Monday, March 5, 2012

So, um, I'm in Mexico now...

...and I have been for two months.

Life here is good, vibrant. It's a change of pace from what I am used to, but it's a change I think I need. I love Mexico. It feels right in a way I cannot seem to explain, even to myself.

I have been doing many things, as you can see below. Here is a snippet of what I've been up to in a few snapshots. 

My host mother, Paty, or as I like to refer to her, my "mamá mexicana." I ADORE her.

Daniel (another Mexican student living with the host family of my friends Sean and Charlie), Charlie, Sean, Paty, her boyfriend Pepe, and my roommate Meghan. 

Amor a la méxicana.

A sunset view of the Popo, Puebla's most impressive volcano. 

A view of the cathedral in Cholula, a town about twenty minutes away from my house.

A scene in the market in Zaachila, a tiny village outside of Oaxaca. My two friends and I thought we were the only white people in a twenty mile radius, until we saw two Mormons. They are everywhere.

My two Oaxaca travel companions, Ben and Katie. With mangoes!

One thing I love about Mexican churches are the candles you can light at various altars- the best part is that the different colors denote different kinds of prayers.

I love the colors splashed across all the buildings. 

A view of Monte Albán, the Zapatec ruins outside of Oaxaca.

Inside one of Puebla's many churches, the main altar is flanked by two little stands- one with a book of peticiones, or prayer requests, and another of acción de gracias, or thanksgiving. I wonder how many prayers are answered. And how many are followed up in the book of gratitude.

Some friends took a few us to see the volcano. And of course we stopped off for food. This was by far the sketchiest stand I have ever eaten at (I thought about using the term "cart" to describe it, but decided it was unrealistically generous), but it was delicious. 

Don't believe the smile. It was freezing cold on top of the mountain. I complained the whole time. 

Paty's boyfriend, Pepe, is an excellent musician, as is my friend Sean. Some weekend afternoons, a bunch of family members come over and we play and sing songs. I love it. 

Teotihuacan. I have no words to describe it, so I won't. 

I will say, however, that the stairs are so steep I had to climb up the pyramids on all fours like an uncoordinated panther. Despite my ungainly journey, I was proud of myself for getting to the top in one piece. 

The sacred relic of La Virgen de Guadalupe, a holy object for many Mexicans.

'Sup, PJP!!!

The Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Inside Mexico City's gigantic cathedral. I lit a candle for the people I love. If I were a better person, I would have done it for the people I can't love yet, but, baby steps.

When we were in the city, there was a huge union strike. It was all very exciting. 

Inside Frida Kahlo's house. Unintentional matching for the win!

Frida Kahlo as a child. 

Inside her studio. 

One of Frida's many casts. It was so small.

Inside Leon Trotsky's studio. I have to say, visiting his house was unexpectedly moving. 

Inside the Museo de Antropología. It was immense and overwhelming and fascinating. Like this portion, for example- some skeleton sacrifices who were forced to wear a necklace of jawbones before they were killed. I understand the principles of cultural relativism, but really, a necklace of human jawbones?

The coolest headdress in the world. Makes my favorite feather headband look pathetic.

My friend Carlos invited a few of us to his house for his barbecue. It was wonderful to be with a family. You can't see it here, but I learned how to make the world's most delicious pico de gallo salsa. 

This is a picture of a goat.

Some natural springs our friends took us to. It was quiet and beautiful. 

Inside a delicious seafood restaurant in Cholula- even better than the caldo de camarón is the fact that customers are encouraged to write on the walls! My graffito was an ode to Mexico, obviously.

That's all I have for now. I can't wait for what's next. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


A few weeks ago, our program went to Madrid, Segovia, and Toledo over Halloween weekend. We saw everything. And for the first time in a long time, we could just hang out on each other's beds and watch "Tu Cara Me Suena," (only the best Spanish television show in the world!) a program in which contestants dress up as their favorite performers and imitate them. 

Kicking it in front of the Prado. 

The Escorial. Felipe II made this monster monastery-cathedral-library-castle-mausoleum outside of Madrid. He wasn't much fun, and this building isn't really either. Fun fact about Felipe II: He had his bed placed adjacent to the cathedral's altar, so he could hear mass in bed. I'm not really sure if he should be congratulated or rebuked for that. 

The aqueduct in Segovia- almost two thousand years old, and still functioning until the nineteenth century!

Segovia's cathedral. Rick* says it's the most Gothic cathedral in the world, taking the architecture to such an extreme that a new term, "Flamboyant Gothic," was developed to refer to it. Did I laugh for thirty seconds straight after I found out there was such a thing as "flamboyant gothic?" Absolutely. 

Segovia's Alcazar. Walt Disney came to Segovia and modeled his "Magic Kingdom" after this. 

The Fantastic Four (Don't worry, we didn't name ourselves that. Someone else did).

One of the many churches in Toledo.

*In reference to the legendary Rick Steves. We use his book with such frequency and loyalty while traveling we all feel we're on a first name basis.