26 April 2009


Align Center

go to this! (i'll still be in DF)

22 April 2009


I'm enjoying a sliced up, impossible-to-eat, mango covered in Valentina chili sauce at a park

Last time I wrote I was in Toluca de Guadalupe and the next day I bought a tiny cow skull carved out of bone and put on some twine in the zocolo in Apizaco (the nearby big town). Besides this, the only things I'd bought here are my leather woven old man sandals and numerous baby headbands with bows and such attached. We had our final fiesta in Toluca which marked the end of extreme hospitality and dancing forever. The last morning my host mom must have decided that since I would be leaving before lunch she gave me enough food for both meals. After fruit, yogurt, and sweet bread, I tried to enjoy two chicken tamales and suddenly a plate of chicken and stovetop fries with salsa and a million tortillas appeared. Needless to say, meatfree living has been an easy transition since leaving Tlaxcala.

Goats in Toluca

Pig friend at Kathryn and Delia's house. By the time I have gotten around to post this photo, he has probably been made into carnitas.

Now, we are living in a community in Mexico City (Distrito Federal) on land that was taken over by activists of the Frente Popular Francisco Villa Independiente. The group is a community organizing project and holds about 600 housing units and apartments. They are part of La Otra CampaƱa or The Other Campaign which, like the other groups I have learned about, means that they are part of the anti-neoliberal, anti-capitalist campaign uniting activists around the country.

Unlike the Zapatistas, the Panchos are not autonomous, but they demand government funding and public programs because they believe they have been deprived of these basic aspects because of their class status, among other things. We recently met with two women from a group called HIJOS. HIJOS is about bringing together the sons and daughters of disappeared people (desaparecidos) (an okay translation of their page here)

I have enjoyed such joys as having to allot at least an hour and a half to get anywhere on public transportation here and intense pollution. But really I like Mexico City. We went to La Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo where she and Diego had lived and I saw lots of their work in person. But some of the most interesting parts was seeing letters from Einstein to Diego, their book collections, their kitchen, and Frida's transformed corsets. The kitchen had tall ceilings and beautiful tiles, intricately painted ceramic dishes and bowls, yellow painted wooden tables, chairs, and cabinets. Frida collected these religious cards which basically were painted anonomously for practical purposes and had different religious texts written. It was clear that she drew some influence from these, particularly with some of her pieces involving bedrooms. She had revamped her corsets with pieces of mirror encrusted within the plaster and paint. They were beautiful.

Diego Rivera and his hairless dog

The Pancho community has different carts that sell tamales usually, and yesterday I was so excited because I thought one was selling french fries! Claudia and I were so eager...chili sauce seemed like a perfect companion to greasy papas fritas. But then, we got closer, and we realized they were chicken feet! My first reaction was to react with the most culturally-insensitive, offensive, mouth-wide-open, Home Alone face. The realization made me nauseous because I was so excited to hand over pesos and eat the most satisfying fries, only to realize the truth.

Sugar Skull stencil in Mexico City

Claudia and crystallized pumpkin and other weird, not-quite-appetizing treats at an indoor market here in DF.

A photo of a photo taken at the camera store back in Tlaxcala of two young girls superimposed with Jesus.

I'm coming home on May 2.

02 April 2009


"Chickens sold at a market in Gaza Strip. The Israeli siege and attacks on Gaza have forced the cost of chickens to skyrocket in the Gaza Strip, 24 March. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages) " (relevant because I eat so much meat lately)

My host mom checks the temperature of my arroz con leche by touching the surface with a teaspoon, pouring that bit on the back of her hand, and finally tasting it. She does this seemingly without thinking, and it usually leads to always having not-quite hot enough but cared for hot foods and beverages.

Speaking of food I am going to stop eating meat when we go to live in the community in Mexico City next week. I also believe that I am going to maintain veganism until Cheese Club starts up again in September. I try to avoid pork products but there have been times where the chorizo just looks too good. Toluca de Guadalupe consumes enough pig to make my Rabbi blush and I keep thinking of CCL's descriptions of swine feasting on half dead soldiers within battle annals.

Sunday was our fiesta del campo which celebrated...the weekend! All the families went into this woodsy, desert place and basically set up a party in the middle of the road with music blasting from pick-up trucks. All the families helped prepare delicious grilled meats and hot tortillas, cactus salads, rice, and different chilis and salsas. We danced a bit, but not very much because our bellies were too full.

Last week we went to Huamantla and surprisingly went to a puppet museum where we learned about puppets from around the world! Some were as old as 700 AD. Besides that and a few visits to some stunning churches, the past two weeks have been really packed with meetings that are testing my Spanish listening. The other day we met with the local representatives of all the CNUC chapters in Tlaxcala. It was a "good Spanish day" where I both understood and spoke quite a bit. Gustavo, the representative from our town (who also taught me how to dance to Cumbia) said, "Machismo es una enfermedad". Yesterday we met with the widows of ex-Bracero workers and ex-Braceros themselves, and today we met with trabajadoras sexuales (sex workers) who have organized themselves with the help of CNUC.

Our group is trying to organize an independent reading group to focus on strategy in the context of some of the things we are learning, and some of the things we want to learn. Unfortunately our weeks have only gotten busier and somehow we ended up watching The Little Mermaid in Spanish yesterday.

There has been a huge amount of anamosity towards protestors and demonstrations in Israel and there is still quite a bit going on in Greece.
Israel using excessive force against protesters
Israeli authorities ban Palestinian Cultural Festival

Also, a neo-nazi group in NJ tried to have a meeting in a library in Clifton and it got broke it up. Read about it here.

Marlena also sent me this interesting piece about what it means to have a Jewish identity that includes an Arab identity, written by an Iraqi-Israeli woman. It is somewhat nuanced towards a push for coexistance as a strategy for peace:
Reflections By An Arab Jew