Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things to love about Mexico: Beer

Although I was much more of a wino in the PNW, as who can resist all those rich and stinky Washington cabs, not to mention the smoother Oregon pinot noirs and all the other reds in between, I do also miss the good beer en el norte. As for Mexico, well, it's still nearly virgin territory as far as microbrews are concerned, although I get the sense that some folks, especially west coasters in places like Baja California (mmmm--go figure), are getting into the hops and whatnot. Mexican beer tends to be lighter lagers and pilsners and the dark ones hardly pass muster for those accustomed to drinking the flavorful petroleum produced by U.S. microbreweries. But what is marvelous about Mexican beer is the myriad ways in which it is served--cheladas, micheladas, and around here, rusas, pictured above--add spice and ice and a bit of salt to the brew. Micheladas usually involve tomato juice, lime and some mix of chile and/or maybe a salty sauce like soy, Maggi's, worcestershire or tamarind pulp. In some parts of Mexico, a chelada will get you a variation of that, or in others, simply lime juice and a salted rim. I think the ice is what gives pause to most gringos for its seeming sacrilege, although once you try it, you realize that it really is refreshing and with such light beer anyway, what's wrong with it being watered down a little further? A chelada around here is a rusa, which happens to be my standard. As for the beer of choice for that chelada or rusa or whatever it might be called, I am generally a Pacifico kind of gal, although I like Indio and Bohemia just fine. Tecate, well, it just seems a bit too much like Bud and Negra Modelo and Dos XX remind me too much of a Tex-Mex restaurant I waited tables in ages ago (you Portlanders know which one!). Salud!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things to love about Mexico: Nearly free pilates

Not everything in Mexico is cheap, as many goods are still imported and in spite of NAFTA, the import taxes plus the IVA (a value added tax of 16%) make many purchases painful (toys, clothes, appliances, many imported food items, etc.). Gyms tend to work on exclusivity, in a country-clubish sort of way, with a sometimes significant fee paid up front and then not so cheap monthly dues to keep the riffraff out. The last time I belonged to a gym was while doing my research in Cancun, and I believe I talked them into halving the initial fee to a couple of hundred bucks and then paid a good hundred or so per month (I was pregnant and not about to work out outside in July there with temps in the 90s with matching humidity, so give me a break on the self-indulgence). So imagine my delight when I found a neighborhood pilates reformer studio, meaning the fancy machines not just mat work, where I can take a month of classes, five days a week, for about a hundred bucks. I just checked the Arlington pilates studio where some friends and I contemplated trying it out while the hubbies were in DC for training, only to find that a similar package of classes would run close to two Gs. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow after today's class, but I think that's what it's going to take to get me back in shape, with the added benefit of not paying something like a house mortgage to attain such a goal.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Feliz cumple, Ruby!

It's been days of celebration for Ruby's birthday this year. We started with presents before breakfast, unwrapped at the speed of light and a special chicken dinner from Juanito's, one of our favorite local joints on her actual birthday. Iris was especially impressed with a crucial gift, some new undies, as the old ones had been provoking many a wedgie because they were too small. We called her princess of underwear for the rest of the morning.
A pizza party with friends and neighbors followed the next day, which is a lovely idea for a party but next time, we'll be ordering the pizzas, not making them by hand (live and learn, Martha--sometimes it's just better to get takeout). The girls went back to school today and it was Ruby's turn for lonche, which means we bring food for all the kids in her class. This happens about once a month, and as it was also her birthday lunch, we made chicken soup per her request and lots of pinkalicious cupcakes. They sang her many songs and each child gave her a birthday hug and some sort of wish or thing I like about you comment. And then they all took turns asking her about her favorite color, her favorite food, her favorite toy, and so on and so forth, and in spite of the stage fright, she even managed to answer mostly in Spanish. It made me love the school at least for today, in spite of all my doubts about it at other moments.
So she is now officially four and taking it very seriously, as four-year olds do not behave as three year-olds do, let alone two-year olds do. She led Iris into school with smiles this morning (and it worked--Iris didn't even blink when snatched from my arms!) and has made many a wise decision in the past few days. We're seeing far, far fewer tantrums and lots of pretty sensible behavior recently, although Iris seems primed to take over the toddler tantrum routine even as I write. And although it's been a long ride since we left Ellensburg, with lots of stress and change, what a pleasure to see Ruby really thriving here. Happy fourth, mi hija!

Monday, January 3, 2011

This is Irie

This is Irie, as we see her from the vistas of grown up land. She's always reaching, inquisitive, affectionate and demanding. The nickname originated from her sis, but has been embraced and appropriated by Iris herself, who runs the halls announcing "Irieeeeee, Irieeee." If she's giving you the gesture seen here, the most common utterances accompanying it are "up-pi" for up please, or the eternal favorite, "moh," meaning more of whatever you may have in your hand, up your sleeve, or on your mind. She'll take it all, as what she really wants is just more of life in general. Now if only she would sleep a little better....