Sunday, February 26, 2012


That's what I scream in my head when I see one. It kind of sounds like a 10 year old boy yelling RECESS!!!! after the bell rings.
I walk around twice then decide on a hand made notebook I desperately needed and a colorful scarf. I'm still on the hunt for a couple specific bags I like and a stone necklace.
An eclectic band of 6 men fill the stage with bongos and drums. I can't stop thinking of my late uncle Joe - I'm in his world.
The crowd moves quickly towards the stage so I follow. We're clearly blocking the huge mass of people sitting in chairs behind us so we're forced to sit on the ground. I laugh nervously as the crowd boo the announcers.
In one iPhone movie I make (below) a drummer explodes in an African dance. His face is extraordinary and you can feel his happiness and exhilaration from being exactly where he belongs.
I decide to leave after the performance and head straight to the grocery store. I forgot Q-tips and hand soap but purchase 3 types of cheeses, a bottle of wine, steak, some munchies and broccoli (because my mom told me to). I really do need to make that budget.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beautiful Sunday

Post Cortado / pre dinner - I'm thinking heat up dem' buffalo wings.
No matter where in the world Sundays are always cozy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mexico - Cortado coffee search

This morning I woke up with the desire to search for the best Cortado. The search is on!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mexico Day 5 - Alone and wondering at night.

I just found myself starring out over the terrace window looking at a volcano that's barely visible through the haze of pollution . Everything is quiet except the sound of Mexico's orderly chaos and the wrestling trees that create a moving canopy a meters below my floor. I keep getting these waves of emotion and I can't decider weather it's fear or exhilaration.
I've been spending everyday this week exploring my new neighborhood and weaving in and out of side streets that I cant pronounce. I have to be alert as i dodge crowds of people and trip over sidewalk cracks I hope they never fix.
I took the subway today for the first time from Chilpancingo to Centro Medico where I needed to desperately drop off my iPhone so that it could be unlocked, again. As I walk up the subway steps of Centro Medico I'm immediately hit by a comforting aroma of heartwarming street food. I'm hungry and want to eat but there's no need for self indulgence ; I went grocery shopping just yesterday. Mostly I need to focused on the task at hand which is trying not to end up as trendy road kill .
Crossing an intersection feels like a science. I start by inconspicuously picking a partner to cross with. I find a mother and child to team up with, I know she'll be extra carefull. I cross the street and cut right entering a market that hovers over a block of sidewalk. Its early and they're setting up shop - sunglasses, purses, shoes, pastor, and fruit of every colour line the runway. The overhead tarp acts as a filter and casts a greenish hue from the sun's rays, it's hot and warms my back. I turn around and notice I'm part of long line of people on their way to work. Waves of conversation and laughter filter past me as I try and keep up with the crowd of surrounding people. Altogether we burst out from under the canopy in every which direction. What was just a break from the sun to them was for me a moment of elation.
The Telcel people are kind and offer to fix my phone for free. The woman at the counter speaks English and I'm confident I will have a phone soon enough.
I head home to cook myself lunch proud of my accomplishment. I make the same dish as yesterday - melted cheese with sautéed peppers and tomatoes on a tortilla. It looks beautiful when I add a layer of vibrant green spinach but I forget the red onions.
I head out again to explore The Condessa this time with my camera. While shooting I take a step back and include the blue sky in a few of my frame not so meticulously frame shots. I'm tired and want to head home. I curl under the covers content with my day and watch three episodes of Californicatin as I wait for amigo Chucho.
We take the subway to Casa del Lago, he has a piece in an exhibit. It's a custom made wallpaper that welcomes you upon entrance. His piece is gorgeous and he describes it to me fluidly and confidently. His ideas are deep and his knowledge of art intimidating but he casts no judgement and on anyone. We hit the courtyard and I meet a Parisian boy and his girlfriend. They speak English well so we immediately exchange lives and experiences. She's from Gudalahada, A town north of the city that's built in the mountains; I write it down so make sure I visit. I imagine the air to be so much cleaner then in the city. I cough continuously and my chest pains return as if I've started smoking again.
Back on the subway Chucho and I recap the night and I immediately feel our bond has strengthened. Its my stop, I get off the subway confidently as if I'm in Toronto. I'm not sure which side of the street I'll end up on but I follow the exit signs, SALIDA, plus how hard can it be I was just here yesterday. Up the steps turn left....oh dear. The dark eerie veil of night blurs my memory and everything starts looks looking completely unfamiliar.
"F***!" I whisper under my breath as my heart races and I start to feel like everyone is walking towards me - all eyes on lost and vulnerable street meat.
"Get it together Franchino make a decision., move in any direction."
Chilpancingo looks familiar, I'll walk down this dark shady alley and see if I come across anything familiar. NOPE! Too dark for little blancho. I turn around and head back to the subway entrance where two people are walking down the stairs with their backs to me.
"Disculpe, Disculpe." I say quietly. "Pardon!" I say louder "PARDON!" My voice is frantic. The couple disappears as they cut left into the subway. Oh dear, am I a ghost and dead already? Shut up Franco and keeping thinking. My pace is quickened and now I have to cross a giant intersection. My eye catches a stone on the ground in a pile of rubble.
"Pick it up Franco and hide it in your hand." The light turns green and I immediately dismiss the stone since my attention is focused on avoiding the oncoming left turners as i prance accross the road. I might as well be wearing a bedazzled cape with a helicopter flying above me spotlighting my masculine run.
Where have the lights gone all of a sudden? My internal dialog is scattered and indecisive. I check my pockets for valuables as the Bruce Lee doc I watched last night starts racing through my head for some reason.
"Stop it Franco you don't even have nun chucks." I see a couple walking towards me, "Disculpe, Donde esta Amsterdam?" they point in a direction that I'm confident looks familiar. A block and a half later another large intersection, this can't be right. A sigh of relief falls over me as I see in big letters under bright lights OXXO (similar to our 711). "Disculpe, Donde esta Amsterdam?" My relief washes away as he lets me know it's three blocks straight down Insurgentes - the exact direction I just came from.
"Muchos gracias"
I'm happy to see that the opposite side of the street is well lit so I cross. For a second I'm distracted by a skinny women in baggy clothes covered in stains juggling in front of the stopped cars as her audience. Her choice of balls are dark green and practically invisible at night. My pace quickens and every landmark is becoming more and more familiar.
I'm becoming the threat I want to avoid as my barely audible footsteps alarm the women in front of me. She turns around and makes eye contact but there's no time for sympathy so i keep moving. I can tell she has streets smarts, someone I can learn from. At least I'm not the only one on edge.
"Aguascalientes - YES!" I whisper. The street names are becoming more familiar. "Campeche, Iiztaccihutl, here we go - Michoacan! Cut left, pass the fountain, then the restaurant. I've never been happier to see my front door.
I greet the door man, he smiles back. I get to my room jump into my pajamas, curl under the covers throw on some Californication and doze off.
I love Mexico.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mexico Day 1

Adriana picked me up from the airport with sad news that her best friends father died. I had a premonition that something of that nature would happen and that I should prepare for it with proper funeral clothing. I won't have to go. Maybe it's just a coincedence that this news should come on the same day of my fathers anniversary of his death.
I forgot to tell Adriana that durning my lay over in Washington I met an 82 year old women with a Chupug (half pug half chuaha). She was having problems pulling the dogs crate (on wheels) off the shuttle train. Poor Mikey tipped over twice and so I didn't hesitate to carry her dog for her. I called for a wheelchair because i could see in her eyes that she wasn't prepared to walk to terminal 32 we were at term 16 - my terminal. I refused her $20 offering out of a childhood habit but immediately questioned my decisions. It was too late. I sat with her for 10 minutes and found out she's German from Berlin, lost her husband 6 years ago, is from Boston, has two sons one in Florida and one in Virginia but has decided warmer weather is better for her and Mikey. She worked on a military base in 1946 as did other woman during the war. She's was shy but had an honest smile. I double checked the wheelchair status then said goodbye.

The plane ride was delightful in that I snuck ahead two rows to 3 empty seats not knowing it was economy" plus". Fortunately for American racism the stewardess only questioned the Mexicans' tickets and assumed I was in my proper seat. I joked about this with Adriana. I made eye contact on every interaction with the stewardesses so as not to raise any suspicion that I didn't belong. I waited to put my feet up till I was confident I would not be harassed and asked to awkwardly move back. I came up with a couple excuses to not show my ticket. I decided on "Sorry I used it to spit out my gum." I'm glad I don't know the results of that decision.

After two episodes of xfiles I decided to take a nap and woke within 20 minutes before landing to a violent lightening storm in the distance. I couldn't help thinking it was a sign of the spiritual electricity I hope to uncover here. It was instead a sign that my cardboard box of luggage separated in Toronto by Jessica and I would arrive to Mexico open, wet and grinning back at me from the slowly approaching conveyor belt. A young mexican boy approached me and began to explain the situation for 5 seconds before i changed my blank facial expression to "No hablo espanol." Through a game of charades he assured me that he put my things back as they were scattered around the cargo. All shoes accounted for. The situation was completely out of my control and so onward I went to inspection.

"Signore! Please push the button."
GREEN! Thank God!

Adriana and I sat in the kitchen talking and drinking whiskey that wasn't ours. I looked for food and continued our quick catchup that started in the car ride. I periodically finish my banter with,

"I just cant believe im here, im just so happy right now."

The place I'm staying is beautiful and I can't help but feel undeserving of such an offering from my friends. I have my own room with beautiful window light, a low mattress and closet fit for girl - who could ask for more.
I bid Adriana adieu and relish in the empty apartment that's mine for the night and full day tomorrow. My roommates are away for the evening and I'm free at last.

Today, Monday February 6th is a holiday and the park is filled with dogs. Can this be? Could I be in the epicenter of Mexicos dog hub. What's that in the distance, multiple dog trainers and dog walkers? Do my eyes decieve me or do I live directly beside a man made dog jungle of wet smiles and frantic, unstoppable play time? I'll just sit here for a while and .... OMG IS THAT A SONNY?!
I look around and all I see are the best looking and best trained dogs I've ever seen walking in complete unleashed synergy beside their owners. A black lab walks proudly beside his owners bicycle. Saint Bernards, bernese mountain dogs, old English bulldogs, pugs, shepards, great Danes, italian greyhounds, Pomeranians, and even stupid white fluff balls, the list goes on. They're all lined up like soldiers waiting for their leaders command. Non of which are nutered and yet no aggression, no competition, no fights. I have an epiphany. I decide to move on and come across a pond of dogs. Did you hear me? I said a POND OF PLAYING DOGS! Was I dreaming? This can't be real. I cross the bridge and take another photo as the water glistens off the wet fur that's back lit by the morning sun. I keep moving. But wait....what's this??? It seems as though i've stumbled upon yet another courtyard of four legged furry friends. My friends weren't kidding when they told me "This is the part of town for you Franco!" They referring to my safely me referring to Sonny withdrawal.
This dog piazza, if I may, is less chaotic and feels like a good place to settle down and open my book, but I'm distracted by this one dog in particular. I notice it's a Mexican water dog - pitch black and hairless like a creature from a fairy tale. I've always wanted to meet one. He's a social butterfly with everyone but me. The only dog that approaches me is this beautiful black Italian greyhound. He's a puppy named Mikel.
I hear a women scream as if she lost her child. There's a commotion and I see the owner of the fairytale creature running to the street. It's obvious what happened, the creature must have ran into the road. Onlookers gather and my curiously is burning but the creature and the women are blocked by a beautiful cement wall thats covered in cracks and remnants of a beautiful mural that's been tarnished by rain and graffiti. I notice the woman's head poke above the wall and as she slowly makes her way back to the courtyard. The chain in her hand slowly reveals her dog with a subtle limp yet mostly unscathed by the near death experience.

This is enough excitement for one morning. I head back to Amsterdam Street and begin to write as I wait for Adriana to reveal my day.