Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring festival in motion

That's my girl, heading straight for mama. She had heard me being interviewed earlier by one of the kids on the microphone about what the sun does for us--a little on the spot Spanish mortification for me--and had burst into tears down at the other end of the court. So she knew where I was as the parade set out in rather chaotic fashion. We rescued her carrito and made a couple more rounds before hanging out to wait for the promised treats of paletas.

Spring festival

Today was Irie's moment in the sun as the babies did their annual spring festival parade. Good thing a neighbor and friend had clued me into the fact that this was an event requiring some serious Martha-ish investment of time and tissue paper. We were squarely in the middle of the costume and decorated wagon/trike competition, neither lame nor over the top, which was a good place to be as the sometimes clueless expat mom. Poor Rub missed the whole affair, after an episode of projectile vomiting yesterday, but that was probably just as well, as I had apparently not gotten the message that her class was dressing up as well, if only to observe the babies in action. That could have been a serious motherly misstep on my part.

Irie is ever the fashionista with the rakish tilt of her hat, or accessorizing with a berry popsicle while hanging with her crew. This was only the beginning of the sugar fest, as cake awaited them back in the classroom for someone's birthday. I ducked out of the sure to come sugar-induced chaos to pick up some saltines and soda for Rub, who is feeling much better, and spotted one of these glorious trees on the way back to the car. They are blooming everywhere in the city, but I can't figure out if they are mimosas or the famous jacarandas of GDL, or something altogether different. Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rain dance

With clouds gathering on the horizon, accompanied by some unexpected rolls of thunder this afternoon, Ruby thought it appropriate to dig out her rain suit and rubber boots in preparation for the coming rainy season. In spite of some rain-inciting arabesques, we did not get even a drop, although I felt a few sprinkles while out watering the garden later that evening. Iris joined in by donning her hoody. It will rain soon enough, judging from the springtime signs of trees flowering like crazy all over town and the anticipation shown by the ants, mosquitos and other bichos who are now showing up in the house with greater frequency. I'm not sure whether to view this change in season with joy or trepidation, but certainly everything could use a good wash and hopefully the pollution levels will decline a bit with the rain too. Ruby, having grown up in Ellensburg with its paltry levels of rainfall in comparison to what one usually expects of the Pacific Northwest, will have to be convinced that rain is not a cataclysmic event. A single springtime in DC was not enough to divest her of that notion but I think what we are about to experience will do the trick with some coaxing from us. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The seven month itch

You know you are well-suited for the foreign service when you've been somewhere for all of seven months and you are practically salivating for a glimpse of the next bid list. It's just a list, but it's a list of the most tantalizing and terrifying possibilities, and it governs the two to three year cycles of life in the service. I've got an even worse case of the itch than most probably get, as Mexico and I have a bit of a history, and while it hasn't been a complete disaster, let's just say I never felt the flutter in my heart that some feel for this country.
I didn't really want to do my dissertation research here, but it made sense. Fate had conspired to force me in that direction, what with the untimely loss of a much beloved advisor who might have kept me working somewhere in the Andes and the clear-headed advice of the new advisor (also now much beloved, may he forgive me for my horrifyingly slow progress), who was smart enough to know that Mexico was really the only option for someone wanting to do a historical project on tourism, as his own ex-patria wouldn't let me near the necessary docs. So I ended up here, in Mexico City, which I did learn to love for its megalopolis-ishness, and in Quintana Roo, which has its charms but lacks many as well, and now in Guadalajara. And everywhere I go in Mexico, I find myself vaguely annoyed not so much for the actual defects of this country, which does indeed offer much in terms of its physical beauty, its architectural history, its cultural diversity, its culinary delights but rather for what it is not.
My ambivalence about my current country of residence might just be a question of nostalgia for Ecuador with a taste of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia thrown in for good measure, the terraced mountain sides, the garlic, cilantro, sweat and diesel infused odor of a switch-backing bus ride, the sharp citric burst of that first bite of ceviche made that afternoon on the beach or in a favorite dive in Quito which is probably no longer even there, for the canelazo carts serving stiff but warm shots of booze at 6 in the morning or at a late night festival, for the peasants who were burning tires on the Panamerican highway at a moment that now with hindsight was the birthing of the indigenous movement that has recently had presidents and multinational oil corporations on the run. And maybe that nostalgia is just that, the fond recollections for the time and place in which I more or less became the person who I am now, politically, emotionally, and intellectually.
We're hoping for a posting somewhere in South America next time around, and I might end up horribly disappointed. The early/mid 1990s were a long time ago, and those places for which I harbor such fondness have changed a ton, and let's face it, living somewhere with the kids is a rather different endeavor than the footloose travels of my twenties. But bring on that bid list--we can't wait to obsess, along with hundreds of other foreign service families who love and dread the "season" as it's called among those in the biz.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Things to love about Mexico: Percheros

Walk into any of the more upscale restaurants in this town and the waiter will bring a purse rack, a sort of mini version of a coat rack, to your table, even before he hands you the menu or offers you a drink. Their ubiquity must owe something to the metal working done in and around Tonala nearby. The custom is also likely the product of the culture of conspicuous consumption in Guadalajara, where the gente bien would not dream of tossing their very expensive purses on the floor or hanging them over the back of a chair. The perchero ultimately facilitates the see and be seen piece of Guadalajara's tremendous dining scene. I'll treat on a tequilito for the first GDLer to name the place pictured here.