Thursday, April 15, 2010

Buenas Noches,

Good evening from a land far away, but yet so close- Mexico City. It
is amazing I can be residing in a third world country and immersed in
a new way of life while only being three hours (by plane) away from
Los Estados Unidos. It's is like one of those distorting mirrors in a
fun house; technology makes the "impossible" true.

I have set into a routine here in Mexico and find myself increasingly
comfortable. I am starting to think like a Mexicana, act like one,
and yes- speak like one (yeah!). I've had more than one experience
where I've meant to use English and found myself accidentally typing
Spanish; and when I spend time with an English speaker it's pretty
normal to throw in both languages. I am looking for a school to take
some classes while I'm here; I've been told that is the best way to
get a hold on the grammar and fine tune my skills. I have the nouns
down- but future/ past/ tense and then the different forms of "be" are
still not perfected by a long shot. I'm a "toddler" in my speech- able
to communicate elementary concepts, but still limited. I know all I
need to do is practice more and be patient. Sometimes I forget it has
only been a few months (two and a half) and expect myself to be
fluent. One nice thing about being here is that I am picking up the
accent- well the Chilango accent (Mx City native). I prefer the
Northern Mex. accent and actually 99% of my friends are northern
Mexican and I sound like I am from Monterrey or Chihuahua.

Frequently it is commented on that I look like a northern Mexican
woman. I think "my people" are there. I find I am more drawn to that
culture for whatever reason....the lines of demarcation within
cultures are much more distinct here than in the US. In other words, we
can tell when someone is from Louisiana and of course they have a
different culture in some ways- but we are also very similar. Here, of
course they are all Mexican, but vary greatly from State to to State
in morals, accent, work ethic, political ideals, and physical
appearance. The people I meet from N. Mexico do look more like me-
they are tall, often have lighter complexions, and hazel or even green
eyes. Some of them are quite striking and really fit the bill of a
handsome Latino! Northern Mexicans are known for being straight
shooters who look you in the eye when they speak to you. Their accent
is melodious and generally they speak slower. Chiuahians are
especially friendly and out going, Monterrey people are savvy
businessmen and known for finding the best deals and being somewhat
cheap, and Guadalajara produces some real beauties. I often say I am
from N. Mexico- and if said with the proper accent I am believed. I
have only had a handful of people guess I'm American; European yes-
but not American. Sometimes I'm told I look Brazilian, Argentinian,
North Mexican... I take this as a real compliment.

Here in Mexico City the people are so short! I hear the N. Mexicans
talking about it all the time- it's incredible. I mean, really, really
short. They are darker skinned and I rarely see anything but dark eyes
and hair (although some of the girls do dye their hair this terrible
blonde color). Their facial bone structure can be exquisite,
especially the more indigenous looking ones. Strong cheek bones
sloping down to small flat chins with thin lips chiseled out and dark
back beads of eyes. Then, of course, thick rich dark hair tops it all
off. I am the tallest person in Mexico City. Really I am.

This city never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday I went to the
President's Palace in Zocala. What other downtown hosts authentic
Aztec ruins? Where else can you take a coffee (as they say here) and
cruise through a 500 year old cathedral, have your soul cleansed in an
Indian rite, and then enjoy Diego Rivera's murals? When I go downtown
and walk among these amazing historical buildings I have to pinch
myself. The buildings are amazing, the history positively ancient,
and culture is so so so alive.

My friend took me to a traditional Spanish restaurant yesterday. Most
of the patrons were actually from Spain themselves or had some
connection with Spain. The bottom floor was an art museum full of
dramatic oil paintings and an accompanying Spanish cultural center.
We didn't eat at the restaurant as we were on our way to another
museum, but I plan to go back later and try some of that exotic food-
from what I saw it looked like nothing I've ever had.

There is a huge photography exhibit in the downtown area I've been
dying to see. A Mex. photographer traveled the country capturing
humanistic shots of his land. The line to get in was immense though,
several hundred people- so I will try and sneak in during the week
when there's less people.

After Zocala we jumped the metro, oh yes, here's a story. I got caught
in the metro door. This is a big difference in Mexico. The US is so
safety oriented- special touch sensitive doors everywhere, bars
keeping people away from the edges of tall buildings, bus doors that
close securely, etc. Mexico is different. It was like when an
elevator door closes and you're trying to walk through so it touches
you and then regresses....except the door never regressed. I was
trying to run into the metro and just about missed it but thought I
could slip within the closing doors. Well, I could slip in alright -
but then they closed on me and proceeded to squeeze relentlessly. I
couldn't move- forward or backwards! The metro was absolutely packed-
I mean we were like sardines. No one even batted an eye at the gringa
being compressed; apparently this is the norm. I on the other hand was
quite alarmed, and uncomfortable, and let out a little shriek. I was
able to forcefully jar the doors open thankfully before the metro left
off and join my fellow passengers in our sardine can.

The afternoon played out like a dream. I went on a date with a
Chilago, Icauti. He knows the city like the back of his hand- which
always makes for a good time. Frida Kohda's "Casa Azul" (blue house),
really amazing. Strange woman, great artist, interesting life. I am
so drawn to art, it is one of my "elements". I find a strange
invigorating sense of peace peering into the world of others; and art
is nothing if not a communication from someone else. It's a key to
their world, offering limitless fascination...

A stroll through a crowded market where I found hand-made earrings for
my sister's birthday (can't wait to see her reaction- they are
beautiful, made by indigenous Indians here), a walk to the "smallest
house in Mexico", the most famous music school in Mexico (a french
chateau of sorts), through quaint streets lined with heinda trees
which produce the most amazing violet flowers which litter the ground
and make you feel like you're in a Lewis Carol novel, a trip to one of
the oldest cathedrals in Mexico, lunch at a small hole-in-the-wall
cafe, and people watching with guabana (one of my new favorite Mexican
fruits) popsicle. They make great popsicles here, no milk- just fruit
and water frozen- yum. Add in some crazy taxi driving which is always
amusing and elicits laughter from me and you have the best date I've
ever been on.

Alas that is the life I lived today. :-0)


  1. Wow -it sure sounds like you are having one incredible experience after another! I'm so happy for you and thanks for sharing with your readers. I am learning a lot about the culture just by reading your blog and listening to your videos. Thanks!

  2. I lived in Queretaro for two years and loved it. Y ou need to go there it is very historic, many old churchs and the square downtown is just wonderful. Also go to San Miguel full of art and the church in the square is something to see.

  3. Thank you- i will definitely chekc out Queretaro; KC thanks for the encouragement!