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Meal Times in Central Mexico

Meal Times in Central Mexico

One thing that is always a topic of conversation for people new to Mexico is meal times. Mexicans also seem to be intrigued about meal times in the US, and portions for said meals. Knowing the terms and times is important because in Mexico City and many other parts of central and southern Mexico people use different terms that foreigners are not used to, and the times are also very different. It is crucial to use the right terms, otherwise you might create some confusion. By the time I was about a month into my Fulbright trip, I was eating on the following schedule, and it seemed natural to me. I will say that I didn’t always eat the same things Mexicans ate, but I did eat around the same time.

Desayuno 7-10AM

  • This is usually the first meal of the day, and it is relatively light. People have yogurt, cereal, sandwiches or something of the sort. A 20150823_195619lot of street food sold around breakfast time include: tamales, tacos, yogurt with fruit, gelatin, tortas de tamal, tacos, and chilaquiles to name a few.
  • The verb you want to use here is desayunar, not comer. Unlike English (in the US) where we don’t say I broke-fast, or I lunched, in Mexican Spanish (espeically in the center) you use verbs for the actual meal you had. Although this might be confusing to you as a foreigner at first, it is great because it actually eliminates confusing what meal you are talking about.

La Comida 2-4PM

  • This meal is pretty heavy and it usually starts around 2PM and ends around 4PM. As a person who has lived almost my entire life in the United States, I am used to having lunch around noon. I also grew up calling lunch either lunche or almuerzo in Spanish. Both of those terms do not fly in CDMX and people will be confused and, immediately know you aren’t from those parts. Hitting la comida before 1 will probably lead you to empty/unopened restaurants and possibly unfresh food. Sure eating before 2PM will help you beat the hora de la comida rush,  but you will miss out on some good restaurants and meeting new interesting people. Not to mention, potentially risk your belly’s health.  Overall, la comida will be the biggest meal of the day.
  • The interesting thing here is that like other meal times, la comida has its own verb. For example:¿ya comiste? Would not mean, “Did you eat?” Instead, it would mean, “Did you have lunch?” I hit some confusing moments with this in 2015 with some roomates in CDMX. While cooking dinner I asked them if they had comido, and they would say “si, ya comí como a las cuatro.” Which seemed like a very early dinner for me, which it was, but he or she was expressing that they ate lunch at 5. When I expressed that I felt it was early for dinner, they responded by saying, “bueno, comí a las cuatro pero voy a cenar a las 9 mas o menos.” After a few days of this confusion, I finally caught on and I realized that I was using the wrong verb. I had to ask, ¿ya cenaste? Which leads me to the next category.
  • One final clarification. If someone says “voy por comida” they are more than likely referring to food in general. If they say, “voy por la comida” they are talking about lunch, not food in general.

Cena 8-11PM

  • The cena is usually fairly late, although there is variation. I would say that in my experience most Mexicans that eat at home usually have coffee and a pastry, or a tamale etc. IMG_20151028_212949On special occasions, or when you go out with friends this seems to change a bit, but most people typically have smallish portions for this meal. More than likely because people end up eating cena anywhere from 8-11pm.
Geeking Out With a Magnifying Glass

Geeking Out With a Magnifying Glass

I recently added a new piece to my archival kit, which I will share with you here, so we can geek out together. A few people in the archive have noticed my new toy, and after trying it out they usually fall in love. Yet, as a proud archive rat I realize that most people, including my loved ones, do not care about archival documents nor my archival toys.

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The item in question is a foldable 5X magnifying glass. The great thing about this glass is that you can place it on the document, right where you want, and show someone else what you want them to inspect. This means that you can also leave it on a page, write something down, and return to your magnification without skipping a beat. This is very helpful when you are looking at a very dense document. Another thing I love about this glass is its clarity, you can see very fine detail in the ink and the pen strokes that were used. This was particularly useful for me recently when I was trying to match the writing of an anonymous letter to an individual that seemed to be a match.IMGP8698

Foldability, yet another great feature that this glass boasts. You can fold it up, and stick in its pouch and it takes up very little room. I still carry my pocket magnifying glass in my kit, because I do find that they can both be useful, but more and more I find myself going for the foldable. Also, not all archives will let you place a magnifying glass on the actual documents, thus having both can be helpful.

Check the pictures below for more foldable fun!

 

The Importance of Signatures in Mexico

The Importance of Signatures in Mexico

Signatures are important in Mexico in a variety of contexts. Here I will be talking about credit cards and IDs. Many people in the United States write “See ID” on the back of their cards in an attempt to encourage merchants to ask for an ID during each purchase. In my experience this rarely works, and I seldom get IDed. The worst thing you could do is not sign your credit card and have a blank strip on the back of your card just ready to be signed by someone that might steal your wallet or card.

 

In Mexico, most merchants WILL check the back of your card, and will often ask to see your ID. The important thing to know is that the merchant will check the signature on your ID or passport and if it’s not a near 100% match to what you signed on the receipt and on your card, they may fuss about it. It is unbelievably important that you sign your receipts and credit cards the way that you signed your passport or whatever ID you use during your transactions.

This will also apply to any type of formal business you conduct. People will often want to see an ID, and they will compare your signature. If they do not match 100%, they will ask you to resign and perhaps even begin to question if you indeed are the person you claim to be. Safe yourself some time and trouble, be mindful about how you sign.

Headphones for Graduate Students

Headphones for Graduate Students

We all know the story, you walk into a library, coffee shop, or archive to be productive. You sit down, put your work in front of you and get to it. Once you are 5 minutes into your task some cool kid decides to listen to his headphones at maximum volume. Perhaps you are two pages into a dense book and another cool kid decides that a quiet library is great place to make a phone call. Although library/archive etiquette is a topic for another post, this entry will provide an answer to the aforementioned issues.

 

I have been in search for the perfect pair of headphones since I started graduate school. This process will be very personal since it will depend on what you like and what you are looking for in headphones. I suggest you look for earphones that isolate sound, this will keep outside sound out, and not require you to blast your music (which could create noise for others and damage your hearing). I personally dislike over-the-ear headphones because in certain conditions they make my ears hot, and they are less discreet and less compact. I can toss a pair of in-ear headphones into my pocket or backpack and grab them when I need them.

Please turn off any sounds your phone or camera might make when you focus or snap pictures.

Earphones are particularly important in archives. Archivists and security guards will definitely talk and sometimes even play music. Other investigators might also find the need to engage in conversations, not always quietly. Even if everyone is silent, there is always someone using a cellphone or point-and-shoot to take pictures and they forget (or neglect) to turn off the shutter sound. Instead of confronting anyone or being distracted by ambient noise, pop some earphones in and enjoy some of your favorite music or increase your concentration with white noise.

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My trusty pair of Thinksounds in Mexico’s National Archive.

I have found a set of headphones that work very well for me. I’ve tried monster, bose (over ear and in ear), Street by 50 cent and a plethora of cheaper options. I found that the popular name brands are typically selling you the brand and lack a clean sound and comfortable fit. A couple years ago I came across thinksound ts02s and I fell in love. While they are expensive, they isolate sound very well and provide amazing sound. They are inconspicuous and last a long time if you take care of them. I typically use a cheap set of earbuds when I go jogging (in safe areas without traffic) in order to preserve my thinksounds. I’m a poor graduate student and can’t afford to drop money on these buds every month.

Wear whatever you want, but make sure you use something. When I have forgotten my earphones in the archive, I find myself getting frustrated and even annoyed with the noise. Just make sure that you don’t dance impromptu when one of your favorite songs comes on.

 

 

 

Dia de Los Muertos en Oaxaca, Mexico

Dia de Los Muertos en Oaxaca, Mexico

Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions in this post and website our mine, not those of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or Institute of International Education.


 

We visited Oaxaca from late October to early November for the Dia de Muertos edwardpolanco_oaxaca_mexico_zocalocelebration. This post will share some of the sights and sounds that we lived. We arrived on Friday October 30, 2015 and the first place we hit was the zocalo. When arrived we noticed that the Dia de Murtos spirit was in full effect.

 
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We then proceeded over to the Iglesia de Santo Domingo which had an even livelier Muerto spirit. I was able to record a band playing for a zigzagging line of women dressed in black (you can see them in the picture below behind the band).

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The audio corresponds to the band playing in the picture.

      edward_polanco_recording_oaxaca_santo_domingo_band

 

 

The next day (October 31, 2015) we headed over to Monte Alban with a fellow Fulbrighter J and his wife A.

 

 

Later that night we went to two cemeteries with some friends. The first was the Panteon General (General Cemetery).

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The second cemetery was in Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan or “Xoxo” for short. Xoxo was much more of a tourist attraction, yet it retained a local flair as many families visited their deceased loved ones to spend the night with them. I recorded a very interesting sounding group playing for their loved ones.

The audio corresponds to the group in the picture.edward_polanco_xoxocotlan_oaxaca_dia_de_muertos

      edward_polanco_xoxocotlan_oaxaca

 

On November 1, 2015 we went to a variety of towns and sites near Oaxaca. We visited Mitla and Tule. We had some amazing Tlayudas in Tule, and enjoyed the ruins in Mitla.

 

The people of Oaxaca were amazing, and the food was awesome. I leave you with some pictures of Oaxaca’s amazing cuisine.

 

In my opinion, Oaxaca is a state and city that Mexico’s visitors must see. As a Fulbrighter in DF my trip to Oaxaca was fantastic because it allowed me to explore a different gastronomic and cultural region. I enjoyed new styles of food and unique traditions. My trip was especially enlightening because I visited Oaxaca during the día de muertos celebration. It was a moving experience like nothing I’ve seen before.

Mexican Visa Update

Mexican Visa Update

Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions in this post and website our mine, not those of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or Institute of International Education.


 

Anytime you are in Mexico for more than 6 months you need a visa, or you must leave and re-enter the country. The Fulbright-Garcia Robles requires grantees to have a student visa. This post will go over my experience with the visa process for my trip in Mexico, this is a crucial part of your preparation for an extended research trip in Mexico.

I was notified that my visa pre-authorization had been sent to the Mexican Consulate in Tucson in June (about three months after I was notified of my principal status). I called the consulate to verify that my documentation had been received and I scheduled an appointment. I would recommend that you ask about what documents you need to bring.

The documentation that I provided:

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Preparing for Your Fulbright Trip

Preparing for Your Fulbright Trip

Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions in this post and website our mine, not those of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or Institute of International Education.


 

Although I will be in Mexico during my Fulbright grant, this post might help others traveling to different parts of the world for extended research trips.

Things to keep in mind:

Visas/Passport

You will need a passport to travel. This may seem obvious, but it is something that can easily be overlooked and become a bigger deal than it has to be. Keep in mind that getting a passport can take up to a month, so plan well in advance. Make sure that your passport is up to date and will not expire when you are abroad. For more US passport information visit this site.

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Fulbright-García Robles Research Grant

Fulbright-García Robles Research Grant

Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions in this post and website our mine, not those of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or Institute of International Education.

 

 

I am very excited to announce that I was awarded a Fulbright-García Robles research grant for the 2015-16 academic year. I will be living in Mexico City with my wife during the 2015-16 academic year. I will be posting more updates here on my website as we embark on our 9 month journey in Mexico.