Monthly Archives: November 2012

I was born on the day of the Mexican Revolution

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And my birthday couldn’t have been more mexican if i tried! After salsa practice, we had the Muestra Cultural (a show at my uni) and after performing a guitar piece called Estudio en mi menor (spanish, but still), it was time for my ultimate favourite thing- salsa!!!!!

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Our performance was followed by a little stressful bout of trying to round everyone up for dinner, and losing my salsa partner, José Juan (everyone has about 8 names here). But we finally arrived at my “host brother’s” house for dinner (the tamales that Mamá Luz, Lili, Anna and I made on Friday). There, we ate the indigenous food and I got happy birthday sung to me in english and spanish, and also, a beautiful birthday song called las mañanitas, which nearly made me cry.

Because my host family bought me a cake and presents and balloons and invited  my friends to come and celebrate. I couldn’t even say thank you because the words kept getting stuck in my throat and i got a bit emotional, not only because i was so touched by the effort, but also that it’s my last week here in GLD. I’m going to miss my host family the most out of everything I think, even more than tamales.

After dinner, las mañanitas and of course, two bottles of tequila, we went out to the only Salsa club that was open on a Tuesday, La Diablita. There, I drank shots that were on fire and had my first taste of the electrocution machine (thats not a shot by the way, its an actual machine). That sounds intense, but its popular here, no idea why?? They have this machine that you hold onto for as long as you can and it runs electric currents through you. My muscles cramped to the point of retardation so I had to let go.

And then, we danced salsa all night long! It was such an awesome day and night. And now I love Mexico even more.

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This is what all study should be like…

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“It’s the long weekend, what should we do?”

“Well if worst comes to worst, we can just go to the beach.”

Yep. That’s the “worst” option. In fear of cold weather and excessive activity, I gave up a volcano lake (i’ve been sick for over a month now and the doctors just drug you up with anything before they even know what you’ve got, so rest and relaxation was my aim and cure, but turns out the volcano and camping wasn’t even cold! Sorry, rant) and  ended up at Puerto Vallarta, notoriously known for a tourist hotspot. For this reason, Anna and I thought we’d never end up there. But we were very pleasantly surprised. Puerto Vallarta (above) was pretty busy with tourists, BUT, a 10 minute bus ride fixed that…

And yes, don’t worry mum, I studied.

Cooking with Mamá Luz

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Once upon a time this beautiful lady, who I know as Mamá Luz, stood in her back yard chopping chicken’s heads off in preparation for her wedding.

Her cello-playing-artist-soon-to-be-husband looked on with both fear and awe. When Papá Jon recounted this story to me, I distinctly heard him say, “y despues, tenía miedo” which means “after, I was scared!”, this was translated to me (by Lalo, their son) as  “and after… he had a lot of respect for her!”

But Mamá Luz is not one to fear, she is so warm and happy, and she just makes you want to hug her all the time! Oh yeah, and the point of this- she makes amazing food!!

So she taught me how to make Tamales; a food of the indigenous mesoamericans made of corn-dough filled with meat, chicken or cheese and wrapped in different leaves. We made red chill pork tamales [wrapped in corn leaf], green chilli chicken tamales [wrapped in spinach leaf] and mole  tamales (an amazing chocolate based [weird i know], peanut kind of sauce that is usually cooked with chicken, pronounced mo-lay), it was wrapped in banana leaf.

They were the best thing I’ve tasted here and Mamá Luz, Lili (her daughter), Anna and I committed a solid 3 hours labour to these bad boys!

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Sharing Thoughts

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My friend Tamsin lives in Mexico City. And she’s funny. So I thought I would share her thoughts. Check out her blog http://tamsinfoy.wordpress.com.

And What Do You Do For A Living?

By tamsinfoy

I’ll give the Mexicans one thing; they sure can make a job out of just about anything. The first time a random man standing on the side of the road directed the car I was in to park safely for a tip I thought “well that’s… handy? Unnecessary?  Different? New”. But by the 10th time it seemed commonplace.

Here there is someone for everything, most things you never knew you needed. They guide you to free petrol pumps, set up tables in front of public toilets so you have to pay them to pass, they juggle and blow fire for cars in traffic or stopped at lights, they paint their faces and tell jokes on buses, they help carry your shopping to a taxi (avoiding the use of this service), they walk through traffic selling flowers and Captain America masks and a million other things just to get few pesos.

I’d say it beats an office job, I mean they are outside and its generally pretty unskilled work, but they are out there everyday rain, hail or shine with no guarantee that they will be paid for there services or that people will want them.

And while we are on the topic of working Mexicans can I draw your attention to the age in which they start working here. I’ve been served a litre of beer by a kid who couldn’t have been over 10, my order taken by his younger sister, and whenever I see house cleaners or gardeners at work they are always accompanied and assisted by their mini me’s. It’s as if everyday is “take your kid to work” day.

I often wonder why they aren’t at school, but as I have been told there isn’t really the option of climbing the social or economical hierarchy here, so why bother trying. You are where and who you are from the day you’re born and as I learnt in Mexican History this is often down to an underlying racism that Mexicans feel for themselves. It is no coincidence that the poorer areas house darker skinned people. Media and advertising depict beauty as a fare, blue eyed beast, something in which 90% of Mexicans could never aspire to. Anyway this is all getting a bit to deep so I might round up here.

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In the interest of sharing thoughts, heres what Jaz thought of Mexico.

Porkito’s Spin on Mexico.  

By Jaz Young

The journey there…

Was a shitfight. But nonetheless I ended up landing in Mexico City as my first Mexican port at midnight. I was supposed to have arrived in Guadalajara 4 hours previously. My first thought was ‘this place smells funny’.

I met a mexican girl named Alicia on the plane which was quite odd, but that was my first of many experiences of talking to a mexican. They are the warmest people, they just want to help you and be your friend and tell you about their family and country and interests and want to know all about you. I thought that Alicia was just by chance a really nice girl but most of the people I met in Mexico were just as warm.

I ended up in Guadalajara the next morning with no bag. I spent most of the forty minute taxi ride staring out the window, marvelling at this strange place. There were utes crammed with over 8 people in the tray, people standing on the road selling things and we nearly crashed about 8 times. My cabbie smiled at me and tried to talk to me in Spanish, so I felt guilty about my lack of linguistic skill and smiled politely back. I wish I could’ve talked to more people!

So the hotel…

Awaiting Alice’s arrival, I decided to go and get some toiletries and get some clothes that weren’t stankin with my sweat from 45 hours earlier. Due to the lag on my phone, I didn’t get alice’s messages saying she was on the way to the hotel until she was already there. So she waited outside the room for half an hour before I rocked up, still stanking, incredibly jetlagged, and now panting from sprinting down the street back to the hotel and up a thousand flights of stairs. I hugged her tightly from behind and she hugged me back, before turning around and punching me for being late. I guess the intended situation where Alice was waiting at the airport (me dropping my bags and dramatically running over, picking her up, kissing her and crying with joy and hysterically laughing whilst onlookers applauded and then asked for our autographs) didn’t happen… fair enough.

So I know this is supposed to be a reflection on Mexico, but this is the girl that got me there so you’re just going to have to bear with the soppiness for a little bit. However, I will move on.

Guadalajara! The first night we walked the streets and explored the city. It’s so beautiful. Theres a bunch of squares that mark out the city centre that always have people in them, with night markets running off of them and children running everywhere and big old beautiful cathedrals and government buildings surrounding them. There’s such a great vibe to that city. There are horse and cart tours that go around the city, so we hunted one down and on approach, it seemed another couple were trying to take it.  We ended up going together and had a great time, they didn’t speak a word of English but alice translated for me and they even invited us out to dine with them after the tour, and we did! That would never happen in Australia.

The next city on the trip was guanajato. It was fricken beautiful. I got a chance to meet Alices new friends (with a couple of oldies), who were an awesome bunch of aussie girls, and a chance to see this beautriful town. It was incredibly unstructured, almost maze-like in its streethpaths with these colourful little buildings sticking out of hills everywhere. And best of all, there was live music on the streets. ALL DAY! Highlight/Lowlight of the city was probably meeting a Mexican drug-trafficer. He was really un-subtle about what he did, but wouldn’t actually admit to it. “I accept packages from Colombia that weigh 30 kgs… I don’t ask whats inside. I don’t get told either. But I get paid a LOT of money” … right mate.

Back in GDL we headed straight to the car rental company we had booked online. After they added an extra 20 dollars a day to our already expensive booking on a MANUAL car (I can’t drive manual), we went to another company, but not before the situation was blamed on me for not knowing how to drive manual. Alas, we found a new place with a better and cheaper car that resembled Alice’s back home. We named her Carita.

Carita took us to Mazamitla, a picturesque village hidden in the mountains. As most Mexican towns, it was built around a big cathedral and square. A bloke came and found us and drove us to our log cabin, as it was near impossible to find, our GPS was a piece of shit and despite Alice’s total lack of sense of direction, she was certain that we were going the wrong way. We arrived at the cabin and welcomed in with an fire in the living room and 2 friendly fleabag dogs who guarded our place every time we left.

Anywho, the next day we were welcomed into town by “The Bloke” who recommended a place to eat, and offered his house for internet and “banos” (Toilets). So nice. We had rad breakfast times with sangria and then rode horses to a famous waterfall. It was famous for being beautiful apparently, but it had been littered with barrels and bottles and was pretty shit to be honest. However, we made the most of it, Alice got some great photos and we met a chick called MJ and had the most excellent horsey ride that has ever been had. Being the masculine role model I am, I made Alice drive the car home.

Next destino was the beautiful little beach town of Tenacatita. Except we had booked a hotel for two nights in Manzanillo. One of the largest ports in Mexico, and a dirty, disguisting industrial town. Every car ride involved at least one fight due to the frustration on the road and by the time we got to the hotel, they wouldn’t refund the whole thing so we just stayed a night. And got incredibly drunk. And ate prawns and drank sangria and swam in the pool and when the sun set the place was actually quite beautiful.  The next day we went in search of our little beach retreat. After driving up/down/away from the coast, we eventually stopped at a little place called Melaque to cure our hunger. It didn’t look all that impressive at first, but the we got to the beach. It was amazing, little seafood huts scattered the tops of the sand, while kids frolicked, fishermen fished and very few white people did what white people do. Heaven. We settled in and explored the coastline for “Virgin Beaches” and ate all the seafood and found a nice hotel for much cheaper than the internet rates.

The next detination was back to Guadalajara, where we spent $550 at a music store and got soooo much, and went to several markets and probably the highlight, salsa dancing.

I am no dancer. In fact, I refuse to dance on 99% of occasions. I don’t understand it, I don’t know how to move my body, it just doesn’t agree with me. But Alice has a new found skill and that’s salsa and I had to get amongst it. Although I didn’t actually salsa properly, I span her repeatedly, and dipped her and picked her up and injured about a dozen Mexicans around us but it was so much fun. We met this Mexican dude at a party called Salvador. We got talking and I mentioned we were going salsa-ing, so this dude drove us. What a champion. What a night.

The rest is just a bit sad. Leaving was the worst thing. Id do anything to be back there right now. And I also should’ve included a food journal, what I ate for every meal, because in Mexico, theres at least 4 meals a day. And traditional Mexican cuisine isn’t the same as your average nachos and tacos here. Its sooo much tastier.

Go to Mexico. It’s amazing. The people are lovely, The country is beautiful and the food is out of this world.

Waterfalls Waterfalls Waterfalls

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Flying fox over a jungle? Yes please. IT WAS SO FREAKING COOL! We were the last to go and it was raining by this time, so we thought, god this better be worth it. It was the most worth-it thing ever! I may be a coughing mess now, but i wouldn’t take it back!

The national park also has that amazing turquoise coloured water.

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Ahh Mexico

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So we left the volcanoe at maybe 1 or 2 oclock, and found ourselves still walking at 8:30pm. Typical Mexican style, we were told the buses might not even come, because they have problems sometimes… sometimes . I asked how far it would be without the buses. 10 mintues, he said. Which in Mexican (yes it is its own language) that means at least an hour. And true to form, it was. For several different reasons.

  • Our group of 30 attempted to hitch-hike on the back of two utes.
  • Both which broke down trying to get up a hill.

(Ill just add in this was one of the funniest experiences ive had here. One of the things I love about here, is that you just learn to go with things, and laugh at the inevitability of break downs in the forest and busses never showing up.)

It was an all-in effort to try and push the utes uphill. We got one up there in the end! And then it was like something off titanc “all the woman and children, woman and children forward!”, though there were no children, and anna and I stayed behind to lap up the rest of the excitement and be strong with the menly men! It was still a bit of a walk back, without flashlights.

But we got there safe, sound and cold,  eventually. It wasn’t until then we stopped to think about what happened to poor old ute number 2, who we had left out there in the wilderness with the driver…?

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