Category Archives: mexico

mexico, lindo y quierdo

I knew since before I left for Mexico that I would want to sit down and write about my experience. It was only a matter of when and it’s sadly taken me a few months to finally sit down and collect my thoughts. But now that I finally have the time, I find myself struggling to really put it into words.

I knew that going to unfamiliar parts of my home country would be a great experience, but I didn’t really realize what a profound impact it would have on me. Much like my trip to Central America, I worked unbelievably hard. The days were long and hot and I almost always slept like the dead because of how tired I was. But when we weren’t working, we did manage to have some fun. We ate and drank and explored. I’ve always known that much like the States, Mexico is vastly different depending on what part of the country you’re in. I had just never seen it for myself.

volcano

puebla1

puebla2

Cuernavaca, while rather busy and crowded, had hidden oases in the form of beautiful gardens and pools. Puebla took me by surprise. As part of the project site we were visiting in Cuernavaca, we made the three hour journey with the local group to Puebla. Upon entering the city limits, I was taken aback by how modern the buildings were. Puebla is one of Mexico’s most historical cities that has been able to embrace both new and old. We worked and stayed in the colonial district, where old, colorful buildings make up the majority of the area surrounding the zocalo. We only had a day and a half in Puebla before driving to Mexico City for our flight to Monterrey. I already know that I have to go back someday.

monterrey1

salto

I also went back to Monterrey for the first time in about 7 years and it’s still very much the city I’ve always loved. It’s a city of industry but surrounded by a gorgeous mountain range. We traveled 6 hours outside of city to a remote region and stayed in cabins at a national park. After easily one of the longest work days of the trip, we were treated to BBQ and drinks by a waterfall. Definitely made the day worthwhile.

pv1

chacala3

chacala2

The trip ended in coastal Mexico. We landed in Puerto Vallarta and traveled north to a small, sleepy beach town called Chacala. I’m grateful that the last leg of the trip was the most calm, serene place of the bunch. It’s probably also the region that I miss the most, but eating on the beach for several days, with fresh fish and fruit constantly at your disposal, it’s to be expected.

chacala1

I walked away from this trip with a renewed love for Mexico and a sudden need to travel more. Maybe it’s because I’m coming to end of my 20s and I’m realizing that I haven’t gone any further than Central America. We live in a vast, beautiful world and I have yet to even a see a fraction of it. That’s something I need to desperately change.

So, I’m hoping to make traveling a priority over the next year. I’m hoping that if an opportunity presents itself, I’ll seize it rather than talk myself out of it. Whether it be for work, or with Alex, or with friends, I’d like a few more stamps in my passport.

Here’s to making that happen before I hit the big 3-0.

a sunday in pilsen.

sundayinpilsen

Every year for Dia de Los Muertos, I always go to the exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art. It’s a tradition that started in college and something I’ve managed to keep up. Even with I wasn’t living in Chicago, I was always in a city that had an similar exhibit I checked out.

This year it was just me and Alex. We decided to walk around Pilsen so I could make use of my film camera and snap shots of the murals before checking out the museum. We also grabbed some elote on the street, which was so necessary (and delicious).

The exhibit is different every year and there are always pieces that stick out to me. Two of my favorite paintings are pictured above.

After the museum, we got some coffee at Cafe Jumping Bean to keep us warm before going to Honky Tonk BBQ for dinner. The nice thing about this place is that they have a handful of veggie options to choose from; I got the veggie version of their BLT (with mushrooms instead of bacon) and Alex naturally got a meat-filled meal, which he enjoyed thoroughly.

It was a nice little day trip to a different neighborhood and worth the trek. When I first moved to Chicago a couple of years ago, I spent a lot of my first summer in Pilsen, drinking coffee and walking around. Now it looks like my favorite coffee shop is gone for good and I didn’t even know it. I think this is probably a sign that I need to visit the area a lot more often.

Saturday was a day of errands and what not for me since Alex was working (luckily for him, working on a Saturday means he gets Monday off). I also waited in line for two hours to vote that afternoon. And while that meant I ended up not finishing everything on my to-do list, it was still very much worth it. It’s the first time I’ve voted in person since 2004 (I voted with an absentee ballot in ’08) and it was weirdly gratifying. I hope you have plans to vote too.

How was your weekend overall?

swim until you can’t see land.

Approximately 3 days ago (meaning on Monday), I woke up to the first day of August. My birthday. My 25th birthday, to be exact. And since up until last night I was in Cancun, I spent that day reading (and drinking) by the pool, hanging out on the beach with my sister and generally living it up.

I could go on and on about my vacation, really. How the ocean was an amazing shade of blue and how the sand was never too hot to walk on barefoot. How I had my fill of piña coladas (ok, not true because you can never have too many piña coladas). How I managed to read all three books I took with me and am currently craving more (including the next book in The Hunger Games trilogy because OMG, so good).

But instead, I’m going to write about how on the evening of my 25th birthday, I gave a baby sea turtle a pep talk before letting it make its way into the ocean.

First off: sea turtles are awesome creatures, but they’re also endangered. Most baby sea turtles face a variety of threats, from predators to poachers, from when they first hatch. Not all of them reach full maturity.

So, after having dinner with my family, we went for a walk on the beach. Next thing I know, I’m standing in a small group of people and being handed a recently hatched baby sea turtle to hold before a wave of them are released into the ocean.

The little turtle in my hand, no bigger than my palm, is squirming and moving about like he’s ready to swim for his life. I decide the turtle I’m holding is a fighter. That he’s got a pretty decent shot of making it out there in the ocean on his own. “You’re gonna make it, little guy,” I whispered. “All you gotta do is swim. Swim until you can’t see land.”

Then I stood at the edge of the beach, right where the waves hit and set him down on the sand. He scrambled towards the water instinctively. A decently-size wave came up and swept my little turtle away and just like that, his journey began.

There’s no way of knowing how many of those little guys will survive out there. But I have hope that my turtle will make it. That my whispers of encouragement were a good send-off. His journey is just beginning. And as for me, at the ripe age of 25, I think mine is just beginning too.

{image credit: weheartit.com}

music of the moment: julieta venegas

So, here’s an honest confession: It was until recently (the last couple of years, more or less) that I discovered how amazing an artist Julieta Venegas is. For a really long time, I was resistant to almost all tejano and norteño music, mostly due to its popularity back home. But I finally realized that although I never, ever went out of my way to listen to Intocable (one of the most popular tejano bands from Texas, whom are also from my hometown), I could always recognize their songs on the radio. The music, whether I embrace it or not, is more or less engrained into my memory.

Julieta Venegas is one of my favorite artists from Mexico; her brand of pop-folk rock is mixed together with more traditional music from Mexico. I can’t stop listening to one track from her album, Limon y Sal, called “Me Voy.” I started listening to it non-stop on Valentine’s Day, which is completely appropriate, considering the lyrics:

Por eso me voy
Que lastima pero adios
Me despido de ti y me voy

(That’s why I’ll go
What a pity but goodbye
I’ll bid you farewell and I’ll go)

Runner-ups in terms of music I’ve been loving a lot include Iron & Wine’s new album, Kiss Each Other Clean, and Florence + the Machine.

independencia.

Today, my beloved homeland turns 200 years old.

It goes without saying that I love Mexico. Not only does it play a vital role in my identity (have you seen the name of this blog?), but I grew up only a half hour away and spent a large part of my childhood crossing the border, spending almost equal amounts of time in both countries for several years.

Mexico has been through quite a lot lately. Hell, it’s been through a lot since it declared its independence from Spain. But it’s most recent struggles have been heartbreaking to read about. But I won’t focus on anything negative today. Instead, I’ll celebrate the 200 year old existence of one of my favorite places in the world. My 2nd home and my former backyard. The source of a great deal of pride and a vital piece in the puzzle that is yours truly. And I’ll celebrate with pan dulce (which I brought into my office and my co-workers gladly partook of). Lots of love, Mexico.