Category Archives: Mexico

Lost and forgotten

As usual, need to get back to some huge family gathering. I sent my dad the following email yesterday afternoon. I thought he might be amused.

They lost my clothes!

Well, not really but the plane was really tiny and apparently all the luggage didn’t fit. It probably didn’t help that I was one of the last people to check in and got to the gate 3 minutes before they started boarding.

I have to wait until tomorrow to get clean chonis and stuff. At least I have my toothbrush and camera. I just had clothes in the suitcase, I guess it’s not that bad. The worst thing isn’t that it happened, but I felt that it might happen and thought to myself that I should pack a pair of chonis, clean socks, bra and tshirt in my carryon bag in case this happened. But I didn’t. D’oh!

Love,
your jet-setting daughter

As with all my travels, I’m always doing things at the last minute. It was about 11 when I got to the airport and I had a 12:40 flight. Oops.

The plane really was tiny. I don’t think it fit more than 60 or 70 people. I’m short, but even I felt like the ceiling was way too low. The aisle was narrow and one side was one seat and the other two seats. I seriously thought I was going to have some sort of panic attack because I hate tiny, enclosed spaces. But I survived and took a nap with Ozo, the monkey, as my pillow.

My clothes arrived earlier than I expected at 2:30 am today. I opened the door to the room where I was staying with my tia Angeles and found my suitcase. Cool. Clean clothes!

I didn’t tell my dad that I was more upset about forgetting to bring my 256 mb memory stick for my camera. It’s at home in my laptop. All I have is a small 16 mb memory stick. I can take 24 pictures. I’ll try to make them good.

Mil palabras: las nubes

El rancho
Rancho los Laureles en Salamanca, Guanajuato

My flight leaves 4 hours from now. Eek.

This trip will be no where near as long as my August 2004 trip to Salamanca. I’ll have to cram seeing dozens of family members on my dad’s side into 5 days. Hopefully I’ll have some photos to share from my cousin Beatriz’s quinceañera.

El blanquillo

The grandparents take a break
Summer birthdays for the grandparents. Mamá Toni is June 13 and Papá Chepe is July 29.

I’ve heard the story dozens of times, but still gather around Papá Chepe with my younger cousins and nieces and nephews when he begins telling us of something that happened 8 decades ago. Each time he tells it his age changes to be the same as the listener, give or take a year. Some times he’s 4, other times he’s 7; but the age is secondary to the lesson.

Chepe loves the attention of his progeny, but he also wants to teach us something with the blanquillo (egg) story. He wants us to understand where he came from and the fact that a birthday egg was a treat. That’s tough to understand when you’re a kid who is accustomed to elaborate birthday parties with jumpers, piñatas, taqueros and dozens of gifts.

In 1920-something on el día de su santo Chepe received a simple blanquillo (I can’t remember how it was prepared… probably fried) for breakfast from Mamá Chila. This was his cake, presents and jumper combined. He wanted to savor his treat and placed the plate on the floor of his adobe home in el Cargadero. They didn’t have a table.

Bad idea.

A chicken (or was it a rooster?) ambled in and ate the blanquillo before Chepe could kick the cannibal out of the house. He was left dumbfounded, sad and hungry.

***

I started writing this as a birthday post for Chepe. I wanted to tell the blanquillo story; I love hearing Chepe tell it slightly different each time. I couldn’t just tell the story. My mind kept pushing me a different way. I kept thinking of contrasts. Adobe house, egg as a birthday gift. Home in the suburbs, a huge pachanga for Adrian’s 21st birthday. Jumper? No. Taqueros and dozens of gifts? Yes.

We have this because of Chepe and Mamá Toni’s relentless hard work and sacrifice.

Who knew an egg could make my love, admiration and respect for my grandparents grow.

Mil palabras: fin de semana fronteriza

Night out with Oso and friends in Tijuana
At Cantina de los Remedios, Tijuana

Prior to Saturday night, I had never partied in Tijuana. Thanks to Oso, Nathan and his wife, Rosario, that’s all changed. A fairly large group met up for dinner and drinks at la Cantina de los Remedios in Tijuana and then headed over to Tangaloo for dancing. The next morning, Oso and I had a late brunch with HP in Hillcrest. Oso left to work a little later and I visited Old Town San Diego with HP. I got a little sunburnt. Ouch.

Thoughts from the night and trip to San Diego:

  • Any place with a ceiling covered in lotería cards is alright with me.
  • I drank way too much, but that’s what happens when I don’t need to drive.
  • Apparently, Mexicanos can tell the difference between a Chicana or a pocha and a Mexicana without even speaking to her. Rosario’s friend said that Mexicanas are more made up than the girls in the states. In my case, that’s right… but everyone is more made up than me.
  • The fresa boys are attractive, but they all dress the same (and Oso thinks they’re more interested in him than they are in me).
  • Mango margaritas with chile powder — rather than salt — are quite yummy.
  • I’ll dance to techno and reggaetón if I’m drunk enough. True story. So will Oso. He gets down. Hell, everyone in Tangaloo (the club we went to) was getting down.
  • You never know who you’ll bump into at la línea. I heard my name just after we crossed the border and turned to find a friend from LA who was also returning from a night out in Tijuana.
  • Those little seats at windows are not meant for sleeping. Just ask Oso.
  • Oso really needs to get some chanclas/flip flops/sandals. He is breaking the California white guy code by wearing tenís on a hot Sunday in June.
  • Eating a pickle in the presence of Oso and HP will elicit some junior high type jokes.
  • HP scares little old white ladies when he reads the nametags on their hats and says, “How you doing, Dorothy?”

In general, Oso and HP have a point. I really should make more trips to San Diego and Tijuana and Baja California.

Haiku on Mexico

They hang children in Jerez Haiku from the first half of my trip to Mexico last year.

12.18
At the borderlands
I make my last call to Ralph
I’m gonna miss him

12.19
“Smells like Tijuana”
We’d say when fumes mixed with trash
Stale odor remains

12.20
Return to small town
Looks different than memory
Feels much colder too

12.21
The Jerez jardín
Filled with dominoes players
And resting grandma

12.22
This pueblo is dead
There’s no one home in houses
Until October

12.23
Aunt receives photo
Begins to tear up at sight
Of smiley uncles

I wasn’t quite as disciplined as when I went to Mexico in 2004, nor as insprired. Oh well, I’m working on writing again.

Camino de Guanajuato

Cantando corridos Listening to about 40 cousins and uncles sing “la vida no vale nada,” the opening line of José Alfredo Jimenez’s “Camino de Guanajuato,” while on a ranch in the middle of the beautiful state of Guanajuato can be about as cliché as a sports team playing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” after an important victory.

But it’s not. In fact, it’s incredibly beautiful and warm and touching and all that good stuff. It was the perfect way to end a day which I spent most of feeling grumpy, tired and a bit annoyed.

I didn’t really care much to go up to la Montaña del Cristo Rey. I know it’s a famous monument, but the trip up and down the mountain is long. Plus, once you get there, it’s even crazier. The whole way up in the back of the truck with all kinds of sun shining in, all I saw was dry hills, a road made of stone, and kids covered in dirt trying to run with the trucks to get some monedas. Some of the kids would run down the mountain with the trucks for several yards and would only stop when the people in the car showed some pity and threw un peso or something.

El Cristo de la Montaña and las Momias are tourist traps… and that’s all we got to do today. We barely ate, we were dehydrated (no doubt from all that drinking last night and sugary drinks), we didn’t get much sleep and too much sun. It’s a wonder we didn’t all snap.

I can’t complain too much though. Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni wanted to see el Cristo de la Montaña and they wanted to see las momias. Dude, I’ve seen las momias and they’re not that exciting. At least when I came with Diana, Paola, and her boyfriend (el Chucho) in August 2004, no one was around. That wasn’t the case this time. It’s right after the holidays. There are all kinds of people in town visiting family from all over the place. And everyone seemed to be going to see las momias and el Cristo.

I’m glad I came before and saw other stuff, because it doesn’t seem like we’ll be going back to Guanajuato on this trip. I’ve realized I don’t like taking vacations with tons of people. It’s too hard to please everyone.

My dad didn't let his sore throat stop him from singing The good thing about being with lots of people — and there is one — is what happened tonight at el Rancho los Laureles where four of my tíos live. We had enchiladas, took a little tour of the area where they have los puercos and then all sang. The tíos made my dad play tío Melchor’s guitar, and we started off with Feliz Navidad. At that time, it was maybe two dozen people, and mainly men out in the area where they have the tractors and all the trucks. Dad got the idea to go sing to my tía abuela Epifania, llevarle serenata. So, we all went back to the room outside of my sickly tía’s house. That’s when the group grew. We sang a few out there, one of which was “Dos Arbolitos,” a song my Grandpa and tío Lucio (his brother) really liked.

The party moved back out to the tractor area. Tequila, sidral de manzana, and cacahuates accompanied us. And we sang lots more songs. Tío Melchor and dad passed the guitar back and forth as they sang some corridos (El del Camaro Rojo and another about why Mexicans go north, but still keep the Mexicanness) and more rancheras (Tú, solo tú, Hay unos ojos, La sauza y la palma).

The family over in el Rancho really know how to entertain. For some reason, you think you’re going to be bored and the lack of things like wi-fi will make it unbearable, but not at all. It’s wonderful, really.

Unsent letter

Cows still roam the main thoroughfare of El Cargadero
If you haven’t noticed, I’m posting things I wrote when I was in Mexico last December. I’m still in somewhat of a rut when it comes to writing and the only meaningful thing I’ve pposted in a few weeks was a private password-protected entry. If interested in reading that, let me know.

December 21, 2005

Dear Ralph,

This place is just like I remember, except with less life, dirt, cows and more boredom. In fact, I don’t ever remember el Cargadero being boring.

The first time I remember coming I was eight. My mom and dad sent Danny and I to spend a good chunk of the summer with Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni. One of my aunts, tía Chepina, came with us so we wouldn’t have to fly alone. Danny and I loved it here. We played all day with the kids in the plaza and watched Rosa Salvaje at night. Danny can make friends with anyone. Even though I was all snobby ’cause I was coming from LA, and considered myself better than these small town kids I still made a friend or two. Well, I think I mainly played with the kids who were related to me.

As a kid, I didn’t think that my friends would be destined to leave el Cargadero and cross the border (con o sin papeles) once they reached working age. Of course, I didn’t know all that then. For all I know, those kids knew their fate.

Seventeen years ago, Chepe and Mamá Toni still had the energy to take us places. Then we went to Zacatecas and visited the minas there. They were cold, but incredibly cool. We went to Jeréz, a ten-minute drive away, often enough. We visited the home where Papá Chepe lived, picked tunas from the nopales, rode donkeys on the trails in the cerros, and bathed in the presa.

I returned that summer with a tan, speaking more Spanish than ever and singing “Rosa, salvaje soy yoooo.”

Now el Cargadero is just quiet. You say that all the people left Zacatecas. It doesn’t look like that in Jeréz, but as soon as you come to el Pueblo del Cargadero, it’s different.

Miss you,
Me

Quejas en el Cargadero

Early afternoon on a Wednesday El Cargadero, Zacatecas
12.21.05

I’m not a nap person. I find it difficult to go to sleep with light streaming through the windows. My whole anti-nap policy flew out the window today. Well, there is really no window. The room where I’m staying is incredibly dark and cold. I wrapped myself in a blanket and slept until darkness fell.

The other thing that had never attracted me about naps is that I just wasn’t sleepy in the early afternoon. That’s different today too. I’m dealing with a time change coupled with a new level of boredom I am not used to.

I know I’m being selfish and bratty and all the things I often accuse Lori of, but I’m really starting to regret spending $300 just to be out of LA six days earlier. I should have just waited for my parents. At least then I wouldn’t be stuck all the time with Mamá Toni and Papá Chepe. I know someday I’ll value this time with them, but not as a 25 year-old who wants to see things quickly and be on her own, even in a place she doesn’t know too well.

It’s this, my need for control of myself, that bugs me about being with them all the time. They treat me like a 4 year-old.

Oh… and el Cargadero seems like a ghost town during the day. Few cars pass by the central plaza, maybe a cow or tractor. Few young men and women are around. I see baby boomer men and a few kids. But at night, the youth come out to play volleyball in the central plaza. That looks cool.

I know now why my mom told me not to come here during my August 2004 trip. There’s not much for me here. I have very little family here and then my grandparents are not up for showing me around.

I miss Ralph a lot too. I really just want to tell him I’m thinking of him, a lot.

I have another 10 days of this, but at least mom, dad, tío Pancho and tía Martha and the girls will be here by Saturday. That should be good.

Oh yeah, I think I’m getting sick, or maybe it’s the internet withdrawal.

Mil palabras: trompo

Trompo (spinning top)
Plateros, Zacatecas

What was your favorite game from the motherland?

I finally uploaded photos from the short day trip to Plateros, Zacatecas near Fresnillo. Plateros is the home of the shrine to El Santo Niño de Atocha. I remember whining (but not aloud, because my mom would have gotten mad) that I didn’t want to visit another religious shrine on my trip to Mexico. Still, the trip to Plateros ended up being great. I got several pairs of earrings and bracelets beaded by Huichol Indians.

Aquí se habla béisbol

Mexicanos en grito de béisbol I told Adrian that we would have to leave around 3:30 from Hacienda Heights in order to make it to Anaheim in time for the 4:30 start time of the Mexico vs. US game in round 2 of the World Baseball Classic.

Adrian and I have been to many games together. He’s my brother. He knows I’m not on time.

“Ay, si tú. Showing up on time? What kind of Mexican are you?” he wrote over instant messenger.

I responded, “We need to show up on time. Who is going to stand up when they play the Mexican national anthem? You know all the Mexicans are going to be late.”

My plan didn’t work so well. We were late. Gabby, Adrian, Steve (Adrian’s friend) and I arrived at Angel Stadium around 5 p.m. I think it was one of those things you see because that’s what you expect to see, but I only noticed raza walking toward the parking lot inside the gates of Angel Stadium.

We made our way to the will call window. On the way there we saw dozens of people crowding around to get into the gates. The Mexican fans wore the green caps with a red M, Mexican baseball jerseys, ponchos, huge straw hats, and tied Mexican flags around their necks so it would flow like a cape. Some people had their faces painted in red, white and green.

On the way to our seats, we passed a couple of concession stands. The TV screens showed a replay of what looked like a go-ahead home run off the right field pole. Rather than call it a homerun, the umpires said it was a ground rule double. By the time we got to our seats, Jorge Cantú had hit in Mario Valenzuela for the first of Mexico’s two runs.

In the next inning, the US anwered back with a run of its own when Vernon Wells hit a sacrifice fly and allowed Chipper Jones to score.

Mexico didn’t let the empate (tie) last too long and in the bottom of the fifth inning, they scored once again. Cantú hit another RBI and brought in Valenzuela a second time. The US took out Roger “the Rocket” Clemens soon after. Gabby and I yelled out “didn’t you retire?” as most other fans gave him a standing ovation. It might be Clemens’ last start. I don’t care, I’ve never been a fan.

The next three innings went by kind of quickly. Mexico’s pitchers made it look easy and would get out the US batters out one-two-three.

Meanwhile, fans chanted. Me-xi-co! U-S-A! Culeeeeroooooos! Gabby and I even counted how many times the culeros chant would come up.

By the top of the ninth, Team USA fans were hoping for something to keep their hopes in the tournament alive, and it got close.

With a the pro-Mexico portion of the crowd trying in vain to drown out chants of “USA,” lefty Jorge De La Rosa took over for the ninth and struck out Ken Griffey Jr. before walking Jones and being replaced by righty Luis Ayala, who walked Alex Rodriguez to move the tying run into scoring position. [Johnny Damon pinch ran for Alex Rodriguez after he was walked.]

That brought righty David Cortes out of the bullpen to face Wells, who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch he saw, setting off a wild celebration that featured Team Mexico saying good-bye to its fans with a flag-waving victory lap.

Gabby and I chanted “double play!” and we got it.

It was cool to see Mexico win, even if they only had a tiny chance of advancing in the tournament. The US pretty much needed to win in order to advance over Japan. South Korea was a definite because they won three games.

Mexico eliminated the US from contention in the WBC. I think it’s pretty cool that Mexico eliminated the team from the country that invented the sport. Maybe baseball is no longer “America’s pastime.” Perhaps, it has become “the Americas’ (plus Asia) pastime.” The LA Times writes, “in six games, the U.S. of Jeter, Junior and A-Rod, of Clemens, Damon and Chipper, lost to Canada, Korea and Mexico.”