Jan 28, 2008

Monday again!

My how time flies. Well, when I first had the idea to post an interesting fact about Mexico every Monday I had a million ideas. Now, just a few weeks into it I feel like I am running short on ideas. Or at least of interesting ideas!

I think today I am going to talk about food in Guadalajara.
Guadalajara is famous for a few dishes. The first dish is:
A Torta ahogada (literally "drowned sandwich" in local Spanish) is a typical dish from the Mexican state of Jalisco, particularly in the city of Guadalajara. Although it is popular in some other parts of Mexico, it is more popular in Jalisco than anywhere else. It is called "drowned" because the sandwich is submerged totally or partially in a sauce made primarily of a dried chili pepper called de árbol. Their flavor, when "well drowned" is so spicy that only people accustomed to eating hot chili peppers are able enjoy their flavor. Less spicy versions of the sandwich, made with a tomato-based sauce are also available.
Tortas ahogadas are made with birote bread (also called bolillo) characteristic of the region. The bread has a thick, crunchy crust and softer interior which is more salty than sweet. The consistency of the bread permits the sandwich to be submerged in sauce without being destroyed. The bread is sliced open on one side and the sandwich is filled with chopped, fried pork. Fillings of chicken, beans and cheese are sometimes available. The sandwiches are served with onion rings, radishes, avocados and chili peppers. (wikipedia)
Definatelly one of the messiest foods to eat but well worth every bit of it.

The second dish that Guadalajara is famous for is Carne en su jugo (Meat in its juice).
This is definitely on the top of my family's list of favorites.
It is a dish made of thinly sliced beef, onions, salsa verde, beans and bacon. The dish is served with bacon bits, onions, cilantro and lime.
One of the most famous restaurants that serve carne en su jugo is Karne Garibaldi. In August of 1996 they entered the Guinness book of world records as being the fastest restaurant in the world. The record was 13.5 seconds from time of ordering to time of service of food. Pretty fast! You must take into account that there are really only 4 items on their menu - small Karne, Large Karne, hot or mild.

I promise that if you come and visit our family you will eat at least one of these meals.

Jan 21, 2008

Plastic Surgery

Ok, its time to write a little more about Guadalajara and its culture.
Todays topic is plastic surgery. Probably not something you think of when you think of Mexico right? Well, other than Rio de Janairo, Guadalajara has the most plastic surgeons per capita than any other city. More plastic surgery is performed in Guadalajara than any other city, other than Rio de Janairo.
Because of a few different factors doctors can charge much cheaper prices. They say plastic surgery in Guadalajara costs about 1/4 of what it costs in the states.
Since the prices are so cheap, people are flocking in from the United States to have plastic surgery performed on them. They even have agencies that will sell "packages" including flights, transportation from the airport, transportation to doctors visits and hospital, housing and food.
Not only are Americans coming to Guadalajara for surgery but the Tapatios (people from Guadalajara) are getting plastic surgery performed. One article I read states "We say that no one is unattractive in Guadalajara," jokes Martha Venegas, a resident. "There are poor people but no ugly ones." Even the poorest people can get plastic surgery perfomed on them at the government hospital. They are charged a very minimal fee.
Just in the past 14 months I can name 4 of my friends from my "coto" that have had plastic surgery. It is a very big trend right now. Appearance is very important here which is part of why there are so many plastic surgeons.
I have attached a link incase anyone wants to read more about it. I think it is an interesting article.

Jan 19, 2008

"Neighborhood" meeting

A good rule of thumb - a very good rule of thumb is to never talk bad about a culture to members of that culture. It seems to be ok for them to talk bad about their own culture but if you even begin to hint at something negative it is very offensive.

I feel like I have to do a little explaining before really getting into my story so please hang in there. We live in what is called a "coto". There are 34 houses in our "coto". From the street it just looks like a big wooden gate, once the gate is opened you see 17 houses on each side of the private drive. All 17 houses are two story, identical in look and side by site (literally connected). I like to compare it to an apartment building but we are all on ground level. It is a great way to make good use of space but still allow people to feel like they are in houses and not apartments, although we share walls with two sets of neighbors.

Well, along side of the 17 houses on the left side of the street is a party place. Mexicans love parties and will throw them for a variety of occasions. In the three years we have lived in this house we have never really been bothered by the party place. They charged $17 a person per party and I think no one really wanted to pay that much so there were never parties which was just fine with us. In the past few weeks we noticed that it changed ownership and a lot of work was being done on the place. Well, tonight marks the 3rd night in 5 days that they are having a party. I can tell you that they are grilling out tonight because my house is filled with a great smell. I can also tell you that it is 10:45 PM and the band just showed up! Yes, for the previous two parties the band hasn't left before 2 AM!!!!! The actual stage where the band plays is less than 50 yards from our bedroom!! We are being told that the parties are for government officials (as well as drug dealers and very corrupt people etc). There are around 40 kids in our "coto" and parents are not happy about all the noise. We are in the middle of getting a petition signed that will get them out of our neighborhood. Some neighbors have even temporarily started sleeping at family members houses because it is too loud to sleep.
I ask that you guys be in prayer for this situation so that it can get resolved fast and easily. Two words that make me want to laugh when I think that I am using them to describe something we want to get done my the Mexican government.

I tell you all of this to get to what I really wanted to write about. Tonight we had a "neighborhood" meeting. Our neighborhood consists of 18,000 people. Some of you might consider that a city! Well, because of the trouble with our new neighbors, residents from our "coto" decided to go to the monthly neighborhood meeting. There were only 4 of us present. When the meeting was about to start one of my neighbors said to the other "I think I have seen something like this in old films. All the town people get together to talk about the cities problems. Their horses are tied up by the trees . . . . ." He went on to explain how old fashion this seemed. He and another neighbor began talking about the corruption and inefficiency of the Mexican government. They kept saying "only in Mexico". They were talking about how they know that most of their efforts are going to get swept under the rug. They also realize that we are probably going to be complaining to the same people that are part of these parties and therefore nothing will get done.

The meeting lasted 2 hours and it was filled with pleas for people to realize that their neighborhood is not going to get better if they are not actively involved in making it a better place. I was encouraged by the ammount of dissatisfaction that was being shown. I think the Mexican people as a whole are becoming discontent with the way things are. They are beggining to see that things need to change and maybe seeing that they need to be involved in the change. It was very encouraging for me. I also was reminded of how important it is to be involved with the people around you. I can say that we are very involved with the families that are in our "coto" but once we get out of that big wooden gate we don't know many of our neighbors. I am going to be volunteering with the "neighborhood" association and I am really excited about the doors that might be opened though this. It excites me because the people I will be around are going to be people that are wanting change and are dissatisfied with things the way they are. I figure these are going to be people that are most open to God and what He can do in their life. They are not going to be satisfied with being a catholic just because their ancestors were. I will keep you updated and let you know what comes of this need project.

Jan 14, 2008


Well its Monday once again so I am going to write a little about Guadalajara.
Today I am going to talk about the elevation of Guadalajara. According to Fodder's travel guide Guadalajara is 5,576 feet above sea level.
Here are a few other cities and their altitude so you can compare them.
Lubbock - 3,195 ft
Dallas - 463 ft
Denver - 5,280 ft
Mt Everest - 8,848 ft
New York - 33 ft
Anything about 3,500 ft is considered high altitude.
Ok, so you are thinking whats the big deal about the altitude, right?
Because visitors aren't accustomed to the altitude they can actually get sick while visiting. It is VERY important to drink a lot of liquids while in high altitude (preferably water). We are very big about stressing to all of our visitors that they drink a lot of water. So far, in the three years we have been here, we have only had two visitors get sick. One refused to drink water and the other one got sun burned really bad and maybe a little dehydrated. AIMers drink a lot of water when you are in Mexico City and you will have a much funner trip than if you don't! I promise.
The other thing about the altitude as I mentioned earlier is the sun. We are much closer to the sun and therefore need to be more careful about exposure to it.
The last thing is cooking. Water at sea level boils at 212 degrees F. But because of the change in atmospheric pressure the water boils at a much lower temperature. At our altitude water boils at 201 degrees F (for every 500 ft of elevation boiling point decreases one degree). Because the temperature is lower it takes longer to cook things. When a recipe states 30 minutes I usually expect it to take at least 40 minutes and am not surprised if it takes longer.
Well, that is kind of a boring fact but believe it or not I deal with it on a daily basis. Especially the cooking aspect of it. Hope it wasn't too boring. I wanted to mention it because we are about to have a large group of supporters visit and then we are going to Mexico City to see our AIMers so I was thinking about it. Drink lots of water when you are visiting us!

Jan 11, 2008


God has blessed me above and beyond anything I deserve. Sometimes I have days where I tend to forget those blessings. Today I have had a day where I have been able to reflect on and enjoy the blessings I have. I thought I would share a few of them.

1. I am blessed to have two beautiful and healthy daughters that are currently playing house under the dining room table and speaking Spanish to each other. Hannah calls Abigail "Mana" short for hermana.

2. I am blessed that my children can speak, hear, walk, are healthy etc.

3. I am blessed to have a husband that is sitting at Starbucks right now visiting with my handsome 6 year old son.

4. I am blessed to have to pick up toys all day - there are many kids that could only dream of having as many toys as we do.

5. I am blessed to get to go to the movies tonight with a really good friend of mine.

6. I am blessed to have a husband that will watch the kids for me so I can go to the movies.

7. I am blessed to be stressing over finding an elementary school for Josiah. The majority of children in Mexico that GET to go to school go to private schools. The ones in public school share the classroom with around 30 or more classmates. They only go to school for about 3 hours because they need the classroom for another class.

8. I am blessed that my parents came to see me a few weeks ago.

9. I am blessed that my in laws are coming to see me in a little over two months.

10. I am blessed to have a computer and be able to share my life with so many great friends and family literally all over the world.

Jan 7, 2008

Rosca de Reyes

A few days ago I decided to write our AIMers once a week with a cultural fact or cultural experience to help them get to know Mexico better. I have found that learning about the culture you are in is so important. Mexicans are very proud of their heritage and culture. My Mexican friends are always very honored to teach me about their culture. They like for us to take part in cultural experiences with them. I decided that instead of e-mailing our AIMers every week I would just make it a blog entry. That way the rest of you can also learn a little about Mexico.
Today I was going to write about Three King's Day (Jan 6th - Dia de los Reyes). I found a great article on line and decided to just cut and paste a section of the article for you.

Three Kings Day falls on January 6, day of the Epiphany.
In Mexico, it is traditionally on the 6th of January that children receive the majority of their gifts, rather than Christmas, although this unfortunately has been changing with the North American commercialization of the gift-giving process.
Three King's Day commemorates the Three Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and the giving of gifts on this day is the re-enactment of this journey and their arrival in Bethlehem.
A special sweet bread, called the Rosca de Reyes, studded with bits of candied fruit, is baked and eaten on January 6. A small doll which represents the Christ child is baked into the dough. The figure symbolizes the hiding of the child from Herod's army. These tiny figurines were originally fashioned out of porcelain or glass and could come in many cute forms and colors; nowadays, again with the modernization of the ritual, the little dolls are much more likely to be mass-produced amorphous bits of plastic.
Whoever finds the figure in their slice of sweet bread on Three King's Day is supposed to give a party on February 2nd, Candlemas Day, or Día de la Candelaria, offering tamales and atole (a hot, sweet drink thickened with corn flour) to the guests.

We were invited to my friend Glenda's house (she is pictured in my entry of gingerbread houses). She was smart and hid 5 dolls in the bread so that all the children would be able to find one. Now its up to the kids to throw a party!! Let's see how that turns out!
Here are the kids in their Texas Tech outfits celebrating Tech's Bowl win.