Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Malinalco


Christmas eve day agenda: We visited the ancient Mexica tribe’s El Cuacalli, the Fortress of the Ocelot and Eagle Warriors, carved into the top of a mountain in Malinalco, Estado de Mexico. It was pristine. You could still see the eagle carvings on the wall of the war room. After this, we went to the outdoor market and I bought cactus, mandarins, and pan borrachero (drunk bread) for Christmas lunch tomorrow. I drank a lima-lime smoothie in an Indian-Mexican cafe while I shuffled through a deck of tarot cards. Our waiter wore a robe and may have possibly been the person responsible for the excellent feng shui we enjoyed in the tea room.


I am currently sleeping in this beautiful town named after the Aztec Goddess of magic (it is indeed magic!) and the house is beautiful and the weather is gorgeous. It is known for having great trucha, trout, and there is a whole section of town that is nothing but restaurants serving up fresh trucha al gusto next to the stream. I could be happy living here if I had a longer attention span. We rented a 3 bedroom house in town. This is the view from my room (the rest of the house is equally beautiful):



I am reading a book I found in this house which is supposedly the verbal translation of demon possessions (in demon code) of an ex-Spanish conquistador, Juan Antonio Llorente. It is Called Los Demonos de la Lengua and it is taking me forever to read because it is in Spanish with all this new religious and colonial vocabulary and there is a lot of background story I had to wiki in order to appreciate its spookiness(The Black Legend of Spain and the introduction of Catholicism to the native peoples of Mexico). It is really good for expanding my grasp of the language, but it also took me 6 hours to read 35 pages. I have been reading it while soaking in the bathtub the last two evenings, and I have enjoyed it despite all the work.

Yesterday, while I was in the tub, I heard a horse whinny and gallop by. That and the roosters crowing at all hours of the day is so great. We need to get MC to a cock fight some time soon.

Right now, the people of Malinalco are setting of very loud firecrackers every 10 minutes which are amplified by the huge mountains surrounding us from every side. This happened last night until I went to sleep around 1 am. Mexicans love to party and they love to celebrate their baby Jesus. I love Mexicans. And their fireworks.

We had an excellent Noche Bueno dinner of rare prime rib, potato wedges, zalbutes, tacos del conchonito (Yucatan cuisine I have been told), lemon mousse, Spanish wine and mandarin margaritas at Hotel Ámel. If I ever come back here and I can't rent the place I am currently staying in, I will certainly stay there. Swanky. My normally sober parents and us normally drunk hermanas killed two bottles of wine in addition to our Christmas margaritas over dinner. Mary Claire started driving off with my mom halfway in the car, halfway in the street. She could have been seriously injured but she wasn't and we were drunk, so we just thought it was really funny. I am chuckling (or as my spanish dictionary defines it, sonreirse tontamente) right now thinking about it.

Tomorrow we are going to Chalma, near Malinalco, to see this pilgrimage of people coming to see the cave in which a black Christ idol miraculously appeared over night. This is the second most popular Mexican pilgrimage spot after the Basilica de Guadalupe in D.F. according to wikipedia. Originally, the caves that house Black Jesus belonged to the Nahualt Goddess of trash and filth (Tlazatcotl) and God of human destiny and night (Oxtoteot). Wow. Talk about the Christmas Spirit. This year my secular ass is going ALL OUT!

Teotihuacan

What Mexican adventure isn't complete without a trip to the "Birthplace of the Gods"? My family and I went to Teotihuacan, which is located just outside of D.F.. I got my exercise in for the day fo sho.

video

This city was founded by at least as early as 200 B.C. and was at one time the largest urban area in Central America. Evidence also suggests that it was a multi-ethnic city made up of Mayans, Zapotecas, Mixtecas, and Nahuatl. It was abandoned at one point for unknown reasons, but it was later occupied by the Aztecs. There are three pyramids; of the Moon, the Sun, and the most bad-assed of them all (though the smallest), the Pyramid of Quetzaquoatl. The latter pyramid was dedicated to their feathered serpent God. It was the most elaborately decorated pyramid with snake heads and such, though I was told at one point all of the pyramids were elaborately painted back in the day. Human sacrifices were found all OVER the place too. The museum on site indicated that the Teotihuacanos considered life on this earth to be just one of many phases, so fuggiddaboudit, no biggie if the priest says he needs some more human blood to repaint Quetz's house, there were plenty of people hanging around to help.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nacos and Fresas



So, I am certainly no expert in popular culture here in México, but one of my teachers at the University of Guadalajara sparked my interest in the terms Fresa versus Naco. I think we started talking about it because we were comparing the Private-Catholic-Conservative University I went to last month, to its rival, the Public-Secular-Liberal University in which I am currently enrolled. I guess the best way to categorize this social novelty is to call it a class war. But it is a convoluted one, according to Profesora Mercedes, because not many Mexicans seem to want to admit to which side they're on, Naco or Fresa, and both ends of the spectrum at times secretly admire what the other one has... Maybe if you've ever read Dr. Seuss' The Star Bellied Sneeches, you may be able to get a better idea of what I am trying to say...




....This is according to my teacher, and is roughly translated...

I found this weird, poorly-written article from the Guadalajara Reporter, an Ex-patriate rag here. This is how they compared the two. I will explain the references after...

......
1. Fresas shop in Plaza Galerias whereas nacos can be found in San Juan de Dios.
2. Nacos listen to music such as Norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, compared to North American fresa-influenced groups such as Nikki Clan and Rebelde.
3. Fresa central is any of the city's upmarket malls or nightclubs, where a designer bag and accompanying flip phone are essential attire. For nacos, the working class popular neighborhood of Oblatos is the capital.
4. Whereas pictures of a fresas wedding dress might make their way into society magazines such as the Gente Bien section of El Informador, a naca could well walk down the aisle or celebrate her quinceañera (15th birthday) wearing a red-and-white Chivas inspired dress.

....
So, number one, The Plaza Galerias they're talking about make me feel like I am back in the United States when I go there. They got it all- Haagen Das, Applebees, Diesel, Guess, overpriced sweat-shop apparel... I wouldn't be surprised if I found a Dippin Dots or DDR next time I go to one of those malls. San Juan de Dios, on the other hand, is this place with hundreds of different make-shift stands hawking even cheaper sweat-shop (locally owned sweat shops?) stuff. Like, I would be more likely to find Geudri a baja there, get my bootleg designer sunglasses fix, pick up some teal Mexican vaquero boots, and grab a soggy taco del pastor (mmmmm...) that possibly is also the cozy home to thousands of parasitic amoebas. So, in short, Macys NYC compared to Bargain Barn New Jersey.
Two is easy. "Naco music" has accordions and cowboy calls in it. "Fresa music" has synthesizers and scantily clad hipsters in the music videos. Next.
I have never been to Oblatos, or even heard of it. I'm a foreigner. I usually only go where my guide book or friends tell me to go. Can't help here.
Last, Chivas is the name of the fútbol team here. The fans are obsessed. I thought ALL Mexicans loved soccer, but maybe the Fresas just stay home to watch the game? I don't know. I heard somewhere that the Chivas are the only team in México that is exculsively Mexican. No one plays on their team from outside the country. This fact solidifies my dedication to this team, and may make me a little naquita myself, if it is possible for foreigners to be a part of this social sect.

The article has another little nugget of "wisdom" for the curious
....

One internet jokes site lists a series of differences:

* A fresa with crutches has a sprained leg / A naco with crutches is about to hit someone
* A fresa in fancy dress is going to a fancy dress party / A naco in fancy dress is drunk
* A fresa with a NoteBook laptop is an intellectual / A naco with a NoteBook is a roaming streetseller

....

Genius right?

This isn't necessarily about money either. According to my prof, it is a question of rejection vs acceptance of a Méxican's European and Native roots. A cultural identity crisis.

All of the Naco Fresa talk made me bring up this Mexican-made movie I recently saw, Rudo y Cursi. Its a movie about two brothers from the podunks (Nacos), who get discovered by a talent agent for having amazing soccer skills. They get exported from the countryside of one of the poorest states in Mexico (Vera Cruz) to Distrito Federal, better known to outsiders as Mexico City. There the Naco brothers develop Fresa problems like horrible hair dye jobs, girlfriends who look like barbie dolls, and fierce cocaine/gambling addictions. Gael Garcia Bernal's character makes a music video after he becomes a rich and famous futból player. The video is, to me, the perfect depiction of the clash of identities. Ranchero music mixed with cheerleaders in satin suits! It makes me crack up laughing every time I see it! Oh, and yes, this is a Spanish cover of the ever-famous Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me". This version was a huge hit on the airwaves in México when the movie first came out.

A side note, Profesora Mercedes also noted that in real life, Gael is a Fresa (he is from Guadalajara). His parents were moderately famous artists of some sort (theater I think...). However, he both embraces his Fresa-ness (lives in London, dated Natalie Portman, ect) and rejects it (doesn't wash or cut his hair frequently, wears holy jeans to Fresa weddings, ect). This part of the discussion is what reminded me of the Star Bellied Sneeches (or maybe Los Hijos de la Malinche if you've ever read Octavio Paz).


Whats better? I don't know, probably distancing myself from any one cultural die-hard is best. Do I make much sense explaining something I know very little about? Probably not. Its interesting though.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Los Raperos de Guadalajara


Went to a skateshop yesterday and saw a bunch of teeny boppers participating in a batalla free-style rap. Thats Spanish for free-style rap battle. Some of those kids could really flow. However, my knowledge of Mexican slang only goes but so far and the sound system was pretty close to awful, so I didn't catch but every 50th word or so. It was still good to see. I got a private spit-sesh outside the shop when I told one of the losers that to me, he won, because he was "más fluido". The shop itself was really cool. It had a bunch of skate ramps in the back of the store in a room about the size of a basketball court. They held the Batalla in that room. I wish I had brought my camera.
The rest of my night was nice, but nothing notable happened. I was really tired. I DID pull out my one break-dance move (six step) on the dance floor of this really posh club when they played that new Pit Bull jam. And I got to ride in the back of a truck with the ladies.
Today I saw a movie, Gomorra. Italian "hood" movie about corruption. I'm really tired now. It was over two hours long and subtitled in Spanish. It took a lot out of me to understand the dialogues. I liked the director a lot and the story lines were pretty decent. Lots of blood. Every time a gun went off I jumped. There is this great scene where these two adolecent boys are shooting off barettas and oozies at a lake in their tightie whities. Later on in the movie, their dead bodies end up getting dumptrucked into the ocean. I place this spoiler in here because if you ever actually see this movie, by the end of it you will think that they are so obnoxious that you will totally see it coming anyway. I would recommend seeing it only if you're sitting down some place comfortable.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Uhhhh...

So I was looking up youtube videos in español about prenatal care to use as a visual for my medical Spanish presentation on Premature Labor. I stumbled upon this anti-abortion rap and decided I needed to share it with my friends.

Warning, this is pretty graphic and disturbing. I am trying to look at it through a cultural lens. Abortion is illegal in almost every case in México. I'm pretty sure that the birthplace-of-birth-control (that would be México, ya'll) only performs elected abortions in cases of rape and when the mother's life is in danger.

I'll just say this one more time. Whoah.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Amigas with Amoebas



I have two stories about healthcare, and Krystel is the subject of both of them....pobrecita!

The first story begins at el Estadio Jalisco, where my friends and I got wasted at a Chivas VS Cruz Azul soccer game 2 weeks ago. While Moni watched me try to make small talk to a toungless street child, Krystel and Daphne bought and ate the famous Guadalajara tortas ahogadas from a sketchy street vendor next to the stadium (very bad idea). Days after, they both presented with similar symptoms; stomach cramping, bloating, constant fullness, nausea with food consumption, fatigue, diarrhea... Daphne got diagnosed a week later by a sweet physician who works at our clinic. She had amebiasis, a parasitic gastrointestinal infection common in developing countries, from the sketch tortas stand. He diagnosed her for free, but even if she had been a regular patiente, the consult would have only cost her 100 pesos, less than $10. She took anti-parasytic meds, also very cheap, for two days and she is completely fine. Krystal, on the other hand has had to endure much more; The ugly inefficient side of Mexican Health Care System.

So, most likely, no OBVIOUSLY, this girl also has amebiasis. Her hospital appointment (she doesn't work with us at our clinic) was at 4:30 and the doctor did not show until 5:30. She told him her symptoms and about her roomie who shared the bunk torta with her was being successfully treated for amebiasis. The "doctor" poked her liver, which was enlarged and painful, referred her to a lab for bloodwork yesterday, and did not diagnose her or prescribe her the anti-parasytics. Strike one. 400 pesos (a little less than $40)


Yesterday, she got bloodwork. The doc forgot to tell her she needed to fast prior to the blood work so she had to go home and fast for 8 hours. Waste of her time, strike two. A complete blood count, no liver function tests, were taken from her when she actually got her tests done. Strike three, she has an enlarged and tender liver and they didn't check to see if it was damaged, easily done with a blood analysis. The only unusual thing they actually did find was increased leukocytes (a type of white blood cells)....this is a clear sign of INFECTION in the body (still no amoeba diagnosis???). They then made her drink 2 liters of water to do a bladder scan and pelvic ultrasound. Even though she has NO symptoms of a urinary tract infection or crazy lady-part problems. WTF is up doc? He wasn't there to read the results. Strike FOUR, come one Krystel... Nurse Carrie is now SCREAMING second-opinion time! Today she has to call him. Each visit is costing her money. 400 more pesos. Bend over Krystel, the Doctor needs you to take it like a puta.

But what is worse? Being a patient in Mexico, or being a patient in the U.S.? She told me this other story about living back at home and bursting her eardrum (BTW one of the most agonizing, painful things you can go through...said from personal experience). It was during the summer, when she was an uninsured college student who had to wait for school to restart in the fall to be treated by the school physician. That, or pay an unknown and most likely ridiculous amount of money to be seen by yet another inefficient health care system. Because she decided she couldn't afford to have it treated and waited it out (what a tough girl!), she has severly reduced hearing in her right ear. She told me if she covers her left ear, everything sounds like it would if she were underwater through her right year. That will never improve on its own.

So it seems we have few options after hearing about Krystel's misfortunes. Waste our time in a slow, inefficient health care system, tough out our health problems even though this act may add to the severity of the problem, or pay over-inflated health care costs.

Am I a pessimist, or is health a privilege rather than a right? I hope things are starting to get on the right track back at home, but I won't be holding my breath.

PS- I make 5 times as much as a nurse in México. Thank you over-inflated health care costs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Love Capoiera

video
I don't know how to slow down this video. Hyperforce.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

El Mariachi

Whoah! So, I met this guy who plays violin in a mariachi band (he went with us to the strip club) and we were supposed to go out on a date Monday night, but that night he told me his father suddenly got sick and that we would have to postpone it. This was ok with me because I wasn't all that excited about going, though I'm always down to practice my Spanish, and he's pretty cute. He also calls me "preciosa", which is what I call small cute children and that is what the nurses call us gals in clinic. Not really something I want my date to call me. Soooooo anyway, Monday he asked my if I could go out Tuesday (yesterday) and I said I wasn't sure (posiblemente).

LAST NIGHT: Mariachi man called me SEVEN TIMES IN A ROW and never left a message. WTF? I ignored every call because it was weird. I got an email from him this morning. Story goes, he came to my house, knocked on the door, no one heard him, so he sat in his car and called me a million times. He told me he saw a man come out of the house and leave in his minivan, all jealous-like. I was OBVIOUSLY sleeping around with this guy, right? The man, it turns out, was Jesus. The 40 year old guy who owns the place I live in. I'm such a puta!

I told him, with an email reply, that I didn't like his tone and I thought it was weird that he called me so much and NEVER called me prior to stopping by the house. These guys can be so possessive here! I might be turning asexual in Mexico (again) after all. Damn. So much for dating Mariachi men...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On Becoming Mareada....



Yes, of course this weekend was fun! I went to the town of Tequila, Jalisco. And yes, this amazing town exists. The gals and I bought tickets to ride the "Tequila Express", a train ride that included all the tequila, beer, and NEW MIX (an amazing combination of soda and tequila in four saborosa flavors; Sangrita, Vampiro, Paloma Mango Picante, or Toronja Squirt!!!) we could hold down, snacks, a mariachi band all day long, lunch, a tour of the new and old Casa Herradura tequila factory, charros, baile folklorico, and a dance contest...OH MY!!! I think the best thing I saw was the cutest littlest charro boy really killin it with his tiny little lasso. A charrito I guess.



¡Tan effing precioso!

I love New Mix. I am going to come back home with a huge New Mix panza. Word on la terraza is you can buy a 2 liter of the stuff for only 40 pesos! Beats the hell out of Mad Dog!

It was great seeing how tequila pura is made, even better that we were sippin on 'quila and juice as we walked the tour. The lunch and show were excellent (well, Krystel has been barfing all day since, so I guess the lunch wasn't all that excellent. Sorry sista.). The mariachi band was on point. I got to hear Celito Lindo, which is the only Mariachi song I can sort of sing along to (and I did "sing" along to it). Best of all, minus a minor headache towards the end of the trip, I felt great the whole time! I mean, really great! Before we left I was worried one of us was surely getting alcohol poisoning....

...So we drank on the Express tour from 11am to 7:30pm. Then Monica and I went to Balibar where we continued the cocktail hour(s). We managed to break up a relationship while we were there! Goes like this; oldish dudes want to hang out with the guera girls (that would be us) because "they're bored". Mister Receeding Hairline in dire need of hair plugs (maybe possibly wearing hair plugs?) starts hitting on us a little after his really cool girlfriend shows up. Hairline asks me if I want to kiss him when I am asking him how to nicely blow off his girlfriend's brother who has been hounding me all night and keeping all the attractive men from dancing with me. Girlfriend sees Hairline skeezing on me and asks me whats up. I tell her exactly what happened and Moni confers the girlfriend's man is a puto. Moni and Girlfriend go talk to the cuter Venezuelan guys across the bar while I go dance with someone else and they ask GF who she came with. GF says she came with her brother and her EX NOVIA and scores the cutest one's phone number plus my email address, "So that me, Monica, and homegirl can go someplace cooler and pick up guys sometime soon." Ain't that some drama?! Love it. Although I can't remember her name, I hope we hang out with that chick again.

The guys we met were super cute. Super cute, and super young. The guy buying me drinks the rest of the night was 20. I am such a Cougar!

This morning I got up early to go to El Parque de la Revolución in the City Center. Someone from last weekend told me that every Sunday from 10-12 a bunch of people meet there to do Capoeira. So much fun! The maestro, José, and his 11 year old son, José refreshed my memory on the few moves I could remember. It was super fun. The whole Capoeira group was nice to hang with. I will be back the remaining Sundays I'm here in Guadalajara. Can't wait to back flip on yo ass! That park was great. There were giant chess and domino sets that anyone could play with. Tons of people chilling and hula-hooping. The coolest part, the city shuts down one of the main streets that runs by the park (Avenida Juarez, if you're ever in town on a Sunday) for bicyclists and skaters. Made me miss my little bici soOooOOoOoo much!



So yea, thats it for now. More exciting adventures to come after my tests tomorrow and the next day in school. I am giving an oral presentation on Leukemia in class on Tuesday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Special Message for Daphne

¡Gane!

This photo here is an illustration of my favorite Spanish drinking expression, puños dobles. Double fisting. Guess who came up with that one? Too bad Sol (Mexican High Life) tastes like piss water.











The girls and I went to a soccer game yesterday. Guadalajara Chivas VS Cruz Azul from D.F. La Cruz beat the Chivas 1-0. It was such a fun game! There was this awesome chick in front of us who kept yelling profanities, and I learned a lot of them. Collecting Mexican slang is my new favorite hobby. One thing we didn't understand, "¡saquen tu lengua!" which means "stick out your tounge!". Huh? My favorite Chivas fan chant was "pongánse con tus huevos"...basically "put your balls into it!" Kind of like that Ice Cube song. You can do it put your balls into it.... They sure did! Professional soccer is a lot more fun to watch live than I ever expected... Yea Chiva Chivas!

We were pretty drunk by the end of the game. God, its sooo much easier to speak Spanish borracha. It was crazy, before the game started, we went to this Big Box-type store called Soriana so the girls could get some warmer clothes. Outside of the store was this "Bicardi Zone" tent where these two really cute guys were giving out free shot samples. (Bicardi makes a tequila. I decided I really needed to take 3 shots of it before I could decide if I liked it.) WTF??? Thats like having a free weed brownie stand outside of Target. As I have expressed so many times before, Mexicans are amazing. This is what happened to my housemates after the game (I was looking pretty much the same by then)




We had a great time at this bar, Mutualisma, after the game. Some guys we hollered at en route in the taxi followed us there and we spent the next 3 or 4 hours making friends and watching the Box Azteca fight on TV. Some of them were awfully cute! We decided we liked them so much, we accompanied them to this high class gentleman's club. It def wasn't the Clairemont Lounge. All the girls were goregous and they defied gravity on those poles. Get it girls!!! Ask me about my adventures there sometime. I certainly do not think it would be a good idea to publish them here...

We started out yesterday around 11 am with the idea of a quiet day of exploring Guadalajara city center. We made it back to our Colonia around 6 am this morning. We had NO IDEA we were going to have such a crazy day when we started it. I'm feeling it today for sure. I have YET to have a boring day here in Mexico!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recent Developments


I have had a long 24 hours... estoy muy cansada...


It started out at Wall Street. Wall Street, Guadalajara, the club. Salsa night. Whoah. Salsa is pretty difficult to learn. You need just the right partner, the right chemistry, to flow. It took me 4 hours to come across a good dance partner, Jesus. He bought me a chela and told me I would be able to salsa after he was done with me. He was right. Dancing in Mexico is great because you just dance, there are no pretenses with who you're dancing with. You don't stick to just one person all night, and just because you dance with someone doesn't mean the two of you are going to frolic off in to the night to bang. Perfect. Tranquilo. Jesus was great because though he taught me the basic rules of salsa, he also let me add my own flavor (crazy Norte Americana) to our dance. Its like having a conversation. Salsa is hard for me because the man leads, and if any of you have ever seen me dance, you'd know that I'M the leader. Always. Jesus let me dominate some. It was a good balance. Anyways, the gals and I ended up being quite popular with the local salsa instructors at the club.

Of course we did. The babe in the boots below is me, dancing with my new friend Louis from D.F. ¿Que suave, no?



So after dancing, we had a bite at the Mexican "perros calientes" stand right next to Wall Street and headed home. We got there at 4:30 am. Just in time for 2 1/2 hours of drunk sleep before class. Daphne ditched class completely. Moni and I managed to keep our eyes open during the classes, but we all bailed on clinical today.

Unfortunately, shortly after we got back to Leticia's house, we were evicted from it for reasons so highly personal (no, we didn't do anything wrong) that I don't need to write about here. It was really sudden and shocking. It kind of reminded me of last Spring when my house burned down. This added to my already taxing day. I'm pretty sad about it, the family is really cool. I probably won't see them again, and we had to leave so suddenly without much of a goodbye. What a bummer. I will miss them, especially Paco and Bronson. The coolest dudes.

So now us gals live with this guy, also named Jesus (that makes the total number of Jesuses I have had the pleasure of knowing come to 4 in 2 weeks. I am going to keep a tally of them throughout this blog). He doesn't live with any family, but he now is the proud parent of 4 gringas and 3 Mexican medical students also studying at the Universidad Autónomo de Guadalajara (Jesus, Oscar, Manuel). The place is really nice. There is a roof terrace to hang out on. It seems to be in a busy part of the city (really really close to Wall Street! Full circle!!!). Jesus is a cook (YES!) and he runs a to-go restaurant out of a window at the front of his house. He is also the first man in México I have seen wearing short shorts. All very good signs. Speaking of signs, this is Jesus' restaurant sign:




So its Friday. Friday the 13th actually. I should be doing something fun with Moni, Daphne, and our newest extrañera addition, Krystal, but we are all beat and I am going to bed. More adventures to come tomorrow. I am excited to be spending my first weekend in Guadalajara!

Monday, November 9, 2009

La PlaJA!

Paco and his cousin took us to some artsy fartsy fresa bar Friday and we killed two bottles of tequila and ended the night at 4am singing DOMO ARIGATO MR ROBOTO. 3 hours later, Paco's friends, Diego y Diego (the dudes from the Red Bull Back to the Future movie) plus two super hot Argentinian chicks Emma y Elina, came by to round us up for the beach. It was pretty hard getting up, and I never actually slept more than 30 minutes or so until the next day, but it was (of course) completely worth it. We ended up in Playa Maruata, Michoacan. So beautiful. So chill. Que perro!!! Only bad thing, Argentinians speak the most convoluted Spanish I have ever heard. They make their Y's and LL's into JA sounds and that was the easiest part to figure out. I barely ever understood them so I kind of stayed quiet most of the time trying to understand what the Eff they were saying. I felt suuuper gringa a lot of the time.



And I ate the best ceviche. I saw 4 shooting stars. I learned a lot of slang. I got to scope out Leticia's son half nekkid for 24 hours. Kind of a perfect weekend.



Kensey, I have homework for you miss scientastic... identify these animals for me. I thought of you while I was taking their pictures.





Today was the first day of class for me. We were told in our Medical Spanish class that we are going to have a final project at the end and I want to make an exercise video with the other two ladies. I think that would be pretty funny. I like my roomies lots.

I didn't think I was going to have clinicals until the final two weeks of class, but I was wrong. We have it 5 days a week for 4 weeks. I am going to have Spanish coming out of my ears when its all done. I think every day we will be in the same clinic, a small one outside of the city center in Tlatepaque. All of the Doctors and med students seem pretty chill. The patients are great too. Jaqí, one of the Doctoras, told me that unlike in the U.S., Mexicans don't have super anal privacy laws. The best part about that place is the one nurse, Señora Margarita, who works there every day. I think she loves me already. As soon as I got up with her, she had me taking off the sutures of a cut from a 3 year old and taking notes for her while she checked a urine sample. We're going to get along just great. My Spanish skills need sooo much work and the vocabulary ain't quite there but I sure don't mind trying! I told this preggo lady that she weighed 150 kilos...thats over 300 lbs. She and La Señora laughed at me. Of course. I laughed at myself.

One of the first things I learned in Spanish was numbers and I still don't get them right some of the times. Que pedo!

Allright! The Fresh Prince is on and totally dubbed in Spanish! El Principe de Bel Air! You're so jealous!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Peliculas Locales

This movie is the work of Paco's friend Diego Pimienta. Pretty amazing. Diego only had 5 hours to make it for some Red Bull contest in Mexico and I love it! Jennifer is so hott!

Guadalajara Day 1

Estoy aquí en Guadalajara ahora! I got here yesterday after 8 hours of bus travel. The family is really nice and the house is great!
They have a scottie dog named Bronson. Yes, hes is named after Charles. He's adorable and pretty feisty...like Charles Bronson. Paco named him Bronson because he thinks the dog looks like Charles Bronson.

Leticia is la Señora of the house. She also seems pretty feisty. She works in real estate and seems to be real no-nonsense, but not in a scary way. Her son Paco, told me she parties with their exchange students. Teaches them salsa and what not. When I went out with Paco last night she told me I had better take good care of her son because he was the only one she had.

Paco is pretty cool too. He used to do Muay Tai, like a bad ass. He took me out with him and his cousin on the Welcome to Mexico tour. They actually said that, "welcome to Mex-ee-co!", a lot last night as they proceeded to get me drunk. The first place we went to was called Wing's Army. It was basically Mojos with an American Military theme. Next time I get homesick, I'm getting some hot wings at Wing's Army. It really makes me wish I had bought a Mojos shirt to represent on this vacation...

We went to this place that served margaritas made out of a new fruit for me, a lima. Different from limón (lemon or lime), it is sweeter, a cross between an orange and a lime. Yum! After that, we went to an "underground bar". It was in a basement, but I got the impression that it was also being called an underground because it wasn't legit. People were smoking in there which is banned inside public places throughout Mexico. I danced with some girl, everyone seemed to think I dance strangely (weird huh?), and these dudes started chanting "besan! besan!" which means they wanted us to kiss. I told one of the guys we would if he kissed one of his guy friends. When he said no, I told him he must not be very comfortable with his sexual self. We left shortly thereafter.

Ok, Bronson is begging to be petted. I'm out!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

La Plaza de 3 Culturas



MC and I went to Tlatelolco Plaza today. It is a very interesting place for many reasons.


First of all, the place is called the Plaza of Three Cultures because it is a city block which contains the excavated ruins of an Aztec religious center, Tlatelolco, plus a Spanish Cathedral built in 1531 by Hernan Cortes' conquistadores after they massacred the very last of the Aztecs here, then the square also houses the Mexican Department of Foreign Affairs. So think about it, there are Aztec ruins in the center of Mexico City, preserved, (have I stressed enough that Mexicans rule yet?) and a couple of days ago, Hilary Clinton was hanging out on this same block doing business.



Ok, going back to that massacre (1521), I read that so many Aztecs died fighting against the Spanish, their bodies clogged the canals. And don't get me started on the human lives sacrificed there to nature gods prior to whitey's arrival... I read today they found remains of 2 fetuses in some kind of kiln that the Aztecs probably also used to cook food in. Delicious.

The reason I wanted to visit there today was because of a more recent massacre. In 1968, just 10 days before the Summer Olympics were held in Distrito Federal, University students held a peaceful rally for Democracy (One political party ruled Mexico from 1910 until 2000 under a Democratic façade) in this very square. The Mexican military opened fire on the crowd toward the end of the rally. The whole thing was covered up by the next day; countless people died, were beaten and arrested, and many went missing. Less than 24 hours later, the square was cleaned of the blood and almost no media organizations covered the incident (Media networks were owned almost exclusively by the Government and its friends, not too far off from today). Tlatelolco October 2, 1968 was not investigated by the Mexican government until 2000, when finally, a new Presidential party under Vincente Fox was elected. If you want to read more about the Massacre check this NPR story. It has photos from the 1968 movement and more details.


What luck, in 1985 some 8,000 people died around this square when 2 large housing project complexes crumbled under the force of a huge earthquake. The government was criticized due to its delayed and insufficient aid response. This criticism helped spark real progress toward actual Democratization in Mexican government.

La Plaza de Tres Culturas has seen its share of political turmoil and gore for sure. I feel like it should be one of the most hallowed places in this city. Go there if you're ever in D.F.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recipie for Chiles Rellenos: Cooking with Pauladina


Karla just showed us how to make chilies rellenos and they were soooooo good!

Ingredients (makes 4 or 5)
:
Poblano Peppers, 1 and a half tea spoons of butter, small carton of sour cream (200mL), 1 cup of milk, salt and black pepper to taste, 1 cup of pecans chopped, white/soft cheese (we used Oaxaca cheese, the best there is in Mexico!)

Skills:

*place the peppers directly to a flame...not sure if it would work on an electric stove. Turn them often until the skin is black. Not crispy black, just black. When each is done, wrap them in a cloth so as not to burn/melt countertops and then wrap again with a plastic bag to keep in the moisture.

*With the peppers cooling off, make the sauce with the butter, cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nuts by blending them well in a blender. Then, heat the mixture in a pot until it is thick being careful not to burn the dairy products ("No one likes burnt milk do they!? Do they?!")

*Rub off the burnt skin as best you can dry. Put them under warm water after that to remove the rest of the burnt stuff. It should slide off. Karla says the peppers get sticky if you get them wet right away without removing what you can dry, so get your mits dirty.

*Make a slit in the bottom 2/3s of each pepper. Take out the seeds, use water to rinse them out if you have to. DON'T TOUCH YOUR EYES OR OTHER MOIST BODILY ORIFICES AFTER DOING THIS. The seeds are what makes the pepper picante.

*Stuff the peppers with small cheese slices as much as you can while still being able to close the pepper. Close it after by spearing the opening's edges with tooth picks.

*Wrap the chilies in plastic wrap so as not to lose any moisture and heat in microwave until the cheese feels like water inside when you poke the pepper. It took ours about 2 minutes on high, but do a little at a time so you don't burn the hell out of it.

*Pour the sauce over the chilies and enjoy! They are delicious!

The whole thing took about 20 minutes but your friends will think you are a culinary genius, you genius you! Us gals did the whole thing in Spanish! We're geniuses too!!! Pomagranites aren't in season yet (Decemberish), but Karla says it tastes and looks even better if you put some on top of the sauce at the end.

I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD!


In other news...

Dia de Los Muertos 2009 is officially over in an hour and a half, but the kids were in costume from Friday until today! Here is a link to my Day of the Dead photo album. Use the slide show feature. My camera takes awesome pictures!!!

Last night Polka Madre played a show at El Centro Cultural de España. They played with Dolomites- dude looks like a taller, crazier Curtis Grimstead:
Aria Maria
Whoah. Dolomites sang the old Lizzie Borden had an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks song, but added that she cooked her mom's tits (he called them amigas!) in garlic and her dad's huevos in paprika. If you ever have the opportunity to see this guy, do it, he puts on quite a show. He used to be in Golgol Bordello and is playing with them in D.F. while I am in Guadalajara. Que lastima!

Check this cartoon I saw on MTV Latino yesterday. Super Mosca Bonzai!


Hermana grande and I are about to head out to the cemetery for the last day of the dead. Then we might check out the Mexican Comic Book Museum in the Zocalo. Is my trip ever gonna not be awesome??

Sunday, November 1, 2009

La Santa Muerte


Just got back from Tepito- its the birthday of the Santa Muerte. So amazing! There was this huge block party by her shrine and everyone was carrying around their own Santa figures for people to bless with oils, candy, money, and cigarettes. There was a bunch of people smoking weed and I guess trannies really like Saint Death because we saw a few of them all dolled up. I saw a guy shotgun his cigar in the face of people's Santa statues. The whole thing was amazing. I got a really good air-brushed baseball hat with her on it in a graveyard. It says "Santisima Muerte" on the front and "Madre Mio" on the back. Hot. I'm not sure if its kosher to wear it in Mexico. The "Culto de Santa Muerta" takes her very seriously and a gringa sporting Muerte attire may be offensive or absurd for some Mexicans.

Worship to her used to be banned by the Catholic church. Apparently she is a favorite among gangsters and other seedy types. I am lucky to be in D.F. right now because the largest group of people who worship her are here. Her shrine is near the Piratereria- the section of town with a huge market selling pirated goods. What a good day!

Tonight I am going to see Polka Madre with my sister and her friends Lorena, Jerry, y Jorge. Hells yea!

First Few Days

My Spanish is coming back quickly. Tequila helps, but I'm trying to slow down on the sauce while I'm here. Last night, Halloween, was an exception. MC and I met these guys who own the Mexico division of Skull Candy (headphones and speakers and such) and they just kept buying us mojitos, supposedly on the company dime (...their company). They were super nice, not creepy. Much of my experiences with Mexican men is that if you pay them just a little bit of attention, they follow you around the rest of the night like puppy dogs and it gets pretty frustrating. These guys were really chill and fun to talk to. One of them, Aurturo, kept dropping the word "huey" which is the same thing as "dude" more or less and I about lost it a few times. This was the first year I didn't dress in costume for Halloween, but las hermanas gringas still got in the spirit! Here are some photos of us.


Yesterday morning I went to my sister's English conversation club to see her in action. She wanted the group to talk about Dia de los Muertos and Halloween and ghosts and purgatory ect. One of her students said she hated Halloween because a few years ago, as she was putting makeup on her son for Halloween, he started throwing up blood. She took him to the emergency room and he ended up staying in the hospital for over 40 days due to some kind of infection. She said the nurses told her it was her fault her son got sick- she made him look like a demon and the spirits made him bleed. Wow. Mexican healthcare workers believe in boogeymen over science. I got a kick out of that.

I saw La Danza de los Muertos yesterday. It was rad. This guy was dancing around in a skull head looking really creepy. The way I interpreted it, he was at first confused about the fact that he was dead, but then he got really into it and seemed happy to be a badass skeleton-man. I wish I could describe it better than that. It was pretty spooky.

I went to el Museo de las Bellas Artes and saw a Goya exhibit and another exhibit by Pedro Friedberg. I never knew it, but Goya was a pretty non-conventional painter for his time. I really liked Friedberg's stuff. He studied to be an architect when he was young and decided against actually going in to the field. Instead, he drew these crazy, highly detailed and non-functional buildings with all sorts of tantric, Aztec, and even Masonic symbolism within them. His stuff kind of reminded me of Monty Python cartoons. He's also that guy who made those chairs shaped like hands so that he could cop a feel while you sit in his art work. This guy rules. Check him out. If you ever win a million dollars and want to buy me a gift, get me one of his drawings.

Enough. My head feels like someone is stabbing me in the temples. Mary Claire made pancakes. Happy Dia de los Muertos! Oh and hey, check this contradiction out real quick. Illegal aliens with green cards? If you're going to be witty, think it through a little. Orale.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hello Distrito Federal!


Crazy coincidence, Ward and Stephanie saw me off to my connecting flight in Charolette NC this morning! They were on the same RIC one going out to Jacksonville for the FL Fest. Their seat assignment was the row in front of mine. Ward had airplane bottles of Skyy Vodka and we mixed 'em in our smoothies in Charolette. Cocktail hour at 9am with Ward and Stephanie right before a flight should happen to everyone.
So far all I have done today in Mexico City (Distrito Federal/D.F.) is go to Mary Claire's apartment, eat a delicious torta, and have a well needed siesta. We are going to some Dub show tonight. I can't wait for Dia de Los Muertos juey! D.F. is a huge and crazy sprawl! I forgot how insanely big it is. Last time I stuck to the main Zocalo (city center) and the La Zona Rosa (the Pink Zone=gay as a footballbat!) the whole time.
I just found out Polka Madre is playing on Sunday and I am going to see them. Aren't you excited for me Tony? I'll give them a high five (una choca del cinco!) for you and Shelly and Curtis and Ward.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Goodbye Richmond!



I love Richmond, Virginia so much! I am proud to call it home and everyone I know there my family (Sean, even you).
Oye! I leave tomorrow for Mexico City. I have a rough idea of what I will be doing with my 5 months exploring, but I have no idea how this is going to turn out. For once, it seems, I don't have a solid plan...kind of intimidating for someone like me, but I'm down to try something a little out of my comfort level. Bonus; I will be tan, bilingual, totally rested, and have a hot surfer body when I return in the Spring. Whoop!
These last few weeks off from work and catching up with friends have been really good for me. I feel loved. I love you guys and I feel insanely lucky to know you. I'll miss you guys!

*when I have time I'll make a Flickr account so yall can check out the photos I took last week of all of us. I got some funny ones!