snapshots of mexico, literal and figurative

Mexican Pot Dealer
March 10, 2011, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Photo | Tags: ,

Trying to make up for 2 months of forgetting to post with a photo and bad joke…

Probably not what you were thinking


So you want to eat Mexican food
January 29, 2011, 3:36 pm
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So you want to eat Mexican food, do you?  Some advice:

–  Salsa verde >> salsa roja, unless it’s chipotle in which case it’s a closer match

–   Never eat at VIPS or Sanborns if you can help it; you’ll get charged twice as much for food that’s half the quality of the mom-and-pop restaurant across the street

–   Longaniza is good.  Suadero is good.  Campechanos—a mixing of the two—is excellent.  Don’t settle, go for the campechanos.

–  Café con leche is not evenly defined—some places it’s a latte, some places it’s a café au lait, some places it’s an Americano with milk, some places it depends on the barista who happens to serve you.   Specify if you have a strong preference.

–  Pack Tums (and perhaps a PPI), you will get heartburn

First Impressions of the Hospital
January 22, 2011, 1:27 pm
Filed under: Update | Tags: , ,

Somehow I’ve managed to spend a week here without getting around to a posting, some photography, or even making it as far as el Centro (although finally made it as far as Condesa for the first time this AM).  This isn’t to say I haven’t been living the Mexican life; it’s just been inside a hospital for the most part.

While I’ve spent plenty of time down here studying public health and the medical system, until now I’ve spent relatively little time seeing the actual provision of health care in Mexico, and never in an academic setting like I am currently.  It’s been an interesting experience so far.  The hospital where I’m spending my time is a mid-sized private hospital, with essentially the same technology and capabilities as any well equipped community hospital in the US.  There is a cath lab, CT, MR, electronic charting, doctors in all major specialties, an ICU and step-down unit, a number of operating rooms, and a helipad for critical transports.  The doctors who give lectures are some of the best teachers I’ve seen anywhere.  I’ve been impressed with the knowledge base of the students I’m working with, most of whom have only just begun inpatient rotations (although it’s hard to compare directly to US students in the same situation as the medical education system is quite different).

On the other hand, while the didactic teaching is excellent, the experiential learning—at least as far as I’ve seen—seems lacking, at least compared to what I’ve come to expect in the US.  As the patients are all private, outside doctors come in, round on their patients, and make all treatment decisions.  The role of students is essentially limited to seeing 8-10 assigned patients on their own, writing basic progress notes, and instead of formulating any sort of diagnostic/treatment plan write “treatment as indicated by the patient’s doctor”.  The only feedback they seem to receive is a chiding on not working quickly enough or disapproval of their physical exam notation.  The actual process of medical decision making is left out all together, except for a pair of mornings a week when the physician in charge of education discusses an admission from the previous night’s call (which while admittedly excellent does’t seem like an adequate replacement for actual daily teaching rounds).  What’s more, the case mix seems to be more determined by the patients’ ability to pay than any real medical need—not exactly a case mix with high educational value.  Probably 75% of the patients I’ve seen in the hospital would never have been admitted to the hospital, much less kept several days.  Without exaggeration I’d say half of the patients I’ve seen have been admitted for minor bumps and bruises following car accidents of one type or another–the sort of thing patients might not even come to the hospital for in the US.

I’m looking forward to getting a change to rotate through several different services over the next 7 weeks—hopefully I’ll be spending a few weeks in both the ER and ICU in addition to the time on the general wards.  If nothing else, I’ll learn a ton of medical terminology in Spanish—who hasn’t wanted to know how to say “angiotensin-II receptor blocker”, “endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography” or “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” in Spanish?

Back at 2200 Meters
January 15, 2011, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Photo, Short | Tags: ,

Not very often that having a headache is a good thing, but when the headache is a brief altitude/smog adjustment headache after landing in Mexico City, I’m willing to put up with it.

I’ll be here for two full months of hospital rotations, delicious tacos, Pumas games, and of course, Fat Elvis Mariachi.  Stay tuned…

Dream City

Would be nice if I could ACTUALLY be in both Chicago and DF at once


Dia de los Muertos
November 1, 2010, 10:31 pm
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The skulls are back, pan de muerto is about to disappear from bakeries for 11 months, and I’m still a couple months away from heading back to DF.  I didn’t get a chance to set up a proper ofrenda this year (too much time at the hospital trying to keep people from ending up muerto), but I did make it down to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen to see the museum’s collection of altars, calaveras, and other Day of the Dead exhibits. I’m not sure how much longer they’ll leave the Dia de los Muertos exhibition up, but the museum is worth a visit either way (free and easily accessible by the L!).


October 19, 2010, 6:54 pm
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One magazine’s taste on Chicago’s best Mexican food

Didn’t buy the entire premium article, but looks like it has some excellent extras, including a rundown of the food at the Maxwell Street Market–some of my favorite in the city.

Semi-related, pan de muerto is back in the panaderias.  Delicious.

Viva Mexico! Viva!
September 16, 2010, 6:01 pm
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Today marks the official bicentennial of Father Hidalgo’s call-to-arms and the start of the Mexican Independence movement, but the major celebrations happened last night in Mexico City and beyond.

The BBC has photos here, while El Universal has a number of different photo galleries, including this one of the culmination of last night’s celebration in the Zocalo

Closer to home, Chicago held its own celebrations in Millennium Park, with mariachi, ballet folklorico, classical music, and more–as well as quite a collection of Mexico-themed shirts, jackets, ponchos, capes, sombreros and wrestling masks in the crowd.  Battling a nasty cold, I didn’t last long enough to hear El Grito–the traditional “shout” led by a dignitary based on Father Hidaldo’s speech on the steps of the church of Dolores–but the parts of the program I did see were well done and well attended.