Saturday, 27 February 2010

Adventures & Quesadillas

In the optimistic hope that my madre's tale of someone who suffered with an ailment for decades, which was finally discovered to have originated as one of the perils of foreign travel, I have eaten the looooveliest quesadilla con flora de [squashes] -- I think. Admittedly, when she asked, 'Flora, o spanishspanishspanish?', I was under the confused impression that she was asking me if my preference was flour, corn, or some new and exotic type of tortilla.
Proposition: One should always respond, 'Si!' when one is asked if one would like queso; so let it be written -- so let it be done.

My plan (unless some sort of gastrointestinal attack renders this idea a no-go) is to return tomorrow to the Belles Artes museum corner and try a different quesadilla with my superb travel companion, Jessica, who is as willing as your correspondent to toddle off in search of adventure and independent bravery (as a duo, actually, so it really isn't perzactly independent in the strictest sense of the word). Yesterday (after our Thursday breakfast of huevos revueltos and enchiladas), we ventured forth on a day of school visits, with my high-hopes plan to explore the Metro by riding all the way to the end of the Blue Line to Cuatro Caminos and take a taxi to the first visit.

On exiting the station, instead of the taxi rank Herself was expecting, we instead walked into a crossed hybrid of a cattle-market/bus-depot/tent-city-of-cheap-tat/Save-the-Children-commercial. I am pretty sure that people were sweeping crap in the street. After walking bravely past the arcade of video games with the shady caballero and not determining where in the name of Heaven a safe taxi might be, we then determined that we didn't know how to use our mobile phones to dial in-country. After looking quite shady ourselves while loitering on the corner next to the bus depot gas station, we made the joint command decision to flag a taxi -- the logic being that it had pink-and-white checker-board stripe on it. [We were also smart and demanded to see his identification.] He turned out to be quite the nicest taxi driver!

The counselor at our second visit dropped her jaw and said, 'Oh. My. God.' (in the best 90210 voice possible)  and faintly curled her lip when we asked for directions to the closest Metro station. And sent us for a posh patio-balcony lunch in Polanco at La Valentina.

Where we had our primeras margaritas. (and almost got stuck in an elevator by the consierge)

Our orders included taquitos, and panuchos yucatecos (kind of like chalupas), and tacos de chilorio sinaloense, and something else... (not on the online menu). Yesterday, I was reticent,  BUT escamole seems like it might need to be tried... pause, pause, pause.

Because of our fortitude, we chose to aim for the same Metro station to prove ourselves, walking through Polanco (which is quite comfortable-feeling and more than likely safer than much of the rest of the city) and then through a ginormous park. In this park live the bravest squirrels every, who are (as Jessica says) actually a little creepy in their super-intelligent expressions and mental telepathy of 'Feed ME!'

Their genetic make-up seems to be a hodge-podge of red and grey squirrel, and they are kind of not pretty. But they are so terribly cute and cheeky! They must be so because people feed them and local people do seem quite taken with them. I did not look at all out of place doing my 'Let's-Talk-to-Los-Animales' voice -- it is all part of my effort to be a successful flaneuse.

Possibly because there are museums in the park including the Museum of Modern Art, there are also quite a few interesting sculptures. Since my current book is Wicked, I shall call this 'Oz'.

And this one is Wuthering Heights in my world -- for no particular reason, just a feeling -- or maybe the voices in my head.

Upon reaching a large road bisecting the park, we proceeded to cross an 8 lane super-road. There was a median in the middle where we could wait for a break in opposite direction traffic. After having a suspicious park guard not let us through a locked gate and fail to understand the directions that he and a chillaxing taxi driver attempted, the taxi driver finally zipped us dangerously around the freeway below to the second shady Metro stop of the day.

One thing that is interesting about the Metro is that at some (note the use of 'some') stops, there may be a 10-ft tall sign indicating the near presence of transport. However, when one approaches this beacon of hope, one quickly finds that this tall edifice is actually nowhere near the entrance. In best flaneur-style, one must attempt to look like one merely needs to pause and consult one's mobile phone, whilst glancing around casually and with a bored aspect to figure out where people are disappearing into an unmarked hole in the ground. This is occasionally in the middle of a combination area similar to the description of Cuatro Caminos, above. And so one heads into the tent city of smells (some delicious, some disgusting, and some possibly dangerous) or, for example in El Zocalo, a completely unmarked hole set of stairs heading from sidewalk-level into the depths.

Once on the Metro, one should not expect there to be silence in a London Underground sort of way. If it were not sad, it could be slightly vexing -- there is a constant stream of noise: women and children walking through screaming, 'Chicle! Dos pesos!'; a blind old man tooting a harmonica and using his change cup to keep rhythm; a young blind woman with a sound system and microphone, singing, and with a 3-year-old child following her and holding on to her belt loop; the long-haired political activist shoving papers into people's faces and yelling about La Republica de Mexico.

And then there are the CD-mix guys -- these are guys (and blind women) who have strapped a speaker as big as their torso onto their tummies and who walk through trains incessantly selling various mix CDs. The CD player attached to the speaker is used to skip through snippets of the songs approximately 4.7 seconds in length. Sound level is at 11.8. When the alarm screams that the doors might be able to think about maybe shutting (this lasts for about 11 of the longest seconds ever), opera might start shrilling from one end of the car, and simultaneously Los Gran Cantandores de los 60's, 70's and 80's begin with some Depeche Mode followed by Juice Newton and Queen of Hearts. Some mixes have absolutely no rhyme or reason at all.

Jessica was unamused. [the red shirt is on the arm of a Speaker Guy]

To recover our sanity, and since we were not really thinking that dinner was necessary, we ventured to the Pasteleria across the street.

This is a fabulous cultural activity; such inter-cultural engagement and educative exercise is to be strongly encouraged by International Officers. It was also dangerous.

A Pasteleria is a cake shop. When one approaches the cake shop, one walks past the armed guard... and then one is meant to locate the large stack of pans (to L) and the bakery tongs. One carries one's tray through the shop, pincering far more cakes, cookies, jelly pastries, empanadas and bread products than one would ever consider for an evening's consumption in a normal situation. And then one tootles around the corner for a litre of milk (again, past an armed guard) and returns with one's stash to one's hotel room. Oh, the exotic life on the road!

So many cakes, so little time. And more are made every day! Hoorah!

In other news, my mind is relieved by the information today (from our lovely agent) that we are 2000m (or 6000 feet) above sea level. This would be the logical reason that I so quickly become similar to an emphesemic bovine creature when walking or climbing stairs. The feeling of bubbles in the brain could also be from this.

Note: I am also terribly amused by commercials with talking toothbrushes. Especially when said toothbrushes are Spanish speakers.

...and so on to the weekend of two 8-hour exhibitions.


Anonymous said...

You know, your mom might have been right about coming down with some kind of unidentifiable disease...I've got to go to the doctor this afternoon due to very itchy rash on the backs of my hands that makes it look like thousands of little red bugs have crawled under my skin and set-up home. Yuck.

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.