Tuesday, August 24


I wrote this post almost two weeks ago but it got stuck on my iPod (I couldn't find any wifi to send it):

Well I managed to make it from Mexico city to Acapulco in one day. I've just pulled into this huge city in the passenger seat of a milk truck. Of course, I had no plans whatsoever to come to Acapulco...here's how it happened:

I took a bus to a small town about an hour south of the city for 5 pesos - about 40 cents. I debated just taking a bus all the way to Oaxaca but that would have cost about $40...cheap by US standards for a 6 hour trip but I'm on a budget and I keep hearing that hitchhiking is easy here.

So about an hour outside Mexico City I caught my first ride with a guy transporting wood. After about 30 miles he dropped me' off in a chilly mountain town covered in fog. My second ride was a man named Jesus in another work truck. Both men had three children, were around my age and had never traveled far from their region. Then a third short ride with two elderly men in an unbelievably old VW bug and a 4th on the back of a pickup truck filled with sheet rock and no tailgate. Three of us were in the bed, holding onto the detachable sides as sheet rock dust whipped our eyes. Finally I ended up at a place where lots of trucks stopped and I caught a ride (after a record hour and a half of thumbing) all the way to Acapulco with a guy named Alfredo. He drives a semi filled with milk for a huge company called Lala - their milk is everywhere in Mexico. Alfredo was great conversation. He spoke no English which was really nice, it meant we had to speak Spanish and had lots of patience. Several times he followed me' into lengthy digressions just to help me' understand a word. He wanted to pay every time we stopped and even pulled the truck over when we hit an especially breathtaking vista to show me the view. And we stopped several times to visit friends he had at familiar trucking rest stops, each time he introduced me as his Iranian friend. We had lengthy conversations (most of which I understood) about family, politics (he liked joking with me about weather I had bombs) sex. food and where I was going to stay that night. I think it troubled him that I didn't know, so he brought me to a crappy and overpriced hotel on the side of Acapulco where his delivery destination lay. I gladly stayed there and enjoyed a nearby meal of tacos al pastor - BBQ pork with a slice of BBQ pineapple, "verdurita" (means "a little vegetables" but is always diced raw onion and cilantro) lime and salsa.


I'm writing this post in two parts; now it's the next day.

I Got a good night's sleep and hopped on a bus for Acapulco. It w as a long ride and the bus didn't stop for me' to vet on,e and an elderly man sort of jog-stepped our way on to the steps. It was a long ride and we crossed several tolls and tunnels before getting to the tourist section of town. Immediately upon stepping off the bus a man offered to help me find a hotel. I've been practicing my bartering and managed to get the extremely hot and cave like room for cheeper than a hostel. It has rained almost the whole day and was super hot. I occupied my time with sitting on the beach under a palm frond umbrella (in the pouring rain), walking the length of the boardwalk, seeing the movie Salt (which was really a pretty good spy movie) and I just finished chilling m with a bunch of folks I met at the youth hostile and now Im having a bite on a rainy sidewalk with a man playing a really great rendition of "dust in the wind" (Chris Dunkle, are you out there?) on the guitar. His accent makes it that much more fantastic. Tomorrow I'll head south down the coast.

Sent using my big thumbs on a tiny iPod

(Travel log at http://poetofthewastes.blogspot.com/)

Monday, August 23

Gmail Trouble

Dear friends and readers:  After logging in to my Gmail account from many locations in Mexico, they took over my account and locked me out.  It took me almost two weeks to get it back!  They don't make it easy.  Anyhow if you've emailed me this is why I haven't responded.  Expect to hear back from me soon.  I hope to write a new post tomorrow; I am in Puerto Escondito.

Thursday, August 12

Milk Truck

I managed to hitchhike from Mexico City to Acapulco yesterday, most of the way with a great guy named Alfredo in a semi carrying milk.  He was great company and patient with my spanish.  All of a sudden I can tell I'm making progress!  Which is satisfying.  Acapulco is huge and overwhelming (I never planned to come here but that's how the rides worked out!  Took me 6 rides) and I need to get my bearings.  I stopped at this internet cafe to learn about this place and print out a map.  More soon...

Wednesday, August 11

Onward and Downward

I've had an apartment all to myself for the last five days. It belongs to my new friend Yunuen, she very generously let me stay...today I'll take a bus just outside the city limits and begin hitchhiking south toward the Oaxacan coast. Probably won't be as easy to get Internet for a bit so if you don't hear from me this week, not to worry. I made friends with the carnitas vendors a fee days ago, Yolanda and her nephew Adrian...everyday they offer me' a new free food to try. Yesterday: a beef quesadilla, corn tortilla, deep fried.

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City

Friday, August 6

Street Food

My obsession with food has followed me, unsurprisingly, to Mexico. I've been here 10 days and think I'm starting to get a handle on eating.

Today I had the best tacos of my life (in Mexico a taco almost always means two small, soft, freshly made corn tortillas wtih some meat, vegetables and sauce) in a marcado (market) near my new host's home in the Moctezuma neighborhood, eastern Mexico City. I went for a walk in my new neighborhood and stopped for tacos in the first marcado I came to. Marcados are big buildings that house several dozen individual stands - vendors of cooked food, raw fruits and veg, and other household items. For example I wanted a simple piece of cloth (to sit on, for a blanket) and I bought one in the marcado; it has a nice green and red cotton weave. Then yesterday a new friend, Yunuen, informed me (amusedly) that this type of cloth is used to mop floors. This is my kind of country! So many things are both beautiful and functional (my favorite qualities) here.

Back to tacos; so I have discovered that not all tacos were created equal and the quality of the taco mostly depends on where you find it. There are two main kinds of "street food", the stuff you find in stands on the street and the food in marcados. This morning i had a porc taco for breakfast, that was in a oily red sauce with a spoonfull of rice - it cost 4 pesos or 30 cents. I washed it down with an OJ, queezed on the spot for 12 pesos or a dollar. I was pretty happy with my $1.30 breakfast, since I'm on a budget. But later in the day I went to this Marcado and asked a woman at a taco stand (fancier, with metal benches in a calm, quiet corner of the market) how much they were; 12 pesos this time, $1 each. Still very cheep as compared to the US but three times as much as my breakfast taco. (Tacos are eaten for every meal, but some are for breakfast and others for lunch and dinner; I have no handle on this yet and chose my tacos via ennie meenie miney moe). Anyhow, these tacos were a whole different food. The corn tortilla was fluffier, I want to say "al dente". The filling was this honey colored roasted pork, at least 1/3 fat (but not in an unapealing way) topped with a salad of cilantro and minced onion and a choice of red or green sauce. I started with red which had a strong and fantastic chipoltle flavor (orange fanta to drink) and then couldnt resist a second with the green sauce which may have been "mole verde", which tastes like onions, herbs and citrus. A lime is always included on every plate, no matter what you're eating and lime juice helped reign in the pork and onion.

This is a web image but looks something like what I ate

When I paid the woman bid me farewell and called me Joven (pernounced "Hoben") which litterally means "young one". But in my mind it means somthing more like "my child".

Tuesday, August 3

Mi Villeno Favorito

After many days of searching I found a map of the whole of Mexico today - and it's beautiful. I've been having a hard time wrapping my mind around the geography here and this map has it all; each region by page, plus a whole map of the country with distance tables and an index...I'm kind of a geek for details. I have a fetish for really thorough footnotes too - to the point where I get disappointed when I read a book without footnotes.

Day 3 staying at this hostile with my new friend Loius. I was supposed to visit a friend of my aunt Betty's in the Yucatan peninsula but it didn't work out and I decided to stay here in Mexico city for a while longer. I asked Louis how he cleans his clothes and he said he washes them by hand in the sink of our dorm with a bar of laundry soap. So he gave me directions to the supermarcado - and I swear I followed them exactly! But I got lost and ended up in a local market (which is much more interesting than a supermarcado anyhow) and found a huge bar of rose scented laundry soap there. Then I bought some clothesline, came home and tied it between two bunkbeds...which made Loius laugh when he saw my clothes hanging there. He showed me how he just hangs his clothes on the bars of the bunk and hangs his shirts on coat hangers. So I washed my (now 3, I bought an extra one) shirts, my 5 new pairs of socks, 2 of 3 pair of underwear (had to wear something!) and in the morning all my clothes will be clean. I really enjoyed hand washing, I'd never done more than one garment at a time.

Now I'm in the hostile lobby, just made friends with a woman from Turkey and two men from India. Oh, and I took in a movie today just as it was about to downpour; "Mi Villeno Favorito" - the. US cartoon despicable me in Spanish. The language was nice and simple and clear.

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City

Sunday, August 1

Diego Rivera

Today I visited two sets of Diego Rivera murals; one at the museum of Bellas Artes and one at the Palacio National, an area known as the Zocalo in the center of the city. It is next to a massive square where hundreds of workers have already begun preparing for Mexico's 200th (i think I understood that right) independence day celebration - it's the 3rd biggest square in the world.

These two things are related; Rivera's murals are intimate histories of Mexico. Of pre-colonial society, of his Aztec forefathers and Mayan countrymen, of the Spanish conquistadors (almost always portrayed as animals of some kind; donkeys, pigs, dogs), U.S. captains of industry, communism, war...and Corn. I overheard one man explaining to a group of visitors "in Mexico, everything is made of corn". It lay in almost every landscape, personal (like when you put it in your tummy), political (like when you try to change it's genetics to make money) and corporal; Mexicans themselves are made of corn. At least I thin that's what Diego was saying. I don't usually stay a long time at museums but today I stayed with those murals for hours. Then after sitting and interpreting as best as i could, making songs out of the stories, I realized there were free tours, explaining. And I was totally captivated for the whole thing. I think I might take that tour every day for the rest of mug stay in Mexico city.

Now I'm at a street vendor about to eat a quesadilla of squash blossoms and queso "oaxaquena" (= cheese from the Oaxaca province, where I'll go next - a sort of farmers cheese.) the quesadilla is hand made in front of me (corn) and is long and oval, folded lengthwise. To drink, a popular bottled juice called "boing" - mango today.

Here's one piece of the 12 part mural at the National Palace:

- Posted with big thumbs on the tiny keyboard of my iPod

Location:Mexico City