untitled

Posted July 15, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

So this weekend wasn’t quite as exciting as some of the previous ones, but it was still pretty good. Got good sleep, caught up on the Tour de France, and did have a couple decent adventures. I’ve actually been working hard lately, which is something that I’ve never discussed in this blog heh. The project I initially worked on ended up being largely complete when I got here, so I ended up spending the first 2 weeks or so helping finish it up. Then I kinda had no project to work on for a week and just observed some of the infectious disease residents for a few days until they came up with another project for me to work on. The project involves comparing the outcomes of the HIV patients at the clinic who are enrolled in clinical trial protocols versus those who are just normal clinic patients. The idea is that the protocol patients receive free drugs and appointments and are forced to show up, whereas none of those are true for the normal clinic patients. We’ll see if there is actually a difference, but only after I review like 225 paper clinical charts in the hospital archive (yippee!). So that’s what the last 3 weeks of my life have been–all day in the clinical archive trying to decipher information from these charts. Sometimes it’s complicated, sometimes the info just isn’t there, and sometimes it’s really, really mindless. Thank you podcasts, you are a lifesaver. If you’re looking for recommendations, the NPR podcasts are great. I really want to plug this podcast called “The Dirtbag Diaries” (hey don’t judge a book by its cover!). If you like the outdoors, adventure, travel, extreme sports, etc., you’ll love this podcast. It’s just people telling their stories, and they’re very exciting. Very fun to listen to and live vicariously through them. Check it out!

I also listened to this book called Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. It was really interesting, and I would highly recommend it. I’ve always been skeptical of running due to the seeming inevitability of joint destruction if one is a runner, so I was particularly intrigued by one of the premises of the book that running shoes are largely to blame for this phenomenon. Basically the book really promotes running barefoot to become a stronger runner and avoid injuries, which was understandably pretty bizarre at the beginning. However, the author makes a really good case for it, and after some internet research it actually doesn’t seem that crazy. It’s a good fast read, and there’s a lot more than just pushing barefoot running. Lots of stories on ultramarathons and this incredibly isolated tribe in the mountains of Mexico that are some of the greatest long distance runners ever. Pretty cool. If anything this book made me undertand why in the world somebody would want to wear these hideous things. They’re called Vibram FiveFingers “shoes.”

vibram_fivefingersYes, podcasts and audiobooks are the only things keeping me sane during chart review.

Back to Mexico. On Saturday I slept in, caught up on the drama of Lance vs. Contador in the tour, and then checked out a couple places in the city. I headed back to the Bazaar Sábado market, which was even more lively later in the day. It was pretty much the same with more stuff, but I snapped a photo of this brilliant piece of artwork.

and zooming in...

and zooming in...

its in spanish, but i think you can figure it out

it's in spanish, but i think you can figure it out

Next I checked out the Polanco neighborhood, which is the upscale area where all the shoppers go. It was pretty much what I expected–fancy, expensive…not for me. It didn’t take long for me to hop back on the MetroBus and head home. There was a nice park, however, with a beautiful statue.

MLK...kinda random

MLK...kinda random

On my way back home I finally took a picture of a sign that I’ve been meaning to capture since the first week I was here.

heh..everyone should get this

heh...very funny

Yeah, I know, Saturday wasn’t that exciting. Sunday was pretty cool though. I’ll let the picture captions tell the story.

so last night i decided i was gonna go check out this little town called Tepoztlán about an hour southeast of the city by bus, and it worked out pretty well. hopped a microbus to the station, bought a ticket for the 8 am departure at 7:55, got redirected to 3 different departure doors, and somehow got on in time. of course, i was a little confused when i looked at the ticket of the person sitting next to me who had a different destination. fortunately i was right in thinking that the bus just made a few stops along the way and Tepoztlán was one of them. unfortunately i didnt realize that they dont actually go directly to the town. you have to get off at the toll booth where the town is, which i figured out when there was a fork in the road with one direction pointing to Tepoztlán and my bus going the other way...hmm...well i just got off at the next stop and hopped on another bus going the other direction and it worked out great...anyways the drive had some more fantastic views of this beautiful country

so last night i decided i was gonna go check out this little town called Tepoztlán about an hour southeast of the city by bus, and it worked out pretty well. hopped a microbus to the station, bought a ticket for the 8 am departure at 7:55, got redirected to 3 different departure doors, and somehow got on in time. of course, i was a little confused when i looked at the ticket of the person sitting next to me who had a different destination. fortunately i was right in thinking that the bus just made a few stops along the way and Tepoztlán was one of them. unfortunately i didn't realize that they don't actually go directly to the town. you have to get off at the toll booth where the town is, which i figured out when there was a fork in the road with one direction pointing to Tepoztlán and my bus going the other way...hmm...well i just got off at the next stop and hopped on another bus going the other direction and it worked out great...anyways the drive had some more fantastic views of this beautiful country

a benefit of overshooting my destination

a benefit of overshooting my destination

there isnt a whole lot to do in Tepoztlán, but the main attraction is the pyramid at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. See the mountain in the background? Basically you just follow the main road out of town. However, its a pretty rugged hike to get up there...think stairmaster except much prettier than watching the news or reading some crappy magazine at a gym

there isn't a whole lot to do in Tepoztlán, but the main attraction is the pyramid at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. See the mountain in the background? Basically you just follow the main road out of town. However, it's a pretty rugged hike to get up there...think stairmaster except much prettier than watching the news or reading some crappy magazine at a gym

somewhere beneath the graffiti this sign indicates that theres 400 meters of climbing (aka 1312 ft)...i randomly came across a website that said Its like ascending to the observation platform of the Empire State Building in the stairwell, except the Empire State Building isnt as high and the steps arent as treacherous....the hike was like 1.2 mi with 1312 ft of climbing, and by my calculation thats about 20% grade...if youre watching the tour de france right now, im gonna say that classifies as an hors catégorie (HC) climb and i finished the day wearing the polka dot jersey...wow sorry if you read this entire comment haha

somewhere beneath the graffiti this sign indicates that there's 400 meters of climbing (aka 1312 ft)...i randomly came across a website that said "It's like ascending to the observation platform of the Empire State Building in the stairwell, except the Empire State Building isn't as high and the steps aren't as treacherous."...the hike was like 1.2 mi with 1312 ft of climbing, and by my calculation that's about 20% grade...if you're watching the tour de france right now, i'm gonna say that classifies as an hors catégorie (HC) climb and i finished the day wearing the polka dot jersey...wow sorry if you read this entire comment haha

very pretty climb up!

very pretty climb up!

i thought this looked like an eagle or something..am i crazy or does that look like a beak? all right i guess im crazy

i thought this looked like an eagle or something..am i crazy or does that look like a beak? all right i guess i'm crazy

steep!

steep!

made it! the pyramid really isnt that impressive, but the views from up here are ridiculous

made it! the pyramid really isn't that impressive, but the views from up here are ridiculous

that little town down there is where the hike started

that little town down there is where the hike started

not sure if you can see the church, but thats the other tourist attraction of Tepoztlán

not sure if you can see the church, but that's the other tourist attraction of Tepoztlán

cool clouds

cool clouds

the summit also had some interesting fauna...some type of raccoon-like creatures that realy like to eat

the summit also had some interesting fauna...some type of raccoon-like creatures that realy like to eat

crazy tree reminded me of some Angkor temples in Cambodia...these guys thought it was pretty weird that i was taking a picture of them

crazy tree reminded me of some Angkor temples in Cambodia...these guys thought it was pretty weird that i was taking a picture of them

there was a great market in town....there was this one post that had a bunch of different types of nuts, and the locals were just grabbing nuts and sampling them while waiting to receive their order...being me, i just sampled a bunch and walked away..very classy

there was a great market in town....there was this one post that had a bunch of different types of nuts, and the locals were just grabbing nuts and sampling them while waiting to receive their order...being me, i just sampled a bunch and walked away..very classy

would be prettier with some photoshop

would be prettier with some photoshop

church

church

while i was looking at that photo, i noticed there was a dog in it, and it was wearing a black studded leather jacket...odd

while i was looking at that photo, i noticed there was a dog in it, and it was wearing a black studded leather jacket...odd

inside the church

inside the church

being a scientific type of person, i had spent some time trying to isolate the cause of the GI issues that I had a number of weeks ago. however, i ate/drank way too many sketchy things to identify a direct cause. so thats why when i saw this pulqueria i knew i had to give it a try. if i get sick again, bingo--pulque it is! if not, well that really doesnt prove anything cuz some pulque brews are much sketchier than others (and I feel like my first tasting was of that type unfortunately)..well i had some sangria-flavored pulque, and it was delicious! and 30 hours later...feeling good!

being a scientific type of person, i had spent some time trying to isolate the cause of the GI issues that I had a number of weeks ago. however, i ate/drank way too many sketchy things to identify a direct cause. so that's why when i saw this pulqueria i knew i had to give it a try. if i get sick again, bingo--pulque it is! if not, well that really doesn't prove anything cuz some pulque brews are much sketchier than others (and I feel like my first tasting was of that type unfortunately)..well i had some sangria-flavored pulque, and it was delicious! and 30 hours later...feeling good!

All right, that’s it. Lots of pictures and sorry for guzzling your bandwidth. Back to the clinical archives!

Nate

getting high on crack…climbing, that is

Posted July 8, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

Today was pretty sweet. I got to go climbing in Mexico City. Wait, in the city, you ask? What like a gym, or up some stairs? Nope. Try el Parque Nacional de los Dinamos. Check this place out. It’s beautiful, and it’s within MC city limits. Kinda blows me away.

El Parque Nacional de Los Dinamos in Mexico City limits...pretty cool. this is from the parking lot of the 4th Dinamo where we climbed. Im not sure if this is exactly the spot we hike up to for the climbing, but lets just say it is

El Parque Nacional de Los Dinamos in Mexico City limits...pretty cool. this is from the parking lot of the 4th Dinamo where we climbed. I'm not sure if this is exactly the spot we hike up to for the climbing, but let's just say it is

view from the crag...look at all the trees!

view from the crag...look at all the trees!

part of the crew

part of the crew

good climbing spot

good climbing spot

Woke up early and got picked up by some buddies I’ve met at the climbing gyms here. Then we met up with a few other climbers and a couple cool guides and drove to the park. After getting all the gear together, we had about a 20 min hike up to the climbing site, which was pretty rough and steep. Plus one of the guys told me that it’s pretty common to see snakes (rattlesnakes) on the path, which made me feel really good. I don’t have many fears, but snakes are a recurring theme whenever I have nightmares (and, no, I never saw Snakes on a Plane heh). Fortunately we made it to the crag without seeing any of these sinister creatures, but more on that later.

Here are some pics of the climbing site. Pretty nice crag with tons of routes. The cool thing for me is that this is a totally new style of climbing for me–crack climbing. Basically there’s a crack in the wall and you climb up it…pretty complicated, eh? Actually, yeah it is pretty complicated and pretty hard. Basically it involves sticking your feet and your hands in the crack, rotating them to maintain contact with the rock, and then pulling with your arms/hands and pushing down with your feet. It’s quite painful actually. However, the advantage of crack climbing is that it destroys the dorsal side of your hand rather than the palmar side of your hand that the other styles of climbing destroy (sounds like a fun sport, huh?). People tried explaining the technique to me numerous times, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense until i got my feet wet and hands dirty (yes literally, and both). I did about 6 routes of varying difficulty, and it was really cool. Crack climbing is totally new to me, so it was fun to try to figure out how to do it. I felt like I started to get the hang of it, but there was one route that I couldn’t figure out. I’ve got a long ways to go.

i think thats me at the top edit Delete caption

i think that's me at the top edit Delete caption

thats me trying to climb this route purely with the crack on the left. it went pretty good for a while, but then I had to cheat with some stuff on the right. pretty cool feeling when the crack climbing goes right. So different from gym climbing and other outdoor stuff that  ive done in the past. hurts tho

that's me trying to climb this route purely with the crack on the left. it went pretty good for a while, but then I had to cheat with some stuff on the right. pretty cool feeling when the crack climbing goes right. So different from gym climbing and other outdoor stuff that i've done in the past. hurts tho

trying to figure this thing out

trying to figure this thing out

stumped

stumped

i give up...time to cheat

i give up...time to cheat

enjoy haha...thats the thing about photographing climbing from below...lots of butt shots (plus cracks since its crack climbing heh)

enjoy haha...that's the thing about photographing climbing from below...lots of butt shots (plus cracks since it's crack climbing heh)

Nacho showing me how its really supposed to be done

Nacho showing me how it's really supposed to be done

The thing about climbing on real rock is that it can totally freak you out. There’s a lot of technical stuff involving ropes and knots, and if you screw it up, well, things don’t really go very well. That’s why I’m with guides cuz I don’t really know anything about climbing outdoors (yet) nor do I have the equipment. The thing about climbing is there are many styles and many levels. Basically what I’m doing is top-roping. There’s a rope connected to anchors at the top of the route. I’m connected to one end, and my belayer is connected to the other end so that if (or when?) I fall the line is taught and I don’t fall and bash my head on a rock and die. But…how do you get the rope up to the anchor at the top in the first place? Well that’s where the real climbing comes in (unless, of course, you can just hike up to the anchor some other way). Lead climbing is when you climb up the route placing gear along the way. You still have a belayer keeping the line tight, but if you fall you fall then you fall the height of the last piece of protection you placed in the rock times two (double since the length of rope connected to you above the protection connected to you is now an equal distance below the protection). And that’s if the gear you place in the wall holds when you fall (sometimes it doesn’t). Well, this sounds very exciting and pretty terrifying if you think about the consequences, especially when you see the type of gear that you place in the wall to hold you.

Armando racking up for the climb. Hes going to be lead climbing, so he has to have all gear he needs to put into the wall to protect himself if he falls. basically he has a bunch of cams and stoppers of different sizes. Cams are placed into cracks in the wall and then expand creating an expansion force against the rock and locking into the rock to support you if you fall (hopefully). Stoppers are basically placed where the crack tapers. To me this is really sketchy, but I guess that makes it more fun?

Armando racking up for the climb. He's going to be lead climbing, so he has to have all gear he needs to put into the wall to protect himself if he falls. basically he has a bunch of cams and stoppers of different sizes. Cams are placed into cracks in the wall and then expand creating an expansion force against the rock and locking into the rock to support you if you fall (hopefully). Stoppers are basically placed where the crack tapers. To me this is really sketchy, but I guess that makes it more fun?

this stuff just amazes me. heavy, super expensive. basically youre trusting this gear with your life

this stuff just amazes me. heavy, super expensive. basically you're trusting this gear with your life

armando practicing some artificial climbing. basically hes learning how to place the gear in the cracks and then uses those daisy chain type things to climb higher like a ladder

armando practicing some "artificial climbing." basically he's learning how to place the gear in the cracks and then uses those daisy chain type things to climb higher like a ladder

a true free soloist

a true free soloist

There are different styles of lead climbing. One is sport climbing where there are bolts along the route and you clip your rope into caribiners attached to the bolts as you ascend. Then there’s trad climbing where there are no bolts and you have to place different pieces of gear in the rock as you go up. To me this seems really sketchy, and it is (at times). I’m very far from that level, but it was cool to see how it’s done IRL (in real life, and i hope nobody actually knew what that acronym means btw).

Oh yeah and this might have been one of the most spectacular days in Mexico City. The air was crystal clear (amazing!) and the views of the city were phenomenal. Especially from the top of the climb, but sadly i didn’t have my camera at the top (argghh..that’s why i have an indestructible camera..idiot). But you’ll have to settle for the views from the base of the crag, which are pretty sweet as well.

the view of the city. pretty amazing to have such clean air and clear views

the view of the city. pretty amazing to have such clean air and clear views

Back to the snake thing…so I was walking a bit farther up the  path to take those fantastic photos, and i heard something. Looked down and, great, a snake. Totally made my day (not, ugh). Tried to snap a photo but only got part of it. I really dislike these sinister creatures, and later when I went to go take a piss by a tree it really made me very happy that I’m a guy 🙂

tried to snap a photo of the snake...its in there hiding

tried to snap a photo of the snake...it's in there hiding

see the tail?
see the tail?

So I was pretty psyched about the climbing and the great views. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as lucky yesterday when I went hiking at the volcano Iztaccihuatl an hour or two from the city with my friend Oscar. There are two amazing volcanoes not that far from MC, but unfortunately this is the rainy season and it’s not safe to climb to the summit at this time. I figured they’d still be cool to check out and do some hiking. It was a good hike with nice scenery and rugged terrain, but the clouds weren’t in our favor for good views unfortunately. I guess I can’t have it all.

dogs everywhere in the mountain town of San Rafael at the base of the Iztaccihuatl volcano

dogs everywhere in the mountain town of San Rafael at the base of the Iztaccihuatl volcano

opening up a bit

opening up a bit

3440 meters = 11,286 feet. pretty cool to be fully acclimatized to the high altitude and not feel any more winded than a normal hike

3440 meters = 11,286 feet. pretty cool to be fully acclimatized to the high altitude and not feel any more winded than a normal hike

the view I was HOPING to see haha...not quite as lucky as with the climbing...alas its the rainy season and its unfortunately very cloudy...tough luck...the next pic is what i really saw

the view I was HOPING to see haha...not quite as lucky as with the climbing...alas it's the rainy season and it's unfortunately very cloudy...tough luck...the next pic is what i really saw

not quite the same, huh? the high point for our hike...couldve gone higher but, well, the clouds werent going to give us a good view, so just decided to head back down rather than hike in the rain...plus its kinda cold and id prefer to stay dry heh

not quite the same, huh? the high point for our hike...could've gone higher but, well, the clouds weren't going to give us a good view, so just decided to head back down rather than hike in the rain...plus it's kinda cold and i'd prefer to stay dry heh

15 min after getting to this spot..not looking good..just picture a big volcano where those clouds are and thats what I should have been seeing ahhhh

15 min after getting to this spot..not looking good..just picture a big volcano where those clouds are and that's what I should have been seeing ahhhh

still a nice hike tho. super green and moist with nice crisp, clean mountain air

still a nice hike tho. super green and moist with nice crisp, clean mountain air

hey we still got some good views

hey we still got some good views

Saludos!

Nate

wonderful weekend wandering Oaxaca! (not sure how that’s pronounced? hint…think alliteration)

Posted July 3, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

So Thursday after work I decided I wanted to travel somewhere outside of the DF for the weekend, and after a quick email my wish to take Friday off for a long weekend was granted by my wonderful advisor. Luis recommended that I check out Oaxaca, which is a state southeast of here a little over 6 hours away by direct bus. I thought about it for a bit while I went climbing at another sweet gym that I frequent about twice a week now. It takes like an hour to get to the gym via metro and metrobus, but it’s worth it. Basically the gym is the backyard of somebody’s house, which is really random but it’s pretty killer (in that it is destroying my hands). The first time I went I got the address and showed up and was really, really confused since it was just a house and there was no sign for the place. After like 5 minutes of me just standing there somebody went in and I suspiciously peered inside. Fortunately somebody asked me if I was there to climb, and I said sí, probably looking quite bewildered. But it’s sweet. There are a crazy number of marked routes, and some have over 50 moves which is wild since it’s all bouldering. It starts to get pretty crowded at like 8, but everyone there is cool and there are some seriously crazy good climbers. I found a group of guys that I go with twice a week, and they go climbing outside the city on real rock on the weekends, which is what made choosing to go to Oaxaca difficult.

ouch

ouch

Anyways, I ended up deciding to go, read a little bit about Oaxaca at like midnight, and bought a bus ticket around 1 am for a 9 am departure. I’ll figure out housing later. The bus ride cost like $40 and was very easy. It’s a hassle getting to the bus station cuz you have to take the Metro and such, but other than that it was easy. The drive was very scenic as well–farms, cacti, mountains–very green and really weird to see after living in the same city as 20+ mil people for the past 4 weeks. Here are a few photos.

The many different faces of mexico. This beautiful one along the drive to Oaxaca actually isnt very far from the concrete jungle of MC.

The many different faces of mexico. This beautiful one along the drive to Oaxaca actually isn't very far from the concrete jungle of MC.

pretty stuff

pretty stuff

me gustan las montañas (i also like montana without the ñ) edit Delete caption

me gustan las montañas (i also like montana without the ñ) edit Delete caption

even got some red rock

even got some red rock

Oaxaca is known for its artisans, their crafts, and the indigenous cultures that have been well preserved over the years. History and culture are great, but really I ended up going because there are a lot of adventure/ecotourism travel opportunities like hiking, mountain biking, climbing, etc. Since I planned this trip out so well, when I got in to Oaxaca at 4 I had to wander the town and find a place to stay and line up some guides for things for me to do. It worked great. Within a couple hours I found a nice hotel (probably should have just stayed at a hostel, but I’m making good money through Emphasis heh), lined up a mountain biking trip with a guy who had been on the Mexican national road biking team for Saturday, set up a hiking trip to the mountains for Sunday, and had a delicious traditional Oaxacan dinner of mole negro. Then it was like 8 pm and I was toast since I got like 4 hours of sleep last night, but I walked around the centro area for a while, and it was all very bonito with all the people and all the posts selling arts, crafts, food, pirated music, etc. Here’s some pics from around the town.

arriving in Oaxaca City...very pretty place among the mountains, aside from the abundance of slums (sadly Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, but you wouldnt know it from the centro area)

arriving in Oaxaca City...very pretty place among the mountains, aside from the abundance of slums (sadly Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, but you wouldn't know it from the centro area)

i checked to see if this was true, and it was :-)

i checked to see if this was true, and it was 🙂

so i was eating dinner and then i hear a ton of music and people walking by...random parade...i paid the bill and joined in though i was clearly out of place cuz it was just a bunch of kids who i think just graduated from high school (called preparatoria here)...it was pretty wild

so i was eating dinner and then i hear a ton of music and people walking by...random parade...i paid the bill and joined in though i was clearly out of place cuz it was just a bunch of kids who i think just graduated from high school (called preparatoria here)...it was pretty wild

all these kids were pounding beers or other alcoholic beverages...while walking around the city i felt like the architecture and colors of the buildings were similar to New Orleans...especially with hundreds of 18 year olds making very good use of the apparent lack of open container laws

all these kids were pounding beers or other alcoholic beverages...while walking around the city i felt like the architecture and colors of the buildings were similar to New Orleans...especially with hundreds of 18 year olds making very good use of the apparent lack of open container laws

this is what i mean by the similarity to New Orleans, except for that flag thing edit Delete caption

this is what i mean by the similarity to New Orleans, except for that flag thing edit Delete caption

this only might be funny if you were in my AmeriCorps group last year...hot dogs wrapped in bacon have a special place in the hearts of a few of us (in addition to the plaque lining our arterial walls)...if you ever make it to Tucson, AZ, try a Sonoran Hot Dog...its quite an experience...

this only might be funny if you were in my AmeriCorps group last year...hot dogs wrapped in bacon have a special place in the hearts of a few of us (in addition to the plaque lining our arterial walls)...if you ever make it to Tucson, AZ, try a Sonoran Hot Dog...it's quite an experience...

The next day I went on a really cool mountain bike ride with Pedro. He drove us like 30 minutes out of the city, and then we got riding. It was a really beautiful area surrounded by the mountains. The ride was awesome. It had it all, concrete, dirt, mud, river crossings, brutal uphills, crazy downhills. I was pretty exhausted at the end, but i don’t think altitude is a factor anymore–pretty well acclimatized after 4 weeks i think. Well here are the pics and captions.

picture of my wonderful breakfast...enchiladas with chicken and red mole. mole is a type of sauce native to Oaxaca, and moles are delicious...one thing about Mexico is I cant tell the difference between breakfast, lunch, and dinner--regardless it was serious fuel for my bike trip

picture of my wonderful breakfast...enchiladas with chicken and red mole. mole is a type of sauce native to Oaxaca, and moles are delicious...one thing about Mexico is I can't tell the difference between breakfast, lunch, and dinner--regardless it was serious fuel for my bike trip

and hes off, and Im trying to catch up...youll notice that in the following that I appear to take a lot of pictures while riding, and yes its a bad habit that I have. its bad enough on a road bike going 30+ downhill, but im just an idiot to be taking pictures while riding a mountain bike on rocky dirt roads...and thats why i have an unbreakable Olympus camera

and he's off, and I'm trying to catch up...you'll notice that in the following that I appear to take a lot of pictures while riding, and yes it's a bad habit that I have. it's bad enough on a road bike going 30+ downhill, but i'm just an idiot to be taking pictures while riding a mountain bike on rocky dirt roads...and that's why i have an unbreakable Olympus camera

theres not much I can say for the following pics...the scenery was epic

there's not much I can say for the following pics...the scenery was epic

heres Pedro hammering up the hill...he recently got hit by a bus and broke a lot of stuff, has had about 10 surgeries, and still is dropping me (while I take pictures)...very cool guy Pedro. Im very grateful that he went out of his way to take me biking today since normally he requires groups larger than 1

here's Pedro hammering up the hill...he recently got hit by a bus and broke a lot of stuff, has had about 10 surgeries, and still is dropping me (while I take pictures)...very cool guy Pedro. I'm very grateful that he went out of his way to take me biking today since normally he requires groups larger than 1

Yo (I in español if you havent figured that out yet)

Yo (I in español if you haven't figured that out yet)

ive gotta be honest the ability to go anywhere on a mountain bike gives it a hugh advantage over the road bike...however, theres no limit to the grade of road on a mountain, and there were some points on this ride that were pretty freaking sweet...thank you mountain bike gearing!

i've gotta be honest the ability to go anywhere on a mountain bike gives it a hugh advantage over the road bike...however, there's no limit to the grade of road on a mountain, and there were some points on this ride that were pretty freaking sweet...thank you mountain bike gearing!

theres the rain...fortunately our loop went the other direction before hitting that

there's the rain...fortunately our loop went the other direction before hitting that

im dirtier than i appear

i'm dirtier than i appear

So yeah, that was a lot of fun. I made it back to the city by 3 and had the whole afternoon to walk around. I ran into one of the guys from the Mexico City couchsurfing community and hung out with him and his friends for a bit. He’s from Denmark, and at one point our table had me from los Estados Unidos, Thomas from Denmark, a guy from Mexico City, a guy from Oaxaca, and a girl from France. The two guys from Mexico were actually medical students, so it was pretty interesting to talk to them and compare lives. Med school’s pretty different in most other parts of the world. Basically they graduate from high school and then go to med school for 7 years. Slighly faster than our system, but I prefer ours since there’s a lot more flexibility and we don’t have to have the rest of our lives planned out at the age of 18.

lots of people selling stuff and walking around in the zocalo

lots of people selling stuff and walking around in the zocalo

think magic bullet but in Spanish

think "magic bullet" but in Spanish

this kid is performing thriller by the late MJ...not sure why tho

this kid is performing thriller by the late MJ...not sure why tho

weird but interesting...there are some major holiday celebrations here in Oaxaca, and I have a feeling these come in handy during those times

weird but interesting...there are some major holiday celebrations here in Oaxaca, and I have a feeling these come in handy during those times

all right this church is quite beautiful

all right this church is quite beautiful

my hotel

my hotel

Sunday morning I had to get up early to walk to the 2nd class bus station to catch an 8 am departure to a pueblo called Llano Grande in the Sierra Norte mountains north (suprise) of the city. Basically the plan was to take a 2.5 hr bus ride up to the town, go on a 5 hr hike with a guide, then take a bus back down with a couple hours to spare before my night bus ride back to the DF. Didn’t exactly happen that way, but actually it went better than planned.

the lighting was very nice in the morning...even the traffic light provided a yellowish hue edit Delete caption

the lighting was very nice in the morning...even the traffic light provided a yellowish hue

when i have a choice between a window seat and an aisle seat, i generally prefer the aisle because i seem to have a small bladder..its a no brainer, and i certainly didnt have a brain yesterday when i was choosing my seat while purchasing the ticket cuz theres no way the 2nd class bus is going to have a bathroom on it...thus, i dont have much documentation for how amazing the scenery was on this 2.5 hour bus ride...heres one pic that i snapped while holding my camera way above my head...the mountains were beautiful!!

when i have a choice between a window seat and an aisle seat, i generally prefer the aisle because i seem to have a small bladder..it's a no brainer, and i certainly didn't have a brain yesterday when i was choosing my seat while purchasing the ticket cuz there's no way the 2nd class bus is going to have a bathroom on it...thus, i don't have much documentation for how amazing the scenery was on this 2.5 hour bus ride...here's one pic that i snapped while holding my camera way above my head...the mountains were beautiful!!

no flush toilets = legit isolated mountain pueblo

no flush toilets = legit isolated mountain pueblo

 went on a hike in Llano Grande...ecotourism has been developed in some of this remote areas in the mountains...oh yeah, also when you think about mountains, you generally think cold...for some reason i forgot to make that connection today and was a bit chilly in shorts and a t-shirt after stepping off the bus...fortunately i happened to have my favorite polypro thermals from NZ with me...of course then going uphill for the first hour made me overheat

went on a hike in Llano Grande...ecotourism has been developed in some of this remote areas in the mountains...oh yeah, also when you think about mountains, you generally think cold...for some reason i forgot to make that connection today and was a bit chilly in shorts and a t-shirt after stepping off the bus...fortunately i happened to have my favorite polypro thermals from NZ with me...of course then going uphill for the first hour made me overheat

there was some nice scenery in the mountains..interesting environment at 3100 meters (10,000ish feet)

there was some nice scenery in the mountains..interesting environment at 3100 meters (10,000ish feet)

whoa

whoa

move along clouds, i worked hard for this view

move along clouds, i worked hard for this view

anyone know how to say zoom in spanish? i should probably figure that out

anyone know how to say zoom in spanish? i should probably figure that out

made it! 5 hour hike done in 2 hr 40 min...i guess i still have some fitness and acclimitization has gone well...probably cuz we were just not taking breaks because of the imminence of rain and once it did start just hammered

made it! 5 hour hike done in 2 hr 40 min...i guess i still have some fitness and acclimitization has gone well...probably cuz we were just not taking breaks because of the imminence of rain and once it did start just hammered

Llano Grande (150 people = grande ???)

Llano Grande (150 people = grande ???)

how idyllic

how idyllic

this is the police station with a basketball court...i direct your attention to the symbol on the backboard...the other MJ (the true MJ, that is)...plus its light blue and white (Tar Heels colors and Michael Jordan)

this is the police station with a basketball court...i direct your attention to the symbol on the backboard...the other MJ (the true MJ, that is)...plus it's light blue and white (Tar Heels colors and Michael Jordan)

thinking it was gonna be a 5 hour hike, i figured the 6 oclock bus ride back to the city would work well...but when we finished the hike before 2 pm, i was a little confused. i mean, these flowers are pretty, but 4 hrs of this? fortunately a taxi drove by and i hopped in. it wasnt going to oaxaca city directly tho, so i had to get off at some random town and then get in another taxi...worked out perfect--back in the city at 3:30

thinking it was gonna be a 5 hour hike, i figured the 6 oclock bus ride back to the city would work well...but when we finished the hike before 2 pm, i was a little confused. i mean, these flowers are pretty, but 4 hrs of this? fortunately a taxi drove by and i hopped in. it wasn't going to oaxaca city directly tho, so i had to get off at some random town and then get in another taxi...worked out perfect--back in the city at 3:30

and this time i got my window seat (but it was on the wrong side heh) edit Delete caption

and this time i got my window seat (but it was on the wrong side heh) edit Delete caption

bonita

bonita

So I made it back to Oaxaca City in the late afternoon and got a chance to go the Oaxaca cultural museum. I actually had tried to come to this museum twice yesterday but couldn’t find the entrance. I felt so stupid walking around the entire thing twice and not being able to find the entrane. Today I was finally able to figure it out, and well, let’s just say that I’m an idiot…hopefully I’ll be smart again in about a month when I have to go back to school ugh. Anyways, the museum was pretty cool. I really didn’t care much about what was inside, but the architecture was beautiful and the views from the inside were incredible.

museum/church...youd think this would be the entrance to the museum (and youd be right...and smarter than me)...i went in on the door on the right, which is the church...naturally, you might think the door on the left is the museum entrance. it only took me 3 attempts to figure that out haha

museum/church...you'd think this would be the entrance to the museum (and you'd be right...and smarter than me)...i went in on the door on the right, which is the church...naturally, you might think the door on the left is the museum entrance. it only took me 3 attempts to figure that out haha

cultural museum of oaxaca...nice architecture

cultural museum of oaxaca...nice architecture

lots of pretty views from inside the museum (yep i care more about whats outside rather than inside the museum) edit Delete caption

lots of pretty views from inside the museum (yep i care more about what's outside rather than inside the museum)

this is the botanical garden found outside the museum...lots of nice cacti

this is the botanical garden found outside the museum...lots of nice cacti

Jesus, tho looking a bit more Asian or Mexican than I normally picture him

Jesus, tho looking a bit more Asian or Mexican than I normally picture him

and here comes the rain

and here comes the rain

After the museum I was just wondering around and ran into this Belgian guy that I had met earlier in the morning at the 2nd class bus station. We walked around and chatted over some coffee and beer (in the wrong order for me). He speaks 7 languages, which makes me feel pretty small in my attempt to reach like 1 and a half languages. Very friendly and interesting guy tho. Kind of ironic because my brother was leaving for Belgium the next day (wakeboarding trip to Belgium?). Well that’s about it for this really good weekend. Took the 1st class bus back to Mexico City. Left at midnight and arrived at about 6:30 am. Too cheap to get a taxi, I dragged all my stuff through the jam packed Subway, took a 30 minute nap, and went to work. Kinda tired heh.

Nate

*this blog has somewhat (d)evolved into a rehashing of my pictures from the picasa site…read the blog or just check out the pics…they’ve got pretty detailed captions and capture the essence of my travels

not so Bazar Sábado

Posted June 23, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

Today (Saturday) I stayed in the city and explored some new areas. The week wasn’t all that exciting with work, so I’m very glad to have the freedom to explore for a couple days. First I went to check out this Saturday Bazaar called the Bazar Sábado (why can’t spanish always be this easy??). It’s this market in San Angel ever Saturday where a bunch of painters and artisans come to show off their work. Lots of people, art, and activity. Here are a few pics.

Bazar Sábado

Bazar Sábado

police are pretty ubiquitous in the city, and they have some pretty impressive vehicles. on thursdays when i go out with the couchsurfing group, i walk past an embassy or something on my way home and i see police with machine guns and it really freaks me out, especially since i dont think people really respect the cops here. hmm...

police are pretty ubiquitous in the city, and they have some pretty impressive vehicles. on thursdays when i go out with the couchsurfing group, i walk past an embassy or something on my way home and i see police with machine guns and it really freaks me out, especially since i don't think people really respect the cops here. hmm...

what a delicious hotel! turns out its just a fast food taqueria...too bad. good idea tho for you entrepreneurs (or not..)

what a delicious hotel! turns out it's just a fast food taqueria...too bad. good idea tho for you entrepreneurs (or not..)

Next it was off to a neighborhood called Condesa, which is a pretty upscale, hip part of town. I really liked this area because there was a ton of green areas with beautiful parks. This would be a fantastic area to live–accessible to all the parts of the city but still lots of open space and great restaurants.

the jardineros do a nice job here

the jardineros do a nice job here

not sure if einstein had any connection to mexico, but apparently he does now

not sure if einstein had any connection to mexico, but apparently he does now

oh and i got a receipt for the 3 pesos i spent to use the bathroom at one of the parks...really?

oh and i got a receipt for the 3 pesos i spent to use the bathroom at one of the parks...really?

so this guy on a souped up segway was handing out something like packets of peanut butter to the kids. naturally i wanted some (most of you know i kinda like peanut buter...) i hung around him for a couple minutes but no success..ugh

so this guy on a souped up segway was handing out something like packets of peanut butter to the kids. naturally i wanted some (most of you know i kinda like peanut buter...) i hung around him for a couple minutes but no success..ugh

One of the parks had dogs everywhere running around and swimming. When my parents comes to MC to visit me, I guarantee this is gonna be the only thing my mom cares to see.

dog park!

dog park!

some kid was running laps in this 15x15 wading pool for some reason, and then 4 dogs jump in and break his rhythm

some kid was running laps in this 15x15 wading pool for some reason, and then 4 dogs jump in and break his rhythm

Then it was off to Roma, which is another hip area to live. I prefer Condesa, but it was pretty nice. However, I did have one of the best meals that I can remember for quite some time. I went to this Mexican restaurant called the Tecla (no idea what that means), and it was phenomenal. Pear and goat cheese salad, shrimp and brie enchiladas in a chile poblano sauce, unbelievable flan…i was in heaven. It was kinda weird being waited on by 3 people since it was just me, but I’ll take some royal treatment ever once in a while (most of you probably find it rather unusual for me to spend over 20 bucks on a meal when i could spend 2 bucks on some solid street food…i was pretty surprised too, but it was sooo worth it!) Wish I could’ve taken pictures of my meal but thought it would be weird to do so in a fancy restaurant. Society…

we need traffic lights like this one :-) (its got a smiley face on the green light if you cant see it :-)

we need traffic lights like this one 🙂 (it's got a smiley face on the green light if you can't see it 🙂

taquería out of the back of a pickup truck...cant think of anything that captures the essence of Mexico better than this hehe

taquería out of the back of a pickup truck...can't think of anything that captures the essence of Mexico better than this hehe

Next it was the Museo Nacional de Antropología, which is this massive museum that is known to be one of the best in the world of its kind. I actually am not a big fan of museums, which some people find strange cuz they think I’m somewhat intellectual for some reason (nope). This one, however, was pretty cool. When I left the restaurant I saw this and knew I needed to get to the museum quick to beat the rain (darn you rainy season!)

storms coming

storm's coming

I thought I was gonna make it, but nope. Walking up to the museum entrance it began not just to pour like crazy but also to hail. Fortunately I had my POS umbrella and only the lower half of my body got drenched. Sound bitter? Yes, but something good did come of it.

hail yes

hail yes

So I get into the museum, and in the center there’s this thing called the paraguas, which normally looks like this.

Paraguas

But, lucky as I am to have gotten poured on, this is what the paraguas looked like when I arrived. Note the word paraguas in Spanish means umbrella…makes sense.

but...turns out the rain has a really cool effect. this thing here is called the paraguas, which is umbrella in spanish. its in the center of the museum, and when I saw it I just assumed it always had water falling all the time...nope, just when it rains...makes me happy to be soaked

but...turns out the rain has a really cool effect. this thing here is called the paraguas, which is umbrella in spanish. it's in the center of the museum, and when I saw it I just assumed it always had water falling all the time...nope, just when it rains...makes me happy to be soaked

The museum itself was pretty cool, although the first section on the intro to anthropology was the only thing i could really spend much time on before I got museum ADD. Here’s a couple things I saw. There’s a ridiculous amount of stuff here. It would take days to tour this museum and do it justice.

Lucy

Lucy

the museum said to be one of the best in the world, and it really is spectacular...i mean just look at the intricacy of this piece

the museum said to be one of the best in the world, and it really is spectacular...i mean just look at the intricacy of this piece

yep...you guessed it...very sophisticated

yep...you guessed it...very sophisticated

this exhibit was pretty cool...from one viewing angle you see a face, view it from a different angle and you see the underlying skeleton..orbital surface of the greater wing of the sphenoid bone and all (ah netter)

this exhibit was pretty cool...from one viewing angle you see a face, view it from a different angle and you see the underlying skeleton..orbital surface of the greater wing of the sphenoid bone and all (ah netter)

Another benefit of the rain, you get some pretty sweet views of the mountains surrounding the city after the rain clears the smog haze (but it’s not that bad, really!)

After the museum I went to watch a movie, which was ironically going to be Night at the Museum 2. But the next showing was gonna be in Spanish, so I ended up going for X-Men Wolverine, which was entertaining (and in English yay). All right that’s it. It was a busy day with a ton of walking, and I was pretty tired. Now I’m tired again cuz it takes forever to write this blog posts jeez. Leave me a comment so I know somebody’s actually reading!

Nate

update (i.e. can’t think of a title)

Posted June 22, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

All right it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but life’s good. Last Sunday was interesting in that it had some pretty big highs and a pretty crappy low (you can take that as literally as you like). After a nice sleep following the long but exciting day at Teotihuacan, I decided to get some exercise by going to the Tlalpan bosque (forest) to do some running and exercises. It takes like 20 minutes to get out there, but it’s well worth it since all the trees and fresher air are a nice respite from the madness that is Mexico City. To get out there I first take a “microbus” and then walk a bit. The public transportation system here in the city really is fantastic. You have a number of options. The fastest is definitely the Metro, which is super cheap and goes all over the city. Then there is the MetroBus, which is a bus system that runs solely in the north-south direction along Avenida Insurgentes basically the entire length of the city. Insurgentes is the longest avenue in the world! There are a lot of longest and biggest things here in Mexico City…yea that’s what she said.

Then you have these buses called “microbuses,” which I haven’t figured out yet. They’re smaller green buses that just run smaller routes in the city, but I really have no idea how to figure out where they go aside from the sign on the front indicating one location where they go. I guess you just figure it out over time. Then there’s the whole taxi system, which I try not to mess around with. The taxis in Mexico City are notorious for crime–probably mainly for foreigners (like me). Basically the guideline for extranjeros (gringos) is not to take street taxis and only to use taxis called sitio taxis that are apparently more secure. I prefer to walk as much as I can, especially alone late at night. I feel a heightened sense of awareness.

Enough with public transportation. It’s just such a better system than where I live in Orlando and Nashville. Very nice not to have to rely on a car (although unfortunately my preferred mode of transportation of bike would essentially be equivalent to suicide in this city heh). After the run (and sadly I don’t think I’m forming RBCs very quickly), the walk back took me through some really cool markets. There was a great farmer’s market with tons of fresh fruit, vegetables, and stands cooking all sorts of Mexican food. One thing that I have really enjoyed in my travels is just walking around and observing the different peoples and cultures. Like Southeast Asia, here in Mexico there are always markets with people buying/selling food, crafts, etc. I often end up buying a lot of stuff just cuz I have no idea what it is and want to experience it, and it’s fun to see how the local people interact in these environments. Food has such a different role in these countries than in the United States. One thing I ended up grabbing was this dessert called the “Pastel Imposible,” which just looked too delicious to pass up. It’s pretty good, but I’m not sure why it’s called impossible (maybe just because there’s absolutely no way I can finish it!).

aromatherapy?

aromatherapy?

the sign says auriculotherapy, and Im very interested to learn what kinds of diseases can be cured through the orifice that is the ear

the sign says "auriculotherapy," and I'm very interested to learn what kinds of diseases can be cured through the orifice that is the ear

After the farmer’s market, I headed over to the downtown (centro) of Tlalpan, which is always buzzing with activity over the weekends. There were tons of stands as usual, but this week there seemed to be an abundance of stands offering alternative medicine type stuff. All sorts of weird herbal remedies and such, even this weird type of massage machine. Not sure what to think about all this stuff–the ridiculously high rates of late HIV testing that I observe with my research project make me think that there’s not a whole lot of faith in the traditional medical system here, but I can’t really back that statement up so take with that what you will. After walking around asking for all sorts of food samples (puedo probar?), I settled on this Oaxacan restaurant set up under a very large tent. Being adventurous, I just asked the server to recommend something, and this is what I got.

No idea what it is, but yum

No idea what it is, but it was almost the size of the table and yummy

Did some serious damage to this dish, but it got the better of me later heh...ugh

Did some serious damage to this dish, but it got the better of me later...heh...ugh

It was amazingly delicious. Definitely not something I would normally order, but it was great (tho it may or may not have contributed to something that I experienced during the next 24 hrs ugh…) The cool thing about Mexico City is you get people from all the different regions of Mexico, and they bring all their different styles of food as well. Endless culinary adventure!

Lucha Libre...think about that weird Jack Black movie nobody saw but fo real

Lucha Libre...think about that weird Jack Black movie nobody saw but fo real

Later that night I got to experience Lucha Libre with one of the ID fellows. Lucha Libre is the equivalent of American wrestling, and it was, well, interesting. I coulnd’t take my camera in, but it’s basically what you would imagine with wrestling–except a lot of the luchadores wear masks. Basically they have luchas with 3 “rudos” versus 3 “técnicos”. The rudos are the bigger, more muscular fighters that fight dirty, and the técnicos are the smaller but extremely agile guys who really do some amazingly athletic maneuvers. I wasn’t a big fan of the rudos, so it ticked me off when they won (yea it’s fixed, but there’s some improvisation too). Lucha Libre is a phenomenon in Mexico. Entire familes come to watch the luchas, and these guys are the idols of the little kids. You’ll even see all these old grandmas who probably go to mass every day standing up and heckling/cursing at the luchadores. It’s bizarre. Definitely a unique experience that I probably won’t be frequenting too often haha. Here’s a quick clip of this guy Mistico who I saw–he’s pretty ridiculous.

All right before I sign off, I want to emphasize one thing about the food here–partake at your own risk haha. The night after the luchas and the next day of work were pretty rough haha. I have some suspicions of the culprits. First thing, if you ever have the opportunity to drink pulque, be careful. The two locals from Mexico I was with didn’t even touch the stuff , so that should have been a pretty clear sign heh (I remember them alluding to GI issues that can result and some really sketchy rumors about how they facilitate the fermentation process that I don’t want to repeat). That or the barbacoa with flies, or today’s gut-bomb. I don’t know what it was, but yea it wasn’t much fun ugh. However, I do believe that it is an obligatory part of this Mexican adventure haha.

Fútbol, pharma, (couch)surfing, pyramids…

Posted June 14, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

Pretty fun past few days here in Mexico City. On Wednesday after a truly exhilarating morning spent in the clinical archives pulling data from old patient charts, I joined the ID fellows and a few med students for lunch. Initially I thought we were just going somewhere near the hospital, but we ended up taking a taxi to a restaurant not terribly far away (actually probably could have walked faster than the taxi–traffic here is pretty slow). It ended up being a really nice restaurant, and everyone had appetizers, soup, main course, dessert, coffee, etc. It was pretty fantastic. However, there was one nice woman there that I did not recognize. I felt like we weren’t going to have to pay for this meal, and the only reason I could think of was that she was a patient or something expressing appreciation and taking the department out to lunch. Of course, that made no sense since basically all the HIV patients that come to the clinic are of very low socioeconomic status. Then before everybody left the woman pulled out some pamphlets with scientific research articles, and then it all made perfect sense. Good old pharma–wining and dining for antiretroviral drugs. Whoops…sorry Vanderbilt, Dean Rodgers, and my PPS small group haha. Well the food was pretty amazing. For those not from Vanderbilt, the medical center is very explicit in not allowing any type of gift from pharmaceutical companies. Fortunately after talking to some of the fellows, it doesn’t seem like this is a very common occurrence.

Later that day I had another very fortunate opportunity to be able to go to the World Cup qualifying game between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago. I was unlucky to come during the summer since the soccer league in Mexico just finished, but at least I was able to catch one of the national team games in the Estadio Azteca really close to my house here. It was spectacular! Granted, the players looked like ants from where Luis and I were sitting, but you could still follow the game really well. The main reason I went was to experience the crowd–the Mexican people have so much passion for their country’s fútbol team. There’s basically a constant din in the stadium with the non-stop cheering and/or heckling. Mexico ended up winning 2-1, which was good. Here are some pics inside and outside of the stadium. It’s a really cool place with great views of the mountains surrounding city and, just like the rest of the city, people everywhere.

Estadio Azteca

Estadio Azteca

Just before the game starts

Just before the game starts

From the inside

From the inside

Thursday night was pretty cool as well. I met up with a bunch of people from the CouchSurfing community here in Mexico City. CouchSurfing is a website that connects travelers around the world to people who are willing to offer them a place to stay whether it be a room or, you guessed it, a couch. It’s a great idea, and I’ve been a site member for a long time but actually never surfed on anyone’s couch before (though I intend to). It was a good opportunity to meet people here in the city, both locals and travelers, and a good way to improve my Spanish (and practice my English too for a change haha). It was a good time. Kind of a hike though since Tlalpan, where I live, is pretty far from the central part of the city where most of the activity is. So I ended up not getting off the MetroBus until nearly midnight, waiting for the microbuses that apparently quit running, and ended up walking the rest of the way home. Kinda sketchy walking alone at midnight in Mexico City, but I made it home safe and sound with no issues. Probably will take a taxi next time tho haha (but ya gotta be careful about which taxi you choose here…tho really it’s not as bad as the rumors are).

Not much to speak of about Friday. Went running in the park in the afternoon, which was pretty difficult actually–probably a combination of the altitude and not getting enough sleep. Also went to a great taqueria that night with Luis, although the street the restaurant was on basically had no power–apparently there are electricity issues in this city when it rains. The traffic lights were also out on one of the biggest roads in the city, but to be honest I don’t think that really has any impact on the way people drive here heh.

Saturday  was spent going to check out the pyramids of Teotihuacan, which are pretty amazing. Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas (thank you wikipedia). Teotihuacan was at its zenith during the first half of the first millenium, so it’s kinda old. It was a really fun day checking out the pyramids with three people I met from the CouchSurfing get-together the other night–Miguel, Brenda, and Daniel. Took a while to get out there since we had to keep asking random people for directions (and they usually weren’t very good ha), but it was well worth it. Check out some pics.

The crew at the entrance. Pyramid of the Sun in the background.

The crew at the entrance. Pyramid of the Sun in the background.

Pyramid of the Sun

Pyramid of the Sun

Steep! I need some EPO stat!

Steep! I need some EPO stat!

View from the top

View from the top

Yo with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background

Yo with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background

For some reason we started taking pictures of ourselves jumping off stuff at the top. No idea why but it was fun. Heres Daniel getting some mad air.

For some reason we started taking pictures of ourselves jumping off stuff at the top. No idea why but it was fun. Here's Daniel getting some mad air.

My turn

My turn

Pyramid of the Moon

Pyramid of the Moon

Avenue of the Dead

Avenue of the Dead

Smaller pyramids

Smaller pyramids

More pics with captions here. Fun day. Plus at the end of the day we were swarmed by people begging for us to come to their restaurants–I have a video and it was pretty wild. Basically couldn’t move the car haha. We ended up going to one of the places, and I got to try some pulque, which is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of the maguey, which is a type of agave. A traditional native beverage of Mesoamerica. Pretty disgusting stuff! Though it got a lot better when they mixed in some type of fruit and a little sugar. The agave is a pretty alcoholically prolific fruit! Tequila, mezcal, pulque–what’s next? In addition, for lunch we went to a little barbacoa stand in a local market nearby. It’s always very reassuring to see flies flying around the food as you’re ordering it haha. Well I haven’t gotten sick yet. When in Rome…(except if you go to this proverbial Rome place and don’t have the normal flora endemic to the gut of a Roman, well there can be some problems). Oh and on that note, the food here is generally pretty darn good, but occasionally you’ll get something that’s pretty much, well, disgusting. There are a lot of torta stands here in the city, and a torta is basically a sandwich filled with all sorts of stuff. Here is a picture of a torta that for some reason I ordered the other day. New rule, if there are like 8 ingredients in a sandwich and you only know what 2 of the words mean, may or may not be a good idea to order it (this was the latter haha). It’s hard to gauge the size of this sandwich from the picture, but it was a monster–stuffed with all sorts of stuff like eggs, pork, ham, like 3 hot dogs cut up, 4 types of cheeses, more stuff I have no idea. Pretty sure it belongs on this classic website.

Yum?

Yum?

Hope you all are doing well! Oh and remind me to tell you some stories about Mexican drivers some time. It’s interesting. More soon,

Nate

Made it

Posted June 9, 2009 by nmobrien
Categories: Uncategorized

Whoever actually reads this, welcome to my Mexico blog! I got into Mexico City last Tuesday, and you know what, I haven’t gotten kidnapped or mugged, haven’t gotten swine flu, and haven’t gotten lung cancer from the city’s pollution. What? Rumors actually aren’t always true?

On the contrary, things have gone very well here in the D.F. I’ve got a really nice place to live–house with 2 stories, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, kitchen…garden in the backyard! Not too bad for Emphasis housing, eh? In the house it’s just me and Luis, who is a young guy from Mexico whose parents own the house. Luis has been extremely friendly and helpful, and he is very patient with my Spanish. The whole Spanish thing is pretty interesting for me. As I expected, I was drastically underprepared for being in an almost exclusively Spanish environment since I haven’t experienced enough of the ridiculous speed at which native speakers talk (at least from a non-fluent person’s perspective). It’s a pretty big slap in the face, especially since I really don’t see any English speakers throughout my day with the exception of my mentor (and probably some others who just choose to watch me fumble through my español). But in reality that’s what I want since that is the best way for me to improve with the language, so hopefully I’ll start to absorb the language a bit faster (though honestly I’m pretty skeptical–it seems the language plasticity of the youthful brain is long gone for me…)

Mi Casa

Mi Casa

El Jardín

Work is going pretty well so far. I’m at a hospital called El Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán (whew…it’s taken me months to remember that..INNSV for short). From what I can gather, it’s one of the best medical centers in the country, and it’s a teaching institution with tons of residents and fellows. I’m in the department of infectología studying the prevalence and risk factors of late HIV testing. As usual with a research project, it takes a while to get started. I think I’m rolling now; however, it seems like most of the data has already been acquired. I’m obtaining some more data from the clinical charts (some the size of some of our SFD binders!), but that’s not gonna take the entire summer so I’m kinda wondering exactly what I’m going to be doing after that…well I’ll worry about that later. The people in the department are very friendly and helpful, and I get to go to all the department lectures and tag along when they go see patients. Of course, all of those things are in Spanish on speed, but I’m doing my best to comprehend as much as I can. Here’s a pic of the hospital.

INNSV

INNSV

The hospital is about a 20 minute walk from where I live, and it’s actually a really nice walk since there are all sorts of foods stands with tons of stuff that I’m looking forward to trying (or building up courage to try for some things). This morning for breakfast I grabbed a delicious tamale and a chocolate atole. Atole is a thick, corn-based drink, and it is delicious!

Street food!

Street food!

As most of you probably know, Mexico City is like one of the biggest cities in the world–over 20 million people–so there’s a lot to do and see. I live in Tlalpan, which is 1 of 16 bureaus of the city. It’s in the southern part of the city and kind of a hike from the more touristy stuff. To be honest, I’m the only non-Mexican person that I see during my day, which is pretty interesting. Very authentic experience (maybe more authentic if I could understand everything that could be said around me, but I’m getting by). Fortunately the public transportation system is very good, and I’ve been able to check out some of the different parts of this massive city. There is so much to see–tons of museums, wonderful neighborhoods, great parks (actually not completely a concrete jungle!), etc. This city has been around for a long time, and there’s a ton of amazing architecture dating back to the Aztecs and the Conquistadors. I’ve taken a good amount of pics so far, so take a look at those since I really don’t want to write forever. Here’s a couple though.

Palacio de Bellas Artes (lots of amazing murals)

Palacio de Bellas Artes (lots of amazing murals)

Zócalo!

Zócalo!

Yo

Yo

La Catedral

La Catedral

Crazy big city

Crazy big city

So yeah that’s what’s going on so far. It’s a pretty cool city at an altitude of 7000ish feet surrounded by mountains. The air isn’t perfect, but it’s really much better than I expected. I don’t really notice it during my day. In fact, there’s actually a really great park 15-20 minutes away from where I live where tons of people go to exercise, and I’ve joined them a couple times for some nice runs–and I actually didn’t even notice the air at all (other than the fact that it’s lacking a little bit of O2…)

All right that’s it for now (if you made it this far, that is). Hopefully I’ll have more posts soon. There’s a big fútbol game tomorrow night between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobaggo, and I’m really, really hoping to go. Then it’s lucha libre this weekend. Check out my pictures website for more regular updates. Thanks for reading, and hasta luego!

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Nate