It's been exactly 11 years since my arrival in Mexico. Don't the years fly by? I had no idea then that I would end up staying here for so long.
Before coming here I had decided to write a blog - a kind of mixture of travelogue and food journal. Discovering the local food - dishes I'd never heard of or tasted before - was one of the most exciting things for me when I first came here! The blog was called "Menu del Día" and subtitled "Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry" and I kept it up - a little sporadically- for about two years, although I think the only people who read it were my parents.
The blog doesn't exist anymore - the host stopped running a free service - but I made a back-up copy and I thought I would share a selection of my first few entries from 2004 as a sort of conmemoration of my 11th anniversary in Mexico!
Feb 6 2004
tacos con from a van on the plaza
I'm in San Luis Potosi, in the northeast/centre of Mexico, soaking up the warm sun. How did I get here?
All the way from New York on the bus. Am I completely mad? Quite likely. Memorable highlights of that unrepeatable journey include eating the most disgusting hamburger ever in Alabama, a strange guy trying to convince me that both George are really German and secretly trying to destroy America, feeling the sun in New Orleans, crossing lots of water and miles of marshes in Louisiana, dawn near the Texan border (looked just like it should), arriving in Mexico and holding a rational conversation. Views of Mexico between dozes: cactus trees, mountains, a Beetle full of men in white cowboy hats, donkeys and horses, people living in shacks by the road selling animal skins. Long stretches with no sign of but the road.
I was so happy to finally reach a bed.
Feb 7 2004
(little stuffed tortillas), papaya with , salt and lime
Yesterday was hot, today is cold. Last night on the Plaza de I came across several old couples dancing to merengue and rock n roll in the middle of a big circle of spectators. They looked very serious about it.
This afternoon I discovered a covered market packed with stalls selling vegetables (including flat, prickly cactus leaves), fruit, baskets, pottery, lots of intriguing sweets - I tried a few and was tempted into buying a piece of a sweet made from pumpkin. There were bins of herbs and spices, a box of saffron roots and endless piles of dried in different sizes and shades of dark red. Around the market, the streets lined with brightly painted shop fronts bustled with Saturday shoppers. Little carts were selling fried tortillas with sauce, or corn cobs, more stalls sold clothes and pirate . Sounds of music were everywhere, and, every so often, the sizzle of tacos or cooking. In one place, about 20 men were sitting with ancient sewing machines mending soles.
Feb 11 2004
Entertainment on the buses: a man with a guitar and a powerful voice singing ballads; 2 clowns, one at the front, one at the back of the bus performed a routine of jokes which half understood. They have to ask permission from the driver before they can climb on, they do their routine or sing a few songs, collect coins from the passengers then jump off and move on to the next bus.
I moved into a casa de yesterday. On Monday I went to see 2 that were advertised in the newspaper. It’s basically like renting a room in a family house, except where I am it’s completely separate from the family and has more of a halls of residence feel about it. There’s a communal kitchen and bathroom, and several other girls living there. It’s cheap, clean and in a great area, about halfway between the city and the school, in walking distance of both. The barrio is called (try saying that quickly), and only a couple of blocks away there’s a garden with fountains, palm trees and benches (and pigeons, of course).
Feb 16 2004
(a flat tortilla with dripping with frijoles, cheese and cream)
I kept seeing women carrying huge bouquets of flowers on Friday. They really celebrate San Valentin here. The full works involves being serenaded by a mariachi band, apparently.
It rained for the first time since I've been here, and lots of students didn't come to class. I can’t see that working as an excuse back in England!
Feb 17 2004
On Sunday I took a trip to a little pueblo called Santa Maria del Rio, a short bus ride away through an impressive arid landscape of , cactus and little mesquite trees, surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Madre. The village is famous for its - traditional shawls - which are supposedly the best in the country.
There was a busy market with piles of dried beans and along the ground, men in their cowboy hats, women sitting around a pot of , a type of cactus, scraping the spines off the leaves. There were stands, with different fillings in blue pots lined up along the tables. I tried a de ; chopped up small they look a bit like green beans and taste similar, and one of a cooked cow’s blood mixture, very picante.
Feb 19 2004
tacos rojos, de olla
People notice that I speak Spanish with a European accent, rather than a Mexican one, but I’ve already started adapting to the way they talk here. I’ve begun to drop the Spanish lisp (they find that funny), and use Mexican words. Sometimes I get a blank look and realize that I’m using Spanish words that don’t exist here. Or mean something different.
I like the phrase " padre" - cool, great ( literally translated: how father!). But "" is negative: if you're a persona de (a great person), you are "de " (of very little mother!).
I'm thinking of posting the rest of the blog, as well as the "glossary gastronomica" to explain a bit more about the different foods, so if you're interested in reading more, it'll be here shortly...