A Trip Down Insurgentes (‘World’s Longest Avenue’) in Mexico City

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To get to UNAM, the gigantic university in the southern part of our city, we drove down Insurgentes (en-sir-hen-tess), which is according to Wikipedia, “the longest avenue in Mexico City and said to be the longest in the world.” It’s an avenue we’re very familiar with, because it’s one of the few straightforward ways to get out of the city — it links up to the toll road to Cuernavaca (and eventually, Acapulco). Meaning, even panicked gueros can navigate it.

Nicely, it’s not just for car traffic, though; Brendan commutes to work via the Insurgentes Metrobus. The bus line is new, created a few years ago by devoting the inner lanes only to bus traffic. There are stations about every two blocks, making it super-easy to navigate Insurgentes on foot, too. And when we need to visit Wal-Mart (more often than we like), we head north on Insurgentes a few stops.

Because I was riding in the back-seat of an open-air car, I decided to take a few photos on Sunday:

The World Trade Center is a behemoth building, home to many offices and major conventions. There's a restaurant on top that we need to visit.

The World Trade Center is a behemoth building, home to many offices and major conventions. There's a restaurant on top that we need to visit.

A few weeks ago we ate here, Restaurante Los Guajalotes ("turkeys" in Nahuatl), where they roast entire turkeys. I had a delish Thanksgiving-like platter of white turkey breast, gravy and mashed potatoes.

A few weeks ago we ate here, Restaurante Los Guajolotes ("turkeys" in Nahuatl), where they roast entire turkeys. I had a delish Thanksgiving-like platter of white turkey breast, gravy and mashed potatoes. I think the more notable thing, though, is their logo: A plucked turkey in a waiter's suit, jauntily carrying a cooked turkey on a tray.

Murals are one of the more delightful sights around the city, including along Insurgentes. This one was, I think, flanks a shopping mall.

Murals are one of the more delightful sights around the city, including along Insurgentes. This one was, I think, flanks a shopping mall. These are images of ancient deities of the Aztecs.

The same mural.

The same mural (the image above is over on the right, sort of.)

The World Trade Center may be the biggest, but there are lots of other skyscrapers along the way.

The World Trade Center may be the biggest, but there are lots of other skyscrapers along the way.

And, as with everywhere in Mexico, there are vendors and things for sale the entire way. Desperate for a pinwheel? No hay problema!

And, as with everywhere in Mexico, there are vendors and things for sale the entire way. Desperate for a bottle of water, or maybe a pinwheel (or four)? No hay problema!

Insurgentes also bisects UNAM. The Olympic Stadium is on your right as you drive south. Hard to miss, too.

Insurgentes also bisects UNAM. The Olympic Stadium is on your right as you drive south. Hard to miss, too.

Photos: We Visit Latin America’s Largest University, UNAM

The soccer stadium (go Pumas!) is also the Olympic stadium.

The soccer stadium (go Pumas!) is also the '68 Olympic stadium.

Jesica, one of my good friends here in Mexico City, happens to be a tour guide with a degree in art history. Meaning, when you hang out with her, you not only have fun, you get smarter. A few days ago, I  mentioned that we hadn’t yet visited UNAM, Mexico City’s enormous university (the biggest in Latin America, and perhaps the world). The campus is in the south of the city, and itself is the size of a small city. So, she said, vaminos. And we did so today, turning it into a little mini-road trip in her convertible Tracker.

We attended the Orquestra Sinfonica de Mineria (the symphony — and I loved it. Does this mean I’m getting old?) at Sala Nezahualcóyotl, had lunch at the famed Azul y Oro (named after the colors of UNAM, blue and gold), then walked around a sculpture garden that contained — to my glee — lots of nature, and well, sculptures by Sebastian.

Jesica and Brendan hike down to the big blue M.

Jesica and Brendan hike down to the big blue M.

I was actually entertained during the entire symphony. It's really quite amazing.

I was actually entertained during the entire symphony. It's really quite amazing.

It was one of those typically perfect days. 365 days a year, it rocks.

It was one of those typically perfect days. 365 days a year, it rocks.

A bee doing what he does best.

A bee doing what she does best.

"I'm a fat lizard sunbathing."

"I'm a fat lizard sunbathing."

A poblano pepper stuffed with spicy pork and fruit, covered in a walnut cream sauce, and doused with pomegranate seeds. It's a rough life.

A poblano pepper stuffed with spicy pork and fruit, covered in a walnut cream sauce, and doused with pomegranate seeds. It's a rough life.

A Mondrian-style home sits behind a pesero.

A Mondrian-style home sits behind a pesero.

When Will People Realize Mexico City Isn’t a Polluted Nightmare?

Here is the view from my apartment, four minutes ago:

Look at all that smog! And kidnappers! OK, not really -- but be forewarned: There ARE Mexicans.

Look at all that smog! And kidnappers! (OK, not really -- but be forewarned: There ARE Mexicans out there!)

Yes, your eyes aren’t failing you: It’s a BLUE sky with GREEN trees on a PERFECT FRIDAY AFTERNOON.

Earlier this month, when we were waiting to board our flight from Newark to Mexico City, I was subjected to some college-aged idiot sitting next to us who was clearly not headed to Mexico City but still had plenty to say about it to his adult sisters. I got the sense that he had figured out that B and I lived in Mexico, and we were headed home — a home he couldn’t imagine two perfectly normal-looking white people living in, ever.

So, a chance for him to share off his knowledge to those around him:

*Imagine Northern New Jersey accent, a la Tony Soprano. IDIOT is muscle-bound, overly tan, completely devoid of body hair, and is wearing a snug white t-shirt and a ballcap backward. You know the type? Yeah, me too.*

IDIOT in loud voice, to his sisters: Mexico City….Didja know, like, that’s the most polluted city on the planet?

Sisters: Meh.

IDIOT: No really. It is. You know why? Because they, like, sit in this big bowl, so the shit just sits there all the time. It’s awful.

Sisters: Meh.

IDIOT: Man, it’d suck to go there. Pollution and crime. You know, all that pollution and crime.

Me (thinking to self): Yeah, it’s too bad I have to leave, because New Jersey is nothing if not a sweet-smelling fracking utopia devoid of all seedy elements.

The Circle Is Complete

First, me on ABC NEWS a few years ago:

This appeared on a rarely watched digital channel known as ABC NEWS NEWS.

This appeared on a rarely watched digital channel known as ABC NEWS NOW.

Then, Monday, Bwendy made it on to national news TV, as well:

Yes, this is a photo of my TV.

Yes, this is a photo of my TV.

I guess the circle really won’t be complete until Charlie gets his air time, too. (Notice that you can discern our dominant hands by the location of our earpieces. Mine on my left ear, Brendan’s on his right. Yeah, that’s not a long corkscrew pasta dangling from my hair, silly.)

I think we both decided the hardest part is that you’re talking directly to a camera, and therefore you have no idea when you are being telecast, or when they’re cutting away to the anchor or b-roll footage as you drone on. So you can’t ever roll your eyes or make the “no shit, Sherlock” face that I’m famously known for.

(But, I would argue, cameras are smarter than most TV anchors, so I prefer talking to the camera.)

A Vacation of My Favorite Things: Friends, Family, Food, Lakes, Laughs and Dora Nearly Drowning

We just got back from a week-long trip to Massachusetts. In true Joy/Brendan style, we crammed in as much visiting with friends and family as we could muster, and so this week, we’re barely alive. For now, though, a few fantastic highlights:

– Catching up with a few of our nearest-and-dearest NYC amigos — Dora & Gene, Adam & John, and Connie — at our lakeside cabin rental in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

Lake Ashmere, Berkshires Massachusetts

Lake Ashmere, Berkshires, Massachusetts

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Our pretty little cabin, plus a few enhancers we brought.

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Everyone expected me to fall off the float, I did not!

– Dining at the tucked-away Dreamaway Lodge, a former brothel.

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Dora, John and Adam in front of the lodge. The food: scrumptious!

– Visiting Lake Onota, and renting a pontoon boat, just like we did back in ’07 on Lake George. Fabulous way to spend an afternoon, and the water temperature was magical — I could have swam for hours in the slightly chilly waters. Oh wait, I did swim for hours (and I love how New England sun doesn’t burn me! I can apply sunscreen just once and then forget all about it).

Laughing so hard it hurt when Dora fell out of an inflated float, letting out a shriek, but refusing to let go of her beer. Classic Dora: Nearly drowning, laughing, while doggy paddling one handed.

Tieing for first with Adam for in our First-Ever Cannonball Contest. I fully expect a rematch next summer. We’ll take photos next time for a photo finish.

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Brendan has now driven pontoon boats in Wisconsin, New York and Massachusetts.

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Post-swimming bliss. I'm truly happiest while floating/swimming.

It rained like crazy that day, but we had enough sun to enjoy a few hours on the boat.

It rained like crazy that day, but we had enough sun to enjoy a few hours on the boat.

– Being towed around the lake on a float by Adam and John in their kayaks, a la Cleopatra down the Nile. A man passing by in a boat told me “You got the life, don’t you?”

Watching Oscar and a duck endlessly flirt.

A dog and a duck: A love story.

A dog and a duck: A love story.

– Gorging self on fantastic Italian food at Salvatore’s in Lawrence, Mass.  The meat lasagna. The pizza margarita. The calamari. The fresh Italian bread and herbed olive oil. The Peroni beer.  Lordy oh lordy, I miss good Italian food.

– Watching Brendan’s cousin and her hubby celebrate their vows, and meeting lots of Brendan’s family that after 8 years I still hadn’t met!

The newlyweds.

The newlyweds.

— Stumbling upon good food before our return flight home in the Ironbound District of Newark, known for its Portuguese and now Brazilian immigrants. Using the Blackberry, we looked up Portugese restaurants, found one called Nossa Casa, and decided to have lunch there (gracias a el GPS).

When we walked in, it soon became apparent that the restaurant had been expropriated by the local Latin American community, evidence by the Mexican Norteno songs blasting from the juke box and a menu that was in Spanish, not Portuguese. (Though our waitress was Brazilian and happy to speak to us in either Portuguese or Spanish.) In any case, the food was wonderful and Brendan was served a 1/2 order of paella so huge it easily could have fed an apartment full of day laborers.