A little birdy just whispered in my ear–contemporary speak for sent me a text–saying, “Uh, when are you going to do your Mexico post?” So, dear committed reader, this one is for you.
To set the mood, since the sniffles I’ve come back with have certainly killed it, I’ve turned on Alt.latino and their podcast titled “Dreaming en Español: Latin Music to Soothe Your Summertime Soul”–which features, in their words, “fluffy Mexican pop.” I LOVE fluffy pop, and after just over a week with our southern neighbors, I have a soft spot for Mexico, too, and of course an even softer spot for certain citizens.
This won’t be fully organized, but I will at least start chronologically: I was slightly terrified of spending SO many hours on a plane. I had two long a** flights to get there and besides the truly irrational fears (which need not be made explicit), I was expecting to be exhausted. This is where I will tell you: never underestimate the power of adrenaline. Though the movie selection was rough on the way over, and the food wasn’t much better, the flight was super smooth, my seatmate (a Colombian going home to visit her family), and my book-on-tape was fully entertaining. (One of these days, I might tell you about the book). The Bogotá airport was smashingly nice and the free wifi meant I got to check in with my family and other peeps.
D. is just about the most reliably airport picker-upper ever and he was there waiting when I walked out. There is some long German word we learned in our Romanticism classes that describes defamiliarization (often used to talk about theatre)…okay…but all of that to say is that seeing D. and his brother after weeks apart made everything feel new again. You know you know them, but at the same time, you are fresh.
My antenna were up when D. proposed taking an Uber to Cuernavaca. (A taxi? In México? Didn’t this mean we’d end up tied to a cactus in the desert?) The taxi driver looked more or less trustworthy, and after sending his info to my mom, (I KNOW! I’m a Mexico rookie. What did you expect?), we hopped in, and chatted away until we pulled up at his mom’s condo an hour or two later (for the ridiculous price of like $30 total. For real. Mexico is a cheapy’s paradise). I headed straight for the shower and we snoozed for a few hours before Austrailia brother (I.) and sister-in-law arrived (F.) .
Breakfast was just the first in a series of delicious meals that would follow. I used to have a real Spanish food superiority complex, but let me tell you! Mexican food was JUST SO GOOD! So many fresh fruits and veggies (and yes, A., they were practically free, just like you said!) and the fresh tortillas. Nothing I ate there I thought “Ics. Never again.” It was more like, “I’m pretty full, but I think I need just one more spoonful of that pozole (this ridiculously yummy chicken noodle soup made with giant pieces of puffy corn instead of limp noods).”
You caught me finishing my yummy pimiento enogado…a mild chile stuffed with mean, raisins, and nuts.
Being a family of three boys, it was only a matter of time until the sports begin. We hit up the tennis courts and the pool several times over the course of the week. D. and I even played a record THREE sets of tennis against I. and F. A set of tennis is the first to 6 games won. I won’t do the math, but that means enough standing waiting for the ball to merit a juice and a half when the games were over. Luckily, at D.’s mom resort-style complex, the juices are all you can drink. And while I’m usually not a “resort-style gal,” I’ll admit: I loved it! Her house was great-it had a huge kitchen table (lots of fun for meal time) and unbelievable panoramic views- and I don’t think I could ever say, “No, I’d rather not have pools and free fresh juice.”
8-seat square table (with a big lazy susan to avoid reaches. Two brothers and two wives.)
As a girl from the Blue Ridge, I love a good mountain view!
Morning two, D. and I stopped at what was basically a roadside hut for fresh sopes, quesadillas, and gorditas. Did you know quesadillas in Mexico don’t always have cheese? I mean, I didn’t eat them because I was hung up on the gorditas…basically, beans and cheese stuffed into a corn tortilla dough, splashed in lard (I know. But you have to get over it when you taste it!) and grilled to perfection on a huge skillet way too clean to be at a roadside stop.
D. and A. at a market in Tepoztlan…waiting for deliciousness.
Squeeze me while I step next door to buy a round of juices for the table. (In the big colorful pots are “aguas”-water mixed with fruit and a little sugar.) (Brother D. pictured)
Later that day (or was it the next? Everything is running together like the beans and cheese in my gordita!!), we explored the market.
Um. Fo’ real. That’s some chaos. We weaved through vendors of all types, with counters that ranges from 15 watermelons long to just a 5 gallon paint bucket turned upside down. Since we are a pretty light-skinned bunch, more than one vendor shouted to us saying “Step right up güeritos [blondies]”
The winning scene of the day for me was walking through the section with tomatoes piled pyramidically up to my eyebrows only to be greeted by a fellow selling blender jars (not the machine, just the glass/plastic thing that goes on top.) He was just walking around selling them. WHO IS YOUR MARKET, blender man? Who thinks…I need a new blender jar. I’m just going to wander around until I happen to find the dude who walks near the crazy shaped squash who sells them.
That is the logic of the Mexican marketplace: completely unpenetrable to my very foreign eyes.
Other chaotic things? The urbanization plan of the city. By plan, I mean no plan. This is what Bono was talking about when he said “where the streets have no name.” D.’s older brother–also D., was saying that driving really only makes sense if you’re from there. Otherwise, the labyrinthic streets will cackle as they send you down long one-way routes only to be met with a steep hill and a dead end. Potholes are par for the course.
Other things, less chaotic? People-seriously everyone–was uber polite. Spaniards are not polite. They are nice, but not polite. Mexicans whip out their “usted” (sir/madam) like it is a welcoming chocolate chip cookie and suck you in with their “Si gusta” (“if you please”). For REAL. Even the waiters were friendly. (And their three- and four-course menús? That’ll set you back a steep five dollars.)
Gah. So many things to say still, but I’m already talking your ear off. Maybe this will be what I post today and more later. Here are a few pictures for your entertainment pleasure, si gusta…
Ya know, just Cortés’ castle. There was a Diego Rivera mural in there! (And no, these poses aren’t going to get us on the cover of Vogue, but we were happy, so no big deal.)
The view of the zocalo from Cortes’ palace. Quite a cute city center…organized more logically than everything else!