Wednesday, June 29, 2005

cold, cars, and parties

It's been fairly cold here over the past few weeks. Where's all the heat? I'm surprised. I thought the city would be sweltering in June, but it's mild and rainy here. I guess people weren't kidding when they told me this was the rainy season. Mexico City has a wealth of things to do, but when it's cold and rainy, often you just want to stay inside like anywhere I guess. Not a lot different and new is happening right now. Uh, there's an election here next year and people are getting pretty anxious about it. The "old guard" party known as PRI who were taking care of business for nearly 70 years without change until the PAN party and El Presidente Fox was sworn in took power 4 years ago. Now it's time to vote again in 2006 and people are worried there is going to be a reactionary swing back to the more conservative and historically controversial PRI party who would love to sit in the drivers seat again. There is also another party, the more left leaning PRD who are getting more and more popular. Anyway, the billboards and the television have started to swell with those tacky political ad's designed to appeal to everyone's knee-jerk reflex. Families eating dinner and talking earnestly about taxes, health care, jobs, schools, etc...

The other night we were on our way to a fiesta and the car we were driving in began to stink and smoke. We pulled over in a gas station and investigated. Something electrically wrong was going on in the trunk. Some kind of electrical problems. It passed though and the car seemed to work fine afterward. Like I said I can't really think of anything else to say, but I had these photos. It can be pretty dangerous to get stuck in some places in Mexico City so it's always best to check out any car problems you might have on the road before you have to pull over in an unknown area far from a gas station. Of course that didn't stop this car from stranding me and Ale in the middle of nowheresville DF when we were supposed to be receiving my friends at the Airport.

We were actually on the way to this party which turned out to be pretty good. One thing I've noticed about the circles I've been moving in is that there are often organized parties where you pay an initial entrance fee and then you get the use of a host bar. Often it's a pretty good deal. This one was exceptional in that you also got to help yourself to the booze. Needless to say the alcohol was already in danger of running out when we arrived, but it was fun and the music was good. Well, til next time-

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mexi cyber-punk

Hey, remember what I was saying about Mexico City being like Blade Runner? Well I was websurfing or clicking or nosing around the other day online of course and check out what I found in William Gibson's blog! (guy who wrote Neuromancer) I didn't even know he had a blog but Google rooted out this comment on Mex DF.

"Saturday, May 24, 2003
posted 4:18 PM

Fuldog's backgrounder, from Mexico City, on El Presidente's wife, the clown, etc., is exactly the sort of feedback that makes blogging worthwhile. Like, *who (around here, anyway) knew*? Except of course for our man on the ground in the DF -- which is, by the way, the most, well, *cyberpunk*, for want of a better word, place I've ever been. Mexico City is a moment by moment reminder of just how embarrassingly relative the term "dystopian" is. The infrastructure there has been functioning for decades now in what for the cities of El Norte would be conditions of grotesque Burroughsian emergency, but people just keep getting up every day and getting on with their lives. Which I found both impressive and strangely hope-inducing.

Actually there is a better word for the DF ("Federal District", like DC) than "cyberpunk": "Ballardian". When you see Fuldog here, he's checking in from one *extreme* urban environment!"

And that's from the creator of "cyberpunk" himself I think... It's a little dark. I'm not sure it's that crazy here, but there are parallels. I'm not sure what "Ballardian" means, but I guess that's why he's the Hugo author and I'm stuck here in the "Tenochitlan Industrial Axis".

Here are some more photos I took on the roof of my friends house down the way. The planes fly right over the city day and night and sometimes pretty close. You get used to hearing them air-brake over the WTC.

Typical Mexico City rooftops. Don't see too many of those old school aerials in Vancouver anymore. Those cement casks are older water tanks.

Typical DF apt going up. In our area it's becoming more and more yuppie to live. They're building many of these small condo buildings which are mostly kind of ugly in my opinion, but they're still a little humbler than the glass canyons of Yaletown for instance.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Down by the bay, Where the watermelons grow...

Ale went to a place called Huejutla in Hidalgo to see some farmers organization there about selling produce in "fair trade" sales near Mexico City Churches. I don't have a lot of new photos to show anyone, so I figure these nice countryside shots she took of rural Mexico on her drive to Hidalgo would be just as nice.

Here you can see how the terrain changes. The drier land around Mexico City slowly gives way to a mountainous landscape.

Now it's getting greener, lusher, hotter and moister. I know lusher is wrong, but it sounds right.

Check out this photo she took of a fighting cock farm. Fighting cocks is popular in Mexico, but I've never seen it in progress.

Here's my favorite photo. Sandias o plenty. Watermelon is popular here too, more popular than fighting cocks I think, but why make everything a competition? Mexico has so many farmers that there's always fresh fruit and veggies even in the most remote places and the quality of most things is usually really good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Uh, remember in my last post when I talked about the slightly sleazy vibe I got from Laredo? Well it seems I just slipped "under the wire" as it were before some pretty sticky stuff hit the fan in the sheriff's office. IE: all hell broke lose. Drugs, gangs, guns, assassinations, and lawlessness seem to be the flavor of the day on the spicy side of the line in Nuevo Laredo since last tuesday. I guess it's not so easy to keep the peace when there's so much drug money at stake or in your pocket. The new police chief was assassinated hours after accepting his former job. High turnover. Apparently the army are now patrolling the streets and tons of cops are in jail. Grim. And to cap it all off the US dept. of whatever is advising everyone to stay away from the bordertown, of course, because- they had nothing to do with it. All I can say is I really hope they catch these guys. Anyway, enough glibness. "El Norte" seems to have it's problems right now and as Yoda would say, "deep seated, they are..." Geez, what a crappy post! If you want the real goods- google it, read up from the news that's been fitted to print, briefly raise your eyebrows and say "woah" to yourself and then check out what's happening to MJ, like we all do. Uh, bye.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's getting hot in here...

It's been quite hot lately. There's been a lot of hot stuff going on:

No, it is not a reverse angle detail of me on the toilet after a night of tequila and street tacos but the volcano in Colima is looking like it might erupt in a big way. They have evacuated the surrounding area. Sometimes you forget that there are several active volcanoes in central Mexico and one is quite close to Mexico City. Nothing like rivers of bubbling lava and searing pyroclastic flows to remind you. It's common to see Popocat├ępetl smoking away in the distance on a clear day. I guess that's one reason the soil around here is so rich. The land giveth the land taketh away to quote old time speak of some kind. Ah Geez, I just hope no one gets hurt!

Speaking of hot I also went to the US border over the weekend to resolve a, visa issue. It's a long haul to Monterrey (13 hrs on bus), but an interesting ride through some of the country's northern desert-like lands. Here's some a those desert like lands out the bus window.

I like the desert. It's so huge and hot and scary. It's hot in the Monterrey area this time of year. I think it was around 40 degrees or so.

Monterrey is a fairly modern and industrial city near the American border. I think it's the third largest city in Mexico and it felt pretty big city to me. It didn't seem like much of a tourist destination but there are some nice mountains immediately surrounding the city and it didn't seem as bad as the cultural, industrial wasteland that many southerners make it out to be, but I wouldn't totally know either. That's a massive Mexican flag flapping on top of that small mountain in the background. They seem to have many of these all over the country and often on top of hills and mountains.

A friend in Monterrey drove us to the border-town of Laredo Texas which we also visited. Laredo is sort of a poorer Bellingham in the desert. Lots of outlet stores, lots of big-assed t-shirts, big assed stores and, well, big assed people too. There are a lot of big assed things in Texas and I believe many Texans take pride in the "big assed" stereo-type. Texas doughnuts, Texas mickeys, Texas chainsaw massacres... It seems as if somethings bigger than it should be to extreme proportions- then it's Texan. There is a Mexican side and an American side to Laredo so it's a weird and interesting place. It felt a little sleazy to me actually; car dealerships and stereo wholesalers everywhere. Everyone on both sides speaks mainly Spanish, but in the US, everything's in English. I realized that I hadn't heard English for awhile and in the Starbucks lineup to boot. It sounded strange and foreign to hear so many people speaking it along with that Starbucks Jazz sampler kind of muzak that I know so well from Vancouver. I guess that's how it is when you cross borders though.

Then we went to this strip of strip malls and did a little cross-border shopping. By the time we went back to Mexico I was pretty exhausted and the experience of the full bore weekend (bus rides, fluorescent night shopping at Wal Mart etc. on the hot strip) was so tiring that I was actually relieved to get back into Mexico! I was like, "oh, thank god. Back in safe Mexico; taco stands, stray dogs, window-side money changers and squeegee washers- thank god! And of course the difference is that extreme the second you cross over.

... and here it is. This is on the Mexican side looking to the US. Many of the people walking back to Mexico appeared to be getting off work. I guess a lot of people are american "guest workers" or whatever that new-fangled green card legislation calls them.

Also I learnt that there are mosquitos in Mexico City. I've been getting bitten by them nightly. I don't know how they survive here as I don't know of many cities that have mosquitos, but they are here and they are crafty too. They hide like cockroaches when you turn on the lights and then come back when you're in bed. Gotta put in some screens up or something. Well- till next time. Keep bakin in the sunshine if you have it-

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ice Cream

Hi again. Here's some more dirt on DF and some stuff to keep you here and let you know that I still post to this blog. It's hotter here now and much the same. I saw the new Star Wars the other day. It was better than the last two, but still fell short of the older versions in my opinion. R2D2 was way too animated. I blame crappy acting. Just put a midget or a kid in there. I've been keeping busy and I'm starting to get more ESL clients. Unfortunately most of the classes are at night or in the very early morning before and after work so it's kinda a weird schedule.

Helados (ice creams) are popular in Mexico and are really good. I think I posted a picture of a neveria in an older blog entry, but here's another great one just down the street. Both were founded in the 50's or something and have changed little since. They don't have the 100 flavors like the newer places in Vancouver but they do have tables, chairs, waiters, chrome trim and those green milkshake makers. You can get your ice cream in a steel cup which is cool. Both places were founded by Italian immigrant families so the quality's there. Hmmm... I could go for some now.

check out the menus. These are the originals as you can see. Those drawings don't even look appetizing. One of the rare occasions where the real thing is better than the picture on the menu.