Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Parque Colomos, 9:15 am

Stillness bordering on cool, for the first time in months. Skunk, pine, the dryness of the needles compressed by a tropical storm edging its way upland from the coast. Meat and onions, morning prep for comida and a merciful absence of cologne. A few middle-aged men out to stave off the premature heart attacks and various ailments plaguing their generation. Mostly women, youngish mamas and older, with remarkably few babies in strollers. The deep green of dry trees awaiting the imminent rain matched by equal amounts of the dusty ochre of the season, both punctuated by bougainvillea, lilies and the bright, tight tee-shirts sported by the park's visitors. Joggers among the younger set, speed-walking among the older crowd and those too top-heavy, by choice in this town, to handle the rigors of a run. Quiet, without the weekend crowds and children and chaos, the clouds cushioning the dull crush of the city beyond the trees.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Last lonche!

The school year is winding down, with just a few days remaining for Iris and another week beyond that for Ruby. Today was Ruby's last lonche, which in my opinion is real reason to celebrate. Mike was up at six making 48 dinosaur turkey cheese sandwiches and I had made my Costco trip earlier in the week to round out the meal with with baby carrots and because it was her last time this year, juice boxes and chocolate chip muffins for a treat, in direct violation of the "suggested guidelines." But I figure we had already violated school policy by having a father participate, as the school handbook specifically tasks "mamas" with this not so small job (update to the 21st century, please, bc I know someone out there from our lovely school will read this!). I've been on the fence about this piece of school life all year, especially once Iris started attending too. The idea is to have each mother (and yeah, I know the reality is that it is the mamas, but c'mon, let's at least set the expectation for fatherly participation--which has happened quite a bit in our household) provide lunch for the children in your kid's classroom once a month. That's 25+ kids in Ruby's class, and in Iris's case, because she is in a smaller classroom, it's twice a month for about 15 kids. We don't have a cook, as some of the families clearly do, and I only farmed it out once when I felt the pressure of actually providing the dish that we had been assigned and I of course had no idea how to make it. It was, in short, a lot of cooking. But making lunch every day would have been a ton of work too, so I'm not sure the grass is greener. We made lots of soup and veggie mac and I occasionally tried to approximate what I had been assigned but I always worried that Ruby might feel the sting of sending food that was just a bit weird. By the end of the year, the school had recognized the cultural challenge and often assigned me things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which ironically, I resisted sending because out of my own gringa paranoia, I didn't want to be responsible for sending some child into anaphylactic shock. It all worked out though, and both girls are better and more adventurous eaters for the exposure to others' cooking and I hope the other children's parents would say the same. But I'm glad for the break now and we'll see how a little summer school daily lunch-packing feels in comparison.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


 Ruby, our budding artist, showed her first painting (hence the cuadro! of the title) in a show. Her art studio, of which there are several branches in the ZMG, asked students to submit one of their paintings. Ruby chose her Monet, which isn't half bad for a four year old. The opening was held in Cafe Martinique, which aside from its lovely terraced dining area downstairs, also possesses some great space upstairs for just this kind of event.

 Yes, we ditched Iris for this event too, as she has become a holy terror in the past few weeks and we wanted Ruby to feel the full glory of her first show. And honestly, Ruby deserves a medal for the many cheeks she has turned to Iris's smacking, hair-pulling, toy-taking and just general toddler style reign of terror. More on Iris later, as she, in addition to being a bit of a stinker, has also moved into a riotous linguistic phase which helps take the edge off her rapidly developing ego.
 As you can see, it was a pretty swank affair, and I've gotta say, either the teachers do a fantastic job or there's a whole lot of artistic talent out there or both. And seeing the takes of kids ranging from three to fifteen or so on Van Gogh, Morrisseau, Monet, Warhol and a bunch of others was really pretty wonderful.
Not surprisingly, the highlight for Ruby was not all the praise from us or the glitz of the opening or seeing her work up on the wall, but the lollipop.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Miss fish

We took a chance on a decrepit hotel in San Pancho last weekend. The surf is pretty rough there--I'm still digging sand out of my ears from a very short-lived venture into the waves and an equally short-lived confrontation with my own mortality, which I curtailed by heading for the pool and a beer to quell the adrenalin overload. Iris was absolutely terrified of the crashing surf and stayed well away, while Ruby ventured out for a little digging and wave tag but preferred the pool as well. In spite of the general state of decay around the joint and in our rooms, the pool itself was absolutely perfect for our purposes, with a few crabs for ambiance, a fantastic view, and pretty decent food at the little restaurant. The delightful company of lots of friends and their respective little ones, all of whom were staying in a house nearby made for two great afternoons floating around in the sun. Miss fish mastered the art of swimming to the bottom of the pool to fetch her little dollies, who now have swimmers' hair from all their time soaking in the chlorine. Both girls played so hard they almost made themselves sick, but they have of course recovered and are begging for a return trip soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

GDLicious: Oh la la!

A large Mexican family (extended version, of course) goes through a couple kilos of tortillas a day. No meal is complete without them, no matter the hour of the day, and most people will tell you they prefer the corn ones, which are indeed healthier. But as much as I love a steaming fresh tortilla, sometimes those Euro-peasant roots kick in and what I really want is a crusty, holey, yeasty baguette. Folks in this town eat a fair amount of bread, mostly the bolillos sold in the stores and out of baskets on street corners, and the larger supers have bakeries where the bread at least looks appetizing. However, most of it is made with the most extraordinarily refined flour, often with a large helping of lard or margarine to keep it from turning into a brick within the day. It took us a good half a year to find a not just good, but great bakery. We went out for a huge St. Patty's day dinner at Lula Bistro (the chef, Darren Walsh, is an Irishman) and they served little rolls that had us back a few weeks later to investigate their origins. I was happily shocked to learn they were not made in house, and that a mere citoyenne like myself would be able to get her hands on them at Oh la la! (Av. Sebastian Bach 2074). Of course, there's a Frenchman involved. In addition to some rather dangerous chocolate croissants, you will find the crustiest baguettes in town there, along with a very respectably chewy pain de campagne and whatever else they felt inspired to make that day. Bon appetit!