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November, 2009:

Mexico Shopping Spree

John and I are not what one might call “interior design visionaries”. We’ve been living in Mexico for about 16 months now, and we’ve spent many a weekend wandering through various markets, stores, tianguis, etc., assessing the wares on display but unable to make any big decisions…  I think we suffer from an overly analytical mindset + a need to price-compare indefinitely, despite prices inherently being much more compelling than what you’d see for anything similar in the US.

Anyway, we’ve been on the hunt for things to perk up our current lame-o apartment decor, as well as items for our townhouse once we return to Arlington, VA next year. In a recent burst of decision-making, we’ve actually managed to commit & buy a few pieces, so thought I’d share our recent acquisitions (as a means of looking for affirmation that we’ve not made any gauche purchases…) 😉

We found this trifecta of vases at the Tonalá market outside Guadalajara. Apparently everything that has shards of glass in it comes in sets of 3, so we thought it best not to question the trend.

We found this trifecta of vases at the Tonalá market outside Guadalajara. Apparently everything that has shards of glass in it comes in sets of 3, so we thought it best not to question the trend.

In keeping with the "sets of 3" theme, we also found these decorative balls there... The middle ones have brown shards of glass, the right ones are some wacky crazed silver glass, and the left ones are covered in coffee beans! Don't worry; we don't plan to display them awkwardly in a big clump like this photo depicts.

In keeping with the "sets of 3" theme, we also found these decorative balls there... The middle ones have brown shards of glass, the right ones are some wacky crazed silver glass, and the left ones are covered in coffee beans! Don't worry; we don't plan to display them awkwardly in a big clump like this photo depicts.

Next stop: Mercado Jamaica. These purchases are a bit more temporary, but worth noting nonetheless. John & I have yet to grow up and buy real Christmas decorations, lights, the 6-foot tree, etc. So I thought we'd start out slow this year with an 18-inch Christmas tree that already has its decorations glued on. ;)

Next stop for shopping: Mercado Jamaica. Plant-based purchases are a bit more temporary, but worth noting nonetheless. John & I have yet to grow up and buy real Christmas decorations, lights, the 6-foot tree, etc... So I thought we'd start out slow this year with an 18-inch Christmas tree that already has its decorations glued on. ;)

Also in Mercado Jamaica, we found this stunning flower frog. He actually has a button near his butt that emits a "ribbit" sound when pressed. In interest of full disclosure, the ribbit button has ceased to function after 5 days, but I fear that may have been due to me accidentally watering the button.

Also in Mercado Jamaica, we found this stunning flower frog. He actually has a button near his butt that emits a "ribbit" sound when pressed. In interest of full disclosure, the ribbit button has ceased to function after 5 days, but I fear that may have been due to me accidentally watering the button.

Here is the front view of my friendly frog, whose mouth is even created out of red flowers. For those of you interested in other animals, we also spotted a flower-based giraffe, horse, teddy bear, and several types of dogs.

Here is the front view of my friendly frog, whose mouth is even created out of red flowers. For those of you interested in other animals, we also spotted a flower-based giraffe, horse, teddy bear, and several types of dogs.

Next up, a small non-apartment-decor purchase: lovely earrings from friend & jewelry designer Daniela!

Next up, a small non-apartment-decor purchase: lovely earrings from friend & jewelry designer Daniela!

And now for the wall hangings: we found this fun print at the Saturday market down in San Angel. The artist is Patricia Juarez. We also bought a print of a lovely, colorful market scene, but it was currently unavailable for a photo due to it being rolled up in a tube until we go get it framed. :)

And now for the wall hangings: we found this fun print at the Saturday market down in San Angel. The artist is Patricia Juarez. We also bought a print of a lovely, colorful market scene, but it was currently unavailable for a photo due to it being rolled up in a tube until we go get it framed. :)

And finally, our big purchase: this massive red oil painting by artist Enrique Mondragon. This puppy is about 0.8m wide x 1m tall, unframed. He exhibits in San Angel on Saturdays and Parque Sullivan on Sundays. We loved the distinctive flowers that remind us of all the beautiful flora here in Mexico (like the bird of paradise peering out at the top), and the thick, textured paint that makes it almost seem 3-D.

And finally, our big purchase: this massive red oil painting by artist Enrique Mondragon. This puppy is about 0.8m wide x 1m tall, unframed. He exhibits in San Angel on Saturdays and Parque Sullivan on Sundays. We loved the distinctive flowers that remind us of all the beautiful flora here in Mexico (like the bird of paradise peering out at the top), and the thick, textured paint that makes it almost seem 3-D.

So those are our recent acquisitions as we attempt to take advantage of all the beautiful artesanias that Mexico has to offer. A few more details below in case anything has spoken to you! :)

Tonalá: just outside Guadalajara to the east off of Highway 15. The big market is on Thursdays and Sundays from 8AM to between 3-6PM, but get there early or expect to sit in a lot of traffic trying to get off the highway. Loads of furniture/home decor stores plus stands selling just about anything else your little heart might desire. Good map available here.

Mercado Jamaica: I’ve posted about Jamaica before, but just to reiterate– easiest way to get there is take the Metro to the Jamaica stop on the brown line. If you buy too much crap to get back on the metro, there is a sitio taxi stand just outside the mercado, behind the flower section. (Exit from the back, left door in the flower section & turn to the left; cross the street & the sitio stand is in the middle of an intersection (I think under an overpass, if I recall correctly).  You can ask any of the merchants and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Daniela Millan: Check out her website link (click on her name) to see some of her other lovely designs.

Patricia Juarez: She does a variety of classic Mexico scenes of markets, mariachis, weddings, children playing, etc. plus amusing animal prints. All would be great for a kid’s room, but most could also be framed in black for a fun accent anywhere in your house. No website that I know of, but her email is pajua62@hotmail.com and phone 5848.0566.

Enrique Mondragon: In addition to the large flowers-in-vase oil paintings, he also does smaller versions + a variety of other scenes (countryside, bridges, old man w/dogs, etc.). No functioning website, but there is some info here in Spanish. Alternatively, his cell is 044 55 2152 5060, and he speaks some English. As I mentioned above, he’s in San Angel on Sat and Parque Sullivan on Sun.

San Angel market & Bazaar Sabado: also covered in a previous post; Saturday is the day to go!

Parque Sullivan: just northwest of the Reforma/Insurgentes intersection, between Calle Sullivan and Manuel Villalongin. The action is on Sundays between around 10AM and 4PM. Lots of the same artists from Saturdays at San Angel can be seen here on Sunday, but it is considerably less touristy.

Fighting the scourge…

Also in the vicinity of Leon, we spotted this bumper sticker:

"National Campaign Against Fruit Flies"

"National Campaign Against Fruit Flies"

Perhaps fruit flies are a bigger scourge here than I am aware of…? Who knew they required a national campaign? Needless to say, I am gettin’ me one of them stickers ASAP. :)

Best medical deal yet…

Saw this hot deal advertised outside a store while passing through Leon last week:

Translates as: Special Offer- "Love" Preservative - 10 pesos

Translates as: Special Offer- "Love" "Preservative" (condom)- 10 pesos

Everlasting love for less than a buck? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me… But unfortunately as I am cautioned, this will only “preserve” your love from forming a child. 😉 I like the romantic heart additions to class it up tho…

Coffee Names

Ordering fancy-pants coffee in Mexico presents a very minor challenge at places that ask for your name to write on the cup of your impending tasty beverage. Although I go by “Julie”, I usually tell the coffee gods that my name is “Julia” [Hoo-lee-uh], both to avoid the confusion that results when you pronounce J’s in English while talking in Spanish, and because my real name is Julia so I feel it is a valid option.

Others take a different tactic. My husband’s name is John. Again, we enounter the J problem. When he introduces himself to people in Mexico, he usually presents himself as “Juan” [Hwahn].

However, John recently disclosed to me that he has an entirely different Coffee Name. When he visits his nearby Starbucks, he often introduces himself as “Cuauhtémoc”. [roughly pronounced Kwou-tay-mahk]

For those of you who’ve not heard this name, let’s just say it is all over the place in Mexico. It is a neighborhood in DF (where the US Embassy is located, in fact). There is a Cuauhtemoc metro stop, at least one Avenida Cuauhtemoc, and probably a few dozen other Cuauhtemoc-related streets. Some Mexican men also carry this name. All of this Cuauhtemoc adoration stems from the Aztec leader of the same name, who ruled Tenochtitlan in the 1500’s and was tortured at the hands of Cortés.

Anyway, whenever I need a good belly laugh, all I have to do is picture John in his suit & tie in line at Starbucks, having the following conversation:

Barista, pen & coffee cup in hand: “¿Como se llama?”

John, totally serious: “Cuauhtémoc.”

Barista, staring blankly at the tall gringo standing at their counter: “Cuauhtémoc. Claro.”  [insert mumbling under breath here]

This chair most certainly does not depict Cuauhtémoc, but I like to think the photo does depict the seriousness with which John claims to be named that.

This chair most certainly does not depict Cuauhtémoc, but I like to think the photo does depict the seriousness with which John claims to be named that.

Be gone, foul dirt! Vaya con Dios!

Don't ever let anyone tell you your height will stop you from being a successful windshield cleaner. This gentleman is well-versed in the art of minivan-perching.

Don't ever let anyone tell you your height will stop you from being a successful windshield cleaner. This gentleman is well-versed in the art of minivan-perching.

For a city with such a reputation for being dirty, filthy, polluted and the like, Mexico City really loathes dirt. I have never experienced a city where there is such constant cleaning going on. You see this exhibited in various ways in cities across Mexico…

  • the guys hanging out in every parking lot/popular street parking area offering to wash your car for 20-30 pesos….
  • the dudes wandering the median at any busy intersection with a long traffic light, ready to alight upon your car with a soda bottle of sudsy water & a piece of rubber to wipe clean that filthy windshield in hopes of earning a few-peso tip…
  • the bottles of hand sanitizer at the entrance of many shops/restaurants…
  • the infinite number of women employed as maids by middle/upper class households, who travel long distances to scrub down every surface of these homes on a weekly or daily basis…
  • every busy sidewalk lined with shoe polishing stands, where a gent can have a brief sit, a chat, and come away 15 pesos lighter but able to see his reflection in his shoes…
It almost feels like this chap is dancing down the street, yet still hard at work sweeping up a storm

It almost feels like this chap is dancing down the street, yet still hard at work sweeping up a storm

But of all the cleaning I see (and try to avoid engaging in), my favorite is the sweeping. The constant sweeping. The brooms crafted by hand from dozens of tree twigs lashed to a larger branch… There are also the squeegies whisking away dirt off not only windows, but any tile floor/sidewalk resembling something that could possibly be squeegied… But it’s really the brooms–cleaning streets, cleaning sidewalks, cleaning dirt. It is impressive.

One of our apartment building-mates told us that she is often woken up at 5AM by a man vigorously sweeping the street with one of those twig numbers outside her apartment window. Everything is silent at that hour in DF, except for the steady cadence of “whisk, whisk, whisk”…

I suppose this shouldn’t be that novel in a city without street cleaning machines. Someone has to keep those roads clear of debris so we can see the sheep-sized potholes. But I am nonetheless fascinated at almost every restaurant, shop, and home’s daily battle against leaves, rocks, and dust. Literally every day when I’m out and about, I walk by no fewer than a dozen people sweeping the ground. Moving leaves into piles, shifting pebbles to a more opportune locale…

The best of the best is the people sweeping dirt off of dirt. As in: there is a spot of land that used to have grass but the grass is gone, so now it’s just dirt… But apparently excess dirt has gathered there, and it must be removed. Or at least given a new home. It’s been all I could do to not stop & inquire how they will know when they are finished with that section.

To be clear, all this sweeping does serve a purpose, since the air here does leave a visible black, dusty coating on things over time. (our point of reference: the interior ledge of the constantly-open window in our guest bedroom: filthy)  So please know that I am not criticizing the many, the proud, the sweepers of Mexico. But you have to wonder if this guy in the “Highway Outside the Gas Station Sweeper” position…

Forgive the crap photo taken from our car window, but I had to capture this thankless task...

Forgive the crap photo taken from our car window, but I had to capture this thankless task...

…ever gets a little frustrated when he’s FINALLY finished collecting all the dirt off of the roadway, and then one of these trucks drives by:

Would hate to be on the side of the road of this 3-tiered pig truck, especially if any of those guys have had a hearty meal recently... (again, apologies for moving-car-photo)

Would hate to be on the side of the road of this 3-tiered pig truck, especially if any of those guys have had a hearty meal recently... (again, apologies for moving-car-photo)

In fact, the culture of clean is so prevalent here that even the alebrijes get into the act:

We will not tolerate any foul dragonflies polluting the streets of DF. They will be dealt with harshly...

We will not tolerate any foul dragonflies polluting the streets of DF. They will be dealt with harshly...

Unique shopping & snacking in DF

I’ve never been a big fan of cookie-cutter, chain restaurants/shops (except in a pinch), so I am always excited to find a unique, locally-owned spot to spend my pennies (or pesos in this case). God knows there are zillions of non-chain options in Mexico City, but here are a few of the more amusing selections I’ve come across recently.

Shopping:

1) Itten Deco, Galileo 41B in Polanco, between Masaryk & Emilio Castelar

Here are a few of their acrylic coasters; some are opaque, some translucent.

Here are a few of their acrylic coasters; some are opaque, some translucent.

Their website is a bit sketch (i.e. half of the links appear to be decorative/ nonfunctional) so I couldn’t get too much background info from there, but the salesgirl told me the owner is a architect who does her own designs in acryllic + a variety of other materials. The main floor is primarily accessories & jewelry– placemats, coasters, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. Upstairs, there are a some furniture pieces, pillows, other house decor, & some neat photos-on-canvas of Mexico scenes.

Acrylic bracelets in various colors; necklaces & earrings are available in similar, smaller designs

Acrylic bracelets in various colors; necklaces & earrings are available in similar, smaller designs

Don’t get so distracted by the wall hangings upstairs that you nail your shin on a near-invisible clear coffee table, as my mom will attest. 😉 Great spot for a unique, reasonably-priced gift; I loved the colored acrylic coasters that are a jumble of letters or numbers. You can find a pic of the exterior here.

A variety of other table decor available at Itten!

A variety of other table decor available at Itten!

2) Artefacto, Amatlan 94 in Condesa between Michoacan & Campeche, OR Luis G Urbina 74 in Polanco just west of Julio Verne.

Their website is also a bit worthless, but at least it has wee maps. :) Artefacto has primarily housewares & accessories, their website claims “ethnic-contemporary”. Prices are a bit spendier at this spot (i.e. $38k-$41k pesos for a very pretty couch), but there are smaller accessories (i.e pillows, stuffed animals, lots of stuff made of a beige-y onyx or marble stone that I love) that aren’t *too* crazy. If nothing else, it is fun to look/covet.

My mom got us an early Crimmas present of this bedspread & 3 matching pillows from Artefacto. Very fun!

My mom got us an early Crimmas present of this bedspread & 3 matching pillows from Artefacto. Very fun!

Eating:

3) Maison Belen, Galileo 31 in Polanco at the corner of Emilio Castelar.

How tasty does this lime meringue tart look, with its little edible flowers on the side? Highly recommended...

How tasty does this lime meringue tart look, with its little edible flowers on the side? Highly recommended...

This cute little brekkie/lunch spot was opened just a couple months ago by a Cordon Bleu culinary school grad. The decor is the cutest ever, and they have gorgeous desserts (as well as tasty lunch entrees & sammies). I think this would be the perfect spot for a small baby or bridal shower– there is only 1 table inside, but it is surrounded by a sweet pink couch & crazily-upholstered chairs that seem to scream “girly celebration”. (The other tables are outside but under an awning & protected by plastic-y walls if it’s windy.) Stop by for a tasty capuccino or a light lunch (or what you think will be a light lunch until you realize you HAVE to eat dessert too).

The main table inside Maison Belen... I must have those chairs...

The main table inside Maison Belen... I must have those chairs...

Here's the standard menu; during lunch it's also accompanied by 3-4 specials that are usually quite tasty.

Here's the standard menu; during lunch it's also accompanied by 3-4 specials that are usually quite tasty.

4) El Encrucijada, Atlixco 168 in Condesa, between Alfonso Reyes & Campeche

A great locale to solve the world's problems over what ends up being ~1 bottle of wine per person.... ;)

A great locale to solve the world's problems over what ends up being ~1 bottle of wine per person.... ;)

This tiny wine bar is hidden on a residential-y street in Condesa. There about 5 seats at the bar, 5 seats looking out onto the street via an open-window bar built into the wall, and a handful of small bar-height tables. I’m a fan because they have a good selection of a variety of wines at a variety of price points, impressively starting at $120 pesos for an Argentine red (though suspiciously that wasn’t in stock last time we visited…conspiracy??). 😉 There is some kind of regulation in DF regarding certain places that serve booze require you to order food w/your drink, so your group has to order *something* small to eat along with your wine. Ok, twist my arm. :) They have tapas-esque piles of meats, cheese & olives, as well as bread slices with a variety of tasting toppings (i.e. olive tapenade- my fav).

Here's the bar + some of the wine storage @ El Encrucijada

Here's the bar + some of the wine storage @ El Encrucijada

This is definitely not a see-and-be-seen kinda place, but more of a great hole-in-the-wall to go with a small group or for a drink before dinner (and not drop $100 pesos on a fancy cocktail elsewhere in Condesa!) El Encrucijada is open from 6PM everyday but Sunday, until midnight M-W, 1AM on Thurs, and 2AM on the weekend. Website is again fairly worthless (a theme here), but see a few blurry pics below that I tried to snap all subtle-like w/o a flash.

Tasty snacky bits ala tapas in Spain, overlooking the open window seating area. The bottle of water is a rarity...

Tasty snacky bits ala tapas in Spain, overlooking the open window seating area. The bottle of water is a rarity...

And a blurry view of the wine menu scribbled on the wall...

And a blurry view of the wine menu scribbled on the wall...

These are just a few of the more niche-y, small fun (and fresa-ish) spots I’ve tracked down so far. Any chilangos have other amusing insider tips they’d be willing to share??

Dia de los Muertos celebrations around DF

Some of the seasonal candied fruit/veg here in Mexico... I was not bold enough to eat a whole pumpkin

Some of the seasonal candied fruit/veg here in Mexico... I was not bold enough to eat a whole pumpkin

As many of my fellow bloggers have discussed, this is one of the best times of year to be in Mexico City– during the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Preparation for this fascinating holiday begins during the last week or two of October, with activities reaching their peak on November 1 & 2. Wikipedia offers a decent general overview of the history, but in a nutshell, it is a time to remember & honor deceased friends and family. Visually this takes the form of ofrendas (offerings, or altars) in people’s homes & on display in many public venues as well.

One of the traditional images of Catrina, the classic skeletal, elegant female associated with Dia de los Muertos in Mexico

One of the traditional images of Catrina, the classic skeletal, elegant female associated with Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. (here depicted with flower petals, salt, dirt, etc.)

These altars are beautifully decorated with flowers, petals, other brightly colored elements that form designs, sugar skulls, the favorite food/drink of the deceased, etc. Additionally, market vendors are in full force selling Dia de los Muertos-related decor & food, particularly Pan de Muerto (a.k.a. “dead bread”, a tasty sugared bun or loaf w/a light orange taste to it). We didn’t make any major treks out of the area to the most popular venues for celebrating this holiday (i.e. Patzcuaro in Michoacan and Mixquic just southeast of DF). However, we did manage visits to Mercado Jamaica, Coyoacan (incl. the Frida Kahlo Museum & Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares– thanks to Ruth for the recommendation!), and the Edgar Allen Poe-themed ofrendas on display at UNAM.

A few photos of all the action below!

I bought several of these "papel picados" (cut paper) in various colors with a variety of fun, friendly skeleton themes...

I bought several of these "papel picados" (cut paper) at Mercado Jamaica in various colors with a variety of fun, friendly skeleton themes...

These were just a few of the calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) for sale at Jamaica. The chocolate ones looked good enough to eat...

These were just a few of the calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) for sale at Jamaica. The chocolate ones looked good enough to eat...

My favorite little white flower dogs from my last visit to Mercado Jamaica were now decked out in their festive Halloween best.

My favorite little white flower dogs from my last visit to Mercado Jamaica were now decked out in their festive Halloween best.

Next, off to Coyoacan… On Saturday, activities were still underway to finish assembling the ofrendas, so it was interesting to see the creation process in action.

We first stopped at the Frida Kahlo museum, aka her "Casa Azul" near the heart of Coyoacan. Despite not being a Frida history expert, I must say the museum was quite interesting & really well done... Seeing her house & gardens and getting a few snippets of her life w/Diego Rivera was time well spent.

We first stopped at the Frida Kahlo museum, aka her "Casa Azul" near the heart of Coyoacan. Despite not being a Frida history expert, I must say the museum was quite interesting & really well done... Seeing her house & gardens and getting a few snippets of her life w/Diego Rivera was time well spent.

Here's Diego del Muerto at the ofrenda in the garden of the Kahlo museum

Here's Diego del Muerto at the ofrenda in the garden of the Kahlo museum

...and another one of the folks hanging out at Frida's place...

...and another one of the folks hanging out at Frida's place...

Next, we wandered through Hidalgo Square where a number of ofrendas were in progress…

We saw this intricate design being filled in with copious amounts of table salt...

We saw this intricate design being filled in with copious amounts of table salt...

Ironically, many flowers died to create the amazing images for this holiday... particularly marigolds and cockscombs...

Ironically, many flowers died to create the amazing images for this holiday... particularly marigolds and cockscombs...

This ofrenda won points in my mind for its subversive, "government sucks" messaging

This ofrenda won points in my mind for its subversive, "government sucks" messaging

The fountain in the nearby Centenario Garden was taken over with this gorgeous display

The fountain in the nearby Centenario Garden was taken over with this gorgeous display

Next, onto the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, entrance shown above. Entry was free on Saturday, but normally it is a mere 11 pesos and they had an interesting exhibition about sugar that could still be worth a peek post-holiday.

Next, onto the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, entrance shown above. Entry was free this Saturday, but normally it is a mere 11 pesos and they had an interesting exhibition about sugar that could still be worth a peek post-holiday. Here's John bonding w/his mother-in-law. :)

Inside the museum, they had some excellent vendors selling Dia de los Muertos food & crafts. We were particularly impressed by this table of Catrinas.

Inside the museum, they had some excellent vendors selling Dia de los Muertos food & crafts. We were particularly impressed by this table of Catrinas.

In fact, we liked them enough that we made purchased two new little friends (for a grand total of $460 pesos, which seemed reasonable despite our lack of calavera-price-benchmarking)! I have to say, it is fascinating how the more you see things as a normal part of culture, the more they grow on you... If you had told me before we moved down here that I would someday purchase an 18-tall well-dressed skeleton woman + a fat cowboy skeleton with a dead rooster at his feet, I wouldn't have believed you for a minute. :)

In fact, we liked them enough that we made purchased two new little friends (for a grand total of $460 pesos, which seemed reasonable despite our lack of calavera-price-benchmarking)! I have to say, it is fascinating how the more you see things as a normal part of culture, the more they grow on you... If you had told me before we moved down here that I would someday purchase an 18-inch-tall trendily-dressed skeleton woman + a fat cowboy skeleton with a dead rooster at his feet, I wouldn't have believed you for a minute. :)

 

One of the hot controversies in Coyoacan is that after they remodeled the main square, they kicked all the street vendors out & relocated them to the Frida Kahlo Garden, a few blocks southeast of the square. The vendors are displeased, but I will say they are in a lovely area--especially when the main fountain is covered in flower petals.

One of the hot controversies in Coyoacan is that after they remodeled the main square, they kicked all the street vendors out & relocated them to the Frida Kahlo Garden, a few blocks southeast of the square. The vendors are displeased, but I will say they are in a lovely area--especially when the main fountain is covered in flower petals.

The wee skeleton figurines are always good for a laugh-- my mom purchased one of the dog+vet options that was the spitting image of our Jack Russell terrier Dave back in Nebraska. Note the pile of cheery horse-drawn hearses in the back...

The wee skeleton figurines are always good for a laugh-- my mom purchased one of the dog+vet options that was the spitting image of our Jack Russell terrier Dave back in Nebraska. Note the pile of cheery horse-drawn hearses in the back... (From the main mercado in Coyoacan)

Also inside the Mercado Coyoacan, we visited the Tostadas Coyoacan stall for a late morning snack. My mom's guide book informed us this is *the* original spot & not to be fooled by the mimics nearby. I can vouch--both the drinks & seafood here were AMAZING. I recommend an agua de sandia (watermelon) and a tostada de camaron (shrimp). Look at those piles of seafood, people!!

Also inside the Mercado Coyoacan, we visited the Tostadas Coyoacan stall for a late morning snack. My mom's guide book informed us this is *the* original spot & not to be fooled by the mimics nearby. I can vouch--both the drinks & seafood here were AMAZING. I recommend an agua de sandia (watermelon) and a tostada de camaron (shrimp). Look at those piles of seafood, people!!

My mom headed back for Nebraska yesterday, and then today John & I drove down to check out UNAM (the largest university in the Americas) & the ofrendas in homage to Edgar Allen Poe set up outside near the library. We gave these the verdict of “amusing, but we’ve seen better”.  Here are a couple of the more interesting ones, however…

A massive book display in the spirit of "The Black Cat"....

A massive book display in the spirit of "The Black Cat"....

I should know my Poe stories better... Anybody know the story where someone is cut in half or loses a head via an improvised guillotine?

I should know my Poe stories better... Anybody know the story where someone is cut in half or loses a head via an improvised guillotine?

One of the popular themes was a cemetary with headstones citing each of Poe's best known works. We were able to quickly identify "The Tell-tale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum"... Some gravestones seemed a bit redundant; not sure if the students got a bit lazy in their Poe research?

One of the popular themes was a cemetary with headstones citing each of Poe's best known works. We were able to quickly identify "The Tell-tale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum"... Some gravestones seemed a bit redundant; not sure if the students got a bit lazy in their Poe research?

The Pumas are the UNAM soccer team; here, John brings life to a player's body...

The Pumas are the UNAM soccer team; here, John brings life to a player's body...

This is just a smattering of the Dia de los Muertos action here in Mexico City, and as you can see, it’s a really interesting time to be here & learn more about one of the most important holidays in Mexico (second only to Dia de Guadalupe, we’re told!). Mark your calendars now for next year, people!! In closing, I’ll leave you with a decorating idea in case you have any blank walls in your house waiting for a theme…

This is a subtle interior design technique that I think will easily stretch both across the calendar year and across cultures... Any takers?? ;)

This is a subtle interior design technique that I think will easily stretch both across the calendar year and across cultures... Any takers?? ;)

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