Thursday, November 27, 2008


Sorry I haven't updated in a while, but I've been too busy having the time of my life. Last Thursday night I went to the Ska-P concert which was beyond amazing. They only have about 9 fans in the US, so you haven't heard of them, but they're a brilliant ska-punk outfit from Madrid. These guys are huge down here; I've never been to such a massive, energetic ska show. It was worth hanging out for 4 days in Mexico City to wait for it.

Then, after a quick 6 hour jaunt by bus last Friday, I arrived to the much smaller and more pleasant town of Oaxaca. This town has managed to suck me in and keep me here for a week. It's up in the mountains, the weather's great, and I've been spending the days volunteering with a charity that runs a small kindergarten for some of the poor children, gives them a meal, and helps them get into primary schools around the city. So far I've spent two days in the kitchen, washing dishes and performing other menial kitchen tasks that even I am capable of. Yesterday they started me translating the children's letters to their sponsors. Here's the best of the best of what I got to translate:

"It's very very cold out. I almost freeze in the morning when I go to school. I even drink hot coffee and I'm still cold. Maybe I should start eating pure chiles and the spice will make me forget about the cold."

"I'm doing well in all of my classes, except for Spanish, physics, P.E., math, history, and English."

Also, since I've been here, I've been trying out various local dive bars and have found a clear winner. I'd tried out a couple that weren't terribly exciting, but then one night a couple of the more intrepid travelers staying at the hostel went out and found another one to try. We walked through the old-fashioned, saloon style swinging doors and everybody looked at us kind of funny. Looking back, that was the first sign that we'd struck gold. The patrons were actually quite friendly, one proudly telling us in English "Welcome to Oaxaca" and we chatted for a couple minutes. We ordered a round of beers, and partway through the bartender came over and showed us a bottle of mescal (liquor kind of like tequila) with dead scorpions floating in it. He buys the mescal himself and throws the scorpions in live. He claimed it was an aphrodisiac, which he emphatically illustrated by holding his index finger limp in front of him and then quickly pointing it up. It's a hell of a drink, but an aphrodisiac it is not.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mexico City Part 2

I´ve done a lot of things in Mexico City, and am having a surprisingly good time considering how I tend to feel about large, polluted, overcrowded cities.

Day before yesterday, a few of us went to visit the pyramids at Teotihuacan. I got to climb the 3rd biggest pyramid in the world!

Yesterday, I went to the Leon Trotsky museum. The museum is in the house he lived in when one of Stalin´s men found him and killed him with an ice pick. I got to see his study (where the murder went down) as well as the rest of the house, which has been preserved pretty much how it was on the last days of his life. (They do seem to have cleaned the blood stains out of the study, however) Those of you who knew me in high school may recall that I once played Trotsky in a school play. His ashes and his wife´s ashes are kept in the yard under a Soviet flag.

Today I went to the anthropology museum, which was very impressive, even to a guy like me who has little to no interest in anthropology. There was an excellent display of Mayan and Aztec art, especially stone sculptures of their gods with several explanations which body parts of who were sacrificed to which gods. These folks seriously sacrificed a lot of people to their gods.

Tonight I´m hitting the Ska-P and Panteón Rococcó concert, then tomorrow I head to Oaxaca.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I´ve been in Guadalajara now for 4 nights and I love it here. My second night, a few of us from the hostel went out and took a salsa dancing lesson with some locals. They were very friendly and welcoming to us, and well as patient with my awkward gringo dance moves. I eventually learned the basic steps and a few fancier moves, again thanks to the kind patience of the Guadalajarans.

I spent a good half of the next day trying to find a place to do laundry, which I finally did on a sketchy looking street where a shady character tried to sell me marijuana and cell phones. I just did my laundry.

Yesterday we went to the nearby town of Tequila, birthplace of the distilled beverage of the same name, and got to see a couple distilleries. It´s a fascinating process.

Fun Fact: To legally be called Tequila, the beverage has to come from one of a select few places in Mexico where the blue agave plant grows just right.

That´s all for now. I´m kicking myself for not bringing the right cable to upload pictures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I made it to Mexico! I crossed the border in Nogales, AZ on the 7th and have been having quite an adventure. I spent my first night in Hermosillo, the capital of the great state of Sonora. The town itself wasn´t too exciting, but there were a few friendly people on the street who spotted me (apparently I stand out from the crowd down here. Who would have guessed?) and started talking to me in English.

Next I went to Mazatlàn, which is an interesting mix of a real Mexican town and a gringo-infested beach resort. Luckily, the resorts are a few miles from the real part of town, so I wasn´t too bothered, although it was funny to walk around the resorts and see nervous Americans on the streets at night.

If you´ve never been down here, the bus system in Mexico is fantastic. I can walk into the bus station and be on my way within an hour to just about anywhere I want to go. It´s far more efficient and heavily used than the Greyhound system in the states. Contrary to popular belief, the buses are not disgusting old school buses filled with livestock. They are new, clean nice buses with plush seating and usually TVs showing American movies dubbed in Spanish. Also, they´re cheap: You usually end up paying about 50 pesos for each hour you´re in transport, which comes out to around $4. The buses are rarely more than half full, so I have plenty of room to stretch out and nap.

I´m currently in Guadalajara (pop. 4.1 million), the second largest city in the country. It is delightful, although I haven´t really done anything here yet so I´ll have to write about it later.