Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm 95% water, 5% tacos

Maybe you don't know it but the World Water Forum or something like that is coming to DF this week. Mexico City is dry and often hot and the water has almost disappeared. One thing I learned recently is that Mexico City isn't just sinking because it was built over a lake. It's sinking because we're literally drinking the lake. Water is already being pumped from nearby states in enormous amounts and at enormous cost and still apparently over a million people here have to have it trucked into their houses by private companies and their taps start hissing before noon. And just because I said they "have to have it trucked in", doesn't mean they do. Seriously, how many dishes would you wash and how many showers would you take a day if you had to pay by the cup? I remember David Suzuki's smiling face on CBC pleasantly talking about how millions of people are probably going to die from water crisis and it kind of being this far away abstract idea. I mean, there's so much water around in Canada, there's no way that's ever going to effect me or anyone I know, just some poor people in the Sudan or wherever and their probably used to it, but I can now unfortunately relate a little better. Here I am in this modern city with malls and cineplexes and if I'm thirsty there's scarce public fountains. One week we ran out of water and it sucked. I boiled water just so I could get a glass in the morning. A secretary at one of the companies I teach at told me she wakes up at 7am on weekends and I asked why? "That's the only time they turn on the water in my neighborhood." she said. There are over 20 million thirsty people living here. World Water Forum? How about a World Water Tank? I guess the moral to this story is, uh, enjoy the hose games while you can, or store it away for a rainy day, cause as David Suzuki so calmly warned, we'll all be paying 25 cents a litre for recycled urine before we're 80. Some of us already are. I don't think he actually said that, but he was probably thinking it.

There is a man who brings the water to my house. He charges about 2.50 for a big jug and he carries 2 at a time up 5 flights of stairs, and If you've ever loaded one of those water coolers, I don't need to tell you this is what we call "hard work". He rides a commonly seen type of delivery bicycle in Mexico which has a welded basket on the front for holding things- bread, tacos, tamales, water, newspapers, whatever... In his case it's maybe 6 or 7 big plastic jugs of filtered water. This is his business. He claims it's "Electropura!" which he shouts at the top of his lungs in the street every morning, but he and I and everyone knows it's a "Just as good as Electropura knock-off water." Clean water is big biz in Mexico. You can find small bottles, medium, and the large 25 gallon water cooler sizes for sale in any store. Coca Cola has it's fingers in the pie as well as most of the other major bottlers and 100 pesos says that's the kind of thing they were talking about in the Forum as opposed to how we're going to get through the next 100 years with everyone having a clean running tap. "FORUM" - even the name has a suspicious, purring Mercedes limo convoys outside the W hotel, ring to it.

And in case you thought this guy was working too hard there is another guy who comes around every other day and shleps those four foot steel bottles of propane to the roofs of every building in the hood. I can barely lift one of these things, and while I'm no strong man by any standards, jolts of pain shoot up my back in sympathy seeing these guys. There are a lot of hard livings to be had in DF.

In case anyone's actually interested in what happened over the few days of the Forum, there were some big protests. G Bush and some other big names from around the globe were in town. They shut down the entire downtown core; busses of cops, riot gear, helicopters, blast walls, the whole shebang. Anti globalization groups clashed with police and many of the cities populace came out to walk and make their voices heard about being thirsty and tired of it. Yeah, it was actually fairly depressing. BBC has a link HERE I still haven't heard anything about what was accomplished. My mouth gets dry just thinking about it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bride, ponytail, turbo scratcher

Well, my friends from Canada are gone now, so things have once again returned to the daily dodge and metro swing. It's going good. Ale's sister is getting married in Apr. and the family's winding up for the pitch. There are lots of tasks and each one of us must carry some responsibility and as the date moves closer everyone seems to be getting more nervous. IT's kind of interesting, I don't think I've ever been this close to the whole wedding planning thing. It's going to be a nice, smallish wedding though so it's not like we have to be too over-stressed. But by smallish I don't mean a justice of the peace, 1 bowl of styro cup punch, and a potluck spread of garbanzo stew and potato salad. Don't get me wrong. I was raised on these kinds of weddings and would welcome one, but Mexican weddings are usually a pretty big deal. I guess you can add Mexicans to the long line of cultures that have the stereotyped distinction of having big weddings. Someone should make a My Big Fat Mexican Wedding themed movie to further cash in on the seemingly neverending interest in wedding movies. In Mexico even in smaller and often poorer communities people still find the wherewithal to throw a big bash, often bigger than in the more conservative and wealthy circles I'm told. The party apparently sometimes rages for a few days. With that much material you could make one of those 4 hour films.

Ale and her soon to be wed sister have been stressing for the last few days on the right type of hair bun/do for her to sport on her big day. I never realized the intricacies involved, but to those who know me well, that won't come as a surprise.

I had a pony tail for, like, 8 years or something and it never occurred to me that other things could be done with that hair or that it even might make finding jobs harder etc. Actually, now that I think about it I think that while I wore the ponytail I basically just forgot the hair existed. It was as if I stuffed it in a drawer or something- gone. I mean, you can't see it in a mirror straight on and as a guy I guess I wasn't in the strong habit of looking at other angles in mirrors. It wasn't until some girls from Art School told me that my pony tail looked like shit that I decided to put the issue under review. Then the more people I talked to, the more people told me that, yes, it did indeed look, if not out of style, like shit. Well, now my hair is going grey and the whole being over-concerned with my hair issue is on the verge of expiry. Or actually, probably it's just the beginning of a new more-concerned era. I mean, I shouldn't feel too bad about it I guess. At least I had a pony tail even if I did wear out it's fashion statement by a decade or so. Yeah, it was uncool of me. Uncool regrets. Grecian Formula here i come!

In other big news, we bought the cat a turbo scratcher. You may remember a fairly insignificant previous post wherein I mentioned and posted a picture of our overweight live-in cat. Well in an attempt to get his blood going and help him lose a few pounds we're instituting a two pronged plan. A turbo scratcher co-initiated with a "Fat Cat" food type which is supposed to help him realize a new thinner self. The Turbo Scratcher was an immediate big hit. I don't like to endorse as-seen-on-TV products, but the combination of catnip impregnated cardboard and whirly ball had him scratching away practically before I could remove the cello wrap. The food was also a big hit, but as it's more expensive I can only surmise that it has more to do with the exposure to higher grade bone meal, snouts and cartilage than he was used to. The "diet" formula seems to have more to do with the size of the scooper than anything else and this is the one part of the equation that the cat is not too keen on. He's basically starving all the time. Whereas before he was content heaving on the couch all day, he is now a green-eyed, screeching fur purse. Not only is he using his scratcher, but he scratches everything in the house out of frustration. He chases us around and scratches our legs and howls for food constantly. Sometimes he even howls for it while he's eating it! It is no longer a give and take relationship, but a one way repetitive exercise in gullet stuffing. What can we do though? His stomach was grey from dragging on the ground and he was the subject of drawing room jokes!