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June, 2011:

Shopping in the Mexico City Airport

As many of you regular readers may have gathered by this point, there are few things I love more than products with a Mexican theme and kitschy shops for hipsters. When these worlds combine, good things happen.

I certainly didn’t expect to find this combo inside the Mexico City airport. But as I wandered through Terminal 2 on Friday (en route to Oaxaca for the Mexico Today kickoff), I came across “DesignMX: diseño mexicano contemporáneo” located between the two Starbucks in the middle portion of Terminal 2.

Here's the low-key signage for the DesignMX shop at the MEX airport

The flurry of loud, colorful bags caught my eye as was trotting by in search of a sandwich.

I was drawn to the busy prints like a moth to a flame...

Everything in the store comes from local Mexican designers, or so I understood. The one pictured above is Sensacional de Diseño Grafico (their website is a bit hit-or-miss, but I do love the lucha computer bag in the lower right corner of the photo above). You can check out some more of the wares in the pics below– just click on the photos to see a larger version.

My old favorite itten is selling their laser-cut jewelry & decor, and my new favorite Rojo has some witty ceramic items.

T-shirts, bags, bowls, jewelry, and fun faux-crumpled plastic cups on that 2nd shelf down from the top in red/black/white.

I have always been tempted to purchase one of Mexico's popular chicken-shaped egg baskets, but I fear our dinner guests would be weirded out by our eggs sitting out at room temp.

I told myself that if I didn’t make any big purchases in Oaxaca (outside of the already-planned bottle of mezcal), I would make a return visit before my flight home. So on Sunday, I popped back in and purchased a wee gift for John:

This is such a Mexico City-specific gift, I couldn't help but spring for it.

If you’ve never driven a car in Mexico City, the above figurine (actually a coin bank!) will mean absolutely nothing to you. Those who have spent time driving, you should recognize an artist’s rendering of the bane of your existence- the “Viene Viene” dudes. To quote Noé’s packaging:

“Noé is one of the thousands of “Viene Viene” (direct translation: “come, come”) of Mexico City. These individuals claim the majority of free public parking spaces on the street in order to charge the person who wants to use it. When one decides to pay, the “viene viene” removes the bucket used to save the spot & begins to aid you in parking by saying “viene, viene, viene.” Noé  is the name of our character and its meaning comes from the play of words No E, which in Spanish translates to No Parking.”

“No E” is the abbreviation for “No Estacionarse.”  These guys were indeed on every street of even marginal popularity. Initially I found them infuriating– they didn’t own this street; how could they charge me to park on it! But eventually I became a fan– nothing ever happened to our car under their watchful eyes, and for a few additional pesos they would usually wash off all the DF grime by the time we returned. Anyway, this memorabilia was one I couldn’t resist.  (John was appropriately amused.) :)

If you’re entertained by the Viene Viene, I highly recommend checking out the designer’s site at www.arielrojo.com. They also have an awesome pig lamp that uses swirly compact fluorescent bulbs as the pig’s tail, and another bank shaped like a mattress.

As for the other designers at DesignMX besides Ariel Rojo, I’ve written about itten before, but you should also check out El Escobas & their Molote Art Toy, Liquen jewelry, MODO Museo, and the various other brands whose names I can’t read in my pictures. Check out DesignMX on Facebook, and allegedly a website is coming soon!

If you have more money to spend, the Tienda MAP (moda y arte popular) has some great souvenirs, but the prices are well above what you would pay at popular tourist spots like Ciudadela in Mexico City. They do have some great stuff though if you are running short on time; it is the wing with Gates 52-62.  Pineda Covalin also has some beautiful clothes & accessories with classed-up Mexican imagery incorporated into their fabrics, but be prepared to pay for the name/quality. (They have stores in both wings of Terminal 2 and also in Terminal 1.) Note- they do have an international website as well if anyone is inspired!

I do love this Pineda Covalin bag, but I think it was ~$200 dollars...

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning the best option for lucha libre kitsch at the airport– the Hijo del Santo store is also located in Terminal 2, but it is outside of the secure area near the food court by puerta 6. Don’t let this Christmas be the Christmas you come home without any Mexican wrestling-themed gifts for all your loved ones, people! Consider yourself forewarned, and happy airport shopping. :)

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  I was also invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role and for the launch of the program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared in my blog are completely my own.


The Fields of Oaxaca

I believe it was a famous photographer who once said, “Some of the best photos this world has seen were taken from small, fogged-up airplane windows while flying over the state of Oaxaca.” Even if that’s not true, I’m still going to subject you to a photo I snapped on our descent into the OAX airport this afternoon– primarily for the viewing enjoyment of the many farmers & recovering farmers in my family. :)

Take a look at these stripey farm fields in Oaxaca state:

This looks like a modern art project, executed in crops.

The colors are a little anemic due to the multi-paned airplane window, but trust me that this flora was much more vibrant in person– particularly since the rainy season has begun in Oaxaca! I found the thin, multi-colored patches quite scenic. (Especially as opposed to my alternative view across the aisle– a man who seemed to be trying to put the moves on his airplane seat mate.)

More farm stripes! You are riveted!

It may not mean as much to those of you who are not Midwesterners & hence did not grow up viewing aerial photos of your Dad’s farm. So, check out this Google Satellite view of the farm land north of Pleasanton, Nebraska to get a sense of what an average US farm looks like. (And if you were wondering, yes, Pleasanton is home to the famous Sandbar restaurant & bar.)

Maybe this struck me today because it reminded me of the beautiful, stripey quilt that my Mom just finished for me & John, to accent our new gray/blue bedroom walls. Here it is on display still in her home:

Can you say talented quilter?? She even whipped up multiple pillows!! Go Marcia!!!

And speaking of beds (smooth transition, eh?), I was welcomed tonight after my arrival into Oaxaca by this message spelled out in leaves in my Camino Real hotel room:

John, don't get your hopes up expecting nightly love notes spelled out in cherry blossoms on our new quilt. ;)

This is how I was meant to live…but realistically I will only be living like this when Mexico Today is picking up the tab. :) Thanks to them for a great evening in Oaxaca!

Mexico Today!

My friends & family can confirm that I rarely pass up the chance to promote all-things-Mexico. Whether it be travel, food, drink, people, glassware, professional wrestling– you name it and I can probably spend an hour of your time raving about it. (Well, maybe everything except the chapulines. While I have sampled the crispy critters, I will admit to being lukewarm regarding grasshoppers from a culinary perspective…) :)

I had considerable success with my personal “Come visit us in Mexico City! Now!” campaign during our two years living there (I think we had ~25 visitors from the US?).  I may have toned down the constant peer pressure *slightly* since I am no longer there to be visited, but I still leap at the chance to “talk Mexico” when given the slightest opportunity! One of my new coworkers mentioned that her family originally hailed from Guadalajara, and I think I broke into a brief hymn of praise for Karne Garibaldi & its carne en su jugo.

I was beginning to fear that my Mexico fangirl tendencies might not have a proper outlet back here in the US… But then I received an email out of the blue from the PR firm who’s working with Marca Pais – Imagen de México to help them promote business & tourism in Mexico:
“I’m writing today on behalf of the Mexico Tourism Board’s Marca País – Imagen de México initiative, to invite you to join the Mexico Today program. The program will empower writers like you to share Mexico’s true stories with the people who need to hear them the most.  We thought that your love for travel and Mexico made you a perfect fit for the topics that we’d like to discuss on Mexico Today.”

Needless to say, this seemed like a good fit & well in-line with what I’ve been writing about on this blog for the last nearly 3 years! The México Today program will be kicking off this weekend in Oaxaca, so I am thrilled to be flying down to meet all the other folks who will also be a part of it. Several of them include longtime blog friends that I’m excited to finally meet in person- Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide, Canuck in Cancun, Countdown to Mexico, Mexico Cooks, Stay Adventurous– plus many more Mexi-fans that have a variety of interesting backgrounds.

Check out the México Today page at http://www.facebook.com/MexicoToday & let me know what you think. There will be hot action streaming from Twitter as well, and the official website is still a work in progress but can be found at http://mexicotoday.org.

In interest of full disclosure, I will be paid for the content I produce, but it will still be my opinions/thoughts/witty repartee that you’ve come to know & love (or at least tolerate)! I’m pretty excited about the program, because I think they are coming at it from the right angle: we all know that Mexico has its challenges these days, and the goal is not to hide or trivialize those issues. Instead, we hope to offer another perspective– one from folks who have actually lived, worked, and traveled on the ground in Mexico. Then you can be the judge!

Who better to promote Mexico than a girl who goes all the way to China to get her photo taken with an accented e that's as tall as she is?

I’m sure I’ll have more details after this weekend, so look forward to tales from Oaxaca plus me raving about being in the epicenter of mezcal, mole, and my favorite Mexican cheese. :)

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