Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lucha Libre 101

I went to my first Lucha Libre match or masked Mexican wrestling event a few weeks ago with Jeremy and my 15-year-old brother-in-law Zach. For those of you who don't know, Lucha Libre is beyond huge in Mexico. It is a rich part of the culture.

Roudy fanatics crowded in the dingy gym. We sat in fold-out chairs, vendors sold the famous masks and food stalls with hot dogs and hamburgers were packed into the small arena. Before we headed to the event, I had images in my head of being the only woman in the crowd. But to my surprise the world of Lucha attracts more than just men and boys. The crowd was filled with women of all ages, and they were actually some of the loudest hecklers! The sweetest little 5-year-old girl wearing Disney attire sat behind us. But soon, she too, was heckling the wrestlers. It was fun to watch, and even more fun to listen to all the crazy shouts from the audience.

We'd been wanting to do a story on Lucha Libre, so the following week, Jeremy and I went to observe a class that taught Lucha Libre to amateurs and provided continued training for professionals. This time I saw women rule, not only the outside of the ring, but kick butt from the inside. Petite girls about my height were slamming down some big dudes. We even talked to a 13-year-old girl who decided to spend her summer learning Lucha moves. It was funny to see her mom cringe in the corner of the gym everytime her daughter threw herself from the top rope of the ring or kicked some guy in the face. Go Girl!

Read Jeremy's story by clicking on the title above.

Jogging with the Bulls

At the Viveros Park, where I go jogging, you can hear an occasional Olé! if you get close enough to the center of the park where bullfighters often train. I noticed them a few months ago, and wrote a feature about them for the International Edition of the Miami Herald. The guys looked so young (some in their teens), and I was surprised that most of them were already professionals. Today I went jogging, and smiled when I saw them again. Some were training to get to Spain when I talked to them back in December. They are probably big shots by now.

Read my story by clicking on the title of this blog, or copy and paste this link:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Waiting for Potty Parity

I first heard about "potty parity" in Austin, Texas, about two years ago when the construction of a new city hall required a higher ratio of women's to men's toilets. As more U.S. cities and states are passing laws to shorten the often long lines in women's public restrooms, sadly women in Mexico will just have to keep holding it until this "potty parity" trend comes south of the border.

Studies show that "because women have different needs, on average they spend twice as much time in the bathroom as men, causing longer lines," according to the Christian Science Monitor.

I can't count the number of times that my poor husband has had to wait, wait and wait for me to come out of the restroom like at the Mexico City airport because the lines usually snake out the door.

It'll be a big day for Mexican women if this potty parity catches on here, but in the meantime, Thank God for patient husbands and good bladders!! : )

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finding the Virgen de Guadalupe in Unexpected Places

I have seen plenty of nichos before-- you know those enclosed miniature altars with the Virgen, crosses or other religious objects-- outside of people's homes and more often, along some Texas and Coahuila highways.

But in Mexico City, you can find nichos or altars to Our Lady of Guadalupe almost everywehre. The dark-skinned Virgen is considered the "Queen of Mexico" after appearing to a humble indigenous man named Juan Diego (now Saint San Juan Diego) in the 1500s.

Around the city, I have seen nichos devoted to her in some interesting places like jogging trails, subway stations, bus stations, taxi stands and even at the gym. I'll post more images of these creatively placed nichos as I spot them around the megolopolis. For now, here are two that I saw the other day.

At a boxing gym

On the way home, built in to someone's house

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Arrival of Hurricane Dean

CHETUMAL, Quintana Roo-- The day after we arrived in Mexico City from our Boston vacation, we were sent out to cover the Category 5 Hurricane Dean, which was about to hit near the Cancun area. Without a chance to recover from jetlag from our previous flight, we were back at the Mexico City airport (our second home).

We flew into Cancun and then drove along the Mexican coast the next day. The big concern, especially from the U.S. media was that Cancun and its multimillion dollar resorts would be destroyed, but Hurricane Dean moved further south, near the Belize border, and all the luxury of Cancun's main strip was spared. But since no one lost millions, the media spotlight on Hurricane Dean dimmed and left in the shadows were the real people who were affected-- the indigenous Mayan communities along the coast.

On our drive to the port city of Chetumal, just minutes from Belize, we drove down what they call the Zona Maya. The road was dotted by thatched roofs that had been blasted by Dean. People sat under the skeletons of what used to be their homes. Others scrambled for some kind of makeshift shelter as rains from Dean's aftermath began pouring.

With so much that foreigners have invested in the Cancun area, I think no matter what happens, it will always be rebuilt. But for towns like Chetumal, and other communities in the Mayan Zone, a tragedy like this could affect their very livelihood.

(Top photo of Tulum beach; bottom photo of kids in Chetumal riding through the city's flooded streets the day after Hurricane Dean)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back in the U.S.

The Guertin family has been spending summers in Rhode Island for generations. And it was here where my husband says he spent one of the best summers of his life. He introduced me to his world of beach, lobster and Fenway Park. I could get used to this.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Special Blogger Alert! Husband Weighs in on City's Black Market

Don't get worried everyone, but I have hijacked Nancy's blog for a little bit. I was going to write a lengthy entry about the Red Sox chances this year, but in the end decided to show some pictures of one of the coolest markets in Mexico City, El Chopo. My little bro Zachary was in town last week (he turned 15 and we celebrated at Six Flags Mexico) and I figured he'd rather check out El Chopo than the National Anthropology Museum.

The first thing we noticed at El Chopo is that there are real life vampires wandering around. These guys go all out with the makeup.

El Chopo is basically the pirate market for all the goths, punks and alternative kids in the city.

Every Saturday they gather to shop for bootleg CDs, buy rock t-shirts and pass out fliers for their bands' next show. We saw truly original hair-dos and some old school punks with two-feet high mohawks.

Zach bought a CD that contained the entire discography of Soundgarden (for $3) and a disc of Ska-P, a local band. He looked happy.