From Ruins to the Ring

Today started with us heading downstairs to the local coffee shop next door with the simple task of getting a donut. However, with most of our coins spent on metro fares and tips, all I had was a bill for 200 pesos to pay for our 10 peso breakfast. Not the way the woman behind the counter wanted to start her day I’m sure, as she gave us our large pile of change with a pinched face. I stopped feeling guilty several blocks later, but it’s been this kind of thing that makes me feel like a tourist, and then I remember that I am. On to the metro, which is outstanding here, by the way. I guess when you are the second (or third, depending which reference you read) largest city in the world, you’d better have an efficient metro system. Trains come every minute or so and the longest wait time to date has been maybe 3 minutes. I think we’re getting spoiled.

It took several transfers and a one-hour bus ride to get to our day trip to see the ruins of Teotihuacan, the ancient Aztec city. I remembered studying the Aztecs in 5th grade, and wondered if the group of elementary students we saw in their green plaid uniforms knew just how spectacular this field trip was. Between the two mile walk into the city, the almost vertical climb to the top of the temple, and the altitude itself, I was forced to stop and gasp for air at several points on the way up. Luckily, everyone around us was too, so maybe this was not as indicative of my being out of shape, as it was the nature of the climb. And it was worth every huff and puff. It’s impossible not to appreciate the workmanship and the grandeur of the site and what was once a city, and I tried hard to imagine what it would have been like in its glory.

For lunch, we tried the local market, had enchiladas verdes and enchiladas mole mainly by default, as they were again a few of the menu items we were able to decipher. We got a few looks of disdain mixed with humor from the couple seated across from us, but for the most part the majority of locals we’ve encountered have been patient and helpful, either through gesture, offer of pen and paper, or simply jumping in to translate. This being said, I can not wait until we start our Spanish immersion program in a couple of weeks.

This being a Friday night, Jeff took me out on a $3 date to the Coliseo Mexico for an evening of local entertainment. It was pretty much WWF Mexico style, with muscular, masked, spandex-clad athletes/actors throwing each other around the ring (and outside the ring), complete with taunting and crowd-pleasing acrobatics. I tried making the mental comparison between the Mexican wrestling heros, with names like Stuko and Mistiko, with their American counterparts (like the Undertaker and Jake the Snake Roberts…yeah, I know a little thing or two from back in the day!). The best part for me was seeing the local children walking around masked as their favorite characters. It was awesome to attend a local event and experience the culture in this way. The low point-seeing a midget in a blue, pink, and yellow monkey suit get beat up by one of the contenders and carried out of the ring. Overall, an entertaining night, but maybe not one that would warrant a second date.

Posted: January 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Mexico | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

30 Pesos

Cervaza!  Fresca!”  yelled a man a couple rows over.  “Coca-Cola, Cuanto?” I asked him, knowing that I wouldn’t understand his reply anyway.  He looked me over once, and decided to reply by putting up five fingers in one hand, and a fist in the other.   “No gracias.”  I refused to pay almost double our admission price for a soda.  The pricing seemed a little off, and I couldn’t stop mulling it over as we waited for the Lucha Libre to begin.

We were looking forward to seeing the luchadores flipping off the ropes in the matches known for their athleticism, and choreography.  And for certain, once it began there was no shortage of aerial attacks or creative counters which elicited the “ooo” and “ahh”s from the 15,000 Mexican fans…and us.   Well, actually my “ahhs” weren’t  on par with my fellow spectators, because for some reason I couldn’t get fully into it.  Even with the $4 I spent to rock my own  luchador mask. Maybe the feeling of something being a little off had  stayed with me.  But it wasn’t the vendor’s pricing.  I think it was not knowing what to quite make of this odd juxtaposition displayed in front of me.  The machismo of one-on-one combat, incredible athleticism and pain tolerance, bikini-clad women ushering them into the ring, and HGH grown muscles seemed somehow at odds with the bright colors and sequined masks, the effeminate names of some of the luchadores and the women wrestlers and their HGH grown muscles.

As I watched, Magenta Purpura won his match by disqualification because his opponent, Starman, had removed his mask. That’s when it became clear.  The arena.  The ring. These were places that demanded with its 30 pesos a ticket fee, you leave your preconceptions and gender roles at the gate (along with any cans or glass bottles).  And instead, just enjoy the moment, the wrestling moves, the spandex.  It’s the suspension of outside influences. That’s why within the gates they didn’t allow cameras.  That’s the reason for the masks and why Magenta Purpura’s mask being pulled off was such a big deal.  It was the equivalent to the wizard’s curtain being pulled back.

So by the time Lady Apache entered the ring to Cher’s “Do You Believe?”  I had accepted the realization as truth,   and when Euforia back flipped off of the high rope pinning his opponent and whipping the crowd into a frenzy, I was fully with them, ooo-ing away as I peered at the ring through the two cut out holes of  my luchador mask.

Posted: January 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Mexico | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »


If necessity is the mother of invention, then hunger is at least the distant cousin of adventure.  We’ve aimed to experience and eat the local foods, which is great in concept but more difficult in practice since neither one of us speaks Spanish.  So we’ve been randomly picking items off the menu that sound appetizing.  Based on what, who knows?  To date, at the time of order the translation of what I’ve asked for is “something something cheese” and “something something and one Coke.” Everything (or is it every something?) has luckily been amazing so far.  And so it will continue.  For the next year, we’ll embrace the feeling that we’re spinning the wheel at Polly Anne’s Ice Cream Parlor and see where the dial lands.

Posted: January 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Mexico | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Day One

My first official blog entry, on our very first night on the road…and I have such a mix of emotions, I don’t know how to begin. But before I dive in, a big thank you shout out to Laurie and Vicki for their awesome job at designing and programming this blogsite and getting it up and running. Now you can get a decent night’s sleep and go back to concentrating on your real jobs and lives! We totally owe you (as does everyone else who decides they want to follow us along on this adventure).

As I have been telling anyone who has asked how the last few weeks have been, it’s been NUTS. I mean really. How do you prepare for a whole year away (refer to sidebar link for answer)? It’s funny how we had all this time to prepare and yet, when the weeks started ticking down to days, our to-do list only kept getting longer and longer. I found myself trying to pack more into each day than was actually possible, and stressing out in the process. Maybe this was a good thing, because I was too busy to actually think and process and let the enormity of this journey really sink in. Well, let me tell you that sometime between last night and tonight, the sinking in has begun. Right now my tear tally is up somewhere in the high teens. Don’t get me wrong—this is no pity party. It’s just that everything I had verbalized and rationalized (that this is not a vacation, that I won’t know the meaning of a comfort zone, all the missed birthdays, weddings, and quality time with family and friends, plus not to mention all the scary things that could happen)—they all hit like one big emotional tidal wave. I don’t know…I guess I’d been keeping them at bay, with some ebbing and flowing as the date got closer. But boy, low tide came at the airport, and high tide came while waiting at the gate (…and while taxiing the runway…and upon take-off), and I’m sure a few more to come. I am just trying to remain mindful of the fact that people learn through doing. And despite my fears and lack of experience, I am excited to see, learn, feel, and experience some of what the world has to offer and come home with a renewed perspective and appreciation for my part in it.

We arrived in Mexico City early this evening (after a delayed stopover in LA). First travel lesson learned: when announcement is made asking passengers to be bumped to another flight, act faster!! Got to hostel without a problem. Not bad digs at all.  Awesome view from balcony at twilight. Walked around and had a delicious dinner (pechuga—note: must look this up, appeared the same as a chicken taco to me) for $3 total. Yay for free wifi in lobby (not ready to be completely cut off just yet)!!

Posted: January 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Mexico | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »