Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Today's Forecast for The City of Hope: Smoke

Tuesday morning I woke up early to pack my bags and accompany my Tia to Mexico City, a 6 hour bus ride from Veracruz. I'll admit I wasn't thrilled by the prospect of boarding yet another bus, let alone one bound for Mexico City, but the last few days have been mellow and enjoyable.

Wednesday morning we went to mass in honor of my Tio Tito, a sweet and honorable man who passed away in 2001, just a couple of months before my grandfather did. Since then it's been a blur of restaurants and telenovelas...

While I don't normally watch TV in the states, I find myself enjoying Mexican TV. I specifically enjoy the "Bandamax" station, which is like VH1 for Banda music. All the videos feature mustached men in matching cowboy outfits and sombreros, singing about love and loss and accompanied by a desert backdrop. Apparently one Banda singer from Sinaloa, known as "El Gallo de Oro" (a.k.a. Valentin Elizalde) was killed in November for singing about nacos. Although I've inquired a few times, I haven't been able to discern more details.

Today we went to La Basilica de Guadalupe where I got to see the world-renowned painting of La Virgen. La Virgen is the subject of many unexplained mysteries, for instance, the colors used to paint her cannot be identified as coming from any earthly source. Another mystery is the fact that reflected in the virgin's eyes are the reversed images of several people, painted so tiny that it is supposed impossible than any human could have actually painted them. It is said that the people reflected in her pupils were those who witnessed the miracle of her appearance.

The Basilica was constructed in the 1500's and therefore is quite dilapidated. In the 70's a newer, much larger Basilica was constructed to accomodate the hoards, and I mean hoards of people who come to pray, often crawling in on their knees. While I have yet to fully absorb the significance of the many rituals and traditions of Catholicism, my (extremely devout) cousin has made sure that I know how to properly sign the cross and recite the Lord's Prayer. Although, I must admit that I still think of communion as snack time...

Even though traffic is a nightmare and copious amounts of smog are a constant source of nausia, I find myself contemplating an extended stay. Though I can't quite say why, I'm drawn to this city. Unfortunately, my visit here in Mexico feels much too short. Sunday and Monday will see more travel, all the way to Tuxtepec, Oaxaca. Until then, que les vayan bien,


Official Birthday Countdown: 274 days

Sunday, January 21, 2007

El Viento Viene, El Viento Se Va

One day after my long-anticipated arrival in Veracruz, Moctezuma took his revenge. In less than an hour, I went from feeling okay to “holy shit I think I’m going to die.” By 2pm, I was but a shell of my former self, shivering and whimpering and trying to remember the word for “blanket,” a word that I had never actually heard used in this steamy city. I stayed in bed for more than two full days without eating, speaking, or sitting up for longer than the time it takes to swallow pills, which my dear sweet Tio fed me every few hours. In between periods of delirium I had plenty of time to think about what I had eaten to cause such a reaction…lunch had been a big ass bowl of Pozole, a traditional soup with maiz and chunks of animal bone (that I somehow managed to ignore) with tortilla chips and plenty of chipotle. Later that night I partook in some tamales de elote, which, regrettably, I also covered in chile. We never did figure out where the bacterias came from, but cipro came to my rescue and by day three I began to desire food again. The only upside to the whole experience was that it just happened to coincide with “El Norte”, the extreme wind that shows up periodically and basically shuts down the city. Wind speeds reached 115 kilometers an hour in some places, which meant that I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Gracias a Dios, by Thursday I had recovered enough to wash my underwear, which I did by hand with much gusto. The first few pairs were a breeze, but after pair number five I made a mental note that itsy bitsy panties made of synthetic fabrics make the best action panties.

Friday I spent the day visiting with Doña Sylvia, a very sweet Tia of mine who never stopped chatting the entire day. By 8pm I had lost my ability to focus and my Spanish was suffering. I admit that I felt relieved when she finally decided to bring me home. She is a sweet woman who I have neglected in the past, but the more time I spend in this culture the more I am absorbing about the proper way to comport myself, including the proper way to respect my elders. On Tuesday the two of us will make our way to Mexico City for a family reunion.

Saturday my cousin and I made our way to Cempoala, a small pueblo located about an hour north of here on the coast of Veracruz where the Totonacas built beautiful pyramids out of large round stones. It was a gorgeous day and the pyramids seemed to glisten. After visiting the museum, we spent a significant amount of time taking pictures of ourselves, which I will try to post next week…must run, estoy demorrando,

with love from Veracruz,
la ciudad mas preciosa de México,


Official Birthday Countdown: 279 Days Left

Saturday, January 13, 2007

No Risk, No Reward

It's yet another beautiful day here in Guanajuato; the Teckis are all hooked up with an adorable apartment in the hills overlooking el centro and I’ve been disfrutando la vista y la tranquilidad. I made a rather ill-advised (non-advised?) trip to the Museo de las Momias the other day and nearly two hours of walking later, found myself begging a local man for access to a toilet (the one thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to go without peeing for long periods of time…today it occurred to me that a funnel and some plastic tubing could really go a long way toward solving this dilemma…but I digress). Luckily for me, “Jorge” was a merciful sort and relief was in the cards.

Upon finally arriving at the museum, I decided that I didn’t actually want to see these partially decomposed bodies, especially after one of them was advertised as having been buried alive and mummified into a position of scratching to get out. So instead I indulged in some of my favorite Mexican goodies made of amaranto seeds and honey (appropriately named “happiness” in Spanish), and caught the next bus out of there…

Not counting another minor mishap involving una gringa perdida, a moonless night, an unauthorized relieving of the bladder, some sketchy-looking dogs and “Jesus” from the Astronomy Department, things have been muy tranquilo.

The Teckis, being the generous and patient people they are, took the time to explain me some basic Mexican history, including the struggle for Independence from Spanish control in 1810 and the later Revolution of 1910. After only two or three repetitions, several historical-like concepts began to take form in my head, and for this, I am unspeakably grateful to them.

And we’ve had plenty of time to muse on the vagaries of Mexican culture, like the fact that nothing is the same twice, that there are many answers to every question, and what girl Tecki calls “no-fault actions” (for example, instead of saying “I lost the money,” it seems perfectly acceptable to say “the money left me”)..

Tomorrow I head east, to Veracruz, via a 12-14 hour bus journey ($60 US). Next time I write will be from the oldest port in all of the Americas. I’m hoping to put more emphasis this year into actually absorbing things like “history,” which I can then (at least theoretically) transmit to you, my distant yet enthusiastic supporters, via the internets. By doing this, I´m hoping to show a little appreciation for all the amazing opportunities that I´ve been blessed enough to take advantage of this year. A heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped and continue to help make it possible.


carpe diem!

Official Birthday Countdown: 287 Days Left!

Monday, January 08, 2007

La Luna Sigue Llena en Mexico

After yet another tumultuous holiday season, I marked the beginning of the new year in the narco-traffickers’ paradise known as Culiacan in the Northern state of Sinaloa, where leather cowboy hats abound and the main tourist attraction is seafood. They say the most beautiful women in Mexico come from Culiacan, but I can assure you the same is not true for the men. And while I have witnessed some questionable driving skills in places like Mexico City and India, I was even more afraid for my life in Culiacan, where we had a number of scary near-misses only to finally get rear-ended on the last day.

Two buses and 16 hours later, I arrived in the completely picturesque town of Guanajuato, a.k.a “the geographic center of Mexico,” where some of my fellow Americanos are studying Spanish. It has been nearly ten years since I was here, and yet it s exactly as I remember it. The state of Guanajuato is one of the richest states in Mexico and the city (also called Guanajuato) is nothing less than adorable, with lots of foreign students and tourist to keep the local economy humming. Unfortunately, my digital camera died before I came here, so there will be few, if any, pictures to share. While I’m here I plan to see the mummies (which I missed the last time around) as well as partake in some good tequila. Being located next to Jalisco, a tequila-producing mainstay, Guanajuato is a good place to stock up!

For those who aren't in on The Plan, my arrival in Mexico officially marks the beginning of my 30th birthday celebration, where the gift is a year of travel. I'll be aiming to update this blahg on a weekly basis during that time, so stay tuned for more adventures!


Official Birthday Countdown: 292 days left