. That’s a lot of bikinis for a week’s vacation. “Mum says you should always take at least three different bikinis on holiday,” she explains. Again, I make a mental note. “Always pack three bikinis when traveling with a Russian family.” Noted!

After two hours of driving, we arrive at the resort. After we check in and open the door of our apartment, a breathtaking view appears. Wow! Just wow. With the blue sea, green palm trees, and setting sun, the picture looks romantic.

I want to take it all in but there is no time for that. From the moment we arrived, we have to cook and eat. A lot! In the morning a dish of duck and rice is served, in the afternoon dumplings and in the evening there is kebab. Every day more and more food seems to be added. Saying no is not an option so the food flow keeps coming. I wasn’t a big eater in the first place and certainly not cooked food for breakfast or lunch, but I struggle, as best I can, through the food, not wanting to be disrespectful.

Until I notice that the whole concept of food is getting too much. I am stuffed. I don’t want to eat anymore. I’m starting to have an aversion to food. Just the word “food” gives me an allergic reaction. I want to decide for myself what I eat and when. It is too much.

On the last day of our holiday, we drive to a village near the resort. As we walk past the small shops, the vendors try to sell their products. We are dragged into stores, products are shown and even pressed into your hands. It’s too much. Being pressured to buy something. Again, I get an aversion to everything and I leave without having bought anything. It is too much!

When we drive back to Phoenix not much later, I finally have some time to update my emails, update my social media and do some work. As soon as I open my Social Media, messages come in from entrepreneurs who either want to sell me something or want to take over projects from me. It’s not my way of doing business. I thank them kindly and click away the messages. But it doesn’t stop there. They try so hard to convince me that it irritates me, just like with the food and sales techniques in Mexico. It is too much.

I don’t believe in aggressive sales techniques. Do you want more information? Then I would be happy to answer all your questions. 

After a few hours of driving, we are back in Phoenix. My son sends a text message: “Do you have time to call?” I breathe a sigh of relief. “OMG yes!” I type back. I am so ready talking Dutch again. We video-chatted for an hour. I feel my brain breathe a sigh of relief at the recognition of my language and culture. Until I hear a voice from the kitchen calling that dinner is ready. I sigh. I smile. I chuckle. Back to the battlefield of food!

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