Thursday, September 30, 2010

Things to love about Mexico: Going out for breakfast

And preferably with a crew of colleagues or friends. Guadalajara runs on a more traditional schedule than Mexico City or northern cities like Monterrey. Here, much of the day's business begins at breakfast meetings around 10:00, when the city's restaurants fill up and it can be hard to get a table without a reservation. On Fridays, "las damas que desayunan," the equivalent of "ladies who lunch" make the competition for a table even tougher. I passed by one of the popular restaurants in our neighborhood, Cafe Barra, on a Friday morning and had to laugh at the sea of senoras y mamas escaping domestic tedium. Tomorrow, I plan to join them with a few gal pals of my own to caffeinate, chow down on chilaquiles and discuss the insanity of three year olds.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heard on the radio this morning

"Be sure to bring a hat, wear sunscreen, eat a nutritious breakfast, and do not carry sticks, pointed objects, or stones." The Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest public university, is organizing a protest tomorrow morning of its students to demonstrate against the governor's refusal to release certain funds that the U's administration insists they were promised. The conflict has subsumed the media in recent weeks, in part because the students can, and probably will, bring the city to a standstill tomorrow. Here's hoping for a huge and peaceful march.

An ode to Mexico City

CD. DE MÉXICO, video documental from EARRANGOIZ on Vimeo.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Things to love about Mexico: Bookstores

The old-fashioned, snotty, substantive ones that stock more than just the pop garbage filling up the big "B" chains en el norte. Not that there's anything wrong with a good pulp novel now and again, but the overall quality of the selection in those places has really gone downhill, and it's virtually impossible, outside of the occasional university bookstore and a few institutions like Powell's, to be able to browse through academic books. I spent the morning at Libreria Gandhi and the Fondo de Cultura Economica, remembering why I used to love bookstores. These stores are found all over Mexico, and while their organization, often by editorial (publisher) rather than by subject, can be a bit frustrating, they are marvels of the cultured world found here in Mexico. I'm off to read my first Mario Bellatin novelita (he's apparently all the rage in literary circles here).

Sunday, September 26, 2010


When we moved to DC, Ruby went through a couple of tough weeks not long after we arrived. True to form, the temper tantrums and three going on thirteenish behavior kicked in two weeks into the move to GDL. She's coming out of it, and has been justly rewarded with things like the bungee jumping seen previously, and this past weekend, a trip to the locals kids' hair salon, where they specialize in fancy peinados for birthday parties and the like. The stylist balked a little at the hipster bangs, but once her hair is down again, she will not look remotely like a boy. The trick will be convincing her that she cannot live a la Bo Derek without her hair falling out or turning to dreads, but that's a conversation we will save for another day with her.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ruby's faves so far

Ruby has taken to life in Guadalajara with her usual aplomb. Here she is in the midst of two of her favorite activities so far, the bungee jumping at our fancy mall, and then on a carriage ride through downtown. Today Mexico, tomorrow the world!

Date night downtown

We had more or less given up on date night in Ellensburg, as how many times can one really go to the Valley Cafe (as much as we loved it and miss the spicy shrimp!), but first DC and now GDL have given us some inspiration. Last night's venture included a visit to the ex-convento de Carmen, downtown GDL, for an exhibit featuring artists from the state of Jalisco and their works in honor of Mexico's bicentennial. It's hard to say what was better, the art or the gorgeous architecture. Then we noshed at il Diavolo, a very popular pizza and salad joint, at the almost respectable dinner hour of 8:30 or 9 (GDLers don't eat until after 9 usually, and sometimes don't even order until 11 or midnight when they go out) before turning in to face Ruby at 5 this morning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toro, toro!

GDL is more a charro town (rodeo to us nortenos) but apparently the locals enjoy other forms of animal abuse like bull-fighting. As you can gather, I'm not a fan of either, although I do admire the skills and bravado of those who do choose to participate in such sports. I came across these young men while out for a run in our neighborhood park the other day and I confess that at first glance I thought they were perhaps theater geeks or day trippers or who knows what. It turns out that Alfonso Hernandez (aka el pali) and Misael Ortiz (you can Google images of them for kicks of you have loads of time on your hands) were the real deal and todo caballero about my request to film them for a minute. Stay safe, guys!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Plants are indeed cool

Our neighborhood plant store boasts the sign above, "Plants are cool." We find this sign to be hilarious and very true, as this vivero does indeed stock a lot of very cool plants. The guy who helped me pick out some greenery for the house this morning told me a story that made this sign all the funnier. Apparently about a year ago, signs with a bearded guy giving the ol' thumbs up appeared all over GDL with the declaration "Jesus is cool." The owner of this plant place thought it would be humorous to do something similar with an old photo of himself, and hence, "Las plantas estan chidas."

Su Perro Limpio

This is definitely going to be one of my favorite local businesses. These guys roll up in a truck and give your dog the most exacting haircut ever. I actually had to tell the poor "estilista" yesterday that Chucho looked terrific but had suffered enough. Today, Chucho was chauffeured to his new vet to get a nasty case of dermatitis checked out--nothing to do with the shower and shave of yesterday but rather the consequence of either his brief but traumatic incarceration upon our arrival and/or the cheapo food he had to make do with until we found something akin to his usual cuisine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The gated life

Everyone, Mexicans and gringos alike, is obsessed with security here. In some ways, that's nothing new, as the most likely crimes to fall victim to are property-related, so the middle and upper classes here have long resorted to shards of glass on top of the thick walls surrounding their homes, gates locking their cars into the carports at night, barbed wire, etc. We have slightly fancier versions of such methods, like an electric fence at the top of our backyard's easily two meter high wall. But what's the best part of living the gated life? Miss R and Miss I running around on our little street with (almost) no fear of getting plowed over by a car. That's pretty fabulous.

Mariachis at the mall

Guadalajara is big on mariachis and we just witnessed our first annual mariachi festival, which meant they were everywhere, even at the mall. I wouldn't go so far as to call mariachi music the Mexican equivalent of country, as it's a bit more sophisticated and some of the songs are deeply rooted in Mexican history but it is still an acquired taste in large doses. Maybe the tequila makes it easier to take for hours on end?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More on driving etiquette

I realized the other day, mid-hand gesture toward a driver who was attempting to blow his stop sign in order to cut me off, that doing such things to men driving huge and hugely expensive American trucks may not be the best idea in the world, as those kinds of vehicles are favored by fellas in certain lines of business, if you know what I mean. Thankfully, I was later informed that the hand gesture that I had employed is typically interpreted as a gesture of thanks rather than something more along the lines of "what on earth do you think you are doing?" Phew!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Illegal turns

I am feeling more at home now with GDL, especially since the car arrived and I've had a chance to explore a bit, both with and sans the girls. After a week of driving here, I felt comfortable enough to turn right from the far left lane on a three lane one way road in front of the other cars while the light was still red. No one even honked, although apparently the Transito, the traffic cops here, are pretty tough, so it's not likely to be a regular event from this mostly law-abiding gringa.