Flat Stanley Tours Mexico City, Embarrasses Hosts a Little

Flat Stanley Agave

Before they came down to visit us last week, my in-laws were given a mission: photograph and document the Mexican adventures of Flat Stanley. Stanley (seen above, trapped in a gigantic agave plant) is part of a school project of Catie, their first-grader grand-niece, and he’s actually quite popular: Many schools participate in The Official Flat Stanley Project. Stanley’s purpose: to travel the world, and document his visits.

What it meant: We schlepped little Stanley with us across Mexico City, and my father-in-law would occasionally ask random residents to hold Stanley and smile as he snapped a photo. Being the exceedingly polite people Mexicans are, everyone said yes, although you could tell they were a bit perplexed. And Brendan and I, being the shy people we are, had to look away whenever this happened, cringing and praying that the cultural divide was not too great.

However, by the end of the trip, Stanley was a source of great amusement. Where could we photograph Stanley next? (My idea, which was roundly turned down: Between the cow tongues at the butcher in the mercado….)

Here’s a few photos of ole’ Stanley, and the PDF my in-laws created is good enough to be a children’s book on Mexico City. If you’d like me to send you a copy, leave me a comment. (I’ve already sent it around to a lot of my faithful readers).

Flat Stanley checking out some noche buenas (poinsettias) in our neighborhood, La Condesa, and some little abuelitas in Parque Mexico.

Flat Stanley Condesa

Flat Stanley Old Ladies

We realized Stanley would look better if we cut him out of his paper, but this lead to a long philosophical debate: Are we allowed to do that? Would we get Catie in trouble? Would we hurt Stanley? Finally, after a phone call back to Minnesota, it was decided that we could give Stanley a trim:


And off we went. First to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s great central plaza. If you’re an English-speaking tourist, you’re always approached by schoolchildren working on school assignments to practice their English, which they document with video cameras. So, after our second time being approached, and going through the always-awkward interviews (my favorite was when the schoolgirl asked me to “speak mas fuerte”) we asked one of the schoolgirls to hold Stanley.

Flat Stanley Schoolgirl

After that, we retired to a local bar, where I read up on my Aztec history, and Stanley rested:

Flat Stanley Bar

Then, the next day, the canals of Xochimilco:


I don’t know exactly what this means, but we spent a lot of time moving beers out of the way before we took photos of Stanley. In reality, you would have seen a lot more cervezas in several of these shots.

7 thoughts on “Flat Stanley Tours Mexico City, Embarrasses Hosts a Little

  1. amberfireinus says:

    Several years ago when my niece was in 3rd or 4th grade we did the Flat Alex (her name). I was living in England at the time. She sent her Flat Alex to me and flat Alex traveled to the Pyramids in Egypt with me, had her picture taken on a camel, at the Pharonic museum, loads of places in England, and since it was the queens 50th anniversary as queen, she got to attend a Royal Tea in celebration! I sent videos and everything to her class. It was so much fun!!!! Good for you!

  2. Betty Victory says says:

    We loved the flat Stanley pictures. LOVE the picture of you and Bren–you both look terrific. I am not sure who first started this paper doll trend, but they must have been a little weird. I would be a little uneasy asking people to hold him, myself. On the other hand, he does seem to serve as a conversation starter (if the person doesn’t run away).

  3. Marisol Rodriguez says:

    I’m a h.s. Spanish teacher and I’ ve been thinking of doing a Flat Stanley project with my level II students. These are great pictures! I love the fact that he’s in Mexico — this gives me a great opportunity to introduce Flat Stanley–thanks- Adios!

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