snapshots of mexico, literal and figurative

Así es Mexico
December 16, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: Photo, Update | Tags: , ,

Así es México, meaning roughly “That’s Mexico,” has come to function as both my explanation and justification for the unusual, illogical, and often downright strange things that one witnesses and experiences while spending time here. Three different counters, four shop attendants, and two receipts required for the purchase of 75 cents worth of ribbon? Así es México. The morning scrubbing of sidewalks? Así es México. Microbusses with black lights and speaker systems that put most dance clubs to shame? Así es México.

These types of oddities jump out to foreigners, but when asked, even Mexicans often admit to being confused by there existence. What explanation can their possibly be for three-step checkout procedures at the pharmacy, or traffic circles where the traffic does not actually circle? They simply shrug, and tell you “Así es México.”

Like most things, these peculiarities become less noticeable with time, eventually becoming the rule rather than the standard. Why wouldn’t you sell giant novelty pencils on the metro? Of course they sell antidepressants over the counter! Clearly a giant plate of tacos should be carried around the beach on your head. And so on. Still, every once in a while you find yourself caught off-guard and standing on the sidewalk scratching your head, wondering what you just saw. It’s to be expected, of course, because así es México.

Life in Mexico continues to flow along smoothly. My project has started back up again as I’ve begun a second round of interviews, this time in one of the main public parks in Mexico City. I’ve also gone to the International Human Rights Film Festival (largely organized by a friend’s roommate), took a one night trip to central Mexico’s wine-cheese-empty-water-park-and-mystical-giant-rock country, and visited the Basilica de Guadalupe for the annual pilgrimage to the Virgin. Next up: a visit from my family, followed by another from Annie.

Hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season and a happy new year. Let me know about any “Así es México” experiences you’ve had, even if it wasn’t actually Mexico, because it’s always fun to hear about the strange things people see on their travels.

Fun Mexican Word: Ahorita (often accompanied by a hand signal holding the thumb and pointer finger slightly apart) is generally translated to mean “in a little bit” or “soon”, but accurate interpretation requires taking Mexican Time into account. In this sense, it means something closer to “eventually” or “don’t expect it any time soon”.

Picture: The New Basilica de Guadalupe.

Unique, if nothing else

Unique, if nothing else

The original basilica has become Mexico’s response to the Leaning Tower of Pisa as the massive, heavy stone structure has been sinking and tilting for hundreds of years into the soft, former lakebed on which it was built. The two basilicas, along with numerous other chapels, plazas, and gardens, make up what is probably the holiest site in all of Mexico: the location on Tepeyac hill where the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to San Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago.

Something I miss (aside from all of you, of course): Snow. Not the “three-day-old slush on the sidewalk” type, the “pristine, fluffy white snowflakes falling in the park” type. And even more so, the “compact, super fast sled-hill-covering” type.

Something I like about DF: The giant light displays that the Zocalo has for every major holiday–they are so huge and gaudy that they actually look good. I’ll make sure there are some more Christmas-in-the-Zocalo pictures soon.




2 Comments so far
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Si se puede!

Comment by Annie

[…] Basilica at Christmas […]

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