Monday, May 9, 2016

Your Mexico Activity and Conversation Checklist

I have been asking local people here In Mexico City for over a decade for their recommendations for what experiences or conversations a foreigner should have in order to better understand Mexico. Below are 135 answers that I have received so far. If you have suggestions for additional ones, just let me know:

  1. Visit Garibaldi and the Museo del Tequila
  2. Who is on the woman on the 200 peso bill and what is her story?
  3. Ride the Metro on your own
  4. Ask someone in Mexico about their thoughts about people in Oaxaca and ask someone in Oaxaca about their thoughts about people in Mexico City.
  5. Find and try a new fruit (e.g.. Zapote negro, Guanábana, Granada, Pomarosa, Changunga, etc)
  6. Try Café de Olla
  7. Who is ‘el tri’ and why is it important to Mexicans?
  8. What does it mean to call someone an “Indio” (an Indian).
  9. Champurrado
  10. Read José Emilio Pacheco 68 page novel “Las batallas en el desierto” that takes place in La Roma.
  11. Eat a Tlayuda Zapoteca
  12. Oaxaca , la virgin de juquila.
  13. Discriminacion en las distintoas culturas
  14. Tatuajes y sus diferencias y significados.
  15. Turibus
  16. Learn a few piropos
  17. Mercado del oro.
  18. Sample Flor de Calabaza
  19. Who is Toledo Francisco?
  20. Eat Chile en Nogada (the colors of the Mexican Flag, common on Independence Day)
  21. Eat Chapulines
  22. Ask someone about how Carlos Slim has influenced Mexico. 
  23. Eat Chicatanas (currently in season in Oaxaca!)
  24. Eat a "paleta de aguacate" (avocado popsickle) or helado de aguacate.
  25. Have a Polanco experience (eg. Who is at the Starbucks? Check the price of clothes in the shops on Mazaryk, etc)
  26. Serve someone (in a non-monetary way)
  27. Eat a blue tortilla
  28. Ask someone who is El Chapulín Colorado.
  29. Have a conversation about what it means to be a gentleman in Mexico and how different generations think about it.
  30. What is a "smoking?"
  31. Learn to sing the words to one of these songs and demonstrate it a karaoke or other public way:
                  Paloma Negra
                  Cieleto Lindo
                  Cucurrucucu Paloma
                  El Rey
                  A narco-corrido
                  Chilanga Banda
  1. What happened on Oct 2nd 1968 and what are the stories for why?
  2. Learn a song by Chava Flores and find a theme about Mexico City
  3. Visit a park on a Sunday and observe families
  4. What are the goals of the Zapatistas? What are the different views about them in Mexico? Explain the debate regarding autonomy for Mexican Indian Nations. How does the Zapatista Movement differ from Benito Juarez regarding indigenous people? What do local people think abut Subcomandante Marcos?
  5. Who built Colonial Mexico City?
  6. Ask someone what differences they notice between how Mexicans and people from other nations think about being romantic.
  7. Have a dialogue with people about their thoughts about the missing 43 students
  8. What are some of the differences in the accent of a person from Buenos Aires, Venezuela, Zacatecas and Mexico City?
  9. How could a few thousand Spanish soldiers conquer the Aztec empire?
  10. Was Malinche a heroine or a traitor?
  11. Try pozole "surtida"
  12. Who is Canelo and what is he famous for?
  13. Ask people about the word gringo and the origins of the word
  14. Have a breakfast at a market or tianguis
  15. Talk to a woman selling something on the street.
  16. Talk to someone from the GLBTIII community about their experience of coming out.
  17. Talk with a local Mexican student about what differences they see between US students and Mexican students.  
  18. Buy something on the Metro
  19. Attend lucha libre
  20. Try pozole
  21. Learn how to make tortillas
  22. Chapultepc , museo de historia nacional.
  23. Tour del campanario en la catedral
  24. Ask someone about the Day of the Dead and Mexican perceptions of death.
  25. Visit the Museo de Antropologia on a Sunday and watch who the people are who are there that day.
  26. Ask someone who has lived in the U.S. about their experience.  
  27. Try atole de grano
  28. Try uchepos
  29. Watch and maybe participate in a clown show in the Alemeda or other public space.
  30. Go to the Museio de la Revolucion
  31. Visit the Museo de Intervenciones
  32. Visit the Museo Trotsky
  33. Visit the Museo de Artes e Industrias Populares
  34. Visit Xochimilco
  35. Visit the Museo Chopo
  36. Visit the Saturday "tianguis cultural el Chopo"
  37. See a movie in a casa de arte
  38. Try pulque and ask about its origins
  39. Visit the museo del chocolate (calle Milan)
  40. Attend a Catholic Mass
  41. Attend a Quincieñera
  42. Interview people about a change they have experienced
  43. Create your own 5 point experience
  44. Create your own 25 point experience
  45. Eat at one of the many Colombian restaurants on Calle Medellin (near your home stays)
  46. Make a list of the stereotypes you have heard about Mexico and Mexicans and observe their degree of validity 
  47. Learn the name of 10 of the 47+ indigenous groups in Mexico.
  48. Help someone trying to learn English
  49. Find where you can buy “agues negras del imperialismo”
  50. Where can you find kosher foods?
  51. What is the origin of the word “Chamba?”
  52. What is a “raspado?”
  53. Visit Chapultetec
  54. Try "agua de Horchata"
  55. What does it mean when someone says “aguas!”
  56. Visit Palacio de Bellas Artes
  57. Go to the top of the Torre Latino
  58. When is Independence Day and why is it celebrated a day early?
  59. Is Santa Ana a hero or a traitor
  60. Watch a telenovela and list the race of different characters
  61. Talk to someone who has returned from living in the U.S. about their experience.
  62. Call LocaTel at 5658-1111 and ask them a question (directions, activities, etc).
  63. Visit Garibaldi with someone.
  64. Learn the difference between the U.S. symbol of the eagle and the Mexican symbol of the eagle.
  65. What influence has Jewish culture had in Mexico?
  66. Go to Bizarre Sabado in San Angel
  67. Visit the museum of Frida.  When did she begin to be famous?
  68. Eat at a Cuban Restaurant (near Mama Rubas)
  69. Play Loteria
  70. Who are the current political parties in power? Ask people about which party (partido politico) they favor.
  71. Check out current entertainment opportunities in an issue of Tiempo Libre from a news stand.
  72. Who is “Lady Profeco” and what did she do near your home stay?
  73. Eat at a Hare Krishna restaurant
  74. Read something by Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska, Carlos Monsiváis, Carlos Fuentes or Octavio Paz.
  75. Have a conversation with someone from Mexico about what comes between those from the U.S. and people from Mexico. Where do we miss each other sometimes?
  76. Talk with a cultural minority in Mexico (i.e. A Korean family)
  77. Visit the Mercado Sonora and buy some medicinal herbs
  78. Eat a tamal
  79. Ask 20 people what they think is the most important thing to understand about Mexico.
  80. Find out why there is sometimes a line of people under the flag in the Zocalo
  81. Who is Memin Penguin
  82. Talk to someone about the difference between chilangos and Jarochos.
  83. Discover how homes get rid of their trash
  84. What are the different sounds used for announcing gas, garbage, camotes, knife sharpening, water. And what do the people with triangles sell?
  85. Visit the Museo de las tres Culturas
  86. Find a burrito
  87. Identify an active or inactive volcano
  88. Ask people about which states have the most serious security problems.
  89.  Climb both the Pyramid of the Sun and of the Moon
  90. Talk to a vender about what his or her normal day.
  91. What happened on Sept 19th, 1985 and ask someone over 30 about their memories of this day.
  92. Learn what the customary ways are to answer phones
  93. Talk to a non-Mexican Latin American about the challenges of living in Mexico.
  94. Discover what ordinary foods, that you likely eat every day, originated in Mexico.
  95. Ask what people here think about Hugo Chavez
  96. If you are having a drink with friends and someone says “Hidalgo!” what would one normally do?
  97. Witness someone rolling on glass or blowing fire for money.
  98. Participate in Danzon lessons.
  99. Learn what it means to dress “Pachuca”
  100. What were the Zoot Suit Riots?
  101. Go Salsa Dancing (i.e. Mama Rumba, El Gran Leon)
  102. Ask someone from Mexico City about their views about 911.
  103. What is important to know about Russian and Mexican history?
  104. Come up with additional items that could be added to this list that would contribute “points” for someone in the future (and please tell Jason about them!).  
When I have study abroad participants come, I ask them not to Google any of these and that my hope is that they will have conversations with locals about them. The goal is to gather as many points as possible. These points though, are not like those in basketball. It is more like the small distinct points (dots) of paint from “pointillism” style of painting used by artists like Seurat. In this type of painting you can only see the picture when you have enough points. Instead of paint, the aim is to collect experiences and stories. Also I tell them that this activity is not a contest with a winner and a loser. In fact, the more you help others gain more points the more likely you are to gain.

“Stories are habitations. We live in and through stories. They conjure worlds. We do not know the world other than as a story world. Stories inform life. They hold us together and keep us apart. We inhabit the great stories of our culture. We live through stories. We are lived by the stories of our race and place. It is this enveloping and constituting function of stories that is especially important to sense more fully. We are, each of us, locations were the stories of our place and time become partially tellable.” Mair, M. (1988). The Psychology of Story telling.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding, Jason. I have just forwarded this to our group.