Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kermés de San Lorenzo

Last weekend we had the pleasure of going to an event in the San Lorenzo neighborhood in Juárez. It was the first time we've gone and honestly, although this event is held annually only a couple of miles from my house, I'd never heard of it until a couple of girlfriends mentioned it to me a couple of days before.

It was sort of a combination of a religious festival, a street fair and a carnival. The city closed off several streets surrounding Iglesia San Lorenzo to have room for all of the carnival rides, food stalls and vendors selling artisan goods and the like.

As soon as we neared the area the sound of drums was overwhelming and you could see large crowds of people surrounding groups of people dancing in native clothing. Those people are referred to as matachines and they perform their danzas all day and into evening to honor Mother Mary, or a Saint, or more generally to worship Christ. The reason behind the dance varies depending on the tribe and the occasion.

These pictures don't really do them justice but if you check out my Facebook and Instagram pages, you'll find some videos of them dancing.

The matachines were spread out around the church and in the park area in front of the church there were stalls where you could buy traditional Mexican pottery, artwork, kitchenware, jewelry, toys, etc. We picked up the game Lóteria for a mere 25 pesos.

There were also carnival games set up throughout the area. The more popular games involved shooting darts at balloons and rolling marbles into numbered holes.


As we neared the end of the rows of game booths there were a couple questionable set ups thrown in the mix. This booth scared the absolute shit out of me...

I couldn't quite tell what the point of the game was and the tequila bottles popping out from behind those dirty stuffed animals just gave me the creeps.

Oh and Ray wanted me to show you guys one of the ticket booths... It's seen a carnival or two, that's for sure.

The food was delicious though, as always. I'm a big fan of Juárez street food so I didn't expect anything less.


Enchiladas and gorditas seemed to be the big thing but everyone in my group was in the mood for tacos. Except me. I wanted a gringa. No pun intended.

The tacos were reasonably priced but why someone would want to pay 5 extra pesos to eat intestines is beyond me...

I guess that's a taste I haven't yet acquired?


The streets were packed and definitely gave off that Mexico vibe that so many people have easily fallen in love with. Sometimes that feeling can fade away as I spend a large portion of the week working in El Paso. The culture, the vibe, the people... What's not to love? We had a great time and definitely plan on making it an annual tradition.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Giving Tree

I was going to write something profound and meaningful to celebrate the 4th anniversary of us moving to Juárez but instead I'm just going to talk about a tree because I am an ass like that.

I started writing this blog in July after tipping back a few too many and actually accidentally hit publish. So to those of you on my direct email list who got a blog full of drunken gibberish last month, I'd like to apologize. I aim to be only half as belligerent.

So about this tree...

A while back I was talking to my dad about the weather in Juárez and mentioned how much a tree in our backyard had blossomed since his visit. The truth is, this tree I spoke of started off as nothing more than a nuisance to us.

Last year a weed popped up in our backyard. Even though I've always dreamt of having a home with a garden, the truth is that I am lazy and have no desire to get down and dirty with seeds and dirt and give endless attention to said garden. So I never pulled the weed.

A year later, I had no desire to knock down the little bush that was the result of my laziness. Raymundo bitched and moaned about this... weed, but I just let it be. Two years later, it had converted into a full blown tree, but the trunk promptly split in two.

Fast forward to today, two and a half years later. I am discussing this once weed, now tree, with my father and I see that it holds so much more significance than I could have ever imagined.

Simply put, it's a weed that grew. It was neglected and left to grow without supervision. This little weed became a tree and in time the trunk began to separate. When Raymundo saw this he tied the two trunks together with a rope. The rope caused the original trunk to become even stronger.

In time, the two trunks have grown back together and are now joined as one.

Maybe I've had just a few too many glasses of wine, or maybe I am still riding high on the romanticism of our wedding anniversary or the shock that we've actually survived the last 4 years here but I can't help but feel that this tree symbolizes my marriage and the journey we've taken together here in Juárez.

To most, this is just a picture of a tree. For me, it is so much more. It is a reminder that each marriage has it's own unique ebb and flow. It's a reminder that when we question what's going on in our lives, God finds simple ways to guide us or give us hope. It's almost as if right when we felt like nothing made sense, or that the only thing around us was disparity, He stepped in and literally planted a seed.

Like our little tree, or the tomato plant that unexpectedly grew out of the drain on the cement patio at our friend Veronica's house in Juárez, or those poppies that Robert Andrew Powell noticed in the middle of the otherwise barren Chihuahuan desert on the outskirts of town.

"Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all."

- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The 7 Wonders of My Ancient World

After nearly 4 years living in Juárez, there are a handful of things that leave me awestruck each time I encounter them on a trip back to the States. I've heard plenty of Mexpats comment that living on the border isn't like living in "real" Mexico but I never did fully understand that sentiment. To me that would be like saying that living in San Diego or Detroit is not like living in the "real" US because they are on the border. Nonetheless, I am left with a dropped jaw each time I make a visit to Missouri and see certain things that we don't have back in Juárez. And with each visit it becomes more and more apparent.

Here are 7 wonders that leave me marveling at their convenience or innovation every time I head North of the border to visit my family. Not to be confused with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this is just about things that were once a huge part of my world. Not that I should be comparing a kitchen appliance to the Great Pyramid of Giza, but whatever.

1. Dishwashers

A magic box that you put dirty dishes in and then they come out spotless and dry? The notion seems unheard of to me now. I'm blessed in that my husband helps out with all the household chores and my only real responsibilities here are to cook and do the dishes. From time to time I fantasize about what it would be like to have one of those magic cleaning boxes again...

2. Garbage disposals

You mean to tell me you can put egg shells and Ramen and jalapeño stems down the drain and then flip a switch and it all disappears? #mindblowing

3. Bath tubs

I will never understand why most people do not have a bath tub in Mexico. Baths use less water than showers and are just more efficient/cost-friendly all around. With that being said, I typically just took showers when we lived in the US, but it was always nice to know I could have a long hot soak if I wanted to.

4. Carpet

Getting out of bed in the winter with that warm, cushy carpet enveloping your feet with love? Ahhhh... Here in Mexico floors are generally tile or depending on the area, just cement or dirt. Oddly enough we have all wood floors in our current home though. Regardless, I miss being able to just run the vacuum cleaner over the floors for a quick clean up. Now it's like, sweep the whole damned house, then bust out a bucket and a mop and ugh... No thank you. Raymundo!?

5. Drinkeable tap water

The thing that probably shocks me the most when visiting my family is being able to drink the tap water. Really, in all fairness, we never drank the tap water in Arizona, but that was because it tasted like crap. Here in Juárez, if we drink the tap water, we get physically ill and small black flecks appear on our teeth. I know, I know, that was one experiment I probably shouldn't have done. I almost feel dirty drinking right from the faucet when I'm on vacation because at this point my brain is so wired to think that tap water is bad for you.

6. Refrigerated air conditioning

Late summer is the time that I miss refrigerated air the most because it's somewhat of a monsoon season in Juárez and the heavy, sporadic rains leave the air feeling thick and humid. Humidity and swamp coolers, which is what most Juárenses have if they are lucky enough to have AC, do not mix. We turn ours off all together when it's raining and give in to the sticky, sweatiness that is a given. We just try not to move much or turn on any lights. 

7. The DVR

This is the most coveted of all of the wonders for me. When I first arrived in Juárez this was obviously the least of my concerns. But after the dust settled and we had a place to rest our heads and were in search of cable service, it came up. I still remember asking a woman at Cablemas how much it would cost to add a DVR. At first I just assumed the acronym was different in Spanish because she just looked at me funny. As I explained that I wanted to be able to pause, rewind and forward live TV and record my favorite programs for later she looked at me like I just told her I wanted to ride to the moon on a pogo stick. Apparently Mexico hasn't quite reached that level of technology?

The funny thing is that although these things surprise or maybe stand out to me more and more as time passes, it's not because I feel I need them anymore. I used to long for them to be in my life again but now it's slowly turning into a, "Wow, I used to depend on that?" type of a feeling. Not with all of these things, but with a couple. Like I would really love to be laying on some fluffy carpet and binge-watching Bravo shows off a DVR right about now.

I suppose the longer you go without something, the less you need it though. That's really become a lesson in and of itself for me.