Friday, December 17, 2004

At Long the Latest News

Hola me amigos, acquaintances, y people I don't know who stumbled here looking for pictures of absolutely unfettered depravity. I know it's been awhile since my last post, but I haven't been on the internet for awhile. It's actually been kinda nice not to check my e-mail every day and waste all kinds of time reading useless articles, but I have been a bit neglectful of my blog. Luckily, I write offline, so I have some things to catch you up on.-

I cut myself shaving again today. In all the years I've been shaving and I think I've been shaving a few years more than many of my contemporaries, I've never mastered the art. Today was a real doozie. I actually sliced my nostril a-la Chinatown, but not quite as drastic. And we all know about noses and how they bleed. Well, it bled and bled and bled some more, while I cursed. I think it's my nature to rush things like shaving and that fact coupled with my skins slow process of drying out and wrinkling up and becoming more sensitive as I age, that's causing all the cuts. Anyway, lesson learned, you gotta start paying attention to those little things that come in and make life harder because it only goes one way. What I need is that guide I saw making it's way into single men's Christmas presents a few years back in the (practical guide to..) 90's. Wasn't it called "The Man's Practical Guide to Life" or some crap? It had all kinds of tidbits about how to shave, take stains out of suit pants with salt, cheat on girlfriends etc... It's another thing you might see this year perched next to the usual selection of Cole Porter Greats, Verve Jazz Box sets, Cranium game, and thermal insulated travel mugs all clustered there, fighting for retail supremacy in the sensitive 5-second-decision-zone of the Starbucks countertop. Starbucks has recently invaded Mexico and it's popular. For all you Starbucks lovers out there rest assured that they are just the same here. If you want to get that Vancouver coffee vibe all you need to do is go to the nearest "bucks" and you'll be right back at home, guaranteed. I remember reading some "Onion" article that quipped about Barnes and Noble being opened in Cambodia as an ironic joke. Any journey to the third world will in my opinion reveal that these ironic jokes are more real than one might imagine. It's not too uncommon to see a Mc Donalds or Popeye's Chicken nested in the middle of shining examples of 3rd World Urban squalor. No need for Photoshop here, the blending and smoothing have already been done. Yikes.

We're going to a soccer game tonight. It's the DF Pumas Vs the Monterrey somethingoranothers. I will of course have to root for the Pumas to avoid decapitation. It's the final game for the playoffs in the league and it's going to be a real zoo I'm told. The Pumas are the University team and since I'm enrolling in Spanish classes at the City University, I guess they're my alma matter now. We watched the playoff game last night on TV and it was pretty crazy. In Latin America they bring a crew of Riot Police with plastic shields onto the field immediately after the game ends to protect the referees. It's weird to see two referees high fiveing each other surrounded by a square of riot cops. The mexican national team, I'm told, doesn't compare to the Brazilian or Argentinean teams, but I was told by some locals, that they do play good style of soccer here. I'm just looking forward to being in a packed stadium with all the singing and screaming etc... The games are relatively reasonable at 17 bucks a ticket.

OK, I'm back from the game now, woah, it was quite the experience. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera and consequently have no pics! I was told that they might not let me in and the prospect of having to Queue up again after finding some way to ditch it. Anyway, it's not that big a deal as we all know what a Latin American soccer game looks like from TV probably. The stadiums are huge and packed for the popular games. The fans are absolutely gonzo for thier teams and jump around and sing and cry and fight. At one point a minor fight broke out close to us and riot cops came over with officials to defuse the rukkus. People were hurling beer, food and long strings of obscene insults, but in the end common sense prevailed if not helped by the fact that Mexico City's team won. This game was one of two final games in the league between Pumas from Mexico City and another from Monterrey which is in the north part of the country near the US border. There exists a rivalry in more aspects than just soccer with the northern states in Mexico. People in the south and central part of Mexico seem to view northeners, or "nortenyas" as being more gringo-like and less identified with their Mexicaness. Apparently, the northern states tend to be more wealthy and infiltrated with ideas and icons of American culture. I can see how that happens being from a country in which almost everyone lives a few miles from the American border many of whom wish they were down there making "buckets of cash" and "becoming rich and famous" and winning "American Idol", not the ingeniously named, "Canadian Idol".

I actually hear that now in the states, you are paid in cash, in a bucket. It's a new policy... At the end of the work week your boss gives you a bucket- with cash in it. Who knows how much? but since it's in a bucket, you can imagine it's a lot. If you're lucky, there'll be some chicken in there too. Maybe slaw and biscuits... It's part of the new, "Buckets of cash for all" policy.

Here's some more shots of Mexican food. This is something you can get at a lot of Mexican restaurants- Little sweet onions fried in a mixture of Worcester, and soy sauce very good indeed. These we bought at a mall. Mall food seems to be similar all the world round, but in Mexico there are some nice places to get fast food. Tacos pastor I think I mentioned in a previous entry, but I seem to be eating so many of them.

Street meat is where you get the good stuff in Mexico. Goodbye Mr Tube Steak. We were downtown in the Zocalo at Christmas which is pretty nice. The buildings get the full "deck the halls" treatment. The square is full of people hawking little twirling flashing led toys and sparklers. There are free concerts on a large stage here and several ongoing protests. All the protests come to the Zocalo which is both the nerve centre for the country and it's biggest constituency, Mexico City.

Last weekend was the yearly Pilgrimage to the Virgin Guadeloupe who is the country's patron saint. Supposedly, long ago, the holy virgin appeared, as a dark-skinned woman to the Indigenous people here and they can't stop talking about her since. It's a big deal though and everyone came to Mexico City to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadeloupe and pray and party like it's 1499. Actually, it was pretty interesting. Many small neighborhoods in Mexico City get into it and hold these weekend-long block parties. Practically every block in the city has one of these little shrines dedicated to Guadeloupe and some are intricate and laboriously constructed out of plaster. Christmas lights and other decorations gussy her up for important occasions. We walked through one of these parties which was in full swing in a bus loop. The picture doesn't do it justice. Imagine pulling into Kootenay Loop with a crowd of drunk folks salsa dancing around some hastily rigged up DJ equipment, projection screens, and disco lights and the ever-present collection of street hawkers and steaming food booths. This goes on til the wee hours when everyone is hammered and throwing eggs filled with flour at eachother. Then, the next morning, bleary-eyed, everyone heads to the Basilica to pay their respects. It's Christianity all right, but not as I know it.

It's cold here now and Christmas fever is in full swing. The streets are plugged with cars and people hawking and buying and then hawking them again and then going to buy something from a hawker. In short, the city is crazy. A few days ago it really got cold here mainly because most buildings here don't have heat or insulation so you can't come from outside bundled in jackets and expect to sprawl out on the sofa in a sun-run t-shirt with a brandy after cranking up the registers to the $80 dollar a month setting. I remember how I used to wear a t-shirt indoors during the winter and then pop open a window to get some "fresh air" and let the heat just roil away into the crisp winter air. Ahhh, those were the days. The Zocalo, which I mentioned before is looking pretty nice these days. It's amazing. It's probably the biggest open square I've seen and there's always something going on in and around this part of town. There is an informal market made up of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with tarps and blankets on the ground full of stuff, who, with the appearance of the local police, en masse jump up and gather everything in the tarp and heave it out of sight only to appear again moments later when the police have finished "making their point". I didn't get a picture of some great street food I ate called, "tacos de canasta" or "basket tacos" which are sold warm from a huge wicker basket. They are simple made of potato, beans or meat tacos slathered in oil or grease of somekind and on a cold winter day so delicious, addictive, and affordable, I was almost angry as I ate them.

The other day we visited Ale's friend Ana to put up her Christmas Tree. I Don't think we're going to do the tree thing as they are really expensive and a lot of people use the imitation ones here. There isn't really anything of importance to say here accept that Christmas is coming and I hope everyone is feeling the vibes and is in good spirits. Don't forget to visit friends and family if you can and pour a little out for the Homies and try to avert your attention from the glitz and the "don't pay till May" crap unless of course you want to pay in May. I'll try and post soon, but I've been on and off with the internet, but I'll try and keep things up to date. Holiday Wishes Homies!