03 September 2015

Dear Mexico

Almost two years ago I wrote you a letter apologizing for not wanting to move here.  I was so wrong for hesitating to come.  I have had the most amazing two years here and now it's ending.

I'm getting on an airplane today that takes me away from you and even though I hope I'll get to come back someday, at least for a visit, I don't know if I'll actually be able to.  It wasn't all perfect here, but the things I didn't love weren't your fault (the only exception would be the mosquito and jejene bites). And, just like I predicted in that letter, I am going to miss you forever.

I am going to miss everything about you.  I will miss the thunderstorms in the summer that light up the sky and turn the roads outside to rivers and pounded on the skylights.  I will miss buying tamales on the street corner.  I will miss climbing pyramids. I will miss people who are endlessly patient with my Spanish and who are always willing stop to help complete strangers get out of really big messes.  I will miss your street art and fine art.  I will miss your mariachis and Zeta gas jingles.  I will miss your fiestas and danzas, your pilgrimages and pinatas.  I will miss Mexico DF and Morelia, Guanajuato and San Blas, Campeche and Santa Elena.  I will miss exploring everywhere we could.  I will miss meeting members of the church in five different states and hearing their stories.  I will miss your food forever.

There is so much here that I ran out time for.  Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, El Tajin, Oaxaca, so many interviews, hot air balloon festivals, bird watching, whale sighting and more.  I could live here forever and never get bored. But I also saw and did so much while we were here and I know that when another plane takes me to Riyadh in a few months, I'll dig in deeply there too.  Even though I always have to keep leaving, I'm always arriving and discovering a new place.

Thank you for letting me visit, dear Mexico, and hasta luego.

01 September 2015

La Luz del Mundo

My husband had been wanting to see this church the entire time we've been here since it's a big building and he likes big buildings so we finally stopped on the way out to Tepa.  It was a big day there since it was the Sunday after the biggest holy day of the year for the church.





31 August 2015

Tepatitlan

This was another quick visit for an interview to a town about an hour outside Guadalajara.  I liked and I think it would make a pleasant day trip.  There's a lot of history here surrounding the Cristero War.

There was a little market in the plaza where they were selling stuff that was more like what you see on Chapultepec than in a tianguis and the church was doing a fundraiser so we got tamales and enchiladas and there.






30 August 2015

Autlan

We did a quick trip to Autlan a few weeks ago.  It's not a place that you must visit, but I liked the town and we had a nice stay.  We didn't get a lot photos.

The brakes started to sound awful on the way home so we stopped in Cocula to get them fixed.  It's supposed to be the birthplace of mariachi.  We ate lunch while we were waiting and it was awful.  I have now eaten exactly three awful meals in Mexico- this one in Cocula and two at Chichen Itza.





29 August 2015

Tonala

We had no car, but we had the time and inclination to go to Tonala once more, so we took a taxi there today and had a suprisingly successful time shopping.  We forgot the camera, unfortunately, but at least no one had to carry it around.  I finally got some dishes and some more papal picado.  And we went to two more mask makers and got two more masks.  I'll have to post photos later.

And we stopped for birria and I had my last coconut ice cream cone in Mexico.

26 August 2015

The Language of the Heart

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

I really love this quote by Nelson Mandela, and I think it goes in two different directions.  First, if you want to communicate most effectively with others, learn their language of the heart.  I'm not saying you can do to this all the time (I fizzled out with Spanish after doing Arabic and Russian), but it makes a difference.  Learn the language if you can but be realistic.

Second, second languages can never replace native languages.  I think this is especially important in teaching the gospel and even though we can hope people learn new languages and are able communicate in non-native languages, people need to be able to pray, read the scriptures, and teach in the language of their heart.

Sometimes people's language of the heart changes.  But not very often.  We need to respect that language more.

24 August 2015

Finishing with the House

So we've packed up our stuff and I'm cleaning the house now and we're wrapping things up here.  I'm behind on blogging since I haven't done some trips we took or any books for a long time but I don't know if I'll fix that anytime soon.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about the awfulness of leaving Mexico, but there is exactly one good thing about leaving Mexico.  I will never, ever live in this house again.  Every single room I finish cleaning forever feels wonderful.  I hated this house with every fiber of my being at worst and we had an uneasy truce at best.

For the record, I did like all the windows and I liked the kitchen. Also, I came to terms with the tile.  There's still way too much of it, but it doesn't bother me now like it did at first.  That's probably because I decided that dust mopping was the best it was going to get most of the time.  Just like my mother always says, it takes as long to vacuum (or mop) if it's been one day since you did it last or 1 month.  I don't let it get sticky or dusty, but I can live with most everything else.

Anyway.  It really was three things that came together to drive me nuts.  First, six bathrooms all with glass showers.  Second, I can't stand to have someone in the house with me for 20 hours a week and this house was much too big to keep clean without someone spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning it (and I was in no way willing to be that person).  Third, it honestly feels immoral for me to live in a house this large, especially in Mexico.  And I had no say in where we lived.

It was hard to live in the house in Tokmok and some days in that house were really hard.  But there were things I liked about the house and I felt lucky to have gas heat and a water heater in the bathroom and that wonderful washing machine. Also, I chose to live there and we could leave if we couldn't deal with it.  This house, for utterly opposite reasons, ground me down.  Both houses demanded far too much of my time to keep them going and that's not sustainable for me.

Sometimes I almost cry tears of joy when I think about moving into an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  I don't need the second bathroom, but it is so much better than 6.


17 August 2015

Churros Gordos from Los Altos de Jalisco

I think I have finally solved the mystery of the delicious churros we've found in the eastern side of Guadalajara.  They're usually filled and rolled in canela which is way too sweet for me, but they're perfect when they're hot and rolled in canela.  I know they're name, where they come from, and how to make them.

Video from an Atotonilco stand with really different churros
Video from Ocotlan, which is on the north side of Chapala near the Michoacan border
Tlaquepaque article

As usual, the information I needed was online but I didn't know what to search for.  But once we'd asked enough questions in enough different places, I got what I needed.

16 August 2015

Tastoan Mask Maker

We were lucky enough to find Jesus Delgado in Tonala.  He has been making masks for decades and was happy to tell us about them.  We talked to him for more than an hour and he told us about the dance and the masks.  He showed us some older masks (one is in the second photo) too.  We also bought a mask from him that I love.  And my son loved playing with his grandson and the last photo is of the two of them.








15 August 2015

Women's Dance of the Tastoanes in Tonala

When I saw that Tonala does a women's Dance of the Tastoanes, I was intrigued.  We saw little girls participating in San Jan de Ocotan but certainly no women doing it anywhere.  We didn't stay to watch all of it, mostly because we couldn't see very well, but it was definitely worth going.
















A Boring Post that Can't Get Lost in a Move

Silverware holder
Laundry baskets
Broom and dust pan
Garbage cans




Laundry racks
Shoe rack
Better steam mop
Iron
Ironing board

14 August 2015

Museo Regional Tonallan

My husband was really determined to find this mask display so we returned to the second place we'd tried and asked again, and there they were.  I don't know if we didn't ask the right questions the first time, but it all worked out.  These weren't really on display and might have been stored there while the awards ceremony was going on.  Either way, they let us into the rooms they were in.  There were a lot more than this!

In the last photo, you can see the sign for the museum has Santiago fighting a Tastoan.








13 August 2015

Tianguis Choices

Another reason to go to the Monday and Friday tianguis is for the salsa and masa people. You can sit down and eat tacos with different salsas, get sopes, or buy gorditas (except that they're not called that here and I can't remember the right name) filled with lots of different options- mushorooms, rajas, cheese, chorizo, potato, and so much more. They have at least eight different salsas. Three are green- really spicy serrano, mild tomatillo, and my favorite one which is between the two with tomatillos and serranos and plenty of cilantro and onion. There are several ancho or other dried chile-based salsas, and several tomato ones. My favorite is salsa roja with arbol chiles. In my opinion this is the best place to get salsa ever. The small containers are 15 pesos and the 1/2 liter containers are 25.

Museo Nacional de la CerĂ¡mica

When we arrived at the museum that we'd been directed to on our mask hunt, they told us that they didn't have masks and sent us on to the Museo Nacional de la CerĂ¡mica.  That one does have masks, but it's a permanent display which we'd seen before and not the display we were looking for.  But now that we know more about the masks and their significance, we got more photos.  I don't think I posted any when we went before.

You can see in this and all the other Tonala photos that the Tonala masks are again quite different from anywhere else.

The people at this museum told us to go back to the one we'd been at before.  I was skeptical.

On the way back, we ran into a couple of girls getting ready for the dance.








12 August 2015

Jocoque

So this isn't street food since it's just an ingredient, but the best place I've found to get jocoque is in the Monday and Friday tianguis from Chava's stand. He has lots of different dairy products that are good, but this is the only place I've found that sells jocoque from a bucket. I love it. On Monday is stand is the first dairy stand (next to the first fish stand) on the right if you're entering from the west end of the tianguis. On Friday he's the first dairy stand on the west end, next to one of the last produce stands. Or you can ask for Chava.

You can techinically buy jocoque in the grocery store, but that's boring.

Palacio Municipal Tonala

Our first stop in our hunt for the mask display was the Palacio Municipal because that's where the flyer I'd seen said to go.  But it turned out that there was an awards ceremony for a ceramics thing in Mexico and the masks weren't there.  They told us where to go instead, but it was nice to finally go inside this building because we hadn't been able to before.