Thursday, October 23, 2008

Protests against privitization of Pemex

I am here legally

On October 2nd, my visa was supposed to be ready. I just got it back from migration services today. So, I decided to celebrate and go to the Franz Meyer Museum. I went to see an exhibit of the 2008 Best Press Photos. Many of the pictures stopped me in my tracks: the female, Kurdish guerrilla fighters, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and the US soldiers in Afghanistan coming face to face with the villagers. In the end, I wandered out of the exhibit slightly shell-shocked to recuperate in the courtyard where they had an exhibition of posters, as you will see in the photo above.

While I was walking to the museum, I saw a sea of policeman standing in the streets close to Reforma. I wondered what the hullabaloo was all about and curiously made my way into the crowd. Once again, it was protesters gathering to denounce the privatization of the Mexican oil comp

any, Pemex.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bringing my kitchen to Mexico

After my third attempt of making oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon, I had success. Finding the ingredients was the first challenge. Soy milk is not sold in most grocery stores and maple syrup is only found in an organic foods store, Green Corner, where it runs at 20 USD a bottle for 16 oz. Baking soda does not exist: only baking powder. Then comes the whole wheat pastry flour. Forget it. On accident, I bought whole wheat flour (which I used for the first two tries) and since it was not pastry flour, the cookies turned out like hard balls of oatmeal, cinnamon and chocolate. Finally I switched to white all-purpose flour, and the cookies turned out just about right. We will not get into baking at high altitudes with ovens that do not have temperatures written on the knobs.

My other success story took place on Sunday, when I offered to make dinner. Pasta was my challenge. I went to Dreena's blog,, and found a sun-dried tomato pesto. Dreena never lets me down, as the pasta was scrumptious. On Monday night, I recycled the pesto and made open faced baguettes with spinach, garlic and basil.

Tomorrow night we are having a Fulbright dinner at Nina's apartment and I will be cooking Mexican pumpkin soup and roasted tomato bruschetta.

Inequality at its best

Mexico city is one of contrasts. There is no separation of rich from poor, or excess from scarcity. And you wonder why there is such a high crime rate.

On any given street, you will see people selling gum, potato chips, fruit juices or anything that they can get their hands that can be turned around and sold.

You see families arranged where the father plays a trumpet or the guitar while the wife and the kids follow behind asking for a money. Every morning, while I wait for the bus, a man walks by playing the violin while his wife holds out a cup asking for monetary support (the couple has a weak spot in my heart as the violin is my favorite instrument).

At the stoplight you will see people selling junk food, newspapers and cellphone cards, washing windows, juggling, lying on glass, etc. The bottom line is that anything goes when someone is trying to make a buck.

Twice now I have been exposed to these drastic differences at work where I left the public hospital, filled with women who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, to find myself writing field notes in cafes where an espresso costs 28 pesos or a double espresso for 50 pesos. It is difficult for me to reason drinking a coffee that costs as much as some construction workers make in a day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More photos from Tepoztlan

Leaving Tepoztlan. Back to the city.

A boy watching soccer from behind the fence.


Last Friday I finally escaped from the loud, fast-paced, polluted city and went to Tepoztlan. Tepoztlan is a town in the state of Morelos, about an hour outside of Mexico City, which makes it a popular weekend getaway for city folk. It sits at the base of the Tepoztlan valley so all that you see are breath-taking views of mountains that have eroded over the years in a very unique way; "...[they] look like the work of some abstract expressionist giant" (Frommer's Guide). The town is filled with artsy people who line the streets, selling their artisanal goods. I was eye-balling some typical Mexican blouses with embroidered flowers around the neck, but I held back. In due time, I will start making purchases. The problem is: where do I begin? There are too many neat things and too many talented people producing them.

Tepoztlan had a fabulous open-air market in the center of town. I am quite the fan of markets as they are part of the identity of a country. So, on Saturday morning, Carlos, his mom, Sylvia and I went there to get food for the rest of the family. We were given a list of 24 quesadillas or so, to bring back to the house. The three of us decided that we were entitled to eat right then and there, as we were the food runners, so we did. Gabi, Carlos' cousin, told us to go the heavy-set quesadilla lady, stationed next to the man selling fresh juices. We sat down in front of the grill and ordered. I ate my favorite blue tortillas again with flor de calabaza (the flowers from gourds) and one with mushrooms. To top off breakfast, Carlos and I split an "agua fresca" made with lemons.

A couple of hours later, we arrived back at the house with the food to be recieved by his starving family. After everyone was well-fed, we lounged by the pool, read, soaked up the sun and listened to Pati's Spanish boyfriend play guitar flamenco style. I was quite pleased to be in a bathing suit, laying outdoors and letting the sun beat down on my bare skin. Back in Mexico City, it has been overcast, slightly cold and rainy. It is not the Mexican climate that I imagined. But, the weather in Tepoztlan was.

The other beautiful characteristic of Tepoztlan is that it gave me the opportunity to reflect. During the week, I go to work, follow around doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, etc. and then return home immediately to write field notes on the days' observations. In other words, I get in the grind and do not take time to reflect on my life outside of work. Being in the valley, surrounded by gigantic, weirdly shaped mountains brought me peace. As Picasso said, "I don't look, I find." This weekend I did not have to look for peace, as I normally do in the city, rather I found peace in nature and my surroundings.

Irma and I are on the move.

For those of you who do not know, my beautiful, vegetarian roommate, Irma and I will be moving from out apartment as soon as possible. When I have the new address, I will be sure to put it into circulation so that you can send me care packages.