Friday, July 29, 2005

Mexico City Bike Laws

Mexico City Laws

"Boneshakers, safety bicycles, and any other similar machines are banned from the center of town."

"Bicycle riders may not lift either foot from the peddles, as it might result in a loss of control. Also, anyone who whistled at or annoyed a bicycle rider could be arrested."

I like the second!!!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Street Scenes: D.F. by Bike

All Shots Taken this morning on my commute.

Bike Wheel Swallowing Sewer Grate Designed By World's Foremost Bicycle-Hating Sadists. My purple Masi is newly outfitted with fenders for the evening showers, 28c tires to suck up the bumps and lights for riding around town at night.

Fellow cyclist! I want to capture the guy that carries four massive banana crates on the back of his bike. Stay tuned for that.

I wonder what the chilangos thought of a camera-wielding gringo riding no-hands? This is a lovey side street in Colonia Condesa.

Say "ah"! Trademark D.F. Micro bus (say "Meecro") with green and white taxi astride a bike-sized hole.

Across from the Torre Mayor Looking east on Reforma. Look carefully (or click to enlarge) to see the Diana sculpture in the shadow of El Angel.

Believing in the Midst of Doubt

"You know it's there so take it, even fake it till it comes true"

--Astrud Gilberto "Stay" from Beach Samba, 1967

Feeling normal. Relaxed even. Seeing things as they are rather than how I want them to be. On a positive vibe, but not overly so. It's just like when I let go of expectations everyone can sense there is no agenda.

I myself feel a sense of freedom. How easily I am caught up in a story. A story of romance. A story of moving to a place. A story of something of which I have already determined and am tied into its planned outcome. Attached and not free. Trapped and blocked. Coming down off a high. Withdrawal.

As I reflect near the end of my (paper) journal, I am shocked at the number of pages devoted to the perennial negativity. Sometimes years of my life submerged in conflict, misery and complication. Like I was at the same time feeling pain but somehow numb to it. As I reflect back there were times too when I was numb to the joy as well. That my mistakes, if I can call them such, have served a purpose and have informed me. Even though I may not yet know to what end.

The day I fall in love it will all either make sense or cease to matter.

Because after all, I believe that love is real, tangible and accessible to all, including myself. That one day I will find someone and it will just click. And then, I will look back, smile and say to myself "I wouldn't change a thing - though it all would have been a whole hell of a lot easier had I just known what I now know".

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Blog That Finally Was

After a few years of surprising technophobia for someone who is usually an early technology adopter, I've finally started my own blog called "Musings from Mexico". I thought "from" makes more sense than "on" since I am not writing exclusively about Mexico but rather from my perspective now that I am here. In the past I had used both "on" and "from".

I had avoided blogs because I thought they were too trendy, clique-y and insider-ish. The term "blogsphere" still makes me wince. I'd rather drink the tap water here than read all those sycophantic blogs waxing poetic for Dubya/ or even the Dems for that matter. Prodded by my friend Joel Gwadz my mom (!) and being somewhat inspired by a fabulous blog called The Brazilian Muse, I decided I wanted in on the action.

Last night I posted all my old "musings", some new ones and some photographs to Musings from Mexico My fear was no one would read my blog but that was rapidly assuaged when I woke up to an email from "Kay" complimenting my new blog. That felt fabulous! I take back everything bad I said! I am hooked!

I've decided to stick mainly with the (relatively) single-theme of adapting to life in Mexico, my perspective now that I am here and travel stories. The alternative would be to have an all inclusive "today I bought cat litter" and "parked next to a grey BMW" type of blog, which would just be boring. If my theme diverts too much, I will just start another blog. I've found it's difficult to follow blogs that are all over the map and I sense that was what was behind some of my initial hesitance in posting my own.

I use my real name on the site though in some instances I omit or change names to shield the guilty (and innocent). I am not voyeuristically opening up my personal (paper) journal to the world's prying eyes, but you will find some kiss-n-tell information if you dig deeply enough. I will continue emailing my larger "feature length" stories for your reading enjoyment, but you will also find posts on the blog that I don't email so as to entice you into checking out the site regularly.

I am not totally sure what my "editorial policy" is. But I think it's going to be about finding balance. For it to be interesting, it needs to be real. But sometimes real crosses the line and might hurt certain parties or be of the TMI (too much information) variety. Please be patient with me as I find that balance.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

M23 Back in the Saddle

I am ashamed to admit that I am only bike commuting after nearly a year of living in Mexico City. Today was my second day. I’ve already had my first run-in with rent-a-cops and an accident.

Fortunately, the former didn’t involve bribes or handcuffs and the latter only involved flesh and liquid as opposed to say, metal, pavement and/or glass.

It all started by selling my car and then getting my act together to build up the dream bike that I’ve been talking smack about for so long. For only slightly less than the price for which I sold my SUV, I’ve got one of the world’s nicest road bikes, a Seven Axiom, custom made in my home state of Massachusetts and pictured here for your viewing enjoyment:

Now I am car free and carefree. Well, car free at least. We can talk about the cares later.

You might think that commuting in Washington, DC on a brakeless fixed gear and competing in live-traffic alley cat races up and down the east coast for the better part of the last decade would prepare me to ride in the world’s second most populous city.

It didn’t.

This is one of the most, if not the most, crowded, car-centric and bike-unfriendly cities on the planet. There is no regard for bikes or pedestrians. None. If you get hit, they will run you down again just to make sure the job is done and you don’t live to tell. I am not kidding.

I am always amazed at just how often locals warn me about the ever present threat of crime. Yet, it just doesn’t seem that sketchy here. And I say that as someone who has been held up. In fact, crime seems to be a rather abstract threat compared with the clear and present one manifested in the culture of the motor vehicle. How about the threat of walking off a curb? I am still frightened. And, as an aside, shocked at how many times cars would actually stop in the middle of traffic to let me cross the in Massachusetts! That’s happened to me here a grand total of one time.

Bike dangers here include but are not limited to the following: sewer holes without covers, foot-high curbs, glass, storm drains designed by bike hating sadists with slits that are created specifically to trap bicycle wheels, pollution, blatant disregard for traffic rules, wild bike attacking dog packs and policemen that will arrest you if you pee in a deserted area unless you bribe them - not that I would know any of that from personal experience.

Should I be surprised then by any of this in a city that is building triple-decker highways to solve its traffic woes? If your sink wasn’t draining would you add a second faucet? Well, I guess they’d rather send their money down the drain of automobile transport instead of mass transit or god-forbid encouraging the use of a mode of transit that is actually within the financial means of masses, the bicycle.

The sad thing is this city is potentially perfect for bikes. It’s mostly flat and has perfect whether. Then why should it be that there is better and more bike culture in frozen Toronto than perpetually 75-degree DF?

But I still prefer riding to walking, the subway with sweaty people pressing against me and taxis – even here.

So I am converting my trusted road bike into my commuter and starting to ride to work every day. Day One I forced myself to ride even though I knew I would think of all sorts of excuse not to. “It’s only a 30 minute walk or for that matter taxi ride, there’s no where to lock the bike, what will my coworkers think when I walk in sweaty in my Sidi’s”?

Blah blah blah. My new motto is “who cares”?

Monday when I got back from Boston, I hopped on my purple Masi with my new Baileyworks messenger bag containing my dress shoes, my laptop, power supply and work papers. It felt like I was carrying bowling balls.

When I arrived I was entreated to Spanish lesson on not locking my bike to an out of the way railing by the building’s rent-a-cop. It seems Latin America’s tallest, most modern and expensive building doesn’t have a single bike rack. Not one. It barely has anything that will even substitute as one as I found out in today’s fruitless search.

El renta-policia instructed me to go to puerta tres or door three where I was told to lock my bike. So I went there today but there was nothing to which to affix ride.

As I pulled out of “door three”, making my way down the back street in search of a proper mooring, a woman was standing on the curb with arm extended like a slot machine’s in the down position.

She was holding a big gulp-sized cup of coffee.

I was already late for work because I had been on my long Tuesday morning ride with my riding friends. I kept my focus ahead on the look out for traffic in the upcoming intersection when I felt an abrupt smack on my right shoulder and then a warm rush of liquid. Jackpot! Was I bleeding? It wasn’t so mellow dramatic.

The mujer con café walked into my path without looking. Strike! My white dress shirt was now cafe brown. At first I was kind of irritated, but then I thought it was pretty funny.

And because of my bike, it only took me 14 minutes to ride home, change and get to work, albeit an hour and a half late. I locked a half block away to the railing of an unused building.

Maybe my new found daily 46 minutes coupled with my new policy of not leaving the office after six or checking email from home will allow me time finish all the stories in my backlog.

As always, stay tuned.

Monday, July 04, 2005

M22 Planes, Trains and Meeting New Chicas

Musings From Massachusetts

I just don’t feel like writing.

I mean I feel like getting my thoughts down, however I am not feeling moved or inspired right now.

I am home and I miss home. I am not unhappy when I am in Mexico but I am unhappy about Mexico when I am in the USA or in Brazil.

Euphemistically, I put it as “I am over my enchantment phase”.

I just want to come back to New York, buy a little brown stone, ride my bike everywhere and have a nice life with friends even if that means that I have to give up having the fabulous career and the international jet set lifestyle. Sometimes I feel am done with not having a normal life.

While meeting women has not been a problem, meeting ones that engage me has not happened until this week.

On the plane up from Mexico, I met a lovely flight attendant on Delta 278. I was waiting in line for the rest room protected from from meeting anyone with my noise cancelling headphones. She asked me for a piece of gum anyway. I took the headphones off and insisted she take a peice even though she said she was just joking. Even before, I had sensed something really amazing in her just as she walked down the aisle. It was my first impression and it was strong, though we hadn’t even spoken. It was a vibe though I did not intend to pursue it.

We continued to talk during the flight and her co-flight attendant egged me on. As we talked and flirted I debated giving her my card. Something in all my travels I have never done with a flight attendant (hard to believe, but true).

Well, I just felt moved to give her my card as I left the flight. I worried what people would think, including her. But I figured what the hell. T heir problem – not mine. I handed her the card and she smiled. I left the jet, then proceeded to baggage claim.

Soon, I ran into her at customs while I was having my bags searched by an agent who asked me about the police in Mexico and then said I should never trust police anywhere. She handed her number on a peice of paper. I called her the next day.

We met Saturday to have coffee on Smith Street in Brooklyn. I felt a vibe and an electricity that confirmed my first impression. It was connection I haven’t felt in a long time. We only hung out for an hour or two, but it was nice and I most definitely wanted to see her again.

We made tentative plans to get together the following Thursday.

The week I spent in Boston was stressful. I worried too much about work and I was stressed getting into and out of Boston by motor vehicle. I couldn’t pay attention in my class and had email ADHD all day.

By the time I boarded Amtrak Thursday to go back to New York, I was starting to relax. I finally felt chilled listening to a remix of Este Vez by Belanova when a nice looking woman reading a yoga book sat down across the aisle from me and I just couldn’t resist making conversation.

It turned out she was totally cool and into pilates and yoga. I was also attracted to her vibe and presence.

A lifelong Brooklyn resident was interesting and interested in listening to me. She was strong opinioned, though tolerant, smart and had expansive quality of acceptance. She teaches pilates and had opened a yoga studio. I remember her saying “I put that idea on a shelf in my brain”. I liked that a lot and am now using it with credit to her. She also mentioned feeling connectedness in a place like Brooklyn that I could really understand when I was there.

When we arrived at Penn Station, we hugged and went our separate ways. I hope we will cross paths again.

Hours later the flight attendant and I met in the lower east side at a little sushi place. She was looking gorgeous with a sexy summer black dress. She was hot and stylish – just right and not overdone. A tiny line of black make up that made her eyes look so nice. I was impressed that she made reservations at three places for us to decide together.

I practically just stared at her in awe all evening.

We talked about everything. I probably said too much but at least I wasn’t pretending to be someone I am not. We discussed siblings, ex’s, travel, jobs, etc. It was pretty deep for a second date.

We went to a Le Souk's, Moroccan restaurant, on Avenue B, that had an ill house dj accompanied by bongo drums! It couldn’t have been more perfect. She must have really caught my interest as I was more interested in leaving to a quieter locale than I was in listening to house music.

She has a nice bike and is into yoga. Damn. Count of biking/yoga practicing women I've met in Mexico: 0.

It's just nice to know, whatever happens, that there are nice women out. It lead me to the conclusion that I may need to be in a place like NYC to meet the kind of women who have the same sort of multifaceted personalities that I am into.

It also caused me to realize most of my life has been spent working and devoting time to travel for work and that this has not helped cultivate calm and centeredness in my life. Nor has it helped the relationship department.