Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I love Condesa.

Triple blog day. Beat that Dave! I wanted to take this opportunity to say how much I love my neighboourhood, La Colonia Condesa. Here are some pics of my hood... I have spent many a happy afternoon walking in these streets.

I have also posted a photo that I have wanted to post for ages but it has been disobedient - it was taken of me next to the Cathedral of Mexico City - the largest cathedral in latin america. this cathedral is on the other side of the main sqaure that is in my other photos.

Late late post

I have delayed for over a month in posting photos of my birthday party.

Here they are. It was a majorly fun night, with lots of people gathered outside on the street outside our restaurant; a giant pinata of Nemo [I was overtaken by a love for australia when I chose to buy this pinata at the market] and lots and lots of singing and guitar playing. I am a goose and dont have constant access to good fast computers here, so although I would love to load up my videos of the singing, and merriness, I believe that will have to wait.

I have actually organised another such party for Jessie tonight, a surprise party; yay!

and..... my best bud joe chapman arrives in mexico city tomorrow for two weeks!!!

The legitimate president and the amazing weekend

I came home from class on Friday evening feeling in the mood for an adventure. I think someone was listening to me, as I had a weekend full of excellent coincidences and good times. A very, very political weekend. Let me explain: on Friday night I went to one of my favourite bars nearby - a quaint little place that attracts interesting people. On this night in particular I really lucked out _ as before I knew it in waltzed in a whole load of activists and journalists, eccentrics and such types.... and to cut a long story short I spent Saturday with my new reporter friend Frederico at the National Democratic Convention. Fede introduced me to other journalists and politicians as ¨my comrade madeleine, a foreign observer from Australia¨ and other such titles! The meeting was a culmination of the left wing in mexico, especially the PRD [revolutionary democratic party): Also to cut another long story short, [as a follow up from my earlier post), after a number of discussions in some of the oldest cantinas [pubs] in mexico and attending the policy panels of the party, I have become closer to being a ¨perredista¨ - PRD supporter.

Fede was going to take me as a foreign observer the next morning for an interview he had with a senator... but we went to the wrong sheraton hotel. No matter; on the sunday the convention culminated in a huge march from the statue of the angel of independence to the Zocalo, (main square) of mexico. Bloody long walk, about 2 hours walking and then 2 hours standing in the sun listening to speeches: 4 hour marathon, much more than I have ever done at a sydney protest. There were probably about 250,000 people at the protest... a good turnout, but not nearly as many as the nearly million last july after the fraudulent elections. At that time last year, tens of thousands of people also slept in the streets of the historic centre for over 40 days!!!

I have posted a photo here where I am very close to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the still so named legitimate president by the PRD. He is the guy wearing the beige jacket. This photo was thanks to my PRD mate who got me a great spot.

There are more great enriching experiences to tell of the weekend...opera singing as a form of protest, girls weeping and shouting, sitting in on a radio interview..

But the icing on the cake was when Fede rang me last night from the studio at Channel 11 [like BBC here] and said in a rushed voice ¨I am going to give you a dedication!¨ and in the next two minutes on the TV in front of me was Fede¨s voice on a report about David Hicks. Australia thanks you, I told him.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Okay, so murmurings from down under are that changes are afoot in the politics of our nation.... my glances on smh.com.au has told me as much. But right here, right now, I want to challenge my fellow aussies to leave comments for me on 'how it is on the ground' at the moment. Is Rudd really giving Howard a run for his money? what are the chances of a Labor victory? Whaddya think? Any classic episodes or public comments to report?
Sometimes I think I am missing out on some very interesting developments in my homeland...

However with the anti-narcotics operations, the constant evictions and police raids in districts of mexico city, there is certainly plenty of excitement here!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Camping at the beach

I dont want this post to draw out any jealousy from anyone sitting at their desks having a crap day..

So I'll just make it short. This weekend I went with a group of my mexican friends to camp on the pacific coast, about an hour or two north of Acapulco. A great bunch - every thursday night we go out to dinner at a different restaurant in the city. It was cool travelling with them.

We amused ourselves (such as Arturo's rendition of Tom Hanks in 'Castaway', picture above) and spent a lot of time lounging in hammocks. And we made big fires of coconut shells.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bush in town!

Nothing more but to mark the fact that the US President is in Mexico - it makes 6 yrs since such a visit.
Its big news. Of course, no way is he coming to Mexico City, oh no. Way too crazy here. He is in the coastal city of Merida, where schools have been shut and the whole city fortified for his presence.

Three beautiful things

Over the last week I have had some very ´Mexican´ experiences.

1. The horror adventure in Chapultepec - On Friday night I went for an adventure with a whole bunch of people from my class. I didnt really understand what the goal or mode of this night would be - I was just informed that we were out to 'horrify ourselves' by visiting an apparently haunted house in the middle of the forest of Chapultepec (think massive Central Park in the middle of the city).
I scoffed at my friend Arturo and said 'I'm not gonna be scared'.. but I have to admit that when he let out a huge wail in the middle of the darkness I couldnt help but jump and swear loudly.
So there we were, about 4 carloads of us, approaching in our vehicles up to the gate to the haunted house. we were jovial and excited, and we had brought muscly Diego to do any necessary scuffling.
But, of course, no surprise at all that there was a bunch of policeman blocking our way. The normal questioning began. The enormous amounts of discretion these guys have. The real clincher was that we had bottles of beer in our cars. which seemed apparently fine as no one was drink-driving, but technicalities dont matter with police. The threatening started... this and that, they were gonna bring a special judge dude to search all our vehicles, blah blah.. and before I knew it Arturo was sprinting back to our car, shouting and then throwing bottles of beer into the dark forest. And then it was all piling in, a strong foot on the accelerator and we sped out of there so fast that we spilled onto the large avenue outside of the park and right into crazy traffic beeping wildly at us.

Apparently what had actually happened (to pardon any more threats from the police), was that one of our fellow mates had an uncle who was a Commandante in the federal police.. so for this alone we got away scot free. I asked Arturo what was the worst that could have happened - he very matter of factly said that we could have spent a night in jail. Holy cow! (mum dont freak out! we didnt do anything wrong).

Suffice to say the experience was brilliantly energising and we were all wooping at our great escape afterwards.

2. Mariachis!!

Jess and I spent a quiet night in the other night, eating popcorn and watching Amadeus. Lo and behold, at 12 midnight, the tranquility was interrupted by the most raucous noise outside. ´¨Its just the bar next door¨, I said, and for a while we ignored whatever it was. But after a bit, we went out onto our roof, and below us across the road had assembled a band of 8 mariachis - trumpets, violins and loud singers. Around them was gathered a group of friends, among them a most ardent boyfriend who stood outside the balcony of our neighbour's house, waiting for his girlfriend to come down.
Our whole house woke up in the middle of the night - Mari screamed in a high pitched voice 'A, the mariachis!'.. Jess and I ran onto the street in pyjamas, and Lou Lou peered out the bathroom window at the spectacle.
Okay, so you do see mariachis quite often in Mexico - but in plazas, restaurants, tourist places... so to find them in our little residential street, wailing away - it was just brilliant!
we tried to divine what the cause of the serenade was - we were sure there had been a fight between the couple, as she took about 8 songs to descend from her balcony. Word has it that this girl is notoriously vain so she was probably occupied with doing her hair while the mariachis were singing their lungs out.
We spent the night on the roof, sighing down at the mariachis, wishing that some lovely man would bring a whole mariachi band for us.

3. I was delighted to find a 3 hr seminar on Human Rights in Mexico, given by experts at a nearby uni. I was even more delighted to find out that it is on every Tuesday until July! Brilliant! With plenty of free time on my hands, and starved for political shinanigans.. this motley group of empassioned citizens and academics is a great injection of liveliness every week. And its free!

Let's just say that I am in my 'happy place', when I alight at the metro station Zapata and go to listen to the parlous state of rights in this country.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Okay, it may look as though there are a whole lot of leaves in these trees - but they are all butterflies- millions of them!
Last weekend we went to see a real treasure - the sanctuary of monarch butterflies about 4 hours from mexico city. 150 million butterflies migrate each winter to the same specific place in mexico .. all the way from canada. Butterflies only live 7 months in total, so many of them are born on the 2 month journey between countries.

As we walked through the sanctuary, very quietly, we could hear the faint sound of millions of wings flattering all around us. Magic.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Environmental crisis

I was having a conversation with one of my mexican friends yesterday, and he asked me ¨There must be things about Mexico that you dont like - what are they?¨

The first thing that leaps into my mind is the sorry state of recycling, and more generally environmental consciousness, in this country.

The only visible form of recycling I have seen comes in two forms:
- returning your beer bottles, you get back about 3 pesos that you had put down as a deposit earlier.. and off they go to be used again by Corona and Sol.
- The separation of organic and inorganic rubbish in parks and some other public places.

But that leaves untouched so many other materials that are just being wasted. There is NO recycling system set up in houses - milk bottles, containers, everything just gets thrown into the same rubbish bin. I feel suffocated, I have no outlet to try and take action and recycle my rubbish! And the overuse of plastic bags in stores is somewhat pathogenic.

I have talked to a number of mexican people about this and they say, 'yes it's a problem. but we're lazy.' I have also questioned a number of people on why they put up with the shocking traffic in this city, and why not take the metro instead of bearing the painful commute by car. For example when speaking to my friend yesterday, he said 'the thought of my car and the environment wouldnt have crossed my mind if you hadnt mentioned it'. AH!

But there are some flickers of light. There is generally wise use of water here in houses. And the metro is always packed with people - people who are not in cars. Also apparently there are recycling centres where you can go and take all your stuff - this will mean that I will have to create a collection of rubbish in the corner of my room, and oneday jump in a cab across town to this site. Taking the crowded metro, laden with large bags of rubbish, is just not feasible. ¡Hijole!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Reason to celebrate!

I am going to 'post a boast', and unashamedly announce:

I received 10 out of 10 in my first exam at uni - for History of Mexican Law. Woohoo! I was as surprised as you probably are. And it was all in spanish. Yeeeehaahh!
(Of course I'm not forgetting the very obliging attitude the teachers have to exchange students here).