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¡Obámanos!!!

So we saw him!! Eeeee! Know that I sacrificed the chance for a handshake in favor of “The President is only 4 feet away!!!” photo attempts, realizing that the memory of a handshake would be less effectively conveyed via a blog. 😉  John almost managed to get a hand in, but was foiled at the last minute by a secret service agent who was pushing his way through the crowd paralleling Obama as he walked along the perimeter shaking hands.

The entrance to the hotel + intimidating warrior.

The entrance to the hotel + intimidating warrior.

The festivities were held at the Presidente InterContinental Mexico Hotel in Polanco, conveniently located within walking distance of our apartment, where Obama spent the night. The area around the hotel had been on near-lock-down for the two prior days, so the walk to the hotel was intriguing as we passed hundreds of armed local police/army (which for whatever reason, doesn’t make me feel particularly “secure” here in Mexico…). One stat we heard was over 3,000 local police were on the scene, but total security was probably well over that between police + army + Secret Service + whatever other organizations were out and about.

Here’s a photo overview of our experience with ¡Obamanos! ’09, followed by some additional commentary regarding his visit.

We passed dozens of parked buses/trucks/jeeps that had brought in the hundreds of police/army members to secure the area around the hotel. Once you got within a few blocks, all streets were barricaded & heavily armed dudes were hanging out everywhere.

We passed dozens of parked buses/trucks/jeeps that had brought in the hundreds of police/army members to secure the area around the hotel. Many buses were still filled with snoozing police. Once you got within a few blocks, all streets were barricaded & heavily armed dudes were hanging out everywhere.

The barricades directly around the hotel were lined with hopeful Obama-watchers & photographers, all of whom I believe were disappointed by his arrival through the hotel underground parking garage.

The barricades directly around the hotel were lined with hopeful Obama-watchers & photographers, all of whom I believe were disappointed by his arrival through the hotel underground parking garage.

Entering the hotel entailed passing through metal detectors, I'm sure to the delight of any hotel guests who were unfortunate enough to have chosen the Intercontinental for their Thursday night stay.

Entering the hotel entailed passing through metal detectors, I'm sure to the delight of any hotel guests who were unfortunate enough to have chosen the Intercontinental for their Thursday night stay. We also had to turn on all phones & cameras to verify they were real & not secret bombs.

 

Unsurprisingly, we were not the first folks from the Embassy to arrive at the hotel to get in line. Apparently over 800 workers + family members had tickets for the event.

Unsurprisingly, we were not the first folks from the Embassy to arrive at the hotel to get in line. Apparently over 800 workers + family members had tickets for the event.

Our initial point in the *lengthy* line was conveniently next to one of the hotel restaurants, so we were able to have a brief sit.

Our initial point in the *lengthy* line was conveniently next to one of the hotel restaurants, so we were able to have a brief sit.

I was pleased to see one of the Presidential Bomb-Sniffing Dogs on the alert in the hotel lobby.

I was pleased to see one of the Presidential Bomb-Sniffing Dogs on the alert in the hotel lobby.

During our walk to the hotel, a bird made a "deposit" on Mark's arm, which is supposed to signify good luck. This theory was proven tru, as he managed to get a handshake with El Presidente himself.

During our walk to the hotel, a bird made a "deposit" on Mark's arm, which is supposed to signify good luck. This theory was proven true, as Mark managed to get a handshake with El Presidente himself.

As we wound through the hotel in line, we passed this storefront with a security guard MANNEQUIN in the window. I was intrigued as to both a) how many robberies this fake cop deters, and b) why a store selling *property* (arguably something that can not be stolen from your storefront) would feel the need to add this extra layer of highly effective security...

As we wound through the hotel in line, we passed this storefront with a security guard MANNEQUIN in the window. I was intrigued as to both a) how many robberies this fake cop deters, and b) why a store selling *property* (arguably something that can not be stolen from your storefront) would feel the need to add this extra layer of highly effective security...

Finally! We have reached the 2nd set of metal detectors right before entering the official ballroom.

Finally! We have reached the 2nd set of metal detectors right before entering the official ballroom.

Inside the ballroom, we noted two more interesting tidbits. 1) Somebody must have spent *a lot* of hours/dollars on that super-special "Welcome to Mexico" sign in the back... 2) What is the deal with the FIVE American flags vs. ONE shorter Mexican flag on the stage? Are we trying to remind the Mexicans of US dominance (+ height)? This seemed a bit misplaced to me, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning of which I am unaware...

Inside the ballroom, we noted two more interesting tidbits. 1) Somebody must have spent *a lot* of hours/dollars on that super-special "Welcome to Mexico" sign in the back... 2) What is the deal with the FIVE American flags vs. ONE shorter Mexican flag on the stage? Are we trying to remind the Mexicans of US dominance (+ height)? This seemed a bit misplaced to me, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning of which I am unaware...

So we basically stood in that room for 1.5 hours, pressed against all the other embassy employees to get as close to the podium as we could. Rough estimate of number times John & I received comments about how we were lucky to be tall: 27. Number of bitter comments heard about our height from people behind us: 13.

So we basically stood in that room for 1.5 hours, pressed against all the other embassy employees to get as close to the podium as we could. Rough estimate of number times John & I received comments about how we were lucky to be tall: 27. Number of bitter comments heard about our height from people behind us: 13.

Yes!!! Finally Obama arrived!! Here he is waiting while the Chargé de Affairs Leslie Basset gave him a 10-second introduction.

Yes!!! Finally Obama arrived!! Here he is waiting while the Chargé de Affairs Leslie Basset gave him a 10-second introduction (the brevity of which he appreciated).

Obama spoke for about 90 seconds, basically thanking everyone for their service to America. He commented that the use of diplomatic power is just as important as the use of military & economic power. It was perhaps a bit shorter of a speech than we had hoped, but I guess his impending dinner date with Mexican President Calderon *may* have been more important than chatting with us at length...

Obama spoke for about 90 seconds, basically thanking everyone for their service to America. He commented that the use of diplomatic power is just as important as the use of military & economic power. It was perhaps a bit shorter of a speech than we had hoped, but I guess his impending dinner date with Mexican President Calderon *may* have been more important than chatting with us at length...

Then he was ushed over to the left for a photo with all the kids over 6 years old, (who a few Embassy employees had managed to keep entertaining/still for at least an hour-- well done). I trust the official photos are less blurry...

Then he was ushed over to the left for a photo with all the kids over 6 years old, (who a few Embassy employees had managed to keep entertaining/still for at least an hour-- well done). I trust the official photos are less blurry...

Obama was merely feet away from us at this juncture, all the while carefully monitored by Señor Secret Service behind him.

Obama was merely feet away from us at this juncture, all the while carefully monitored by Señor Secret Service behind him.

Another close-up as he made his way along the crowd of raving fans.

Another close-up as he made his way along the crowd of raving fans.

The furor of cameras was intense! This was just before he held two lucky babies (who I guess now will never have leprosy).

The furor of cameras was intense! This was just before he held two lucky babies (who I guess now will never have leprosy).

And like that, our brush with fame was over. Here's John & Sergio on the walk home, flanked by one of the many readily-armed security forces... Definitely doesn't make you nervous in the least... ;)

And like that, our brush with fame was over. Here's John & Sergio on the walk home, flanked by one of the many readily-armed security forces... Definitely doesn't make you nervous in the least... 😉

And so ended ¡Obamanos! 2009. It was a lot of standing & waiting, but it was definitely cool to see our new President in person, who seems like such a normal, down-to-earth, smart guy. Although his talk was very brief, his ease and comfort as a public speaker, ability to think on his feet and to get a quick laugh from the crowd were plainly evident.

For additional photos from the day, check out these photo galleries from El Universal newspaper here in Mexico City: security pics, Obama pics. In general, Mexicans seemed excited about his visit, though most of the press skewed more towards “Thanks for coming but we’re not holding our breath that you’re actually going to do anything for us since you Americans have so many problems back home these days.” One El Universal headline read “Obama abre los brazos pero comprete poco“, or “Obama opens his arms but commits little.”

One of the many current US/Mexico hot topics is the assault weapons ban. Obama essentially told Calderon that he supports it, but lacks the political capital to get it through Congress right now & will instead focus on enforcing existing laws. I am not remotely an expert on gun laws nor am I naive enough to think that the drug cartels wouldn’t get their weapons elsewhere if we made it harder to get them in the US, but reading the spate of recent articles on this topics certainly makes you wonder, “Could it be any EASIER for the narcos to buy assault weapons from US gun shows?” (at gun shows, unlicensed sellers can sell from their “personal collections” to any buyers without a background check).

Anyway, some other random facts from Obama’s visit!

  • When Obama stays overnight on his travels, he is accompanied by over 800 people (Secret Service, White House staff, members of the press, Congressional delegation, etc. etc.)
  • The White House flew down the 2 armored limos, armored SUVs, and multiple (~5) helicopters that Obama was transported in while in Mexico City.
  • Terminal 2 of the Mexico City airport was shutdown for the arrival of Air Force One around 1:30 on Thursday, affecting the departures/arrivals of about 40 flights.
  • El Universal highlighted that “Obama did not walk on any street of Mexico City during his visit.”  As though this is a great surprise…  If Mexicans thought security in Polanco was crazy for this visit, can you imagine if they tried to coordinate him going for a stroll down Reforma???
  • Alas, no opp for a height-comparison photo, but hopes are high for a return Obama visit during our time here in Mexico City!!!

The many, the not-so-proud: the Kickdogs of Polanco

My husband long ago added the term “kickdog” to our daily vocabulary to refer to any dog who might be more efficiently moved across a room by kicking it rather than waiting for its 400 mincing steps to get it there on its own. (For the record, I have never seen John kick a dog. A pigeon? Yes. But a dog? No.)
 
In our fancy-pants neighborhood of Polanco, there is an interesting mix of kickdogs and dogs that could probably bite off your arm in 3 seconds flat. For every overdressed chihuahua, there is its antithesis. Someone like the guard dog a few doors down from us that we have named “Cujo“, whose vicious barking often leads us to believe he may well penetrate the house wall + the iron fence in one fell swoop.
 
I believe that in neighborhoods like this, heavily armed with watchdog weaponery, the kickdogs have a better sense of their own weakness…their daintiness…their inability to escape the wearing of doggie booties. To that end, I was struck by this image of Mexico’s favorite kickdog, the chihuahua, being embarrassed by its owner outside Eno restaurant in Polanco.
 
"You don't even understand *my* needs"

"You don't even consider *my* needs"

Why is this dog hanging his head in shame?
  1. He is small enough to be set atop a carry-on suitcase…with room to spare.
  2. He doesn’t even have a collar/tags, because he is too much of a wuss to remotely be considered a flight risk.
  3. Although he sees the sidewalk with its easy path to freedom, the thought of jumping from a 2-foot-high perch has him frozen in terror.
  4. He has a secret longing to be carried inside his owner’s oversized purse, where he spent most of his formative years.
Perhaps somewhere in the middle of the kickdog<–>guard dog spectrum are the Fountain Dwellers.
Shortly after this photo was taken, we saw a young boy drinking from this fountain. They take the old "hair of the dog" sentiment to heart at a young age around here.

Shortly after this photo was taken, we saw a young boy drinking from this fountain. They take the old "hair of the dog" sentiment to heart at a young age around here.

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...?

Photo highlights from Querétaro State

A post with the relevant details of our trip to Querétaro, Tequisquiapan, & the Freixenet Winery will be forthcoming, but for now the behind-in-her-readings MBA student can only be bothered to post a few of the random photo highlights of our 3 day trip to the state of Querétaro….

I love this picture-- beat up Ford truck, manly-man in a cowboy hat, and the damned girliest kick-dog this side of the Rio Grande perkily riding along in the truck bed.

I love this picture-- beat up Ford truck, manly-man in a cowboy hat, and the damned girliest kick-dog this side of the Rio Grande perkily riding along in the truck bed.

I was pleased to learn that the hilarity of writing "Wash Me" (lavame) on a filthy car is an act that transcends all cultures

I was pleased to learn that the hilarity of writing "Wash Me" (lavame) on a filthy car is an act that transcends all cultures. The pig art is a nice touch.

 

You may be expecting to see the typical ropes to ring the bells in this tower? Not here folks-- these bell ringers had better be some of the most agile kids in town. I reckon the business side of that bell could fling a child halfway across town .

You may be expecting to see the typical ropes to ring the bells in this tower? Not here folks-- these bell ringers had better be some of the most agile kids in town. I reckon the business side of that bell could fling a child halfway across town .

 

John's new thing is when I pressure him to pose for a jack-ass photo, I am forced to pose for one return. Here's me, trying to fly higher than an eagle.

John's new thing is when I pressure him to pose for a jack-ass photo, I am forced to pose for one return. Here's me, trying to fly higher than an eagle.

Looking back, I'm surprised I hadn't seen one of these stickers sooner in México. Roughly translated: "In this home, WE ARE CATHOLICS. We do not accept propaganda of other religions. God bless this home."  More roughly translated: "Back off, you dirty Lut'rns; we don't want you or your up-to-no-good pal Martin Luther hanging 'round these parts."

Looking back, I'm surprised I hadn't seen one of these stickers sooner in México. Roughly translated: "In this home, WE ARE CATHOLICS. We do not accept propaganda of other religions. God bless this home." More roughly translated: "Back off, you dirty Lut'rns; we don't want you or your up-to-no-good pal Martin Luther hanging 'round these parts."

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