Thursday, October 14, 2010

And all good things must pass...

Thanks to all of our faithful readers over the years, we've appreciated everyone of you, but will soon no longer be updated...

Thankfully, for all news Muth, there is now THEMUTHS.COM!

Our new site is definitely still under construction, but we're moving to Wordpress (like many a former blogspotter, we're enabling our site to be much more functional) which means other writings, musical creations, etc. will soon be featured, and permanently located. We've greatly appreciated how easy-to-use Blogger has been, however it's time to keep up with the times :-)

There's a new post up, featuring plenty of food photos, and more to come soon.

Thanks for everything, and hope you enjoy THEMUTHS.COM!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Having Some Drinks With Our Housemate Jerry
Somehow our week of Spanish lessons has evaporated before our eyes, though moreso before our feet since we've spent plenty of our waking (but non-studying) hours exploring Queretaro.  The city is really nice, and generally very easy to get around.  We've found a few movie theaters, plenty of beautiful old squares, and even some Asian restaurants (mostly in a modern mall) should we need a dramatic change from the delicious Mexican food:

A Thin-Cut Mexican Steak + Una Cerveza Negra
Anderson Enjoys a "Comidas Corridas" - A Prepared Set Meal for Lunch

Segundo Comidas Corridas
A Late-Night Food Stand Just Down the Street
Yep, pretty much wherever we go to eat es muy fantastico!

We have one more day of Spanish tomorrow, and are planning on going to a free concert by some famous Mexican musician whose name we keep forgetting... she plays guitar and it's supposed to be crazy-packed so it should be an interesting cultural experience.  We caught an impressive (and musically much more our style) concert on Wednesday night - we wandered about for the afternoon, met some really nice college students at a local skate-park, had a tasty dinner, and as we emerged from the restaurant a concert literally began in the adjacent square!
No photos, you're going to have use your imagination: set to the b&w film Metropolis, which played on a building wall, three musicians dressed in white body suits played instrumental livetronica.  A woman played drums, a steady beat that at times evaporated into the tension of the film, but mostly held together the other instrumentation tightly and confidently.  Both the guitarist and bassist also used synthesizers, though their usage was linked to the film: synths were blipped, at times futuristic and bassy yet often subtle and melodic, while the machinery of Metropolis was efficiently trusted and then used in Frankensteinian fashion to resurrect a lost love.  When emotion and humanity took over, primarily in the form of chaos and violence, then the organic instruments emerged, maintaining the almost-alien overtones of a future imagined by the past, while also increasing the strength of the low-end and the poignancy of a minor themes.  It was a great performance, in a cool setting, and we felt quite lucky to have stumbled into it.
Yesterday we literally wandered ourselves into exhaustion and sore legs, but we saw some parts of the city that we hadn't yet, so our efforts were well worth it!
While we are missing the fantastic microbrews that Colorado spoils us with, there are at least a lot of beers to choose from here, though perhaps not of the widest variety.  But pretty much every Mexican beer we're familiar with is available (Corona, Negra Modelo, Pacifico, Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis etc.), but the best new beer we've had is definitely Leon, similar to (and manufactured by) Negra Modelo, but supposedly brewed in the Munich style...

Right now we're just reading in our room, we've both got some Spanish homework and Anderson has vocab cards to make before we go grab some dinner - a typical day :-)

Anderson & Liz

PS - the Moment of Zen shall be returning shortly... don't think we've forgotten!

PSS - Our cousin Reannon has another India travel article out, this one about our stomach-churning ride from the hill-station of Shimla: #4 - Losing It

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Over the American SW
We've safely made it all the way to Queretaro, Mexico, and it's safe to say it's awesome!
Where to start... the city is clean, narrow stone roads keep traffic speeds low, the people are friendly, the food is delicious and mostly healthy, and it's actually a rather traditional Mexican town - domestic tourists come here but foreign ones do not.  Our homestay, run by Conchita and her husband Adon, is wonderful: a nice big room that's cleaned daily, reliable warm water and electricity (though the free internet has yet to be worked out), fantastic breakfast cooked fresh at 7:30 each morning, a hilariously cute dog named Boss, and cute grandchildren that come by in the afternoon.  We've met two other guests, one is studying Spanish at another institute while the other is a professor at a nearby university.

Inside Our Room
In the Courtyard
Yesterday was our first day of Spanish lessons, four hours per day for a week, which are included in our TEFL program as a freebie.  Our instructor Monica is nice and helpful, teaching almost exclusively in Spanish, but we (well, mostly Anderson) have already learned a bunch of grammar, vocabulary, and useful verbs.  For Liz it is the excellent brush-up that she needs, and so far she's been doing a great job at getting us around and communicating when more than "hola" or "si" or "gracias" or "muy bien" is required.  There's one other student with us, a nice, older (than us) gentleman from Illinois named Bill, which is great since we didn't really want to be the ONLY ones in class!
Sunday we spent alternating between napping and wandering about the city, hitting up a main square for the final day of Queretaro's Bicentennial Celebration.  The park was packed with people, bands played traditional (horn-based) Mexican music, while boys break-danced for donations, food and balloons were for sale, and the festive mood seemed all encompassing.  For food we've been exploring the options, but cheap eats include gorditas, tortas (sandwiches), and other taco-esque products.  From small shops they cost under $1, which is currently 13 pesos.  We did treat ourselves to a lavish seafood meal when we arrived, but even that was only $6 each for either an enormous fish (Liz) or a heaping bowl of mixed seafood soup (Anderson).  Beers cost about $2 from restaurants, but are a bit cheaper at corner-shops.

Some Seafood Soup
The ambience throughout town is calm and relaxing, and even during busy times people may be rushing about but they are still friendly and full of smiles.

A Square Downtown
Just a Few of the Churches...
Our journey to Queretaro, though time-consuming, was painless and quite easy -  we left Denver Saturday morning, after a long night at Dry Dock Brewery with friends (thanks everyone who came, seriously, it meant a lot to get to see you all one final time before departing), and then had a short flight to LA.  Anderson's aunt and uncle hosted us for the afternoon and evening - thanks Dudley and Eleanor - and we also got to see some of our cousins as well.  We watched Jack's (our cousin Chad's 6 year-old son) soccer game, had a great Middle Eastern feast, and spent the remaining time in between relaxing, watching college football, and chatting, chatting, chatting.  We departed from LAX minutes before midnight, which got us to Mexico City just before 6am, perfect timing for the first bus of the day to Queretaro at 6:30.  Other than the bus ticket seller ripping us off for a few bucks - pretty normal really - the bus was great, actually first class as advertised since the seats were comfortable, the ride quiet and smooth, free waters and snacks, and in a drastic change from Asia the bus driver respectfully kept the television volume on mute instead of the usual blasting.
Our school had given us their driver's phone number, so we called him and in about 15 minutes he picked us up, drove us by the school so we knew where it was, and then delivered us to our homestay.  It's near a train station so it's very easy to find, but thankfully the trains don't come through all that often so the noise isn't a real problem.  Or maybe we're just proficient at sleeping through anything...
The rest of this week should be generally easy, since we are finished with Spanish class by 1pm, but starting next Monday our schedule will double as we'll be at school from 9am to 5pm (albeit with a 2-hour siesta).  The class will be challenging for sure, however our instructor seems very nice, as does everyone else that we've met at the school so far.
Unfortunately today our Spanish teacher is sick, so we have the day off, but we're going to meet up with our fellow classmate Bill for lunch and then proceed to do some wandering... plenty of the city still left for us to see!
More news when it happens to us, but we're already eyeing up some Mexican wrestling for next week, and then the local futbol club (in Mexico's top division) will play the Saturday after that.  We'll presumably do a bit of adventuring this weekend, since it'll be our only one without any homework, but we've thankfully got a few days to figure out what we'd like to go and do...


PS - the Moment of Zen is uploading extremely slowly, unlike the speed of the biting mosquitoes, so you'll just have to wait a bit on that....