Public Service Announcements

[1] I figured out why I have gotten sick of Mexican food so quickly as of late. Its the corn tortillas. I lucked into another cooking class in Oaxaca (Thanks Travis, commenter extraordinaire!) and my teacher told me that in the US and on Baja they mostly use flour tortillas which to me don’t have much of a taste at all so you can actually enjoy the ingredients. Most of Mexico and certainly in the south they LURVE corn tortillas. To me the corn tortillas have a very distinct, maize-y/grainy taste and makes everything taste the same whether you are eating pollo (chicken) or carne (meat). A fellow traveler recently told me that I could ask for flour tortillas as some places will have both especially around Oaxaca where some of the more traditional dishes go better with the flour. Who knew??

[2] Spanish is a fascinating and dangerous language. It is so close to english at times that you get sucked into thinking that you can subsitute or intuit words that should be the same in both languages. Unfortunately that isn’t that case.

Exhibit A: I should warn you that if you are standing in your pajamas with your towel across your shoulders asking the hostel office lady for “Sopa, por favor?” “Hay Sopa Senora?” that when she looks at you quizzically and points you to the restaurant across the street, you might want to go check your spanish dictionary and come back and ask for “Jabon Por Favor?” (Soap please?) because “Sopa” isn’t soap at all, its “soup” actually its “Zupa” but you get my point. I’m just trying to help yall out here.

Exhibit B: After making various jokes and inspiring much laughter in both english and spanish with a mix of international travelers, you might not want to exclaim that you are “muy embarazada!” to illustrate your embarasement, because you’ll suffer some self-esteem lowering moments when you figure out that “embarazado” is the word for “pregnant” not “embarassed” and that people were trying to look at your belly to determine if you were joking (and just very fond of pasta and beer) or if you really were pregnant. ooops, no wonder people kept trying to keep me from drinking that mezcal! and no, despite the drive-by, dry-humping, I am not pregnant.

*graphic courtesy of

San Miguel de Allende: The Church & The Zocalo

Before I get into San Miguel let me just say that the comments on the previous two entries have to be some of my favorites so far. You guys are making the trip so much funner! Maybe not as fun as the guy who dry humped my leg, the other guy who asked how I liked the “sex” in mexico or the unlimited amusement opportunities presented by the melanin-free (some of yall will get that on the way home) 20-somethings re-creating any version of the “Girls gone Wild” video series. But close, yall are definitely close.

The Family and The Church are easily summed up as the top two priorities in Mexican culture. This is a sideshot of the Zocalo (town center) and the beautiful church in the background is made from this pink stone that catches the sunlight and is the perfect compliment to the greenery of the well-watered Zocalo. So much so that I realized that these people really built these temples FOR God, and even if you aren’t religious, that is kind of impressive. The churches in Mexico are quite simply: Divine.

The Zolcalo is the other place of gathering and fellowship central to daily life in most cities. No matter how small the town, there is usually still a respectable Zocalo in it. Now let me tell you, people in mexico sit out in the Zocalo All.Day.Long. not necessarily the same people, but I have NEVER, even at 2, 4, or 6 in the morning seen a Zocalo that didn’t have people in it. Also, unlike U.S. municipal parks there’s no homeless people sleeping on benches (because it is waaaayyyy too damn noisy to sleep with the teenagers, old folks jibber jabbing and Mariachia Bands). I have always kind of had this thing for the homeless and it made me wonder where Mexico’s homeless people are. Are they better cared for or even more invisible?

Anyway, among the many customs I’d like to bring back to the US from Mexico, hanging in the parks with friends and family is one of them (with the one cheek kiss greeting being a close second). So why don’t yall get on that while I’m here? Since you’ve got a nice long weekend to figure out what to do with. Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone (before I forget).

San Miguel de Allende (SMA) by the Numbers:

Shots of whiskey taken before a juggling lesson from Justin (20, US): 1
Mexican transvestite boutique owners I told “you work too much”: 1
How ridiculously all up in these people’s business I am: infinitely
First Class bus ride to San Miguel de Allende: $7.70US/1.5 hrs
Pieces of Sushi consumed in Mexican Internet Cafe: 6
Hostel bedroom windows I had to climb into because my key wouldn’t work: 1 (yes I was sober. hostel $15US/night)      
Cooking Classes in SMA: 1 ($50US/4hrs + lunch w/ Sra. Maria). I found this class 2 yrs ago researching my “dream trip” and I can’t believe I actually did it!      
Dishes Prepared: 3 (Tortilla Soup, Arroz Verde and Tortitas de Pollo). Fresh Ingredients.     
Mexican Cooking Tip #1: Pork Lard (and I thought it was the peppers! The Scandal: garlic!)     
Number of funny, wealthy, married (to each other) classmates: 2
Number of after-lunch margaritas in the Zocalo: 3 (1 each you gutterheads)     
Number of scarily-huge, livestock petted: 1
Number of police in historic uniforms: 2
How fast I stopped snickering when I saw the guns under the uniforms: .014278/second
Number of Cacti photographed: 23,235 at El Charco Ingenio Jardin and Preserve. and Fish!     
Number of sun-reddened/santa clause-esque cheeks: 2 + 1 nose. (note to self: don’t visit gardens at the zenith of the day without sunscreen). 

Cab from SMA Zocalo to El Charco: $3.50US, Entry fee: $3.50US, Finding that your taxi driver really did show up on time 2 hours later: priceless

Number of votes to leave Guanajuato and head to Oaxaca by questionable internet “supporters”: 8

a “this is the stuff that happens only to me” story: on the morning of my cooking class i was packing, getting dressed etc. in my room. the window (as previously mentioned) faces out onto a courtyard where people can pass through freely so there are curtains, however due to the heat i had the window open. there is also a little cafe style settee (sp?) outside my window (which enabled me to climb into the room the night before). anyway, on this morning, a young Mexican dude is sitting at the table (i didn’t know this). I guess he hears me rummaging, whistling and singing to myself and dude starts talking to me! We can’t see each other but he’s only 20 feet away at the most. i’m half dressed, half-asleep and its 8am in the morning. I answer the first question and next thing I know its like a damn Larry King interview in my pajamas! I mean he even asked me my favorite pro (american) football and basketball teams (The Eagles/The Sixers) and was like: “you’re crazy, the 49’ers are the greatest team ever”. I mean you’re gonna ask me 2,028 questions and then try to dis me? anyone who knows me knows what I did next. i finished getting dressed then went out and got all up in HIS business.

Oaxaca Mexico: The 3 Lies of the Traveler


Mikkel Andrea Jorge, originally uploaded by funchilde.

First, let me tell you that you all are NO help at all. Where is the “voice of reason” when you need it? That said, if I suffer any ill affects from taking your advice and dropping everything and running to Oaxaca, then I will print out your comments for the Judge, God, My Mom…whoever catches me first.

Second, I am hesitant to post the tales of ACTUAL EVENTS on this here blog because the list of people who read this though small, is rather frightening:

1. My Mother
2. My Father
3. My Ex-Mother in Law (yeah, I’m confused too)
4. 3 or more people I have dated have access to this
5. At least one colleague who consults for my biggest client
6. 2 or 3 people that I may or may not have a crush on
7. Several “God fearing” Christian friends who I need to keep praying for me

So, at this time I will only admit that I have actually uttered all 3 of the “3 Lies of the Traveler” which I realized yesterday. I first heard about these from Solbeam, then I think Erik mentioned them and most recently Megan brought up the subject. I remember learning about them for the first time in 2004 and thinking “how cute, those young people” not EVER imagining that I would become a member of the ranks of those nomadic half-truth tellers. What makes them particularly amusing is that you always mean what you are saying at the time.

oh, you want to know what the lies are?

1. I’m not drinking tonight
2. I’m leaving tomorrow
3. I love you


San Miguel de Allende Mexico: Dilemma pt. ii

What to do, what to do? Should I skip out on my last week of spanish class, my awesome room at Casa del Tio, sacrifice the security of the internet/technology access I have/need for work? What say you internet?

E-mail #1

i am now in Oaxaca suffering from heavy stomack
akes. Getting better as we speak. Oaxaca is a brilliant place, pictoresk and tranquille…you should definetly come here one time… take care for now..

El Magnus 

E-mail #2

Hola Chica
como estas? todo bien? y donde estas? todavia en d.f.??
yesterday i meet jorge here in puebla. chiiiido!!! tomorrow we go together to oaxaca. we miss you and we want that you come to oaxaca too… comon chica!!! what you say??


E-mail #3

dia i am now in oaxaca. andrea is here also.this is another amazing place! were staying at a place called casa de arnele. very nice with a great terrace view,much like (but not quite as beautiful)as guanajuatos. dia i really think you should head this way,its got vibe. apparently oaxaca is known for cuisine, international art as well as international music! in fact my first stroll around the place;what did i see? a friggen reggae band (from the island no doubt!) JAMMIN right in front of a cathedral! old people ,young, all jammin to da jam man!it was great. im thinking a week here for me,then im headin for the beach. gotta jam, please tell mirna i said hi!


San Miguel de Allende Mexico: International Relations


Do you think it is odd that I’m African American, eating (really good) Sushi in a Mexican internet cafe, listening to European hip-hop? Yeah, me neither.

Things I may or may not have done this week:

[1] Treat a Mexican cab driver to a midnight hamburger and coke in Mexico City.

[2] Sing Karaoke. (Eurythmics, Robert Palmer and Gloria Gaynor).

[3] Go to dinner with a Mexican chic and 3 Japanese chics wherein there was no common language but we had a great conversation about prayers, customs and “sexual relations” (and ate off each other’s plates).

[4] Taught said Japanese chics how to play pool and then get soundly beat 3 times.

[5] Participated in my (all female) spanish class conversation wherein we discussed: men, men from other countries, mexican men, japanese men, american men, would you have kids without a husband, are all men the same around the world? did God make women the crazier sex because s/he knew we’d never deal with men if we weren’t slightly “off”. This ENTIRE conversation was in spanish and it was so funny we were in TEARS. TEARS I tell you. All I contributed: “Yo soy una hija de Dios” (I’m a daughter of God) said with a innocent look and my hands clasped in prayer.

[6] Told a French woman she had one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen.

[7] Told a German chic I was drinking “hater-ade” because of the fact that she was offered an job with a Mexican archaelogy group heading to a dig/exhibit in Cuba. The job offer came from a cute guy she met at a CLUB! I mean really, this stuff only happens in movies right?

[8] Was caught WAY off guard by a kiss from a (drunk) 26 year-old Mexican boy. This happened at Jazz Bar, wherein there is no Jazz played and barely a bar. The upside: he smelled GREAT, the downside: ewww!

[9] Danced until 2a.m. and had to tell the (10 years younger than me) guy that i.couldn’ I mean this guy was a damn dancing machine. I will admit that being African American and a GREAT dancer makes me popular at the dance spots in Mexico. I’ve actually had people APPLAUD my abilities (all of my friends and family stop laughing or i will issue an internet smackdown).

I’m doing my part to improve our international relations, don’t you think?

I’m off to my cooking class tomorrow! I had to travel to San Miguel de Allende after my last client call today to make it in time for our 10AM class (who in the world makes Tortillas de Pollo at damn 10 o’clock in the morning?) Pray I don’t burn anything down or catch anyone off guard with the cutlery.

Guanajuato Mexico: I have found my people pt. ii


After writing this post about my excitement at seeing my first (what I thought) African American travelers in Mexico (turned out they are French), I decided it would be fun (for me anyway) to document all the African Americans I meet on the road. I’m totally loving all of the international flavor of the people I’ve met. However, one of my personal hopes for this year off is to inspire more Americans in general to travel and particularly those African Americans and Latino Americans that have the resources. Did you know that barely 20% of Americans have a passport?

Kia with Mikkel and Vincento (on the right). Kia is a Philly kid studying spanish at University of Guanajuato and on the lookout for anyone that can give her a run for her money on the dance floor.

Xochimilco, Mexico: Mating Season

 Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; deeply loving someone gives you courage.
                                        ~Lao Tzu                         

I think this peacock was flirting with me. This is at the Dolores Olmeda Museum which also is a peacock sanctuary of sorts with dozens and dozens of peacocks all over the property. They seem to be in mating mode and this guy kept showing me his beautiful plummage and his butt so I guess he thought I might be interested. I got dive bombed by another peacock trying to get into this pen and it scared the heck out of me and I “hit the deck” as they say, much to the amusement of the other patrons seated a little ways off. What can I say, I provide entertainment on any continent, in any time zone.

This museum was a great surprise, I ended up here because it is one of the largest collections of Diego Rivera’s works and also has some of Frida Kahlo’s prints as well. When I first planned my trip I was interested in Frida’s work because her story sounded so interesting and drama-fied. Horrible accident as a young adult, her body never quite recovered, abortion* while married to Diego Rivera, mutiple affairs, etc. However, though I find her work to be colorful and engaging, it is very intense and honest and requires a level of engagement that is hard to articulate. She depicts her mutilation, the abortion, health issues, etc. Diego on the other hand was more low key. His paintings, drawings and murals are more political and erotic which are easy enough to view without dredging up emotions. I still find it unbelievable that an attractive young woman married (twice) this older, not at all attractive dude who also had multiple affairs. But what do I know about love?

Anyway, my mojo must have been on point this particular day because I also got hit on by an older (but not unattractive) Mexican guard at this same museum. He has 3 kids, a wife and an english vocabulary of maybe 10 words. That didn’t stop him from asking me for the name of my hotel, my phone number while in El D.F., and for my e-mail (I’ll let you guess what I did). That being said, if you are wondering where your romantic “mojo” went, it is probably somewhere on the outskirts of Mexico City.


*Frida was never able to have children due to the accident that nearly killed her. She had to have an abortion because she would not have survived the birth of a child.

Mexico City (El D.F.): Museo Nacional de Antropologia

One of the best museums I have ever visited. 45 pesos ($4.50 US). After my visit I read up on the museum some more and it turns out it is one of the premier anthropolgy museums in the world. The picture doesn’t do this fountain justice. With the sweetly scented breeze, sunshine and light filtering through the top, you have to physically restrain yourself from going to stand under it like a giant personal shower. I’m sure that is why they have guards, to keep people like me in check.