Mexican Challenges + Simple Salsa Recipe

I may have written before that whilst I’m here in México, I keep in contact with a few classes at a high school back in Wales – I’m SO glad I opted to take part in the scheme, it gives me a chance to try and get them interested in languages and in México, and maybe encourage them to take a path similar to mine – going to Uni wasn’t something I was sure about, nor was studying Spanish, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.  Needless to say, I also wouldn’t be in México – another thing I wasn’t sure about until it was nearly time to apply for places – but that also turned out to be the best thing for me by far, so if I can get others to see what great opportunities studying languages offers, mission accomplished!

Anyway, I stole an idea from a friend who is doing the same thing but with a different school, and asked the classes to make me a list of challenges to complete whilst I’m here.  Here goes:

  1. Eat a ghost chilli and film it (this probably won’t happen – ghost chillis are so hot it’s actually quite dangerous (plus they’re from India, not México – a valid excuse I think!))
  2. Go to a bull fight/meet a bull
  3. Make a hot salsa and share it with friends
  4. Wear a Mexican hat/sombrero for a whole day, and take photos
  5. Take a photo at a Mexican festival
  6. Learn a tune on a Mexican instrument
  7. Play street football with the locals and photograph
  8. Do an ice bucket challenge
  9. Take a shot of tequila with salt and lime and film

The subject of my post today is the hot salsa – when we was horse riding in Puerto Vallarta, Josh and I were given a little lesson in making tortillas and different salsas, one of which was particularly easy, so here it is.

Ingredients: tomato, onion, cucumber, chilli, coriander, lime.

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Directions: Cut everything up, squeeze the lime, and eat with tortillas.  Could it be any easier?

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All colours of the Mexican flag!

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¡Buen provecho!

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February Photo Challenge

Surprise! It’s nearly February.

Anyone who knows me knows I am addicted to Pinterest (follow me here: https://www.pinterest.com/marycatherinex/), and something that pops up quite a lot that I always think I’m going to try are month-long photo challenges; just taking a photo every day for a month of the given theme.  So, if like me one of your resolutions for 2015 was to be more creative (and if like me, yours hasn’t really taken off yet) maybe this will help –  I decided to start by designing my own challenge.

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(I’m certainly no graphic designer)

Have fun!

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(I made a signature as well)

Regreso a Guadalajara

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I’m back in Guadalajara after about 2 months off from everything – including blogging, whoops!  Although I had lots of ideas for Christmassy things, when the time came to it I just coudn’t be bothered to do anything, so instead I had some down time, just chilling out with my family, making a few trips up and down to Cardiff and readjusting to life in the UK.

I’m definitely getting used to changing up! I’ve been back in Mexico for a week but it feels like I’ve been back for much longer (but it will take longer still to get back into the swing of things at Uni!) It’s actually been a pretty hectic week – I had my first trip to a Mexican doctor (ended up spending the week in and out of the clinic) which turned out to be a lot simpler than I had thought, and the system here is very efficient!  It looks like there’s nothing seriously wrong so I can get back on track, and start going to classes properly next week.  I’ve chosen my modules for this term having a better idea of what I enjoy, so I’m excited to get stuck in! I’ll be studying History of the Mexican Revolution, Indigenous Culture, Teaching Spanish as a Second Language and a more general History of Mexico, as well as continuing with German.

Along the lines of changing up, it won’t be long before my housemates take off.  Two have already moved to Queretaro to be closer to family, and two out of the three remaining were only enrolled for one term, so they’ll be off home soon! I’ll definitely be sad to see them go and will miss the nights spent in “Fuente” drinking tequila and dancing to Mariachi.  But, I’ll soon be getting new housemates and hopefully making even more new friends.

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Now, as cliché as it is, I’m going to say it – I’m determined to make 2015 my year!  January has already gone SO fast, but I’ve made a start on a few resolutions – the usual one, to eat more healthily, is going pretty well.  Last term I was a bit apathetic when it came to cooking healthy meals for myself, but so far this year I haven’t eaten ANY pizza so that’s a start! Tonight I made a pretty good chickpea and mushroom chilli and I’ve recently discovered the wonder that is courgette “noodles” – honestly, better than pasta (although I’m definitely not jumping on the ‘no-carb’ bandwagon).  Finally, on the subject of health, I’ve signed up for a free taster session for a taekwondo class at a studio that also runs a yoga course – hopefully this yoga class will be more successful than the others I’ve tried.  And, once I get confirmation from the doctor, I can start training for the Great North Run half marathon in September.

It’s strange that in 6 short months my Mexican adventure will be over.  But I intend to make the most of every minute of those 6 months, see as much as I can of this amazing country and make as many friends as I can here, but also to work hard and write lots, because in 6 months I have to start thinking about being a proper grown up! But not just yet (:

Have faith & a burning desire to just keep on going no matter what happens  via: CUBICLE REFUGEE

Mexico Bucket List, Part 1

Sometimes, I find myself looking forward to all the things I’ll do when I finish this year – truth be told, I do look forward to going home, back to Cardiff, having my own house again and making a start on my own future (thinking about internships at the moment!) I sometimes think of that life as my actual life, and this year is a year out from that life, and sometimes I think I could really use that year (if that makes sense!) Anyway, when I find myself thinking negatively about being away from home, I try to remind myself that I’m getting way ahead of myself, and to use the time I have here to, yes, prepare myself for life afterwards, and that the best preparation I can do is to make the most of everything Mexico has to offer.  To focus on living here – the time will pass either way, and I have my whole life to do the things I’m missing.

When I need to stay positive, I remind myself how I felt looking out of the window of the coach on the way to Morelia – just driving through wilderness and thinking about how lucky I am, thinking, ‘I can’t believe I get to live here!’ and that gets me thinking, there are so many things I want to do here and I only have a year to do them.

So, I thought I’d put together a bit of a bucket list of the places I want to visit/things I want to do before the year is up.

1) Go to Corona Capital in Mexico City and see Conor Oberst.

This is first on the list because this is the plan for my 21st birthday – I was thinking about not going but I’d regret it so much if I didn’t! Living in the moment, and all!

2) Go to Puerto Vallarta

Another concrete plan for October – my boyfriend surprised me by announcing he’s visiting for two weeks (yipee!), so we’ve arranged a few days at the beach, including horse-riding up to some waterfalls, swimming in lakes and working with a conservation project to release baby sea turtles into the ocean.

3) Temazcal at Tepoztlan

 

Tepoztlan is otherwise known as “the mystic valley” – I’d go for the name if nothing else! It’s a tiny town but very beautiful, surrounded by nature and home to many rumoured UFO sightings.  A Temazcal is a Mesoamerican sweat lodge, a bit like a sauna but with the addition of body-and-soul-cleansing, purifying herbs.  Here is my place for a spiritual break.

4) UFO-Spot at Popoctapetl

Whilst we’re on the subject of UFOs, another hotspot is Popocatepetl, the (still active) volcano.  It’s also surrounded by indigenous villages and neighboured by Itzaccihuatl.

5) Celebrate the Day of the Dead

Probably Mexico’s most internationally famous festival is El Dia de los Muertos, celebrated on the 2nd of November – it will need a post of it’s own which I can’t wait to write!

6) Go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival

7) Dive in Cozumel

8) Visit Archaeological Sites: Chichen Itza, Palenque, Teotihuacan, Uxmal…

 

9) Be a tourist in Cancun and Playa del Carmen

 

10) Lie on the beach for days in Tulum

The Power of Persuasion

 

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I made a friend today – this is Don Juan de Dios, hard at work at 8 in the morning preparing corn in all different ways.  The street is lined with people like Juan, all doing the same thing, starting before the sun comes up – it looks like very hard work, and I would say, because of the number of them, they can’t be making much money – but perhaps they do.  They eat a lot of corn here.

 

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That is actual corn.  It’s PINK!

 

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The large, flat leaves are what they use to wrap tamales.

 

Anyway, what I really want to write about is the smell.  To my friends and family back at home, I wish you could smell the street I live on – as weird as that sounds!  You probably don’t think corn smells of much but it does – already, to me, it’s the smell of Mexico.

Sometimes a scent is more evocative than a photo or an image. It is a primer for the deflagration of sensation, emotions, desires, uncontrollable atmospheres, deja-vus that flood and wrap us like honey, until they make us drown in an unrepeatable moment of well-being… olfactory hallucinations that lead us anywhere: to the North of any South, to the East of any West…

Scents are powerful when it comes to triggering memory, but, I think, probably quite overlooked.  Everyone has certain songs, places, pictures or words that remind them of a time or event or person, but I wonder how many people can think of significant scents?  Maybe it’s something you don’t know about until you’re there, and you smell someone’s perfume as they walk past.  The only thing I can think of at the moment is my best friend’s house when I was in primary school – I can remember it even though I haven’t been there in years, and I’ll probably never come across it anywhere else.  I’m just wondering whether that house still smells the same even though the family have moved out, or if their new house bears a resemblance.

I hope, in years to come, I’ll have lots of memories attached to scents, even better if they’re ones I’m likely to come across again (unfortunately in England, sweetcorn really doesn’t smell of anything)!

What are your favourite smells?  What do they remind you of?

Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.

Patrick Süskind

I ♥ Art

Over the summer I got a little bit back into painting, but I forgot to pack pencils/paints/brushes to bring with me to Mexico and, since realising I had no materials to work with, all I’ve wanted to do is art.  I really miss 6th form, spending hours in the studio with some close friends working on sketchbooks and huge canvasses.  Although at the time, I often resented having to do so much coursework which would inevitably be criticised for reasons I didn’t understand, I seriously miss being given time to dedicate to art, having the materials all there for me, being inspired by my classmates and having a specification to build on; I even miss the input of my teachers.  A lot.

They introduced me to some great artists (at the time I hated having to do artist studies, but now I miss that, too!) There are a few who even now make me really want to paint.  My favourite of all time, working in my favourite style, is Leonid Afremov.

 

   

Since doing a project on impasto (thick paint) using only one layer feels like I may as well not be painting at all.  Afremov doesn’t use brushes, only palette knives, and although I quite like my brushes, I like the freedom that comes with not having to be too precise, the emphasis on colour and texture as well as the subject matter – to me it’s more expressive and a lot more fun.  That said, I like detail, and he produces that, too.

I just found out today whilst writing this post that Afremov is currently living in Mexico – I will definitely visit his studio and probably spend an unreasonable amount of money on his paintings!

I haven’t done one since sixth form, but I like portraits.  I don’t think I’m very good at them (I was alright when I was doing them all the time – maybe I can get up to speed again) and I’ve never done one in thick paint.  Time to experiment (:

The artist who made me want to do portraits is David Hancock.  It took me forever to remember his name when I was thinking about this post and I’m so glad I did.  I’d like to meet this guy.  He’s based in Manchester so perhaps it’s a possibility.  I learned through studying his work that he’s a Bright Eyes fan as well as an amazing artist so I feel some sort of affiliation with him (we’re few and far between!) But yes, mostly his art.  He paints people I can relate to, especially when I was younger, his style is overall one I can connect with.

Amanda Monsters of the new wave (Anne) photo

I also miss life drawing.  Being at school made it easy, but now that I’ve left I’ve got more ideas about how to draw and paint figures, but no one to draw!

Finally, photoshop.  I miss photoshop.  Not for making photos look better, but for making them look so different that they are works of art in themselves (another thing I firmly disagreed with in school and now want to dedicate entire sketchbooks to).