Author: Thomas Hallock (page 2 of 4)

There’s No Place Like Home (Andrea Calderón Hernández)

Field of Cempasúchitl, or “Day of the Dead” marigolds, below Cholula’s pyramid and Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios.

Somewhere in the center of Mexico there’s a place where the words “silence,” “dullness” and “average” don’t seem to exist. A place characterized by colorful, lively streets and a beautiful view of a volcano from almost everywhere you stand. From churches to nightclubs–every detail makes this place what it is. This place is Cholula, where I call “home.”

Located center west of the state of Puebla you’ll find Cholula. This town is characterized by many things. There are a few of them that make it well known in Mexico. The spectacular views it has of “El Popo.” Home to the largest pyramid in the world and the largest number of churches and chapels in Mexico. That’s basically what most people know about Cholula. But as a local, you always get to see and live things differently.

Cholula is also known for being a university town. You can notice this right away on almost every street. Bars, nightclubs, hipster restaurants and cafes form this city’s identity. Every time you’re out you can feel the young vibe that this place has.  If you live in Cholula you already know that nightlife is one of the main characteristics of this town. From Monday until Saturday you can find bars open and most of them pretty crowded. The weekends here seem to start on Thursday, when streets are crowded with traffic and you see drunk people leaving the many clubs. On the evenings many streets seem to transform into a different place, leaving the colonial history behind. It may seem like it transforms into a place where only youth, fun and alcohol is in the air.

Although nightlife is an important aspect of Cholula’s identity, places attractive for students (many foreigners) are well blended with the locals and the traditions. You can always see people of all ages on the streets. You can go to the market and buy all sort of traditional stuff and also buy food collected locally. During the weekends you can see many families enjoying their days off and having fun at the plazas. You can always notice the authentic and unique Cholula in every aspect.

On many streets, and many times a year, you can walk or drive by a church that will have colored flags from the entrance to the other side of the street and flowers on the entrance to celebrate something. Every day you can hear church bells or music coming from a far-away town party. Sometimes you can find yourself stuck on a street because people are walking from block to block walking behind someone who is carrying a figure of a saint. And some other times you can even find entire streets closed since someone decided to use it to host one of their family parties.

This last one can be especially annoying, but it’s all part of living in this town. I don’t know if I would call this “balance,” but I do know that in rare cases you can find this perfect blend. Where culture and fun can take place in the same area and not necessarily have to be opposed. The blend where traditions are respected, and new ways are introduced without drastically affecting the surroundings.

I think all of this is what makes Cholula special. Because there’s no other place where you can see all of this happening at once. Because there’s no other place that can blend religion, nightlife and traditions so well. Because it’s when you can truly find yourself outside of a modern and chaotic city without the sound of cars and stressed out people; although finding chaos in a different form. Despite this unique chaos, in Cholula people don’t seem to be ever worried. People here always seem to be having a nice day. People here are happy.

Puebla: the City of Angels, Volcanoes and Amazing Culinary Experiences (Ari Buchholz Ferrer)

There are so many places to visit when you are in Mexico. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to visit all the best ones in a short period of time and still enjoy them. You can go to one of the hundreds (if not thousands) of beaches that exist all throughout the coast.

In the center there is also beautiful places – the metropolitan area is one of the best areas. You can go to Mexico City and spend over a week visiting all the touristic areas, and there alone, you won’t be done with all of them. The pyramids, the big prehispanic city right in the middle of Mexico City surrounded by buildings from colonial times when “conquistadores” used to wipe out every trace of the indigenous people and of them ever existing.

Another great example of a place of interest is Puebla. This precious city, located southeast from Mexico City, is just a two-hour drive away with amazing history. Once you are about to arrive you will be greeted by the two guardians: Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. The two breathtaking volcanoes that are a big part of the culture in Puebla. Even when they are just volcanoes, and don’t do much apart of scaring some locals and the majority of visitors that aren’t used to a couple of exhalations and dust or smoke from Popo to alert everyone, he is still awake.

After a couple of days in the city you will notice that there are some strange clouds above the biggest volcano Popocatepetl and they are dust clouds or ashes which in Mexican folklore means that ‘Popo’ is angry. Some people, mostly in rural areas and little villages say that they talk to the volcanoes to calm them down. In some cases these little eruptions are accompanied by small earthquakes–some harder than others. For us it is one of the most common things: if you live in this part of Mexico since we are already used to the earth shaking when Goyo (Popocatepetl) is “upset.”

There is also something that the visitors definitely have to watch out for and that’s the food. Our cuisine is another big and awesome part of the culture and folklore in Puebla–be it street food or in traditional Mexican restaurants.

Chiles en nogada, pipian, mole poblano, chalupas, memelasand tacos some of the many dishes you will see just after a couple of hours of walking in the downtown area of the city. Funny enough, the most popular dishes in Puebla came from churches. Mole poblano came from the Santa Rosa convent and it is prepared with chocolate, herbs and some other things and served most of the times with chicken and red rice; it can be sometimes spicy or sweet, depending on where you eat it and who prepares it. The second most important dish is chiles en nogada, which comes from another convent, the Santa Monica; it is a chili filled with meat, some types of nuts and some fruits and covered with a sauce made with more nuts, milk and wine or rum. These delicacies alone are what make Puebla ones of the best places in Mexico to visit.

You can also always visit the different markets that you can find throughout the whole city. At improvised street markets, people close off entire streets just to sell clothes, toys, furniture, food. you can find all kinds of things in those markets–even handmade stuff to bring home as a souvenir. If you aren’t faced by a bit of noise, dirt, blood and sometimes bad smells you can go to the markets where you only find food. The best example of it is the one in Atlixco, Puebla. You can find almost every type of street food available there: tacos, memelas, gorditas, Cecina, suadero, cemitas, tacos de canasta, tacos dorados. On the outside of the market you will find the “Zocalo” which is a beautiful place with a coffee and a church. There is a small market there too where you can buy all sorts of plants and flowers, some snacks, more street food and even pets.

All in all, Puebla is one of the places that everyone visiting Mexico has to go to. They will have amazing experiences and wonderful views all throughout the city.

Golf–Alone and with Friends (Bernardo Huerta Peregrina)

When arriving to the golf club I get chills every time I just look at the entrance. Just passing through the main entrance and seeing the 18th green, surrounded by all the big trees, is just amazing. All that green grass and trees; it’s just something else. Everywhere you look there are trees, flowers and nature. It is beautiful. But nothing compares to arriving at sunrise to the golf course. The smell of the freshly cut grass is like a drug. And everything ready for you, to be the first one to tee off. You can always play by yourself or with friends. Both ways are really fun but at the same time very different from each other.

I wasn’t always a fan of playing golf by myself. I always thought that it was boring and you didn’t have anyone to talk to. But once I tried, and really concentrated, I finally knew that it is one of the best things to do in the world. One of the hardest things to do in golf is concentrate and being to able to clear your mind from everything except your game. It’s a different experience playing by yourself and I believe is the best way for you to improve.

When being on the golf course I always try to keep my mind clear. I always keep everything except golf outside the golf course. Sometimes my parents yell at me because I don’t answer the phone. And it frustrates me because they don’t understand me; they don’t understand that even the most insignificant thing can ruined any golf player concentration. That’s why in every golf tournament of the PGA Tour there is someone telling you to please be quiet when a player is going to take a shot.

But playing with your friends and family is great. Just hanging around, making some bets just makes the game great. My friends and I grab a beer between holes, or make a stop at the 9th hole to grab something to eat. But it is really different from playing alone. It is harder for me to concentrate while playing with my friends. But playing with them is more fun than playing alone. You can just be walking around and talking with your pals about anything and you will have a great time. Also the competition can be a great way for you to improve your game (although not as much as playing by yourself). But playing with friends that are better than your helps you to push yourself to become a better player. And having both ways, playing by yourself and with friends is the best way for you to improve.

I love being on the golf course. Even if I’m not playing golf it’s just a feeling I can’t explain. I feel like It doesn’t matter the time, or how am I feeling, just being there practicing or hanging out makes everything better. It is my place to go where I have nothing to do or if I just feel low or sad. Just being with my self, my fourteen golf clubs, a sleeve of three Titleist golf balls and 5 wooden tees makes me feel like I’m in heaven. Unless I go out and shoot a ninety then that heaven becomes my fucking hell. As they like to say one minute you’re bleeding. The next minute you’re hemorrhaging. The next minute you’re painting the “Mona Lisa.” That’s how golf is.

What Really Matters (Rodrigo Palomarez)

It is a sunny hot Sunday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The wind hits from the North and it feels like the earth is shaking. The only thing you can hear is people chanting and screaming a thousand things. But you cannot specifically identify a word. You are standing with your hands up in the air, staring down at a field. Then you look around and see other 48,999 people jumping and shouting just like you. It is La Bombonera, home to the second most winning team in Argentina–the Boca Juniors.

So you think you have figured out the whole situation. But God, you are so wrong. Suddenly you feel the urgence to watch an ant size player so fast no one can keep up with him. Yes, he is Messi. The Messiah, King, considered by every single person in that stadium, a legitimate God. He is in midfield when suddenly he has the ball and passes through three players like if they were made of cold stone. He makes such a magnificent move making the two defenders think we was gonna shoot. But in the very last second, he tricks them, by not shooting and just stepping on the ball. Right after that, the goalkeeper comes out, trying to get the ball and there is where everyone in La Bombonera knows Messi is gonna do some magic. He flips the ball up, enough so that the goalie can’t grab it. And at the end of the play, everyone knows he just scored for your team, Argentina.

The crowd goes wild. Everyone shouts, screams and yells at the same time and they have a very good reason. Argentina’s national team just scored and is about to take the win against Netherlands.

And that’s it. All of us Argentinians know a lot about soccer, about how Diego Maradona gave us a World Cup. Also we are very aware that Messi is the best player, right, and of course we know our soccer team is Argentina’s most valuable gem. But what the rest of the world don’t know is that we are a Third World country.

People down here lack resources. Most of us don’t have iPhones or human size televisions to watch soccer of course. And the reason is that  you would have to pay to have more programs. But honestly, people don’t even watch the news. And the resource we lack the most, is education. Did you know most Argentinians don’t even go to high school? And let’s say someone is smart and lucky enough to go to one. All high schools are an absolute joke. Teachers don’t even go to classes, for God’s sake. How can they expect students to be in a classroom with no profesor around? Instead, they all go to a park and get high and get some rap battles going. Isn’t that sad?

Think about a world where everyone is uneducated. We would perhaps never have worn clothes or eaten any other food than fruits. Possibly, we would be walking around valleys and forests.

Education is an ongoing process as we call it. What we learn during our childhood stays with us all our lives, even if we forget complicated lessons taught in schools and colleges. Skills that we learn during our life can actually help us to stay alive. How do we expect to have skills, aptitudes and ideas based on knowledge, if people are not used to go to a school?

Ironically, many people say that education and wealth are closely linked. Especially in Argentina, because people think the less money you have, the less obligated you are to attend school.There are schools, but no one attends. There are jobs, but people don’t even bother to apply. 

There has been awesome Argentinian writers like Julio Cortázar and José Luis Borges. It is a shame that they are far more known around the globe than in their homeland. It is a total shame that people know Messi has won five Golden Balls and is about to win another one this December. And I honestly don’t think  more than 1,000 people in Argentina know that Borges has won a Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Love-Hate Relationship of the Tropical Girl (Laura Priscila Serrano Santoyo)

I was born in Mexico City, but because of his work, my father was transferred to Ciudad del Carmen and I grew up there. Not many people know where Carmen is, or even know that it exists. Carmen City is an island in Campeche, a state of Mexico. It is so tiny that it does not always appear on the map. But it is considered one of the main contributors to the economy of the country, because of its oil activity.

Mainly, it is a working place, with not many things to do recreationally. A dull city. Still, I am so glad to have grown up there because I was safe. I could be out on the street with my friends and my parents did not worry because nothing would happen–contrary to what would have had happened in CDMX. (Sadly, Mexico City is not the safest place to live.)

Despite feeling relieved that I grew up there, sometimes I was fed up. Many believe that because the city is on an island that every day is perfect for a trip to the beach for some relaxing. Everything is fun and you have nothing to worry about–just drink coconut water. However, not all the beaches are nice and almost all the streets smell like fish.

Furthermore, a lot of the beaches are covered in conchitas, or little broken seashells, that can cut your feet and make it hard to walk. Because of the construction activities, machines take sand from the sea, and being so near the seashore, walking becomes dangerous. You never know if your next step will leave you in a hole several meters deep. Many people have drowned in Carmen City and not just because of the holes– even if you know how to swim, the ocean current can drag you down.

As I said earlier, it was a boring city. With not many things to do recreationally, the young ones choose to drink on the beach until the sun comes up. Because that is something “great” about Carmen City —and maybe all over the country! Alcohol is pretty cheap and even if you are not the legal age to drink, you can still find a tiendita and they will sell you alcohol. We all know it is wrong, but still, some of us are glad that this happened when we were not old enough to drink yet.

Now onto the good stuff. Carmen City is not just about beaches with sharp conchitas, streets smelling like fish, the fear of falling into a hole, and drunk people. There are also Carmelitas, the name for natives of the town–be sure not to mix them with Campechanos (from the State of Campeche) or else you will be facing trouble. Geographically speaking, you are Mexican if you are from Mexico. So, if Carmen City is in Campeche you would think they are Campechanos, but they are not. Although they could be called both, they are extremely proud and hate being called Campechanos. I lived for more than fifteen years surrounded by Carmelitas and could never understand why they were so against their “cousins.” I found that the only possible answer is that they are really passionate about this island.

I think that the thing I love the most about Carmen City is its people. I met my best friend and some other close friends while living there. I also met some inspiring people that, despite the adversities of the island, managed to get ahead. All of them were really proud of how the city has grown and about them being Carmelitas. I could not feel that same energy, but I would have loved to. The only moments when I kind of felt it, was when I listened to a song called “Ciudad del Carmen,” by José Narváez Márquez. After hearing it I just thought about how Carmelitas are warm people; even if you were not born there, they will take you as one of them and make you feel like family. If I am in Carmen City, I am Chilanga. But if I am in Mexico, they call me Carmelita ….

Not Your Average Tex-Mex (Fátima Huergo Treviño)

Most people get excited when they are offered to go eat tacos or quesadillas, but what really is Mexican food? In the United States most “Mexican food” is what we consider Tex-Mex–which means their version of Mexican food. Even though delicious, if you were to take an authentic Mexican to Taco Bell they would probably die! In the United States a burrito is a mix of everything that sounds Mexican thrown into a flour tortilla: rice, beans, tomato, onion, lettuce, chicken or meat, guacamole, jalapeños … all in that flour tortilla, given to you in a foil wrap. In Mexico, or at least in my house, a burrito is just a flour tortilla with Monterrey Jack cheese and fried beans (fried beans: smooshed normal beans with olive oil and onion for seasoning).

I personally love the take that Northern Americans have on quesadillas. I´ve eaten many quesadillas in the United States and they were ALL very different. I ate a quesadilla one time that was a huge flour tortilla and in it was a mix of cheeses: American, Swiss, and probably mozzarella, it also had chicken, and on top it was splattered with sour cream and Pico de Gallo. Another time, I ate a quesadilla that seemed like a deconstructed version of the Taco Bell burrito, it came out looking like a huge “Mexican” pizza with a lid! I don´t want to disappoint anyone … but quesadillas in Mexico are just corn tortillas with quesillo which is Oaxacan cheese. Sometimes when you eat at the local mercado, which is a market, quesadillas will be a mixture of chicharrón, huitlacoches, cecina, etc. and in Mexico City quesadillas will sometimes not even have cheese!

Another Mexican food, probably the most common and known one are tacos. Tacos in the United States come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Shrimp tacos, fajita tacos, chicken tacos, soft shell tacos, hard shell tacos, etc. Now, before I go anymore further let me explain that a taco does not come in a “shell.” Hard shells and soft shells are something completely Northern American. In Mexico tacos are either in small corn tortillas, flour tortillas or a specific tortilla that we call “Pan Arabe,” which is the bread used for Arabian gyros. Taco Bell tacos are made with ground beef, mixed with chili pepper, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, etc. all served in a Dorito shell… nacho cheese or cool ranch! That´s really nothing like a real taco.

Tacos in Mexico can be made using any type of meat, but the most common tacos are either tacos al Pastor or tacos Arabes. Tacos al pastor are called this way because of their meat, it is marinated in axiote and pineapples. Normally, they are served in a small tortilla and the portion is normally four or five taquitos per serving, they come with cilantro, onion, pineapple and usually eaten with lemon and salsa. And that´s it. No Pico de Gallo, no beans, no rice, no white queso, nothing else. Sometimes this type of tacos can come with cheese, we call this a “Gringa”; it is a flour tortilla filled with everything listed above and melted cheese folded in half. Then there is the taco Árabe, literally an “Arabian taco.” This taco was made in Puebla by the Arabian community and it isn´t common to see in other parts of Mexico. This taco comes in that gyro tortilla, with a bit of cilantro and jocoque. Jocoque is literally sour yogurt, purposely left to “go wrong”, but it is completely safe and delicious to eat!

Chiles en nogada–a treat in Puebla, definitely not found at Taco Bell!

To conclude, Mexican gastronomy is much different to what is presented in the United States. Restaurants like Taco Bell, Chipotle and Chilis do not do our gastronomy any real justice. Our gastronomy is much more complex and at the same time much simpler. Sometimes we go along with what is given to us, but I believe I must do our gastronomy justice by being able to explain it through words. I hope someday you can prove my words for yourself and try our wonderful food in this amazing country! Who wants some tacos?

Folk Revival + Where I Found It (Gabrielle Macafee)

UDLAP Note: In this reflection Gabrielle Macafee offers an emotional perspective about how she feels when she moves away from home. In her moments of sadness she relates and finds calmness in music. As a similar choice, everyone can relate to music in sadness and in other ways, in order to identify and get refuge. She also speaks about her protective childhood and how separating from home was very difficult. We find this to be a very insightful essay, and we are touched by Macafee’s story. Moving away from home when you are an adult is something that could be understandable, and it involves several reasons: work, education, family, etc. We used to think that people in the US see this process as normal, but we could identify that not all people feel good with it, we think it is difficult and requires a lot of maturity. One of us is a student who came from Mexico City and his experience was similar to Macafee’s.  He was sad to leave everything behind to pursue his career–his family, friends, home and city. When he first came to UDLAP, his entire family came with him. They wanted to know where he would live and say goodbye to him. The first months were the most difficult for him because he had to adapt to a new environment, even though he knew he would return eventually.


My first introduction to the music of Joni Mitchell left me floored. “Big Yellow Taxi” came on the radio as my family and I were driving through the mountains. I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember pushing my forehead against the cold window. It was fall, and the trees were shaking their leaves off with a dazzling finale of deep red and ochre. We whizzed by the forest, and my vision blurred into a mess of gold as Mitchell’s bright acoustic guitar filled the airwaves. Mom told me to listen, and I did so intently.

I listened to my mother when I was young, I still do. She was fiercely protective of me as a teenager, and told me about the horrors of the world explicitly. When I was about twelve years old, I was not allowed to go outside without an adult present. One hot summer morning, when the air was stagnant and warm from the sun, my mother dropped me off at a friend’s house down the street. After an imaginative morning filled with dolls and stuffed animals, my friend and her brother wanted to play outside. I refused to leave the doorway, terrified of being kidnapped, and told my friends that they too were going to be kidnapped. The girl’s mother appeared behind me, and told me it was time to go home.

Throughout the years, Joni Mitchell has become a source of peace and reassurance. She acknowledges the world’s flaws but finds beauty in it anyway. Her choices in tuning are bizarre, but somehow harmonize beautifully. Her songs solidified that other people feel as much as I do, and can articulate those feelings with grace and self-awareness. Although Mitchell is now regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century, it is thought that gender bias prevented her from being thought of as a great troubadour at the time, such as Bob Dylan. (Whitesell).

The first boy I loved gave me Mitchell’s album Blue on vinyl. I spent much of that summer laying on the floor of my bedroom, letting the album spin and crackle on my record player. I almost moved to New York City at the end of that summer, but I put it off till January so I could steep in the comfort of my mother’s love as I sought healing from a life-altering accident. Blue stayed with me though, through my move to The City, the end of that first relationship, my leaving The City, healing in a year by the beach, a summer back in The City, till now. I am about to live in a new place for a while, to work on my own Blue; my own personal exploration of tragedy and healing, of lost things, and the biting love I recently left.

This summer came and went, and I am left with a montage of days spent stomping around the Village, tearing through books and swimming through the thick hot city air. The days melting into long nights, lit by tea lights, fueled by wine and interesting strangers. The setting for this lucid dream of a summer was downtown Manhattan, where I became familiar with Bob Dylan’s favorite haunts. One night I decided to walk through Washington Square Park, and as I walked by couples on benches, groups of NYU students, and a lone trumpeter, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” filled my head with dark green, promise of newness. I stopped to let it play over me, and watched the skateboarders dance around light posts, their cheering breaking through Dylan’s harsh vocals. “I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul” he complains, I sigh with understanding.

People want too much, lovers want more, New York wants it all.

The first time I left New York, I knew I’d return within a year. That didn’t stop me from mourning my loss the morning I left. I ran to the corner store early that unusually chilly late April morning for a cup of coffee, as my coffee maker was carelessly packed away in a cardboard box. I climbed the spiral staircase to the roof, carrying my coffee and my leather-bound notebook. The City was covered in a low fog that morning, making my world darker than it already was. I watched Manhattan flicker to life that morning, the lights glowing through the mist. This was just a break from New York, for my own good too, but I felt a hopeless sadness regardless that I would not understand until a few months later.

I was crying so hard that I had to pull over. The Florida rain was not helping either, coming down so hard that I could barely see the brake lights ahead of me. So there I sat, in my father’s borrowed pick-up truck, in the parking lot of a closed hardware store weeping. I wept until my face was beet red, sticky from the tears. I was lonely, and it was hitting me hard. Growing up without siblings, I was no stranger to loneliness. I’d embraced it so well before. I was a bit of an odd child, and found enjoyment in making up stories and performance. I’d found my people in New York, and had pushed down that loneliness and social anxiety. But I was in a new city in Florida with no friends and an overwhelming sense of displacement. I guess the rain and some added frustrations had resulted in me sobbing uncontrollably at the wheel, which I had coaxed down to a dull whimper.

Some playlist was running through the car’s stereo, and I heard it. That signature bass line. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. His voice is so dark, but is tinged with an innate holiness which carries the questions of humanity with reverence. But the chorus, that glorious chorus is lilted up toward heaven, “hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.” That struck me right in the gut, and I understood where I was. Through it all, the high and the fall, a single “hallelujah” can ring out if you let it. I let it ring, ushering it in through the music that I truly love.


Works Cited

Cohen, Leonard. “Hallelujah” Various Positions, 1984.

Dylan, Bob. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963.

Whitesell, Lloyd. “Harmonic Palette in Early Joni Mitchell.” Popular Music, vol. 21, no. 2, 2002, pp. 173–193. JSTOR,

Cuexcomate, the World´s Smallest Volcano (Leslie Ramírez Burgos)

I am Leslie. My whole life I have lived in La Libertad, a neighborhood by Galerias Serdán. It is a nice place, where all the bus routes pass by, there are a tianguis every Friday, and food stands on every corner. Next to the Cuexcomate market, finally, is the smallest volcano not only in Puebla, or in México, but in the entire world. Who knew?

This is something I recently discovered nearly one year ago. I was taking the bus to my home, which passes by the Cuexcomate, or volcano, and some foreigners were there too. The only Mexican that was guiding them asked me: Hey! This bus leaves us by the Cuexcomate right?”

I confirmed. I didn’t know it was a touristic place. I mean, I always thought that it was an interesting thing to see and visit, but as it was always an underrated destination as it was treated just as a giant rock where homeless people spent the night. But the last governor changed the place, and made it a cultural destination. Now the place is clean, respected, and even has the decorated letters that every touristic place in Mexico has.

Since it has been reopened, I haven´t visited it. But it was something I used to do when I was a little girl. I remember several times, where my mom took me and my cousins outside and take us to the “park” that was just the wasteland around the Cuexcomate. We played and could go inside. We used to look for human faces in the rock formations. The smell was a combination between sulfur, from the volcano’s natural minerals, and pee from homeless people. There was also a slight smell of humidity, as the volcano still had some leaks of water because it is actually a crater of the Popocatepetl, I even remember the metal spiral stairs that the place used to have in order to go inside.

This place may have no meaning for most of the people, but for some reason it represents the place where I live. When people ask me where I live, I usually give the Cuexcomate as a reference, even if I know that they have no idea where it is. As I was writing this, I noticed that it is something that takes a little part of my life, but it has been a long time since I was there, so I gave it a chance, even if it looks different now. Today it is actually a park, where the kids go after school. Here they can play, there are slides, swings,etc.

At the beginning it was a totally different vibe, but as I was going down through the “snail” stairs and the sulfur smell go stronger, a smile in my face started to grow. I felt I was inside some kind of natural destination. I know what it is!! But it didn’t felt like I was two blocks away my house. It felt like a portal to a lost place in the jungle, but with a familiar feel. When I was inside there I felt that it was smaller than I remembered, but I think it was obvious, as the crater is only thirteen meters high, and I was not a kid anymore, but a grown up. There was no pee, no graffiti, but the strong smell of sulfur was still there. I started to stare at the formations of rock, looking for faces and other type of forms as I used to do when I was a kid. A lot of memories came back, memories I didn’t have before going inside–even not Cuexcomate memories related, I felt some kind of nostalgia, and looked at it as a portal to my childhood; once I was going out I felt the air and saw the kids playing in the games outside, I was back in the present.

Saltillo and its Culture (Marco Antonio De La Peña Velázquez)

Happy author & dog in Saltillo, a happy place.

I live in a place where it is commonly hot and where a lot of dinosaurs used to live, a long time ago. It is common to find dinosaur skeletons here. We are known for that. My brother and I used to go to the “alameda,” which is a park with a lot of trees in downtown Saltillo, and it´s very beautiful.

There are a lot of museums and my family and I probably have visited all of them. The most common as I already said is the Museum of the Desert, which shows a lot of animals besides dinosaurs who are usually found in desertic areas, like snakes, spiders, among others. The one I love most visiting is the “Museum of the Catrina.” It is very common to hear about a Catrina, or “skeleton” on a scary story in Mexico. The museum is in an old house decorated to be very scary. They really nailed it!

And then there are the common museums of each state capital on Mexico–the Museum of the Coin, the Revolution, History, and so on. But museums are not the only thing we used to visit on Saltillo, nor even their greatest attractions.

A thing that I could recommend you visit a lot is downtown, close to the alameda. There are a lot of local stores that sell typical candies from Saltillo. The most common food on Saltillo is the Pan Mena, which is a bread but somehow tastes like sugar. It is delicious.

The thing I don´t really like about Saltillo is the weather, since it is desert (the Mexico shown in theaters). Even though it is hot almost all year, however, it is a very pleasant place to live. And more with my best friends when we go swimming, which is a lot of times. Sometimes you just can´t hold the heat and you can just lay on the shadow and you will be okay with the weather.

Coahuila is a place were a lot of people can go visit to relax. I love it very much. I have been living there my whole life and don´t know a lot of places other than there. I have traveled to some places in Mexico and the USA, but I like Saltillo for reasons I find hard to explain.

There is one place that I think is one of the most beautiful places I have been to, it is called El Bosque Urbano (the urban forest). It is literally a little forest on the town, but I like that place because of the silence and the trees. When you enter you can see a lot of trees covering this place. This park is a place dedicated to different types of trees that are mostly seen on the north of Mexico, but a lot of people just use it to have a good time on a quiet place.

You can visit a lot of places in Saltillo, but a lot of people live here because it has huge labor opportunities–and bigger if you are an engineer because it is a place where there are a lot of companies for them. And a lot of people visit here because of the same thing.

There is a lot of cultural value on Saltillo, mostly found downtown. I am proud to be a person born in Saltillo, because of all the cultural things–our museums and our places to visit. Saltillo is a really good place to live.

Macho, Macho Man! – Is Mexico a Sexist Country? (Luis Ignacio Morales González)

Mexico is stereotyped around the world. You could ask any foreign person about our country and you would receive a real or a stereotypical answer. If we look for the latter, people would tell you about the spicy food.  Hats (called sombreros), piñatas, cactuses and deserts, tequila of course, and parties of holidays along the year. Also: the cruel practices of sexism and machismo.

Almost all of the common stereotypes about Mexico come from the old movies of the first half of the 20th century, also called the “Golden Era” of Mexican cinema. Films like Viva Zapata! (Dir. Elia Kazan, 1952) and the various tapes of the Mexican Revolution era (1910-1917) introduced to the world ideas of how were Mexicans. These movies also created the bases for the later stereotypes. Machismo was one of the principal characteristics that were showed in the films of that time.

In a scene from Viva Zapata, a military base controlled by Emiliano Zapata is attacked. Women and men for equally defended the base. during the Mexican revolution women participated in the war–they were called the adelitas. Women forced by men to fight against the military army of Mexico. In this scene we understand the role of women during that time, and how machismo was strongly present even in the Mexican cinema.

The idea of the tough and strong man, the only one that gets to go to work in order to sustain the family while the wife stayed at home–taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning and doing the house work. The man that had the right of having more than one woman with him.  Man had the “right” to hit his wife in order to control her. Showing any kind of emotion was a sign for men of weakness. Alcohol is the drink of the real man. Crying is for “little girls.” Women, at the same time, are no better than men, and so the list goes on.

But how real is it that machismo? Is it part of the regular life in Mexico? Are those stereotypes false or do they hide a little truth? Is that way of thinking really present in modern life Mexican society? Is Mexico a sexist country?. If we take a shortcut in order to answer the questions above, then “no.” Machismo is not part of the regular life in Mexico. Those stereotypes are false. Mexico is not a sexist country, or not entirely, not in the way the first half of the twentieth century movies depicted it.

Throughout the second half of the last century, Mexico, along with the world, passed through different events. Changing society in terms of politics, rights, ideologies and more. Women and students, primarily, led the movements for change, to get rights, recognition and values. These involved in the decisions that were made for the future of their country. For example, the right to vote was achieved by women in 1953. Those changes created the path for things to be improved. And that included the idea of what means to be a man.

Wars have passed, the world began the introduction into globalization, cultures started to mix. Mexicans realized the toxicity of those actions. The right to hit your wife or have different relationships started to vanish. It began to be seen as a taboo. Men found no problem in showing their emotions nowadays, however, in small towns, rural areas or in conservative families, this is some sort of taboo. The house work no longer belongs only to women; men began to take initiative in taking care of the children and the house activities.

In the final analysis, machismo, as it was depicted years before, is no longer part of  Mexican culture; however, other types of sexism still exist in the current modern life. It is important to say that this is not only a problem that happens in Mexico. Other countries, such as the United States, also have these kinds of problems. An example is the “Me too” movement, a campaign that showed that many women had suffered in silence for years.

An stereotype as negative as machismo does not define how is behaved a society of a specific country. If that was the case, many other countries would have a negative reputation only given to their history, but it is important to acknowledge these problems and act against them. There are no bad countries, just a few. There are wrong and confused people that make others feel they exist.

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