17 September 2014

Independence Day Charreria

There was a lot going on around during for Independence Day and different people in the family did different things.  I didn't make it to the charreria, but my husband and two sons did.








14 September 2014

Moctezuma Uruapan Chocolate

Some friends gave us a package of Moctezuma chocolate a few months ago and I've been waiting for some cooler weather to make some hot chocolate.  It wasn't exactly cool today, but it was cloudy and rainy and cooler than usual.  And I've been making applesauce so the house smells like fall and that makes me feel cooler too.

Anyway.  He gave us darker Moctezuma Uruapan chocolate and it's quite delicious, although a lot less sweet than regular table chocolate and not such a hit with the boys.  But that means more for me.

I'm pretty sure it would be a worthwhile project to test all the different table chocolates we can find this winter.

Stations of the Cross at the Capilla del Antiguo Hospital de Indios

I loved the stations of the cross at this church.  They were high and difficult to photograph.






13 September 2014

12 September 2014

Independence Day

We just missed Independence Day last year and it's likely we'll leave just before it next year, so this is our one chance to be here for the holiday on the 16th.  There are more fireworks every night as it gets closer and more flags sprouting up everywhere.  We're aware of events starting tonight and continuing on till Tuesday.  And I'm hearing stories about lots and lots of good Mexican food.  I'm thinking this is going to be a good one.

Odds and Ends

Warning to my spider-hating sister.  You might want to skip this one.  Or just the photo at the end.  The rest is not scary.

My youngest son who goes to school leaves 45 minutes earlier this year than last year.  I don't really like it.  It's the first time I've ever had to consistently wake a child up and it just feels wrong.  But it is nice to have his carpool come at 7:30 so I can get the cleaning for the day out of the way by 8.  Because if I don't clean a little every day, this house takes over my life.

Actually, I am waking up the older two boys too, but that's not till 9.  I feel no guilt waking people up at 9 even if I wish I could let them sleep as long as they wanted.  But we tried that last year it didn't work.  And both have a lot more work this year.

Today's new thing at the tianguis will hopefully be fresh mint.  It's not technically new, but since I haven't tried to buy it here before, it counts.  I really want these kebabs for dinner.

I cannot understand why we don't have more bugs in our house.  There are cracks and gaps everywhere that bugs can crawl through, but they don't.  All my neighbors have bugs and spray for them, but not us.  I'm wondering if the previous tenants did some super spray, but it's been over a year and it couldn't last that long.

But I did bring in a spider with the sheets yesterday from the line.  I had to find a quarter since I didn't think people would know the size of a 10 peso coin. I'm pretty sure it's a harmless Green Lynx spider.  From what I could find, this one was unusually large.



11 September 2014

Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats (if you use old-fashioned oats, soak them for a while in the milk)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder or 3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or 1 cup water and 1/4 cup regular powdered milk (or 1/3 cup instant)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Combine the dry ingredients then stir in the wet ones. Bake at 200/400 for about 15 minutes. If you use powdered milk, add it to the dry ingredients and mix before adding the water, oil and egg.
I miss laghman.


10 September 2014

Since I'm a firm believer that I have to spend at least two hours a day to make it worth studying a language, that's what I'm doing with Arabic now.  Two hours is a big chunk of time to devote to something each day when you're also homeschooling two children in high school, still learning about Mexico (even if I'm not doing Spanish) and doing all the other things I have to do (like cleaning this house).  So blogging doesn't seem to be happening.  It also makes me glad I didn't do this with Spanish.

I was told today by my Arabic teacher that the Levantine Arabic I speak will be understood in Riyadh.  If that's the case, I'm saved.

It would be lovely if there were a way to see into the future to know if a language were worth learning.

05 September 2014

Queso Chiapas

This week's new thing is queso chiapas.  There's a dairy truck that's often across the street and since I was on that side of the road (it's a 6-lane road, so I don't usually just wander down that side, but the bakery with the ham and cheese and raspberry and cheese pastries is on that side of the road and it was calling me today), I was reading the sign and saw queso chiapas.  It's not cheap, but I tried it and bought a hunk and we'll figure out some good ways to eat it.

It's Santa Cruz brand and is a very rich and dry cream cheese.  It's also fairly sharp.  I don't think I've ever had anything quite like it before so I can't compare it to anything and I'm having trouble finding much out about it.



04 September 2014

Secret Daughter

I had a couple of hours today to sit and read while I was waiting for someone and picked this one up. It's a quick read and I generally liked it.

I didn't love most of the characters.  Somer was boring and irritating, Krishnan was just boring, Asha improved as the book went on, and we didn't get anywhere near enough of Kavita and Jasu. And the plot skimmed over a lot of sticky points, especially in India.

It would be a good one for a book group, if I ever get to go to one again.

03 September 2014

Western Mexico (sort of) Archaeological Sites

We visited as many INAH sites as we could around the DF, but there just aren't as many in this part of Mexico.  But here's what we can do, except for ones in Michoacan and Zacatecas.  I really want to go to La Quemada at least, but as of right now we're not allowed to drive there.  I'm going to have to keep an eye on the rules.  I don't think we'll get lucky enough that we can go to Michoacan sites.

Guadalajara:

El Grillo and Ixtepete are both off the pereferico on this side of town.  They'll be easy Sunday afternoon trips, or maybe even weekday ones. Also, it looks like El Diente has something to see.  The boys go out there for rock climbing, so maybe I'll tag along sometime.

That's it for Jalisco, except for Guachimontones.

Nayarit:

Ixtlan del Rio is just past Jalisco on the toll road going past Tequila.  It takes less than two hours to get there and is an easy drive.

Colima:

El Chanal and La Campana are both near Colima.  We've been planning to do a weekend trip there where we can see these sites and climb the volcano. It's about 2.5 hours to Colima.

Guanajuato:

These are further away, generally 3-4 hours depending on how far out of the way we have to go to avoid Michoacan.  We've been to Canada de la Virgin and I want to see Plazuelas, Peralta, and El Coporo.


Queretaro:

This isn't in western Mexico, but El Cerrito is near Queretaro and I hope we get to visit Queretaro someday instead of just driving though it.



02 September 2014

Water

There are good things and bad things about being the type of expats we are now. I'll spare you the rehash of that, but one really good thing that I've been reminded of the last few days is that we're lucky to have reliable water in this house.  The house came with a cistern and pump so we'd always have water, no matter whether we should have had water.  The pump was broken this weekend so we saw how often the city water was off. It was never enough to be a problem, but it was always enough to make me glad I keep water in the pantry.

Dealing with the water when we lived in Tokmok was one of the hardest things about living there.  Having reliable water in all parts of the house as an expat is amazing.  And not fair, since everyone else has to deal with the water problems. It makes such a difference if you know when you'll have water.

On Telling People We're Moving to Saudi Arabia

I knew when we found out that we were moving to Saudi that I'd have a lot of questions to answer about it.  But I didn't realize how conflicted I'd feel about those questions.

My first problem is that I'm delighted to be moving there and almost no one else thinks I should be.  People think I'm being sarcastic or quite possibly crazy which isn't a good start to the conversation. Then we move on to the stereotypes about living in Muslim countries that I have to shoot down. Kyrgyzstan is a Muslim country too, you know.

The trouble with Saudi is that a lot of those stereotypes about Islam are true.  Women do have many fewer rights in Saudi, they can't drive, they can't even pay the phone bill by themselves.  There are many rules about their clothing.  The penal system is often cruel.  The interpretation of Islam that is most prevalent in the country is often extreme.  There are a lot of things I can't and won't defend about Saudi.

But I can't defend everything about any country, and I hate it when people just bring up the negative stuff about Kyrgyzstan, or want to rehash every horrible thing the US has done.  Saudi Arabia is a lot more than abayas and hot weather and I'm looking forward to so much, like the diversity of the city; seeing old friends; trying new food; enjoying the weather half the year; visiting Jerusalem, Cairo, and other places in the Middle East; speaking Arabic again; seeing how Islam works in a much more conservative Muslim country than we've lived in before; and just learning how to live in another country again.



01 September 2014

Tequila

We had to drop some friends off in Tequila on Saturday, and since you can't just drop off friends in a town like Tequila, we spent the day too.  I haven't sorted out the photos yet, but we wandered around the center a bit and ate birria, toured the Cofradia distillery (which cost a lot more than the internet said it would, but it was still worth it), and climbed the Tequila volcano.  Because it's there.

Tequila did feel pretty touristy in comparison to other Mexican towns we've been in.  I don't need to go back, but I wouldn't have missed it.

31 August 2014

Stealth Mosques

We found two mosques in DF.  Neither is very noticeable (I still think it's ironic that the churches here often have more traditionally Islamic elements in them than the mosques do), but they're there.

I can't find the photos of the second mosque, so these are from just one.



30 August 2014

Sinking DF

Mexico City is noticeably sinking wherever you look, but it's most noticeable in the old, heavy churches.  And they don't always sink nearly.  The old Basilica in the second photos leans toward one corner (and you go uphill inside the church).  The two photos at the end show a church whose foundation had to be dug out- at least eight feet's worth of dirt.  And they're keeping track of the tilt inside the church.








29 August 2014

Teotenango

This site is a little different from the others we visited because it's not run by INAH, but by the Mexican Institute of Culture.  It's not quite as protected and we were allowed to explore whatever we liked at our own risk.  It's a large but simple site and we loved it.

It closes at 5 and we got there at 4:10.  The ticket seller told us that we wouldn't have time to go up since they make everyone leave at 4:30 (he really didn't want us to go up), but we went anyway.  It was a quick climb up the hill and no one told us to go down and we left a little after 5 ahead of another group.  The ticket guy was gone so I'm not quite sure what the problem was.

This is only about an hour from DF and I think it would make a great, low stress day trip.










28 August 2014

Xochicalco

On Saturday we did one last pyramid fest and went to Xochicalco and Teotenango.  We drove right by Malinalco, but didn't have time to stop there too.  From what we could tell, it's a smaller site than Teotenango, but it gets a lot more attention because Malinalco is a Pueblo Magico.  We visited some sites that get no press and were hard to find, but were still wonderful.  The ones that get attention and signs were amazing too, but there are major differences in advertising and that's not the way to figure out what's worth visiting.

Xochicalco is a World Heritage Site and about 2 hours from DF.  It doesn't quite have the same grandeur as Teotihuacan, but the site is much more compact which makes it easier to explore.  And there were still some very impressive things there.  We didn't see anything while were in DF this time that would displace Teotihuacan as the pyramid site to see if you visit DF, but that doesn't mean that all the rest are boring.  Far from it.

Anyway.  We did a big loop, heading south out of DF toward Cuernavaca.  DF is about 2250 meters in elevation, so we just rode down the road the entire way there.  I don't think I've ever gone downhill for so long and we ended up at Xochicalco and 1000 meters in elevation.  The climate was noticeably different with new flowers, iguanas, and so many butterflies.

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent was the most amazing part of the site.  There also is an observatory with a chimney that allows the sun to fall directly into the cave for a day or two in the middle of May and again at the end of July.  Sunlight shines in the cave from the end of April to the middle of August so we should have gone the first week we were there, but you can't do everything.

There's a good museum at the site.  Also, there's not much climbing allowed here, probably less than any other place we visited.














27 August 2014

The Book of Life

I almost never get excited about a soon-to-be-released movie, and I don't know if I've ever posted about one, but I'm really hoping I can figure out a way to see The Book of Life in a theater in English.  Actually, I think I'd be happy to see this in Spanish too, but English is always nice.  Actually, I just watched the Spanish trailer and it's a little different. And a little more Mexico.

Anyway.  I may make it to a theater while I'm here.