Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Uncharted Territory

I'm new at this whole 'teaching english' gig, and it's not as easy as I imagined. Phrasal verbs? Translating to get? Fun Funny... My mediocre spanish and lame jokes smooth over whatever I'm unqualified to explain --I'm sorry, I don't understand 'smooth over'. Yeah. It's a learning process on my end as well. Luckily, converting sentences from the active to the passive voice titillates me. I am titillated by the gerund form of a verb acting as a noun!

I love what I do. I meet people of all ages and backgrounds with weird jobs who help me understand the complexity of this city. Of course, I learn from the class itself (our discussions about food/politics/racism), but getting to class is an eye-opener as well. I'll go anywhere to meet my students, and they tend to lead me where I wouldn't otherwise explore. Some examples: a grimy McDonald's in the centro, the 14th floor of a residential tower in Lomas de Chapultepec, art-deco apartments in Del Valle, public libraries...

Check this one out. A conference room in a weeks-old skyscraper north of Polanco with fingerprint-scanning doors. It smells like new car. Can you picture me in a suit doing my thang in HERE? I've made it! I'm a real corporate shit-head.

My navigation skills are constantly being put to the test, but more than that, I get to experience many sides of the city. My walk to this skyscraper from the San Juaquin metro station, for example, takes me along littered train tracks through a poorer neighborhood that is slowly being encroached upon by these glass towers. The contrast is striking.

My most recent gig has taken me way into the mountains of the Estado de Mexico. I used to teach these two sisters (ages 6 and 9) on the weekend at their Korean Evangelical church near our house, but their mom wanted more after-school classes. She sent me directions in a 6-part text message.

It's an hour-long commute that involves three trains and then a little convi mini-van that winds up into Lomas Verdes. Convi etiquette is charming. We all pack into the backseat, and everytime someone new gets in there's a chorus of 'buenas tardes'. We snake through over-passes, underpasses. All I see are billboards and car dealerships, and I'm coughing from the exhaust --seriously considering a gas-mask. Eventually, we pull away from the congestion and rise above the smog. I look over my shoulder and see the towers of DF small in the valley. It's a familiar scene for some reason, like how LA looks in movies. I pay 8 pesos to the driver when I see my landmark, and some of the other passengers pass back my change. He dumps me on the side of the road. 'Gracias, hasta luego!'

Holy crap, where am I? The feeling of disorientation exhilarates me, and the mountainous landscape seems exotic. (I think we need to get out of town more often...)

Without much struggle, I find their gated community on the crest of a hill just off the main drag. It's my first time entering something like this. The houses are modest and suburban with family SUVs parked out front. It's silent. I don't see anyone, and in fact, from this vantage you can't see anything but this row of homes and blue sky. It's like nothing else exists in the world, and I'm alone!

My moment of serenity is interrupted by familiar little voices. "Felipe! Felipe!" they call me.

Seriously, though, how did I get here?

I won't be zipping all over town teaching english forever, but for now, I'm grateful for the opportunity to peek into people's lives and practice Mexico City.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


Poached egg, french fries, jamón serrano, spinach, hollandaise with herbs and chile arbol.


Centro Stroll

Lately, I've been feeling the need step out of my daily routine, and nothing gets my creative juices flowing like a field trip to the Centro. After running an errand near the Zocalo, I headed north towards Tepito. You never know what you are going to find...

Jumbo Rosary Beads

Free massages in Plaza Santo Domingo.

What a beauty!

On my way home, I swooped past Bellas Artes and Alameda Central. The smog is filling my lungs with all sorts of horrible things, but I love what it can do with afternoon light.

Glamor Shot


And I liked this umbrella-extender.


arroz con leche

Got this today at our Sunday tianguis. Perfect, not too sweet.