snapshots of mexico, literal and figurative

A short return
February 16, 2010, 1:18 pm
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I recently spent a little over a week in Mexico as the first leg of a “visit as many friends as possible in a short period of time” trip.

The week in numbers:

1 – number of Pumas games attended; number of Japanese novels printed in Spanish purchased

2 – number of consecutive Super Bowls watched south of the border; number of bacon wrapped hot dogs consumed at 5 am

3 – number of days spent lamenting the rain in Guanajuato; number of Pumas jerseys I now own

5 – number of nights spent in DF; approximate AM arrival time to Garibaldi one of those nights

10 – number of songs requested of the mariachi at Plaza Garibaldi; number of times making tea while avoiding the rain in Guanajuato for lack of anything else to do.

many – number of tacos consumed; number of times I asked myself why I’m not still living in Mexico

All in all, a good but far too short trip in which I largely forgot to take any photos (will retroactively post the few I took).  Not sure when the next return trip will be, but given the number of times I promised people that I’d be back, it should probably be soon.


4 weeks later
June 29, 2009, 6:05 pm
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I’ve been home almost a month, and while I still don’t know that I can really write a truly full reflection of my time in Mexico, I think I can summarize it pretty well…

I’m looking forward to returning ASAP!

On the homefront, while most of my life is focused on becoming Dr. Caley, I had the opportunity to spend a little time re-living Mexico last week as Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan performed in Millennium Park.  Throw in the tamales (rajas y queso oaxaca) I made to bring along and the micheladas we had while there, and it was a great night, despite being a far different setting than good ol’ Plaza Garibaldi.

Annie and Aislinn with one of the Mariachi after the show

Annie and Aislinn with one of the Mariachi after the show

Garibaldi otra vez
January 24, 2009, 11:31 am
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Ay yayaya!

Mariachi Lifestyle
October 20, 2008, 12:15 am
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El Mariachi Loco Quiere Bailar

Chile peppers, sombreros, and tequila may all be strongly associated with Mexico, but even these can’t quite match the Mexicanismo of a night full of mariachi music—in large part because it generally involves all of the others to one extent or another. While the state of Jalisco is the true home of the Mariachi (as well as tequila… coincidence?), Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi almost undoubtedly has the highest density of Mariachi groups anywhere in the universe. During the day, this dusty plaza on the northern edge of the Centro Historico is underwhelming—if not downright unpleasant—populated primarily by homeless drunks and stray dogs. As afternoon blends in to evening however, musicians slowly begin to trickle in. At first, they are primarily old men with heavily worn guitars, willing to play an out-of-tune love song for 10 pesos, and inexperienced ensembles looking to break in their mariachi chops. As evening blends into night, they are slowly replaced with established groups of 8, 10, or even 15 confident, well-dressed men (read: guys in matching suits with lots of buttons and/or gold embroidery) offering a full repertoire of time-honored songs, many times complete with choreographed movements of horns, violins, and guitars of various sizes. Surrounding these hundreds of musicians is a crowd teetering on the brink of complete chaos, indulging in tacos, tequila, and liter sized Micheladas (a combination of chile powder, lime juice, and most importantly, beer). As night drifts steadily towards morning, the crowd becomes rowdier by the minute. While a fight or two may break out (complete with flying glass bottles!) and briefly seize the plaza’s attention, the real entertainment remains the musicians, playing the same songs that mariachis have been playing for decades, perhaps even centuries.

And just in case someone is not interested in hearing Cielito Lindo for the 42nd time, there are clubs, bars, and “table dances” all over.

In addition to several late nights (early mornings? not-so-early mornings?) in Garibaldi, I’ve been busy (finally) with my project. “Busy” may be a bit of a stretch, but the point is it has started and I’m interviewing, transcribing, and planning most days of the week. While I haven’t made any groundbreaking discoveries, the project has started off quite well. People are generally willing to talk and don’t hold back about what they see as benefits and problems in the health care system here. I’m hoping to interview medical students sooner than later (NU med kids—expect a possible companion project in the States when I return…), as well as spend a couple of weeks in the city of Zacatecas interviewing patients there.

Outside of the project, Annie was able to visit for a weekend (wonderful but way too short), I had dinner with a high school friend who it turns out lives here as well, I keep teaching Vicky the maid English (funny story there… ask if interested), and continue eating my weight in corn/cheese/chile based foods.

Fun Mexican Word: Caguama – basically, a 40. We’ve joked about playing “Eduardo Caguama-Manos” (manos = hands) at some point; for our livers’ sake I hope it stays a joke. Interestingly, they’ve now started selling what they call a Caguamon…27% more beer than a caguama!

Picture: Night taco stand, Guanajuato.

A nighttime snack

A nighttime snack

Something I miss (aside from all of you, of course): Being able to fit on a train (even if it’s uncomfortably crowded) during rush hour. I never thought I’d find myself wishing that more people drove, but after spending a half hour trying to get on the metro without success (and this is with huge trains coming every 2-3 minutes or so) I definitely felt that way. You haven’t seen a crowded subway until you try taking the booger-green line in Mexico City at 7 pm or so.

Something I like about DF: Churros. Sure, you can get churros in the states, but the overall quantity and quality here can’t be matched. Mmmmm, churros….. now I’m going to have to get some on the way home…

Anyway, hope everything is going well back home. I’ll be around for a week and a half or so around Thanksgiving, hopefully I’ll see some of you then. And let me know when you are coming down to visit; we both know you want to see Mexico. Especially the mariachi.