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Last Days in Mexico City

5/31

This morning a group of us went to an artist's market!

It was Brett and his wife and kids, some of the sound crew, and Slick (trumpet) and I.
We shopped for souvenirs :) Some stuff was really tourist-y, like little tequila bottles with sombreros. But there were unique handcrafted items as well: paintings, blankets, sculptures, glasswork...all that good stuff.
I got to practice my haggling :) Though I may not have always gotten the best deal possible, I did save at least 40 pesos on everything I bought. My best bargain of the day was something that started out at 180 pesos, and I got it down to 100. Not bad I think!

One or two vendors spoke excellent english, but most knew little to none. But luckily numbers translate pretty well. For one transaction I used my phone to type out the prices I wanted, and the vendor responded with a calculator.

I'm sorry there are no pictures from this trip...Julio is borrowing my camera.

Oh, getting there was somethin' else too! We must have picked a bad time of day for public transit, because it was PACKED. And I mean packed into the cars like sardines. Even in New York I've never been so squished on a subway! Haha.

Now it's time to grab lunch and play some shows!!


6/3
Today is our last day of shows in Mexico City!

In honor of our last day here we've all ordered gigantic tortas. Can't wait to eat mine!

Playing here has been fun and interesting. I've learned a few things about Mexican culture and people. If you've been to Mexico before or have read up on the country you probably know most of this stuff, but for me it's all new.

When we rode the subway during rush hour, we noticed that there was a car set aside especially for women so that they wouldn't feel uncomfortable or be harrassed during the too-close-for-comfort ride. Of course this didn't help us any because we were in a group :) I wonder if they have that same courtesy in New York? (Doubt it)

People living in Mexico City do not wear shorts AT ALL. So if you wear shorts here you'll stick out like a sore thumb. I didn't even see many people wearing sunglasses...hats seem to be preferred instead.

Our shows were definitely different than those in the states. For one thing, at least half the crowd always arrived late! Somewhere near the end of the first act, we'd look up and notice that our audience had doubled. This happened at every show no matter what time of day it was. I wonder why!

People here seemed to enjoy dressing up to attend our show. Much of the audience wore suits/dresses. And unlike Americans, Mexican guests really took advantage of the preshow to take pictures of each other with acrobats, clowns, pieces of the set...even the band sometimes :) So many people wanted to take pictures, we had to move the preshow 10 minutes earler to make time for it!

Crowd reactions were also very different here than in the states. The pole gag (a slapstick act featuring 2 clowns) uses call-and-response audience interaction. The audience booed, cheered, and whistled in places where an American audience would just clap. Though the band isn't involved in that act, it was fun to watch and I think it was fun for the clowns too!

As a woman, I didn't travel alone while I was here (we were advised not to). This didn't prevent guys from trying to flirt though. One guy who worked backstage at the arena kept trying to tell me something...he didn't know a lick of english and I know no spanish, so all I could do was shake my head and smile. Yesterday I ran into him in the cafeteria where there's free wifi (sometimes). He ran over to me all excited and pulled out his ipod. On it was a message written using Google Translate:
"Thank goodness! Finally! All I wanted to say is 'you have beautiful eyes'".
LOL. Thank goodness for technology. I wrote back to him in spanish saying, "Thank you for the complement. It was nice to meet you here in Mexico City. Take care!".

As far as architecture and living conditions, for the majority of Mexico City's population it seems that home is a structure made of cement, plaster, and tin. These are packed tightly on the streets, making it hard to tell what's being lived in and what's not. Some businesses and homes had chain gates and/or bars on the windows. In place of barbed wire, many buildings had broken glass stuck in the cement on top of their fences.

Cars are different here too...there are recognizable brands like Chevy and Toyota, but the logo looks a bit different and the cars are smaller than in the US (no surprise there!). Some were brands that I didn't recognize, and I've heard people say that these are Brazilian models.

I may have mentioned this already, but there's tons of grafitti. Turns out that most of this is advertising. Rather than making flyers or billboards, businesses paint their ads directly on walls, highway over/underpasses, or any other flat surface in a busy spot.

I'm sure everyone knows the food is different here, but I'll say a word on it anyway.
One thing that caught my attention was the color of the chicken. It's kind of yellow-ish. At first I thought "this can't be good!" But Google says it's yellow because the chickens are fed yellow flowers (or if the farmer can't afford to do that, it's dyed yellow). Feeding it yellow flowers supposedly give the meat a different flavor. FYI it looks and tastes pretty normal to me once it's cooked.

Other fun food facts:
Apple flavoring is VERY popular here. Not the sour apple like in the states...a sweet red delicious flavor. It appears in everything from gum to marshmallows and gatorade.
Tamarind, maize, and mango-flavored candies are common here and usually come sprinkled with chili powder.
Eggs are not refrigerated.
There are lots of flavors and brands of yogurt at the store, but very little of it is fat free or plain and even if it is it's still sweetened. The preference seems to be for drinkable yogurt. No greek-style to be found :)

Being here has been a lot of fun. I'd like to come back as a tourist someday and visit more historical sites. And eat more food. Without getting sick :P

We are en route to Monterrey now. We don't have a show until Wednesday, and everyone is looking forward to a few days of rest after 24 shows over the past two weeks. Azucar!