After 1 year, 7 months and eleven days, I’m finally back in my beloved CDMX (formerly known as D.F.) and while many things have changed -and Covid was truly devastating for many Mexicans I know- the simple beauty of my birth city and its sights & sounds remains undisturbed.
Since October 8, 2020, I have not only lost one but two of them, and while things look pretty challenging right now, I’m very lucky to be back and to be able to hug my friends and family once again. Yes, I’ve been hugging people left & right… Take that, #PincheCovid!
Also, and given the extra time life is affording me right now, I have made some very important resolutions, like updating this blog sangüichero as often as possible and catching up on some very important reading material (see below.)
I’m not really sure what’s next. But first things first: I’m off to Ajusco for some sopa de hongos. ¡Ahí se ven!
British magazine The Economist wrote a scathing editorial critizicing Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) and urging voters to “curb” the ambitions of the “power-hungry” leader.
Published in its May 29-June 4 edition, the piece made it to the cover, showing a photo composition of AMLO beneath the headline “Mexico’s false messiah.” The editorial compares AMLO, as the president is commonly known, to “authoritarian populists” Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Narendra Modi of India and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
While the government officially dismissed the article as “very propagandistic” and even went as far as to send a letter to the editor, Mexicans (yours truly included) have tons of fun tweaking said cover. Once again, I’m happy to say that Mexican Twitter never disappoint.
I give you the Con-chamacos, which (please bear with me) is a wonderful play on words to show a delicious concha (a Mexican morning bun, per The New York Times) that comes with kids (i.e. chamacos.) Thus, the con (with) chamacos (kids) get it?
Plus, is only $12 pesitos!
Filing under “Mexicans, how can anyone not like us?”
This time around, though, in honor of that amazing marketing tool known as Twitter, I’ve put together a few tweets making their way to my timeline using the #CincoDeMayo hashtag. This has only begun, so, please help me by tweeting me your own personal horrors for 2021 Cinco de Mayo and let the “Mexican” madness begin!
Remember that nonsensical trend of putting “eñes” where they don’t belong just to make something look — and sound — more authentically Latino?
Well, it looks like American media giants and Hispanic journalists organizations are not alone in this thing. As it turns out, the makers of Trinidad salsa* have decided it’s OK to put an “eñe” on habanero.
I mean, COME ON! It’s not that difficult. How about putting an “eñe” where it DOES belong? Like in “jalapeño?” for example?
You may not know this but Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a very important religious holiday in Mexico, and among the many events that take place during the course of the week, the so-called passion play is one of the most popular — and well-attended. It consists of a representation of the via crucis, and involves everyone, from workers, students and housewives who become actors for one day to play the roles of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Nazarenes, the apostles — and other characters (not all of them strictly Biblical) including a spy, a dog, and a wandering Jew.
In the play, when Christ gets captured, we see him carrying a cross a long way and until he reaches a location that represents Mount Calvary. In the most famous of these representations (the one that takes place in Iztapalapa) we see Christ carrying his cross from the town’s main square to the nearby Cerro de la Estrella in the heart of Mexico City.
Unfortunately, not all Mexican towns and cities have a mountain or even a hill around, so they resort to crucifix their Jesus on pretty much whatever location, including an electricity pole, which — as you may imagine — doesn’t always go smoothly.
While her (sudden and premature) death was the worst thing me and my siblings have had to endure, she left us the one thing no one will ever take away from us: A sense of humor that –she assured us– was the only way to go through life, no matter how tough the shit got going.
Cuquita told the dorkiest jokes and made the funniest remarks about being divorced, poor, underemployed, uneducated, hungover, drunk, uninsured, etc. etc. (“I have saved enough money to last me until the day I die … as long as I die tomorrow,” she used to say often –while cracking up….or “If I didn’t know this was a hangover… I’d rush to the nearest emergency room.” har har har.)
And then there’s my personal favorite. Once, during a heated discussion with us (her kids) giving her a hard time over something, she stops and yells at us: “DO YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW WHY I NEVER WENT TO HARVARD?” … Silence ensued, I mean, fuuuuuuck, we don’t know about that thing… Why? my sister asks almost embarrassed for not knowing.
“Because I didn’t finish elementary school! JA JA JA,” goes my mother….
Ok, you get the picture. I don’t exaggerate when I say Cuquita contributed to at least half all the Spanish slang and idiomatic expressions I used in Think Dirty Spanish. She would often call in the middle of the night with the great news that she had found –yet– another expression she’d love to see in the book. “¡Mosquita muerta!.. a ver ¿cómo dicen eso los gringos?”
We traveled the world together.
We went to shady tango joints in Buenos Aires; gigantic farmer markets in Los Angeles and colorful tavernas in Valparaíso, Chile. Once, on a trip between Santiago and Buenos Aires, right in the middle of the Andes, our plane had an engine failure and for a few, terrifying moments, we thought we would die right there. But then, as I hyperventilated and yelled in panic for a Valium or something, my mother started laughing out loud at our poor Argentine pilot, who was so distressed, he couldn’t even speak properly. Favor de no formor, he asked us, instead of Favor de no fumar.
BUAHAHAHAHAHA, my mom and I had a fit of hysterical, uncontrollable laughter.
Damn you, Cuquita! ¡Qué divertido era viajar juntas!
My favorite were her months-long visits to New York, when we’d roam the city in search of “real genuine stuff” to cook authentic Mexican things, but more often than not ended up in some fancy steakhouse drinking wine, cubas libres and eating meat like there was no tomorrow. (Oh, and did I mention the marathonic poker sessions?)
Cuquita spoke NO ENGLISH whatsoever, but none of that mattered, because in Nueva York, everyone knew her and spoke Spanish to her. My friends, my colleagues, my neighbors, the super, the bodega guy… todos.
To this day, no matter if I’m in CDMX or not, I know Cuquita will always have an altar in her home for Día de Muertos featuring some of her favorites: chocolates, pan de muerto, cigarettes and cubas libres (with flat Coke, which she seemed to favor –for some reason.) ¡Gracias, Catus!
I’m not sure where she is right now. But if there’s anything going on UP THERE, in the so-called afterlife, I’m sure she’s serving the cubas libres, setting up the poker table, telling the jokes –and having a blast.
Of course for Americans of the generation that fought the Mexican-American War, the San Patricios were considered traitors, while for Mexicans of that generation (and pretty much to this day) the San Patricios were heroes.
Multinational fashion chain Zara has done it again. The home products division of the Spanish giant has put some luffa sponges (known in Mexico as zacates) for sale at 299 pesos (about 9.60 U.S. dollars).
As any Mexican knows, these kinds of sponges can be found in any market around Mexico from less than a dollar a pack. The over 2,000% price difference was not lost on Mexican Twitter, which quickly activated the Zara Home Meme machine. The results are… hilarious.
Are you still in lockdown, on a tight budget for fancy avocados and still haven’t made any “ethnic-looking” friends?
You can now buy 5-feet-tall Mexican “scene setters,” ready to assemble and give your Super Bowl party a unique fiesta touch. It’s as easy as bashing a piñata! Besides, with the pandemic still in full swing, WHO NEEDS REAL PEOPLE AROUND, ANYWAY?
For only a few bucks, you can pretend to have real Mexicans at your birthday, bautizo, quinceañera, wedding, etc. These Insta-Mexicans are over 5 feet high; they won’t eat all the tamales, nor gulp all the beer or crash in your living room forever.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get your Instant Mexicans ahorita mismo!*
*I bet these are totally Made in China, but just pretend you didn’t read this note at all.