Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Having my camera stolen in Chiapas sure took the fun out of blogging my Mexican adventures. A few months later, I am back under Old Glory, but still eating tacos and sippin on horchata now and again here in Austin TX. I feel I need to wrap up this American Mexican narrative in a whirlwind summary.

I worked in the emergency room at the Cruz Verde Zapopan Sur, where I learned more medical Spanish, saw lots of gnarly mishaps including a woman who nearly lost her arm to a tortilla-making machine, and learned how to suture on a 6 year old boy's finger. Most importantly, I am just a little more familiar with the differences between Mexican and US health care systems and I appreciate that knowledge immensely.

Semana Santa was not as cool as I expected. Guadalajara was dead, all of my friends went to the beach, but my sister came to Guadalajara to see me. She ditched me a lot to hang out with a dude she met. He was pretty cool though and I learned more slang from him. They still see eachother, so I'm ok that she didn't go the sisters before misters route.

Brauolio still kept trying to hang. I don't admire the perserverence.

I completed my reto- I read all of Octavio Paz's El Labarinto de la Soledad in Spanish AND wrote a comparative essay on Paz's attitude of Mexican identity growth to Erik Erickson's theory of Developmental Psychology all in Spanish and got an A on the paper.

I decided to move to Texas, as it was once Mexico and there is still plenty of evidence of that I must say (tacos de tripa are all up in this mug!). Austin is a place that before I never thought about moving to, but it has so far worked out nicely. The people are super friendly, there is plenty to do, and I get to use Spanish almost daily at my job as a RN at South Austin Medical Center.

Estoy bieeennn satisfecha con mis adventuras! I still feel like I am having one even though I am back on the tierra madre.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Municipal Waste in Guadalajara

I came, I saw, I thrashed.

The show was a lot like any Waste show in RIC, I felt at home. The differences: patrolmen with big guns making sure everyone was rocking in a safe and controlled manner(a norm at any big social event in Mexico), lots of young men not ashamed to be "that guy" wearing the Waste shirt/hat/both during the show, and that the crowd swarmed the boys every time they left the backstage area. Like true rockstars. Ryan, in particular, was eating it up, as he should. When I left the area once, I was asked to join in a fan photo, because I am friends with the Waste. Nice coattail ride! Pretty comical.

One crappy thing did happen. This guy groped my tits and ass in the "pit". I instinctively took his titty-grabbing hand in mine and bit him. Didn't draw blood, but was stoked that it was my initial, and appropriate, action. Dudes gonna treat me like an animal, I'm gonna bite him like one. He left me alone after that. The friends I came with were REALLY pissed when I told them about it and wanted to fight the perve after the show, but the men with guns were still hanging out post-show and I didn't need my friends going to Mexican jail over that jackass. I convinced them that the guy probably learned his lesson, mess with the best get bitten like the rest.

Next week, enter Talia and Curtis. I love playing the gringa hostess in Mexico!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Its Michelada Time!

The loss of my camera (among other things) has lately made me lazy when it comes to my American Mexican blog. Thankfully, my sister is addicted to FaceBook and her iPhone, and recently posted about Micheladas and their contents. So I have this little tidbit for the interweb, a necessity for any blog about traveling in this lovely country. A recipe for deliciousness... It is truly a meal in a beer. !Provecho!

Mary Claire ♥ the brown michelada. beer with worcestershire, soy sauce, and lime juice. ¡genial!
Yesterday at 10:05pm · Comment · LikeUnlike
2 people like this.

Mary Claire
can also contain tomato juice and chili if you please

Oooooh, that actually sounds kinda good! :)
Yesterday at 10:14pm

Yea, I know a good place in Guadalajara. Twill be a happy Easter indeed...
Yesterday at 10:21pm ·

+ chili = yes!
Yesterday at 10:37pm

i learned the michelada while on a study abroad to morelia, and then re-learned it on a vacation... i make them here at home and always get weird looks. waiters/waitresses tend to look at you funny when you request soy and salt with your beer. but, there's no denying the deliciousness!
Yesterday at 11:15pm

what's the ratio? just a splash of each? any kind of beer? i'm intrigued...
7 hours ago

Mary Claire
just mexican beer, haha. dark (like negra modelo) or light works. i start with a tall glass, and if you can find it it's nice to rim with chili salt. squeeze into the glass maybe 1/4-1/2" of lime juice (1/2 a normal lime), then i add several jigs of worcestershire (1-2 tbs i guess) and dash of soy. tomato juice to taste, a splash, then add the beer... See More. i have lately been excluding the tomato and going heavy on the worcestershire.

salty beer is so good. even if i'm not making a michelada, i still sometimes like to add salt & lime to my beer.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I lost my passport, cash, credit cards, cell phone, keys, and camera just hours before I was to board a plane headed back to Guadalajara for class to begin (tomorrow). Not a pleasant thing to write about, but important to my trip. Now I have the inconvenience of getting a new passport and credit cards in a foreign country. It sucks.
I just got to D.F. thanks to a bus ticket lent to me from my sister. I am VERY fortunate she is here (MC shout out!!!). I rode all night from San C. to here and now I am sick from the ride: it was cold, I was stressed, we got stopped and searched by the federales (police) twice in the middle of my slumber, and I was sleeping sitting down. The worst part of it all, I am wondering if this is a bright, neon-flashing sign from the Universe telling me I should not go back to Guadalajara. My debate of going back or going to Oaxaca is driving myself (and the friends I have been talking to about this) crazy.
Up side. There is always an upside. The friends I made in San C took amazing care of me. My traveling clown buddy gave me lots of hugs and support. My two lovely U.K. ladies kept me giggling and nourished. The owner of oPosada Mexic took me to the police station to file a report and said I could stay at her wonderful place as long as I needed. She even offered to give me some money until I could pay her back. I love how there can be a loving community anywhere you are willing to make one. I am so happy as well as thankful to have witnessed it once again.
Tambien, si hubiera salido en el día había planado por Guadalajara, no habría conocido lo mas hermoso hombre en México....ahhhh Beto... que lastima no nos pasamos más tiempo juntos...
We will see what happens next. My sore throat is saying no to D.F., capital of esmog, my tarot reading says GDL is the most comfortable option (and Talia, Curtis, AND MUNICIPAL WASTE are coming there in March!!!!), but something is nagging me not to ignore Oaxaca's potential.

Tengo suerte a pesar de la situación con mis cosas materiales.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I went to the Eastern part of Chiapas to see the Maya rainforest ruins of Palenque the other day. I was beautiful. Probably my favorite of all of the pre-Hispanic city ruins in Mexico.
The day started out annoying. I stayed in this jungle collective of restaurants and cabana huts near the entrance to the ruins (El Panchan). I wanted to fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the jungle frogs and birds. I was even okay with hearing monkeys in the night, but the hippie bongos til 3 am were intolerable. I barely slept despite my exhaustion from the 5 hour winding bus ride from San Cristobal de las Casas that day. I woke up at 5:30, then 5:35, then 5:40... dang German dudes kept hitting "snooze" on their cell phone alarm and when they finally turned it off they were not concerned at all about waking up the rest of us in the shared dorm room with their conversations.
It was pouring rain all night and continued into the morning. I had already paid a man in town to pick me up and take me to the ruins and some water falls before returning to San Cristobal, so I was locked in to going out in the torrent at 8am. I managed to buy a large trash bag off of one of the restaurants (DIEZ pesos! for a BAG) and stuck my head and arms through holes I made. Panchoed up, I was ready to go. I lost my bad attitude because at that point, it was just funny to me.

The rain eventually turned into an eerie mist after a half hour of being in the ancient city. It definitely heightened my experience. The clouds and the thick of the jungle surrounding the sight meshed together seamlessly. It was a truly amazing sight. I was able to climb around the steps and the insides of most of the buildings there. Being INSIDE a B.C. Mayan palace was intense. The energy was almost palpable. Que suerte yo tengo...

There are still some baas reliefs intact on some of the buildings which depict decapitations, skulls, and rulers ascents to the throne. Loved it. Architects found a lot of amazing art work around the site and some of it is on display in a small museum near the site. Despite the size, the content is worth the visit. A couple of things I read in the museum struck me. First, archeologists think that the city was abandoned because the tribe over-exerted the natural resources of the surrounding area. Secondly, only the ruling class (dynasty, priests, specialized artisans) were able to read and write the glyphs and the agrarian workers had to not only pay the upper class taxes for being in communication with the Gods, but they had to maintain themselves with virtually no support from their rulers. Different epoch, same shit...

The falls of Misol Ha were gorgeous. Lush surroundings, the most pleasing noises, and a neat cavern to enter to see another cascade inside the cliff. It was still grey and drizzling out, so I didn't swim, but I could have. I didn't want to be shivering en route. It was nice to sit under the falls and next to more and absorb it all. Agua Azul is yet another rapids/cascade around the area. It gets its name because the water there is almost swimming-pool-turquoise. I think it gets its color from algae or something. It was also beautiful. I followed the cascades upstream for a while barefooted. Squelching in the mud. A girl who could not have been more than 5 years old demanded pesos from me to "buy a pencil". I told her she needed to learn how to say please if she was going to ask strangers for favors. She never said it. I gave her an apple. She won.

So the whole experience was beautiful, but I wouldn't do it all again over 10 hours. I was BEAT by the end of it all. I recommend spending two days at a slower pace.

I heard something sad yesterday. The government wants to put in a more direct road from San C. to Palenque, and supposedly, they plan to do it without the consent of the people who live along the way (Agua Azul is another Zapatista territory). They also want to build more resort-like buildings in the area to encourage increased tourism. It will be a shame when these things become more like Chichen-Itza (Elton John is scheduled to preform in front of the temple dedicated to Quetzalcoatl this Spring... cringe. Sacrilege)

Monday, February 8, 2010


I had an incredible experience today. I went to Caracol de Resistencia y Rebeldia por la Humanidad, one of the five headquarters for the Juntas de Buen Gobierno, the leaders of the neo-Zapatista movement in Chiapas. The caracoles (compounds...literal translation is snail or observatory) house alternative schools, clinics, pharmacies, artisan workshops, and land for agriculture (they grow delicious, organic coffee.) They exist to promote the continuation of indigenous culture, language (Tzotzil and Tzeltal are spoken here more than Spanish), and tradition, and additionally, to support the poor who have been removed from ownership of their native lands. They wish to have a government autonomous from the Mexican government, as well as from any other government who bases its economy and socialization on capitalism.

I was pretty intimidated when I arrived. I came with two friends from Argentina and France, and their Spanish-speaking abilities helped me feel better. I was too nervous to talk much at first. They checked out our passports and asked us why were were there, what professions we held, and if we were aligned with any particular political organizations. They were welcoming, but very bureaucratic and all wearing ski masks... My friend explained to me, the masks are not just to hide the identities of the rebels, but also to make race and gender irrelevant. Despite this knowledge, I was on edge (and kept me from communicating with much fluidity in Spanish).

The leaders talked to us for almost an hour, answering some of our questions about their philosophies, alliances, and organization, but were somewhat secretive and responded with very general answers at times. I appreciate the amount of time they spent with us however.

They allowed us to wander around the Caracol. We were permitted to take photos of the place as long as no one's face was revealed or license plates were seen in the photos. We had to carry a permission slip with us everywhere we went and even had to present it a few times.

Seeing the school was great. About 150 students attend the secondary (middle-high) school and the professor teaches them together even though they vary in age from 13 to 18 years old. They were just getting out of class when we made our way over to the school. I was impressed with the attendance numbers since no one actually lives in the compound all year long and it is pretty well off the well traveled routes of Chiapas. The people living in the surrounding areas seem to have a lot of faith in this way of living. I am very much impressed with their level of organization despite being unsupported or recognized by the official Mexican government. They are giving people, otherwise ignored, a voice and an alternative means to educate themselves and I respect that immensely.

We saw the clinic as well. They use modern western medicine combined with Maya herbal medicine. They get most of their pharmaceuticals donated to them from various sympathetic organizations. I was told quite a lot of the donors are from outside of Mexico. They had a dentist working on someone when we visited the clinic, as well as rooms for gynecology, optometry, emergencies, and sick beds for 8 people. The man telling us about the place said there is rarely a day when none of these beds are occupied. There are no resident doctors or nurses in their clinic. They host visitors a few times a year, but other than that, laypeople organize the distribution of medicines and treatments as well as host health workshops a few times a month. I would not mind at all coming back with a team of health care workers to treat some of the illness in the people who seek treatment there. It would be nice to exchange my work for a few lessons in herbal medicine. The herbal pharmacy was my favorite part of the trip. It smelled amazing. I wish we could have had more time to talk with the workers there about their individual contributions to the cause and their skill set. However, the people populating the caracol did not volunteer information very often and seemed pretty removed from our presence in their space.

I just had a rare opportunity to touch an alternative means of civilization outside of what I know. I feel honored. I am curious to learn more.

Friday, February 5, 2010

El Museo de Medicina Maya

So happy this place exists!

Explanation of the five types of Mayan Healers: midwives, pulse-readers, bone healers, herbologists, and prayer healers. A garden with medicinal shrubs, flowers, roots, and trees. On-site "pharmacy" to make plant tinctures. A 10 minute video of the practices of Mayan birth techniques. See for yourself. Pfizer isn't everything... This is the original Western medicine.

*If you know basic Spanish, click on the photo to enlarge and read this sign. Well said.