Midwesterner in Mexico Rotating Header Image

Visits back in the US

Happy Halloween!

A very Happy Halloween to all those here in the US this evening! Today marks our official re-entry into Normal Life 2.0, as we arrived this evening back to Arlington, Virginia after 2 years and 3 months living in Mexico City. We’ve been on a 2700+ mile road trip starting in Denver, Colorado on October 14, had the chance to see lots of lovely friends & family along the way, met lots of precious new babies/toddlers, and suffered only one car accident– luckily no injuries to anyone except my pretty blue Nissan Altima that my suegra had kept in fantastic shape while we were away. I think the Altima may be regretting his change in ownership… :)

Some dude turning left in front of me at the last minute in an intersection was a most unpleasant turn of events as we arrived into Chicago.

But you may really be wondering, “Julie, how did you know that you were no longer in Mexico?” I know, I know… it can be tricky to differentiate, but here are a few of the signs:

1) We had to pump our own gas AND wash our own windshield.

This was novel... for like 30 seconds. How can it be that having someone else pump your gas went out of vogue in the US??

2. We got to stand next to someone taller than we are, who also has blonde hair.

Cousin Kami & her darling 4-month-old twins, Lucy & Sam.

3. We were pressured by family members to wear Uncle Sam & Betsy Ross hairpieces/hats.

This was part of our re-indoctrination process, courtesy Uncle Ken & Aunt Kathy

4. We began seeing a lot of mashed potatoes & gravy and fried chicken. Not to mention corn off the cob that lacked a layer of mayo/cheese/lime juice/chile powder slathered atop it.

Obesity problem in America?? What could you possibly be referring to?

5. Cheladas are no longer made by thoughtful bartenders; they are sold in cans in the supermarket.

I was skeptical of this incarnation of the chelada.

6. The frequency of deer-based cured meat products for sale was markedly increased. Frankly, as was the sale of non-spicy sausage products in general.

John demos how the deer in question might have looked prior to death. Additional bonus of cheese curds in the lower right. Thank you, Wisconsin.

7. Speaking of deer, we saw a dead one riding home to dinner strapped atop someone’s SUV.

This is how middle America does "para llevar". ("to go")

In summary, we’re pretty sure we are back in the States, and now begins a couple weeks of intense home improvements to our townhouse here in Arlington. After two years of renting, there is plenty of work to be done– but we received a positive sign regarding our impending home repairs at the Chinese restaurant we stopped by tonight:

My fortune cookie promised us that "You will have no problems in your home." We're also counting on the "tasty fruit" promised in John's fortune cookie after we kill ourselves painting every wall in the place.

Lest you think that I’ve already forgotten the name of this blog, today’s touch of Mexico comes courtesy of my parents back in Nebraska. My Mom passed along the below photo of my Dad, who pulled a full coordinated outfit together for handing out Halloween candy this evening. I can’t wait to hear how it went. :)

El Matematico de Nebraska could easily compete with any professional luchador with this costume, accompanied by the giant rat that is actually a basket for candy. Well done, Larry!!!

Although my favorite part is how his eyes look slightly crazed, I would like to point out that that is due to the unevenly-sized eye holes of the lucha mask, and not because my Dad actually has uneven eyes. Honest. Larry’s eyes could serve as a level for hanging picture frames; that is just how even his eyes are.

Thanks to all for your well-wishes, and more Mexico anecdotes to continue after we get settled in!

Casseroles heal all wounds

After two weeks here in Nebraska, hanging out both at the hospital in Omaha and in my hometown of Grand Island, the time has come for me return to Mexico City. I think the Carmann family is feeling a lot better now that we’ve had some time to gather more information & Mom is well on the road to recovery from the surgical procedures. Additionally, we’ve been super appreciative of the support from all our family & friends in words, thoughts and deeds.

Which brings me to a question I was thinking about last nite… What is the standard procedure in Mexico when a friend or neighbor is sick, or has received generally crappy news?

I am very familiar with the cultural norm in the Midwest– casseroles, casseroles and more casseroles! And perhaps a pie! And sure enough, our friends in Grand Island have not let us down. :)  In the 4 days we were home, we received one cherry pie, two freezable chicken/spaghetti-based casseroles (though I confess one did not make it to the freezer… too tasty to just wrap up and put away both of them!!), a bacon-wrapped chicken & dried beef casserole yesterday nite along with a potato casserole (and brownies!), and a promise for a macaroni-and-cheese casserole to arrive on Saturday. (As well as a dozen amazing cupcakes shipped in from friends in Texas.)

Casseroles are the Midwesterner’s way of saying, “I am thinking of you during this crappy time you are going through, and I know that you probably can’t be bothered to cook. So, I am bringing you this casserole that you can freeze, so that you’ll have it at the ready on whichever day your cooking motivation reaches an all-time low.” While they might not fall into the ‘health food’ category, they definitely fall into the “comfort, feel-better food” category.

You can peruse one of our family favorites, Swiss Cheese Green Bean Casserole, here.

Getting back to the question at hand, what is the similar cultural procedure in Mexico? Or even on the East Coast of the US?? (since we’re heading back to Washington DC soon-ish)  Is there a standard food or type of food that is the default option when a nearby friend or family member is in need?? I was laughing to myself, thinking of someone in Boston showing up at a sick neighbor’s door with a big bucket of clams…. or perhaps someone in Mexico hiring a tacos al pastor vendor to make a visit to a hospital. :)

Any insights are welcomed to add to my cultural intelligence… because I’m just not sure how well our Midwestern casseroles would be received in Mexico City…. 😉

Life in a hospital for 7 days: not as glamorous as Grey’s Anatomy depicts

As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve been back from Mexico in Nebraska for the last week. Unfortunately it hasn’t just been all fun and games of monitoring crime in Omaha (though God knows it’s not for lack of news).

I’ve spent the several days at the University of Nebraska Medical Center here in Omaha, hanging out with my mom, Marcia. Marcia’s had a rough week, to say the least. After a couple months of having weird fevers/pneumonia/pains in her chest/zillions of tests, she came to UNMC for a biopsy to suss out what was going on with some suspicious lymph nodes in her chest. Just doing this biopsy involved collapsing one of her lungs, so it was no small task.

This lovely array of flowers & friendly animals certainly helped to speed Mom along the road to recovery!

To make a long story short, it turns out she has stage 3 squamous cell lung cancer. This was not the news we were hoping for, particularly since she has never smoked a cigarette in her life (p.s. God: not fair). But we are ready to wrestle it into submission!! And we are feeling optimistic– during the biopsy/surgery, they hacked out all of the evil cancery-bits that they observed. Of course, this included the two lower lobes of her right lung, some lymph nodes, and a little of the exterior of her esophagus… But like I have always said, two whole lungs are just taking up excess space that could better be used for storing things like jello. Or tapioca pudding (her current favorite item on the glamorous hospital food room service menu).

The doctors indicated the final margins were all clear, meaning that all the visible cancerous areas are gone. The top remaining concern is whether there are any additional evil secret lymph nodes lurking around. So, the current thought process is some chemo/radiation action for around 3-4 months. Luckily Mom should be able to do this back in our hometown of Grand Island, which will be a lot more convenient than driving the 2.5 hours to Omaha on a regular basis. She’ll wait another 3-4 weeks to start, however, because they want her to be healed up & strengthened from the super-invasive surgery as much as possible. She’s making great progress– down to one chest drainage tube & no IVs as of today!

Needless to say, we’ve been looking for humor wherever we can while hanging around the hospital. Here are my personal favorites thus far:

I saw this sign the day I arrived. I don't know exactly what happens at this event, but I am ok with not being invited.

Given my previous post, I was relieved to see that guns are *not allowed* in the hospital.

I have also been excited about the chance to work on my medical Spanish. (I brought my Dad to the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit in Mexico City the other week, where only upon arriving did it strike me how I should have reviewed body part names in Spanish before attending...)

I brought a wee Frida Kahlo mirror as a gift for mom, largely because it was one of the few gift-like things I had lying around the house when I decided to fly back to Nebraska the next morning. :)

The Frida mirror has come in handy as a tool for Mom to visually stalk her telemetry monitor, which the nurses turned away to try & get her to stop obsessing over the stats. (typical math teacher)

We were quite jealous of Mom's elegant meal options. She simply *insists* on sparkling laxatives, never still.

We have been pleasantly surprised by the tasty ethnic dining options around UNMC in Omaha-- Mother India and Gerda's German Restaurant were both awesome. I saw this Aug-toberfest announcement @ Gerda's and had to laugh at the 6:45-7:15PM timeline for dinner shown on the flyer. 30 minutes for dinner?? That would *NEVER* fly in Mexico!! :)

Also falling into the "panicked last-minute gift" category was this ear-of-corn thong. The corn thong seemed like an appropriate solution for Nebraskans, and a good way to spice things up once Mom & Dad get back home. 😉 My mother & I have been having an ongoing battle of me putting it on display & her hiding it from visiting surgeons each day.

I finally convinced my dad to model the corn thong, but he decided to go with a "Uni-corn" look... My mom had to hide her face in shame behind her new heart pillow. :)

Probably the scariest part of the week was when an elderly female clown stopped by. Luckily, Mom feigned sleep so the clown didn't stay to chat. She just dropped off this sticker instead. I felt like the clown might have missed the memo on which floor was pediatrics...

Marcia is hoping to escape the hospital this Saturday if she can get rid of this chest tube tomorrow.  If any readers are so inspired– any cards, witty commentary, and/or photos of cute dogs (Mom’s favorite) are welcomed & appreciated!! (Let me know if you need an address!) Mom will have a challenging few months ahead, but we have total confidence that she will get through it with the support of all our amazing friends & family.  Thanks to everyone for all thoughts & prayers sent our way. For more info or to leave a message for Marcia directly, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marciacarmann.

http://www.danielespinosa.com/

Now who’s more dangerous: Mexico City vs. Omaha, Nebraska

I flew from Mexico City back to Omaha, Nebraska rather unexpectedly on Thursday. One might reasonably assume that Omaha (epitome of the good ol’ Midwest with a population of around 830,000+ in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro area) would be vastly safer than Mexico City (capital of narco-landia with a population of 23,000,000+).

Imagine my surprise when one of the top stories on Omaha’s evening news Thursday night was, “Two Bodies Found Outside Zoo”. What?!?  The zoo in question is the famed Henry Doorly Zoo, “nationally renowned for its leadership in conversation [**often know as ‘conservation’ when spelled correctly] and research”, according to Wikipedia, and also “Nebraska’s #1 paid attendance attraction”.

A quick Google search for “Omaha bodies zoo” will turn up a variety of news reports, but I will award the Prize for Informed Interviewees to WOWT.com.

WOWT.com’s current updated version of the story titled “Bodies Found Outside Zoo Identified”, includes the following statements, which start off as facts related enough to the issue:

  • The Omaha Police Homicide Unit is investigating the deaths of a man and woman whose bodies were found outside the Henry Doorly Zoo around 4 a.m. Thursday.
  • “Officers were in the area of 10th Street on patrol when they were flagged down by zoo personnel stating they had located two persons down to the side of the street,” said OPD Officer Jake Bettin.

Ok, I’m with you so far WOWT.com. Then continuing on, quotes include:

  • “We’re just excited and ready to get in and have fun,” said Steven Boldridge, …”
  • “The kids are psyched….”
  • Boldridge noticed the crime scene tape and police cruisers in the area, but didn’t think much of it.
  • The discovery didn’t stop Mindy Gibbs from fulfilling a promise made to her son Parker. This was going to be a zoo day no matter what, but Gibbs does feel for the victims. “I think that’s sad. I mean why here, there are a lot of families that visit every day. We’ll see what happens.”

Huh. An Omaha.com article offered similar citizen commentary, including:

  • Liz Cox of Omaha was among zoogoers who were rerouted to avoid the investigation scene. When her son asked about the detour, she kept her explanation short: parking problems. “That’s not what I’d explain to my 5-year-old,” she said. “He doesn’t need to know (about the bodies).”

True enough, Liz. Let’s get past the “Mommy what are those two elephants doing” hurdle first.

Admittedly I don’t really have a clear point here outside of shock/surprise, but nonetheless a few comments apropos Mexico City vs. Omaha:

  1. Unless I have missed an article amongst the (to be fair) heavy stream of news coverage in DF, not even the narcos in Mexico are dumping bodies around kid-frequented ZOOS. For the love. What kind of jerk criminals are operating here in Omaha?
  2. Slightly fascinating how blasé the Omaha zoo-goers seem about the whole dead bodies/crime scene thing. I’m not saying one should assume the killers are lurking around the zoo while there are 50 cop cars swarming the area, but still, they seem surprisingly unconcerned.
  3. Perhaps this is a sign that Americans are growing less concerned about tourism near areas of, shall we say, recent incidents of distress? Maybe this will bode well for northern Mexico.

Needless to say, I will be watching back during my remaining time here & hoping that Omaha avoids landing on any State Dept Travel Advisory lists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Doorly_Zoo

Visit to Boston: 1st day highlights

I scheduled a trip many moons ago to finally get back to Boston  (where I lived from 2002-2006) to visit friends & hang around for Patriots’ Day, better known as the day of the Boston Marathon! I flew out of Mexico City on Wednesday at 9AM & got in last nite. Here are a few highlights from the first 24-ish hours (as if to imply that my life is so fast-paced & riveting that you need daily updates):

  • having an Auntie Anne’s pretzel at the Houston airport– touch me salty, buttery, doughy goodness
  • listening to a sales pitch from this Sony VAIO sales rep on the plane:

OK, just kidding; he wasn't actually giving a sales pitch but I have no idea why he was using his airplane seat as a desk

  • randomly ending up sitting next to a guy from Mexico City on my flight from Houston to Boston who turned out to be really nice & friendly, and not only having my first FOUR-HOUR-LONG conversation on a plane, but having my first FOUR-HOUR-LONG conversation on a plane IN SPANISH! Was both very proud of self & pleased to meet total stranger who was amusing to chat with & not crazy (since the risk of a crazy seatmate increases exponentially corresponding to the length of your flight)
  • going to a Wednesday nite show at ImprovBoston, where I used to take improv comedy classes when I lived in Boston. One of the best things I did during my time in Boston, FYI. For any of you out there who haven’t yet heard my “Everyone should take improv classes! Seriously! Even you! No, I promise you will like it & learn amazing new skills! Just do it!” rant, please let me know & I will happily spend 30 minutes extolling the virtues of improvisational comedy.

The stage at ImprovBoston's new home on Prospect Street near Central Square in Cambridge, MA. The props were for the "Magic & Misdemeanors" show put on my one of my former improv troupe cohorts-- see more details at http://magicandmisdemeanors.com/!

  • going to my fav clothes store, Nordstrom, and having the chance to buy a few pairs of shoes from a man with a faux-hawk AND a Boston accent!  (ahhh the memories…)
  • reminding myself that sometimes Macy’s has great deals on really nice clothes, but sometimes, it doesn’t:

This is not the formal dress I will be wearing for my graduation dinner at Thunderbird, in part because I would have had to stitch two of them together.

  • introducing New Englanders to the glory of lucha libre & its ability to strengthen father-son bonds:

You know what they say-- the family that wrestles together, stays together. Here, Matthew & Mike do a valiant impression of a tender moment between Blue Demon and Nacho Libre.

  • and finally, teaching my friend Tanya that the young, cool, hip moms no longer want to be known as the tacky/offensive term “MILF“… Instead, they would like to be known as “MILW”– Mom I’d Like to Wrestle:

You will note that Tanya followed the first rule of Lucha Libre (make sure your mask matches the rest of your outfit). Here, she is shown just after having unmasked her competitor (her 3-year-old son).

It is unknown whether Tanya & her son Matthew were engaged in a mascara contra mascara competition, or the more intense caballera contra caballera battle (review the difference here). I will be checking in the morning to see whether Matthew’s head was shaved as a result of his heartbreaking loss.

A Taste of Mexico in Grand Island, Nebraska

After wrapping up my 3rd semester of MBA final exams this past weekend, I was up bright and early Monday morning to fly to Nebraska for a visit home! Continental Airlines won a few bonus points in my book via a) the ability to reserve exit-row seats online 24 hours in advance (thanks to bro Tim for the tip off on that one) and b) giving me full cans of pop on both flights and a free SMALL SANDWICH, CHIPS, AND MINI-TWIX BAR on the flight between Houston & Omaha! I was shocked and awed, given the recent trend of airlines to offer roughly 5 dry pretzels as a substitute for lunch.

I made it out of the tricky Omaha airport (20 whole gates!) to meet up with my mom for some quick shopping & dinner before making the drive back to my hometown of scenic Grand Island. There have been a few unexpected hospital trips due to Grandma having some trouble breathing the last couple nites (luckily she was looking good today, playing fan-favorite game “Snack Bingo” at the assisted living center). Other than that, we’ve focused on what any good midwestern family would focus on: eating.

Mom tested out the Vietnamese pho (beef soup w/noodles) at Vientiane, which was excellent.

Mom tested out the Vietnamese pho (beef soup w/noodles) at Vientiane, which was excellent.

I was craving some Asian food (Thai? Chinese? Vietnamese?) since there is not much of that in Mexico City , but was a bit suspicious as to what would be available here in the middle of Nebraska. The Grand Island, NE page on Trip Advisor actually mentioned an Asian restaurant called Vientiane; one favorable review from a stranger was enough to convince me to go!! We sat down & perused the menu offering a mix of Vietnamese/Thai/Chinese/Lao cuisines.  I was thrilled to see Crab Rangoons on the menu, which turned out to be the lightest, least-greasy Crab Rangoons I have had in many moons. The Egg Rolls also scored points for flavor & no-grease. I made some recommendations to my parents to test out the Pho and Larb (pork version), both of which were amazing. The Larb has a little spice, but nothing too dramatic for Larry. :) I had the Chicken Pad Thai which was nice but not my favorite version ever, and it paled in comparison to the other two. I would definitely to go back & try the other apps, some pork fried rice, and perhaps a dessert or two.

This will help you to recognize GI's new hot Asian restaurant from afar.

This will help you to recognize GI's new hot Asian restaurant from afar.

Getting some ricas carnitas (tasty slow-cooked pork) is definitely on the list for my next trip home.

Getting some ricas carnitas (tasty slow-cooked pork) is definitely on the list for my next trip home.

Anyway, you’ll note in the photo above the sign reading “Arroz Chino”, which is Spanish for “Chinese Rice”. This alludes nicely to the easy transition I had from Mexico City to Grand Island. Grand Island has a hispanic population of around 19%, so a number of restaurant and business offerings have sprung up over the last several years. I doubt that I’m alone in saying that growing up here, I tended to ignore ethnic markets whose products/language I wasn’t very familiar with. Coming back here now, after some Spanish training + a year in DF under my belt, it’s a whole different story. Having become such a fan of autentico Mexican food combined with my affinity for all non-chain businesses, I feel the need to pressure my parents to become regulars at any of these spots that are remotely viable. Although a rigorous existing dinner schedule prevented us from checking out any Latino establishments for la cena, I have extracted a commitment from Mom & Dad to go suss out the coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktail) at Restaurante Ario after I leave. And we did manage to make it to El Taco Naco for a snack, arguably the most DF-esque option in town.

Below are a few photos of the sights in GI that looked quite familiar to this adopted chilanga.

My parents will be reporting back shortly on the status of the Coctel de Camarones here at Restaurante Ario. Note that it is "Estilo Patzcuaro", or "in the style of Patzcuaro", the town a few hours west of DF that is the focal point for each fall's popular Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

My parents will be reporting back shortly on the status of the Coctel de Camarones here at Restaurante Ario. Note that it is "Estilo Patzcuaro", or "in the style of Patzcuaro", the town a few hours west of DF that is the focal point for each fall's popular Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

Obviously I forced Mom to come check out Super Acapulco based on the name alone. This large store has been around for 8 years, and has a great selection of groceries as well as a restaurant. I would recommend testing out their esquites/elote (Mexican-style corn) or licuados (blended fruit drinks).

Obviously I forced Mom to come check out Super Acapulco based on the name alone. This large store has been around for 8 years, and has a great selection of groceries as well as a restaurant. I would recommend testing out their esquites/elote (Mexican-style corn) or licuados (blended fruit drinks).

...though if their tacos al pastor are even half as good as the ones I've had in DF, they should definitely be at the top of your list! Amazingly-marinated pork topped with pineapple, cilantro & onion. Mmmmmm....

...though if their tacos al pastor are even half as good as the ones I've had in DF, they should definitely be at the top of your list! Amazingly-marinated pork topped with pineapple, cilantro & onion. Mmmmmm....

Copa de Oro will definitely have to get added to the list for a happy hour next time 'round, if solely to check on the existence of any actual Cups of Gold...

Copas de Oro will definitely have to get added to the list for a happy hour next time 'round, if solely to check on the existence of any actual Cups of Gold...

As soon as I saw this trailer parked in someone's driveway on "main drag" aka South Locust Street, I knew I needed to confirm whether El Taco Naco was the real deal. We stopped for a snack about 2:00 (narrowly arriving within their operating hours of 11AM-2PM and 4PM-12PM)...

As soon as I saw this trailer parked in someone's driveway on "main drag" aka South Locust Street, I knew I needed to confirm whether El Taco Naco was the real deal. We stopped for a snack about 2:00 (narrowly arriving within their operating hours of 11AM-2PM and 4PM-12PM)...

Marcia & I gave a thumbs up to the spicy barbacoa taco topped w/onion & cilantro. El Taco Naco also get points for their trendy name ("naco" in Mexico City is a word that used to mean "unfashionable, ordinary" that has been adopted by DF's hipsters to signify their alternative style so now it's kinda hip... or at least that's my vague interpretation)

Marcia & I gave a thumbs up to the spicy barbacoa taco topped w/onion & cilantro. El Taco Naco also get points for their trendy name ("naco" in Mexico City is a word that used to mean "unfashionable, ordinary" that has been adopted by DF's hipsters to signify their alternative style so now it's kinda hip... or at least that's my vague interpretation)

The crown jewel of my photo safari in Grand Island had to be this gem:

Nope, folks; no photoshopping at work here. That is the hispanic division of Alcoholics Anonymous located strategically next to Ed & Nets bar. Alcoholicos Anonimos must have gotten a smoking-hot deal on that real estate...

Nope, folks; no photoshopping at work here. That is the hispanic division of Alcoholics Anonymous located strategically next to Ed & Nets bar. Alcoholicos Anonimos must have gotten a smoking-hot deal on that real estate...

While I’m at it, let me pass along two final central Nebraska dining tips of restaurants that my parents frequent.

#1) Bullwinkles sports bar. While “gourmet” might be a stretch, their Wednesday night special of a $3.00 burger-and-fries is a pretty damn good deal & the burger is solid. They even have individual TV at each of the booths. But be aware– we are talking like “Beat the Clock Special” kinda hours in order to get a table for this firesale…I think we were there by 5:45PM. 😉

Uncle Glen even made the trek in from the farm to join us for some beef & 'taters! Glen & I went bold with an extra $0.50 for a cheeseburger. ;)

Uncle Glen even made the trek in from the farm to join us for some beef & 'taters! Glen & I went bold with an extra $0.50 for a cheeseburger. 😉

#2) The Farmer’s Daughter. This place is an institution in Grand Island, open every day but Sunday for breakfast & lunch only. We met my Dad for lunch between the math classes he’s teaching at CCC, but he’s also there every Thursday AM to meet a buddy for breakfast where the coffee flows like wine. The owner Deb is your classic diner proprietress who knows the name of 90% of the clientele at any given time. The day we went, specials include some fine-looking Fried Chicken, Clam Chowder, and classic meat salad sandwiches (i.e. chicken salad, beef salad, etc.). But the top draw here (outside of general food, friends and fellowship) is their amazing pies, particularly the meringue-topped options (as confirmed in the Boston Globe back in 2007!). The Farmer’s Daughter makes a mean banana cream, coconut cream, lemon cream, etc. Word on the street is get there before 12:30PM if you want a slice of the best ones.

On your next road trip through Nebraska, jump off Interstate 80 & hit the Farmer's Daughter for a quick breakfast & caffeine boost for the rest of your trip. And no one will look at you askance if you pick up a few pie slices for the road at 8:00AM....

On your next road trip through Nebraska, jump off Interstate 80 & hit the Farmer's Daughter for a quick breakfast & caffeine boost for the rest of your trip. And no one will look at you askance if you pick up a few pie slices for the road at 8:00AM....

Back to Nebraska for Christmas!!

This past Saturday, John & I were alternatingly excited to return to the States to visit our family, and depressed to be leaving 72F weather for impending snow & windchills of -30F below zero. After another magical sub-30 minute trip to the airport at 7:30AM, we confirmed that American Airlines is the least organized airline at the Mexico City airport. On every Mexican airline flight I’ve taken, checking-in has taken roughly 10 minutes thanks to ~10 staffed windows. American had 3 people checking in the entire coach class of flights to Dallas, Miami and Chicago, so we stood in line for 60 minutes but still had time to spare. Note to self– fly Mexican airlines in/out of D.F., because they are more efficient and you get free food (actual food, not just pretzels) & booze on board.

As soon as we got to the U.S., John housed two glasses of tap-water-with-lemon just because he could.

As soon as we got to the U.S., John housed two glasses of tap-water-with-lemon just because he could.

Flying via Dallas (a wise choice, since every other hub in the US was slammed by snow/ice storms), we had a couple hours to kill during our layover. We seized the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with American-style dining, namely absolutely mammoth portions of food, but best of all, drinkable tap water!! And lemons!! 

Recounting this exciting fact to my mom later, she queried whether I had seen the recent filthy-lemons exposes. I confirmed yes, but I was fairly certain that no piddly lemon bacteria could rival that which my stomach was attempting to acquire in Mexico City.

Anyway, we actually made it into Omaha ON TIME!! (unlike my brother, stranded until 1.5 days later), and had a lovely dinner at my fav restaurant the Upstream Brewery with some friends & family before hitting the cooold cold roads with the aforementioned -30F windchill. Our first few days here in scenic Grand Island have not disappointed.

Is this business actually successful??

Is this business actually successful??

The illustrious Conestoga Mall has added a few gems to its collection of bustling stores, including some sort of John Deere souvenir store that was a prime spot for photos. The old movie theatre has been taken over by Glowgolf (what in the hell??), a hot new activity that my mom informs me is “very popular with the kids these days”.

Yes!! Farm Toys!!! Thank you!!!!

Yes!! Farm Toys!!! Thank you!!!!

 

Ahh, if only I had enough space in my luggage to bring this backhoe back to Mexico...

Ahh, if only I had enough space in my luggage to bring this backhoe back to Mexico...

 Luckily, our standby from junior high “drop us off at the mall on Saturday afternoon and we will spend 4 hours walking by 50 stores & hoping to see somebody cool” days is still kicking: The Incredible Bulk, a wittily named candy store.  There has been a lot of turnover at the Conestoga Mall, but apparently the demand for products to help you get fatter rarely dies down.

John applied for a job as Incredible Bulk security guard.

John applied for a job as Incredible Bulk security guard.

And finally, the mall also now has a trendy pet products store, so trendy that my mom was able to purchase a sweater for our dog Dave, the Jack Russell Terrier. Dave is getting a bit old & seems to get chilled easily, so she felt a sweater might be just the thing, and clearly what is better than a dog sweater? A MEXICAN FLAG dog sweater!!!

¡Viva México!, Dave seems to be saying

¡Viva México!, Dave seems to be saying

The only other highlight was my strange compulsion to visit one of the Mexican grocery stores in town last night, I guess to see if there would be any wacky ingredients that we now know how to use that we could surprise my parents with. And, I guess, the latent hope that here perhaps John & I speaking Spanish would be novel & perhaps we could impress someone (unlike in D.F., where we just look like morons). Unfortunately, our attempts to bond with the La Mexicana store employee didn’t go very smoothly, as she didn’t seem particularly comfortable with John’s repeated attempts to ask how long she’d been living in Grand Island.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...