Blog a la Pibil

"Blog a la Pibil" was born in Mexico, and was originally based on the adventures of Josue and Lupita, who were traveling in Mexico for two months. This blog is now a continuation of the life of Lupita, who has been restored to her life as a mere mortal in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May Day

H&S closed down on May 1 and most of us attorneys took to the streets of downtown LA as legal observers. The police were nowhere to be seen, a stark contrast from the student march in downtown LA two weeks ago, when the streets were filled with cops in riot gear. The most traumatic part of the day was when I accidentally looked down in the port-o-potty. Don't. Look. Down. Otherwise, the streets were filled with very pleasant people chanting "Si se puede" and pushing strollers.

South Central Farmers, keeping it real. Yes, that is a giant tomato. Posted by Picasa

Hoy, marchamos! Manana, luchamos! Posted by Picasa

"I am observing your hat." "I am observing YOUR hat." Posted by Picasa

My favorite marcher. And there were a lot to choose from. Posted by Picasa

Scary clowns at May Day marcha. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Originally uploaded by Lotuscake.
I have decided that it's OK to blog even though I'm not traveling in Mexico anymore. I thought that I would kick off the US version of "a la pibil" with an exciting photo taken at the birthday/paintball extravaganza of my friend Peter (photo, right). I am totally taking him out in this photo. The paintball place we went to was in Simi Valley, and was overrun with 10-year olds toting automatic weapons, as opposed to our crappy old semiautomatics. In the group game of capture the flag, the 10-year olds referred to us as "rentals." I ended the day with two welts and a head full of blue paint.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lupita takes photo of me and Pepe and friends at Bariachi. Posted by Picasa

Last photo in Guadalajara. We will miss the pigskins. (foreground) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Back in the USA

Unbelievable. After two months abroad, I am now in Chicago visiting family and a new baby and my extremely pregnant sister, and Lupita is back in Los Angeles for a wedding and the start of work. Some may say a week apart for a co-dependent couple after 2 solid months is a good idea. But I can already tell you this. Your life is different when you're taking time off to travel in a foreign country, and immeasurably better for it. My only regret is that we didn't have more time abroad together.

Most of the friends I have would say worklife in the United States, Mexico and Europe is all consuming. And one week or two weeks of vacation is not enough time for you to not just rest, but also to begin to remember all the talents and attributes that make you a whole person. Or to eat enough tacos de lengua. So many of the other expatriates that we met on the road were taking long periods of time off, from two months to a year, to escape lives that had become overly focused on making money for themselves and their companies, or advancing their careers. The lessons are obvious, I hope, from our blog.

As last blog act, as soon as I get back to LA, I'm going to post a final phot of Jose (Pepe), who made everything possible for our first month in Guadalajara, and who knows something about taking a risk on a foreign country (in his case, Germany).

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Neither rain, mud, nor motion sickness.....

My sister Rachel and our friend Ben have joined us here in San Cristobal de las Casas for the last week of our trip. Yesterday, we went on a mountain bike ride in the hills surrounding San Cristobal. The guide book promised gentle hills. It lied. As we climbed higher and higher into the mountains, I finally surrendered and had to walk my bike. I blamed the altitude and lack of caffeine, but I suspect that my lavish Mexican lifestyle (and unchecked queso consumption) may have something to do with it. Our guide was unforgiving and he kept telling me to quit the cigarettes. It was well vale la pena. We rode on a path through tiny pueblitos and vast farmland. We stopped at a small pink church in the middle of a wide expanse of green, and climbed the tiny towers and peeked through a hole in the door to see a candle flickering inside. There was one part of the trail that was really hard and slippery, and after I watched both Josue and Benito tumble off their bikes, I decided to try it. As one might have predicted, I, too, took a dive, much more dramatically so than my predecessors, and emerged covered in mud. Que divertido! Our guide took us to a spot that has a giant natural arch with a small waterfall flowing through it. Even though I was dirty as hell, and smelled a little worse for wear, it was a happy moment for all. Los Penguinos is the name of the bike place.

Today, we went to some ruins at Tonina. The drive there and back was treacherous, as we wound through beautiful hills covered with pine trees and, in the morning, clouds. The climate changed dramatically from cool mountain highland to steamy jungle lowland. Tonina is a seven tier fortress built into the side of a steep hill. We hauled ourselves up to the top and took stupid amounts of pictures. It's now raining and chilly back here in San Cristobal, and we're going to warm ourselves up with fondue and wine at a hotel restaurant.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Into the Misty Mountains

Last night, we said goodbye to Oaxaca and took an overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, an unbelievably beautiful small city in the southernmost state of Chiapas. The 12 hour ride through the mountains was treacherous, but well worth the pain when we woke to a pink sunrise peeking through clouds hanging over the mountains.

In what could be considered very good or very bad timing, we left Oaxaca right before Guelaguetza, the biggest fiesta of the year in Oaxaca. The festivities were kicking into high gear yesterday - just before we left, we watched a parade of all the different pueblos near Oaxaca City. Each delegation had its own distinctive colorful costumes and marching bands, and I may have taken over 200 pictures. Most impressive were the women in traditional costumes balancing heavy baskets of fruit and flowers on their heads, all the while doing intricate dances. Right before we headed for the bus station, we hit the mezcal fair in the El Llano park. For the uninitiated, mezcal is a very strong alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, and is the lesser-known cousin of tequila. To me, both tequila and mezcal are entirely undrinkable, but, for reasons that still have not been explained, Josue couldn't resist buying a bottle. For the weak (i.e., me), the shot of mezcal may be accompanied by a slice of lime and either grasshopper salt or gusano (worm) salt.

Truth be told, we were glad to escape Oaxaca, which is much busier, dirtier, and overall less enjoyable than we had been led to believe it would be. Arriving in San Cristobal was literally a breath of fresh air. This morning after showering off the bus grime, we took a taxi to San Juan Chamula, a small pueblo outside of San Cristobal. Many of the people who live in this part of Mexico speak a native language in addition to, or instead of, speaking Spanish. This only adds to the feeling that we have entered another world here.

The most interesting part of our excursion to San Juan Chamula was our trip to the church in the center of town, right next to a sprawling market. Photography is not permitted in or near the church, and, for the first time, we had to pay to see a church. As we learned from our trusty Lonely Planet guide (thank you Sylvia!!), in a seemingly blasphemous move, the worshipers at this church revere John the Baptist more than Christ. Nothing in Lonely Planet prepared us for the spectacle inside the church. The floor is covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of glittering candles, stuck to the floor by their own wax, or encases in multicolored glass vessels. In the aisles between the candles are mounds of pine needles, which the worshipers use as pillows on which to sit and chant. The scent of candles and pine needles mingles with incense, which is burned at various stations around the church. Both Josue and I got the feeling that this was definitely Catholicism-plus. It was, by far, the most amazing thing I have seen in Mexico yet.

After San Juan Chamula, while Josue scoped out language schools, I went to the local market and bought giant yellow squash blossoms, onions, quesillo (string cheese), garlic, poblano chiles and fresh tortillas (about 6 for 1 peso, which is less than a penny). We then christened our new kitchen by making delicious squash blossom quesadillas. Bienvenidos a San Cristobal, indeed.

We are very much looking forward to the arrival of our compadre Ben Adair, who will shortly be shlepping from Los Angles to Chiapas.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Fun in Oaxaca

It has started to dawn on me that we only have 2.5 weeks left in Mexico. This is a very depressing thought, which I will not belabor. Oaxaca is a small city in the south of Mexico, and Oaxaca is also the name of the state, one of the poorest in Mexico (behind Chiapas, which we are visiting next). The real reason to come to Oaxaca, it seems to me, is to take day trips to the surrounding little pueblos and tourist sites. Oaxaca is surrounded by towering mountains, and the valley just outside of the city is lush and verdant. We visited two ruins this past weekend - Monte Alban and Mitla, the former being one of the most impressive ruins that exists in the world. It is truly awe-inspiring to walk through an ancient city and witness what people were able to do years before handy inventions like plastic and elevators. Monte Alban is a fairly well-preserved (and restored) ruins, complete with an observatory the inhabitants used to predict cycles for agricultural purposes as well as temples where various things were sacrificed. The most interesting aspect of Monte Alban is the presence of a ball field, where a ball game of sorts was played. Archeologists don't know the purpose of the ball game, el juego de pelota, but the ball game was played by many different ancient cultures, not just in Oaxaca.

I am excited for the incipient arrival of my sister Rachel and her boyfriend Alex, who is equally as tall as Josue! I am also excited because Rachel has promised to bring me a book in English (they are hard to come by in the south) and a big bottle of Advil (to which I confess a small addiction, and which is equally hard to come by in the south). The biggest fiesta in Oaxaca, Guelaguetza, is about to begin, and the city is packed with tourists. Unfortunately, the zocolo still is under construction, so Oaxaca is not as pretty as it could be. (According to my conversation partner, the residents of Oaxaca are pretty angry at the government for spending money on the zocolo when things like education are going ignored).

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Happy Bday Tres / Bday number 30

We are now celebrating the third bday this week (lupita, the nation, etc), turning 30 in oaxaca is a good thing to do i have decided. this afternoon we went to a huge market outside of oaxaca with the school and i had bizarre flavored icecream (cactus fruit and "burnt milk" flavor, I cannot recommend the burnt milk but the cactus fruit, called "tuna", rocks) and then Lupita gave me a Chivas soccer ball which means that I am the happiest boy on earth. also ate some cake during our descanso between classes. celebrated with candles and everybody there, not hard to do when the school is approx 20 people. one of the teachers tried to smash my face into the cake as I was taking a bite, very exciting and a very common birthday antic in latin america. fortunately the teacher, appropriately nicknamed "ita" (her full name is huge and long and indigenously difficult to pronounce) is only about 5 ft tall and so mostly it was a birthday smack on the back of head. Ah almost forgot also ate more grasshoppers at the mercado, these were not mushed and instead doused with lemon and lightly pan fried. much more exciting. very sad not to show pictures, per usual. tonight we are going out somewhere fun, Lupita has promised another suprise. I am hoping for something spicy. My chile addiction has grown dramatically in Mexico.

Also - happy Birthday to my cuate NICOLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! who right now is cooking lamb for himself, baby eric and rest of family. wish I was there or you were here. Lots of Love. the Bruther in Oaxaca.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Cantando en la lluvia

We have installed ourselves in an apartment in Oaxaca south of the zocolo. We started Spanish classes again this past Monday at a great school called Espanol Interactivo. My class has four students, and I am now able to talk about things I am doing, have done, did, was doing, had done, am doing right now, and am going to do in the future. One does not realize how many different verb tenses there are until one studies a foreign language in earnest.

The school offers cooking classes and dance classes, and Josue and I have taken advantage of both. We are going to try out our new salsa skills this evening at a salsa joint called "La Candela." Two days ago, we made a mole coloradito and quesadillas with Oaxacan cheese and calabazas (squash blossoms). We learned how to make tortillas from scratch, which will enable me to use my wooden tortilla press back home which, until now, has lain dormant.

Oaxaca has been a little more difficult to get used to than Guadalajara. It has rained every day since we got here, which hampers sight seeing and generally going outside of the apartment (the rain is a great boon to my Spanish, as it requires me to make myself useful indoors). What's more, the zocolo is under construction and completely inaccessible. This is a bit of a bummer. Hopefully, the rain will pass, and give us an opportunity to explore the city a bit more.

Oh, and I can't forget to tell you about my birthday. The first highlight was eating chapulines (grasshoppers), one of the culinary prizes of Oaxaca. They were tasty, mashed up in a paste with butter and something that tasted like curry powder. I wouldn't have known I was eating grasshoppers but for the little legs that were sticking out of the paste. Yum. The second highlight was, in the middle of dinner, the fantastic if not entirely dangerous fireworks display that happened to take place right outside of the restaurant. At the end of the show, a ring of fireworks atop a tower of fireworks suddenly shot high into the air like a rocket (for reasons I cannot explain, the ring read SANGRE DE CRISTO, or Blood of Christ). It landed, still on fire, about ten feet away from my head. All in all, a very happy birthday. Josue's birthday is tomorrow and I hope we will be able to find more peligroso events to tell you about.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Lucha Libre

(happy birthday Lupita!!!!!) Also have to blog about Friday night's Lucha Libre at Arena Mexico, a classic old stadium in Mexico City. Lucha is mexican pro wrestling with acrobatics and lots of wrestlers in masks - which means there were tons of families with dads and little kids running around with masks. Very cute. There were male and female wrestlers beating the tar out of each other. Lucha libre is equal opportunity. (happy birthday Lupita!!!) We went in a group of gringos, which was okay even though we didn't know most of the background stories of the fighters. We just screamed when everyone else did. There's more swearing at Lucha events than any other sports event in Mexico. Also, the women wrestlers were by far the most fun. (happy birthday Lupita!!!) The current champ Lady Apache put a righteous smackdown on Dark Angel. I will now always regret not buying a Lady Apache Tshirt after the fight. Other favorite male wrestlers of the night were Maximo (dressed up like Caesar), Dr. Wagner (evil, masked, and hilarious to listen to a crowd of non English speakers screaming Dr. Wagner) , and Destino (most spectacular jumps) . Also happy birthday Lupita!!!!

¡Feliz Cumpleanos a Mi!

Today, as I celebrated my 29th year on this planet, we took a bus from Puebla to Oaxaca. We were only in Puebla overnight, but it was enough to understand why Puebla is one of the culinary centers of Mexico. After eating albondigas and mole verde for a practice birthday dinner (the real one is tonight), we walked through the zocolo, which was lit up with green lights and crowded with families and balloon vendors. A churreria on the corner caught our eye - an old man with thick glasses cut churros with scissors and rolled them in sugar and cinnamon. We were stuffed from dinner, so we bought only two. This churro tasted like a piece of cloud had floated down from the sky and been deep fried. The outside was crunchy and sweet; the inside was creamy and doughy. It was with not a little regret that we left Puebla this morning before the churreria opened for business.

We arrived in Oaxaca about two hours ago, and we have already managed to walk through two markets and sample hot chocolate, one of the many food items for which Oaxaca is famous. Oh, and Josue was also plied with several samples of mezcal, a strong drink resembling tequila. Oaxaca is a small city high up in the mountains. The bus ride took us up windy mountain roads, which were slick from a continuous drizzle. The sun burst through the clouds about five minutes ago - a fitting prelude to my real birthday dinner. We start Spanish classes again tomorrow. Hopefully, I will test into the intermediate level - I studied verb conjugations in the train station this morning as part of my desperate attempt to scramble out of beginner Spanish. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Welcome to the Zoo

Mexico City is totally nutso. We got here two days ago, and have used all of our strength to stay safe, sane and, less successfully, clean. We are staying in Hostal Moneda, a hostel right off the zocolo (main square). The zocolo is crammed with people selling things, Aztec dancers, political speechmakers and food. Yesterday, we went to Coyocan, the neighborhood where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, as well as Leon Trosky. The ¨Blue House,¨in which Kahlo and Rivera lived together, is a neat museum containing some Kahlo paintings and a lot of their household possessions, like bowls, big wooden utensils, all artfully arranged. We also went to Trotsky's house, where he was assassinated. The house looks like a fortress, and the museum was disappointing because it didn't say anything about who Trosky was as a person or what his accomplishments or beliefs were. This morning, we went to the Presidential Palace, which is covered on the inside with Diego Rivera's murals, much of which pays homage to Karl Marx and various communist themes. Can you imagine communist murals inside the White House? The murals are stunning and beautiful and we could have looked at them for hours. But we didn't. We went to the Templo Mayor, the Aztec ruins in the middle of Mexico City, right next to the zocolo. Lots of rocks. Really old rocks. We are now headed to the Anthropologocal Museum. Tonight, we are going to the Lucha Libre, whic is Mexico's equivalent of WWF. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

San Miguel de Allende

Yesterday, we took the bus from Guanajuato to San Miguel de Allende, a small colonial city that is infested with Americans, both young and old. San Miguel is like a big dessert tray - everywhere you look, there's a beautiful pink fluffy building. San Miguel is tiny, yet it has five or six giant churches, each one a homage to San Miguel's numerous patron saints. Last night, we took advantage of the ¨dos por uno¨special at Char Rock, a bar overlooking the main plaza, from which you can see two of the aforementioned churches. With John Lennon and Tom Petty blaring in the background, we sipped Sol, an inferior, but cheap, Mexican beer, while the sun slipped behind La Parroquia, the biggest, pinkest, fluffiest church in town.

While San Miguel is pleasant, it's just embarrassing to see so many Americans all in one place. So, in a couple hours, we're moving on to Mexico City, the Distrito Federal of Mexico (or "D.F." pronounced "day-eff-ay¨). Enough dessert - time for the guiso (stew).

Monday, June 27, 2005

Las Momias

Must also mention the dried people you get to gawk at in Guanajuato. The ground here dries up people into mummies, which combined with required eternal payments to the cemetery means that the dead people museum has lots of talent to work with. Among the highlights were the smallest mummy in the world, dried pregnant women, and lots of other people who didn’t realize their value in the afterlife. Very creepy, but really fun. I am very sad to not be posting a photo of myself and Lupita gabbing with the stiffs. Next we are off to see El Pipila, the dude who put a rock on his back before running into the below mentioned grainery. (too bad there’s no dried out Pipila!!) There is a great view of the city from his towering statue, as well as a bar! Lupita and I will be doing this cultural activity then settling into the evening with some Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Note to future Guanajuato visitors – museums closed on Mondays…

Blogging On the Road

Yesterday, we took the bus from Guadalajara to Guanajuato. A word about buses in Mexico: they are fabulous. The seats are plush, they recline, and they have foot rests. Even giant men like Josue are relatively comfortable in a Mexican bus. As you get on the bus, an attendant hands you a little sandwich and drink. The bathrooms on the bus aren´t disgusting.

Enough about the bus. Guanajuato is a cute, European-ish city, complete with beautiful, if crumbling, architectural triumphs, and windy, narrow cobblestone streets. The city is very hilly, and reminds me of Silverlake, our neighborhood in Los Angeles. The buildings are painted bright blues, pinks and yellows, and the views from the hilltops are stunning. Today, we visited La Alhondiga, a grainery that was successfully invaded by the Mexicans in one of the first battles for independence against the Spanish. Unfortunately, the Spanish re-took the grainery shortly thereafter, and hung the heads of four leading Mexican revolutionaries from each corner of the building. Josue wanted to see La Alhondiga primarily to gawk at the hooks where the heads were hung.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

We ate these too. They are snails. Mmm. Snails.

Gay Pride Sendoff

The gay pride parade organizers had a tiff in Guadalajara and the messy divorce between liquor and bar sponsors resulted in two weekends with parades. We caught the second one. Fun, but the crowd was reduced, subdued and no one clapped and hollered except Lupita and me. There’s been 7 years of pride parades inGDL, but being gay is still an open secret.

The day ended with fondue at a Swiss restaurant. J&L are suckers for cheese and wine.

Words fail.

An international brand.

Josue will bring pirate gear for next parade.

This angel eats lots of tacos too.