Monthly Archives: April 2013

Intended audiences.

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It has not escaped my mind that at the school for international students here (where students are from Japan, Australia, France, China, Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, India, and yes, the United States) there are many warning signs. By warning signs, I do not mean figurative warning signs like stuff you should take as a reason to get out fast, but I mean literal signs with warnings written on them. Mind you, almost everything hear is written in Spanish and English (and sometimes French) except for the follwing signs (which are only written in English):

1. Only use one paper towel.

2. Do not throw tampons or sanitary napkins in the toilet.

3. Food, drinks, and backpacks REMEMBER are not allowed to come inside [the library].

4. This floor is very slippery when wet.

I have a firm belief that the presence of a warning sign is an indication of a past ocurrence which caused the need for said sign. WHAT ARE THEY IMPLYING WITH ALL THESE THINGS ONLY IN ENGLISH?

Also, as I have mentioned before, many vehicles here have names (for example,  a bus driver will name his bus after his wife). Today I saw a garbage truck named Shalom Alejem.

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Miriam is not classy at eating shrimp especially when it’s covered in mango sauce.

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I think the title is self explanatory, therefore, I shall move on.

This weekend we took a trip to some more ruins (this time from the Totonacs). This particular site is called “el tajiin” and is approximately 4 hours in some direction of Xalapa. At the risk of sounding whiny, petty, and unappreciative (but adhering to my philosophy that blogs should be honest), I am starting to get a tiny bit sick of ruins. They are all impressive and symbolic and not nearly as interesting as trying to figure out where the fellow tourist speaking unaccented Spanish but wearing an “I (chili pepper) MX” t-shirt and carrying around a full set of Jenga is from.

Then we had a barbecue on the beach, before which I collected lots of little bits of wood and got my foot bitten by ants, where we cooked hobo dinners (see updated recipes and food), hot dogs, and marshmallows and smores. Then I went to bed, and right before falling asleep located an unidentifiable stain on the sheet (which was not just a pattern, I tried to convince myself of that unsuccessfully) and a strand of hair in my bed. I woke up with 30 bites, which I would like to believe are of the mosquito sort, but which I actually think are of the bed bug sort (because upon careful observation of the sheets in the daylight, I saw lots of little bugs that were not mosquitoes crawling around on the hairy stained sheets).

Nonetheless, we did some  great climbing, saw some good views, went to a thermal spring, saw a well that Cortes drank out of and heard live marimba music until we couldn’t stand it anymore.

Adventure Monday today involved a visit to a new branch of a chain of ice cream stores called Güera / Güero (literally meaning ‘white girl, white boy’). Have to say I was not terribly impressed…

Looking across the border.

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Because sometimes I can be serious and talk about things that are not food or food or food, I am going to take this opportunity to talk about the view of the United States that I have had from Mexico over the past week and a half.

Because very few people know about Rhode Island, much less where it is (unless I launch into the discussion about it being the place where Family Guy is from… then everyone knows it and then they ask if people really talk like Lois, and I just feel like that is not a good way to represent my heritage), when people ask me where I am from, I usually tell them Boston. This week, I have been much more conscious of telling people I am from Boston. The majority of the time that something bad happens in the United States, I can fortunately say that it is far away from where I live. This was not the case with Newtown. This was not the case with Boston. Particularly after Boston, I started really to see the United States from an outside perspective. People from the United States think Mexico is dangerous. And yes, there are some parts that are dangerous (ironically, the most dangerous places tend to be border cities… Tijuana, Juarez… and tourist zones). But in the United States, recent violence and danger has been really unpredictable, schools, yuppie neighborhoods, what have you. Let me tell you, if I were a Mexican parent, I would not be thrilled about sending my kid to study abroad in the U.S. Recently, I have become more sensitive to jokes about how dangerous Mexico is (maybe after you read this your awareness will also be heightened… Mexico is the butt of a lot of jokes on T.V. that comes out of the United States). I have also noticed how easy it is for me to decide which other countries are dangerous based on my own stereotypes and assumptions which are based in very little other than stereotypes and assumptions. Danger is a relative term. Sometimes igorance causes danger. Sometimes stereotypes cause danger. The most dangerous thing for me is defining danger that you do not really understand and then using it as a reason to stay put. 

And because it is not fun to be serious all the time, I include two things that I saw that were funny today:

1. a sign on a bus that said no clowns (not sure if this was sarcastic or not… there are a lot of clowns here)

2. A wood crucifix with Jesus made entirely out of bent forks. 

Also you will notice that I did not use a single apostrophe in this post. That is because I am writing on a Mexican keyboard, and I do not know where the apostrophe key is. 

Still alive.

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Hi Friends! It’s been a longggg time since I wrote in my blog! And just like a lot of other things, we’re going to blame it on my parents, because I was hanging out with them instead of updating my life on the interweb. We had a great time (well… I’ll speak for myself).

In other news, not too many updates. I did go to a beautiful waterfall yesterday where I swam and slept and got bitten by tons of mosquitoes.
On the bus ride back, we were singing the Lion King song (Circle of Life), and I realized that in every language there are a series of strange words / sounds that people try to fit into that NYAAAAAAAAAAA TKONYAAAAAA NANA HEEEBEEEBABA part.

Also sorry for falling miserably off the map with the candy project. The reality of the situation is that I just got lazy, but the last two candies were going to be a chocolate filled croissoint called “Bigotes” (which here means mustache) and another type of chocolate bar called “Teens.”

Adventure Monday included a new fabric store. I have some pillows in mind to make over the summer.

Hope all’s well in your respective lands!

Day 3: Chips Ahoy… but better

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Despite one’s likelihood to question the well-being of his/her respiratory tract upon consuming “Chokis” these puppies are really harmless (well not entirely… imagine chocolate chip cookies with more chocolate attached to the bottom). Also, don’t worry, I’m sharing these sweets with my friends… not just having a pig party by myself (I only do that with street mango).

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Today was one of those stunning days in Xalapa where the weather is hot, but the late afternoon sun is just perfect. It reminds me of the beach at 5 o’clock, which is just about my favorite thing in the world (besides for street mango). Today when I was walking home, there was an entire orchestra of elementary school kids playing on a huge stage that they had set up outside the cathedral. The sound of 10-year-olds with braces learning to play clarinet is universal, friends.

Day 2 of Packaged Snack Culture Shock

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Disclaimer: This is not a commentary on Mexican or United States culture. Just a notable difference. Please don’t be offended. Also please imagine the shock when you see a giant truck with this logo on the side. Also note the Mexican version of wonderbread is “Bimbo.” Image

Negritos taste amazing. They are like sweet bread filled with chocolate liquid. I would recommend them over krankies any day.

 

This week I present you with…

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… a series of foods that would never sell in the United States of America. One of the many joys of living abroad is trying new foods. Thus far I have eaten grasshoppers, another unidentifiable bug, and a variety of other foods that do not sound interesting compared to a grasshopper and another unidentifiable bug, although they are scary delicious. However, it is not to be forgotten that there is a whole other world of packaged snack food aside from m & m’s and starbursts and cheez-its, and I feel that is an important part of the culture to communicate. Each day this week, I will attempt to introduce you with one packaged snack food that you will probably not come across in 7-11 or CVS. Today’s adventure Monday included a new bookstore, 2 new streets, teaching English for the first time, and a terribly embarrassing encounter involving me intending to ask, “Do you sell eggs?” and me actually asking, “Do you have balls?”.

Day 1:

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These little guys are kind of like whoppers. Surrounded by a chocolatey outer shell and innards somewhere in between cookies and crackers, they’ll be gone in 2 minutes leaving your fingers greasy and your stomach unsatisfied.