Monday, December 21, 2009

City Touring

WOW. If I thought time flew by fast leading up to the wedding - the three weeks post-wedding have just disappeared into thin air. Any R&R I thought I was going to get after tying the knot was really just wishful thinking on my part...I'll start with week one:

When we lived in China, we had lots of friends and family from around the world come to visit. Seriously, every other month we had someone looking to discover Shanghai - this of course meant us putting on our tour guide caps. There were occasions where we needed a little more motivation to get off the couch to go see something we had seen before, but at the end of the day, we were always surprised. There was always something waiting to be discovered in Shanghai - seeing a new art exhibit, eating at a fantastic restaurant, walking down a charming street...

One of our metas (goals) was to see something new about Mexico City every month. We didn't count on the fact that moving here, creating a home, a new job, and wedding plans would consume every waking moment of our existence. So when I had the chance to play amateur tour guide for my Mom, we decided to hop on the Mexico City Turibus. I may be biased because this is my second time on board, but - it does happen to be a pretty decent way to get a feel for the city. Especially when you get lucky with beautiful weather.

Remember how I was saying that there is always something waiting to be discovered in each city? This time for me it was another reminder of how close Mexico and the Philippines are intertwined.

We capped up the day at the Castillo de Chapultepec, right in the heart of Bosque de Chapultepec - kind of like Mexico City's version of Central Park. Not many people know that there is an actual castle in Mexico City - but yup - and it was the humble home (ahem! imperial palace) of Hapsburg Archduke Maximilian in 1864 - Emperor of Mexico. That's just a little tidbit from its vast history. Appropriately, the castle is now home to the Museo Nacional de Historia.

Of the many exhibitions throughout the museum, I spent most of my time admiring all the remaining artifacts from the Manila-Acapulco Galleons.

The trade between Mexico and the Philippines started in 1565 and continued until 1815, thus explaining so much of the similarity seen within both cultures. If you didn't get a chance to read one of my first posts, check out some of what I'm talking about here.

To really immerse yourself and get the best experience possible out of any place, whether you live there or are just visiting, you must learn its history. I've had so many Aha! moments since visiting the castillo. This is definitely one part of the city I would mind being a tour guide to again and again.

Castillo de Chapultepec
Primera Sección del Bosque de Chapultepec
Tuesday - Sunday, 9:00-17;00
$51 pesos, Sunday free
Metro: Auditorio y Chapultepec

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

To New York and Back

Here I am again - back to the blog world! Though my absence was not due to lack of inspiration or sheer laziness; I was out and about living life in New York, New York...sigh...I have never lived in NYC, but I think this is why I appreciate it so much when I am there to visit. After two weeks, I came home exhausted - it was non-stop action - as NYC tends to be. But all of it all kinds of wonderful, exciting fun.

Trip purpose:

spend time with Mom and little brother - (check!)
walk, walk, walk the city - (check!)
enjoy the weather - (check!)
yummy restaurants and superb shows - (check!)
bridal accessories - (check!)
fit and bring home wedding gown - (check!)

Trip distractions:

shopping (check! - unfortunately)
shopping (check! - unfortunately)
more shopping...(check! - unfortunately)

How can you not shop in NY? I think someone should look into this occurrence and deem it an impossibility.

My first day consisted of re-bonding with the temperamental Miss Lola.

Although quite hesitant at first, she slowly accepted the fact that I would be squatting in her realm for the next few weeks...

There was a lot of time spent running errands (read: shopping *blush*) - mostly in the rain. But we were graced with a few of those incredible northeast fall days - and wow. Just walking around is simply enough.

the spectacular views

the fall colors

beautiful central park where we of course had to picnic
bryant park
i think Miss Lola and I became friends because I got the feeling she would not mind coming to Mexico

The grand finale of my little vacation was to figure out how to get my gown to Mexico. The thought of my gorgeous gown (because every bride knows that she has the most gorgeous of all gowns) all squashed inside my suitcase gave me the shivers. And not to mention the after thought that made me sweat cold - that there was the possibility that the suitcase may get L-O-S-T (Oh! The HORROR!).

So I decided to heed the advice of all the ladies at my atelier - just carry it on board. Como?

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! If you need to travel with your wedding gown, just show up with it on your arm at the check-in counter! No one says NO to a bride. This is probably because they would rather avoid the wrath of bridezilla; but there are some who are simply just excited for you - so for once they are nice (at an airport - imagine!?). In any case, people are understanding of the fact that you are on your way to your wedding - whether they are happy or sympathetic ;)

Most people have not traveled with a thing so huge - so try skip the "wait for your row to be called" business and get on board early enough that you can find space over head. Even if this means that you have to flirt with the guy in charge at the boarding gate. Althought this could be slightly strange considering you are on your way to your wedding.

But it works ;)

Attention future brides looking to marry in Mexico! You will be happy to know that you do not need to pay tax on your (one*) wedding gown OR any thing else considered a bridal accessory. So it's no big deal walking through Mexican Customs with a garment bag big enough for you to sleep in.

*It's one gown, because if you have two or more, then they assume you are trafficking wedding gowns. But if you really are getting married, then I will assume you only have one gown, right? At this point in life, you need to be certain of your decisions.

So here I am back in Mexico and time is ticking away! It seems that my journey through Mexican immigration policies and documents will come to an end this week. Por fin!

More to come as we get closer and closer...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As My Worlds Collide...

Time has never flown by so quickly for me as it has been doing so lately. It's only been 10 days since my last post, but I've been running around like a madwoman and thus I never seem to have enough time in the day to tick off everything on my to-do list. Maybe I'm really busy - or maybe I need a crash course in time management. Bueno...

This whole blogging business started with our wedding website (yes, dear reader, in case you didn't know I am in the midst of wedding planning). Since we sent out our "save-the-date" announcement, emails constantly pour in from family and friends around the world with one thing in common: "How are the wedding plans coming along?!?" Thus, the creation of yet another wedding blog in the seemingly endless blogosphere. For those who want to be in the know - they do so by checking out the latest here.

Then...moving to Mexico happened somewhere in the middle of all this wedding business. TA-DAAA: yet another blog! This one you are reading now ;)

At this point though, my two worlds (read: blogs) are coming together and I am finding that everything about ...findingmexico... at this moment in my life has to do with finding out what it's like prepping for a wedding in Mexico.

Hence my recent absence - all of my time dedicated to wedding planning that I figured has no place on here - but really, it gives me A LOT to write about. Getting married in Mexico is a whole other story...and allows me to find my very own Mexico in a whole other way.

This last week I confronted Mexican Immigration. Though armed with all the required documents, my visit turned out to be futile. Frustrating, considering how much time and effort it took to gather all the paperwork.

So maybe from here on out until end of November you won't read about great restaurants, hip neighborhoods, or secret spots in DF just yet; but there will be lots of musings, frustrations, and of course excitement as the big day nears.

And if you ever want to get married in Mexico - you know who to ask!!! ;)

*p.s. I do have a great restaurant recommendation! Check out Mankora - a Peruvian place in the heart of Polanco. YUMMY!

Alejandro Dumas 16
Col. Polanco Chapultepec

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Country...My Home in Need

It is always absolutely horrifying when natural disasters hit. And almost always, those people who already go through daily struggles are the ones most affected.

We all see the horror people go through around the world, whether it be from natural disasters or as a result of wars. Though we feel compassion for them, it is even more heart wrenching watching it happen to the people you love.

Manila suffered the brunt of Typhoon ONDOY (Ketsana) last Saturday, September 26th 2009. In six hours, buckets of rain fell - almost the same amount the city averages for the whole month of September.

According to the Philippine Inquirer: "The 15th weather disturbance that hit the Philippines in 2009 dumped a total of 455 millimeters of rain in Quezon City [Manila] alone in 24 hours, compared to the 250 millimeters of rain that Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans in Louisiana in the United States in 2005."

I don't use this news snippet in any way to marginalize what happened in New Orleans - it was just as devastating and heart breaking - but I do use it to highlight the severity and magnitude of this latest natural disaster to hit the Philippines.

I feel completely useless watching the news and reading articles from the comfort of my home half way around the world. I hear of friends and family helping, donating, taking action - everything I wish I could do for my fellow kababayans (countrymen).

Since I can't help physically, I hope that spreading the word in this manner can be my way of chipping in. We all need to be aware and help in any way that we can...

*I don't know who I should give credit to for these photos, but thanks to Kathy E. Zablan for compiling them in an album on Facebook*

If anyone wants to help financially, there are a lot of websites accepting donations, and it's a relatively easy way to make sure your money gets to where it needs to go.

Ayala Foundation
select either "AF-USA Typhoon Relief Fund" OR "Philippine National Red Cross"

Philippine Aid

ABS CBN Foundation

Kapuso Foundation

y al final...prayers. It is one of the most powerful ways to help people make it through.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

¡Viva Mexico!

September 15 in Mexico is a BIG deal! All the preparations since the beginning of the month lead up to this night where the whole country becomes one to celebrate it's Independence. People get off work early (if they even go to start with), families and friends get together, pozole is cooking, and millions gather in zocalos around the nation to listen to the grito!

I, of course, had to come down with the flu. Typical.

It was a rainy night here in Mexico City, but that did not stop everyone from gathering to shout alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon (check out some photos here).

As I was missing out on all the festivities, I spent time perusing through our photos of Independence Day(s) spent in Shanghai the last couple of years. If it were possible to be even more nationalistic, the Mexican community in Shanghai certainly delivers.

Although celebrating half way across the world, we did so in typical Mexican fashion with mariachis, cerveza, and lots of the indispensable tequila. (It would not be a Mexican celebration without it!)

Chinese waitress handing out ice cold Coronas...

Partying lasted long into the it does here too...what else is the 16th good for if not to crudear!

Yes, that is me (que pena!) dutifully taking a shot of tequila for my new home country. Ni modo, gotta do what you gotta do in the name of patriotism!

Until next year!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Celebration Times

Almost every country I can think of has some sort of an Independence Day or National Day. While the norm in most of them is to take the day off (maybe two, so it's a long weekend) to celebrate its freedom from some evil empire.

But of course in Mexico, as things here are done with so much more passion, we take the opportunity to spend the whole month celebrating. September 16th is the day of the famous grito, back in the year 1810 when Mexico declared itself independent from the Spanish empire.

The Filipinos didn't oust the Spaniards until almost a century later - in 1898. FIY just in case you were curious. It didn't really count as independence though - to end the war, Spain handed us to the United States and we were considered a Commonwealth up until after WWII.

Anyway, back to Mexico..

I suddenly noticed that the city was being draped in red, white, and green - and I thought - gasp! This is exactly like the Philippines - preparing for Christmas 3 months early!!! Then it of course dawned on me a short while later, that yes - those are the colors of the flag. (*blush*). But hey, I'm trying to find similarities, ok!?

This is going to be my first Independence Day in Mexico, although having spent the last couple of years with the Mexican community in Shanghai, I have gotten a taste for how important celebrating this day is.

This blog is already dedicated to discovering all things Mexicans, but there is a way to make it even more patriotic. We walked around the zocalo the other day and just happened to stumble upon the daily 6 p.m. flag ceremony.


So there you go - they do that every day - twice. The flag gets up there somehow. It was fun, aside from the crowd and the fact I was worried we were going to be caught up in another one of Mexican Mother Nature's past times. No harm done though.

To continue with the celebrations this month, my comadre is dedicating her cooking blog to Mexican dishes and tales from the kitchen of her home town...worth a look for some mouth watering photos on her blog aromasysabores. I'm still a novice in the Mexican kitchen, but maybe my suegra will have some secrets she is willing to share... ;)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Still Walking

I've tried again and again. It just ain't happening for me. Not my thing.


But I am constantly awed by those who can run. And those who love to run. Case in point: my gordo:

I know he is going to be totally embarrassed by my blog post on his weekend activities, but I can't help it. I'm proud. Proud enough that I got myself out of bed at 6am on a SUNDAY (!) to go be a personal cheer leader. You know how much I value my sleep!

Here is a random thought: why can't you people run at sunset?

Ok! I'm kidding! I can already hear the rebuttals to that comment...most of them being something like "you have no idea what you are talking about". I agree with you.

Actually, once I finished off my first cappuccino of the early morning, it wasn't so bad. I'm sure for the runners it was even better - weaving through Polanco under the clear blue skies and pretty decent temperatures. It was the first half marathon (21.5KM) organized by Emocion Deportiva - great website for all you runners looking for a challenge in and around Mexico, most important being the Mexico City Marathon coming up in a month!

Mexico City has a horrible reputation for being polluted and congested, but I really think that is an exaggeration. Since we've been spending the weekends in town, we've had really great weather. I'm sure most outdoorsy people probably would skip the idea of visiting Mexico City altogether, but they really should not discard it so quickly.

One of the coolest ways to see the city as a tourist, or to get around if you live here, is the Mejor En Bici program. It's a Bike Sharing program that allows you to pick up a bike, for free, at one station, and deposit it at another. Check out this site for a list of bike stations around the city.

Running or biking...both generally considered exercise and eco-friendly.

You really can't go wrong.

Oh, and congratulations my love ;) well done!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Everyday should be Churros and Hot Chocolate Day...

But it can't. And I should actually thank my lucky stars that it can't be that way, because if that were the case, I would end up looking like a churro. Hmm...that doesn't make sense considering churros are tall and skinny...but I'm sure you catch my drift, right?

Last night we ventured into our 'hood: Coyoacan or land of the coyotes, as the name suggests from the its Nahuatl origin of Coyohuacan. There are lots of websites that explain the history and culture of this area of Mexico City, but I think the best way to discover it, as is with any other place, is to go check it out yourself. However, if you don't find yourself in Mexico City at the moment, I realize that may be a tad I'll try my best to explain the little I found out last night.

First and foremost, the best hot chocolate in the city (according to me) is from Cafe El Jarocho. I do not know what they mix in it, but for 12 pesos, you are given a little cup of heaven. I can't wait for the colder months to come already so we have even more excuses to sit around a sip on hot coco. The plus side being that you can cover up all the extra kilitos side effects with winter wear. Anyway, this famous cafe has a cult following among the inhabitants of Coyoacan, and as evidenced by their long history (1950's), they live up to their reputation for serving up some damn good java. Word to the wise though, if you are not used to strong coffee - maybe you ought to stick to their normal brew - to avoid palpitations and dizziness.

Considering how expansive the Distrito Federal is, it makes sense that the city is divided up into different delegaciones, or areas, if you will; each one a piece of the huge puzzle that is Mexico City. Like in every metropolis, each neighborhood has its own charm or feel. Coyoacan has long been known as the artsy, bohemian, intellectual part of town.

I admit I have not one iota of creativity in me, at least not in the sense of being able to draw or paint or play and instrument. I don't dress hippie cause I really don't know how. I don't tend to spend hours at cafes endlessly philosophising life. But I felt pretty at ease in Coyoacan. It has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. There are lots of cool cafes, bars, cantinas, and trendy restaurants to check out, museums to explore, and streets to get lost on. I just hope with its booming popularity and influx of chilangos over the weekend, Coyoacan makes sure to keep its charm.

Things to do around Coyoacan:

- walk around Plaza Hidalgo

- visit the Frida Kahlo museum

- definitely have coffee at Cafe El Jarocho

- check out the Leon Trotsky museum

- eat great Mexican food at Los Danzantes

- have a shot of mezcal at Oh Mayatl

- kick back and enjoy a few beers at a cantina like La Guadalupana or La Coyoacana

Enjoy! ;)