Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Piñatas in Mexico

Piñatas always seemed like a pretty straight forward thing to me while I lived in the US but I had no clue how different the tradition actually is here in real-live-Mexico.  Check out what the differences are that you've been missing out on - maybe you'll want to adopt the new way as well.  I know I'll never go back to the old ways.  :D   

Second part!  I took another video of the stuffing process.  I don't actually hate Elsa or the Frozen movie as much as it appears in this video, I was just feeling on a roll that day is all.  I DO stand behind most of my comments though.  ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Garbage Service in Mexico

The loud, the bells, the yelling and the honking.  Is it 11pm or 2:30a.m.?  Who cares, it's LATE, but it's what we've got going on here.  Check it out :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Yard Sales in Mexico

Hello!  I went out yesterday (STILL camera-gun-shy to get up-and-close with people, I'm trying!) to take a new video on the phenomenon that is the wild amount of yard sales/garage sales held every day here in my part of Mexico.  It's all a masquerade of course, they're not your typical weekend garage sales at all, something else entirely to be truthful and I'm here to let you in on the secret.  

If you're a newbie you won't have to be fooled like I was.  ;)  

Have a great day, feel the sun on your face and if there's no sun, try out the wind.  

- Gringa 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Away From Home During the Holidays

This video is for anyone, expat or no, who is away from their loved ones and friends for the holidays.  We can choose to make them beautiful no matter the circumstances.  

Happy Thanksgiving,


Friday, November 20, 2015

Garbage Troubles in Mexico - It's not the raccoon's!

I'm totally excited about this video!  I solved a long running mystery about why my garbage is always found out of it's can and strewn all over the street in front of my house.  Nobody wants to see my frightening array of disposable ... things all out in the street, least of all me.  *shudder*  Husband has come up with a solution already, because he's smart like that.  

So join me, (there's swearing, just fyi) in my discovery of The Gruesome Garbage Attacker.  

So there you have it.  I didn't see it coming either.  Seriously, WHO KNEW??  LOL!  

See you soon! 

- Gringa 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hair Cuts in Mexico - It's Not Pubes

If you're a newbie to Mexico or are still struggling with your Spanish this post is for you!  When I first moved here I truly struggled getting my hair cut the way I wanted it due to not only my lack of Spanish but my sweet husbands as well.  He doesn't know words like "layers" or "bangs" in English let alone Spanish bless him and so getting my hair cut was a big ole pile of trial and ERROR for quite a few years.  Below the video I've listed some helpful words that you can use and some hints on the culture of hair cutting here as well.  Last, I've posted some pictures of what a hair salon in your neighborhood MIGHT look like.  It's not Super-cuts but it works out great when you get down the lingo!  

Important to check out how to say "hair" and not "pubes" like I did for the first few years here.  *cough*

Words to use:

"Flecos" (flay-cos) = Bangs

"Capas" (cah-pahs) = Layers

"Cabello" (cah-bay-yo) = Hair.   You CAN use "pelo" (pay-low) but it's a word that people use as slang for pubes.  Not all the time, like, you can use it, but you might draw some smiles from people with minds of 12 year old boys - AKA - all my BFF'S. 

"Pintar" (peen-tar) = Color --->  "Quiero pintar mi cabello"  (I want to color my hair).   Note for this, BRING a picture of the color you want.  Don't try and wing it by asking for a "subtle red" as you WILL go home looking like a deranged fire hydrant.  

"Base" (bah-say) = Perm  - No judgement here.
"Alasiado permanente" (ah-la-see-ya-do  pear-mah-nen-tay) -  Chemical Straightening.  

"Planchar" (plan-char) = straighten with a flat iron

"Rayos" (rie-yos) = larger stripped highlights

"Luces"  (loo-says) = delicate highlights 

And last, a big tip, they always ask me how many "dedos"  (fingers) of length I would like cut off.  Like, holding up your hand horizontally and showing two fingers might equal an inch and a half or so. BUT GAWD NO.  They always end up cutting at least twice as much as you asked for.  Not because they're not intelligent or good people but ... I have no clue why, something cultural?  It just always happens and I've found that one should never use "dedos" as a reference.  Just SHOW them how much.  

In fact, what you should really do until you find someone that is able to understand you and work with you and that you will worship till the end of your days with love and adoration for cutting your hair right and thus ensuring 6 weeks of bliss, is to just bring a picture of EXACTLY what you want.  And no matter what they ask, just point to the picture and smile.  

This is where it goes down for me.  It's a house and there's a sign in the window and that's it.  If the gate isn't locked you just go up and go in, I always notice people knock first because, well, it's her house. 
The left side of the room, those stairs lead up to her actual living quarters (this space below is what would normally be her living room and kitchen, but she's working it and whatever living she's doing is happening up stairs. Go girl, get it.  The door with the green sign is a bathroom.
This is the right side of the room directly after the bathroom door. This is the amount of space in an average mid-size Mexican house, just FYI.  They almost always have T.V.'s with cartoons. Notice the t.v dates back to 1990, everything is fixable here.    

I quite like the circa 90's hair cut options for men and do believe I might lust after buzz-cut-thin-stache man for quite some time.  If you can't read it, the faded green sign on the bathroom door has a notice stating that if your kid has lice you must tell her before she begins the cut and to please not be shy about it.  And that if you don't tell her and she notices while cutting that she's going to charge you an extra 100 pesos (about 8 dollars).  *cough*  So there's that. 

Last, pricing.  This is an AVERAGE hair cutting place for the majority of the regular-income folks.  We do have fancier salons but this is what the majority looks like.  Pricing is 60 pesos (about 4 dollars USD) unless you come on Wednesday and then it's 40 pesos (about 2.60 USD)  Kids are cheaper.  

Welcome to Mexico, may your travels be delicious and your hair cuts be fabulous. 

- Gringa 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why are We Fat? Coke is Cheaper than Water

A short video inside a 7-11 to talk about how Coca-Cola is cheaper than bottled water here.  Considering that we don't drink water from the faucet here it's in my mind a bit of a big deal and really kind of silly all at the same time.  

Mexicans here ADORE Coke, to the extent that Texas adore, I don't know...Texas.  It's pretty much a food group and at any given moment you're able to see a six year old child walking down the road from the corner store with a 3-liter of Coke in hand to take back to his family waiting for dinner.  That in itself was shocking to me when I first came here, but now I'm just excited for my own kid to turn 6.  ;) 

   Water, the bottle to the far right is a 12oz and costs 11 pesos.  

A variety of soda pops, all cheaper than water and all (delicious) sugar filled.

Aaand the Coke.  Yummy glass bottled Coke, a full 6 pesos cheaper than the water.  In total costing about .40 cents USD for glass bottle and around .80 cents USD for plastic. 

There you have it, we live in Crazy-Town. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bad Mexican Candy - Evil Clown

Happy Monday!  (Or whatever day you found yourself here on this blog, happy that day too!)

To help get us through the doldrums I’m posting a video today that’ll inform you about the evil clown marshmallow lollipops widely sold here in Mexico and let you in on their dirty secrets and how they’re possibly destroying the spirits of entire generations of Mexican children.   

Also a bit of clown stripping, so you know, no kids allowed.  

Enjoy the day and beware the clown!  - Gringa

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day of the Dead - Gringa in Mexico Style

The last of the Vertical Video's today!  Also the last video where I'm nervous and won't go directly up to the people.  It was a process, a whole two days of working up the courage to just go close and ask to take a video for my mom :D  I'm totally learning this video stuff and working up my level of ballsy.

The first video is a simple share of some Mexican Hershey's Chocolate that I found on Halloween and was excited to try.  It was interesting, I'll give it that, but at least you can see what a lady I am while eating and find out about sitting on cars in streets.   :D

The second video I'm introducing you to how street vending is very much in-your-face even when you're not looking for it.  A lady selling tamales in front of a grocery store door and a man that just happened to randomly walk behind me during the video and try to sell me some tortillas from a cooler he was carrying over his shoulder.  Totally can't make that up!  Love it.  Love Mexico!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mexican Street Bread - and Screaming Mimi

Happy Day!  

I feel like writing "Welcome Back to Gringa in Mexico!" just like I do in the video's.  I can't help it, it just seems cheerful and I want you to feel welcome and know that I love that you're here.  *mushy mushy*

Today I'm posting a video - **OMG SIDE NOTE**  I promise that the next set of video's will be HORIZONTAL.  I didn't know about VVS (Vertical Video Syndrome) or how much the world hates it till yesterday when a friend informed me that I'm breaking a much love/hated YouTube code by taping myself vertically.  *snort snort* I said "taping" ahahah I'm old! Anyways, coming soon to a vlog near you - horizontal video's.

Back to our regularly scheduled program, today I'm posting a video about one of the many ways that daily baked fresh bread, sweet and savory comes screaming (yet literally) to our doorsteps here in Mexico.  I've posted a couple of pictures I took from a man I bought from that same day.  

OMG, can you feel the softness?  The crunch?  The addictive pull that screams EAT ME FOR I AM CRACK!  That might be just me...and about 80% of the population here as well, let's be honest.  They're not as sweet as breads in the U.S. of A. *the eagle flys*, even the ones that look like frosted donuts with sprinkles are actually pretty dry and not very sweet on the inside. The biscuits however, oh, oh man. They use SO much butter that Paula Dean would be like "HOT DAUMN!" and are absolutely worth living for.  If you ever come here do yourself a favor and set aside an entire day to eat one EACH with much coffee or hot chocolate.  

On to the video about how they're sold.  Enjoy - Gringa

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Loud-Ass Vending Man

I'm so excited you're here!  I'm wildly excited to share another video and show you more of what it's like living here in the regular-folks part of Mexico and not the tourist centered areas.  

Today I'm taking you to see another couple of street vendors, one from afar, and finally, one close up. You actually get to SEE the country crock container he has full of mayonnaise!  

I'm beyond thrilled that you're coming along with me and sharing in my mini adventures!  Welcome to Mexico!  

Loud-Ass Vendor on a motor tricycle with a loudspeaker. 


Up and close with the Elote Man (the in the cup kind, not on a stick kind).  Hot corn in a cup, mayonnaise, margarine, nacho cheese, thick Mexican cream, lime if you want it, chile (chee-lay it's like hot sauce), aaaaaand sprinkle cheese on top.  It's death in a cup, Texans would adore it, God bless you crazy Texans.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Underpants in the Park

Squeeeeeeeeeeee!!  This has been so fun!  Today I'm posting two more video's because I'm like a kid at Christmas and can't wait.  In the coming week you'll be happy (or horrified) that I get closer to the people and finally just flat out ask if I can video them.  I may *cough* have asked "Can I take a video for my mom??".  They can't turn down a mother-request here and I can't wait to go out and make a gazillion more video's.  I'll be posting them all week!  Again - squeeeeeeee!!

The first video is about selling clothing in the park and the second about Mexican popsicles.  Again, welcome to Mexico. 

Have a great day!  Hope you've got your underpants.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Street Corn and Garage Sale Meat

My first video!  I put gel in my hair thinking it would help with the wind but ended up looking like I've been living on the streets for a few weeks. It is what it is.  :D  I'm showing you guys a street corn vendor and a dude selling cooked meat from the side of his house.  Explanation in the video!  (omgomgomgomg can't-belive-I-did-this but also squuueeeeeeee!!) 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rooftop Gardening in Mexico!

I came home from vacation to Austin last spring break to find this planter on my roof.  It was a serious dream come true and all thanks to some good friends and above all my amazing husband who painstakingly hauled a truck load of dirt from across town (bagging it himself out of a friends yard who was moving) and hauling it to the back of our house and up a ladder one big bag at a time.  Not to mention building the planter box.  I can't imagine how much sweat he poured to make this happen but I'll be forever grateful.  

We didn't know where to begin and it was late in the season so off I scrambled to Texas to smuggle back some tomato and pepper plants.  

If you notice there's also the top of a pineapple in the corner.  SERIOUSLY, to plant a pineapple, all you have to do is take the top off one you're eating and put it in dirt.  I thought it was a joke but it's totally not!  It just...freaking grows!  

We've learned a lot these past few months and have had more than a few plants cross the green-brier bridge into the compost beyond, but it's been truly, absolutely, fabulous.  

The first time eating a home-grown tomato since living back home where my mom grew them by the bushel every summer, oh man, just, it's like eating pure sunshine.  

One of the biggest surprises/benefits from this has been the enthusiasm shown by my kids.  They've planted, weeded (YEAH Mexican child labor!! Woot!) and have been over all pant shitting thrilled with the entire process. 

Daisy eats whatever comes off of the plants like a raging zombie intent on going raw - veggie style.  We usually don't make it off the roof before she's cater-pillared her way through whatever's ready to be picked.  What's a little bug poop and dust when there's no pesticides or herbicides to worry about?  Nada, eat it up kid! 

(Little baby cantaloupes!)  

I'm incredibly excited now that I have a couple of seasons under my belt and can start really planning what the next year will look like.  I feel really fortunate that we can actually plant all year long here in this climate as long as we pay attention to what is able to grow and when. 

What has truly affected me over the past months though is that every time I climb that ladder up to the roof (and have only fallen ONCE thank you very much) is that when I look across the thousand or so rooftops in every direction I'm so saddened to see nothing but concrete.  Bare rooftops.  In the community where I live where hunger is real in many families that live around me something like my garden could be a huge help for those that struggle. 

I spoke with the coordinator of the outreach program that our school runs about how EASY and truly not expensive these gardens are to build.  He was excited about what I'm doing and agreed that this could be a majorly beneficial tool for the people that live here.  We're working on some ideas on how to get the word out and that makes me feel even closer to home than ever.  

 I feel closer to my mom with this garden, feel like I'm teaching my kids about healthy eating and know that in the future I'll be able to figure out a plan on how to eek out every inch of space for the maximum output of truly organic produce. 

I feel incredibly blessed. 
I AM incredibly blessed. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cooking for a Mexican

The other day I was thinking back and remembered what the very FIRST thing I every cooked for my Mexican man was while we were still dating.  The Epitome of Single-White-Girl fancy at the time and really, mom's everywhere I imagine - the Deluxe Ortega Taco Kit.  Hard AND soft shell taco's.  I believe at the time it came with a Taco Bell seasoning packet and as far as I was concerned was the shit. 

I was so fancy that I diced fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, got out the shredded cheddar cheese AND super fancy thank you - a dish of sour cream. Ohhh yeaaahhh.  

Ground beef and all the fixin's, I was gonna show this Mexican man my SKILLZ.  Aaaand no.  He was quick to inform me that these were not tacos.  That tacos don't come with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce or sour cream. OR Taco bell seasoning.  Lucky for him it was the couple weeks of dating and I was already head over heals for his booty because seven years later I would tell him right where to put those tacos with the hard shell.  He did eat them though, he choked them down and I give him credit.  

Years later I understand how absolutely disgusting those flower tortillas are that somehow were totally ok living in a cardboard box for what was possibly years.  I still love a crunchy taco on my white days but shudder at the thought of those medicine-y smelling store-bought flour tortilla abominations.  

Many years have come and gone and through the God given lake of knowledge known as YouTube and a good friend and fellow blogger (FOOD blogger, hallelujia!) Leslie Limon I've come a looong way.  Rice took me a good 5 years to figure out and salsa about .... well hell, salsa is still iffy, some days amazing and other days wtf-is-this-and-why-God??  And bless me I haven't burned the beans in over a year. *PRAAAIIISSE* 

It's crazy the judgment that is placed upon women here - I don't know if it's all, but certainly the gringa - on home cooking skills.  I knew within months that I had to figure out some basics so that the family could stop worrying that he would die from hunger.  

And then there's street cred.  Basics sure, but can I make homemade mole and not Doña Maria? (check). Pozole? (check as of this last month), tortillas hecho de mano? (check but gawd whyyyyy when the tortilla shop 3 blocks away sells them for cheaper than I can make them and come hot and fresh??), and perhaps the ultimate holy grail - tamales. (check sort of, I've helped the family a couple of times and that I think counts so I say "yes" because I could do it alone, but nobody does, cuz damn.)

People don't actually drink margarita's very much here (the horror I know!) but I sure can whip up a yummy one, and they always like it, even the ladies who always claim that they don't drink (and yet end up asking for 4ths *cough*)

The kids are getting in on the action these days and are working on their tong-skills for the carne asadas (cook out).  There's also the coming of age beer-fetching that is a requizite starting somewhere around the age of 4 that they've both mastered. *sigh* That part of my hillbilly past seems to have found me even here, but they feel important and useful so that's totally what counts. So there. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mexican Culture Love Affair

Someone asked today what I love about Mexico and I began to list food items. (lol duh)  I spoke of the weather, the people, more food, and then I thought about the culture.  I felt like a rusty door being pushed creakily open after years of mis-use but still on good hinges and squeeeeekkeed my thoughts out.  

I've been here seven years.  (holy crap, shit, how? what? *cough* *(didn't fart with that cough)*) I've been here seven years and in that time the culture has beaten me up, spit me out, embraced me and then welcomed me.  Sadly I see some of my fellow Expat friends continue to be beaten up and spit out because they have not yet made the choice to go with the flow.  Getting into another culture and staying above water doesn't happen to a person, they truly must choose it.  I think I understood this and made my decision more openly/widely just a few couple of years ago.  

I've felt so much more at peace since figuring out that I'm HERE.  I'm an American here but the only American culture I brought with me is my own, I didn't bring the U.S. of A. and inoculate Mexico as I think a lot of Expats might unknowingly feel.  

People here do walk slower in the streets.  It took a long time to not power walk everywhere I went here and look like a damn weirdo doing it.  My husband noticed yesterday out loud in the mall that I do the slow walk (he still power walks), but did so with a smile.  I don't even know exactly how/when it happened but I amble along these days looking in store windows and at trees and houses and people instead of straight ahead toward my mission. 

People here get to the point - eventually.  Depending on the subject matter you might have to walk around a metaphorically pretty bush for anywhere from 20 minutes to 7 hours to get to your point.  It once took us an entire day of visiting someone's house/family just to be able to loan them some money.  Talking to parents at school about their children when their children's behavior isn't correct is a fine art and talking about anything personal with someone who isn't a close friend is sort of taboo but can be done if you walk backwards around the metaphorical pretty bush while holding one hand behind your back and holding coffee in another.  (Lol, no, it's actually a lot more difficult than that).

It would be long and impossible to list everything and what I really want to say is to stop fighting.  Maybe even your home country you've made a new friend or mate and they have their own family culture that you're beating your head up against.  The amazing part is that I've never had to give up who I am or where I came from, I don't feel jilted by any of the changes because the only true changes I've made are the ones that have made me a better person no matter what country I'm in.  

Some of the cultural things here in Mexico I will never love or respect but I don't have to fight them - unless I choose to.  I can live in peace here because I've stopped head butting like a goat and have instead, eaten it.  A little salsa and hot damn, it's pretty good.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

I am SO back!

The blog has been BRUSHED off!  New pictures, out with the old, in with the new, the beautiful, the messy the spicy!  And whatever else I can figure out to write about.  It's been so long (seven years living here!) and so many changes - babies, jobs, friends, ect. that I'm not even sure what in the world I'm going TO write about.  But hell, the kids are older, I have time now, it's time to brush out the cob-webby vagina that is this dried up blog and find something to say.

I love my life here, I love the food, I love my friends, I love the crazy arse high-jinx that people get up to here in Mexico.  

It's time.  

See ya in a few  -  Gringa