[MoonWynd Studio - Photographs. Copyright 2013.]
All Rights Reserved.
Say the word ‘zapatos‘ or ‘shoes’ to some women and they start to drool, swoon and even need to hold on to something to keep standing. If you combine ‘shoes’ with ‘sale’: watch out. You may get trampled over by a surge of shoe-crazed women. My advice is to stand back or even get the hell out of there!
I have never understood this fetish, myself. Oh yes, I do love a nice pair, but I don’t need stacks of them to make me happy. Long gone for me, are the days of wearing high heels in the office all day long, every day. My poor screwed up knees are a very painful by-product of needing ‘height’ all my life. And it didn’t help that I never took the elevators at work, always the stairs multiple times a day, in high heels. My poor knees are now suffering from that constant pounding over the decades.
But it’s not the knee problems that bother me as much as the over-consumption of ‘zapatos‘ that drives me crazy. How many shoes do you need? Imelda Marcos was a shoe-freak, and look what happened to her! Mainly, it was a sickening example of focusing too much attention on over-priced footwear (to the tune of several thousand pairs, was it?) instead of aligning herself more with the abject poverty and hopelessness of most of her citizens in the Philippines those many years ago.
When my husband and I moved to Mexico late last year, we brought very little of our ‘stuff’ with us; most of it is still in storage. I love to travel light and if I need something I buy it. My shoe assortment, especially, took up very little space in my suitcase. I wore my beloved Merrell’s (my go-to shoes around here because of the horrendous streets made of random cobblestones) and only took another two or three pairs: my indoor flip-flops, my outdoor flip-flops, some flat Mary-Janes and a five-year old pair of wedgie Hush Puppie slip-ons with a 2.5-inch wedge. That’s it. So far, they’ve addressed every footwear need I have had, except boots for the Mexican winter.
I was (I have to admit) mesmerized ashamedly, by a pair of distressed, grey and soft leather boots (Steve Madden) that I had to have around my birthday (October). These great ‘zapatos‘ (or correctly ‘las botas‘ for boots) are now in my closet and I’ve worn them many times. A 2.5-inch stacked heel, laced-up at the front with a zipper on the inside: I really love them. Now, the point I want to make about these great boots is this: they are locally made, in Mexico.
A city nearby to here is one of the major shoe capitals of the world, Leon. You probably haven’t heard of it (neither had I). But several shoe manufacturers there produce shoes and purses for many designers around the world. The workmanship is wonderful; the cow leather / lamb leather tanning is divine. In fact, Pope Benedict was presented with shoes handmade for him in Leon, that I believe he wears constantly.
When my husband and I travelled by bus to Leon a few months ago, we knew it was the capital of leather goods in Mexico, but we weren’t on a shopping trip for shoes at that time. We had no idea until very recently, that the shoe stores are situated all around the bus depot area! Now, we know.
You may be surprised to learn that Mexican women especially, love shoes. Almost every street corner in this town has a shoe store and much of what they carry are knock-offs, I’m sorry to say. But it’s the only way the local people can afford footwear: cheap, sub-standard materials and plentiful. The shoes may not last long, and that’s a good thing for them, because it only means they have to buy new ones often, and thus, always seem to wear fashionable ‘zapatos‘ even while living mostly impoverished lives here. Strange too, is the image that stuns me every single time I see it: young women wearing stilettos on these streets! How they do it, I’ll never know but I sure am not going to ever attempt that one on these roads made for mountain goats!
I’m inserting a link that I found to be cute and a perfect illustration of the Latino women’s creativity combined with their love of shoes: very crafty.
And this one: rhinestones and bows.
Enough of the ‘zapatos‘–for now. A message to my fellow women, though, is this: Restrain yourselves. You can’t wrap up your personal self-worth in a closet filled with ‘zapatos‘ in every style and colour. Anybody can wear a killer pair of heels, but it’s the spirit and the soul that counts: and it shines through the eyes, not the feet! Besides, there’s a lot to be said for practical shoes, especially around here. I’ve always loved quality over quantity in everything–but that’s just me.
I would like to leave you with another ‘z’ word now, the name of a great song sung by the wonderful Ms. Lila Downs, Mexican singer and songwriter and altogether beautiful Latino woman: ‘Zapata Se Queda‘. (I wonder how many shoes she owns?) And check out the making of the video for ‘Zapata Se Queda’.
And so we end as we began, back to ‘A’: Adios!
Thanks again, A to Z Blogging Challenge 2013. It’s been a slice! /mw
Y, i.e. ‘and’ is a great little word. One letter, adds so much in Spanish. You’ll notice it a lot in the written form–and now you know what it means.
Here are a few other useful ‘y‘ words, for your learning pleasure.
ya = already
yema = yolk (egg)
yo = I
yo soy = I am, and
ya que = since (because).
But my favourite ‘y‘ word is again, from the Nahuatl: ‘yolteotl‘. It means the ‘heart of God‘ or someone who embodies an almost spiritually enlightened mind.
Yolteotl is taken from two words, ‘Yolloti‘ means ‘heart‘ and ‘teotl‘ means ‘God‘, ‘movement‘ or ‘force‘. It is an ‘active’ word that really means more than the more passive ‘enlightened’; it is a state of Oneness with the Universe that is actively put in to force by the force of creating. Beautiful isn’t it?
Finally, today is the ‘Z‘ day. The Big One. The Final Curtain. The Last Hoorah. It’s gone rather quickly for me this year but I’ve enjoyed it. Please stand by for my ‘Z‘ post. /mw
meaning: a small, dark and plump chili pepper
I know there are many of you out there who like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but truthfully I’d never listened much to them until we were in Baja having fish tacos for lunch. A group of very boisterous and energetic young people came in of mixed company and sat at a long table beside us under the palapa roof. Quite suddenly they began ‘Aeroplane’ which I’d never heard before. What a catchy tune! Before long I started to chime in: ‘it’s my aeroplane’ on the refrain. To this day, I’ll randomly start singing that ditty at odd times and places.
Have a listen to ‘Aeroplane‘.
If you are running on low patience or focus this morning, or a non-historical buff, best leave this post now because I’m going to pack it with information.
Again, ‘x’ words are hard to come by in Spanish except a scattering of place names, at least so it seems. Really, you are probably already using some of them without knowing it as the first letter has been Anglicized from the original Nahuatl language–’xalapeno‘ or ‘jalapeno’ is one of them.
Many of the Nahuatl words end in ‘oye‘ or ‘ate‘. Here is a small collection of them.
- Guacamole comes from the word ‘ahuacatl’ meaning avocado and ‘molli’ meaning ‘salsa’,
- Tomato from ‘tomal’ meaning fat and ‘atl’ meaning water,
- Coyote from the word ‘coyotl’ meaning barking dog,
- Avocado from ‘ahuacatl’ meaning testicle (cute!), and
- Mexico from ‘meztli’ meaning moon and ‘ihco’ meaning center.
Nahuatl is a beautiful and poetic language which evolved because the people had a wonderful appreciation and sensitivity to art and nature, which they called “Flower and Song“. To be sure, there is very much to learn about the Nahuatl. In among my post, I have linked to some interesting information, for your bedtime reading.
By way of background, the Nahua were / are a branch of the Azteca people who made up Meso-America. Remaining today, there are an estimated 1.5 million people in Central Mexico and some in El Salvador–descendants–that still speak this ancient but dying language.
Once you expose yourself to Meso-American culture and history, this world will open up to you in a wonderful way. It’s like the saying I love about spirituality and Christ: ‘If you don’t go looking for the barbershop, how can you expect to find the barber?‘.
My own world bloomed for me when my husband and I decided to explore the local Otomi pyramid site near to where we live, Canada de la Virgin. We spent several hours touring the newly discovered site with one of the archeologists who worked on the ‘dig’ a couple of years ago, Professor Albert T. Coffee of Coyote Canyon Adventures. Honestly, this was one of the most interesting historical places I’ve ever visited and learned about. [See my post dated Nov. 16, 2012 "Canada de la Virgen".]
Here are a few words to explore from the beautiful Nahuatl language (click on this link).
Still in Mexico there are several place names beginning with ‘x’, if spelled correctly: ‘Xalapa‘ in the state of Veracruz (a lovely sounding city in the mountains near the Gulf of Mexico) and ‘Xochimilco‘ in Mexico City (one of 16 boroughs in the city where the lovely canal boats are found), to name a couple.
Getting back to my ‘x’ word, ‘xalapeno‘, here is a wonderful website that not only lists all the many types of chili peppers, but also has recipe links. Enjoy! /mw
meaning: a command to a horse to make it stop, and
used to express surprise, a greeting or to command attention
Sadly, the forlorn ‘w’ letter is another example where there are no known words associated with it here (like the Spanish ‘k’).
But don’t fret, I’m introducing one right now. Will it take? Who knows, but I know I’ll be using it.
The word I’m talking about is ‘whoa‘, as in stop horse now.
Moreover, I’m very curious to find out what words to use while riding a Mexican horse here so that it understands what I want to have happen. If you think about it, that could be very useful. If the said horse doesn’t know a word of English, ‘whoa‘ is meaningless to it. Often, English words used by riders on horses don’t make much sense at all in any language, ‘whoa‘ being one of them; ‘giddy-up’ another.
However, ‘whoa‘ is more versatile than you think. Really, it’s a spontaneous guttural expression that can be uttered for just about anything. And as I said, it most certainly could be used a hell-of-a-lot here–most especially by me, and that’s why I feel the need to share / introduce it in to the mainstream of this place.
‘El Whoa‘ could work, but just plain ‘whoa‘ is easier to blurt.
Use it in a cab, when getting ripped-off, when you hear a bullshit answer from somebody or anytime you get a lame excuse. Whoa, does it for me. (Mostly because it has trained me to refrain from using those other more severe expressions I used a lot in my youth.) Who could feel offended by it? It sounds gentle enough, hardly a four-letter word; more of a diplomatic cuss word that can easily be used in the presence of the person who is pissing you off, without them feeling too bad. Yes, I’m going to start using that word.
I should have started this morning when the laundry service dropped off our weekly stuff. When I saw the bill, I should have said ‘whoa‘. Thankfully, I didn’t say anything but I did stomp off to carefully hand-weigh the two laundry packages that were delivered: One that was ours and the other was the management company’s responsibility to pay, i.e. the weekly linens, blankets, towels, etc. Although our plastic package looked small enough, apparently it weighed 5 kilos according to the bill! (Sigh…, how am I going to check that without a scale?) In the end it was agreed by all the parties involved, the two bills were mixed up. The smaller bill was ours; the bigger bill was the casa’s.
Woah! Woah Nellie, it is. For next time. /mw
Truth is a major pet peeve for both me and my husband. We love it, we live it, we champion for it every chance we get. Give me a soapbox and I’ll stand on the corner of Calle Hidalgo y Insurgentes and I will exort the virtues of it: TRUTH, or ‘verdad‘ in Spanish.
The thing I really love about ‘verdad‘ is this: There is only one truth, but a trillion lies.
Verdad shines like a beacon in the cold and soulless night. It illuminates our path. It carries a sword and slays mercilessly. Verdad sings on a single frequency, one note strong and clear. Verdad frees us. Halleluia!
I love this place more each day, and most especially the Mexican people; but folks, ‘verdad‘ is ‘verdad‘. There is no partial-truth or dishonest thought that comes close to real truth. Unfortunately, there is a lot of non-truths being flung around here.
Oh, I keep getting excuses from mostly gringos, who like to believe they understand the Mexican mentality, when they tell me ‘it’s not that they are lying, it’s that Mexicans like to tell you what you want to hear‘. Well, next time I’m told this my retort will be: ‘why are they assuming I want to hear a lie? They should be assuming I want to hear the truth‘–whatever the heck it is, because then I have something I can work with. Something real I can deal with.
How often have we been told by a Mexican ‘tomorrow‘, in answer to a simple question and then tomorrow comes and goes like the wind off the Sierra Madres and nothing happens. Tomorrow turns in to the next day, the next week and often in to ‘never’. Instead of existing as a pure and stable marker, ‘verdad‘ becomes a figment of the imagination. A thing never to be found, but rather like an unobtainable honour that eludes everyone here.
Verdad has to count: Dammit! It is everything. It matters in every aspect of life and marriage. Truth is God and God is Truth.
Supposedly, God matters a lot here–but… Practising faith actually means ‘practising’ it every day, not just on Feast Day religious celebrations. That means trying it out and seeing how it feels: To tell the truth.
Nothing feels better once all the practising finally results in learning a lesson. Lessons are hard, but worth it. That’s what life is all about: learning, growth and enlightenment.
This lesson today, is ‘verdad‘ and everything it stands for here in Mexico, in my relationships, at my workplace and in the world. Truth shines like a diamond.
I just pray I can start to hear this Spanish phrase more often around here: ‘la verdad es que no lo sé‘, which means ‘to be honest I don’t know, I really don’t know‘. Yes, please! Say it. Be honest. Tell the truth. /mw
let us not love
but with actions
and in truth.
- 1 John 3:18 – NIV Bible -
[MoonWynd Studio - Photographs. Copyright 2013.]
All Rights Reserved.
Of all the lovely Spanish words we’ve learned here daily, including those regular ones I try to roll my tongue around every time I hit the streets, this one–I think–bites.
I mean I was almost disgusted when I saw it finally, on the side of a grape juice box: ‘Uva‘. But this cannot be the word for grape, it sounds medical and private. Much like some body parts we never speak about.
How can such a clinical name be used for the wonderful grape? I mean, it doesn’t even sound Spanish! I could understand any of these (totally made up, by the way):
- el grapa
- vinocito rojo (red) and vinocito blanco (white), or any other such sensible and intuitive-sounding term; but, ‘uva‘? No way.
So far ‘uva‘ has been the biggest word disappointment I’ve had down here. Honestly, I sigh when I see it on a box in the store and my stomach churns a little. The funny thing is, the ‘uva‘ juice here just does not taste the same because of it. Or is it me?
Here in Mexico, there is a New Year’s Eve tradition involving ‘uva‘. At the countdown on New Year’s Eve, one is supposed to eat / down 12 ‘uva’ in quick succession, making a wish with each one representing the 12 months of the new year. Usually they are served in a champagne glass. Supposedly, a sweet ‘uva‘ means a good month, and a sour ‘uva‘ means a bad month.
But I tell you: I am starting an earnest movement to rename this lovely, versatile fruit and so I pledge to call it a ‘grape’ at every chance I get, New Year’s Eve or not; that, or ‘el grape’. Seriously.
I think they should change the name; Anglicize it, or better yet Latinize it. Oh! Wait a minute: it already is the Latin ‘uvae‘. Aha! That’s where it came from: blame the Romans. But that still doesn’t make it right. /mw
meaning: a food item
Some of you may remember those wonderful hot and cinnamon-flavoured, chewable candies called ‘Hot Tamales‘. Apparently they are still around, but I haven’t seen them in a long time in Canada. Oh, if I could get my hands on some…
The ‘tamales‘ that I am talking about today are of the food-stuff kind. Tamales are big in Mexico, but you don’t often see them in this town–at least, not as much as you should. A good ‘tamale‘ is like a good schnitzel, if you ask me. You just cannot get enough of them at one sitting.
Tamales have been made by Meso-Americans for who knows how long, and concocted with very specific ground ‘masa‘. The right ‘masa‘ to use, I’ve been told very carefully, is the stuff you get from a proper tortilleria. The reason you don’t see them here very often is because they are a big pain in the ass to make. Every time I mention the word to a Mexican, they smile but kind of roll their eyes a little. The ‘smile’ is more of a ‘knowing grimace’. Tamales are labor-intensive, for sure, but worth it!
I peeked inside an old paperback cookbook that was tucked away on a shelf in the last casita that we lived in, and of course the first thing I looked up was ‘tamales‘. The author mentioned that once you are on the social radar for making good ones, you will be asked repeatedly to make them for every event under the sun. I suppose I could live with that because it could get us invited to some dang-good parties!
I’m so keen to try making them, that I’m going to ask the housekeeper for this casita if she can teach me–although, I’m going to break it to her gently. (I hope she doesn’t roll her eyes too!) In the worst case scenario whereby I can’t muster the question to her (she’s already teaching me to make Capirotada on Friday), I’ll re-watch the YouTube video I’ve linked up for you, and walk through it step-by-step myself. Truthfully, ‘tamales’ are more of a Christmas / New Year’s tradition. But I always say, every day should be like Christmas.
The interesting thing about ‘tamales‘ is they are wrapped in corn husks mostly, although I have seen recipes that use banana leaves. The consistency of the ‘tamale‘ itself is hard to describe but I suppose you could consider to be a firm potatoish pâté of shredded chicken or diced pork and some other stuff.
Because I’m me, and I like to jazz up food with condiments, I tried them with salsa on the side and sour cream (or yogurt). I discovered that it’s the only way to eat ‘tamales‘. It was delicious! Of course they should always be eaten warm or hot or reheated in a microwave.
Little Granma’s Tamales (Chef Virginia Lopez)
Really, when you think of ‘tamales‘, think ‘Labor of Love‘, because they truly are due to all the work involved! As Chef Lopez says in the video, if you get friends or family members to help with each stage, the process goes quicker and is easier and besides, it’s a bonding experience too. Gusta! /mw
What’s so funny about ‘sabana‘ you ask? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Unless, that is, you are trying to get pronunciation right in both Spanish and English.
Sabanas aren’t a big deal really. Life doesn’t depend on them, and there are many people in the world where ‘sabanas’ are something they have never slept on at all.
To me, at their worst they border on sandpaper. You might was well be lying on a sandy beach. But at their best they are like finest, creamy satin. How the same cultivated plant (cotton) is refined in such ways to produce both something rough or soft is a mystery to me. I suppose it’s all in the weave.
If you’ve never slept in Egyptian cotton ‘sabanas‘, well, you should. You’ll never go back: trust me!
The funny anecdote I have about ‘sabanas‘ isn’t much, but it’s all I could come up with today.
This casita’s housekeeper and I recently had a conversation about changing the bed sheets. It ended with my laughing my guts out. I hope I didn’t offend her because all she did was she innocently ask me if she could ‘change the chips‘.
“Chips?“, I repeated.
“Si, chips“, she repeated as she motioned over to our ‘cama‘.
“Oh! Sheets, sheets!“, I said with a laugh.
“Si, chips, cheeps“, she answered smiling.
“No, sheets, sheets!“, I tried to help her.
“Si, cheeps…, chips…, shits…“, she practised.
Well, by then I couldn’t stop laughing.
“No, not shits. No, don’t ever say that one“, I blurted out.
“Shits, no, chips, cheeps“, she carried on searchingly. (God bless her she was trying.)
“No“, I said, “don’t worry about it. Just stick to ‘sheeps’.
And so, it’s ‘sheeps‘ or ‘chips’, and I expect it always will be until today. Today I learned the Spanish ‘sabana‘. But I still might decide not to use it, because every time she says ‘sheeps‘ or ‘chips‘ it gives me a giggle. /mw
I love this word ‘regalo‘, both the Spanish and the English ‘gift’. I don’t like receiving them, really. I have a very hard time accepting them mainly because whatever I have, it’s all I need and I still feel I have too much. Before we moved to Mexico, I spent a full year streamlining our ‘stuff’, consolidating 2 storage lockers, giving tons of things to The Salvation Army so they could make some money from all our excess. Of course, we also gave away many things to our kids who need so much, and we still have stuff in storage!
If there’s something I want or need, I get it or I save for it–or I go without. We all have far too much in the First World. Places like Mexico are overfull with people who have nothing. This alone, when you witness it, is enough to re-evaluate and ask yourself: ‘do you really need this to be happy?’ The answer is usually, no.
However, having said that, I do really love receiving meaningful, small tokens of love and appreciation from people. It’s the thought, time and trouble that matters to me–a lot. And I treasure those tokens so very much. The most amazing life experiences I’ve had, have been priceless and did not involve an exchange of any kind except, perhaps, our souls. Those are the blessed things we keep forever in us.
I want to make this post short today; I think I’m burning out a bit. But thankfully we’re nearly finished this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge and that will be another To Do item checked off. Hooray!
Have a nice weekend, everyone! /mw
[MoonWynd Studio - Photographs. Copyright 2013.]
All Rights Reserved.
meaning: lit. one (female) who is 15
We were blessed to have been invited to this wonderful coming-of-age celebration of the niece of someone we know a month or so ago. The ‘quinceanera‘ is a special series of traditional elements in Mexican and all latin cultures, that celebrates a young girl’s coming in to adulthood. It is the 15th birthday party fiesta extraordinaire!
The ‘quinceanera‘ is given a crown, jewellry and a Bible along with other gifts, plus an over-the-top ballroom gown, flowers, a huge cake and one heck-of-a-party. Usually the girl has an entourage of young male relatives and friends all dressed in suits and matching ties, sometimes totalling ’15′: the age of the girl.
Before the festivities begin, a special Mass is held in honour of and thanks for, all the blessings the ‘quinceanera‘ has received in childhood and to carry her forward in her adult womanhood with the blessing of God.
There are some main components of the fiesta itself which are very touching:
- the ‘quinceanera‘ always leaves her flower bouquet at the altar of the Virgin of Guadalupe after the Mass
- a small pillow is made by a relative, that matches her gown and has her name embroidered on it, used at the Mass
- the first dance at the fiesta is always with her father
- the Ceremony of the Change of Shoes where the father changes the girl’s shoes from flat ones to her first high-heel shoes, symbolizing her becoming a woman
- the Ceremony of the Last Doll ‘ceremonia de la ultima muñeca’, where her father presents his daughter with her last doll dressed in the same gown as she wears for the ceremony (an aspect taken from Mayan culture)
- the dinner, the dance and socializing, and
- the handing out of 15 candles to all those adults who have influenced the ‘quinceanera‘ in her life growing up.
This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. We were thrilled to have been invited to this lovely celebration. /mw
[MoonWynd Studio - Photographs. Copyright 2013.]
All Rights Reserved.
meaning: hi / hello
Now, I’m kind of cheating a little here because ‘hola‘ starts with and ‘h‘, but it is silent when spoken.
This great word ‘hola‘ gets you tons of mileage here. I say it every day many times as it’s a friendly greeting. Whenever I walk on the streets here, I usually say it to complete strangers (Mexicans) just in passing as a kind word spoken and usually I get the reply back ‘hola‘, which is nice. I love the informality of it, kind of like ‘que pasa‘, which means ‘what’s happening, man?‘
The funny story I have about this word–at least I think it’s funny now; it wasn’t so funny when it happened on a New Year’s Eve at Hotel California: yes, the real one in Baja.
We were staying there for a few days between Christmas and New Year’s, which we loved. It’s a very stylish and eclectic old hotel which has been refurbished but still holds old-world memories between those hacienda walls.
The hotel is located in a very small town on the Pacific side of the Baja, and believe me, the town is small. However, small or not, a fiesta is a fiesta anywhere in Mexico and that means the town parties!
We had a nice New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel, but after that not much else to do as we had no party invitation, unfortunately. So we decided to go for an evening stroll in very high heat after dinner (oh, it must have been around 10 – 10:30 p.m.). Up the main street we walked, and along some of the back streets, just enjoying the beautiful indigo evening sky, the soothing warmth, and hearing all the happy music and loud partying going on in every neighbourhood in town.
After a relatively short walk–for us–we headed back to the hotel. And went to open the front doors. Locked. (“What the heck?” was uttered by me, or it could have been a more colorful expression, I’m not sure, but you get the sentiment.)
Nobody home. Door locked. No sign of anybody at all. “But this is a hotel! It’s supposed to be open all the time.” (Not in Mexico, apparently and not especially on New Year’s Eve.)
We knocked and knocked and knocked some more. And then we thumped and thumped and thumped some more. Nada.
Oh my God, I started to panic. (My husband, not so much.) I had horrible visions of two gringos sleeping rough on the side of the street, tucked in to some doorway all night. Not a very wise option in Mexico at the best of times. We had nowhere to go, and didn’t think to bring the rental car keys out with us for a walk either.
So…, I started yelling (I mean, really yelling) “hola“, in front of the hotel. “Hola! Hola! Hola!“, I screamed. Nada.
“Hola! Hola!…Hola!” I continued, at the top of my lungs.
Finally, a very intoxicated Mexican patron of the same hotel, opened the window shutter in answer to this crazy person yelling in the street: “Hola!” he said once and slammed the shutter.
What? You silly person, I’m not saying ‘hi’ to you, I need your ‘help’!, I said to my husband… (I didn’t know the word for ‘help’ in Spanish.)
“Hola! Hola!“, I screamed again. I’m sure he heard the desperation in my voice?
“Hola!”, he screamed back once, when he flung open the shutter again and then slammed it shut. This went on for several more times.
In a more friendly circumstance, this would have been hilarious to me, along the lines of the silly nonsense they used to do on Rowan and Martin’s TV show ‘Laugh In’, a hit in the 1970s. But that night it was sheer panic I felt instead.
Oh my God, he really does think I’m being friendly, I muttered in horror to my husband, who by this time was slinking off in to the shadows of the hotel overhang.
“Hola! Hola! Hola!”, I tried again.
And “Hola!“, the friendly but very drunk Mexican hotel patron replied from inside this time, not even opening the shutter, where he and his amigos were safe and having fun while we were stranded outside, alone and forgotten in the balmy warmth of a Mexican New Year’s Eve.
Finally, I decided to combine my “Hola!” with heavy thumping on the wooden front door.
Amazingly, the Night Watchman eventually came and opened up after probably at least 45 minutes of banging and screaming on the street. I have never felt such relief to see another human in my whole life as I did that night!
“Feliz Ano Nuevo” (Happy New Year) we managed to utter, and we really meant it as we were so grateful that we weren’t going to be found very dried out and dead on a hot Mexican street that next New Year’s Day morning. /mw
nopal / nopales
meaning: prickly pear tree (cactus)
Nopale are everywhere! Out of town, in town, and in the mercado–of course. They grow profusely in the wild all over Mexico and are dotted along the roads and in some gardens. Nopales are a rather large, flat-leafed (sometimes called pads or paddles) cactus and are eaten here like you would eat french fries or onions. They put that, ahem, on everything!
The nutritional value of ‘nopales‘ is high including vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and manganese. And apparently this vitamin-rich cactus is very good for controlling glycemic levels of diabetics. Nopal was eaten by all the native peoples here for centuries: Toltecs, Olmecs, Aztecs and Mayans. It’s a great antioxidant to fight free radicals (cancer causing cells) in our bodies.
In the mercados, are usually very old women who sit in a corner with a very large machete scraping off the prickly spines from nopal pads all day long. You can buy them whole or cut up in to thin strips. The most delicious way to eat them is to put them inside a taco or gordita (preferrably the blue corn ones) along with cheese and meat, or as a side salad with dressing (oil and vinegar), or my all-time favourite ‘jugo verde‘ (green juice).
I first tried ‘jugo verde‘ on the Baja, and I was hooked. Firstly, the flavour was so good and after tasting it I knew it was one of those ‘super healthy foods’ which I love.
So today, I share with you a recipe for ‘jugo verde‘ made with cactus. I hope you can try it either at home or on your next visit to Mexico. Gustar (I like)!
Here is a great video (in Spanish, people) showing how-to make ‘jugo verde‘ and all the ingredients:
- either orange or grapefruit juice (fresh everything is always best)
- bean sprouts
- alfalfa sprouts
BLEND. That’s it! / mw