Wednesday, December 8

mother of god

Tales from a country where efficiency and productivity don't always come first...

Normal day driving on the nicely-paved, smooth-riding highway. Every now and then there's a bunch of traffic because a few of the 20-something million Mexico City dwellers (aka Chilangos) are on their way to Acapulco. But usually - cruising on the highways is a piece of cake. 

When things start to slow down, however, you can play this interesting game of - what happened this time?

Thursday, November 18

seasonal depression

I think I have opposite seasonal depression. I miss the cold. I miss the changing climate (and NO, Mexico...65º morning weather instead of 80º mornings is not a real change). I miss the exciting connection of colorful leaves! then snow! then holidays!

After almost a year and a half in Cuernavaca - I can tell the difference between the sweltering August and the cool-ish November. However, the subtle changes don't orient me. They don't help me realize & get excited that Thanksgiving is right around the corner!! And they don't inspire me to listen to Christmas music, decorate a tree, bake cookies and all those most amazing winter activities. Boo!

Monday, November 8

little fatties

If a Mexican calls you "gordito" or "gordita" (harshly translated: kinda fat) - don't necessarily take it as an insult. Weight is a very common thing to comment upon down here and people shouldn't take it too to heart. It's not fun - but it's not that big of a deal either.

Gordito/a is a fun word because there are various foods with the name - and each and every namesake is destined to make you a little gordito if you eat too much. Gordita example 1...cheese or meat stuffed in a thick fried tortilla. Gordita example 2: day of the dead cookies traditional to Arcelia and other real deal pueblos (the towns where you still happen to see grandpa riding his horse down the street...yeah - I saw him). 
I had a moment of "uh oh - I'm too adapted" when I arrived to Arcelia for Día de Muertos weekend. I said hello to Jaime's relatives and then immediately asked where the gorditas were. My Mexican craving wasn't disappointed...a treasure chest of fall-apart, perfect-to-drink-with-a-cup-of-coffee cookies were waiting for me!  
Yes - I did notice the grease marks on the paper - you know what you're getting into before eating something called "little fatty". The incredible thing about this treat is not only that it's delicious (best description I can think of is the offspring of a corn muffin & a cinnamon graham cracker) - there's an amazing & tedious tradition behind it that people are still abiding to in 2010.  

First - get to the market to buy some corn kernels. Boil it up - then go ahead and put that out in the sun to dry. No big deal - just take your dried corn to the local mill so you can get your corn flour. Oh but gotta put your flour out to dry again. (Jaim's uncle said he tended to the drying process up on their roof for TWO DAYS!) Now get that extra dry flour to the mill again cuz you're gonna want it a little finer. OK! Flour's ready - take it along with your other ingredients to your friendly baker down the street. They'll let you use their industrial size mixers so you can whip up your 10 kilos of cookie dough. (Only 22 pounds this year, Tía Yolanda, what happened??) Roll out the little gordita balls and stamp a little design to squish them down. Take your who-knows-how-many trays over to the wood-burning brick oven and a nice man who's probably been working in the family business since he was 11 will tend to the baking process for you. If you're lucky, the line won't be too long with the other ladies in your neighborhood and you can head home with your tub-o-goodness before nightfall. 
All sassiness aside - customs like this really inspire me. Jaime and I casually walked into the bakery where his aunt had made her cookies two days before and I got to see the process 1st hand. I even got to try one of Doña Choya's gorditas. With her 40 years of experience - this lady has got it down.  

Thursday, November 4

the dead's day

You know how you hear that Mexicans laugh in the face of death and all that? I've spent my second consecutive Día de Muertos in the country and I haven't seen laughing per say - but they definitely do things around here that might make a girl from Wisconsin shiver a tiny bit. Like the annual exposition of Catrinas - aka larger than life female skeletons (or in Jaime's English... "skeletors") dressed up in their Halloween best.  And you also have the ofrendas (offerings) to the dead in your home. You can keep it simple with a small altar with pictures, candles and flowers. Or if you're up to it - you can set up something like this:
Complete with a live angel and an invitation for everyone in the pueblo to come and see. I actually found the tour around Arcelia's offerings to the dead quite cool. It's only a little eerie when you see the "Welcome to your home, Dad" sign... the million marigolds marking the entrance (the smell is supposed to help the dead find their way back)... the inclusion of dad's favorite foods and drinks (tacos, candy, bread, beer and coke never fail) on his altar... I do start to wonder/worry - is their dad really coming back?! 
I guess I shouldn't have culture shock - I mean, please... coming from a place where we leave milk & cookies out for a jolly old fat guy and his magical flying pets...

Sunday, October 17

get out of my head!

Another yoga reflection of the week...mind games. Does any of this sound familiar?

She's prettier than me. Crying is for babies. Showing emotion is a weakness. I look gooood today. I look gross today! I feel guilty for eating that brownie. I want to have a body like her. I wish my clothes were cooler. He has a better job than me. She's smarter than me. Why can't I be more popular? I need to go tanning. I need to achieve more. Why don't I have my life plan set? I should have a better job by now. I should have more money by now. I should be married by now. I should have kids by now.  

Who says our mind (aka our upbringing + societal influence + culture + life experiences) is in charge of deciding how we feel today and if we're on the right track? What is the "perfect body"? What is the "right job"? What are "real achievements"?

If your answers are any of the following...we've got some work to do... 
There's something deep down inside of us that says - THIS WORLD IS BOGUS! There's a part of us that just wants to love and accept every part of ourselves (no matter if society says that part isn't "good" or "good enough"). How can we let that element of ourselves guide us to self love? 

I feel like it's as very easy and as extremely hard as looking deep, listening and believing.    

Sunday, October 10

finding time

Glee's music is inspiring my finding time to get back on's been too long since I've written - and how can you not want to sit by in front of your computer with awesome music helping you jam out?

First excuse for being distant - bridesmaid duties for this handsome couple...I don't know why I'm jealous that they're honeymooning in Costa Rica. I guess somehow their trip seems much more exotic & amazing than my Mexican adventures! 
Second excuse - The intensive yoga training class has been incredible so far. But when they say intensive they mean it! I've meditated and am halfway through a yoga practice before the SUN RISES. Hardest part of the whole thing so far is to rival our teachers' good attitude and energy when I know their job is much harder than ours. We do have a good amount of physical yoga in classes but the bulk of the day is dedicated to study...and I am finding that the studying is the most inspiring part (even more inspiring than my increasingly impressive pipes...)

Favorite topic from the week is one of the Niyamas (aka recommendations) of yoga: samtosha - contentment. Imagine you're in the middle of two minutes in warrior 2...
Are you mentally cursing your instructor while clenching your teeth or can you take a deep breath and put a little smile on your face? I feel like a lot of our lessons are coming a few months late - one example being when I was freaking out about Jaime's visa. Maybe I could have found a way to work samtosha into my life instead of being a drama queen/ball of nerves? I'm going to work on it because the only thing we can control in difficult situations is our attitude and our response to stress/sadness/anger... It's going to be the homework of my life - because this girl's favorite thing to do is to think she's in charge!   

Friday, September 10

dripping deliciousness

Cut, align, glue, cut, align, glue times 10,000 (more or less) to make invites can really wear a girl out. It was time for a break. What better way than to sink my teeth into a sweet, chilled mango. I go for the little yellow ones that you can peel like a banana...
I dove into it with half my body leaning over the sink to catch the drips. I think I have mango juice on half my forearm (thought I washed better) and I need to floss my teeth - but man, was it worth it! Try these mini mangos if you don't like the cat-tongue texture of their big sister green/red mangos. Try these mangos to transport yourself to Mexico, close to me!  ;)  

Thursday, September 9

work it

If I can do this...
I think I could learn to do this...
After a bit of deliberation, I've decided that a 12 hours per day, 6.5 days per week, month-long yoga teacher training class is a wonderfully insane idea. 

I dabbled in yoga videos a few years ago, took a few classes in Milwaukee and then got serious in Cuernavaca. It all started because two fellow English teachers went to a yoga class here. I was new in town and was looking for friends. So I asked them if I could tag along one day. My friend fishing ploy worked (haHA!) and I found a wonderful place to cool down amidst the aggressive traffic, occasional cat calls and other Mexican frustrations.

The fun starts October 4th at 6:30 am - wish me luck!!

Thursday, September 2

impossible to put a title on this one


This feeling is worth all the $$ and time we've spent on this process - and then some! I'd like to thank Julie for listening to my initial screams of excitement when I read Jaime's text from Juarez (we happened to be chatting on Skype, poor girl) & to Justin Bieber for helping me perform my victory dance. :D

Monday, August 30

get this off my chest

Ok - this post is dedicated to anyone who may be (now or in the future) googling their fingers off trying to find information about: 

•Mexican Fiance Visas (also known as K-1)
•The Ciudad Juarez Consulate

I find myself compelled to write this all down and put it out there for anyone who might be going through this process. You can find loads of info from the government but I really lacked a competent and informed personal perspective/experience. Ask Jaime, my close family & friends and they'll tell you how many times I broke down, cried, pulled my hair out while trying to get this figured out. And if you never have to go through this process - you can just thank your lucky stars that all you have to do to get married is get that pesky marriage license. ;D I can't say every situation will be the same...but here's Jaime & my experience in a nutshell (up to now). 

First, the USCIS (US Citizen & Immigration Service) will be your master. As a fiance of a foreigner, you have to petition to the USCIS. This petition is the I-129F and it is basically a load of paperwork that covers personal facts about you and your significant other. It is also the time to prove to the USA that you are in a legit relationship. You do this by providing communication evidence, pictures, flight info, passport stamps from visits, etc. (my creative memories skills really came in handy for the photo section). I followed the instructions for the I-129F that accompanied the form on while crosschecking with this very helpful website. My motto has been more is better & safer - so I sent extra passport-size photos and tons of pics meticulously marked with locations and dates (a little overboard...but they love that, right?). 

STEP 2: 
Send your petition and wait patiently for a response in the mail. Jaime and I received our petition approval in about 3 months (supposedly it can take longer so plan far ahead of any wedding plans). The fiance approval was valid for four months - which means that Jaime just had to show up at the consulate for an interview before the sheet's expiration date. We soon after got other letters telling us that his case was going to be handled in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua (surprise! Jaime gets to travel to drug cartel zone!). As far as I can tell, all immigrant visas (the visas for people who aren't coming back to Mexico anytime soon) are handled on the border.

Check over the visa process that is nicely organized by the people at the Ciudad Juarez Consulate to know what to expect/bring (remember, more is safer - I threw in some extra papers that I wasn't sure we needed). The paperwork and interview are used to prove that the Mexican & US citizens still have the intention to get married. It is also the time to prove that someone has a home where the foreigner can live and $$ to support the foreigner while he/she gets residency papers. The affidavit of support, I-134, is the form to put together to prove that economic backing. The foreigner can do this for themselves - but the petitioner (Mexican's fiance) can also do it. A co-sponsor is ok too in the case that you're currently spending lots of time in your fiance's country and don't really have a house/US apartment/job paying you over the poverty line...hmmm...sounds strangely familiar.

Buy your ticket to Ciudad Juarez. Book a hotel that is close to the Consulate because you don't want to be at the end of the line and not get accepted that day. Your first task is to get a medical exam. Get in line at dawn (or start checking the line situation out of your hotel window around 4am) at one of the two consulate-approved clinics. They draw a bit of blood, check your eyes and do a quick physical. If you're lucky - you can come back later that day to pick up your closed results (take the envelope as it is to your opening!).

Visa interview day consists of more waiting in line (get out there early and don't trust the Juarez locals who tell you to go get your documents checked at sketchy offices nearby...that's NOT official and not necessary). There are a number of checkpoints (metal detectors, "did you bring your approval notice?"...) but once you're inside - someone collects your paperwork and takes it behind the scenes. Later, after what I assume is the time they take to glance at your documents, they call you back to talk to an immigration official. All of these "interviews" take place at bank-like transaction windows so don't expect an interrogation lamp above your head - it's not THAT bad. They'll ask you the normal questions about your relationship..."when did you two meet?", "how did you meet?". Then they get into the official questions..."have you tried to cross the border illegally?", "have you stayed in the US illegally on a different visa?". They take your fingerprints - so if you did run or swim across the border before - I'm sure they'll know and that's merit for denying your visa (and asking you to go through another process I don't even want to try to figure out...sorry!).

Go over to another part of the consulate buildling and pay DHL the fee for their receiving and holding of your passport/visa from the consulate. Jaime called the DHL people two days after his interview and his stuff is ready already. I was warned that most people have to go to Juarez twice because you need to pick up your visa in person (unless you know someone who can pick it up for you with a legal letter transferring power). If we had realized it would be ready so quick (they say the norm is 5-10 days), maybe Jaime could have just had a little vaca in Texas and swung back to get his visa on his way home. But oh well - he'll head up north before too long to open his little package. My bet is that he'll have a shiny new visa in there - but no champagne until the day I get his call saying "La tengoooooooo!!".    

Get married! From the day you get your visa approved - you have six months to enter the US. After you're in, three months to tie the knot. 

GOOD LUCK! (phew)

Friday, August 13

buy me love

The Beatles are wrong - you can buy me love. I loved this morning and all it cost me was 20 pesos. After morning class, I walked over to Le Café du Monde and ordered my americano (make that twooo americanos...second one included in the price = bliss!). It's the perfect temperature of 22 degrees Celcius with the burny Mexican sun hiding behind a few gray clouds. To be honest - I think I love today because it feels like Wisconsin outside. I'm prancing around in jeans and a little cardigan in the open-air café while the barista is shivering in a fall jacket. 

Besides the perfectly gloomy $1.67 investment has allowed me to plug in my faithful iBook, sit down, sip espresso and...

*listen to music varying from Lady Gaga to Fanny Lú
*finalize plans for visiting friends
*reconnect with other friends
*finish some visa preparations to help me relax about this awful process
*check my favorite blogs
*look at flights to visit home...

I guess I should stop complaining about having too much free time - there's no excuse to take a relaxing morning with all of these little accomplishments for granted. 

Saturday, August 7

get off the road!

We've all seen/hit/squashed a raccoon/armadillo/squirrel on the street, right? I have to raise my hand and cringe a little bit about the armadillo & squashed combo... Maybe you've even seen a deer or a bear!! But one thing I don't understand is whhhhhy someone would let their domesticated animal wander near or ON the street. Exhibit 1: 
This little guy was taking a stroll on the exit ramp near where Jaime had to park his overheating truck on the way to Acapulco when Alicia & Dustin were visiting (sorry again about that guys). We were walking (on the highway as well...oops) to get to the bus stop close by and caught a glimpse of this donkey that Alicia decided to name Jose (or some other stereotypical Mexican name). Luckily he was clever enough to hop back to be with his buddy. We anxiously anticipated that four-legged hurdle - he nailed it!
Exhibit 2: Horse family having a snack on the rural highway to Tepoztlan. I can't believe mama caballo would allow her bebé so close to the street - that's just plain irresponsible. Don't tell Jaime that I told you - but when he was a teenager, he and his friends were going to Tepoz and in the midst of navigating those curvy Mexican roads...he clipped a horse! Can you imagine!? Luckily (for Jaime's extra-sensitive conscience) the horse survived. Phew!
When I told Jaime that I wanted to take pictures of these horses to write about it  - he told me, "all you do is find weird things about Mexico to put on your want to tell the world how crazy you think we are". I guess he has a point - I do write about things that make me go, "seriously!?"...I'll try to be more positive next time. But come on - this is a little nuts, right?  :D 

Monday, August 2

what i'm getting myself into...

If I hadn't realized by now - my first (early) wedding gift made me get it through my head. I am marrying a Mexican. This is a mortar & pestle made out of bona fide Mexican rock, an essential for every salsa-making household.Maybe that sounds really weird - how would I not be conscious of my being a bit...different? What with Jaime's cafe-au-lait look and that oh-so-luscious Spanish he speaks. But even international or bilingual life becomes just your normal everyday life. However - I do have those moments where I look around and think to myself..."waaaaait a minute - you live in Mexico!! you speak Spanish really well and are the only gringa in the restaurant!" And I guess I've realized that there's a lot to share - starting with the simplest salsa recipe Mama Yadi could offer: 

The Mexican standard would be 10 serrano chiles per plum tomato - but let's bring it down to 2 (unless you like to sweat while you eat like Jaime's dad seems to be fond of). Boil 2 tomatoes and 4 destemmed serrano chiles in about an inch of water (covered) for 10 minutes. Crush the chile peppers first - do you dare leave the seeds? - with a pinch of salt in your mortar (or maybe a good alternative could be in a bowl with a potato masher). Add the tomatoes and crush to a rustic consistency. Add a little of the water to thin it out if you like. This is the perfect salsa to put on your tostadas, alongside your eggs, basically on anything you can imagine. This is just a starter recipe - so try it out and we'll see if we can graduate up to enchiladas & chiles rellenos!     
I can see myself loving this already - can't wait to break it in!

Saturday, July 31

agua por favor?

Something that you'll hear people complain about the most down here (besides the dry season heat) is the water system. I'm not sure why it's so complicated but there are so many days where - poof! - suddenly there's no water coming from the faucet. Not that you need it for have to buy bottled water of course (unless you're a fan of raging digestive problems). But there are some days you just want to take a shower (hot or freezing), or times when you want to brush your teeth without having to ponder - maybe it's the cistern? maybe I forgot to turn the pump on?

Whenever I go home to visit - I get a little paranoid about drinking tap water. That's a side effect of living down south. But for all of you who have it made, turn on that faucet and drink up! 

Tuesday, July 20

to-do list

I may have mentioned it before - but I have lots of free time down here in Cuernavaca. Classes get me up early only to end an hour and a half later (and don't resume until 7pm) - leaving me dressed, ready to be productive, and with nowhere to go at times. I've made it this long (because I'm not one to NOT be productive...I'm a list-checker type of gal) because of Jaime, coffee dates with friends, yoga classes, and online research about visas/wedding vendors. But lately I've felt that I need to spice it up. And while I'm in Mexico where everything is 5x less expensive...I need to take full advantage (eg. I pay 40 pesos - $3.33 per 1-hour yoga class)!!

Help me decide what to do next:

a. get my certification to be a yoga instructor 
b. take a class to learn how to sew clothes (I've accepted that I can't just make it up)
c. learn how to weave baskets out of palm from the artisans in the market
d. watch Jaime's mom cook and post all of her recipes on my blog
e. learn another skill that you recommend...
f. all of the above

Saturday, July 17

chicky babe

I was walking downtown to take the bus over to Jaime's house after work today. To my surprise (but not really after being here for almost a year), the hot items being sold on the street were...
...chicks. Green chicks. Bright blue chicks. Pink chicks wearing tiny baseball caps. It was comical and a bit frightening. I got on the bus wondering what those babes would look like all grown up and how exactly they painted them that color! Yikes!

Thursday, July 15

rompope for real

Don Agapito says - try some rompope!!
It has been done. A liter of whole milk & 10 eggs later...I have come up with a yummy rompope prototype. I first tried this creamy beverage in Jaime's homepueblo and it's dangerously delicious. And when I say dangerous - I mean, don't drink this if you have high cholesterol. Here's the ingredient list:
•Ingredients to make a JELL-O flavor of choice - maybe raspberry or piña colada? (gelatin is optional but commonly eaten with rompope) Go ahead and make this whenever you can during the rompope process.

•1 liter of whole milk (4 1/4 cups)
•1 stick of cinnamon
•2/3 cups of white sugar
•10 egg yolks
•1/4 - 1/2 cups (to taste) of liquor of choice (cane alcohol, rum, brandy)

Alright - if you haven't been scared off by the contents of this delicacy - let's continue! In Mexico they have a vanilla gelatin that has a milk base (does that exist abroad?) so I started boiling milk for that alongside the whole milk for the rompope. As you let the milk heat up on a medium flame - toss in the sugar & cinnamon stick. You're going to let the milky mixture bubble up slightly then lower the heat to let it simmer for about 15 minutes. This is a good time to take out a book because you need to stir the milk regularly to prevent that icky film that milk likes to create when heated. Rompope likes a lot of attention - just FYI. I took out my current Michael Pollan book and wondered what he'd say about this eggy drink...
After 15 patient minutes of stirring - take the cinnamon sugar milk off the stove and let it cool to room temperature. This is a good time to break open your eggs and separate out the yolks. This was also the perfect moment for me to realize that I could try to make angel food cake with my leftover egg whites. Lesson learned: do NOT attempt to make angel food cake by manually beating the eggs without a whisk. Your dessert will be compact and nasty. Moving on...

Ok - milk is room temperature, right? Take out the cinnamon. Whip your eggs yolks for a second and then slowly pour them into the milk pot while stirring. Incorporate everything well and then return the rompope to the stove. Keep the heat niiiice and low. I kept the rompope on the heat only until I saw a little steam rising up - no simmering, no boiling (about 6 minutes - and don't forget to stir!). After cooking my eggs once inside my rompope - I had to be extra careful this time!  
You'll see the rompope thicken up a little bit while you heat it up this second time. However, the real thickening happens when you let it cool down. So after those 6 minutes of constant mixing (think of it as a little arm workout) - put your Latin eggnog on the counter and let it cool off. Try a little...delicious, riiiiight? 
Here's my rompope cooled down a bit and with a richer consistency. Now's the time to add the alcohol, yaaay! I used pure cane alcohol - but I next time I'm going to use a dark rum - I'm sure the flavor will much deeper with a little Bacardi Oro. Just keep adding & tasting until you think it's perfectly perked up. Throw it in the fridge and by the time your JELL-O is set, your rompope will be ready for enjoyment! I like to put a little gelatin in a teacup and cover it with my milky creation. Sunday morning, Tuesday night - anytime is a good time to nab a cup! Think I'm going to have some right now!  

Tuesday, July 13

50¢ joyride

Can you imagine one of those three-benched vans made for 12 people (Marquette LIMO style)? Shrink the size of the van down about 25% and mentally rip out all of the seats in the back (leave the driver comfy in his seat). In their place, imagine skinny upholstered benches - covered with plastic - that go around the rim of the inside of the bus. Now envision 20 people stuffed in there (3-4 standing) and put me, the only non-Mexican, in the back corner. Yeah - right by the window. To be fair, there are other, larger buses for the more frequented routes. But this is my transport (when I give Jaime a break from his chauffeur gig) and it's a rush.

I don't think any other experience can compare to this in the way it's helped me learn about Mexico (except maybe chatting with Jaime's mom while she cooks...and being engaged to a Mexican doesn't count). I can safely stare out the window at all of the amazingly south of the border sights...

•mangos for sale at the market - 1 kilo for 10 pesos! (2lbs for 80¢)
•intense PDA from two too-young-to-be-doing-that Mexicans
•grandma carrying two oversized bags of produce
•two men checking out the pirated movies & music stand
•a crowd enjoying an afternoon snack around a makeshift taco stand
•woman selling homemade sweet bread from a basket

As crazy as it sounds...I'm going to miss being sardined in the bus with other courteous locals (yes, I'm a local now). You can't beat this type of cultural absorption - and all it takes is some courage and 5 1/2 pesos.  

Monday, July 12

mexican 4th!

What do Mexicans do for the 4th of July? Absolutely nothing. What do Mexicans with US girlfriends do? Something like this:

Strategically place the white heart sprinkles (left over from Valentine's Day) on your fiance's carrot flag cake.

Enjoy a delicious meal of hotdogs, watermelon & salad while listening to country music with these lovely ladies.

And of course, same as any other day - play soccer.

Brownie points for anyone who can tell me when Mexico's Independence Day is (and it's NOT cinco de mayo).

Tuesday, July 6

almost rompope time

Here's a quick picture preview to get you excited for the rompope recipe I promised way back when (Alicia - you still care, riiight?). These photos are from our second (first successful) attempt at the spiked Mexican eggnog. The first time we simmered the milk and added the eggs before letting it cool enough...imagine a milky scrambled egg concoction. Yum. 

You can see Mama Yadi getting those egg yolks ready & me enjoying the final product. Buy a dozen eggs at the farmer's market and I'll meet you back here soon (still tweaking the final formula). 

Friday, July 2

mini marts everywhere

One thing that's totally different about Mexico & the US is that Mexico still has tiny tienditas, little stores, on every. corner. Imagine those quaint shops that your grandparents might have frequented...the little soda shop, barber, fruit stand, etc. The locales that their neighbors owned. That's still the thriving business around here - you sell veggies to the Gomez family and you use the money to buy notebooks and pencils from Gomez Papelería (paper store)...and the cycle continues. It's quite nice because you are obviously supporting local business instead of throwing money at Walgreens or Target. However, there are times where the smallness and limited availability of the stores is frustrating (especially for the instant-gratification lover in me).

Example: If you haven't checked it out - I've started a Mexican jewelry business on Etsy. ( After hearing about a package mishap, I told Jaime that I think somewhere around Tijuana - there's a Mexican whose job is to sit on, mistreat, throw around and squash all packages entering the US. Wanting to protect my precious orders - I said, ok...let's find some sturdy boxes and bubble wrap. Would you believe it - 30 seconds after I said that we spotted a "plastic store"...a magical little shop where you can buy bubble wrap by the meter (think Michael's fabric section divided by 100 and instead of fabric...all types of plastic). 

Feeling great about that find - we started off on our laborious box search. After hitting 5 neighborhood paper stores without any luck, we decided to go to the man - Office Depot. Not even the great office supply warehouse could provide us with what we needed. However, the pleasant clerk told us we could go through their used boxes in the back room. Jumping on the opportunity, Jaime took charge fishing for small packages and we left with 10 semi-sturdy! Guess you can make your dreams come true here too - kinda. after searching for 3 hours. and being very resourceful. and patient...

Disclaimer for anybody who might want some tagua earrings in their wardrobe...your package may have "3M Banderitas" stamped on it. And your jewelry box may be protected by egg carton that we got from our mini market friend down the street. This type of wrapping is eco-friendly and cool, right? Or is it just plain trashy?   

Tuesday, June 29

ciudad juarez

Remember this depressing post about visa papers? I'm even more disheartened as I contemplate Jaime's upcoming journey to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Imagine one the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Imagine that border town that you hear about on the news. That's where he's going. 

I'm not sure why the US needs to take such extreme measures (charging you 1000's of $$ and making you fly into drug war zone) for this whole visa process. Is this just normal procedure or is this some sort of test to see if Jaim & I love each other enough? It's enough to make me want to move to Puebla and get a job at their Volkswagen factory (love those jettas).  
But determination to get up north and freeze our butts off in a Wisco winter will get us through this ordeal... Alright - I suppose that's enough melancholy sassiness for one day. When Jaime has his US passport and when he's able to stand in the "US Citizen" line with me after flying back from visiting his family in Mexico... it WILL all be worth it.    

Tell me everything's gonna be ok?

Sunday, June 27

i hope germany squashes those obnoxious argentineans

Sad day here in Cuernavaca - Mexico got eliminated by the hotshot, mullet-bearing Argentinean soccer team. I don't know why I feel so aggressive about this - Ghana beat the US and I don't have any commentary about them. Luckily, I can look forward to the Germany vs. Argentina game on the 3rd...hopefully some Euro-spunk can put Mr. Messi in his place. Supposedly this is the best player in the world?
Yikes...I prefer to give my props to the fight shown by Salcido - gooo Mexico!

Thursday, June 24

being meager

Meager is the word that Morgan & Elise like to use for people who are lacking a little confidence, personality, spunk, etc... and I guess I have to admit that I've been meager about posting the big news - Jaime & I are engaged!  

Being a fiance should make you want to shout from the rooftops and all that - but I feel like I've been in a wonderful state of...calm. It felt good to not change my facebook relationship to "engaged" right away - to keep the news close & intimate for a while. But - it's been a week - so let's throw that out the window! 

We're happy little comprometidos and are planning for our next adventure. Who thought a bicultural relationship couldn't work? Who thought it was too complicated? Call us crazy - I think we just like a little extra spice in our relationship (also referred to as: confusion, language mishaps, airplane tickets, expensive visas...).  :D

Tuesday, June 22

la copa del mundo

I'm sitting among four true blue Mexican soccer fans and there's a lot of yelling at the TV, grumbling about the goalie, and analyzation about Mexico's next step ("they're going to be very disillusioned going against Argentina if they can't beat Uruguay...").  

The most interesting thing I've learned today watching this game has been all of the nicknames that Mexico gives their players:

Chicharito - "little pea"
Cuautemoc - an Aztec emperor
El Conejo - "the bunny"  

It's pretty hilarious - for me at least. They yell at Chicharito as if it were his real name...but I always imagine the vegetable and just snicker a little bit to myself. I asked Jaime if they call him that because he has a round little head - he wasn't sure. What do you think?
Another question - does anyone in the US care about the World Cup? Is anybody watching? We seem to be the only country that doesn't shut down when the games come on...

Friday, June 11


I am so very tired of researching, gathering info & preparing documents for...visas. I can't believe how incredibly lucky Jaime is for stumbling into a relationship with the most detail-controlling girl in North America. Twenty+ years of arranging my underwear drawer, organizing all documents on my computer meticulously, learning classical piano music note by note, etc, etc, have given me the life skills to prepare all the documentation for Jaime's upcoming visa to live in the US (you have to plan so far in advance that the visa prep comes before your decision on where to live & when to actually go). It's a long road that is not suited for the weak of heart.

Imagine that night when you need to finish your final exam that was "kindly" assigned as a 20-page essay. You're tired, bored, sick of the subject and just want to be done with it already. That's how I feel in this process. A fresh notebook and an extra fine black pen usually get me excited to organize and accomplish things - but I have them in front me and I just. don't. feel it.

I know that in the end all the temple rubbing and exuberant huffs of frustration will have been worthwhile. I suppose all the work could help me start a little consultation business...

Carrie's I-129F & I-134 Government Document Support Line · Paperwork & Emotional Support for anyone who's ballsy enough to do all this without an immigration lawyer.

Tuesday, June 8

five hours...

I've been back in the US of A for a week now and am so happy that I didn't miss out on this gorgeous view... just sit around in the airport and futz around on my computer during my layover from noon to five. Life is too short to NOT see the beaches of Cancún when the opportunity arises. Even though it took me a few minutes to decide what to do - I said, "Care!" (I like to call myself Care)... "Care! Get out into the world! Explore! Experience!" So I locked up my carry-on, put on those sunglasses and ventured out...of the airport.  

It took me 10 more minutes to figure out which transportation to take. Most drivers were surprised by my ghastly white skin + good Spanish skills combo. However - I didn't receive any of that "you can speak Spanish so I won't take advantage of your gringo-ness" hospitality. I even checked with a sweet Mexican woman, "which transportation is going to rip me off the least?" She told me she was meeting her Virginian boyfriend at a hotel on the beach (bicultural relationships are all the rage) and that I was welcome to share a taxi with her. Since her hotel was a little farther away and because I knew she would like that dramatic reuniting with her bf (without the third wheel)...I kindly declined and jumped into the $15 shuttle to the hotel district. First stop: the mall.
Hey - don't judge. I had fiiiive hours to burn and I don't like to tan or be in the sun in general. Plus I had to make a special pit stop for this bad boy. 
Are you judging me again? Beggars can't be choosers, guys! Starbucks has air-conditioning and the guarantee that the ice won't give you Moctezuma's revenge. That's enough to convince me! Until Stone Creek Coffee makes me manager of their new Cancún location - I'm making no excuses. 

So my lovely iced latte and I crossed the street to the first hotel we saw...the Westin. This place was so massive, I decided I could strut in there and pretend to be another sun-worshipping northerner without anyone batting an eye.  The rush I got when the receptionists responded to my "buenas tardes" with a kind, unsuspecting smile - goes to show that I am the least danger-seeking person in the world. Kind of sad...but still...kind of fun. 
Sorry, Westin, for sneaking in and enjoying the relaxing afternoon in your shade and in your beach chair...but I just couldn't help myself. The Mexy adventures must continue.  

Wednesday, June 2

five hours in paradise

You have a 5 hour layover in Cancun before you head up north...what would you do?
My answer coming soon...

Sunday, May 30

san cristóbal, chiapas

Three years ago around this time, I took a solo trip to Chiapas - a southern Mexican state. Here's a little tribute to the gorgeous city of San Cristóbal.
making a shawl with a back-strap loom.
find-anything-you-can-imagine market outside church...WWJD?  :-0
old church, newly dug graves?  yoooowza
sleeping with 10 strangers in your hostel dorm room? not so nice.
view at the hostel? very nice.

another reason to love Mexico...paint your house any color you want!

Thursday, May 27

nutty for tagua

Ever since I worked for Future Green in Milwaukee waaay back in '07...I've had a small obsession with a little thang called tagua. It's a nutty little seed from a palm tree that is dried and carved/cut into things like...

Baby turtle egg sculptures! Now that's what Morgan would call "ca-yute!" 

The material is more common down in South America but up here they do a little bit of tagua craftin' too. I'm starting to build up my collection of seedy jewelry: red tagua-slice earrings, a gi-normous ivory-colored ring. You know - just the basics. 

And how could I resist this smorgasbord at the arts & crafts market in downtown Cuernavaca?
The family who makes these necklaces were cool with me showing them off on my Etsy website and spreading the love up north! I've also dabbled in making some tagua earrings that I also put up on Etsy.  
Do you love it too? Or am I the only one drawn to large, bordering on obnoxiously colorful jewelry?? Hope it's not just me!