Published: April 3rd 2012March 29th 2012
So much has happened in the last two weeks that it's hard to believe that only 2 weeks have passed thus far since I left the United States! Here's a small taste of all that came before now, the end of my orientation period...
A city of colors for sure! I absolutely loved the trip and most of it was simply spent gawking at the sights of the city: more cars than I've ever seen before cramming together so closely that I can't believe they don't scuff one another more often, multitudes of painted buildings adorned with new Spanish vocabulary, and then an array of greens and flowers in bloom all over the place - glowing purple blossom trees being my favorite. I understand why the Mexican style tends to incorporate so much color. It's unavoidable!
I had the privilage of staying with a most gracious host, my good friend David whom I met in Quebec at our beloved Bishop's University. It was such a pleasure to stay in his home and meet his family. Immediately, on the first night, I was treated to a delicious batch of fresh salsa consisting of tomatoes and peppers, blackened on a griddle
and mashed in a mortar. A bit of a kick but nothing better!
Mexico stretched my tolerance for heat for sure. (Heat in food that is - the weather was 100% grand!) My first real encounter was at this little place in la Zona Rosa I believe: Los Arcos where I tried panuchos. I topped them first with a red salsa... very good! I then topped one with a green salsa... WOAH! A fire that spread from my tongue to my scalp, to the tips of my hair! No wonder everyone there was sipping cool horchata, a ricemilk and cinnamin-y drink. I had so much wonderful food! I even tried some nopales (cactus) and a mango carved into a flower that I bought on the street. Oh and don't forget - as many tortillas as I've eaten in the past year! Yummm!
Their story seems to be all too familiar. It seems that everywhere you go - America, Mexico, Chile... they all had a rich culture before and then the good ole' Europeans came and seemingly destroyed as much as they possibly could. David points out that all that they "know" is what they guess happened. So
many of the written indigenous documents were burned as they had the appearance of being devil-worshiping. All that remains are the great remains of some of the structures and a few paintings inside. David, Hermando (our hired driver), and I walked throughout the huge area and climbed one pyramid along with hundreds more people. It seems there are always a million people in every place you go! As we reached the top, people raised their hands to take in the positive energy from the heavens. I was trying to hide myself from the sun though for fear of burning (which I managed to avoid for the most part). On the way out of the park, I purchased a coconut and drank the water out of it after the vendor chopped it open with a machete. Nothing could have been better!
There are a things for sale in every place you can think of! Besides a drink by the park, there are cigarette vendors at stoplights, random crap vendors in the streets with stopped traffic, fruit vendors along the streets, craftsmen in the plaza, and more random junk in the metro. My first experience in the metro was an
odd one. David and I got on the train and as soon as the doors closed and we began to move, latino music began to blast. I thought wow, Mexicans sure like their music! Then soon after, "Diez pesos... !" came ringing through the car. At every stop, a new vendor entered the train. Our last one was again selling music, but this time, "Sugar! Ah, honey honey!" I was also intrigued to see these "changitos," little monkeys that set on top of your head on the tops of numerous adult/parent heads rather than the heads of the kids at Chapultapec, the big green area in the city.
I got to experience some of the effects of protestas or manifestaciones. Locals tend to avoid places where protests are going on and sometimes, traffic is even stopped in those areas. David and I had some travel issues when this happened and we ended up walking much farther to get to lunch one day. They had stopped it on Reforma, the main drag in the city and people were taking photos in the middle of this supposedly busy street when the cops suddenly opened the road again and they were
forced to run out of the street. Pretty entertaining despite the pointlessness of closing the street. There seems to be something wrong with people getting paid to cause everyone else grief... David tells me that opposing political parties will hire people to make protest... aye Dios mio.
It was a great trip that ended with a bang - an earthquake that is. Supposedly a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the city while David and I made our way up to the Chapultepec Castillo. Disappointingly, I didn't feel a thing! Can't believe it! But it was enough to mess up a few bridges in town. From the hill, we could see helicopters and hear ambulances. After the fact, we found out that it wasn't so bad as to hurt anyone, but it sure slowed the city down. Luckily, we were safe though and not too delayed. Everything turned out fine for the next day and my flight to Santiago: the beginning of the next adventure!