Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Holy mole! The taste of Mexico...a few glimpses.

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.

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