Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Museo del Desierto

On a whim, we decided to go back to Texas early, and that Tonio's parents would come with us. Maya's bronchitis/double ear infection/perforated ear drum and the ensuing crabiness and sleep deprivation was taking its toll! We also were scared of the long lines at the border if we left on New Years Day, along with the millions of other Mexican expats making their way back to the US. It was a fun road trip- we woke up early in Mexico City, and drove to Saltillo, which is just south of Monterrey. They have an excellent Museo del Desierto (Desert Museum) that I had wanted to visit last time, and Tonio's mom was also excited to take the kids there. We got to Saltillo in the evening, had a delicious dinner and fell asleep early. Then in the morning we went to the Museum, ate lunch, and headed home. I love all types of botanic gardens, and this museum had an amazing diversity of cacti and succulents indigenous to the Chichuahuan Desert. If only I could have bought some from the greenhouse! Too bad they don't let organiz materials across the border...
The museum also had an archeological dig as an exhibit, where they had found dinosaur bones.

There was a presentation about how certain animals have adapted to the desert biome, and how other animals live in their habitats.

Although it was hard to manage the 3 kids running around AND read the information at the museum, I did see that there was a lot of cultural artifacts about the indigenous people who had lived in the desert. The kids really enjoyed all of the live snakes and insects camouflaged in their terrariums (once I promised them that they couldn't escape).

Outside there were paths weaving between cactus beds that teemed with turtles and lizards.

Inside the greenhouse, there were even more desert plants,

to admire or purchase.

They were propogating what seemed like millions of cacti and succulents, whose sales benefit the conservation of the Chihuahuan Desert and the Museum.

We said good-bye to the museum, and then drove 3 hours through the desert, north to the border. The lines at the border were tremendous!!! I lost track of the hours, but we made it through at least 2 movies sitting in the different lines (to prove that we didn't import our car to Mexico permanently, through immigration and customs, and to validate my in-laws visas). Finally we made it home around midnight, into our own beds, and we were asleep before our heads hit the pillows.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Did I mention we ate CRICKETS?

The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl: Popo. and Itza were humans who fell in love. Itza's father sent Popo to a battle in Oaxaca and said that he could marry Itza if he was victorious. A jealous suitor of Itza (or in some versions her father) lied and said Popo had died in battle and convinced her to marry him. But then Popo came back and when he saw that his love had married someone else, he committed suicide. After seeing that, then Itza also killed herself. The gods felt bad and turned them into mountains. In another version Itza died of sadness, and then Popo came back and also died in sorrow (think Romeo and Juliet). Whatever the case, the 2 volcanoes are called Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, and are more than 17,000 feet high, towering over Mexico City. Most days there is too much smog/clouds to see the peaks- but today (maybe since it was Christmas and not that many people were driving around?) the sky was clear:

The mountain in the picture above (and on the left below) is the "Sleeping Woman" of Itza...The first bump is her head- imagine you are looking at her profile lying down. Then the other mountain in the bottom picture to the right is Popo, the warrior, kneeling and kind-of bending over with his feathered headress. Popo still spews ashes sometimes, to remind everyone that he is still around. Popocatépetl actually means smoking mountain.

In the 14 years that I have been coming to Mexico, I have never seen them so clearly!

We got to Puebla several hours later. I LOVE Puebla, love the Colonial Architecture, love the mole, love the Talavera ceramics, love the homemade candy. I would live in Puebla, especially in one of these downtown houses:

I love the main plaza, bursting with people, balloon vendors, kids running around, families spending time together, delicious food everywhere, open air cafes and restaurants, all under Palm Trees and surrounded by the amazing Colonial architecture.

We went to the famous Fonda Santa Clara, where we've eaten before, to enjoy a typical mole. Tonio's parents know the owners and we are always guaranteed to have delicious and fresh food.

What I didn't expect, was for Tonio to order an appetizer of CRICKETS. The little brownish bug that hides under rocks and sings? Fried. With onions and chiles. And a side of guacamole. We all ate them (and took pictures to prove it to the incredulous)--

As with everything else presented to him, Tonito was game. Crickets? Sure- crunch, crunch. "Me das guacamole mami?"

"Look Vivi, you just take it and put it in your mouth- no, it's not spicy. Just don't think about it. It tastes like potato chips" (um, kind-of except when the legs get caught between your teeth).
"OK, I'm ready."

"No!!! Mami, no!!! Wait. Let me see it first. Is it moving?" "No mi amor, it's cooked. Like when you eat ham, it's from a pig really." "WHAT!!!? Ham is a cooked pig?!!!" (maybe now isn't the time)

"OK, I'll try it." (peer pressure from her adventurous brother can be good sometimes)

"Oh. It's crunchy. No mas mami. No gracias."

"Maya, do you want one?"
Maya: "Papi, it's a bug."
Papi: "Si mi amor, es un grillo. Quieres?"
Maya shrugs, and eats it.

Chewing her insect appetizer.

Crickets, served on tortilla chips with a side of guacamole and onions. You think I'm making this up- click on this picture and it will get bigger.

I think Maya liked the sucker better than the hors d'oeuvres...

I tried to get a close-up of the platter before we dug in...

Outside in front of the beautiful cathedral from the 1600's.

We love walking around the town and admiring the architecture.

This is the Sapos market- antiques, books, ceramics- a stree flea market with a bit for everyone.
We found some really cool silver pieces and some interesting church bells- but we didn't purchase anything this time.

More architecture- I love Puebla!!!