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.