Found: A Foot Massager Slash Taxi Driver

This fresa gigante is so happy because he's dipped in chocolate.

This fresa gigante is so happy because he's dipped in chocolate.

Last Friday I went to The Chocolate Experience trade show with my friend Lesley, who just moved here on Wednesday.

The “experience” was great — lots of chocolate and posing with giant strawberries dipped in chocolate.

After the event, I walked Lesley to the taxi stand outside of the massive World Trade Center, and dropped her off so she could take a taxi straight home to her corporate housing in Polanco. I took the Metrobus home to Condesa.

For some reason, though, I felt nervous about the taxi. Perhaps because it was Lesley’s third day in Mexico, or perhaps because the taxi that pulled up for her didn’t look as official as I thought it should. So once I got home, I emailed her — everything OK?

Yes, she said. But the taxi ride was “interesting.”

Indeed: Somehow, on only her third day in Mexico, Lesley managed to get a foot massage from her cab driver.

No Me Gusta

As I do every morning, I just went to the home page of The New York Times to see what’s new in the world. Holy crap. My high from the inauguration lasted 48 hours, and just ended with the sound of a balloon releasing air and flying across the room, before landing limply and empty on the floor:

Microsoft Plans to Lay Off 5,000 Workers

Home Construction Ends Worst Year Since 1959

Sony Expects $3 Billion Loss for the Year

Dismal Economic News Drags Oil Prices Down

New Jobless Claims Rise More Than Expected to 589K

Study Finds New Evidence of Warming in Antarctica

Falling Pound Raises Fears of Stagnation

Shares Fall on Housing Worries and Microsoft Layoffs

Cringe-Alert: Mexican Tabloid’s Coverage of Obama

El Grafico, a tabloid publication put out by newspaper El Universal, is perhaps better known for its photos of barely-clad women and bloody dead people maimed in traffic accidents (whereas El Universal is more of a thinking man’s paper).

Today, however, they have a jaw-dropping message for Pres. Barack Obama (I know that Mexicans will argue this is not racist, it is normal — and as I’ve reported before, it can be weird just to be a light-skinned person in Mexico. As highlighted by the Olympics, racial sensitivity is QUITE different in Latin American than in the U.S. Still, I can’t get used to this):

[Update: ANOTHER Mexican magazine takes the racial insensitivity a step further!)

The caption reads "To work, my black person."

The caption reads "To work, my black person."

A Mexico Must-Do: Take a Cooking Class in Oaxaca

It's the only time you'll ever see me wear one!)

I stuff Oaxacan cheese into a flor de calabaza. (Note the apron: It's the only time you'll ever see me wear one!)

While we vacationed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca a few weeks ago, we signed up for a cooking class at Casa Crespo Bed and Breakfast in Oaxaca City —  it was a handy hop, skip and jump from our accommodations at The Hotel Aitana. While I don’t typically associate “cooking” with “vacation” (it just doesn’t sound as good as “vacation” and “swimming in the Pacific”), I can now admit: it was a blast.

In less than 5 hours, we somehow managed to shop at the mercado and prepare no less than 10 dishes: corn tortillas, red salsa, passionfruit salsa, passionfruit juice, quesadillas with pumpkin flowers, black bean soup, stuffed-and-fried pumpkin flowers, sliced Poblano peppers with cheese and creme freche, “fiesta” mole with chicken and…lastly but certainly not leastly, Oaxacan chocolate ice cream.

Hungry yet? Continue reading

A First for Me: Going to the (Mexican) Circus

circo

One of the cool things about having (and somehow keeping) friends in Mexico City is you get invited to do things you’d ordinarily never do as a tourist or alienated ex-pat. Case in point: Attend Circo Atayde Hermanos, a 120-year old circus in Mexico, with friend Richard, whose family owns the circus.

the soil shakes, and so do you, all the time.

I suppose this is what an earthquake feels like?

Along with the usual circus acts (animals, namely: elephants, horses, camels and llamas) and trapeze artists/magicians/clowns, Circo Atayde had a nice Latino flair to it, like a guy on stilts dressed in drag as Carmen Miranda, and a slew of macho-yet-hairless Argentinian gaucho performers. A clown also did a dead-on impression of easy-to-mock but utterly fabulous Vicente Fernandez.

Beause this gaucho looked like Captain Picard, and hates cigarettes, he was my favorite act of the night.

This gaucho looked like Star Trek's Captain Picard, and could lasso away a cigarette, meaning, yes: he was my favorite act of the night.

Richard asked us: So when was the last time you went to the circus? For him, it was literally last week — he goes all the time, since he has “circus privileges.” For me, though, I couldn’t recall. Besides daily life in Mexico, the most circus-like event I attended as an adult was probably the Moscow Cats Theater, where yes, cats perform, on stage. (As has been said by others before me: It was “30 minutes of tricks packed into 90 minutes.”)

The circus in Mexico, however, is quite the opposite — blink and you’ll miss something fun.

Nuevo Ano en Mi Casa: Viaje Mucho, Yo Quiero

As I was watching the Mexico City fireworks from our 5th-floor balcony, our neighbors from across the street ran out of their house, Mom, Dad and 8-year-oldish daughter. They were pulling luggage behind them, wearing coats, as if headed for the airport.

I looked for whatever taxi they were headed to, but they suddenly started doing circles around a tree, still pulling their luggage. They took turns shouting “Feliz Ano Nuevo” followed by….the names of places….

“Espana!”
“Madrid!”
“Inglaterra!”
“Orlando!”
“Nueva York!”
“Los Angeles!”
“California!”

…one of the many New Year’s traditions here includes doing exactly this, in hopes of many good travels in 2009.

To all of you, lo mismo: ….que tengan un MUY FELIZ 2009!!!!