Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Viva la Mexico!

Well, once again I have relocated to a new place! For the past 2 and a half weeks I have been living in Guadalajara, Mexico.


I'm in Mexico in order to undertake research for my degree. I'll be here for around 7-8 months total, returning to Edinburgh to write up my thesis early 2014. I am researching traditional healers in urban Mexico, and how they use herbal remedies to treat disease. I am especially interested in the use of herbal remedies to treat Diabetes-which is a major health issue in Mexico. Presently, I am registered in a language course 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I'm finding it very helpful, but I have also gained perspective on just how hard it is to become proficient in a second language!

I'm not sure yet if I will remain in Guadalajara, or if I will re-locate to Mexico City. I had originally planned to work in Mexico City, but I really like the city of Guadalajara. I find it easily manageable and navigable, and the people are friendly. Mexico City is about 20 times larger than Guadalajara, and therefore has both the positive and negative attributes of a large city. I plan to go and check it out after I finish my language training course, and make my decision afterwards.

Presently, I'm living with Pat and Queta Doyle. I am so grateful to them for opening up their home to me and allowing me to stay here for the first month while I do my language training! Their home is beautiful, and they have been so gracious and generous with me! The day I arrived, they picked me up from the airport and whisked me straight to a Correria competition in which their Granddaughter Yasmine was competing. Correria is one of Mexico's national sports, combining horse training and traditional costumes. It was beautiful! And so nice to be able to meet some more family members. Pat and Queta's daughter Cindy, and her husband and children. All are so lovely and nice!


 I began my language class the next day. While I am glad to be able to learn in a structured environment, I am finding it exhausting! Learning a new language takes a lot of mental energy, and I'm usually exhausted by 7 pm! Good thing, since this is also about the time (almost every night) that Guadalajara experiences massive thunderstorms with torrential rain. The streets become rivers, and the thunder and lightening surround the house like angry giants, beating the walls to get inside! But afterwards, the reward is this:


I take two buses to get to school Monday-Friday, each costing 6 pesos. This comes to a whopping $2/day. Nothing in comparison to what I would pay to take even one bus in Edinburgh, but a lot in comparison to the daily minimum wage income in Mexico, which is about $5/day! This is my view every day, as I sit in the front to make sure I don't miss my stop!

Pat and Queta live near an amazing park called Bosque Colomos. It has gardens, play and picnic areas, outdoor gym equipment and running trails for runners! This is the Japanese Garden:

 And an amazingly tall and beautiful Bougainvillea growing in the middle of the forest:

My first weekend, we went to visit some ancient ruins about an hour from Guadalajara. Called Guachimontones, these ruins are unique in that they consist of multiple circular pyramids. No one else ever created circular pyramids, and seeing these was a real treat for an Anthropology/History nerd like me!


I loved seeing these! And enjoyed the visitors centre as well, where this mural was located, showing what life may have looked like for the people who built these amazing pyramids! 

 I have also done a bit of exploring in |Guadalajara. I visited the Hospicio CabaƱas, which used to be an orphanage, where Orozco painted some amazing murals!


Here's an example:

 I also visited Zapopan, a sort of township just outside of Guadalajara with my class. They have a statue of the Mexican national symbol, an eagle perched on a cactus holding a snake. The Aztecs, who wandered the region for years before settling in what is now Mexico City, had been foretold that that when they saw an eagle perched on a cactus holding a snake in it's beak, that would be the place where they would settle and be prosperous. And that's exactly what they did, creating the most advanced civilization in the Americas before Hernan Cortes invaded.

Last weekend, two friends and I went to Lake Chapala for a day of sun and relaxation. Megan and Dawnelle are both Americans as well, we all met at IMAC, our language school. Once we arrived at our destination, we chowed down on a late breakfast of homemade, fresh gorditas and beer. Saturday lunch of champions!

 Afterwards, we checked into a hotel/pool/spa and spent the day lounging in the sun. We also partook of the natural hot springs around Lake Chapala and did a spa circuit. You spent 20 minutes each in various hot tubs filled with different things: one had apple cider vinegar, one had flowers, one had coffee grounds, one had minerals. We also got full-body mud masks, which we allowed to dry by walking down to the beach, herbal steam facials, and time in the temezcal-a traditional indigenous steam room in which fresh aromatic herbs surround the hot, steaming rocks. It was really relaxing and a nice treat-all for about $7!!!!


I haven't had time to do much research for my degree, but I'm getting there slowly! I'll be able to focus on it much more after next week! But I did enjoy seeing this wall of herbs in a museum today, and tried to recognise as many herbs as I could (it wasn't many! haha)

Overall, I'm so enjoying my time here! The people, the beauty of the city, the colours and noise-and the FOOD! I already loved Mexican food, but being here, I am loving it more and more! Today for comida (around 3 pm, the largest meal of the day) I had mole verde con pollo, frijoles, arroz, torillas, salsa, y cervesa! What a feast! Mole is a traditional sauce from Oaxaca, and there are many different kinds. With the chicken, beans, rice and accoutrements I was stuffed! I may not eat again until tomorrow!

So I'll leave you on that note, mouths watering for mole! :-)
More soon!
Until then,
Kim x