No gain without pain

…So they say although I worry that the pain often outweighs the gain. Yes, I am back in Mexico. And Jaime is on strict diet and trying to visit the gym every day. And so I immediately felt the pressure to get my heartbeat racing again. I lurched back into my exercise routine after many weeks of doing little in the way of physical activity. I sometimes wonder if there might be a more dignified way of shedding those additional pounds than running red-faced around a tennis court, playing with someone half your age and triple your agility… This was followed by an eye-watering masaje reductivo by my old friend Erica. When I complained of the pain, I was told it would get easier the more often my fat bits were pummelled. I have to admit, I have not yet found this to be the case.

The lifestyle I lead here, so different from that in the UK, seems right for me at this time: I need to get fit again and knuckle down to some serious writing. The sheer range of what I can do - tennis, yoga and Pilates are my personal choice - for just a fraction of what it would cost me in the UK helps with the motivational side of things (in fact I sometimes feel like a small child let loose in a sweet shop).  Best of all, I have found that exercise and creativity complement each other rather well.

This country does wonders for my written productivity. In May 2009 the Economist ran a short piece about how living abroad gives you a creative edge.  Apparently two psychologists ran a series of tests that proved that there is a statistical relationship between living abroad and creativity. So it is now official. I guess it has a lot to do with having to think imaginatively when you are in unfamiliar surroundings. But more importantly, here you have to be on your toes at all times. The levels of danger range from falling down one of the many pot holes in Mexico city’s uneven streets to being the victim of an armed kidnap.

I was distressed today to find a dead dog on the sidewalk. It looked as though it was merely resting in the heat and the dust. But as I stepped closer I saw a small pool of blood around its mouth. It had evidently been knocked down by a car. I found this pitiful bundle of fur so profoundly sad and shocking; it has strengthened my resolve to volunteer with one of the animal charities that are, sadly, so thin on the ground in Mexico. It also reinforces what a land of extremes this is. So much to praise and delight in; but equally too much to despair of and weep for.

My wonderful discovery since being back is mamey ointment – from the mamey sapote. The tropical fruit not only tastes delicious (somewhere between an avocado and a date) but its oil appears to be a miracle face moisturiser – reducing all signs of blotchiness and jet lag within minutes of application. Apparently it is also good for curling the hair. I was rather alarmed, however, to read that the mamey seed is toxic, and that “extracts are used in a variety of applications, including as an insecticide”.

I will keep you posted.