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where is laura? Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. Rainer Maria Rilke


MEXICO | Tuesday, 19 June 2007 | Views [1098] | Comments [1]

Well I arrived in Mexico city and already so much has happened it seems... I'm staying at the "Casa de los amigos" it is not just any house, but the "Friends House" as in the Quakers.. quite a nice place with many interesting people doing various social-issue projects in the area. We all chat over breakfast and exchange our story.

The metro is very clean, lots of sweeping, scraping and wiping keep the stone floors very slick and neat, it's much more pleasant than Septa!

My first full day, Monday, like in the US, most of the museums are closed, so I decided to go to Puebla, a very charming colonial city about 2 hours to the South--

here are my notes from the day:

Woken up by a gaggle of eager teachers from Minnesota who are here as part of a Witness for Peace program. A lot of there students are from a small town in Morelos, and so they are here to learn more about the region, conditions, how US policy affects immigration, etc... 6am they woke me up.. but it got me out of bed by 8am, and after breakfast I took the bus to Puebla.  I wanted something quiet, and to get away from all the english spoken in the hostal, which I hadn't expected..

The metro was built in 69, and the architecture doesn't let you forget it. The last stop before the train station had these amazing tunnels and circular radiating roof design (pictures to come). I still can't shake the realization that I am in Mexico city, and not NY for example... after living around so many latinos in the States, it's an odd feeling to visit the home turf. It def feels different than S. American, because you sense the US influence, sort of.. but  still filtered through a very different translation.

Like in South America, the circuit of selling various goods on the public transit continues. This time music is the most popular on the metro. There was the bling man, karoke style with the boom box followed by a young girl with a can, asking for change. Then, a young guy with the built in boom box sampling the songs from the CD's he is selling for $1. Then the live musicians, asking for change.. and on and on.. but everyone has their own approach.

I spotted my first walmart within city limits from the bus. There are also popular chains called "waldo's mart"- they are $1. stores. The fast food chains with drive ins- are auto-mac and auto-king.

The metro uses a pictorial system for their stops... and toilet paper still goes in the trash bin.

Puebla- the town that drew me to Mexico really, after realizing that so many of the mexicans living in south phila were from the region, I couldn't help to be curious to see... Puebla is the city, located within the state of Puebla.

Upon entering the town I see the huge volkswagon plant that I just read about in a wallstreet journal article my mom so kindly clipped for me. They opened in 1998, and employ a lot of educated engineers and the like... a glitzy shopping center stands within 100 ft of the plant, as do crumbling homes just across the street...

So I get off the bus, hop a combi into town and make my way to the "centro historico" - very charming, quiet, grassy passageways where hippies sell hemp necklaces, lots of students around. Ceramics for sell- the speciality of the region, and of course the mole poblano, that delicious chocolate-spicy-smoky sauce they pour over chicken, has its origins here...

Through the center, the streets are closed off to traffic and are full with people, wedding dress stores, shoe stores, jewerly, clothes, and smell like pound cake (that butter smell reminiscent of isgro bakery).

I sit down in front of a church, and within minutes, I'm approached by an older man and his guitar. He thinks I'm from Spain, but I sadly correct him. I try to say I'm not interested, but he knows I am, and sits down next to me and starts playing various tunes. His fingers nails are crooked, and he uses a nice tortoise pick. He lives in Veracruz. Of course, I'm thinking, ok, he probably wants money.. but after 15 mins of chatting and playing he says good bye and that is that. LIke the friendly metro escort I got yesterday from the airport, my expectations of people are being challenged... and reinvigorated. Not everyone is after your money, people still exist in the world to do good things, and help others... this is always a lesson of travelling.

So, I make my way to the Zocolo, the main huge shady square and sit down and read the paper I just bought... a new reality show in Puebla, protests, migration reports.. next thing I know a group of high school age girls, giggling, approach me nervously. "Excuse me, Do you speak english?" next thing I know, I'm part of some class assignment, on camera, being interviewed by one of them, who formally reads from here notes, "what do you like about Puebla" "What food do you like here" "Would you come back?" ... it was very sweet, and I'm glad they found me.. budding journalists...

No more than 15 mins later, 2 men approach me with a similiar aim. A teacher and his student ask if they could speak with me for a few minutes to practice. They also think I'm from spain, by the way... but the lonely planet I was reading gave it away... next thing I know, the teacher, Emilio pulls out the world atlas from his bag and has flipped to the PA map.. I point to philadelphia and we talk for about 30 mins, alternating between english and spanish. It turns out Emilio teaches both, he learned english from the streets from Puebla, interacting with foreigners, and has spent time in the States as well....

I go with them to the Museo Amparo, its free, and wonderfull. The student, Miguel, is very shy, walks slowly with a limp, and tells me how many operations and surgeries he has had, he spent 50 days in a coma... he's 25 yrs old, has a great family that helps him out, and a teacher who is a great friend.

The main exhibit at the museum are these murals by Miguel Covarrubias, different pictorial representations of the Peoples of the world, their art, economics, modes of transport... very very interesting... Miguel has to leave and Emilio stays and we go through the museum together, he has me read some of the info panels aloud so he can correct my spanish- we converse about all sorts of things-- don't be shy- talk, you must keep talking, so I can correct you, that's how you learn... it was great. I was like, is he for real? This is his work, and he loves it.. at 42, he's the black sheep of the family for doing his own thing- meeting people from all over the world...

From there we go for lunch, and I finally get my mole poblano.. it was delicious. A nice long 3 course meal, complete with rice pudding for dessert. He treats, again a very nice unexpected gesture. Conversation goes from politics and values to listening to John Denver and the soundtrack from amoros perros on his walkman...

I eventually get back on the bus to the DF, the farmland and rolling hills are on my left, and a volcano, erupting? is also in full view....

Ahhh, the journey has begun.

I didn't bring the connector for my camera, so the photos will come later...

Tags: culture, mexico




sounds like a truly amazing day, laura. can i say it again? i'm jealous! can't wait to see the pics.

  aria Jun 25, 2007 7:45 AM

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