snapshots of mexico, literal and figurative


To taco or not to taco, there is no question
March 31, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Update | Tags: , , ,

It’s all been building up to this point, and it hasn’t been easy. Months spent acclimating to the city, making contacts, identifying locations, and becoming familiar with the necessary materials is all about to come together into the ultimate accomplishment of my time in Mexico. No, I’m not talking about my Fulbright project. I’m talking about “Taco Week”.

Yes, the humble taco, a tiny pair of tortillas, some meat, and a little chopped onion and cilantro, will be the focus of my attention for an entire week as I search high and low for the Perfect Taco. Will it be suadero in Del Valle? Pastor in Condesa? Tripa in Xochimilco? Carnitas in el Centro? There is only one way for me to truly find out.

My friends, I plan to eat a full 100 tacos in 7 days… and enjoy every last one. That’s more than 14 a day—easily two meals; a taco practically every hour and a half; enough corn flour, animal parts, and salsa to kill a weaker man. Stay tuned: I’ll post my notes and totals online from this epic challenge against fullness, intestinal parasites, and future coronary artery disease.

Ambitious? Yes. Delicious? Clearly. Completely and utterly disgusting? Absolutely.

“Taco Week” is simply a working title, by the way, so please, send some creative suggestions as to what I should call this timeless pursuit of glory…

I know it’s been a long time since I actually updated you all on what I’ve been doing, so here’s the last month and a half in abridged form: I finally made it to Michoacan for my project, and had a very productive interview with the director of Seguro Popular (the program I’m studying). After that, I took a couple days after that to travel around the state, enjoying both the historic, Spanish-influenced capital and the heavily indigenous island-village of Janitzio in mystical Lake Patzcuaro. Our midterm Fulbright reunion was towards the end of February, complete with each of us giving a presentation on our research (and other experiences). I spent about a week earlier this month back in Chicago, partly to take care of taxes/financial aid/a haircut, but mostly just as a birthday visit. The past few weeks have involved a few short trips, one hell of a soccer game, the same contacting-of-interviewees-problems on my project as before, many coffee shop hours spent relearning medicine, and, of course, many, many delicious tacos.

Fun Mexican Word: Porra – The serious fans at soccer games, as well as the cheers they do. A-mer-i-ca! AGUILAS! A-mer-i-ca! RAH RAH RAH! (not that I’d ever cheer for the NY Yankees of Mexican Soccer…)

Picture: Unfortunately, some fool left his camera in a cab at O’Hare when flying back to Mexico City. Lucky, that fool’s sister and girlfriend rescued the camera, though it remains in Chicago.

Statue on Janitzio, from the last Mexico set I have

Statue on Janitzio, from the last Mexico set I have

Something I miss (aside from all of you, of course): Vegetarian food. I enjoy meat, and I love Mexican food (after all, why else would I do “Taco Week”?), but various vegetarian meals while home a few weeks ago reminded me how much I love those, too. While it’s not impossible to find the sort of vegetarian foods I like here, it’s definitely not particularly easy, either.

Something I like about DF: Art Deco buildings. They aren’t skyscrapers like most of the cool art deco in Chicago, NYC, Detroit, and other American cities, but smaller residential and commercial buildings stretching from el Centro through Roma, Condesa, and up and down much of central Insurgentes. Less cluttered than the heavily decorated colonial facades, with more character than the sleek modernism of newer buildings, and often painted bright colors, they make for very attractive streetscapes.

Saludos, wish me luck,

k

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One more Michoacan
March 7, 2009, 1:28 pm
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The Janitzio docks at night

The Janitzio docks at night

Back in Chitown for the week, photos will start tomorrow eventually…



Panos from Janitzio
March 5, 2009, 10:13 am
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Southern View

Southern View

North/East view

North/East view

At the peak of Janitzio stands a massive statue of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon; a statue that one ascends though a series of interior stairways until reaching his upheld wrist.  Poking your head out of the small viewing holes, you get quite the panorama of Lake Patzcuaro and the surrounding hills.

See the photos larger here and here.



Patzcuaro Roofing
March 4, 2009, 8:13 am
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Tiles and timbers

Tiles and timbers

Patzcuaro is a charming town near the southern tip of the lake bearing its name.  I’ll write more on it soon.



Lancha on Lake Patzcuaro
March 3, 2009, 8:00 am
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Heading to Janitzio

Heading to Janitzio



Janitzio
March 2, 2009, 10:00 am
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The most famous island-village of Lake Patzcuaro

The most famous island-village of Lake Patzcuaro

A series of coin flips (no, really) brought me here, and boy am I glad…



Happy 265th Birthday!
March 1, 2009, 10:19 am
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Morelia's Cathdral, still going strong

Morelia's Cathdral, still going strong

Out of sheer dumb luck, Zach and I managed to be sitting at a sidewalk restaurant/bar across the street from the cathedral when this celebration began.  The magnificent building took over 80 years to build and–as an odd English announcement said during the ceremony–is “the embodiment of Morelia’s culture and traditions”.  With any luck, they’ll still be celebrating here in another 265 years.