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February, 2009:

Chiapas-style Car Wash

John made it down to Chiapas this past weekend (while I was stuck at class busy being a brilliant MBA student). A summary from him should be forthcoming, but in the interim, I was entertained by this photo of a car wash along the Usumacinta River along the border of México and Guatemala.

Because sometimes it is just easier to bring your car to the water, than the water to your car.

Because sometimes it is just easier to bring your car to the water, than the water to your car.

 

A gentleman hard at work keenly assessing his car's dirtiness from his vantage point on a rock.

A gentleman hard at work keenly assessing his car's dirtiness from his vantage point on a rock.

Your own…personal…taxista…

I have a regular taxista who I call to get a ride home on days that I work out of the office. Her name is Guadalupe, and she is a lovely, middle-aged Mexican with a son who lives in Cancun. She became my go-to taxista after I broke up with my prior taxista, Carlos, when he stopped answering my calls. (what is this, “he’s just not that into you”, taxi-style???)  Anyway, Guadalupe and I get along well because she a) is nice and amusing but doesn’t take any crap from anyone, b) doesn’t drive like a crazy person, and c) has a car with enough leg room for me and no funny-scented air fresheners. Our conversations are generally fairly smooth because I can practice my Spanish and at times, she her English, so we usually can figure things out between the two of us.

So today, Guadalupe & I were driving home when she suddenly remembered something to ask me. (below conversation all in Spanish)

G: “Oh! I have something I need help on from an English speaker and you speak English. Obviously!!
J: “Uh, yes…?”
G: “I have a song that I really like, but I don’t know what it means. Maybe if I play it for you, you can tell me what it is about?”  [proceeds to roll up car windows to create the proper listening environment] “Maybe you have heard it?”
J: [now filled with curiosity of what this magical song could possibly be] “Of course! Or at least I will try!”

G: [proceeds to carefully select song from CD player]

Classic hits of Mexico...thank you Depeche Mode

Classic hits of Mexico...thank you Depeche Mode

Car Audio System: “bumm bup bumm bup-bumm bumm bup bumm bup Your own…bup bumm bup Personal…bup bumm bup Jesus…bup bumm bup-bumm bumm bup bumm bup Someone to hear your prayers, Someone who cares…

J: “Ahhh siiii, es una canción muy buena!!” I crowed in reinforcement, thrilled to learn that this most favorite song of hers was a classic Depeche Mode hit from the ’80s.  I wasn’t quite sure whether she was looking for a literal translation or greater meaning, so I started loosely translating…

J: “Alguien quien oye tus… pues, como se dice cuando hablas con Dios?”    (Someone who hears your… well, how do you say when you talk with God?)
G: “Oraciones.”  (Prayers.)
J: “Si! Está hablando sobre alguien quien oye tus oraciones y te cuida.”  (Yes! It’s talking about someone who hears your prayers and cares for you.)

I explained that although I had heard this song many times, I had never really thought about what it means… We agreed it was best to restart the song. After a full run through, I made a valiant attempt to explain the meaning of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” in Spanish  (sounds like a bad dream from a Spanish lit class), focusing on the fact that despite the frequent use of the word “Jesus”, “prayer” and “faith”, Depeche Mode should not be classified as a religious band. :)

J: “Pienso que la canción sea sobre otra opción en vez de Jesus para ayudarte cuando estás solo y necesitas soporte… otra opción como música u otra persona…? Que puedes tener algo personal para “reach out”…?”  (I think the song is about another option instead of Jesus to help you when you are alone & need support…another option like music or another person? That you can have something personal to reach out to?)

I realized that even in English, I did not have a lot of insight into Depeche Mode’s thought processes. However, Guadalupe seemed to be pleased with my vague ideas, and we briefly discussed the differences between religious things and spiritual things, as evidenced by this “Personal Jesus” that one might have…

I reckon at this rate, it is only a matter of time before I am teaching a comparative religion class in Spanish at the local community college… 😉

Animal Highlights of México, Part 1

The plethora of unique animals here never fails to entertain me, so thought I’d share a few photo highlights of critters (or representations thereof) we’ve encountered over the last 7 months here in Mexico City and beyond!!

This dog in Condesa seems to be saying both "I just want a glimpse of the action" and "I know, seriously, I can't believe I'm wearing a man's polo shirt either."

This dog in Condesa seems to be saying both "I just want a glimpse of the action" and "I know, seriously, I can't believe I'm wearing a man's polo shirt either."

What's not fun about a bear pretending to attack your children?

What's not fun about a bear pretending to attack your children?

Whenever I walk through the parks here, I find it hilarious how much people seem to love squirrels. At least 60% of the time when I see a squirrel, there is someone taking a photo of it. Why are they so novel???

Whenever I walk through the parks here, I find it hilarious how much people seem to love squirrels. At least 60% of the time when I see a squirrel, there is someone taking a photo of it. Why are they so novel???

I wouldn't call these Telcel moose mascots the brightest bulbs in the pack... Luckily I am old enough to know better, but for most children, seeing a photo of themselves next to a moose who is sticking its hoof into its neck & having 2 beady eyes staring back could cause some serious trauma...

I wouldn't call these Telcel moose mascots the brightest bulbs in the pack... Luckily I am old enough to know better, but for most children, seeing a photo of themselves next to a moose who is sticking its hoof into its neck & having 2 beady eyes staring back could cause some serious trauma...

John & co went on a horse-riding trek in La Marquesa, just a bit west of Mexico City. My favorite photo was the one of this wee, little horse looking optimistically towards Emily while John got a bit too close for comfort.

John & co went on a horse-riding trek in La Marquesa, just a bit west of Mexico City. My favorite photo was the one of this wee, little horse looking optimistically towards Emily while John got a bit too close for comfort.

I enjoyed this majestic-looking rooster and his colorful backdrop... If only it weren't for that pesky house-arrest bracelet.

I enjoyed this majestic-looking rooster and his colorful backdrop... If only it weren't for that pesky house-arrest bracelet.

I decided being a fat bee was not worth $180 last Halloween.

I decided being a fat bee was not worth $180 last Halloween.

Obviously, if a pig is on display for Día de los Muertos, it just makes sense that the pig's bones would be pink.

Obviously, if a pig is on display for Día de los Muertos, it just makes sense that the pig's bones would be pink.

Mexico seems to enjoy making their dogs appear as tough as possible, even when it is a lost cause. The other fan-favorite I see at mercados is an "FBI" doggie sweater, which I think may actually have the reverse effect of putting your dog in danger... Though to be fair, I have yet to see a "DEA" doggie outfit...

Mexico seems to enjoy making their dogs appear as tough as possible, even when it is a lost cause. The other fan-favorite I see at mercados is an "FBI" doggie sweater, which I think may actually have the reverse effect of putting your dog in danger... Though to be fair, I have yet to see a "DEA" doggie outfit...

This Christmas pig seemed so.... lifelike...?

This Christmas pig seemed so.... lifelike...?

Dining in Condesa: know thy strengths

Today was John’s birthday, so I ambitiously decided to make chilaquiles, only the best Mexican breakfast food ever. It is basically crispy, fried pieces of corn tortillas doused in a tasty salsa verde (tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro, serrano peppers) & cooked briefly until the chips soften a bit. Mix in some shredded chicken, top with optional sour cream/shredded cheese, and there you have it– basically socially-acceptable nachos for breakfast!  I highly recommend if you ever see them on the menu at a Mexican restaurant.

During the afternoon, we decided to have a leisurely wander & graze through Condesa, one of the trendy/hipster neighborhoods in Mexico City. This is where we would be living if we had a choice–jam-packed with restaurants galore, gelato shops, bars, clubs, and boutiques with clothing vastly too small/expensive for me. We had not yet been to El Tizoncito, one of the restaurants in Condesa who claims to be the “creator of tacos al pastor“. Clearly this merited a stop for a wee snack for the birthday boy!

Every salsa you could possibly wish for accompanies El Tizoncito's tacos al pastor.

Every salsa you could possibly wish for accompanies El Tizoncito's tacos al pastor.

 

The "pastor' at work at El Tizoncito!!

The "pastor' at work at El Tizoncito!!

For anyone not familiar, tacos al pastor are primarily secret-recipe-marinated pork cooked on a vertical rotisserie with a pineapple on top and an onion at its base. The pork is sheared off the spit into small tacos (~4-inch diameter), and topped with cilantro & onion. This is one of the classic, unique specialities of Mexico City and a must-try for all visitors.

 

After more walking around the old horsetrack path that forms the center of Condesa (and possibly visiting a few boutiques en route), we decided to stop for another drink/snack (in part because I refused to use the random porta-potties sitting awkwardly on the edge of the park). We found what seemed to be a suitable venue that possessed a toilet, Flora Lounge.

Unfortunately, the dining experience at Flora Lounge falls into the “not a classic nor unique specialty of Mexico City”. :) After perusing the menu consisting largely of “pastas” and “pizzetas”, we were informed there was no pasta at the moment. So, we opted to share a Pizzeta Canadiense (Canadian pizza?). Needless to say when the below object arrived on our table, we imagined that neither Canadians nor Italians would be too quick to claim this as their own.

This snack was not pleasing to the birthday boy.

This snack was not pleasing to the birthday boy.

It was a broad interpretation of pizza, implemented as: bottom layer- pita bread….. middle layer- cream cheese…. top layer- cheap deli ham…. added bonus- sprinkling of oregano.  Slightly warmed, but definitively not ‘cooked’. Interesting. In summary, Condesa has innumerable tasty, diverse restaurants, but when it comes to restaurants who do not actually call themselves “Italian” but serve food with names similar to (but not actual) Italian names, be aware. Know their strengths. And then go get some tacos al pastor.

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