Friday, August 04, 2006


Tomorrow is Sunshine's birthday. To celebrate, we had a nice little dinner at Genoma with some friends (Sunshine's crepe dessert came with "Feliz Cumpleaños" written on the plate in syrup), and now we are streaking out the door to make our midnight bus to Tampico. Cross your fingers, because our plan is to then get on the dark am bus to Xilitla (hee-LEET-la) from Tampico, so we can spend Sunshine's birthday weekend here. We do not, of course, have more than a rudimentary idea that this is even possible, and we may end up taking a two hour cab ride. At, like, five am. Anyway, this update column will be going dark for a few days while we are out of town. In the mean time, keep your eyes open for these news items: ALMO is coming under fire from both sides for the opposition shutdown of three key streets in Mexico City (the backlash is beginning); the protest went so far as to bar access to the stock exchange building today, although this does not seem to have further hampered trading. Not that AMLO isn't getting some tacit approval from the seven members of the tribunal deciding election matters: they have chosen to possibly consider caving to his recount demands. All this while AMLO supporters have announced that they are going to close the international border between Matamoros and Brownsville tomorrow morning (Friday). Now that the tropical storm that had been threatening the oil platforms in the Gulf seems to have called it quits north of Hispaniola, the political situation is dominating the news again. [Cavin]

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Hundreds of women, part of the militant teachers' union holding downtown Oaxaca, took over a state-run television station for a number of hours yesterday, during which they aired a videotaped record of the police raid that violently (and temporarily) ousted union protestors last month. Yesterday also brought alleged president-elect Calderón's first official outspeaking about the México City lockdown by supporters of leftist presidential wannabe AMLO. His condemnation was predictably critical, pointing out all the ironies I would have: that this rally was hurting everyone by slumping economics by strangling the nerve center of the country Obrador is desperate to be leading. He also mentioned that this million man tantrum was working outside the parameters of the rule of law. On the other side, AMLO's people have narrowed their sights, laying the blame of their fraudulent political cost at the doorstep of one Elba Esther Gordillo, who happens to be the leader of a certain militant national teachers union, themselves currently demonstrating no special concern for the rule of law. All this talk of civil opposition makes me want to point to the guy who is in the middle. In his speech, Caldorón charged México City's current mayor with the job of stopping the protest occupation that is advancing daily into other important new areas of the capital city. While this goes without saying, and the lack of police pulling people out of the middle of downtown Reforma avenue is duly noted, the poor guy is a staunch supporter of AMLO, a VIP in the party, and faced with a million people he'll have to govern when this blows over. Riot police would anger the capital's population; but if he does nothing the inevitable backlash will get him, too. What a bad time to be mayor of México City. [Cavin]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Recently, Nuevo Leone's governor asked the army to set up anti-narco checkpoints on likely drug routes through the state (and the state's capital). The day after, a man was found killed in Santiago, off Mexican route 85, the road the Tampico. The body was apparently left with a note promising more drug-related execution-style killings are coming soon. Too neat? Red herring? Now Monterrey is "crawling" with 110 federal police officers (federales), apparently patrolling high-notoriety areas. Not that Santiago was counted among these areas--and neither is San Pedro, frankly. Adding one hundred and ten new officers to Monterrey is like writing a new analogy at an analogy convention. There’s a new one, sure, but what were we taking about? We ate Italian again tonight, at the tolerable Italiannis, and then we finally made it to see Piratas del Caribe: El Cofre de la Muerte which started here last Friday. It was amusing enough to watch, although I sensed clear story edges between set pieces; times where I could distinctly imagine the writers saying "okay, now how do we get them back to the boat again?" And who was it that tossed the old Dr.-Livingston-I-Presume "when the natives return with the captive, he discovers that his quarry is their New! Leader!" onto the table in the plot meeting? Among the many, um, homages in evidence throughout this movie (from old Crosby and Hope yarns to Excalibur and beyond), it was this Star Trekish goofballery that particularly annoyed me. Still, I think I would have liked it a lot if it had fulfilled its promise to actually swashbuckle some in and around the wheeling animation. I'll take what I can get in these dry times, but where oh where is the new dashing Hollywood hero? [Cavin]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I learned two new things about the teacher's union that is currently holding the capital of Oaxaca state, disallowing access to the town by government and police. Apparently, this began as an annual protest that has happened every May in Oaxaca for the last twenty six years. Past protests were peaceful and the demonstrators went home after a week, with some mild concessions. This year's protest is heading into its third month of sporadic violence, with troops guarding the surrounding hills and the state government meeting in an out-of-town hotel. The other new thing I learned is that the Mexican teachers union is the largest union in Latin America, far larger than the several hundred-thousand-teacher sliver occupying the southern Mexican city, and widely believed to be the support bolster that edged Felipe Calderón into his current supposed presidential victory. Now, standing in the red corner: leftist candidate ALMO, weighing in at a million, give or take, is moving his supporters from weekly near-riots in the national Zócalo into camps down the main thoroughfare of the Federal District. His goal is to post people there, demonstrating and hunger-striking, until the election officials agree to recount his allegedly fraudulent presidential loss, or till the country he wants to run is strangled dead. The peso is beginning to react to the stock market tumble already, and traffic cannot navigate the capital city. If I was an irresponsibly breathless doomsayer, I might start uttering hysterical and unsupported theories here about the worst case scenario (phrases like, for instance, "civil war") of these clans setting their sights on each other. Then again between the three more moderate earthquakes off the Pacific coast, and the volcano and the narco war, maybe we all have better things to think about. [Cavin]

Monday, July 31, 2006


I was attacked by some lions, eaten. Sunshine dreamed it a couple of days ago. That has nothing to do with this update, though, I just threw it in. We spent most of today writing things on computers. This evening we ate at the Egyptian Café, a hookah coffee bar on the main drag of San Pedro's Centrito. I sat there on the chic Centrito sidewalk, willing someone to do something notable for the sake of this journal. Nothing happened, so we ate, and then we came home. Instead: more interesting Mexican news. A major US baseball stadium is adding Mexican sausage to its all-American menu. Judges are ejecting traditional sexist wedding vows in favor of vows stressing mutual support. Perhaps you would like to know there was a tiny earthquake under the south Sea of Cortez last night. An Arizona Republic headline notes: "Car Insurance a Must in Mexico." Assuming that the word "Must" here means it is illegal to drive without liability insurance in México, then yes (without insurance you'll lose your car and spend time in jail). Or if it means that it is illegal to leave your totaled import in México, even if you are otherwise faultless, then yes (you'd better have some way to have that wreck towed back over the border). Maybe it asks "will you ram into, or be rammed into by, another car while driving in México?" Then yes, "without fail." Of course, they may wish to fool tourists into thinking they cannot physically operate cars without insurance here, a hopeless cause. The article seems aimed at Americans too solipsistic to realize their US insurance won't cover them abroad, but this is a point possibly overlooked by many readers who don't think past the first sentence of an article. [Cavin]

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Is it just me, or does there seem to be an awful lot of volcanic activity happening in the world just now? According to this list, it seems like this year isn't much different compared to surrounding years, but I really don't remember seeing the word "volcano" in the news quite so often as I have lately: the recent eruptions of Marapi, current lava flows of Karangetang, and imminent dangers of Matavanu bookend continuous headlines. What volcanoes are happening right now? Mayon, in the Philippines, Galeras in Colombia, Tungurahua in Ecuador, and also Popocatépetl (po-po-ca-TEP-ettle), right down there in central México. Now, Mt. Popo (she's thankfully nicknamed) might not be pyroclasticly flowing into Pueblo just yet, but she's been burping up ash and steam the last few days, so maybe there is more in store. My question: with all these mountains going off everywhere, isn't it tempting fate (or at least in bad taste) to pick now to announce this, the reopening of Mount St. Helens to climbers? Anyway, here is a continuously updating web cam, where, if one gazes long enough, it may be possible to glimpse the mountain through the current thick cloud cover, and with luck, maybe catch images like this. Either way, it should maintain your interest better than a summary of my day. I’ve watched some Hill Street Blues on DVD, wasted a shocking amount of time on the computer watching web cams, and once again resigned myself to watering the yard because I fear that our rainy season stopped last Thursday afternoon. By this afternoon, I started feeling a little better again, and I made spaghetti and a mixed-green salad with breadcrumbs in hollowed-out loaf ends (with a basil yogurt and fresh rosemary dressing). Let's be careful out there. [Cavin]