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, 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.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Today is our last day in Guadalajara. Tomorrow, we begin our journey to Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico, where we will stay for two weeks. We are getting to Oaxaca via Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City and Puebla, in that order. After Oaxaca, we will travel to San Cristobal de las Casas, a colonial city in the southern state of Chiapas, right next to Guatemala. I don't know whether we'll be able to post pictures, but, assuming we can scrounge up a computer, the blogging will continue.

Of the cities we are hitting in the next week, I'm currently most excited about Puebla, which is the birthplace of mole ("mo-lay"). According to the Lonely Planet's "World Food: Mexico," mole is a "chile-based sauce . . . made using a variety of chiles, herbs, spices and chocolate." Mole is typically served in the form of a thick turkey or chicken stew. Moles vary widely from one another - some are green, some are red, some are brown - and recipes vary from city to city, and from family to family. Some mole recipes involve 20 ingredients, others involved 100 (e.g. cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cilantro, sesame seeds, chocolate, etc.).

In addition to mole, Puebla is also famous for chiles en nogada, in which green chiles poblana are stuffed with a stew of beef and fruits and "topped with nogada, a white almond-chestnut cream sauce and adorned with red semillas de granada (pomegranate seeds)."

We will, of course, keep you updated on everything we eat. Oh, and if we happen to go to some museums, we'll tell you about those as well.

Adios Guadalajara!

Before we leave Guadalajara, Josue manages to get in six final tongue tacos at Tacos Don Luis.

One of many taco stands on Chapultepec doing a mean business on Friday night. This one serves a chorizo taco that makes me want to weep.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Look, Ma!

This blog entry is dedicated to my mother, who no doubt is wondering whether I am eating anything green. This may be obvious, but Mexican food is not healthy. It's heavy on meat and grease, and light on vegetables. This is why Mexican food is perfect for gluttons like us. It is also why we joined a gym immediately after our first outrageous meal of tongue tacos. Pictured here is a bowl of brocolli and two bowls of pasta - proof that we do, at least sometimes, take a break from the high life. -LT


Tomorrow Lupita and I have our final exam, which is why this 2:30am blog will be cathartic. While we are happy to admit to studying, we also should acknowledge salsaing at a downtown club called La Mutualista with Ralph near a woman with a really big shaved head. I would also like to reaffirm the staying power of Tequila and Squirt.

Also, Lupita is a great salsa dancer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Birria redux

Nueve Esquinas ("Nine Corners") is a neighborhood in the center of Guadalajara dedicated - apparently excusively - to birria. For those of you who have tuned in recently, birria is a soupy stew, typically made with goat, which Tapatios (i.e., Guadalajarans) take very, very seriously. Nueve Esqinas is crammed with birrierias, all of which are full come lunchtime. By dinnertime, the neighborhood, which resembles the set of a wild west movie, is more or less deserted, giving it the feel of a ghost town.

As you can see, I've finally learned how to use the "sepia" function on my digital camera. Notice the stained glass window featuring the head of a goat. When I looked at this window, I I felt as if the goat was challenging me to a duel of some kind. Naturally, I accepted.

Our birrieria of choice in Nueve Esquinas.

Isn't this the handsomest bowl of birria you've ever seen? Also pictured (from left to right): salsa roja, pickled carrots and garlic, horchata (rice drink) and Josue's greedy little hands clutching tortillas for dunking in birria.

Just as the waiter served our birria, a double rainbow appeared in the sky. No kidding, the end of the rainbow landed right in my bowl.

El Centro is beautiful at night, especially if one is wandering about on a stomach full of birria.

After dinner, we headed to La Rinconada for tequila. Here's Kris and Gabby, 18 and in love, trying hard to suppress their gag reflexes while sipping Herradura Reposado. Isn't it fun to have recurring characters? What will they do next?

Finally sated with birria, habanero and tequila, Josue - in somewhat of a delirium - attempts to navigate his way home from El Centro. Will he make it? Stay tuned......

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lupita does some performance art, sans camera.


So tonight we went back for more birria but to a new location - Nueve Esquinas, just south of the big Cathedral in the historic centro. The birria there is way better than Mercado Libertad. No bones in the goat stew. We accidentally tried a habanero chile in a pickled onion dish on the side. Our waiter, whose night we made as we were gasping for air, recommended that we wait to eat the habanero until borracho. Lupita and I only had a couple small slices, but I think the habanero is beyond the range of enjoyable chiles.

After birria we tried some tequilas at La Rinconada near Plaza Tapatia. For some reason the downtown seems most Mexican at night, when the traffic is manageable and there are couples and families on the benches or getting ice cream. Mas tranquilo, etc. Very pretty, as well.

This happens too.

This is what happens to your face after eating a habanero chile.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Tonight we made a trip to a hole in the wall for pozole, a soup that is the specialty of Jalisco state (of which Guadalajara is the capital). Pozole is typically white and has kernels of hominy, chicken, chickpeas, shredded cabbage and radish. As you can see from the picture, our pozole was red, most likely due to the addition of red chiles. Another somewhat surprising addition to our pozole was pig knuckles. Lots of 'em. The next time the chef asks me, "Con carne?," I'll be sure to ask what kind.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Tuetano = heaven

Last night, Josh's friend Miguel, a native Guadalajaran, took us to El Frances, known thoughout the land for its delicious tuetano, or bone marrow. Jewish cuisine and Mexican cuisine intersect in their love of both tongue and bone marrow - when I was little, my mom cooked bone marrow and we ate it spread it on bread. Here, I ate it spread on warm tortillas, and it was as delicious as I remembered it from my childhood. -LT

A Flinstones moment. Lupita with empty tuetano bones.

"Are you going to eat all that tuetano?" "Why, yes I am."

Tuetano with carne asada.

Shopping in Tonala and Tlaquepaque

Today, we went to Tonala and Tlaquepaque, two suburbs of Guadalajara famous for their great shopping. We started at Tonala, by far the cheaper (and less affluent) of the two. Every Sunday, the stores put their goods out on the street and there's a giant street sale. Everything can be found in Tonala - jewelry, ceramics, earthenware, huaraches (sandals), glassware, fake flowers, baskets, cloth. We wanted to visit the factories which dominate Tonala, but most were closed because it was Sunday. After Tonala, we went to Tlaquepaque, to Calz. Indepencia, a pedestrian walkway with dozens of upscale artesian shops. We looked but didn't touch.

Empanada vendor in Tlaquepaque. Amazingly, we resisted.

People in Tlaquepaque are really into giant pretty doors. Here's an example.

Lots of shops with expensive Christ-related tchochkes. We didn't buy any although we were tempted by a rendition of the Last Supper hewn entirely out of leather and some Pope John Paul paraphernalia.

After Tonala, we hit Tlaquepaque, an upscale Guadalajaran suburb where the rich people shop (i.e., not us). Pictured here is a scultpure made out of a TV. We wanted it. Other things we wanted included: a metal sculpture of a giant fish on skis, and giant wicker animals that you can store stuff in.

Literally everything is for sale in Tonala, including little chickies of every color - here, Lupita converses with some yellow, purple and pink chickies while creepy giant Tweetie Birds loom in the background.

Shopping in Tonala made us hungry, so we stopped at a stand for burritos and enchiladas. Pictured here is the friendly chef, tending to a row of tortas borrachas ("drunken sandwiches"), which she kept squirting with a mysterious white substance - probably lard. Also pictured in the metal basin is salsa made with nopales (cactus). Yum.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Cafe Lulia on a Friday night is a scene of Guadalajara hipsters and the usual suspects playing chess until the wee hours. Here, we sample micheladas - a curious, if not untasty, mixture of beer, Worcestershire sauce (aka "salsa ingles"), salt, lemon juice, and sumpin' spicy. It's like a bloodless Bloody Mary. Thereafter ensued an intense debate whether Bohemia (pictured, left) is a better beer than Negro Modelo (not pictured). All agreed that field tests are the only way to settle the debate. Results forthcoming.

With Every Wish There Comes A Curse

Back when I was in nivel uno (level one), I sometimes wished the the enfermeras would go back to Texas because they didn't know what a sustantivo (noun) was. Well, my wish has come true - the nurses went home, and I am now the only student in nivel tres. This has its advantages - I get five hours of private tutoring per day for the price of a regular class. But it also has its disadvantages - I always have to do my tarea (homework) and I always have to be on time. And awake. This week, I learned the past tense, the imperfect, the imperative, direct object pronouns, and more irregular verb conjugations than you can possibly imagine. Whether any of this will actually stick inside my poor little brain is yet to be seen.

Some highlights of the week: On Wednesday morning, my companera de conversacion took me to her favorite joint for carne asada and frijoles. The meal was delicious, although eating steak and beans first thing in the morning is not, apparently, an optimal arrangement for my stomach. Tonight, we went to see Batman, which was surprisingly above average, followed by tacos at Don Luis, and chess at Cafe Lulia. The tacos I had were: lengua (tongue), pastor (kind of like a gyro), and chorizo (sausage). Hopefully, my dreams tonight will not be la revancha de las vacas. -- LT

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Eric Santiago Atanasio Adams was born 2 days ago!!!! Josue is now TIO JOSUE!!!!! Congrats Nick and Ana!!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Rain Teaser

Spitting rain today. As we were drying clothes. Heavily polluted agua is not a good addition to clean white undergarments. Temperatures are dropping and we’re waiting with bated breath to take photos of the flash floods in the streets with Lupita’s fearless digital camera.

New classes so far are good. We’re excited they start at 12pm instead of 8am. We won’t miss the involuntary afternoon siestas in the hot box.

There are a ton of new students at CEPE, but somehow Lupita is in a class all by herself. Not surprisingly, she likes the attention. My class has 3 people - one of whom is a truly sheltered nerd from Georgia who just graduated from high school. Today he made this joke in Spanish: “Guys who wear clothes that are in style are gay.” More quotes to follow, with luck.

Also, we’re going to wend our way to Oaxaca a week early. If anybody knows a place to stay and/or a militant language program, please forward.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Just got back from Punta de Mita, a relatively uninhabited beach that's not in the Lonely Planet guide (yet). We stayed at the lovely Casa Las Palmas ( owned by Dave and Irene Forbes, who retired to Punta de Mita from Arizona several years ago. We went with two college kids, Kris and Gabby, and Miguel and Ana, of the Chivas game fame. Spent the weekend surfing, eating, drinking, reading. In that order:

(1) Josh caught his first wave on the long board, which was a proud moment for all involved.

(2) Miguel turns out to be a fantastic cook, and, particularly when wearing sleeveless t-shirts, bears a striking resemblance to Anthony Bourdain. We ate, in no particular order, shrimp in garlic, lentil soup, grilled steaks, peanuts, quesadillas (with Oaxacan cheese), refried beans, tuna, sardines (a bit sandy), sandwich bread, jamon (sliced ham), mayonnaise with lime juice, papaya with lime juice, bananas, more guacamole than you could possibly imagine, and hot sauce.

(3) Pacifico in cans! Que rico! Also, it turns out that tequila, even really bad, cheap tequila, goes really well with Fresca or Squirt, a limey-lemony soda.

(4) I am simultaneously reading a horrible trashy mystery novel (Kill the Messenger, by Tami Hoag, DO NOT buy it unless in a foreign country and your only choices are this book and any Danielle Steel book) and the very serious, disturbing, brilliantly written, The Things They Carried, a collection of Vietnam stories by Tim O'Brien (thanks to my sister, Rachel, for the recommendation). Josue finished, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, by Nelson Lichtenstein, which he has ranted about fairly non-stop for the past several weeks. Josue has now started, Instrucciones Para Vivir en Mexico, by Jorge Ibarguengoitia.
Tomorrow, we go back to school. Also, I have a date tomorrow morning at the mall with my conversation partner, Libertad. I am excited to tell her all about my trip to the beach, all in the present tense (I swim in the ocean, I eat the shrimp, I walk on the beach - these are all things I can now say in espanol!). Better get some sleep.

Remember Miguel y Ana from the Chivas game? Here they are with us at Punta de Mita, on the balcony of our apartment at Casa Las Palmas. Miguel returns to his home in Washington, D.C. this week, where he'll just be plain old Michael - we hope he comes back to Guadalajara soon.

Lupita enters beach nirvana.

Ours!!!! All ours!!!!!

Here's Josue with a long board AND a boogie board. We're pleased to announce that Josue caught a wave for the first time this weekend. This notwithstanding, the score at the end of the weekend was Long Board: 12, Josue:1.

Gabby and Kris, 18 and in love, came with us to the beach. This is Kris squeezing orange juice. He and Gabby just finished their freshman year in college. That's right, folks, college. Before we left for the beach, Kris described his housemates in the international house where he and Gabby are staying. He described one housemate who's 30 - "But, like, a really old 30, not like how you guys are 30." Isn't he adorable? After Kris squeezed out a half pitcher of OJ, Gabby cut his hair on the balcony.

Friday, June 10, 2005

¡Adios nivel uno!

I just finished my examen for nivel uno (level one). I feel pretty good about the test, and am pretty sure I'll be advancing to the next level. Saying goodbye to my classmates was sad. The nurses are headed back to Texas ("Tay-has" in espanol) after hitting the beach this weekend. Two of my classmates, Dominic and Nadine, are from Australia and are traveling around the Americas for about two years. Obviously, they are excellent planners and budgeters (is that even a word?). They were in Canada for a few months skiing and whatnot before coming to Mexico. After Guadalajara, they are going to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Cancun, then to Belize and Cuba. I forget what comes after that..... In any case, Dom and Nadine are very inspiring. They are in their mid-to-late-twenties, and saved up money for the past five years to do this trip. They gave up their car and apartment in Perth and took off. If they can do it, anyone can, right?

Vamos a la playa!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The desired beach temperature range this weekend

Heat Blog

By the way, in case you’re curious why we’re going to the beach (as if a reason were necessary), and mostly for those of you who have expressed a wistfulness for some unpleasantness to befall those who dare to take 2 month vacations, it should be noted that Guadalajara is damn hot - the hottest summer here on record. Our room is about 88 degrees until 1 or 2 am with the fan going full bore (but it’s dry heat!!). The campesinos say the rains should come after the 24th. But my Spanish teacher Isabel just laughs at the sweating white people and says, wait - it’ll get hotter first. Isabel can be forgiven for being an insufferable misanthrope because she had the good fortune to spend a winter in Chicago, where … um… she would complain about the cold in December and people would laugh and say, wait - it’ll get colder. Nice, eh?
Also – since we’ll be on the beach escaping the heat on Sunday - Happy Birthday, Liz. From yer bro.


I've taken a break from blogging this week to try to kick my Spanish into high gear. I'm coming to the end of nivel 1-2, the beginner Spanish course, and my big test is tomorrow. If I pass, I advance to nivel 3-4, which is equivalent to advanced beginner. I now know a huge variety of verbs -- all in the present tense and mostly regular -- and the essential nouns: body parts, family members, food. (I walk around the house saying things like, "Put your foot on my aunt's potatoes!" or "The chicken chats with the mother of my ankle.")

I have a conversation partner, Libertad, and I've met with her three times so far. She's an English student here in Guadalajara, and we spend the first hour speaking Spanish and the second hour speaking English. She knows a little more English than I know Spanish, so our conversations are fairly painful. Thus far, I have learned only the present tense, so most of our conversations are about things that are happening RIGHT NOW. We joke that we are really living in the moment, carpe diem and all that stuff. Hopefully, I'll pass my test tomorrow and advance to nivel 3-4, so I can learn past tense and tell Libertad about some of the things that happened to me before today.

After the exam, Josh and I are going to Punta de Mita, a beach just north of Puerto Vallarta. We are going with two of Josh's classmates and their respective girlfriends. I have no doubt that you will be seeing many pictures of Punta de Mita next Tuesday, when we get back.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Happiest Place on Earth

On Sunday afternoon, we hopped on a bus and headed downtown for Mercado Libertad, a four-story market that sells everything from shoes to dried chiles to caged birds. We entered, fortuitously, on a floor that was mostly food stalls. We had our pick of many different kinds of ceviche (raw fish that's "cooked" in lime juice), the omnipresent tortas ahogades, tacos, menudo, and various cauldrons bubbling with unidentified red and brown sauces. We finally settled on birria -- a soupy goat stew that is Guadalajara's big dish (Puebla:mole as Guadalajara:birria). The birria was excellent - the meat was rich without being gamey, and the broth was spicy and well seasoned. After lunch, we perused the fruit and vegetable floor, where vendors sat in high chairs above their wares, peeling onions and gossiping.

A view from the top. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, dried goods, and many other edibles for sale at the Mercado Libertad. I bought frijoles negros (black beans) and some epazote (a green leafy plant that kind of looks like sage). The beans are simmering on the stove right now.

The Menuderia "Susana." After having just finished bowls of goat stew, we decided not to brave menudo. Carl Franz defines menudo as "interior odds and ends," which are put into a piece of intestine and cooked. The white stuff piled on the counter in the photo is unidentifiable innards. Poor, poor Susana. Note rubber aprons on the wall.

Hundreds of caged birds for sale outside the Mercado Libertad. We did not buy one.

Aguas frescas being sold outside Mercado Libertad.

Josh smiles after finishing a big bowl of birria at a food stall in Mercado Libertad. Birria is a soupy stew made with goat, and is the pride and joy of Guadalajara. Mmmm! Goat!


Guadalajara is a great walking city, which is a good thing since we don't have a car. On Friday night, we walked around La Zona Rosa, a fancy-ish artsy part of town. Pictures from our stroll are below. Brightly painted awnings and detailed windows are typical features of the houses here. After having tacos, we stumbled on a cafe packed with older Mexican men playing chess. We watched the action for a while, until the men finally harassed Josh into playing a game. With only five minutes on the clock, it didn't take long for Josh's king to fall, but not without an impressive fight.

Las ventanas.

Pretty house.

The Templo Expiatorio at the corner of Lopez Cotilla and Calz. Enrique Diaz de Leon.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The rabid perro is sitting just behind my shoulder.

Tacos LOV

Friday night, we wandered around for an hour trying to find the best taco stand in the universe, on Chapultepec near the Zona Rosa. Its real name is Tacos Don Luis, but for some reason I always thought it was called Tacos LOV. (I guess that's why none of the cabbies I asked knew where it was.)

LOV serves plastic covered plates of tacos de lengua. And some other stuff. But eating lengua here is literally the only thing that I made plans to do after arriving.

We decided not to take a photo of the rabid dog that sat 3 feet away drooling as we ate on the curb. - JA

Friday, June 03, 2005

Miguel y Ana before their doble.

Lupita enjoys una doble cerveza.