|Escrito por Redacción Onda Verde|
|Martes, 10 de Mayo de 2011 17:30|
03 May 2011 | By Daniel C Schechter, Lonely Planet
To the crowd of young Mexicans carrying on behind the swinging doors of a pulque parlour one Saturday afternoon, participating in a cultural revival is perhaps the last thing on their minds. They are simply basking in the humble camaraderie of that uniquely Mexican institution, the pulquería. Frida Kahlo, an early post-modernist who embraced indigenous kitsch, would approve.Pulqueria menu No drink is more Mexican than pulque – not even tequila or mezcal. (Daniel Schechter/LPI)
No drink is more Mexican than pulque, not even tequila or mescal. Pulque has been consumed by Mexicans since Aztec times and no fewer than four Aztec deities are devoted to the beverage. Though it is made from the same plant as tequila (the magical maguey), pulque is not distilled.
Sometimes called drool, Babylon, bear soup, vulture soup, white face, moustache broth, chalk and nectar of the gods, pulque is the sort of drink you have to learn to like, if only because you have never tasted anything like it before. In its natural state, the white, viscous liquid slides down your gullet with an earthy tang. Not a strong drink, it has an alcohol content similar to that of beer and some even say it has healthful properties. “Pulque is a step away from meat” on the nutritional scale, said Arturo Garrido, the kindly proprietor of Pulquería Las Duelistas as he dispenses a greenish version of the beverage into a couple of tall mugs.
Pulque is a private quaff, an old-fashioned one at that, and it remains largely unknown to the public palate. You will not find it in the nightclubs of Mexico City or even in cantinas. Of the 70 or so pulquerías that remain in Mexico City, most are extremely rustic places with bathroom-tile facades and institutional green interiors. Sporting sassy names like The National Nectar, Ancient Rome, The Hen of the Golden Eggs, Firing Line, The Worst Is Nothing and Men Without Fear, most of these dives are patronised by a handful of elderly men who tote their own containers to be filled. But in certain pulquerías that demographic is changing. Mexican youth have collectively rediscovered the virtues of pulque and the happy, scruffy vibe of the pulquerías.
One such rediscovery is Pulquería La Risa (Mesones 75). Housed in a tiny colonial structure on the south end of the city’s historic core, La Risa retains its rustic, minimally hygienic ambience, with a urinal behind a greasy curtain. But it has been adopted by students who engage in intellectual pursuits like playing chess or reading history as they sip their pulque. Sitting on a shelf above the bar are barrel-shaped urns of the drink in an array of colours, like sweets in a candy shop. Old timers generally like their pulque straight up but to make the beverage somewhat more palatable, most pulquerías “cure” their pulque with various natural flavours, and the resulting milkshake-like concoctions are called “curados”. The menu may include such flavours as tamarind, guava, walnut and strawberry, and from time to time, beet (“for the heart”) and celery (“for diabetes”) make an appearance.
Most popular with the pulque renegades is Las Duelistas (Aranda 30), near the San Juan market. Going for at least 90 years, it has undergone a startling makeover. Walls and ceiling are covered with psychedelic pre-Hispanic imagery: maguey plants, Aztec gods and goddesses, plumed serpents and skull racks. On any given afternoon, pierced, black-clad youth crowd around tables sharing mugs of pulque from pink and blue plastic buckets. A row of painted barrels, delivered earlier that day from Hidalgo, stand behind the marble counter, where a few older patrons sit, lifting mugs of pure pulque to their lips. The jukebox plays rock en español at a tolerable volume. The atmosphere is relaxed rather than aggressive.
“Many identify pulque with the climate of camaraderie of the pulquerías,” said Alberto Felipe Ramírez Aldama, who belongs to a group of pulque enthusiasts devoted to finding and trying out pulquerías. “One is nourished there. You have your buddies, and your enemies too, but no one causes any trouble with a glass full of octli,” he said, using a pre-Hispanic term for the drink. Ramírez Aldama’s group, Colectivo El Tinacal, also organises tours of Mexico City’s pulquerías, and visitors are welcome to join them. Information about upcoming pulque tours is posted on http://pulquenuestro.blogspot.com.
The pulque resurgence has spilled over to a few bars. Bósforo (Luis Moya 31, at Independencia), located a block south of the Alameda Central, is an earth-toned lounge that embraces mexicanismo. In addition to such iconic items as mescal — another previously disdained drink that is regaining cachet — and toasted grasshoppers, they keep an urn of pulque behind the counter. Revueltas, the tall, pony-tailed owner, makes a mean peanut curado. Having graduated from the grunge, pulque seems poised for broader acceptance.
© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The return of Mexico’s national nectar’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.
The article was taken from: http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20110429-return-of-the-national-nectar?OCID=twtvl
Here’s a video of the street artist WK putting his work up on a large wall in Mexico City.
I don’t know what I had expected from Mexico City. It was our final stop on our six week tour of Central America, and as such one of the few immovable objects in our plans. Yet I knew precious little about the place. The most populous city in the western hemisphere (depending on what arbitrary basis you choose to divide our world); a city that lives atop one of our planet’s most unstable fault lines; and yes, a place with a reputation for uncompromisingly mean streets. That was about the full extent of my knowledge. And as Lonely Planet decided that Central America does not extend beyond the southernmost Mexican states my guidebook was by now little more than a brick in the bottom of my rucksack.
We arrived in Mexico travel weary and without the inclination to be blown away by yet another new city, a new set of churches and yet more grand relics of colonial or pre-colonial days. Yet Mexico did manage to impress; in fact, more than that it surprised us to such an extent that it was quickly installed as one of the highlights of our trip.
World Class Architecture
The sheer scale of the architecture on display in Mexico is astounding. The Palace of Bellas Artes (across the road from our hotel) made a striking landmark, more so in the late afternoon when the setting sun cast its orange light on the giant onion dome.
The Torre Latinoamericana, Mexico’s original skyscraper, had clearly seen better days yet even now it dwarfs the surrounding buildings and can be seen from most places in the city. And in a city that has a serious sinking problem that is causing most buildings to lean at Pisa-esque angles it’s one of the few buildings in the city that’s still reassuringly straight. A ride to the restaurant and little museum at the top will cost you 60 pesos ($5).
It’s not only the external street views that are impressive. Perhaps our biggest gasp of admiration came when we entered the main central Post Office (Correo Mayor). To see the ornate stairwells and the grand elevator was to see at first hand the ambition, power and confidence that the powers of Mexico displayed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Around every corner is yet another splendid church, a bohemian square or a dilapidated relic of Mexico’s colourful past. And the museums are by all accounts superb. We were keen to visit the highly rated National Museum of Anthropology. Sadly due to some spectacularly bad planning we’d set aside our only full day in the city as a Monday, when pretty much no museum is open; be warned.
As for the city’s dangerous reputation? In daylight the central of the city is filled with working people mixed in with a few quirky characters; much like any other city in fact. Of course at night things change, and while the main pedestrian thoroughfare (Av. Madero) remains busy until its shops and surrounding restaurants shut their doors, in much of the city the pavements do empty and walking is not recommended.
Our Lady of Guadelupe
While Mexico City is full of grand churches and some of the world’s finest museums there are also many reasons to head out of the centre. Fortunately the excellent public transport system makes this very easy and cheap to do. A trip to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a short metro ride north of the centre. This is considered by many to be the holiest religious site in the Americas and it was here that a lowly farmer saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the 16th century.
There are now several churches and chapels at the site, as well as the original picture to which pilgrims come to pray. You’ll also find a giant bronze statue of Pope John Paul 2 alongside his popemobile. Souvenir shops are everywhere.
Teotihuacan is a hugely impressive Aztec site around 50km north of Mexico. Famed for its two giant pyramids, the 3km walk along the Avenue of the Dead that runs through the site is best done away from the midday heat. Be prepared for the persistent attentions of the hawkers as you make your way through the complex of ancient temples and dwellings.
Even after visiting half a dozen Mayan sites before reaching Mexico, Teotihuacan still made a strong impression and is highly recommended. It is a one hour bus ride from the northern bus station.
On our final day we took the subway south to the leafy suburb of Coyoacan. Its wide open plaza and laid back vibe was reminiscent of a small French provincial town. The houses in the nearby streets were clearly inhabited by the well heeled end of Mexico’s population, with nannies and dog walkers appearing and disappearing from houses while the joggers out in the park rushed past us with the latest i-gadgets, blocking out the sounds of their small green dot in the otherwise endless urban sprawl.
Along with many other tourists we’d come to Coyoacan on the trail of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Having seen the movie Frida just before we left home (if you’re going to Mexico City, the only piece of advice I’d give is to watch it before you go; seriously) we had already visited the museum housing one of Diego Rivera’s murals the day before. We now came to see Frida’s famous Blue House where she’d spent much of her childhood and where she passed away.
The house is now an excellent museum telling the story of Frida’s life and showing much of her work, and the audio guide on offer is unusually good. It leaves you in no doubt that Ms Kahlo led one of the most troubled lives that you could imagine anyone having the misfortune to experience.
Feb 2, 2011 Ashanti Altovese Griffin
When the travel bug hits you, the only thing to do is to get away and the beautiful countries of Latin America are wonderful places to consider. Mexico in particular is a large country with a variety of natural environments, history of ancient cultures, and filled with the warmth of their people. With so much to offer, Mexico and its many cities along the Pacific are popular tourist destinations for people looking to enjoy pleasant weather in a land of open arms and hearts. To gain access to the center of Mexico’s past, present, and future, visitors should look to explore Mexico City and some of its exciting attractions like that of Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, and Chapultepec Castle.
Mexico City Attractions: Xochimilco
Xochimilco is considered by locals as the “Venice of Mexico”. Visitors can float on one of its many water canals on beautifully painted boats that allow you to sit back and relax. In ancient times, Xochimilco was filled with floating gardens called chinampas that provided the community with fruits, vegetables, and other food items for agricultural production. Now, visitors can rent a boat by the hour and observe native birds, plants, and aquatic animals as they float along while eating quesadillas or drinking apple soda in the Mexican sunshine. Boat rental costs about $20 US dollars per hour and is good for up to fifteen people at a time. This attraction is located in the southern part of Mexico City.
Mexico City Attractions: Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is the must see archeological site for learning about the ancient civilization of the Meso-American people of central Mexico. Dozens of pyramids make up the collection of temples, dwellings, and religious grounds of the site. The famous Avenue of the Dead is the main street of the site and the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, and other buildings give visitors insight into the daily life of people at the site. In addition to walking through the grounds, you can learn more about the people of Teotihuacan at a museum which showcases an aerial view model of the ruins along with ancient artifacts found there. Vendors sell their souvenirs to those looking to take home a piece of Mexico through key chains, crystals, blankets and more. This attraction is located in the northeastern part of the outskirts of Mexico City.
Mexico City Attractions: Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle is a gorgeous structure that has housed some of Mexico City’s most prestigious government officials. Visitors can walk throughout the facility to learn about the icons that shaped Mexico into the metropolis it is today. Located on the top of Chapultepec Hill, the castle is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. Around the castle are gardens that can also be enjoyed by visitors. If you like history, Chapultepec Castle is the perfect location to get lost in the adventure of Mexico’s kings, armies, and rulers of old.
Climbing Ayoloco glacier on 17,126-foot Iztaccíhuatl, a two-hour drive from Mexico City. While the mountain does not demand much technical skill, its sheer altitude should be taken seriously
By MICHAEL E. MILLER
Published: February 4, 2011
“WHO knew that this was here?” said Alejandro Escalante, a young businessman from Mexico City, his suit jacket flapping like a flag in the wind. Above us loomed the serrated edge of Nevado de Toluca, a 15,000-foot-high extinct volcano an hour’s drive and a short hike from the Mexican capital. From deep within its crater, two shallow emerald lakes reflected patches of snow that, by last spring, still stubbornly clung to the mountain’s broad shoulders.
Twenty-five years ago, few could have answered Mr. Escalante’s question in the affirmative. In the 1980s, residents of the teeming capital nearly forgot the mountains existed. So thick was the haze encircling Mexico City that some of the tallest peaks on the continent virtually disappeared.
No longer. The mountains surrounding the megalopolis are back, both in view and on travel itineraries. Cleaner air, better roads and a growing middle class have boosted mountain climbing in central Mexico, and hikers are starting to take notice. “Famous climbers come here to start their careers or to train for other mountains,” Mario Andrade, a veteran guide, told me. “Nowadays the reputation of our mountains is widespread and growing fast.”
Still, while increasingly popular among Mexicans and foreign climbers training for the Himalayas, they are almost unknown to the millions of foreign tourists who visit the country each year.
And so, after living in Mexico City for a year, I prepared my backpack, dug out my boots, and set myself a 10-day goal of hiking a trio of the tallest mountains within a day’s trip of downtown: El Ajusco (12,894 feet), Nevado de Toluca (15,354 feet) and Iztaccíhuatl (17,126 feet).
Like most journeys in Mexico, mine began near the city center: the bustling heart of what Mexicans lovingly call el monstruo (the monster).
I met a group of friends in the subway, and we headed south toward Ajusco, a peak rising from the edge of the city like a lookout tower. At the last stop of the train we caught a cab, which — in about 30 minutes — took us the remaining miles to the base of the mountain, past roadside roast chicken stands, paintball courses and patchy soccer fields.
After our taxi dropped us at the side of the road near a final, lonely restaurant, we headed straight up the slope, through light forest and over an irrigation ditch, until we eventually stumbled onto a well-worn path. I had chosen Ajusco as a warm-up for more demanding hikes, but its sheer elevation and sweeping vistas are still more than enough to take your breath away. After a fairly easy two-hour ascent that wound its way around the mountain like a corkscrew, we stood atop a narrow rock ledge named El Pico del Águila, or Eagle’s Peak.
Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images
Ascending snow-capped Ajusco volcano, on the outskirts of Mexico City, is a popular day trip for hikers.
Looking down, we saw the city wrapped around us like an enormous sleeping dog. We and several dozen other day-trippers rested near a series of metal crosses, sucking in the thin, cool air. (At nearly 13,000 feet, Ajusco is considerably higher than Mexico City, itself already more than 7,000 feet above sea level.)
A few days later, my legs fully recuperated from the Ajusco hike, I met a friend at Mexico City’s western bus station. Our aim: to climb Nevado de Toluca as a final preparation for Iztaccíhuatl, the eighth highest mountain in North America. We arrived in Toluca in little more than an hour and haggled with a taxi to take us the remaining 45 minutes to the base of the mountain. The cab bounced along a switchback dirt road before dropping us off at the entrance to the park. An old man waved us in the direction of the peak, promising that we could not miss the path to the top.
We followed a faint trail through the forest, as small birds and squirrels flitted in front of us like spirits. A forest fire several months earlier had left large swaths of undergrowth charred and stunted, and small yellow flowers and saplings sporadically broke through the black crust. After half an hour of gradual hiking, we reached the tree line. Suddenly, Nevado’s summit, Friar’s Peak, stared down at us, more than a mile above the city of Toluca behind us. Under its watchful eye, we hiked along a dirt road around the mountain to the Posada Familiar where, on weekends, visitors can camp or cook a hot meal for a fee of a few dollars.
Although Ajusco is the most popular hike near Mexico City, Nevado de Toluca is not far behind. One reason is that it is only as difficult as hikers make it. Many Mexicans, including Mr. Escalante, the Mexico City businessman, drive all the way up to the posada, park their cars and walk only the steep half-mile up to its volcanic crater. From there, its twin lagoons — Lake of the Sun and Lake of the Moon — shine like turquoise jewels against the red and gray rock surrounding them. Against the backdrop of its austerely beautiful serrated crater rim, this place seems farther away from the chaotic capital than New York or Miami ever could.
A week later, I rode another bus an hour and a half southeast of the capital to Amecameca, the launching pad for ascents of Iztaccíhuatl. Because of the climb’s increased difficulty and greater risk of altitude sickness I hired a guide, Alberto Buendía, who picked me up at the bus station in his truck.
We barreled past fields of corn and agave, through thick forest and past old women selling quesadillas until we reached El Paso de Cortés, the saddle between Iztaccíhuatl and the still-active volcano Popocatépetl.
Unlike Ajusco or Nevado de Toluca, both of which can be trekked in half a day, Iztaccíhuatl is a two-day hike. And while it does not demand much technical skill, its sheer altitude should be taken seriously. At more than 17,000 feet above sea level, it is nearly two miles above the already nosebleed-high Mexico City and taller than either the Rockies or Sierra Nevadas. Altitude sickness often forces unprepared visitors to cut their hikes short. Even the mountain’s name is ominous. Iztaccíhuatl means “White Woman” in Nahuatl, a reference not only to the way its peaks resemble a reclining woman’s curves, but also to the two glaciers and year-round snow near its summit. Unlike the other two climbs, Iztaccíhuatl can be attempted only from late October to May, during Mexico’s dry season. During the summer, when heavy rains soften the snow and glaciers, the upper stretches of the mountain are unsafe to climb.
My guide and I shouldered our packs, stuffed full of food, water, sleeping bags and extra clothes for the summit, and gripped our hiking staffs. Our ascent began in a breathtakingly green valley, less than four miles but thousands of feet in altitude from the summit. As we hiked, Mr. Buendía explained to me how hiking had grown in Mexico since he became a guide 11 years ago.
“Nowadays there are so many 16-, 17-year-old kids joining hiking clubs and rescue teams,” he said. “Technology has made climbing easier, and now they can see on television what it is like to hike these mountains. They look up, see the summit, and say to themselves: ‘I can climb that.’ ”
After an hour, tall grass gave way to gravel and rock. The countryside opened up below us, a glacial stream running off to our right. Our path turned into sand, then slippery mud as we entered the appropriately named Soapmaker’s Pass. Finally, after three hours, we reached the refuge halfway up the mountain, a silver trailer cemented to the mountain. Like many hiking huts in Mexico, the trailer is available on a first-come-first-served basis. But on this day, we had the barren, amenity-free wooden sleeping platforms to ourselves. As thunderstorms broke on the slopes beneath us, I tucked into my sleeping bag and tried to fall asleep.
After a night of little rest, I ate a ham sandwich frozen stiff by the cold. We donned our heavy coats and left the refuge shortly after dawn, moving up Iztaccíhuatl’s rocky “knee,” at times hand-over-hand. The wind whipped across the ridge, and fog settled on us like a ghost, only to disappear again. We passed a frozen lake as gray-blue as an Arctic sea. After another hour we reached the mountain’s “belly”: a glacier the size of two football fields. As Mr. Buendía walked in front of me, his left foot plunged through the glacier’s crust and into the icy water below. He howled with cold, but trudged on nonetheless.
We continued upward, past a false summit and over a narrow, vertiginous pass. The smell of sulfur washed over us from natural springs below. On either side, steep, snow-covered slopes disappeared into thin air, and I gripped my walking stick tighter. Finally we reached the summit, Iztaccíhuatl’s “breast,” nearly three miles above sea level. Forty miles to the northwest, Mexico City was humming and honking as loudly as ever, but here, above the clouds, there was only the sound of the midday wind, and my shallow breaths.
From Mexico City, the easiest way to reach all three mountains is by renting a car. However, Ajusco is accessible via the metro and then a taxi (120 pesos, or $10 at 12 Mexican pesos to the dollar ). Buses leave every 10 minutes for Toluca from Mexico City’s western bus station, Terminal Poniente de Autobuses, and every 15 minutes for Amecameca from the eastern bus terminal, TAPO (Terminal Autobuses Oriente). Once you are in either town, taxis to the mountains are expensive, running as much as 600 pesos round trip.
HIRING A GUIDE
All three hikes require some level of physical fitness but no climbing experience. Ajusco can be climbed year-round, but the best time to hike both Nevado de Toluca and Iztaccíhuatl is between late October and May when the weather is generally dry and mild. Hikers of all skill levels should watch the weather before any attempt, and inexperienced hikers should only ascend Iztaccíhuatl with a professional guide.
Experienced hikers can rent their own equipment from Aguayo Deportes (clubalpinomexicano.com.mx/tienda.htm), a cheap and friendly store in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood.
Altitude sickness, or mal de montaña as it is called in Mexico, can be deadly. Visitors unaccustomed to high altitude should spend at least three or four days walking around Mexico City, and Iztaccíhuatl should only be attempted after several easier, acclimatizing hikes.
Article taken from: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/travel/06Explorer-MexicoCity.html
From on the scene reporter Gonzalo Gag we got the news that a Street Art duet is taking place on the streets of D.F. right now.
Sego and ROA scope out the wall (photos © and courtesy of Gonzalo Gag) – Please credit.
Article taken from: http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/?p=17848