Friday, October 29, 2004

M10 Un dia en mi Vida

I love my daily life in Mexico City. In some respects it’s more convenient than my life was in Washington. DC.

Every morning I cook myself a meal with fresh veggies. I purchase all my produce at the local market. It is on the way to and from the subway. Within walking distance, there is a Gigante (pronounce Higante) supermarket and a health food store. Though the health food stores here tend to deal more in the latest magic sex portions than in say, soy. But at least I can buy tofu there.

After the culinary experience with the family I first stayed with, I thought I was going to be poisoned at worst and starved at best. As usual, my fears have come to naught.

I am eating better than ever even though Whole Foods has not (yet) opened here. Un/fortunately, US chains like Starbucks, Target, Costco and every fast food joint you could imagine are slowly and steadily chipping away at the uniqueness of Mexico promising a homogenized, sanitized future as generic as a strip mall in Anytown, USA. A lot of Mexicans, like the family I lived with, are eating it up like a super-sized package of “freedom” fries from McDonalds.

Walmart is opening it’s latest edifice to sprawl on the sacred grounds near Teotihuacán so you can enjoy the 2000 year old temple of the Sun and the Moon and jet in for some cheapie souvenirs, food and detergent in quantities that will let you wait out the apocalypse.

The store sits within the actual grounds of the United Nations World Heritage Site for Teotihuacán. Do you think even Walmart would attempt to put one of its stores in the Grand Canyon or on the National Mall? What must they think about Mexico and Mexicans to do the same here? Such arrogance is astounding.

Walmart construction workers have testified that the company ordered them to hide any archeological artifacts they may find. Isn’t that special?

Read more:

If you’re mad you can sign the online petition:
It only takes a second.

Fortunately, what I love the most about Mexico is it has not been overwhelmed by chains. Rather, the entire Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City) is one big market consisting of fresh produce markets, stands with bootleg/pirata CD’s and DVD stands, antiques beyond anything I’ve seen in the best flee market or thrift stores back home.

At the produce market, blocks from my house, I buy things in small quantities so my food is always fresh. I now make a mean guacamole! The first time I went, I thought I was getting a bargain when one of the produce sellers told me the price was 70 pesos ($7US). I misheard him, it was 7 pesos or roughly 7 cents for fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, mangos, bananas and oranges.

I revel in the irony that when I was staying with a Mexican family I ate the food they cooked me from Costco while now that I am on my own I eat my own homemade Guacamole and Salsas that are fresh and fabulous and locally grown!

I was down to my last cup of Peet’s Coffee and I thought I might have to resort to getting my fix at Starbucks in Polanco or Condesa. One night I was walking to the Zocalo and I smelled coffee.

There was a small corner shop on Calle Lopez with a giant ancient roasting machine. I stopped in. It was straight out of 1910. It even had a wooden and brass phone (still in use). I wish I had had my camera. Hell, I wish I had a camera! They were roasting coffee as I purchased a half-kilo (just over a pound) for about $5US.

That night I went to sleep dreaming about the coffee I would drink the next morning.

When I woke, I went straight to my grinder and coffee maker to made my coffee. It was as almost as good as Peet’s and definitely better than Starbucks.

My commute is 20 minutes round-trip door to door. That includes two stops on the efficient, but crowded Mexico City Subway. One day I had to wait for four cars before feeling comfortable enough to enter one. That being said, the subway feels safe. I get interesting looks when I wear a suit, though I don’t ever feel threatened. Mexico is homogenous enough that it’s impossible not to stand out if you are not from here. I have become accustomed to it and quite enjoy the fact that it seems to throw locals off that I live here.

My new house and landlord are fabulous. Thus far, she has bought me a new radiator, comforter, corkscrew, coffee table and has offered to get me a DVD player. And I never asked for anything. My house is equipped with every appliance, hi-speed internet, 1000-channel cable and twice weekly maid service which includes washing, drying and, best of all, folding of my laundry. It’s a huge improvement over my last situation and one that has allowed me to relax, enjoy and savor my time here in the world’s largest city.

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