Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Observation: Part 10, Holiday Overload

Today I accompanied a friend to Walmart. The front section is always dedicated to merchandise related to the season (summer, back to school, holidays, etc). Today was a bit of holiday overload: I could have bought things for Halloween (Oct 31), Day of the Dead (Nov 1 & 2) and Christmas (countdown -- still 2 months away).

(And even after yesterday's post I didn't have my camera with me, so you'll just have to take my word for it)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't forget your camera...

Random siting of the day: Filming (near my apartment) of a commercial for some product for senior citizens - aka lots of elderly ladies and gentlemen dressed as school kids, crossing the street on cue.

I haven't been carrying my camera with me much lately -- but this was a reminder to keep it handy because I never know what I'll see when I'm out and about! 
(I saw them setting up on my way back from the grocery store -- and snapped a quick picture on my way to rehearsal since they were still busy crossing the street!) 

Upcoming Choir Concert: The Invite

The official invite for the choir concert on Sunday October 30th.
(And my first time appearing in an official choir photo!  Photo from the Oaxaca trip in March)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Renting Christmas Trees

I just got an email about a program led by the group Siempre Verde (Always Green), through which you can rent a Christmas tree. Basically, the tree come in a large "flowerpot" so that it doesn't need to be cut and the roots are still intact. You can choose from small, medium or large sizes. It needs to be taken care of, but is then replanted. In certain zones in the DF, delivery and pick-up are included. People residing outside of those zones can pick-up and drop-off their trees at the Distribution Center. They also rent ornaments and flowerpot covers.

Interesting, no? Definitely more ecologically friendly without losing the touch of having a live tree.

For more information (in Spanish), visit http://www.siempreverde.net/

Upcoming Choir Concert

For those of you in the area - Mark your calendars!

Sunday October 30, Staccato, UNAM's Student choir (Coro Universitario Estudiantil) has a (free!) concert to celebrate their 6th Anniversary. It will be at noon in the Anfiteatro Simón Bolívar in the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso.

(Almost) Karaoke

This week CELE, UNAM's language school, is hosting it's Fall Festival with three days of activities representing a variety of languages and cultures. 
After volunteering to participate in my Portuguese class last week (and taking time to pick a song, learn it, etc), today I went to sing Karaoke.
Unfortunately, I found out the Portuguese Karaoke event was yesterday. Not today as I had been told. Whoops.

Here's what I would have sung: 
"Fico assim sem você" by Adriana Calcanhotto. 
(The video includes the English translation -- as long as you can read quickly!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street goes worldwide

The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading not only to cities across the US, but internationally as well. Today (Oct 15th), people around the world are protesting in what organizers are calling a worldwide rally. According to United for Global Change, the main site organizing the worldwide protests, 951 cities in 82 countries are participating.

In Mexico, there are events planned in:
Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Toluca, Xalapa, Puebla, Torreón, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Tijuana, Querétaro, Ciudad Juárez, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Hermosillo, La Paz, Mazatlán, Mérida, Oaxaca, Pachuca de Soto, Reynosa, Cuernavaca, Villahermosa, Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Colima, Manzanillo, Tlaxcala, Tampico, and  León (and possibly more cities)

The message on United for Global Change's site reads:

"On October 15th people from all over the world will take to the streets and squares.
From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest.
The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end.
United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us.
On October 15th, we will meet on the streets to initiate the global change we want. We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen.

It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen.

People of the world, rise up on October 15th!" 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Article: Immigration law author tells farmers: No changes

What's that about kicking out illegal immigrants to make jobs for Americans?

Oh... right. Another article on how that's not working out in Alabama and how produce prices will most likely be going up in the grocery stores (if the harvests aren't completely lost).

(Click on article title to read it on Forbes' site)

Associated Press

Immigration law author tells farmers: No changes

By DAVID MARTIN 10.04.11, 12:52 PM EDT 

STEELE, Ala. -- A sponsor of Alabama's tough new immigration law told desperate tomato farmers Monday that he won't change the law, even though they told him that their crops are rotting in the field and they are at risk of losing their farms.
Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale met with about 50 growers, workers, brokers and business people Monday at a tomato packing shed on Chandler Mountain in northeast Alabama. They complained that the new law, which went into effect Thursday, scared off many of their migrant workers at harvest time.
"The tomatoes are rotting on the vine, and there is very little we can do," said Chad Smith, who farms tomatoes with his uncle, father and brother.
"My position is to stay with the law as it is," Beason told the farmers.
Beason helped write and sponsor a law the Legislature enacted in June to crack down on illegal immigration. It copied portions of laws enacted in Arizona, Georgia and other states, including allowing police to detain people indefinitely if they don't have legal status. Beason and other proponents said the law would help free up jobs for Alabamians in a state suffering through 9.9 percent unemployment.
The farmers said the some of their workers may have been in the country illegally, but they were the only ones willing to do the work.
"This law will be in effect this entire growing season," Beason told the farmers. He said he would talk to his congressman about the need for a federal temporary worker program that would help the farmers next season.
"There won't be no next growing season," farmer Wayne Smith said.
"Does America know how much this is going to affect them? They'll find out when they go to the grocery store. Prices on produce will double," he said.
Lana Boatwright said she and her husband had used the same crews for more than a decade, but only eight of the 48 workers they needed showed up after the law took effect.
"My husband and I take them to the grocery store at night and shop for them because they are afraid they will be arrested," she said.
Chad Smith said his family would normally have 12 trucks working the fields on Monday, but only had the workers for three. He estimated his family could lose up to $150,000 this season because of a lack of help to pick the crop.
"We will be lucky to be in business next year," he said.
Tomato farmer Brian Cash said the migrant workers who would normally be on Chandler Mountain have gone to other states with less restrictive laws.
After talking with famers at the tomato shed, Beason visited the Smith family's farm. Leroy Smith, Chad Smith's father, challenged the senator to pick a bucket full of tomatoes and experience the labor-intensive work.
Beason declined but promised to see what could be done to help farmers while still trying to keep illegal immigrants out of Alabama.
Smith threw down the bucket he offered Beason and said, "There, I figured it would be like that."
The farmers said they get about $10 a box for their tomatoes. The produce box costs $1, the workers get $2, and the remainder goes to cover the farmers' other costs and provide their income.
The U.S. Justice Department, civil rights groups and others have challenged the law. U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn allowed major portions of the law to take effect Thursday. The opponents asked the judge Friday to put the law on hold while they appeal her ruling. Attorneys for the state filed court papers Monday asking the judge to leave the law in effect during the appeal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The choir goes to the pool...

This evening the choir performed for a meeting of UNAM's distance learning program (offered at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level as well as continuing education). It was held "at the pool" -- quite literally in a (huge!) tent set up next to UNAM's olympic-sized pool. We closed with the UNAM fight song and everyone in the audience joined in for the final "Goya" chant.

Article: Hiring Locally for Farm Work is No Cure-All

Article in The New York Times on rethinking agricultural labor and why the argument of hiring locally (instead of foreign workers) to ease unemployment doesn't work.

(Click on article title to be directed to posting on The New York Times' page)

Hiring Locally for Farm Work Is No Cure-All

OLATHE, Colo. — How can there be a labor shortage when nearly one out of every 11 people in the nation are unemployed?

That’s the question John Harold asked himself last winter when he was trying to figure out how much help he would need to harvest the corn and onions on his 1,000-acre farm here in western Colorado.
The simple-sounding plan that resulted — hire more local people and fewer foreign workers — left Mr. Harold and others who took a similar path adrift in a predicament worthy of Kafka.
The more they tried to do something concrete to address immigration and joblessness, the worse off they found themselves.
“It’s absolutely true that people who have played by the rules are having the toughest time of all,” said Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado.
Mr. Harold, a 71-year-old Vietnam War veteran who drifted here in the late ’60s, has participated for about a decade in a federal program called H-2A that allows seasonal foreign workers into the country to make up the gap where willing and able American workers are few in number. He typically has brought in about 90 people from Mexico each year from July through October.
This year, though, with tough times lingering and a big jump in the minimum wage under the program, to nearly $10.50 an  hour, Mr. Harold brought in only two-thirds of his usual contingent. The other positions, he figured, would be snapped up by jobless local residents wanting some extra summer cash.
“It didn’t take me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” Mr. Harold said, standing in his onion field on a recent afternoon as a crew of workers from Mexico cut the tops off yellow onions and bagged them.
Six hours was enough, between the 6 a.m. start time and noon lunch break, for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply never came back and gave no reason. Twenty-five of them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work was too hard. On the Harold farm, pickers walk the rows alongside a huge harvest vehicle called a mule train, plucking ears of corn and handing them up to workers on the mule who box them and lift the crates, each weighing 45 to 50 pounds.
“It is not an easy job,” said Kerry Mattics, 49, another H-2A farmer here in Olathe, who brought in only a third of his usual Mexican crew of 12 workers for his 50-acre fruit and vegetable farm, then struggled to make it through the season. “It’s outside, so if it’s wet, you’re wet, and if it’s hot you’re hot,” he said.
Still, Mr. Mattics said, he can’t help feeling that people have gotten soft.
“They wanted that $10.50 an hour without doing very much,” he said. “I know people with college degrees, working for the school system and only making 11 bucks.”
A mismatch between employers’ requirements and the skills and needs of the jobless — repeated across industries — has been a constant theme of this recessionary era. But here on the farm, mismatch can mean high anxiety.
The H-2A program, in particular, in trying to avoid displacing American citizens from jobs, strongly encourages farmers to hire locally if they can, with a requirement that they advertise in at least three states. That forces participants to take huge risks in guessing where a moving target might land — how many locals, how many foreigners — often with an entire season’s revenue at stake. Survival, not civic virtue, drives the equation, they say.
“Farmers have to bear almost all the labor market risk because they must prove no one really was available, qualified or willing to work,” said Dawn D. Thilmany, a professor of agricultural economics at Colorado State University. “But the only way to offer proof is to literally have a field left unharvested.”
Mr. Harold’s experience is a repeated refrain where farm labor is seasonal and population sparse. And even many immigration hard-liners have come to agree that the dearth of Americans willing to work the fields requires some sort of rethinking, at least, of the H-2A program. Indeed, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, a conservative Republican, is pushing a bill that would greatly expand the number of foreign guest workers admitted to the country each year.
In Colorado, the unemployment rate in many rural counties is also significantly lower than in the cities — two neighboring counties here, for example, had 5.5 percent and 6 percent unemployment rates in August, according to state figures, compared with 9.1 percent for the nation as a whole. The big increase in the wage rate for H-2A workers, meanwhile, up nearly $2.50 an hour — calculated by averaging what farmers had to pay last year — also suggests that labor demand was already rising.
Mr. Harold usually hires about 50 local workers for the season — regulars who have worked summers for years — and most returned this year, he said. Finding new employees was where he ran into trouble. He was able to recover after the season started, he said, by rushing in another group of H-2A workers from Mexico.
But the broader story of labor in agriculture, economists and historians said, is that through good times and bad and across socioeconomic lines, people who find better lives off the farm rarely return. Mr. Harold and other H-2A farmers said that most of the local residents who tried field work this summer, for example, were Hispanic, many of whom, they said, had probably immigrated in years past for agricultural work before taking better-paid jobs in construction or landscaping.
Other farmers left in the lurch by local workers conceded that what they had to offer was a tough sell — full-time but temporary work. About 56,000 foreign workers came into the country with H-2A visas last year, according to the most recent federal figures, down from 60,000 in 2009.
Heath Terrell is one of the few new local residents who stuck it out. Mr. Terrell, a former hay hauler, was hired to drive a corn truck. That job kept him out of the fields, and out of the sun. Now, as the season has shifted from corn to onions, Mr. Terrell, 42, said he might just stay on with Mr. Harold through the winter, or at least onion season.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Article: Come On in, the Water's Fine

Article in Newsweek Magazine about Mexico's image (and reality) and tourism:
(click on article title to view article on The Daily Beast/ Newsweek's site) 

Come On in, the Water’s Fine

Never mind the beheadings, the kidnappings, the mass graves. Mexico wants its tourists back.

One warm, sunny spring day, I check into Los Flamingos, a pink stucco hotel that sprawls across a cliffside in Acapulco. Los Flamingos was once the cerveza-soaked playground of John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Johnny Weissmuller (a.k.a. Tarzan), who kept a roundhouse on the premises. I try to retrace their gringo wanderings. I sip coffee on the hotel’s veranda. I paddle around the pool. I venture out to Señor Johnny’s roundhouse. I see smiling, white-uniformed staff members everywhere. But I begin to worry when, two days later, I haven’t seen another customer.

“Sunny Acapulco” these days is more like empty Acapulco, a deserted paradise—except for the Army troops. While I sit in the yacht club one morning with a local attorney, we see a federale casually walk through the manicured grounds with a machine gun. Camouflaged troops in black masks whiz up and down La Costera, the city’s beachfront drive. What happened? First, the narcos started a death match over Acapulco. Then, the city became a scene in the bloody grindhouse movie playing in American media. “Fifteen Headless Bodies Found in Acapulco,” CNN blared earlier this year. “Bag of Severed Heads Left Near Mexican School,” another headline announcedthis month. When I meet an Acapulco official, she says darkly, “We’re still alive, no?”
A few days later, I meet Gloria Guevara, Mexico’s tourism secretary, in her office in Mexico City. The country’s intelligentsia tends to talk about the drug war in terms of overt problems: its duration (four and a half years), body count (35,000 dead), and collateral damage (civil-rights abuses, uneven prosecutions, you name it). Guevara talks about it as a PR problem. Like BPand Goldman Sachs, the Mexican brand has become toxic. “Many, many years ago, we Mexicans didn’t take the time to decide the image or the branding of Mexico,” Guevara says. “It was decided by someone else.” Guevara is trying to rebrand Mexico.
Guevara has eyelashes like the teeth of a Venus flytrap and wears sweeping, brightly colored dresses. She has commanded her staff to call her on her BlackBerry whenever Mexico gets “bad news.” In April, 183 bodies were found 85 miles south of the American border in the state of Tamaulipas. The massacre posed little danger to tourists (Tamaulipas will never be mistaken for Cancún), but the words “mass grave” rolling along the CNN crawl is the kind of thing a turista doesn’t forget. Guevara’s phone buzzed.
More bad news: before Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his presidential campaign, his state government urged citizens to “avoid traveling to Mexico”—the whole country, from Ciudad Juárez to Cozumel. In April, the State Department issued a jittery travel warning that cataloged death and murder in 14 of the 31 Mexican states. It was like “40 percent of our country was up in flames,” grumbles Rodolfo López Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board.
In the face of death screams from the north, Guevara is gamely changing the subject: what does a severed head in Juárez have to do with the mole negro in Oaxaca? Her rebranding campaign has a defiant air. Even though 2010 was the drug war’s bloodiest year, with more than 15,000 dead, Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, declared 2011 the “year of tourism.” Guevara bought ads in America with the winking tagline “Mexico, the Place You Thought You Knew.” Visions of scuba divers and old churches—rather than bodies hanging from overpasses—adorned posters in the New York subway.
Mexico’s PR war is a campaign of warm smiles—tortillas, not bombs. “I think there’s an untold side of the story,” Guevara says. Her attempt to reprogram the turista says a lot about what America thinks of its neighbor. It also says a lot about what Mexico thinks of itself.
Gloria Guevara, who was born in 1967, has always noted how Mexico was seen through gringo eyes. Her father, the Mexican Army general Gustavo Guevara, liked to take the family on Clark Griswold road trips across America: to Houston, Detroit, Niagara Falls. Guevara was in college when an 8.1 earthquake tore through Mexico City in 1985. Her predecessors at the tourism department raced in front of CNN cameras to tell the world that the affected area was only about the size of Central Park. It was an early lesson for Guevara in the geography of disaster.
Guevara was a fast riser in the Mexico office of Sabre, the American travel-technology company that owns Travelocity. She tailored Mexico’s sales pitch to America’s wants. “Gloria has done a really good job of being able to begin to describe Mexico in experiential terms,” says Greg Webb, president of the Sabre Travel Network. Last January, Calderón summoned Guevara to his office and decided she could perform a similar miracle for the government. Referring to Sabre, Calderón asked her, “How much time do you need to talk to the gringos?”
Becoming Mexico’s tourism secretary in 2010 was a dubious honor, like becoming Solyndra’s governmental affairs liaison this fall. Besides the drug war, Mexico in 2009 was battered by two events: the H1N1 pandemic, which scared off the cruise ships, and the Great Recession, which scared off just about everybody else. “It was the worst year for Mexican tourism ever,” says Teresa Solís, a consultant and former official at the Mexico Tourism Board. The number of foreign tourists in Mexico plunged from 22.6 million in 2008 to 21.5 million in 2009. The country lost $2 billion in revenue. The number of tourists has since returned to 2008 levels, but Mexico still hasn’t recovered the lost revenue.
Guevara’s idea, she tells me, is to replace the bloodstained image of Mexico with an exotic one. Last fall, the Mexico Tourism Board rented a billboard in Times Square. It featured destinations like the Cave of Swallows, a 1,000-foot-deep chasm in San Luis Potosí into which a visitor can rappel down on a rope or plunge into with a parachute. Guevara has moved away from the traditional focus on “sun and beach” getaways and toward a European vision of colonial villages and gastronomy. It’s reminiscent of the 1940s, when Mexico City, trying to lure Americans after the Mexican Revolution, was marketed as the “Paris of the New World.”
Mexico wants to be glamorous again. In April, the government brought Jennifer Lopez to Chichén Itzá and paid for her stay in the Mayaland resort. Lopez wound up filming a music video at the ruins. “Heading to the hardcore streets of Mexico,” Sylvester Stallone tweeted last November, before meeting Guevara in Rosarito, a seaside town 20 miles south of the California border. Stallone was there to scout locations for an Expendables sequel, but he wound up happily chomping down lobster tacos. “We just learned the Housewives of Beverly Hillsare coming to Guadalajara,” Rodolfo López Negrete says proudly.
Guevara’s prized PR agent is Calderón, the man who launched the drug war and led Mexico down the dark path of violence. (Guevara showed me his alias in her BlackBerry chat feature, which she’d marked jefe—the boss.) In February, Calderón effectively stopped work and took Peter Greenberg, TV’sTravel Detective, on a five-day tour of Mexico for a special that aired in September on PBS. Calderón strapped on scuba gear and rappelled into the Cave of Swallows. He posed atop the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán in indigenous dress. (“He is a man who has climbed to the top,” the narration intoned, as if an Indian emperor had returned.) It was an act of defiant sightseeing, like George W. Bush returning to New Orleans to buy gumbo and a Hurricane.
Whether Americans are moved by this outpouring is another matter. The U.S.-Mexico border is also a media border: how Mexico is portrayed in the American press is how it’s portrayed to the world. “We have almost universal health care,” one Mexican official tells me, “but why is it that not even Mexicans know about it? Because we’re losing the battle of the airwaves.” Severed heads have become the singular story of Mexico, drowning out even the country’s surprisingly robust growth during the Great Recession. “Everything you do is like the fourth paragraph,” the official says. “It should be the headline.”
One reason Americans fear Mexico is that they genuinely misunderstand its danger. Each new atrocity produces reams of copy. But if you look at the number of Americans killed in Mexico since the drug war began in 2006, and then isolate the number of innocents “caught in the crossfire,” it amounts to only 10 or 20 killings per year, according to research compiled by the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute. This is in a country with hundreds of thousands of American expats and more than 17 million American tourists. “It would be naive to say there is zero risk,” says David Shirk, the Trans-Border Institute’s director. “But it would be alarmist to say the risk is much higher than ‘very low.’?”
Another reason Americans fear Mexico is the Mexi-terror peddled by politicians. In Texas, a group of Republicans have kicked off a new border war. “You know those police warning tapes?” Greg Abbott, Texas’s attorney general, tells me this spring. “It’s like we have a warning tape stretched across our border.” Traveling to Mexico, Abbott adds, is “taking your life into your own hands.”
Ted Poe, a U.S. congressman from the Houston suburbs, says flatly, “I wouldn’t go to Mexico.” A few months before he declares he is running for president, Rick Perry tells me, “Being the governor of Texas and having the high profile I do, I don’t want my children traveling in Mexico.” As for Texas’s sweeping travel warning, Perry added, “That’s going to continue to stay in place as long we see the violence emanating out of the country.”
López Negrete quips, “We know Padre Island had a banner year in tourism.”
But this is the drug war’s effect on America’s brain. “Mexico” has become a single, undifferentiated narcosphere. Part of what makes Guevara’s rebranding effort so tricky is that she lacks a geographic metaphor to explain where the violence is. It rages mostly along the border, but it has also popped up in colonial cities like Morelia, in business hubs like Monterrey, and in resort towns like Mazatlán and Acapulco.
One afternoon in the spring, I meet Alejandro Poiré, a short, stocky man who is Mexico’s federal security spokesman. Poiré, who was educated at Harvard, is an apparatchik with a snide, cutting style—a Mexican Ari Fleischer. To the Texans’ concerns about spillover violence, Poiré quips, “The most significant concern in terms of ‘spillover’ is the spillover of the guns that are coming from the southern border of the United States into Mexico.” He quickly adds, “You can quote me on that.”
I ask Poiré about the problem of metaphor. He thinks for a moment and then ventures one. Imagine Mexico is a beautiful, sun-drenched house, Poiré says. One day, the owner of the house discovers a rat. The rat in Poiré’s metaphor is a narco. This isn’t the kind of metaphor I had in mind, but I let Poiré keep talking. He says that the owner of the house neglects the rats, and they become two, then three, then four. Soon, the rats—that is, the narcos—are crawling out of every nook and cranny, and it’s time to call the exterminator. “President Calderón,” Poiré says, “realized that the basement was loaded with rats.”
Acapulco is safe, Guevara tells me. You won’t notice the rats. The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, warns of “daylight gunfights” and the “deaths of innocent bystanders.” Rick Perry doesn’t think I should go there at all.
As I wander past the gleaming hotels, I think about the problem of defining “safe.” The day before I arrive, someone apparently attacks a city building, a few miles from Los Flamingos, in a bid to murder the city’s traffic chief. But nobody attacks me. I hop into one of the blue-and-white Volkswagen Beetle cabs that death-race along La Costera. Late at night, I eat molcajete acapulque–o, sizzling piles of steak and pork and grilled cactus, in largely empty restaurants. I never once feel the clammy hand of the narcos. My great tragedy is that I leave my iPhone in a cab.
To read the American press, you’d never know Acapulco is also a municipio—a county. When a news story reports someone is murdered in “Acapulco,” it often means they’re killed in distant communities on the other side of the Sierra Madre like Las Cruces and Renacimiento. But the story trundles across the international wires anyway, conjuring the image of Captain Stubing getting beheaded as he steps off the Love Boat. A geographical imprecision slimes the whole city. Acapulco is Mexico in miniature.
By the time the summer ended, street gangs had once again upped the murder rate in Acapulco and killed off the nightlife. This is what haunts Mexico: genuine violence, on the one hand, but also its aftershocks—a PTSD in the gringo imagination. America has never had a real debate over the Mexican drug war, and two presidents’ enthusiastic backing of it, so instead we worry whether it’s safe to go to the beach. Octavio González Flores, the director of Acapulco’s port authority, says the number of foreign cruise ships will fall this year from 90 to about 40. In an ironic twist, Sunny Acapulco has become an almost fully Mexican destination. John Wayne and Johnny Weissmuller’s paradise has been reconquered by chilangos from the capitol in search of cheap hotel rooms.
Back at the Los Flamingos bar one night, I sip a coco loco—a house specialty involving tequila, rum, and an unripe coconut—and I think of Guevara’s most plaintive sales pitch. The adventurous gringo who goes to Mexico now, scaling his own psychic border wall, is rewarded by rock-bottom prices. I tell the manager of Los Flamingos I’m thinking about staying an extra day or two in Acapulco. “Se–or,” he says wearily, “you can stay as long as you want."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Burger and...

Today I got a craving for a burger so I caved and got Burger King for lunch. (I rarely eat fast food in the US -- besides the occasional Chick-fil-A or Subway. My usual "fast food" here is tacos. This was my 2nd time in a Burger King in Mexico in a little over 14 months).
I found it interesting that, alongside the ketchup packets included in my to-go bag, were jalapeño sauce packets.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DocsDF: International Documentary Film Festival

For people in the DF, check out the 6th Mexico City International Documentary Film Festival, going on September 29 - October 9. For more information, visit:  http://www.docsdf.org/

Saturday, October 1, 2011


It's moments like these when I really remember I'm in Mexico:

A mariachi band (with probably 10-15 members) just showed up to play/sing Las mañanitas (song sung for birthdays in Mexico) at my neighbors' apartment, followed by songs requested by the group. It's like a concert through the wall (and outside my door because they don't all fit in the apartment!)

Book Fair

Today I went to the Anthropology and History Book Fair, held at the National Anthropology Museum, which has been going on since September 22 and ends tomorrow. Brazil is the guest country this year. There are book presentations, conferences and discussions, with topics such as endangered languages, African descendants in Latin America, history and culture of indigenous groups in Mexico and traditional music. There are also movies, workshops, art activities, and musical performances, as well as a ton of book venders. I browsed books (and came home with two) as I listed to a Son Jarocho group, followed by a musical group from Colombia.

National Anthropology Museum

group playing son jarocho