Friday, June 30, 2006

I miss my iPod

It´s official, I am an addict. I walk down the street wishing I could spin that little wheel and change the soundtrack of my day. Wouldn´t Lila Downs have been divine in the Frida Kahlo house? How about `red army blues´ by the Waterboys in Leon Trotsky´s depressing fortress? I´m in an internet cafe now and listening to U2. I am overwhelmed with a desire to listen to nothing but Bono for the next week. But my iPod is gone. Enjoy it, asshole, enjoy it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Viva la Vida!

Greetings from Mexico City! I am finally on vacation- (then why are you on the computer? you ask) (Well, I want to use the blog as my travel journal, i respond lamely. Plus there is a computer right in the living room and I can sit on the balcony of this courtyard and catch up with you...)

The morning yesterday was a blur - the taxi company didn't come when I called them, I work up late, ran around like a crazy person, and then sat, stunned, in National airport at 5am wondering when the vacation would start. I watched "Eight Degrees Below" - a sappy movie about dogs being left behind in Antartica. And, like I did during the preview, cried throughout it. Those sweet noble dogs! I got into Mexico City airport and everything still felt surreal. Then when the taxi pulled out - I started to perk up. I'm in Mexico! I love latin america! the smells, the sounds, the sights, everything reminds me of Guatemala and I love it so. I never have this feeling when I arrive in Africa (but of course, I'm arriving in war zones... ). Anyway, I think I'm going to enjoy my vacation.

Yesterday, I went down to the "Zocalo" - the giant square in front of the Presidential palace - it's the largest in the world, second only to Red Square in Moscow. The buildings hre are beautiful! All colonial Spanish. The Zocalo has the biggest flag of Mexico that I have ever seen. Bigger than the one in Tijuana. They love that flag! I am staying with Bridget Moix, a former colleague. She's a quaker and we used to do peacekeeping work together but I didn't know her very well. Out of the kindness of her heart, she and her husband Alberto, invited me to stay with them in Mexico City. She's currently managing the Quaker guesthouse here but insisted I stay with them. And boy am I glad I did!

Their apartment is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what a house in Mexico city should look like (to me, anyway). It's in a courtyard which two other apartments that their cousins live in share with them and its painted yellow. You come up a flight of stairs that are made out of lovely granite slabs with creamy walls and turn a narrow corner into the apartment - the kitchen is all tiles and plants with a beautiful little garden of cacti and ficus behind a wrought iron wall with glass bricks behind them. That's one wall of the kitchen. There are exposed beams throughout the house and tile and caramel colored wood everywhere. The dining room and living room open up into a small balcony.

Upstairs, they have a bedroom with a swinging window/door (hard to explain) that opens up into a small courtyard. The shower also overlooks the courtyard. Everything is so lovely.

Last night, we went to a 'taqueria' in Condesa where we had pork and pineapple tacos (sounds gross but was delicious)for about 10 cents each. As you finish them, the man puts a new one on your plate freshly made until you tell him to stop. I ate way more than I thought I could handle and had a "Victoria" beer - a little heavier than Corona but not a dark beer like Negro Modelo. Just right! Then we walked through the tree lined streets and got some gelato... I had dulce de leche y queso - basically a cheescake and caramel flavor. DELICOUS!

Right now, I'm drinking coffee on the balcony listening to the birds. Today, I'm going to go see the Diego Rivera murals and possibly the Templa Mayor - the ruins of the giant Aztec temple that they built a cathedral over in downton MC. It's amazing to see the meld of Aztec and Colonialism here - you never really got the feeling in Guatemala of the 'conquest' but here, it is all around. Plus I love the fact that everything is named after the REVOLUTION! Insurgents! Patriotismo!

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Greetings from Mexico City!

Greetings from Mexico City! I am finally on vacation- (then why are you on the computer? you ask) (Well, I want to use the blog as my travel journal, i respond lamely. Plus there is a computer right in the living room and I can sit on the balcony of this courtyard and catch up with you...)

The morning yesterday was a blur - the taxi company didn't come when I called them, I work up late, ran around like a crazy person, and then sat, stunned, in National airport at 5am wondering when the vacation would start. I watched "Eight Degrees Below" - a sappy movie about dogs being left behind in Antartica. And, like I did during the preview, cried throughout it. Those sweet noble dogs! I got into Mexico City airport and everything still felt surreal. Then when the taxi pulled out - I started to perk up. I'm in Mexico! I love latin america! the smells, the sounds, the sights, everything reminds me of Guatemala and I love it so. I never have this feeling when I arrive in Africa (but of course, I'm arriving in war zones... ). Anyway, I think I'm going to enjoy my vacation.

Yesterday, I went down to the "Zocalo" - the giant square in front of the Presidential palace - it's the largest in the world, second only to Red Square in Moscow. The buildings hre are beautiful! All colonial Spanish. The Zocalo has the biggest flag of Mexico that I have ever seen. Bigger than the one in Tijuana. They love that flag! I am staying with Bridget Moix, a former colleague. She's a quaker and we used to do peacekeeping work together but I didn't know her very well. Out of the kindness of her heart, she and her husband Alberto, invited me to stay with them in Mexico City. She's currently managing the Quaker guesthouse here but insisted I stay with them. And boy am I glad I did!

Their apartment is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what a house in Mexico city should look like (to me, anyway). It's in a courtyard which two other apartments that their cousins live in share with them and its painted yellow. You come up a flight of stairs that are made out of lovely granite slabs with creamy walls and turn a narrow corner into the apartment - the kitchen is all tiles and plants with a beautiful little garden of cacti and ficus behind a wrought iron wall with glass bricks behind them. That's one wall of the kitchen. There are exposed beams throughout the house and tile and caramel colored wood everywhere. The dining room and living room open up into a small balcony.

Upstairs, they have a bedroom with a swinging window/door (hard to explain) that opens up into a small courtyard. The shower also overlooks the courtyard. Everything is so lovely.

Last night, we went to a 'taqueria' in Condesa where we had pork and pineapple tacos (sounds gross but was delicious)for about 10 cents each. As you finish them, the man puts a new one on your plate freshly made until you tell him to stop. I ate way more than I thought I could handle and had a "Victoria" beer - a little heavier than Corona but not a dark beer like Negro Modelo. Just right! Then we walked through the tree lined streets and got some gelato... I had dulce de leche y queso - basically a cheescake and caramel flavor. DELICOUS!

Right now, I'm drinking coffee on the balcony listening to the birds. Today, I'm going to go see the Diego Rivera murals and possibly the Templa Mayor - the ruins of the giant Aztec temple that they built a cathedral over in downton MC. It's amazing to see the meld of Aztec and Colonialism here - you never really got the feeling in Guatemala of the 'conquest' but here, it is all around. Plus I love the fact that everything is named after the REVOLUTION! Insurgents! Patriotismo!

Viva Mexico!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mexico bound and Darfur down

10 days til I leave for Mexico. Why San Miguel? I chose San Miguel Allende because its supposed to be pretty, full of Artists, an expat enclave which means I'll be able to have someone to talk to, and I can take a painting class there. A friend said "I can't believe you are going to a place full of Americans." Well - if you traveled to the places I go to, you would feel like you don't need a totally 'authentic' experience. I want some place that is peaceful, non-stressful, and can allow me to bliss out. If I get bored, I'll move on someplace else. I anticipate working on my travel writing and creating a new style of painting called "Margarita-ism". By the way, Haiti exports the orange rinds that make Grand Marnier so if you want to support the Haitian economy, order a top shelf margarita...

My two weeks off really helped me recover a little from the burnout - it at least bought me three weeks of work - three works which the office decided should be filled by nothing but Darfur all the time! I've now officially gone where I said I would never go - to a legislative language drafting meeting with Oxfam and ICG - and to the place in my brain where I now know the names of the rebel leaders and the vice presidents of Sudan. While its interesting, to an extent - it's back to working until 7pm and being a workaholic.

I joined something called couchsurfing.com to try to find someone to hang out with in Mexico. Particularly the first few days when I'm in Mexico City. While I am looking forward to going to Frida Kahlo's house and doing some sight-seeing, I would love to check out the Mexico City nightlife. And I'm a little too chicken shit to do it myself. I think it was that sexual harrassment I got in Rwanda back in the day.

Traveling alone is fun and scary at the same time. I liked it in Sri Lanka because I got to do what I wanted when I wanted and didn't have to consult anyone. It was relaxing. But it got a little dull. I didn't meet anyone to really hang out with. In Guatemala, I met tons of people (one of whom, Jamie, is a close friend today). And of course, I always find more romance on the road when I'm alone (!!!). I have no expectations of what the trip will be like. But I'll let you know - well maybe some of it.