Friday, April 18, 2014


Nothing like an earthquake in the morning to make sure you're really awake!

There was a big earthquake this morning around 9:30.  Mexico's National Seismological Service reported it was a magnitude - 7.0 earthquake centered in Petatlan, Guerrero (on the coast of Guerrero, about 515 km = 320 miles from Mexico City and 201 km = 125 miles from Acapulco).

from Twitter 

The U.S. Geological Survey reported it was a magnitude- 7.5 quake. Either way, it was strong and lasted a really long time: for about a minute (and felt like longer).

My roommate and I are fine though and so far I don't think any damages have been reported.

*Edit - Mexico's National Seismological Service upgraded and the U.S. Geological Survey downgraded the magnitude of the quake, agreeing on 7.2.

*Edit - Though I had seen it reported that it lasted about 30 seconds, other reports said about a minute and some videos/news clips corroborated that it was about a minute. I knew it felt longer!

*Edit - UnoNoticias (News texted to my phone by Telcel) said 48 buildings were damaged and 15 walls fell down in the DF.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Article: Undocumented Immigrants Contribute Billions in Taxes

In honor of tax day in the U.S., an article about undocumented immigrants and taxes. 


Undocumented Immigrants Contribute Billions in Taxes

American Immigration Council
Immigration Impact
Written by on April 15, 2014 
in Comprehensive Immigration ReformEconomicsUndocumented Immigration
Death and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin, are the only things in life that are certain. And despite the prevailing myth perpetrated by nativist groups, there are plenty of undocumented immigrants facing the certainty of taxes on April 15. They pay billions in state and local taxes every year that help to fund benefits they are often unable to receive. Tax Day is a good reminder that if the House passed legislation to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, then it would increase the amount being paid in taxes each year while also creating a more fair system for immigrants.
One way that undocumented immigrants already pay taxes is through the day-to-day taxes of living in this country. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $9.4 billion in the state property and sales taxes that fund schools, police and fire stations, roads, and public services within each state. Everyone who lives in or visits our country pays these taxes when they fill up their gas tank and buy items like a car,  house, or clothes.
As people who have filed taxes know very well, income taxes require reporting income. Payroll taxes are what employers are required to pay on their employees (such as Social Security and Medicare contributions). Undocumented immigrants, and many other people who don’t have Social Security numbers, report income through their Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Both state and federal governments receive taxes on undocumented immigrant’s income and employment. ITEP estimates that “at least half” of undocumented immigrants pay state income taxes even though they lack legal status—an amount that totaled $1.24 billion in 2010. The Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that “one-third of unauthorized immigrants working in the formal economy” pay more than $13 billion in payroll taxes.
What is true of both income and payroll taxes is that if Congress passed immigration reform, these numbers would only increase. ITEP’s numbers estimate that state income taxes would rise to $2.8 billion if immigration reform and CAP argues that reform would add $109 billion in combined federal, state, and local taxes over a ten year period. Legal status would “provide a net contribution” to the Medicare trust fund “for the next three decades,” totaling an estimated $155 billion. Social Security’s trust fund would increase as well, to $606 billion. That number, as CAP points out, “is enough money to fund the retirement benefits of 2.4 million native-born Americans.”
These numbers are part of the reason why CBO scores for both HR 15 and S. 744 have shown such benefits for the U.S. economy. The Senate has already passed comprehensive immigration reform. If the House does as well, then the U.S. could have a working immigration system and more money in the public treasury on Tax Days to come.
- See more at:

Pan dulce

I gave myself a craving for pan dulce after my post the other day, so I picked some up from the bakery today. Yum!

pan dulce

Monday, April 14, 2014

Visit to the Chapultepec Zoo

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Chapultepec Zoo, which was my first time visiting. Did you know that it's free? I didn't until yesterday! I think the animals might have had the right idea hanging out in the shade though - the sun was pretty brutal and the zoo was packed!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blog post: "Why I’m in love with Mexican pan dulce"

Mexico has a huge variety of pan dulce (sweet bread or pastries) -- some of which I've tried, and much less of which I've photographed to share on the blog.

fancy pan dulce at a restaurant in Polanc
fancy pan dulce at a restaurant in Polanco
resobada in Maltrata
baking pan de muerto

Click here to read Leslie Téllez's post "Why I'm in love with Mexican pan dulce" on her blog The Mija Chronicles.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Choir's concert in Gryfino, Poland

Maybe we'll count today's post as a Throwback Thursday post since it's from our trip to Europe last summer...

We gave our final concert in Poland on July 8, 2013 at a church in Gryfino, Poland. While we had lots of fantastic concerts while on tour, this one stood out to me because the audience was so enthusiastic and filled with lots of our new friends who we had met the first few days of the trip and were reunited with at the end of our stay in Poland. It was bittersweet to be able to share this concert with them and to see friendly faces in the audience as we sang, but also knowing we'd have to say goodbye. (Fortunately they're coming to visit us in Mexico in a couple of months. Yay!!) 

One of our new friends recorded and uploaded the entire concert, which is what I want to share with you today:

The first half of the concert was sacred music. In the middle we were presented with awards from the competition in Miedzyzdroje, Poland (... I think). The second half is popular / traditional / folkloric music from various countries in Latin America. (Oh yea, and I also introduce the pieces in English in the second half. I get more nervous about speaking than singing!) 

1. Xtoles (~0:00:30)
2. Motete + Dios Itlaconantzine (~0:05:30)
3. Ave Maria (~0:10:15)
4. Locus iste (~0:13:15)
5. O magnum mysterium (~0:16:40)
6. Benedictio (~0:23:20)
7. La llorona (México) (~0:35:50)
8. Naranjitay (Bolivia) (~0:40:00)
9. Son de la Loma (Cuba) (~0:42:40)
10. Bullerengue (Colombia) (~0:46:00)
11. El Bodeguero (Cuba) (~0:49:25)
12. El Cascabel (México) (~0:53:15)
13. Cielito Lindo / Cielito Lindo Huasteco (México) (~0:56:30)
Encore 1: Bésame Mucho (México) (~1:06:00)
Encore 2: Prende la Vela (Colombia) (~1:11:15)
Encore 3: Louva a Deus (Brazil) (~1:15:55)

Also, a closer video of "Bésame Mucho" from the same concert:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Choir on "Creadores Universitarios"

A few photos from when the choir performed the songs "Naranjitay" and "Kalkadunga" on the show "Creadores Universitarios" on February 21st...

Photo of us live on TV:

Screenshots of the live online broadcast: 

You can watch the video on the show's website: 
(though it seems that it only works when watching within Mexico).

Jacarandas at the UNAM

Jacarandas outside of the School of Economics at the UNAM

Friday, April 4, 2014

Busy week!

It's been a busy week this week!

In addition to the normal thesis writing, working out, and rehearsing with the choir....

We had an extra long rehearsal to prepare for our multiple events this week and in the near future.

I made a trip to the Brazilian Consulate (more on that eventually!). Getting there and back is definitely the longest part! I also composed an email to send to Eric Whitacre (the Eric Whitacre) from our choir director (token native English speaker here!), which wasn't so much time consuming as out of the ordinary.

Just a regular day -- gym, grocery store, thesis, and rehearsal.

We had a concert at the Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros (CEPE) and it went really well! We even sang two encores by request!

Thursday night we went to see the movie Divergent. Edson had gotten tickets through a promotion so five of us were able to see it before it officially opened in theaters on Friday. I really enjoyed it!
I spent most of the day (11:45 am - 6:00 pm) with the choir recording two songs for a television program! We sang "Water Night" and "Cloudburst," both with text by Octavio Paz and music by Eric Whitacre. "Water Night" is the English translation of Paz's poem "Agua Nocturna" and "Cloudburst" is adapted from the poem "El Cántaro Roto" ("The Broken Water-Jug). The program will be in honor of Octavio Paz's 100th birthday (which was March 31st) and broadcast by Edusat, a non-commercial, educational television network owned by the Secretary of Public Education. I also did a reading of "Water Night" (once again, token native English speaker), so we'll see if it makes the cut. No info yet when the program will be broadcast.

"Cloudburst", behind the scenes. Not sure why our black dresses look blue
Reading "Water Night" - I'm reading in English, my choirmates are reading in Spanish
If you're interesting in listening to the songs from previous performances, click here for "Cloudburst" and here for "Water Night."

Saturday and Sunday: 
This weekend we're headed to Cuernavaca to visit friends and celebrate their exciting news. Yay!