Friday, March 18, 2005

sun and visible surroundings-

Well, I don't have a tons of stuff to update you all on. I haven't been snapping off many photos lately, but more will come after this week to be sure. This week is Semana Santa in Mexico and it's basically the same thing as Easter without the bunnies and eggs and stuff but with the crosses and Jesuses and stuff. Being a strongly Catholic country, Mexico gets a whole week off for Semana Santa and many people will be going to the beach or some other chilled out place to party, relax etc... My mother is planning to come to town for the week so we'll all go somewhere and show her around DF as well. Maybe go for a brain taco or two. Lately, I've been craving to get out of the city as it's pretty hectic and eventually some of the charm of being in a new place wears off. The weather has been great the last few weeks. It's gotten warmer and sunnier, but also there is more breeze which has made the surrounding mountains visible at last. I didn't even realize how close they were as all winter long they've been obscured by haze and pollution. The entire city is ringed with mountains and hills and on a good day you can look around and see them which is nice because it tells you, yes, there is an end to the megapolis... Actual mountains, with dry forests and cacti, lizards etc. The picture above is just out front and it's a tree whose name I forget. There are many in DF though and they put some nice color in the streets with their purple blossoms. Anyway, I'll let you know my week without all the bunnies and chocolate.

I also like these photos because it shows that in many of the older neighborhoods in Mexico City the streets run in diagonals and at some point (looks like the 40's or 50's) the trend was to make the buildings on those corners rounded for the angle. These are some examples. Isn't that interesting? Actually, there's a lot of cool architecture in Mexico City and this is just one detail. I'll see If I can post some more later. Have great Easters and Semana Santas y'all. Unless you're down in Cancun with all the depraved spring breakers a la "The Real Cancun". If that's you, and you know me, then woah... I guess I didn't know you as well as I thought I did! And you're a lot younger than I thought you were too. As if you'd be reading this anyway and not doing/offering boob shooters to techno. Enjoy the VD, flight home and whatever else you can remember.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"Hand me another Honey Glazed I've got acting to do!"

Soaps are pretty popular in Mexico and seem to be one of their major cultural exports. I'm told they're popular in Asia and beyond. They are basically the same as North American soaps, but maybe a little cheaper with crayon drawn plots and over the top characters. It's pretty comical sometimes and has this rushed feel to it. You can almost see the honey glazed the actor picked up off the catering table between shots still in his hand. It beats "Another World" by a long shot and it's the only thing I can watch in Spanish and still understand what's going on.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Xochimilco picnics

Me and some of my friends went on a picnic to Xochimilco which is this really interesting area of town with canals, where many of the original floating gardens are still intact. The indigenous (pre-hispanic) Mexicans inhabited Mexico City many years before the city was colonized. Their cities were built right over top of a large lake just like modern day Mexico City. They built these ingenious floating gardens for agriculture and would pole around them in wooden boats to collect the goods. Now people still grow things on these gardens and have houses etc... The canals are a popular attraction for Mexico Cityites (chilangos) and tourists alike. People like to come on a sunny weekend to have a picnic on one of these boats while a guy poles you around on the canals. It can be a bit crowded and touristy at times, but it's relaxing and fun too. If you don't bring anything of your own there are all manner of other boats gliding up to sell you trinkets, quesadillas, tacos, and even Mariachi boats which will serenade you as you go.

Some of the houses are pretty nice.

These are the tour boats which are all decorated with the names of women in colorful paint. Those trees hold the floating gardens together- I'm not sure how it works.

A barge full or mariachis. Mariachis are always full-in something. A car full of Mariachis, a bar full of mariachis, a street filled with mariachis. In mexico city there is a plaza filled with mariachis for hire. Dat's a lot of Mariachis homies. Now I know that the guy in "El Mariachi" wasn't all that much like a real Mariachi. All I can think is those suits must get hot, they have to bang out songs all day long, and being a wailing-about-your-girlfriend mariachi doesn't give you the same cache with the gals as a wearing low-cut jeans and ripped T wailing-about-your-girlfriend rock star, but I can also think of worse ways to make a few...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

police presence

One thing that Mexico City has a lot of is cops. There seems to be no shortage. Mexico City is kinda famous now for it's crime, but it also has a huge number of "crime fighters". Soccer games seem to attract them by the bus load. We live next to two stadiums, a Bull-ring and a Soccer stadium. We passed by this game while the police crew were getting organized. There were busses parked everywhere and hundreds of cops spilling out of them like a huge cop conference was going on or something. It was pretty weird. I also noticed that security folk and cop folk do not like to have their pictures taken here. On a whole people seem kind of uptight about photos in Mexico City. I think they suspect that some kind of subterfuge. Many public places don't allow photo equipment etc... I used Ale to take this one just in case I needed an excuse.

Here's a painting on the side of a restaurant near the Plaza del Toros (Bulls). Many bulls die there weekly and we can hear the cheers from our house, "Ole!". Anyway, I kinda liked this one because it looks a lot more like the guy's casually taking a leak than performing his bull-killing tricks and he seems to be looking at the bull as if to say, "Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm trying to piss here?"

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mexican Design

Another thing I wanted to start is a series of photos about something. I know, people always do that when they travel and it's lame sometimes, but this will be interesting hopefully. Don't worry, I'm going to try to stay away from dogs in doorways and the like. Actually, the idea is not mine. There is a famous Mexican designer who published this book of photographs showcasing the older style of mexican graphic design found in comic books, the sign-age of small Mexican businesses, and food labels. Most of the stuff is done by hand and on the cheap so it has a pretty interesting feel. Anyway, I decided to start my own collection of images and post some here for you-

Tortas estan ricos, es verdad, but not the one I ate in Cuba and became a human fire plug for 3 days.

Little delicious meat rolls with salsa and well rendered here. If pan had been playing these pipes maybe he wouldn't have been such a rake.

Pork is popular here and you will always see pigs about to be pork "rendered" as fat and smiling, even in their own immanent demise. These booths are great for studying my vocabulary while lining my belly with grease and good taste.

Old School Taxis

Mexico City is full of cars, and surprisingly most of them are pretty modern. They have pretty strict emission laws here and it's eliminated quite a few of the old beaters. VW bugs are the exception though and this is because up until this year they were still making new ones. I'm not talking about those glossy, candyshell, dot com jobs with the flower holders on the dash and all-leather interiors, I'm talking about the old el-cheapo, no frills, Herbie the love bug, stinking roaches in the ashtray kind. Anyway, these things are still really popular here mainly because they used to be the cheapest thing with four wheels you could buy. Most of the taxis are bugs in Mexico City. I'm told they are not practical for the city because they don't drive very smoothly and are always lurching around, but here the equation is: price - old and lurching = tacos for a year. Anyway I like them. I have to admit I never had much of a fondness for Volkswagens because they always seemed expensive to repair and to be constantly breaking down, but here the story is different as they are cheap to buy and apparently cheap to fix too.

This is what the taxis look like.

Here's one in a VW showroom hot off the press.

Here's some VW busses being used as busses.