Manuka's Place

Monday, July 25, 2005

San Carlos here we come!


Tomorrow morning I head off to the Terminal del Norte to catch a bus up to the Mexican state of Sonora. Sonora is just south of Arizona and home to beautiful San Carlos. I will be meeting a bunch of friends there and we will be spending a week scuba diving and fishing. One of the guys in our group is a part owner of a house and a boat in San Carlos. We will have the run of the house and the use of the boat all week. I will take the bus to a town called Guaymas and then I will get picked up there for the 20 km drive into San Carlos. The bus ride is about 28 hours from Mexico City. This will be a true cultural experience. I hope I can handle it. Jeff is busy at work and he will be meeting us there after he is done. I look forward to having some good times with the boys, eating some good grub, and relaxing at about 60 ft. I have been to San Carlos a number of times and it is a sleepy fishing village filled with retirees from the US and Canada. The population doubles in the winter with many snowbirds from the states. San Carlos also holds a large fishing tournament every year. For us it will be relaxing with a margarita and trying to forget the traffic and pollution of Mexico City. All should be well as long as I don't have to pay an arm and a leg for the taxi to the bus station. I will write an update when I return unless I find an internet connection in San Carlos. Bye for now!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Viva Brasileirissimo!


We went to a great Brazilian steak house yesterday. If you have never been to one of the these, clear out your schedule, skip lunch and maybe breakfast and prepare for some of the best eats around. It is all-you-can eat and well worth it. Of course they try to fill you up with other foods like empinadas and fried bananas but the real gem is the various kinds of meats that are brought out to your table on giant skewers and cut right onto your plate. It is rather "cavemanesque". I had about four or five types of beef, some chicken, some pork, three kinds of sausage, and a few things I could not identify (I think one of them was chicken hearts). About half way through the meal the live music started and the dancing girls came out. It was a great time. Jeff and I are heading up north to go diving next week so I will not be able to post much next week. I will give you an update when I get back to Mexico City. Have a great weekend!!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Looking Forward!!



Not much going on the past couple of days. Just studying espanol and getting ready do go diving. I had my presentation yesterday in class. It went well. I got 20/20 on it. I leave on Tuesday morning for San Carlos in Sonora. My Spanish exam is also on Tuesday so I am trying to schedule an alternate time to take the test. I really don't need the certificate of completion, but it would be nice. The bus ride to Sonora from Mexico City takes 28 hours. It is over 1000 miles. I should see some wonderful countryside as long as I can stand being cooped up in a bus for that long. I got a special student rate on the ticket so it only cost about $50 US. I was browsing on my friend Ron's website and found some pictures from our San Carlos trip a few years back. Boy I can't wait to get back into the water with these monkeys. Just a few days!!!! See you later!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pozole


Last night we went out to a restaurant called La Casa Tono (you need to put a ~ over the n). This is a very locals only place. It is located in colonia Claveria. You will not find any information about this colonia in you lonely planet tour book. This place is strictly for locals. This restaurant has three locations all right next to each other and is super busy at times. They give you a number when you arrive and you need to watch the board to see when your number comes up. We were lucky and walked right in. When we left there were about 20-30 people waiting for a table. The service is fast and there are no frills. You fill out your order form and give it to one of the employees. Your food then arrives in about 5-10 min. The specialty of the house is a dish called Pazole. It is like a tomato based stew with all kinds of "stuff" in it. I don't know what it all was but it sure tasted good. You also put lettuce in it when it arrives at your table. I had a cerveza with dinner and some tacos too. Very good meal.

Well my big presentation in Spanish class is tomorrow. My topic is sports in the United States. I should do fine.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Colonias de Mexico D.F.


On Saturday Jeff and I went to Condesa which is one of the many neighborhoods (called colonias) in Mexico City. Think of it like the Burroughs in NYC. Each colonia has a distinct flavor and some interesting sites. Condesa has some great sidewalk cafes and many restaurants. We ate at an Uruguayan steak house. It was pretty tasty. Those South Americans sure know how to cook up meat. We met up with some of Jeff's friends and spent some time in a cafe then we walked around and went through the park where one of the scenes from "Man on Fire" was filmed. We ended up in a small cantina and had a few cervezas. Condesa has some great old houses and tons of trees and small parks. This would be a nice place to live.

On Sunday Jeff and I went down to Coyoacan and San Angel. They are colonias that are right next to each other and have a ton of character. We started in Coyoacan (which means 'place of the coyotes' in the Aztec language) and mingled with the locals in the central square. Coyoacan is packed on the weekends with all kinds of people and vendors selling various things from clothing, to food to incense, to lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) masks. Coyoacan is also known for its great ice cream. Of course we had to try some. Coyoacan is also home to Cafe El Jarocho which is an extremely popular Cuban coffee place. We were lucky because it was not to crowded when we went. I got a great hot chocolate. By the time we passed by later there must have been 100 people or more in line. We fought the crowds near the cathedral and went inside. It was pretty ornate and well maintained. There were street performers outside and a band playing across the way. We left the central square and made our way to San Angel. It was about a 30 min stroll down cobble stone streets with old houses and ivy covered walls. Very nice indeed. On our way to san Angel we passes another square full of vendors and some carnival type rides. It looked rather poorly maintained so Jeff and I skipped the rides. We continued on to San Angel which has much more charm and less people than Coyoacan. It is filled with old colonial style houses and quiet cobbled streets. We walked around and visited the small church. We stopped in a cantina and had a refresco (soda). We took a taxi back to Coyoacan and had dinner in a restaurant adjacent to the main square. It started to rain just as we sat down. It poured for about 30 min but it did nothing to the crowds and the vendors. After dinner we walked through the crowds and back to the car. All in all a great couple of days.

I went back to school on Monday and found out that my teacher is sick and may not be back all week. That is a bummer because she was great. The sub is not bad but she is a bit quiet and not as fun. Oh well, thems the breaks. That's all from here. I will talk to you all later.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Ankle Report & Man on Fire



My ankle is much better today. Not much of a problem to walk. Still hurts though. Jeff drove me to school today so I was there early. I saw one of my classmates and he told me what the homework was. That was a big help. I have a presentation to do for class next week. It has to be an interactive presentation of at least five min. No problem.

Jeff and I have to go back out to the northern bus station this weekend to buy our tickets to go to San Carlos. I was planing to go into the central historical district this week but my ankle prevented that from happening. We may go make the Man on Fire tour tomorrow. Man on Fire is one of my favorite movies. If you have not seen this movie, go rent it. Put the kids to bed, brush up on your Espanol, and hold on! This movie does portray life in parts of Mexico City very well (not necessarily where I am) and Denzel Washington is amazing.

From Yahoo Movies:
Denzel Washington stars as a government operative/soldier of fortune who has pretty much given up on life. In Mexico City, he reluctantly agrees to take a job to protect a child (Fanning) whose parents are threatened by a wave of kidnappings. He eventually becomes close to the child and their relationship reawakens and rekindles his spirit. When she is abducted, his fiery rage is unleashed on those he feels responsible, and he stops at nothing to save her.

This movie is not for the squemish or the faint of heart. Great story none the less. You will get a taste for life in this big city. So in the morning Jeff and I will head out to Coyoacan and San Angel and see some of the neighborhoods where the movie was filmed, get some lunch and avoid kidnappers (the last part is just a joke). Should be fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Weather

Just a quick note about the weather in Mexico City. It has been great!! Usually a bit of rain in the afternoon with temps in the 70's. Even though this is July, it is not the hot time of the year for this place. Click here for more information, and here for a wether forcast.

Me and "The Pack"


Well I woke up today and it looked like a golf ball was sticking out of my ankle. Needless to say I did not go to school. So I hung out with the ice pack and watched Seinfeld on DVD most of the day. Me and "The Pack" as I like to call him, also spent some time checking email and surfing the web. At about noon we made some lunch and then took a nap. We are looking forward to catching a movie later. Thats is about all from here.

P.S. "The Pack" says "HI" to everyone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mexican Sidewalks!



I left the house today with plenty of time to spare and I am walking down Av. Horacio. This street has a wide greenbelt in the middle lined with trees and is a lot better than walking down some of the other strees and dodging cars and people washing the sidewalk etc. The only thing to worry about is the bold flower sellers who don't like the hear the words "no gracias". So I am about half way or more to school when I step on what I though was a flat portion of the walkway and I stumble and twist my ankle pretty good. I heard a few pops and I think to my self, "Oh Crap, I am in Mexico and I just hurt myself pretty good!" I managed to stay upright and dodge a few taxis and I flasback to the multiple times I have done this in the past. Will this be one of those times when it stops hurting in a few minutes or am I in for some serious pain? The pain starts to subside a bit and I keep walking but it never really feels better. After sitting in class for two hours I get up and I can hardly walk. I am in some serious pain. After a few minutes I am able to walk and I leave school. I walk about two blocks and decide to take the bus. I get on the bus but I have to stand for most of the trip. That sucked! When I get off the bus I have to limp another 4 blocks to the apartment. So needless to say, I have stayed at home all day with my foot up and rotating ice packs. It hurts alot but it is not bad enough to go to the hospital. (It wouldn't have been the first time in a foreign hospital.) I will try to stay off it as much a possible and take some Tylenol and what not. Jeff and I are supposed to go out with some of the embassy people tonight but I don't know if I can make it. Oh well, thats life in Mexico. Moral of the story = Never trust a sidewalk in Mexico. Talk to you all later.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Mini-Bus Part II





Not much going on here the past couple of days. Yesterday Jeff and I got our dive gear out and ready for our trip at the end of the month. We spend the rest of the day veggin' out and watching TV. Today I went to school and have spent the afternoon reading. I did find some pictures of the mini-buses that run wild here in Mexico City. Imagine each bus filled with about 30-40 people. Enjoy

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Teotihuacan



Jeff and I went northeast of the city to the archeological site called Teotihuacan. Before we got out there we stopped at the northern bus station to see get some infomation on how to get to San Carlos to go diving at the end of the month. The weather was great today and when we got out to Teotihuacan I was quite impressed. It has two large pyramids that you can climb. We climbed them both and got some great views. I did not take this picture you see here, but I have one just like it on my camera. The large pyramid in the distance on the left is the pyramid of the sun. The picuture is taken from the pyramid of the moon. It was hard work climbing those pyramids since we are at an elevation of around 7000'. We stopped for some food in the historic center of town on our way back. We are going out tonight with some of Jeffs firends from the embassy. I hope you are all doing well. Drop me a line if you get a chance. I would love to hear from you. All is well south of the boarder. Bye for now.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Que Baracho

I was a bit late in leaving Jeff's apartment today so I had to really walk fast to get to school on time. I made it right at 9:00 but I was pretty tired. After class I went down close to the U.S. Embassy to have lunch with Jeff. I took one of the local favorite modes of transportation, the minibus. It costs $2.50 pesos (about a quarter) and I was jammed on this bus that looked more like a moter home or a catering truck. Muy authetico. I rode for about 15 min and then took a short walk to meet Jeff. We went to an Argentinian Steak restaurant for lunch called Que Baracho. It was very good. One of the best steaks I have had. I also had an empenada (pastery filled with various items) to die for. Mine was ham and cheese. At Que Baracho they surve chimichurri with your bread. It is real good. Check out this site if you want a recipe. After lunch I tired to get the bus back but I could not seem to find the right stop or the right street so I went down and took another bus that took me to the metro station and then I took the metro back to Polonco (the nieghborhood Jeff lives in). The metro was kinda dirty and crowded, but it is very cheap ($2 pesos, less than 20 cents U.S.). The Mexico City metro carries the third most people in the world per day behind Moscow and London and it is the cheapest in the world. The weather was great again today, mostly sunny and in the 70's. As long as this weather holds, Jeff and I are off to see the pyramids in the morning. Until then!!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Turibus

After class today I decided to take the Turibus to see the main sights of Mexico City. The Turibus is a large open top, double decker bus that winds its way through the city. It has an audio guide that tells you about the areas and sights. From school I walked to the stop and right as I arrived the bus pulled up. It costs $115 pesos (about $11 U.S.) and you can hop on and off as much as you like in one day. It takes about three hours to make the circut. I stayed on all the way and saw the sights of the city, the Zocalo, Monumento a la Independencia, Bosque de Chapultepec, Condesa, Roma, and many others. I will say this, the traffic in this city sucks! There were times when it took us more than 30 min to go about 1/4 mile. At least the weather was nice today. It rained like crazy yesterday afternoon. You can go to the Turibus website and click on D.F. and you can see the route I was on today. Talk to you all later!!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mexico Update

I started Spanish class yesterday. I am enrolled in the Angloamericano Centros de Idiomas school. This school has many campuses throughout Mexico and besides Spanish they teach English, French, German, and Italian. There are seven people in my class. I am the only one from the United States. There are two students from Japan, one from China, one from Germany, one from Turkey and one from Brazil. It is great that all of the instruction has to be in Spanish. When I was taking classes in the states, if there was a question it was answered in English. Now I am forced to use the Spanish that I know to ask the questions and all of the answers are in Spanish. This is helping me alot. The school is about a 30 min walk from Jeff's apartment. Class starts at 9:00 am and lasts for two hours. After class I have been walking around the neighborhood called Palonco, and getting my bearings. I will venture out in a few days. If the weather is nice, Jeff and I will go to Teotihuacan this weekend where there are Aztec ruins. It is outside the city a ways. Thats all for now. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Safe In Mexico

I arrived safely in Mexico City yesterday afternoon to dark skies and thunderstorms. It is a real stretch on the brain being in Alaska a few day ago with its wide open spaces and few people to the sprawling metropolis that is Mexico City. These two places are real opposites. I start Spanish classes today and then I will start some exploring of the city. I am staying with Jill's brother Jeff who works down here. We had some great street tacos last night for dinner. YUM!!

As far as an update from Alaska goes, I will need some time to process and then I will write a detailed post. The short version is it was an awesome experience! I was not able to convert my pictures to portable media before I left so I will not be able to post any pictures of Alaska until I return to the states next month.

Life is good and I will be in touch with you all soon. God Bless!!