Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now I Understand (Remix)

Now I understand why people should love traveling. Because of the unbelievable amount that you can learn. You learn of the superficial things like a Mexican’s meal isn’t complete without a tortilla, even if just salted and rolled into a log. You also learn the important cultural values like the value of family time- Ale: “Sentate, y vamos a placticar.” And we would. Sometimes we would sit talking, simply talking for hours.

Now I understand what my teacher called the honeymoon period of traveling. Initially, you think it’s funny that Mexicans are usually late. Before long, the things that you once thought were interestingly different can become annoyingly different. Consciously, intellectually, we know that different shouldn’t mean “wrong” (right, Luis?). Unconsciously, we don’t always act as we know and someone has to point it out for us. Sometimes though, it takes getting it wrong to get it right.

Now I understand what is dangerous about writing a blog. Because it shows your weakness to the whole world. Yet, how wonderful that this demonstration of weakness allows people to show you exactly where you went wrong. It’s humiliating, yet beneficial if you let it be. Yeah, I’ve gotten some flack...But, sometimes it takes getting it wrong to get it right.

Now I understand that I’ll never really understand. I hate it when I say things that make people say ¿¿Qué pasó, Graciela??. That’s when I tell myself it’d be easier to stop talking and avoid all that embarrassment. However, the all-or-nothing type person that I am isn’t the best thing or even a good thing at all. The middle road is hard to find but there is the goodness in making mistakes. I’ll take getting it wrong to maybe, maybe one day get it right.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Updates on Casa Cuna

Updates on Casa Cuna:

---They’re still stinkin’ cute
---They still call me moquito (little booger)
---I love watching and listening to the kids in Mass, screaming the Hail Mary. I love seeing them in their “Wednesday” best and watching them scourge the room for every adult to shake hands with.
---I witnessed a real Mexican birthday party, piñata and all. The kids sing a song for each new batter and when the song finishes it is the next persons turn. Afterwards, we ate chili flavored suckers, jello, and Barnie cake!
---Los ninos apparently think I have an unending supply of energy. After I collapse after playing eres (you’re it) for ages, they frown at me and say "porque no me atrapas?" (why are you not catching me?)
---The nuns definitely think I’m crazy. That’s legit, I sprint around like a maniac... Yet whether I’m faster than them or not, they always catch me. It’s impossible to evade 15 kids chasing me screaming ERES! ERES!.

Perhaps I should explain Casa Cuna more thoroughly. It is an "orphanage" that receives financial support from individual beneficiaries. Most of the kids have one parent who needs to work and cannot take care of them. Because of this, they stay here all week and go home on the weekends. Jorge is one of the few that is an orphan. But he is getting adopted!!!!! Maybe, I shouldn’t have favorites... but he’s mine. So good for him and good for his new parents. Una buena onda.

Some more tidbits:
How do you spell Mexico? At a canteen during the Mexico vs. Argentina world cup game, a man in the crowded chanted:
Man: “Give me an M!” crowd: “M!”
Man: “Give me an E!” crowd: “E!”
Man: “Give me an X!” crowd: “X!”
Man: “Give me an I” crowd: “I!”
Man: “Give me a S!” crowd: ...silence, followed by an uproar of laughter

Later someone else started chanting “Mexiso! Mexiso! Mexiso!” It was soo funny when everyone joined in. The first guy grinned and turned bright red.

---I’ve been having a reoccurring nightmare that I can’t pay for my taxi because I’ve been scammed. For your information, it hasn’t happened to me. But, poor Kayla...
---The lights went out the other day, including the stoplights. Skeeeetch....
---How weird is it to remember a things name in your second language and not in your first? Yeah, it happens!

I’m still in love with Mexico.

Now I understand...

•Now I understand why some people don’t like traveling. Because you never know what to expect and when you aren’t local, some people will take advantage of you.

•Now I understand why being naïve is wonderful just up to the point when you realize your naivety. That’s when you wish you had known that people still take advantage of the nice person.

•Now I understand why people can get bitterer as they age. Because they have realized the world isn’t a dream and it has beaten them and their friends.

•Now I understand why corruption is contagious. Because of entitlement: “I got used, so I’ll use you- such is life.” The ones that get it worst are the ones not willing to take an eye for an eye.

•Now I understand that being a traveling American makes it seem like I have money. But just because I'm American doesn’t mean I have $ coming out of my ears. Listen here World, I'd like my 500 pesos back now...

Then again, every lesson has a price tag and sometimes it’s ok to pay it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mexican Cuisine

The food here is out of this world. I’m surprised that I haven’t turned into umpa dumpa by now; Dear God, what would I do if I didn’t love running... Everywhere I turn there is delicious food. Everyday Aunt Carmen is cooking traditional Mexican dishes from all parts of Mexico. Christina (from Chicago) and I had a mild heart attack over them over a dish called sopes. Carmen’s sister made the bottom part which was a homemade thick tortilla (similar to an English muffin). On top of that were beans, shredded chicken, lettuce, cheese and then salsa. Your mouth watering, yet? Yeah, you have no idea... Another fav that I already mentioned are tamales. How great to wake up to those hot, sweet, corn lumps! Also quesadillas and tacos filled with spaghetti topped with my favorite cheese from Oaxaca FOR BREAKFAST. And all the mangoes, watermelon, papaya, avocadoes that I can possibly squeeze in.

Walking onto the street, I’m bombarded with a little taqueria on every corner. How can I resist tacos for 40 cents each? No wonder my Mexican boys order 12 of them at a time. You can’t always find tacos for 4 pesos each but for 12 or 15 is very common. Then you can order so many different types of meat including longaniza, pastor, champechanas, bistek, chorizo. My favorite place to eat is at Paco’s- Yeah, we know: Paco’s tacos... Ha, ha. It’s a one room restaurant that opens up onto the street where Paco cooks facing the street. I like to sit on the stool (in the middle of the sidewalk) and watch him cook on the comal. It’s part of the show! He is so skillful at cooking 20 tacos at once and it makes me want to try every single one. Volcanes are one of my favorites which is a tostada (hard taco) with a ball of melted cheese and meat on top. Also, the Gringa rocks. Its pastor meat, cheese and salsa de chile sandwiched in between two flour tortillas.

The salsa. All of it is unbelievable and almost always homemade. Surprisingly, I haven’t eaten anything that I thought was too spicy because apparently, I really, really, really like spicy. One of my favorites is homemade by Dona Rapha who helps cook and clean the house. This salsa is made with peanuts and chile and I could eat it for both of the meal I eat at home. Oh wait! I already do! The two most common types are salsa verde and salsa rojo (red and green salsa). Yum, yum. ¡¡Puedo comer todo!!