Friday, February 22, 2008

Plaza in downtown Merida

Seated on the far side of the bench in a plaza in downtown Merida, the young man with the dirty goatee is none other than myself. I just thought this picture looked artsy.

Mangy Cat

The two mangiest cats I've ever seen live in my neighborhood. I haven't gotten a picture of the #1, but this is the runner up. There are lots of mangy dogs and cats everywhere you go. It's too bad they don't show the Price is Right in Mexico. Please have your pets spayed or neutered!

Mexican electronics rant

It is common to find pirate products in Mexico, maybe because copyright laws don't apply. For instance, "rolex" watches that break after 2 days or "oakley" sunglasses for $3 or whatever. But you can't even trust true name-brand products to be the same.
My Sony Ericsson phone shows the wrong date. Digital cameras here, whatever the brand, are inferior, but more expensive. An extension cord in my kitchen, connected to a small stove, gets super hot after just a couple minutes. I worry that the plastic will melt off the copper if I leave it on too long.
My best example is this blasted computer. It was the cheapest one I could find, but I'm still too ashamed to admit what I paid for it. It's an Acer Aspire L5100, brand new. But the thing overheats if you use more than one application at a time, and shuts off. Plus it has Vista. I am very dissatisfied. Why doesn't NAFTA or the free market or something allow Mexicans to buy what you have in the USA? Any economists or international business experts out there?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Laundry Day

My backyard, pictured in the previous post, also serves as a laundromat. I had never done an appreciable amount of laundry by hand until I came to Mexico. It's not so bad when you get used to it. It toughens up your hands. And you save a little money. At the local lavanderias, where they wash, dry and fold your clothes, they charge about 65 cents per kilogram. So the last time I went and had all my clothes washed it cost about $3. But seen as I don't have a job, this is what I have been doing.

Be My Guest

Last week, while I was sitting here working, I heard the gate open and someone fiddling with a key in the door. A lady came in, introduced herself as Maria, and went into my roommate's room. I was startled, but since she had a key, and seemed to know her way around, I just let it go. It turns out that my roommate has a sister who often comes through town and she always crashes at his place. He said he told me she was coming but I don't think he did, because he didn't. Anyway, the first thing she did was clean his room. I guess she always does. She also cooked a couple meals for us, which was thoughtful. But I had to exaggerate about how much I liked them. Is that dishonest? Whatever, anyway, I took a picture of our back yard with some bananas that she cut down from our tree and the apparatus she was using to cook. It's a guard from a fan on some cinderblocks with a fire beneath. It gets the job done. But I don't know why she didn't use the little electric stove I bought at Walmart for $20.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Road Trip

The other day I went on a road trip with some buddies of my roommate. We drove to the pueblo where my roommate grew up, and stayed with his parents. They live two "blocks" away from "downtown" in the middle of nowhere. We sampled the local cuisine - they have these mini-tostada things for about 20 cents a piece. Not bad.
From there, we went to Tulum, and a day resort about an hour north. My roommate is the cousin of the manager so we got in free. We swam around in the cenote, went down these pseudo-ziplines (not quite as cool as the Bourne Identity) and had more authentic Mexican food.
As we were driving, the most popular activity was taking pictures of ourselves while we shook our faces side-to-side. If a sharp picture is achieved, the result is sometimes funny. These pictures are available upon request, but I think you had to be there to appreciate their value. To entertain us on the way back, I tried to tell a few jokes. Although it often took me 10 minutes to bungle through a single joke, they usually got a few laughs.
The photos are (above) the house where my roommate grew up in central Yucatan, featuring his parents and the crew, and (below) the whole crew with my roommate's cousin on the right.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mayan Ruins

There are some incredibly well-preserved ruins in Yucatan. The most impressive I have seen so far is Uxmal. Several hundred thousand people lived in this city way back when. You have to see it to believe it. All the walls are adorned with various glyphs, decorations, and animals. If you want to see my pictures just let me know and I'll send you some, or tell you how to get them.
This picture is of a smaller ruined city half an hour south of Uxmal, but much of it remains to be excavated and restored. In fact, in this picture, I was facing a huge pyramid-type building, probably a mile away or so, at least as big as the one at Uxmal. There was a road parallel to the road we took from Uxmal to this city, and parts of it are still intact. So I imagine this area in central Yucatan was the place to be when these cities were inhabited. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it.

Cenote Snorkeling

The other day I went on a guided tour of some of the more impressive of the thousands of cenotes here in Yucatan. This one was quite large and maybe a hundred feet deep at some places. Lots of colors, greens, blues and reds, from the different layers of rocks. The water is fresh and clear. A few small fish make homes out of the cenotes, and bats can be seen and heard flying around the cave overhead.
Something that creeped me out, though, was that I found human bones. Not kidding. Some of the indigenous people used to sacrifice stuff to the cenotes because they were considered sacred. There are lots of jade trinkets on display at the anthropology museum that were found in cenotes. Another guy on the tour found a knife made of stone in this cenote, which he took with him. I left the bones there.