31 October 2013


That's the hibiscus drink, not the country, and it's pronounced ha-my-kah. We had similar drinks in the Middle East and since I love jamaica and since it's easy to get dried hibiscus flowers here, I make it so I don't have to buy it all the time.  It's also nice to make it yourself so you can add as much sugar as you like. You can get the flowers at Latin groceries if you're stuck in the US. This is hardly a recipe, but still.

Here's what I do right now. I'll probably adjust things later.

6 cups boiling water
3/4 cup dried hibiscus blossoms, packed 
1/2 cup or less sugar
Juice of one small lime

Steep the flowers in the hot water with the sugar so it dissolves.  After about 10 minutes, strain the flowers out and add the lime juice.  Chill and serve.

29 October 2013

Small Quirks

We've lived in lots of different houses and it's always an adventure to find out what's quirky about each.  Some of those quirks are dangerous, a challenge, a minor irritation, or an adventure. This house's quirks fall into the minor irritation (or just bemusement, which I have never used in a sentence I don't think), at least so far.

I have to go out the front door to get to the laundry room.  It's sort of odd carrying the laundry outside, especially in this neighborhood (even the back door would be less weird), but it all gets clean in the end.

There's an odd pipe in one of the rooms downstairs.  It looks exactly like a drainage pipe, but who drains the roof into the guest room?  Apparently this house does.  We had a huge storm last night (really, it was wonderful) and this morning there was a small pool of water under the pipe.

There was a much larger pool of water in the laundry room.  The whole thing was entirely flooded, and it wasn't a clogged drain.  There wasn't anywhere for the water to go.  So I moved the stored luggage into the shower that never gets used and it can flood all it wants because it's just tile.

Speaking of the tile, that's probably a major irritation.  I will never, ever install all white tile in any house I build.  And I still of 23 more months of mopping it. And if we live in Latin America again someday, I'll probably get the tile back.

This hasn't been a problem yet, but I've been warned to run water down our many unused drains to get rid of roaches.  This always makes me want to sing the "La Cucaracha" song when I'm turning on the water.  Also, I've been warned the pilot light on the water heater goes out when it's windy.  But that's better than our neighbors whose pilot light goes out when it rains because the water heater is on the roof.

But it really is a lovely house in nearly every way.  It's been years since we had plenty of space for everything and everyone.

28 October 2013


Marigolds are for sale all over the city this week for the Day of the Dead.  People use them to decorate their altars, make arches over the altars, and to make other designs.  Everyone in my youngest's school class took a pot of them today to decorate the altar they're making in the classroom.

Cempasuchil is the name for the flowers here and it comes from the Nahautl word for them. They've been used as part of observances for the dead for a very long time.

Guadalajara isn't the best place to see many Day of the Dead traditions, but because of work schedules and other restrictions, we aren't going to be able to go anywhere else this year.  But it's still an important holiday here and I'm enjoying seeing what's happening.

Next year in the Yucatan!

26 October 2013

25 October 2013

Not Being Trusted

The story this week about the little Roma girl in Greece has been fascinating to watch.  If only I'd posted about it earlier this week, I could have said I told you so today because the story is playing out in the most logical and expected way, even if the media loved creating more sinister motives and dredging up old stereotypes.

It is very unfortunate that so many jumped to the conclusion that the Roma family from Greek had kidnapped the blond little girl, or that they were part of some sex trafficking ring, or whatever.  It's awfully difficult to think that racism wasn't involved in some way.  The parents' story made sense from the beginning, and, like I said, was logical, but no, we had to come up with all sorts of crazy explanations. 

This all doesn't mean that this story is over, or that everything is okay.  But there are larger problems we should be paying attention to.  What are we doing to help Roma families with many children who are living in desperate circumstances like the family from Bulgaria? Why do Roma families avoid state legal systems and what can we do to give them better access to legal protection?  Of course there are many people already working on these problems, but the reporting this week was so sensational that we couldn't even get to these questions.

And they're really difficult questions to deal with.  Any group who feels marginalized legally, socially, religiously, or whatever isn't going to trust the system.  It's been so clearly shown this week that Rom aren't trusted, so why should they trust anyone else?

24 October 2013

Day of the Dead Decor

We couldn't go to the Day of the Dead market without buying a few things, could we? One doubles as a Christmas ornament (really), the two skulls have candles inside (so awesome), and even though I don't think the corn husk guy is tough enough to survive many moves, he doesn't look totally creepy so he can stay out the rest of the year.

23 October 2013

More Feria de Carton

One of my favorite things at the market were the the skeletons doing their jobs.

22 October 2013

More Churches

Food, Again

So after being in Mexico for a few weeks I'm realizing that I was really determined to love Kyrgyzstan.  And everyone should love Central Asia, but it's sure a lot easier to love Mexico. Here are a few more reasons.

Tamales.  I've always loved tamales, but they're better here.  I also tried Oaxaca tamales (but they're also made this way in other parts of southern Mexico) wrapped in banana leaves which were much more moist.  There's a woman near our house who sells tamales every night and I can't decide which kind is my favorite, except I haven't been brave enough to try the sweet ones with pineapple or strawberries.

Gorditas de nata.  Nata is clotted cream (although I'm not convinced that these are actually made with clotted cream instead of regular cream or milk or butter) and these are a little like Mormon scones.  They're especially good hot off the comal.  Lots of people were selling them at Morelos Park.  They'd also make good soul cakes.

Champurrado.  This is the chocolatey drink I had after the Romeria with my tamales.  And it's popular around the Day of the Dead and Los Posadas, so I'll get it again soon. I also had a different chocolatey drink today made with milk.  It was sort of like a Frosty. I don't think it was really Mexican, but it was good.

Tianguis.  One tianguis, two tianguis, many tianguis.  I'm talking about many of them because I can go three days a week to these markets and get almost everything I need.  There are potted plants, fish, chicken, produce, tacos, tortillas, stuff that's like dulce de leche, salsas, lime presses, and a bazillion other things I haven't tried yet.  This is the best incentive for speaking Spanish better.

And the milk I was always, always trying to find in Kyrgyzstan?  I can buy it at any old store.

Feria de Carton

Morelos Park has a lot of stands set up around the edges and for the last half of October, they sell a lot of Day of the Dead stuff.  Since I think the Day of the Dead is an amazing holiday, we went last weekend and are going once more before November 2.  Here's a little of what we saw.