Tag Archives: Mexico

Living Like a Local: Women vs. Men

men-vs-women-leadersLiving in Mexico has opened my eyes to how different their culture is compared to in America. Our generation has considerably changed the norms surrounding the roles of women and men in the home. In the 20th century, it was commonly accepted that wife played the role of housemaker/housewife to tend to things at home such as cleaning, or cooking, or taking care of the children, while the husband was responsible for working and bringing home the “bread” to the family. Today, more and more women have higher aspirations to succeed and advance in their careers before they settle down. More women are embracing the fact that the era when women “belonged” in the house has passed, and we can aim for CEO and executive positions, The gender pay gap is slowly decreasing, and women are always wanted in the STEM field, often getting paid more than their male counterparts.

As I’m getting to know the community here in Mexico, I realize that they are still very traditional about the male and female roles in the household. My host father explicitly stated that in Mexico, the women take care of the cooking and the cleaning. I’ve witnessed it at home when the males who eat meals would leave their plates on the tables or at the sink for someone else to clean. I can’t tell you how much that makes my eye twitch when I’m very pro gender-equal responsibilities in the house loll. I always try to wash my own dishes while I’m here to lessen the load on whoever is responsible for washing the massive mountain of dishes D: It seems to be the norm at every household I’ve visited, where the daughter or the wife is responsible for preparing the meals, bringing food over to the males first to eat, and then cleaning up afterward. I’m doing my best to keep that open mind since not every culture is what I’ve grown up to know. It’d be interesting to see what changes in let’s say 10-20 years’ time!

Living Like a Local: Staying Cool

It’s pretty much summertime year-round in Agua Caliente Nueva, with the exception of December, apparently, when the locals feel a temporary relief from the scorching sun and the countless insects that buzz around the home. I’ve managed to survive without an air conditioner for a month now, with average temperatures in the high 80s, often reaching 90s!

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I can’t say that I’m enjoying feeling a thin layer of sweat and dust on my body pretty much all the time, including minutes after I take a shower…but I’m pretty used to the heat now. As I type, I’m sitting one foot away from my standing fan while my ceiling fan is running at top speed, and my skin is feeling sticky with the insect repellent I use so liberally day by day. Update guys: the repellent bracelets do NOT work for me!

So how do I stay cool in Agua Caliente? The answer is, I don’t, really. 😦 This town is in a dry tropical region, which experiences very few rains throughout the year (pretty much only during late July through September) unless there’s a hurricane that hits the southwest coast of Mexico.

  • Sitting on the roof of my house–so much more of a breeze!
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Watching the sunset from the roof of my house

  • I’m using two fans whenever I’m in my room and have my windows propped open (thankfully with a mosquitero to keep insects out–but there’s a darn mosquito that’s lurking in the shadows and always taking a meal when I’m not paying attention 😦 )
  • I’m lucky to have running water to be able to shower multiple times a day (who likes cold showers?!) to rinse off the mix of sweat, dirt, dust, sunscreen, and insect repellent on my skin.
  • I cut my hair just below shoulder length prior to Mexico, but even keeping it down is unbearable so I have it tied up all the time.
  • Some parts of Mexico are more conservative, but here I’m able to wear shorts above my knees and tank tops to let my skin breaaaathe in this humid air. I did pack three loose-fitting slacks but although they’re breathable while standing, it sticks to your skin when you’re sitting down (what kind of bogus is that?). I also packed a pair of jeans which has been a lifesaver when I know I’ll be outdoors for extended periods of time, because those pesky mosquitoes can’t suck my blood through the denim, yay!
  • Drink LOOOOTS of water! I bought a 36oz stainless steel insulated bottle for only $10 at Marshalls (did I mention I love Marshalls and they have great deals?! 
    IMG_9112The average recommended water intake for someone of average height (aka not me) is 8 8oz glasses of water per day, and I’m drinking about 72oz or more. It’s totally necessary to drink this much so you don’t faint from the heat or suffer a heat stroke. I’m pretty sensitive to heat as of last year and so I want to avoid headaches caused by excessive heat as much as possible. I even downloaded an app to send reminders throughout the day to drink water, and I can input my water intake as well to see how close I am to reaching my daily goal 🙂

Living Like a Local: A Series of Unfortunate Events

This week marks the 5th week I’m living in Agua Caliente; the longest time I’ve ever been out of the country was 3 weeks. I thought I was doing so well with handling my time here, but as luck would have it, I was wrong and faced a series of unfortunate events.

As some of y’all know, I’m here working on my first practicum through school where I’m making Moringa fresh tea leaf samples for my professors, and also doing my own side project where I’m interviewing locals about their dietary practices at home and whether it’s acceptable and feasible to incorporate Moringa leaves into their diets. After successfully integrating myself into the community, I recruited an adequate number of female participants whom I would interview. This past Saturday, I scheduled a Moringa cooking demonstration, expecting at least 6 people to show, but I only had 3 (one of whom I literally had to walk over to the demo site myself). So that’s one. My host family tried to explain to me that flojera is a thing, where people are essentially lazy and will commit to something but end up not following through -big pet peeve-…

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Quesadillas with Moringa leaves and flowers

Religion was never something I was forced to embrace in my family, but it’s a huge part of the Mexican culture. It seems that the longer you hang out with someone, the more likely the topic of religion comes up, and it’s kind of a huge deal when you say you don’t practice one. I have been asked at least 4-5 times if I believed in God or practiced a religion. I would get responses like “Oh, that’s bad. You need to believe in God” or the best one from a Jehovah’s witness was a whole hour-long lecture about how I need to study the bible in order to be saved. To each their own, you know? It made for very uncomfortable table talk when I’d get preached…

And then there’s the issue of food poisoning. I posted about food safety on my public health blog after my first bout of food poisoning when I arrived, and was doing SO SO well being more careful with my food, until this weekend. We went to Colimilla and ate seafood at a waterfront restaurant (we were taken by boat!). Silly me, thinking that since we’re right by the water, that the seafood would be nice and fresh. When we ordered oysters, not only were they at room temperature, but they tasted fishy… I tried to convince myself it was because they were taken straight from salty seawater, but I think my gut instinct was correct. I suffered my second bout of food poisoning this week and was out of commission for two days and literally felt like the bacteria/viruses were having a party in my stomach. Note to self: don’t eat room-temp oysters –> when in doubt, throw it out 😡

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We took a boat to go to the seafood restaurant in Colimilla

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I think these were what caused my food poisoning 😥

And to put the cherry on top, I am very very averse to bugs and all things creepy and crawly, and I’ve had to endure lots of them while living here. Mosquitoes seem to seek me out wherever I am in the world… BUT, there’s one thing worse than a mosquito when it comes to staying safe: scorpions. I discovered my first one in my room, so now I’m pretty paranoid about shaking out my sheets and my clothes before I wear them ><

If you want a real experience living like a local, this is it. Find a home stay with a host family, and not a luxurious hotel, so that you can experience all the ups and downs of living in a foreign land! Moral of the story: expect plans to fall through and set low expectations, try to avoid talking about religion as much as possible, don’t eat suspicious foods, be careful of bugs 😐

Recipe: Vegetarian Ceviche

Hey everyone 🙂 I learned another recipe from my host family this past week: ceviche de coliflor, otherwise known as vegetarian ceviche. This recipe replaces seafood with cauliflower florets shredded into fine pieces and is great as a meal when the weather is suuuper hot! My host family likes to prepare this because it’s really quick to prepare and because my host brothers are even willing to eat this despite the lack of carne (meat) in the dish haha.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • (optional) 2 cucumbers
  • 1-2 limes

Steps:

  1. Chop off the leaves from the cauliflower head and break it apart into smaller than fist-sized florets.
  2. Soak them in salt water to disinfect for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Shave the skin off of the carrots and use a grater to get fine carrot strips.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for cucumbers if you have them.Making ceviche de coliflor2.JPG
  5. Peel the outer layer of the onion and dice into fine pieces.
  6. Dice the tomatoes into fine pieces.
  7. After the cauliflower has been soaked thoroughly, drain the water and grate the florets. You can also grate the stalks or save them for cooking something else (avoid food waste)!
  8. Mix all of the vegetables together and squeeze the lime juice into the mix and add pinches of salt to taste.

Ceviche de coliflor

 

Living Like a Local: Crocodilos Up Close and Personal

This past weekend I went to La Manzanilla with my host family to see los crocodrilos up close and personal! Have a good guess what those are? For a modest 30 pesos for an adult ticket, you can walk around the manglares (mangroves) to see a TON of crocodiles just chilling and sunbathing at the banks. If you’re lucky, you can catch some exotic birds like egrets and ibises!

This is where we went: Crocodrilario La Manzanilla

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This is one of my host sisters 😀

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We were so close to the crocodiles that if I reached my hand down I probably could have touched one of their tails 😮

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Mangroves!

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The bridge is for passing not for playing (it shook when we walked over it!)

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Can you see the fear in my eyes?

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My host dad is such a clown; here he is wrestling with a “live” crocodile loool

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Me and my handy dandy repellent. This SAVED me today; we were surrounded by mosquitoes left/right/up/down, and I used up half the bottle shamelessly, and I left the swamps unscathed 8)

 

 

 

Living Like a Local: ¡Pobre Perrita!

Since arriving, I feel I’ve done a pretty good job immersing myself into this culture. I no longer feel weird pronouncing Spanish slightly incorrectly, saying hi to community members on my daily walks, or joking around with the people I meet. I think I got really lucky with the host family I was placed with, because they are such wonderful people. My host father and host mother are #relationshipgoals since they have been together since they were 20 and 17, so I wanna say it’s been almost 30 years of being together!

My schedule is pretty flexible and I can choose when I want to go out to walk around town, or just hang out at home with my host sister K and my host father. Turns out my host father is a jokester full of bromas/chistes (jokes). He loves to crack jokes and make people laugh, either by his poor choice of jokes or from us laughing because he’s laughing.

Today my host father, K, and I were hanging out around the kitchen and talking about perceptions of weight varying by culture, and talking about how some cultures value obesity as a sign of health, prosperity (for being able to afford abundant amounts of food), strength, and capacity for child-bearing when it comes to finding a partner to marry. K decided to share this story she heard about a man who married a dog in India because no woman wanted to marry him (isn’t that sad?!). My host father and I looked at her in disbelief, and she exclaimed “¡Pobre!” as a way to demonstrate her feeling sorry for this man’s predicament. But my host father, being the jokester and all, replies, “¡Pobre perrita!” and we all started cracking up. I’m sorry I can’t reenact this scene to you all because it’s actually quite funny if you were present for this conversation, and I’m a poor joke teller heh 😐

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This is Chispa; she’s due very soon!

DIY: Mosquito Traps

It’s Week 3 in Mexico and I may have breached 60 mosquito bites since arriving! There are 20+ bites alone on BOTH of my feet, so you can imagine my annoyance when it comes to a bad itch… I’ve used bug spray with DEET, lime juice, Raid mosquito coils, but I’m amping up my protection by making DIY mosquito traps!

DIY Mosquito Traps

Here’s what you’ll need if you decide you want to set some traps for your house or in your backyard:

  • 2L plastic bottle
  • 1 cup of water
  • some strong tape
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (I’ve seen brown and white sugar used)
  • 1 gram of yeast (this apparently can vary and you can experiment since different mosquitoes are attracted to different amounts of CO2)
  • black construction paper or black plastic bags

Steps:

  1. Boil a pot of water. (I made four traps so I boiled about four cups’s worth of water)
  2. While you’re waiting for it to boil, take your 2L bottle and slice it at the top of the label. You can poke a hole with a scissors and then cut the rest through, or take a sharp knife and slice it like a piece of really plasticky cake 😛
  3. Measure 1 cup of hot water and pour it slowly into the bottom half of the bottle, that way you don’t get any hot water splashing everywhere and burning you.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of sugar into the bottle and mix thoroughly.
  5. Wait for the sugar water to cool to at least room temperature!
  6. Add 1 gram into the bottle. DO NOT MIX! It’ll last up to 2 weeks if you don’t mix it.
  7. Take the top half of the bottle, invert it and place it into the bottom half of the bottle, and take your tape to seal the two pieces of the bottle together. This is to give only one entry way into the bottle and not let those annoying zancudos escape!
  8. Take your black construction paper or plastic bag and wrap the outside of the bottle, leaving just the opening exposed. Apparently mosquitoes like dark colors so they’ll be attracted to your trap!

You’ll want to place the mosquito traps somewhere with low foot traffic so you don’t accidentally spill it. Instructions say to keep it away from you, but I kept two in my room on the opposite side of the room where my bed is, since those annoying creatures like to hang out waiting for the moment I least expect them. I also left one by my bathroom sink since I’ve noticed they like to chill there too.

I’ll let you know if it ends up working!! Comment below if you tried this DIY idea before, or if you have other tried and true ways to protect yourself against mosquitoes and also what you do to kill mosquitoes in your home.