Saturday, September 16, 2006


Since we are planning to go to the Grito celebration tonight on Monterrey's Macroplaza, I thought I'd make my update early today. Mexican news will be pretty interesting over the next two days. The Independence Day festivities kick off late this evening, and continue throughout tomorrow. The opposition protest in México City's Zócalo and along its largest avenue seems to be packing-up permanently,* prompted, no doubt, by weakening enthusiasm since last week when Calderón was certified president-elect, and also by the large military parade that is planned in the very same areas on Saturday. Nonetheless, present Vicente Fox has decided to move the national observance of this holiday to its original location in Dolores Hidalgo, citing concerns over "leftist plots" to cause chaos during the emotional event.* While these two facts do not seem to support one another, it is true that it's harder to call off a massive protest than to maintain one, and the leadership here seems to be getting out of dodge. Up until now, these political dissenters have been centrally located and easily identifiable: all peacefully together, desperately holding onto the city center. Who knows what might have happened tonight between the feds and an army of frustrated protestors without the guiding civil non-violence of AMLO's leadership? I assume that the mayor of the Federal District will still hold a Grito celebration in the Zócalo, but he is PRD, and has been a tacit supporter to the opposition all along. In the west, Lane has indeed become a hurricane,* and threatens flooding and other damage along México's northwest Pacific coast, though Cabo is off the list of targets. I suppose there will be many parties rained out in Mexico today and tomorrow. There's still more recent interesting news from México: archeological, political, and ironic. [Cavin]

Friday, September 15, 2006


Quick background note: on September 16th, 1810, shortly before dawn, the original Mexican revolution was called in the little town of Dolores. Miguel Hidalgo stood in the bell tower of his parish church, rang the future symbol of Mexican liberty, and shouted for revolution in an act that has become known as the Grito de Dolores. Since then, if has become custom to reenact the Grito on Independence Day. Since Porfirio Diaz* (who celebrated his birthday the day before Independence Day), this reenactment has taken place at midnight, to span both the fifteenth and the sixteenth. The national celebration is usually held in the national plaza, the Zócalo, in México City. Today president Vicente Fox, harried by a protest movement that has basically surrounded the old liberty bell at it's modern location in that Zócalo, announced that he will be returning the Grito celebration to Dolores (now Dolores Hidalgo, about an hour away from Guanajuato).* Wow. For two weeks, news sources have reported no special plans to beef up security for the coming holiday, and now we know why. Look for AMLO's shadow government to start on Saturday. Tonight is Miss Venezuela, by the way. While the pageant does not seem to be telecast anywhere in México, and will not be shown for months in the US, Sunshine is managing to keep track of it on her laptop through kind, piecemeal donations of the ongoing event to YouTube. Go pirates! Lastly, we've been seeing a lot of rain this week, and it might be due to Tropical Storm Lane,* barreling for the Pacific Coast resort at Manzanillo (and on to ravage the usual suspects on the Baja peninsula). Lane is still getting stronger, and may become a Hurricane tonight or tomorrow--expect flood news here soon. [Cavin]

Thursday, September 14, 2006


An update of yesterday's news: México's election commission, IFE, is resolutely planning to burn up all of the evidence from the recent election.* This after official requests from both parties to preserve the ballots for further study. IFE is the organization that ran the disputed vote in July, and I imagine the organization's neutrality is in some question since the proof of their viability as non-partisan arbiters will be heading up in smoke soon. The actual date remains unannounced. This erasure of the disputed Mexican democratic status' recent footprints is the letter of a sixteen year old law, and is scheduled to commence sometime before Calderon swears the oath of office in December. More bodies: the deputy director of state police in Ciudad Victoria was killed yesterday.* On Monday, a freak fire broke out in the nation's largest Fireworks Market, outside México City, vaporizing many corrugated vending stalls.* This comes just when fireworks are needed most: the celebration of Mexican independence starts with the Grito de Delores shortly before midnight on Friday. No one was hurt in this year's firework disaster. This year's? Yeah, a similar fire broke out last year in the same market, on Independence Day no less, when a patron puckishly lit off firecrackers too close to the billions of large paper tubes of gunpowder you might expect to find in a fireworks market. Hundreds of stalls were destroyed as the fire roared quickly throughout, prompting an effort to rebuild with newer, safer materials to keep the same thing from happening again this year. Tonight, we ate at Pacifica with a couple traveling through Monterrey on the way to teach in Durango. If anyone reading this is ever in San Pedro, get the lobster burritos at Pacifica. Hardly traditional food, but nonetheless.... [Cavin]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Yesterday, official Mexican flags on either side of the border flew at half-mast in honor of the lives lost on September Eleventh, 2001. The same day, Mexican congressional party leaders announced that unification over the electoral divide would begin in the federal legislature,* and began talks to decide what terms were best for the country. This comes pretty soon after the incredible anti-presidential display that preempted Vicente Fox's national address to the same congress earlier this month. Also yesterday, opposition protestors in the seaside city of Nuevo Vallarta attempted to force their way into a hotel where president-elect Felipe Calderón was hosting a governors conference.* Four people were arrested. Surprisingly, the leaders of both these parties in opposition over July's election agree on something: the ballots from the contentious election should not be destroyed.* In this way, neutral parties may be able to study them later. But in México the law states the ballots need to be burned before the new president takes office on December first; a custom that, to this observer, smacks of black magic folklore voodoo witchcraft cheating more than it does the best practices of a squeaky-clean modern electoral process. Still, it's the law, and pundits are unsure whether it can be sidelined this time around. IFE, the institution in charge of implementing the electoral process here (like running the challenged election last summer), has yet to decide upon a date for the, um, burning. Enrique Barrera Nevárez, the police commissioner of Linares, NL was gunned down with assault rifles outside of his home today.* The AK-47s and AR-15s used lead some to suspect the collusion of the fearsome los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo. At present, I can only find Mexican coverage online, so there are holes in my English-language understanding of events.* [Cavin]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


September eleventh again. Sunshine spent a good deal of today talking about 2001 and giving remembrance speeches. Last year, what with Katrina, I barely noticed the date come and go; but there has been a resurgence of the memory this year. Over in Mexican news: it seems that president-elect Felipe Calderón was met with protest in his home town of Morelia* when he attempted to place flowers on the grave of a celebrated hero of the revolution there yesterday. I don't know if this is an annual tradition or not. He returned to pay his respects later in the evening, after the protestors had returned home. The recent killing of Marcelo Garza y Garza is focusing the beam outrage on narco violence in the northern states.* We're not going to take it anymore! Wait a minute, does that mean that we were being relaxed about narco violence before? At long last, tensions in Monterrey are starting to rise. In brighter news, Serpientes a Bordo opened in San Pedro this weekend, and we managed to see it tonight, finally. I was concerned that a movie so knowingly contrived as camp and B ballyhoo would never be able to raise to the watermark of the real, innocently accidental likes of Anaconda, or better, Shakma. (This is why Lake Placid, with all its smirking, failed to hold a candle to Deep Blue Sea or any Bigfoot movie ever.) Turns out I was right, for a full twenty minutes before pandemonium hit and the rest was pure B cheese extraordinaire. Tongue-in-cheeky self-consciousness has been righted in this case by under-funded ineptitude (I lost count of shot axis breaches and shots shuffled into spatially illogical order), the blue-collar class of Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, and intrinsic charms of growling, lightening-fast animated snakes. [Cavin]

Monday, September 11, 2006


Tonight we ate excellent Greek food at Estia in the Barrio. To get there we drove along the rio on Constitución and took the exit to the Macroplaza. Last time I mentioned this here it was because we'd seen a guy juggling limes for drivers waiting to turn left at the light. The guy was performing for donations, sort of like when people try to wash windows for change in many major cities. Last time, the guy kept dropping the limes and they'd go rolling off underneath the cars and then he'd have to scrabble for them. I said I thought maybe it would be prudent to snag a captive audience at a leveler intersection. We passed a lime juggler today who was going from car to car, performing for money. Only, this time, the guy just had one lime left. One. He was tossing it into the air, and then he was catching it. For money. Or maybe for limes: I suspect here is the one performer in the world that would take it as a valid criticism if the audience threw fruit. Quick news roundup: the Gulf of México weathered a stiff 6.0 earthquake* yesterday, centered almost 300 miles off the west coast of Florida. This is not really Mexican news per se, but continues the tectonic trend we've been seeing lately.* This comes directly after the US oil scouts located the mother lode in the Gulf last week,* and was felt in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In México City, AMLO has actually agreed to pull up stakes in deference* to the traditional marches and celebration coming on Independence Day. If wags like me don't use their forums to cast this as some kind of defeat, maybe this can be the beginning of the end. Coward. [Cavin]

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I'm typing this on batteries. Outside, there is an intimately close lightening storm that is just thrilling. We just came home in it. But first: just down from the house we ate a wonderful dinner in last night, there used to exist one of Valle Oriente's rare streetlights. We think that San Pedro tries to save money on streetlights; or maybe they think of them as gauche. Either way, what they've done is fit little half traffic roundabouts here and there in the web of roads that criss and cross our mountainous terrain. This creates, nine times out if ten, hair-raisingly (again) thrilling driving experiences where east-west traffic, for example, has to circumnavigate while north-south traffic just charges on through at speed. Where we used to have a red light they are currently adding one of these things. One day, someone just poured a giant cement island in the middle of the road, surprise, then the next day left turns were cancelled: one lane had to turn into an unmarked loop that then forced them across two lanes of thru-traffic. We've done everything we could to avoid this, our favorite way to and from the house, since that second day. Tonight it was raining when we headed out to Big Slice for pizza, and the sky looked, according to Sunshine, "evil." Black clouds with a yellow cast filled the bowls of the mountainous skyline. On the way back home later, it was raining fairly heavily, and these bowls were starting to fill with the usual flash runoff that is, in itself, also fairly thrilling. The problem with avoiding the half traffic circle, is that we have to take a route where water pools instead of a higher route where it flows. We made it home okay, though. [Cavin]