preparing for frontera ROAD TRIP

So I got a little paranoid/upset the other day when my friend, with whom I am planning a roadtrip across the border to Austin to visit my sister and buy stuff, contacted me expressing dudas about the trip. I thought she was thinking of flaking out.

She was worried about a couple things, one of them being road conditions in Nuevo Leon because of Hurricane Alex and, I think, also because of increased checkpoints. She has since told me she heard it’s not all that bad.

So I was looking into it, finally. I have of course known there are issues… I’ve been working for the Human Rights Commission, in particular translating some stuff about authority missteps regarding methods of combating violence (including one that killed two little boys), and I also recently edited a couple of reports for a political risk consultant on drug-related violence. But other than that I haven’t really explored the issues.

i.e., I have avoided exposing myself to the more paranoid sources of news, such as the US State Department. But I decided to take the plunge today and read what they have to say, via a recent consular warden’s report. It seems pretty rational. In context of mentioning that thousands of US citizens travel in Mexico safely every day, they also tell you what’s been happening in hotspots, where to avoid, and why.

With respect to the pending cruzafrontera trip, this was the pertinent passage:
Continue reading


mexican id checks vs the az law?

My friend Laura came to visit from New York (again! Laura, I love you for coming down twice in one year), and we decided on a short getaway from the city to visit our friends Lorena and Jerry in (Santiago de) Querétaro. We took the bus from DF, which follows a highway that cuts through Hidalgo as well as Estado de México before entering the state of Querétaro.

Not sure where we got stopped, but it wasn’t too far south of the Policía Federal outpost you can see along that highway. The bus was pulled over and I thought, man I totally told Laura this was nonstop, what the hell. Driver has to pee. But then I saw the guy in the black federal uniform passing down the aisle giving people once-overs. He was older, but that’s all I discerned before I realized I should be deciding whether or not to avoid eye contact with him. We were seated around seat 20, about halfway back. He stopped at us.

“Documents?” (Yes, in English.) Continue reading

border run

I’m taking a road trip to Austin next month with Jerry, Lorena, and hopefully Nalleli. The main inspiration for the trip was shopping, but my sister lives in Austin now so we figured it’s way better to go there than just to the border zone and back.

I’m blogging about this to apuntar mi shopping list, so that I can keep track of it and add to it later.

-a laptop
-a used (ie, noncontract) Android phone
-a stereo
-a bottle of Bushmills
-an Octavia Butler book
-an Anthony Burgess book
-a pair of Applebottoms (colored denim)
-face moisturizer
-thriftstore stuff
-a Diva Cup

I guess a lot of that I will buy online and have delivered to her.

recent photos – transport

another volaris ad: “we all have a hot cousin. discover yours.”

rush hour on the anillo periférico; naucalpan, edo de mex entering df

a ford shelby at a shop that specializes in restoring them, near estadio cruz azul

pesero bus, parque méxico-torre de pemex ruta 23

the new ad campaign for the df metro system. tqm is a common acronym meaning “te quiero mucho” (“i love you a lot”); el sistema de transporte colectivo is saying “te quiero metro” with this.

bullshit, politicians and bureaucrats

So I have started doing translation work for the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos. When I think “Human Rights” I think NGO/nonprofit/volunteer/advocacy work… the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Unicef. But I think that’s super “Mercan” of me.

As it turns out, according to several national conventions, in addition to stuff like life and freedom and equality, things like social security and work are also human rights. As it turns out, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission is a governmental agency.

I thought it would be fun, though hard work, to translate for them. It’s a lot of legalese, not surprisingly. I thought initially this had to do with lawyers, but nothing doing. It’s coming from bureaucrats.

Distinguishing the source of BS is important here, because it is related to the reason I got completely reamed for a translation I did yesterday. The key problem with my translation? I cut out all of the redundant crap.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, when you’re dealing with law and policy and stuff you have to be precise-verbose/interpretable-vague. But these are not exactly law and policy documents– they hire actual lawyers to translate anything that is legally binding. These are “recommendations,” basically correspondence that is sent to Mexican authoritative bodies presumed guilty of violating human rights. The recommendations also get published on the CNDH’s freaking webpage… in theory you want the public to be able to understand them, no?

My editor said it to me best, I think unconsciously, that I have to think like a politician when I am doing these documents. This made me realize, the people writing these human rights recommendations are politicians.

Silly of me to think otherwise, I guess, that “politician” and “bureaucrat” were mutually exclusive.

“You guys, don’t you want your political infighting to read clearly?!”


Mexican grocery stores have lots of pastry. Which I love. I like conchas a lot, and have been aprovechando them for a while.

Recently, now that I changed neighborhoods and have a new supermarket with slightly higher-end pastries, I have discovered a variation on my old South favorite the cinnamon roll: the tres leches cinnamon roll.

Tres leches means it has three milks, evaporated, sweetened condensed, and heavy cream. The tres leches cinnamon roll is solid enough to be portable, but after you work on it for minute or two, you start to notice milk seeping out onto your plate and hands. It basically rules.

I am savoring it with decaf Nescafé currently. (Cutting back caffeine to curb apparent dopamine deficiency.)