Thankyou to Dave for the kick up the bum to allow anonymous comments on my blog. I thought I had already done so, but it seems no.. so hopefully my changes now (albeit in a spanish blog interface) will fix the problem. Comment away, friends!
The restuarant where I live has been short staffed as of late, so yesterday after returning from classes I mucked in and waited tables for a couple of hours. It was heaps of fun! It's such a family run place, and quaint too - only 10 tables, set daily menus. The clientele asked me if I was from Romania, Poland, or Germany - how crazy! I have never had these comments before. The hardest thing about waiting on tables was trying to pronounce the names of the dishes with the appropriate skill. ah!
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
On Friday night I subjected everyone at a party to the taste of our national condiment. I can tell you, the reactions to vegemite were hilarious!
Even for mexicans with an advanced set of tastebuds, it was too much for them.
I also sang the national anthem while riding on the metro with some fellow students. I think I must be feeling more at home in this city, as singing in the street is certainly a sign of being comfortable for me!
I've also loaded some photos of Teotihuacan, such an amazing site that I visited with, marie (french student) and jessie (great american girl who lives with me - but we only speak spanish with each other which is good).
At its peak, from around 100-500AD, Teotihuacan was one of the biggest cities in the world. It is spooky and brilliant.
I started classes yesterday. I was pretty nervous, but then relived, as I understood the large majority of what was going on. The class atmosphere is so different here - you stick with the same class for the whole 5 yrs through uni, and there is a 'class boss' that does all the photocopying and is kinda like the president. It's very funny, kind of feels like highschool.
I am excited about my political science class: the professor is hilarious - yesterday in our introduction he said 'we are going to have lots of fun, as Mexico has plenty of political assholes to learn about'. He he!
Finally there is a first time for everything, eh? The other night I was at a salsa club, dancing away, and as I went to execute a big spin with my partner, we collided and my elbow hit his lip, which then started bleeding! How brutal.
I bought him a beer and gave him a piece of lime for his lip, we laughed and then kept dancing. Es la vida.
PHOTOS: Teotihuacan, and also a photo of Mari (my host mum) at La Merced, the most gigantic market I have ever been to. It was a very interesting trip, as all the vendors know 'Don Jesus and Dona Mari', as they come each week and buy up big for the restuarant.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
On Sunday night I returned home late from a very 'mexican' weekend. I impulsively took up the invitation to accompany my mexican friends to Aguascalientes, a town 6 hrs north of mexico city, for a weekend of parties and seeing friends. This group of friends I had met at the beach a couple of weeks ago, and they were heaps of fun -so I was really excited about this trip! And yes, it was a wild time.
It was a weekend of learning plenty of rude words, dancing, screaming our hearts out to spanish pop and passionate rock music at night on the highway and generally just being young! I have to say, even if you're not a passionate person, there is something about spanish rock that disarms everyone, and before you know it you are wailing like a sentimental desperado. It's priceless.
The random factor was quite amusing. On the road we passed through the town of Dolores Hidalgo, where in 1810 the 'Grito de Hidalgo' (Cry of Hidalgo) was sounded by a local priest, thus starting the war for independence from Spain. Of course we passed through the town with a jubilant wave of our arms and a grunt of 'argh, Gue', as all Mexicans seem to say. We also had to pay 200 pesos ($20USD) to a policeman on the highway... just because. But we played a trick on him by giving him a 200 peso bill that was ripped in half, so useless. We really stuck it to the corrpution, eh?
Anyway, here are some ´poser´ shots of me and Nuri, Pepe and Joselita at the Ranch of our friend where we partied, as well as a photo of the extended gang of merrimakers.
In other administrative news - I have been having orientation this week with the other international students (a mountain of french people! we chide them for not speaking spanish, he he!). Today we visited Coyoacan, a gorgeous quaint colonial suburb where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived. Loved it. The whole life story of the pair - Frida, a crippled, suffering artist, and Diego, a celebrated muralist with a firey temperament - could not be more interesting. Add to this their fanatical Marxism, Frida's affair with Trotsky, and the brilliant art, and it certainly is one for the history books.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
So, I think if you tried to design a better set up for my tastes, you couldnt find one. on Sunday I moved into the house of the family I will be living with for the next 5-6 months.
I´m living in the Colonia Condesa, a funky, trendy happening place famous for its bars and restaurants. I suppose you could call the demographic 'middle class'. I live right above a quaint little restaurant that Jesus, the father of the family, owns. It is called 'Atardecer en la Condesa' (twighlight in the Condesa). How wonderful, I get up every morning and the chef makes me my breakfast in the restaurant, (eggs with chorizo has been a highlight so far!), and then I set off during the day to explore the city, attend my spanish classes... and then come back in the early evening, to the family and extended restaurant friends sitting around chatting.
Last night was special, as the younger of the two daughters (they are 21 and 19) arrived home from vacation, so Jesus and Mari (the mother who is a primary school teacher) got out guitars and everyone sang mexican tunes, boleros and mariachis together. And yes, 'Labamba' made an apperance!
Whats more, I am literally 4 minutes walk to my university. And, the biggest cultural and art bookstore in latin america is just across the road from me, with this big cafe, kind of like a big Borders.
One of my mexico city friends gave me the insiders' guide to the Condesa, walking me around last night and pointing out all the jumping spots, including introducing me to his friends at the local mezcaleria!
I am slightly nervous about classes starting in just under two weeks.. I am trying to work on my spanish as much as I can. On a good day, people say 'yeah, you speak well', ... on two separate occasions strangers have asked me whether I was spanish as I had a spanish accent (and I wanted to hug and kiss them out of joy!)... but when I am tired or clumsy with my spanish it's hard and I feel as though I have so far to go. And understanding all the slang here is very challenging.
PHOTOS: the view outside my window, the restuarant which is my home, some photos of the Condesa. I will post some good shots of the funky restaurant strip later.
Also: Emiliano Zapata and the fight for Morelos at the National Museum of the Revolution (Revolution¨- should be read as ten-years-of-bloodiness-and-chaos-in-the-mexican-history from 1910-1920 when none of the varied revolutionary leaders could agree on anything...but which finally resulted in a new consitution!)
Hey there guys. I have arrived in pretty much the biggest city in the world. I arrived about a week ago. I was expecting to be knocked senseless, left scrambling for air, overwhelmed, choked. Instead, I have been totally enchanted by this city!
What a place! It is just bursting at the seams with museums (I have been to so many in the last week!), it's surprisingly simple to get around (the metro system is brilliant and the streets are really well signed), and the people are wonderful!
They are ever-helpful, always ready to invite you to have fun with them, or accompany you on your adventures. I have met heaps of locals as we´ve just struck up conversations together then I have ended up having coffee or going to watch mariachi bands with them. Its actually funny, on the odd occasion I have just wanted to do something by myself, it's at times been hard to stop the openness of the people, and to insinuate, 'actually, i´m fine for now, i think I'll just go for a walk or read by myself'. how funny. yes, I admit that it is often the mexican males that want to accompany me places - but I feel safe with the locals here, dont worry mum!
and once again, like an ongoing mantra, i need to exalt THE FOOOOOOOOOOD in mexico city. I have a whole photo series on street vendors, taco stalls, amazing treats that I will post up shortly.
But really, food here is more than just filling stomachs. it is incredible, sensual, comforting and exciting. Even on the occasion when myself and a fellow canadian traveller found ourselves 'piking' and buying hotdogs late at night in the Zona Rosa (Oxford St eat your heart out!!), we were pleasantly surprised. Because, no, a hot dog is not just a hot dog. Oh no. Its a frankfurter wrapped in ham, then laid on a bun with mayonese, tomato and chile salsa, jalapeno peppers and more. wow!
on friday night i had the amazing experience of bumping to aquaintances i met at the beach! who woudda thunk it, eh? in a city of 22 million, I bumped into a couple I had met the week before. What timing! they took me to the opening of a photo exhibition they were going to - it was an amazing look at the mexico og 2006 - protests, incredible amounts of police brutality, violence and passion.
it was a reminder of the harshness of the country I am living in, as I think I had been coasting along with rose glasses a bit.
suffice to day, this city is awesome. I feel as though it very much 'suits' me.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I have not written in a while, probably because in this digital age I feel obliged to provide you all with pictures.. suffice to say they are great, but you are going to have to be content with my written vignettes for now as the regional digi-net shops are proving difficult...
In the last 10-12 days I´ve filled myself up with such varied experiences that to go through them chronologically by way of ´catch up´would not do them justice. I feel as though layers of places, people and adventures have already formed in just over 3 weeks, so that I can pause and breathe in the taste of them....
From New Years Eve, spent staying up late with the local Mayan women, stripping chiles, making tortillas, degutting chickens: a smokey, sisterly, confusing and giggling affair.
To the chaos of the dusty Guatemalan bus terminals, a personal fascination of mine. About 1km of insane old buses choking back and forth within an inch of each other. The street vendors pile onto the bus to sell all variety of snacks in their cracked, parched voices. So too pile on evangelists, or men delivering ten minute sales pitches to the whole bus on why you really should buy his packet of mints. And me, running back and forth between buses, on and off of pick up trucks. Loving the edginess of it all.
And then, you click forward a few frames and I'm setting free a baby turtle into the sea on the pacific coast of mexico.
There has certainly been beauty, beauty everywhere. But in so many different forms.
From Guatemala, where there is warmth and a somewhat austere beauty - a country whose bloody handed General Rios Montt of the 1980s civil war is still clambering around in the backrooms of power. A country with a brilliant constitution but a muted people. Where family and tradition are so important, and seem to make so much glorious sense.
To Mexico, which greets you with an open, leathery, creased up smile, and calls you to come, join in. There is a cheeky glint in the actions of people here, a thrusting of relaxed confidence that is so enchanting. To us, in Australia, isnt Mexico just a place of cowboy hats and drugs and tacos? Weren´t we told that in countless hollywood films?
Really, it couldnt strike me as more different, as so much more of a rich place. I spent a few fantastic days on the stunning Oaxaca Coast, and met a lot of great people. Including heaps of chilangos (people from Mexico City) who are happy to be friends when I arrive there tomorrow. yay! And now I am in Oaxaca, the capital of the state of the same name. You wouldnt know it was a city that hosted major riots and protests only a number of weeks ago. Besides the presence of about 100 armoured police in the main square and on every major corner too. But really, what a confusing debacle! The whole fiasco was about Ulises Ruiz, the governor and what he has or has not done. (a piece of bus graffiti said ýou WERE Ulises of Oaxaca`, another piece of grafiti said 'death to bad government' which impressed me). But really, the protests were a mixture of leftism cooinciding with the recent federal elections and also a whole lot of people who needed to get paid off by the local govt!
In Oaxaca, a state smaller than Victoria, that has 570 municipalities (the mind boggles), surely politics is going to boil over at some point.
OH AND THE FOOD IN MEXICO!!!. every single snack or meal elicits a groan of pleasure from me, before I even realise what I´m doing I´m walking down the street and exhalting the taste out loud! I´ve been running amuck in markets (`whats this?` `its a dark rich cholcolate mole spicy sauce`, its sweet peas, pickled mangoes and dates, 'it´s nopales - cactus`- òh really, is it sweeter and softer when cooked`, `so this chile is stuffed with ALL of these things then?`...ànd kate evans dear i had my first esquites tonight!)
So, I arrive in Mexico City tomorrow, and am so excited.
A local guy I was talking to on the bus, said to me, ´In Mexico, here your life begins´. Sorry for the dramatic ending folks, but I couldnt help but shudder with contentedness and believe him.
two above: new years eve cooking fest in guatemala.
top: glorious Mazaunte! what a beach. and me and a baby turtle, very special.