Tuesday, January 12

Tepoztlán 12.19

Anuar drove Morgan, Mitzi and I to a city called Tepoztlán in his mom's super-fancy-pants, clean SUV – a sharp contrast from the public transportation I'm used to in gto. Tepoztlán, about an hour and a half drive outside of the Mexico City, is the supposed birthplace of the god Quetzalcoatl, and is famous for the remains of an Aztec temple built on top of the nearby Tepozteco mountain. We went with the intention to climb to it.

First we took a quick tour around the city, went to a museum, visited a church and an old monastery, and had some lunch in the local markets.The view was breathtaking all around the tiny city.We went to the open market to get some lunch.
Look at all those fillings!
We had incredible quesadillas, including some with insectos which Mitzi highly recommended and forced me to try. The list:The quesadillas:
Tasted like an empty, salty peanut shell.

At the old monastery I found an abundance of warm light and I decided I would paint my future floors red.
Mitzi, the bug pusher.

Can you imagine living here?
My favorite shot of the day.
Around and around the picturesque town.

With stuffed bellies we began the hike, a set of un-even stone stairs that went up and up and up for over an hour. It looked a little something like this:
It was good to get some fresh air and be among trees again. Anuar on his way up:
At the very top, it turns into a rickety old ladder and flimsy stairs.
The ruins at the top:
Anuar y la vista.

Morgan and I, still in honeymoon mode. (I love you more. No, I love you more!)

We hung out for a couple of hours, hiking around and taking photos.
For me the descent was much harder than the ascent. My knees were trembling pretty shortly after take-off, and the next day I couldn't bend the right one. (Luckily we were crashing with a doctor and med student, who hooked me up with anti-inflammatory meds and a leg-wrap.)

The big rock faces made me think of the Red-River gorgeous – we even saw a few climbers.
Finally at the bottom, resting for a minute.

Nothing to stop those throbbing knees like blended mojitos!
Made a new friend.
Back in DF we ate street food for dinner and then indulged in these giant fried, sugary things...
And drank ponche, hot water brewed with multiple fruits and served with sticks of sugar cane. (One of my favorites.)
Went to bed with my leg elevated and could hardly sleep knowing what was going to happen the following day: My first visit to Casa Azul! (Frida Kahlo's house.) Eeek!

Listening to Laura Veirs' new album, July Flame. (Just lovely.)

Tuesday, January 5

First taste of Mexico City

Started to get nervous yesterday on the bus ride in when the "entrance" to the Mexico City appeared to be never-ending. Pulling in after the 6-hour trip from Guanajuato, I noticed there were thousands of people in the bus terminal, which is definitely bigger than the Louisville airport. I started to worry that I would never find Morgan and Anuar, her friend from San Luis de Potosi, and that I'd be lost wondering around the second largest city in the world for eternity.

But I jumped off the bus, took a look around and saw a curly-haired girl waving frantically with a big cheesy grin... ;)

I couldn't help it, I started jumping up and down. I grabbed my mochila (backpack) and ran to the entrance. We both squealed loudly as Mexican bystanders watched curiously and Anuar, a total sweetheart, grabbed my backpack so that Morgan and I could squeal and hug and cry. I couldn't believe she was in front of me. Still can't.

We walked to Anuar's car and took off. Seriously thankful that I didn't have to think about getting around in that city. It is so utterly monstrous, busy and crowded. I saw multiple public buses that had people's faces smashed in the windows. Anuar says it takes him an hour to get to the hospital each morning, two hours to get home at night. My nerves were on red-alert, and I kept thinking how I could never deal with this shit, until the next morning at breakfist with Anuar's mom, when she was telling me about an abundance of design jobs in DF. I started considering it – pero solamente por un momentito...

Apparently 9:30 pm is not too late to get your teeth cleaned in DF. We walked to what looked like an abandoned building, Anuar pushed a button, and a man came and opened the un-marked door. We passed through what looked like someone's garage into a regular-looking dentist waiting room. We ended up waiting for two hours, but it didn't really matter because Morgan and I hadn't seen each other in two months and had loads to blab about. Quite a unique first introduction to the city.When we finally left the dentist, it was Mexican dinner-time (10:30-11 ish) so we went to a fancy-pants barrio in DF called La Condesa with restaurants from every ethnic group. On the way in I saw a street sign that read something like "Oujoujitla" and was trying to pronounce it phonetically out loud, "Wa-Wa-WHEETLA!" Anuar thought I was sneezing or had something stuck in my throat and came to see what was wrong. After I told him I was trying to pronounce a word, and not choking, we were crying laughing, many jokes about this to follow.

I was craving anything but mexican food, so we ending up eating at a sushi joint called Japonéz. I felt totally under-dressed having ridden in a bus for six hours and the fact that I only brought one pair of shoes, my beloved chacos, and it reminded me almost exactly of the time Morgan and I spent our first night in Buenos Aires, totally under-dressed and travel-logged to a sushi restaurant with our brand-new friend Kelvin, and proceeded to get totally smashed and miss our flight the next morning. But that's another story... Because I hadn't had sushi in two months, we knocked out a solid portion, then had fried ice-cream for dessert to celebrate our arrival. (Notice the small, square bowl in the center of the photo. It's soy sauce with chopped chilis to spice it up. Mexican style!)My favorite shot of the day; Morgan looking stunningly-gorgeous. (And she claims she isn't photogenic.)Anuar's mom put us up for the night and we crashed hard. They opened their doors, offered us everything in their house, at one point she said, "estás in tu casa." The next morning I got to meet her properly – a super nice, incredibly-welcoming and bright Mexican doctor. She organized breakfast for us: yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal and cafe, and we chatted in español about the ins and outs of living and working in Mexico City. It was very obvious where Anuar had learned to be selfless, sweet and giving and it made my first introduction to DF feel more like reuniting with old family than visiting a big, scary city.

Sandra Cisneros is Rocking my World_Part 2

I'm getting ahead of myself here, but while at the beach I read The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros for the first time. For those of you who haven't read it, regardless of age or sex, I give a firm recommendation. It's a collection of mini short stories, that come together to create a picture of life for a young Latino growing up in Chicago. It's really, really eloquently written from a completely fresh perspective. The best part is, each mini story is written so strongly that they can (and do) stand alone. Here is one called 4 Skinny Trees that had me in chills:

Four Skinny Trees
They are the ones who understand me. I am the only one who understands them. Four skinny trees with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine. Four who do not belong here but are here. Four raggedy excuses planted by the city. From our room we can hear them, but Nenny just sleeps and doesn't appreciate these things.

There strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and the bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep.

Let one forget his reason for being, they'd all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around the other. Keep, keep, keep, trees say when I sleep. They teach.

When I am too sad and skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, this is it I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose only reason is to be and be.

— The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros