Archive for December, 2007

Yesterday

December 24, 2007

Adolfo’s brother arrived the other day and today we are cooking the turkey.

Yesterday, we had breakfast in the center of town at a restaurant that we had previously only seen in Mexico City. It’s called Los Bisquits Bisquits Obregon and it’s the only place I know in Guadalajara where you can get Café con Leche like they make in the southeast part of the country (like Veracruz). Café con Leche is more than just coffee with milk, a small amount of coffee concentrate (like a room temperature double-strength espresso) is poured into a tall glass. Then the waiter or waitress pours steaming hot milk from about two feet above the glass in a thin stream so that the milk froths in the glass. It’s delicious.

After breakfast, we decided to walk around the center a little and we stopped in the cathedral, which was packed. Unbeknownst to me, the cardinal was giving mass and everyone in town showed up. There were lots of seminarians in the back of the cathedral in their fancy white smocks and black dresses (I’m sure these articles of clothing have specific names). Once again, I felt like some of my more catholic relatives need to come visit me and fill me in on the details.

We spent about 5 minutes in mass looking at the backs of the heads of about half the population of Guadalajara and then snuck back outside. I never did see the cardinal.

We wandered into the Governor’s Palace to take a look at Hidalgo. And then over to the Regional Museum and checked out some pottery, buggies and a photo exhibit of Bolivian miners (not exactly regional, but interesting nonetheless).

After our little post-breakfast wander, we drove over to Vallarta Avenue and walked on the Vía Recreativa. The avenue is closed to cars on Sunday mornings and the bikes, skaters, and pedestrians take over. Then we sat at an outdoor café overlooking the avenue and had a beer. It was very nice.

In the evening we went out to La Morenita for posole, tostadas de panela, a torta ahogada and some enchiladas. Very tasty.

Today we are staying home, for the most part, and making turkey all day. I’m going out to see if we can find a scrabble game to entertain us.

On the upswing

December 21, 2007

So, in the last two days I wrote and sent about 25 Christmas cards, made 3 kinds of cookies and Calabacitas (from Diana Kennedy), fish curry and some spaghetti sauce to freeze. I’m ready to lay down with a good book now.

That time of year again…

December 20, 2007

Ack, it’s time for the Christmas panic!

Today is my first day off from work and wow; it has been a rough couple of weeks. Last week, I was working 12-hour days almost every day and I was not in the office, which means that this week I had horrible email backlog. Combined with the craziness that was the last two days when many people in the office (including me) thought we were going to lose our jobs. Not because of my boss, but because of an edict issued from the Rector. All became right with the world about 5pm yesterday when my boss came back from battle (at the Rectoria) and told us that no one was getting fired.

So, needless to say, I haven’t written any Christmas cards, many people sent me very nice birthday wishes and I did not respond, and Adolfo has been asking if I forgot about him. Basically, I just fell out of communication with the world. (By the way, I will respond to your emails and thank you for the birthday wishes!)

Adolfo finished his semester teaching and has a few projects in his other job, but all the jobs were winding down for him during the last two weeks. Which was great, because he was able to do all the things at home that needed to be done, like the grocery shopping and mailing a box to my family, feeding me dinner when I returned home zombie-like.

There is no Christmas tree, there are no cookies and you’ll be getting your Christmas card for Groundhog Day.

(Let the vacations begin?!?!)

Bus Update

December 4, 2007

So the bus excitement has kind of tapered down. A few things have contributed to this, not the least of which is that getting to work is becoming more routine. I changed where I get on the bus and now I’m only using one bus line, instead of trying to get on 3 different lines which wouldn’t stop.

The original bus stop was good because three different bus lines would pass that could conceivably get me to work. The bad thing about this bus stop was that it was immediately after a huge intersection/shopping mall any many times, during rush hour the buses were so full that 4 or 5 would pass me before one would stop. And, sometimes I would be at the bus stop for half an hour before I could get on a bus. So that needed to end – stinking bus not stopping was cutting into my sleep!

Anyway, now I’m getting the bus before the big intersection/mall and the one bus line that passes, almost always stops. (I think in two weeks maybe one or two buses didn’t stop.)

Because I’m only taking one bus line to work, this has cut down the variety of bus drivers, and I’m now seeing the same guys day after day.

The ride home still has a bit of diversity to it. I have recently been very interested in the bus decoration which includes the fuzzy steering wheel covers on other items. So far, I have never seen a fuzzy steering wheel cover on an actual steering wheel. One example would be, fuzzy steering wheel covers around a gold covered Jesus on the crucifix. I think it has the same effect as if the driver put a fake fur stole around Jesus’s neck. That bus driver is on my regular ‘to work’ rotation.

The most interesting decoration lately, I only saw once. Fuzzy steering wheel covers around kleenex boxes mounted on the ceiling! (Disco fever? Anyone?) I smiled all the way home.

FIL recap

December 2, 2007

The FIL is over and I am listening to the last concert, Acterciopelados, live, on the University’s radio station. We decided that it was too much on a Sunday night, even though it’s free, and the place sounds like it is jam-packed.

I think we did just about everything we wanted to do during the last week. We bought books for ourselves and others, we saw most of a concert, we listened to concerts in our house (they are all broadcast live), we listed to talks by authors and architects, we walked the isles until our feet couldn’t take it anymore.

Adolfo posted our photos, so you can see the madness. Here are some of the things I noticed:

We encountered many friends and coworkers at the FIL, which makes me feel like we are meeting the right people.

You can SMOKE in the expo hall! The first person we noticed smoking was a security guard.

The general admission for the FIL is $20 pesos (discounts for teachers, students, and seniors). That’s a price that many people can afford once and some of us can afford it several times. It allows families to come to check out the books. I thought it was very generous and allowed a wide variety and large number of people to come to the FIL.

The FIL is run by the University of Guadalajara and many of the people working in the expo hall looked like students. They were obviously not assigning people to security guard duty based on physical appearance (seeing these teeny little girls with shirts that said “security” across the back made me pause more than once). Which then made me think – really, what kind of security do bookworms need?

I found a book in English by a woman we saw speak 2 weeks ago, Raquel Tibol. I’m very excited, because I came home from the speech and looked to see if she had anything published in English and found very little.

Adolfo found good architecture books (of course) and had to make difficult decisions about which to buy (the agony lasted for days!). He did buy one in particular, which he showed me before buying. I said, “Who’s that guy?” And, in response, he turned the book over. The guy was posing next to his model of the St. Louis Arch! Whoops! How embarrassing.

There was an excellent stand for CDs (Pentagrama) and I bought one Blues and one Zydeco CD and Adolfo got a CD of very old Son. I think they are all pretty good.

There is an architecture part of the FIL called the Arpafil. We saw one of Adolfo’s coworkers give a very interesting talk on sustainability.

We caught the announcement of the winners of the architectural competition for the FIL and one of Adolfo’s friends won first place.

We saw part of a speech by Elena Poniatowska. But, the best lecture we saw was by Tariq Ali.

Tariq Ali

December 2, 2007

I had heard Tariq Ali on Democracy Now! but I have not read his books. He was excellent. I think it is very easy to criticize the US government and the war in Iraq, but to come to Mexico and criticize Carlos Fuentes at a book fair and then suggest that President Calderon and his wife should read Don Quixote, that takes something more than guts. And, to do that eloquently and smartly takes a lot of skill (and smarts). He discussed world literature and engagement. Authors and readers need to be engaged in their world and understand the context of what they are reading. He criticized Fuentes for not being engaged, particularly in the fact that he wrote the introduction for a biography of one of the billionaire media tycoons of South America. Who, of course, would be more interested in fewer voices in the media, instead of diversity of journalists and opinions. Ali actually praised Mario Vargas Llosa who switched from being a left-leaning Latin American author, to a right-leaning Latin American author. But, Vargas Llosa was open about this and maintained an engagement with his world and defended his position. Fair enough.

The guy who introduced him mentioned that he went to Bolivia to find Che. While he was with Che he was captured by the Bolivians. When he ended up in jail as a suspected insurgent, he learned some Spanish.

And, at the end of the talk, one of the audience members (who was obviously either a huge fan, or a friend) asked him to talk about John Lennon and Mick Jagger. So, then he told a couple stories about being asked by John to listen to Imagine before it was recorded. And, about being the inspiration for the Rolling Stone’s song “Street-fighting Man.”

After the talk finished, I went up to him and told him I heard him speak on Democracy Now! and really appreciated his talk. Then Adolfo and I raced off to buy a few of his books (in Spanish). Adolfo wanted to see if we could get them signed, so we went back to the lecture hall, he was still there and we got our books signed.

What a great lecture!