November 9, 2011

Master Schedule: Mexico 2011-2012

Here's the skinny.

October 23-27:  Conference in Mexico City (DF)
October 28-Nov 6:  Travel in Oaxaca with Pablo
November 7-Dec 16:  Volunteer for Isla Urbana in DF.  Thanksgiving.
Dec 17 - Jan 2?:  Travel in Oaxaca with Jen.  Christmas.
Jan 3? - March 10:  Volunteer for IU in DF
Jan 21:  Mama Rumba con Jeya
March ?:  Run out of money.  Time to invent my next adventure!

November 8, 2011

Ironico: No water / no agua

---  Nov. 8, 2011
The irony is profound.

I am working for Isla Urbana, a foundation which installs rainwater harvesting systems, encourages water conservation, and teaches how to best manage the water resources in Mexico City.  Please do know I'm having a fantastic time and love the team here.

The headquarters, where seven people live, is currently out of water.  The cistern of 10,000 liters is almost dry.  It serves us as well as inhabitants of five other apartments in our complex.  I arrived three days ago, certainly needing to wash laundry after two weeks of travel in Mexico, and needing to take a shower.  I still have no clean underwear, and my hair is... gross.

We have water to wash dishes and wash our hands, and flush the toilet when necessary.  Showering is strongly discouraged - there simply is not enough water to stretch until godknowswhen we receive city water or rain water again.

But how could this happen?  How could we run out of water?
Simple.  The cistern fills in one of three ways:
First, we try to capture the rainwater, and use it in the cistern.  But the last true rain was October 16. 
Second, the city pushes water through our neighborhood's pipes every few days or weeks or whenever they feel like giving us water.  And because we'd closed the pipe to our cistern to anticipate filling it with rainwater, and no rain came, our cistern is dry.
Third, we could buy a giant tank of water, but it's quite expensive, and it makes more sense to wait for city or rainwater.

But it's not just us - no neighbors have water.  The laundromat has no water.  Our cook has no water.  No one has water.  My friends are driving across town to other friends' houses to wash laundry.  I dare not smell my friends.

As I write this, I hear the quiet rush of water through the pipes and dripping into the cistern.  The city sent water our direction, albeit only a small amount. 

Perhaps tomorrow I can shower.
I only hope the laundromat remembers just how desperate I am for clean underwear.

Wednesday morning we woke up to a small amount of water in the cistern.  I had a super short "sailor's shower" from water pouring out of a pipe in the cement wall.  And oooo boy did it feel good after 6 days of no showers!
As I write, Carmen is washing my laundry just outside my bedroom window.  She can't wash them at her house because she still has no water.  The irony is that she only lives one block above us on our hill, and because the water first fills the cisterns at the bottom of the hill and then automatically proceeds to fill cisterns going up the hill, she has no water.  Only one block up the hill.

October 28, 2011

October 23-27: Attended a world summit on press design.

Cumbre Mundial de Diseno en Prenza took place in Mexico City late last month.  Essentially, the group discusses the present and future conception of printed and electronic media in the broadest of senses.

My friend Pablo was scheduled to speak, and I asked if I could attend the conference.  Not only did the organizers give me a free pass ($500), but they gave me a 15th floor suite in the hotel Fiesta Americana on a principle street, Reforma.  The suit was so big it had two bathrooms.  And when the smog was thin, one could see D.F. infinitely in all directions.  Genial.

The conference was exciting.  Some of the world's best designers were present.  Ideas were discussed, friendships rekindled, business partnerships formed.  We always gathered for the buffet at the hotel, which was the most bountiful  and overwhelming selection I've ever seen.  The reception was held in an impressively ornate and old art museum.  Laughter and generosity abounded.

Pablo's friends, and everyone else, for that matter, were kind, usually humble, often characters, and I'm delighted to have met every one of them.  There were about 25 presenters and 250 attendees.  I was a bit overwhelmed for the first two days, realizing that I was rubbing shoulders with people whose ideas literally affect millions.  And then I reminded myself of my personal belief system:  People are people. 

It´s 4:40 am in Mexico City.

 I am so exhausted and sleep deprived I couldn't punch the culprits if I wanted to.

Floor 19, Hotel Fiesta Americana, street La Reforma.  I laid in bed literally for hours with an upset stomach and wiggly legs.  And the inconsistent sound of giant fireworks banging off at a cadence of about one every three seconds.  Ironically, this Americana (me) is certainly not partying.

The boom reverberates between these few skyscrapers, the paper thin windows gifting us with the sound of horns honking below from the perpetual traffic and an exceptional audio quality of the explosion of high firecrackers and fancy plumes.

My stomach was tumultuous, and I could not sleep, and so I decided to take a small sleeping pill.  But no water.  No water in the hotel room.  No energy to boil water in the coffee pot, unable to justify calling room service and pay for a $5 bottle of water, and my mind was too fuzzy to find a good solution to the situation.  I tried to save saliva, but my stomach was too upset to swallow my wad of sticky spit carefully stored after great effort.  I found about 10 remnant drops in the bottom of a plastic bottle, but it was not enough to swallow the tiny pill.  My stomach churned even more.

I finally decided to swallow the pill alongside the heart of my guayava fruit.  Its edible seeds are slightly smaller than the baby pill I clutched in my right hand.  I slowly sucked out the heart of half of the fruit, attempting to muster all my tummy's strength to swallow the stupid pill.  Eventually I did.

I sank into bed, exhausted, and began to read some touristic photo book on Mexico with the red light from my Petzl headlamp.  The fireworks pounded, my stomach churned, and I protested.  And just when my exhaustion piqued, something quite curious happened:

At 4:30 in the morning, a tremendous amount of fireworks exploded all at once, and people in the street began tooting their trumpets and tapping their drums to something sounding of the American taps.  There was a parade beginning right in front of  my hotel, crowd, trumpets, floats, fireworks and all, at 4:30 am!   Aaaaak, for the love!

Who the hell has a parade at 4:30 in the morning?  What´s more, it looked like only 200 people were participating...  Did they really need to play their trumpets and wake up every other human within a five mile radius?  I lack comprehension.

Anyhow, now it's 4:53, my stomach seems to have settled down a small amount from the guayava, and I've written a few words to post on my blog (finally).  I'm armed with earplugs, no longer on the verge of vomiting, and hoping to God that I'll sleep just a few hours tonight.

Epic road trip starts tomorrow...

October 23, 2011

USA 2011: Only 6 days in October

October 23
Christmas @ Mom's this morning with my mentors: Success.
Park and Venti's with great friends: Success. Best croquet game ever.
Arrival to friend's house in Portland tonight: Success.
5 hours of sleep on a couch before flying out at PDX: (sigh) TBA
I can finally honestly say...
"I'm leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again!"

One way ticket to Mexico City. I may be back in March. Who knows when, really.
(Currently at DFW airport in Texas. My flight leaves in less than an hour. I'm excited!!!)
Thanks to Tabitha for the smooth ride to PDX, to Chad and Margo for plane food, Pablo for encouraging me to buy a camera, and Scott for inspiring me to use it. 2 hours of sleep sucks, but y'all made this trip way better!

I can feel it in my bones: It's gonna be a GOOD one!
October 22
Humble gratitude to everyone at Viernes Latino at IKE BOX tonight.
You donated enough cash to sponsor my humanitarian volunteer job in Mexico City with Isla Urbana for an additional two weeks! WAHOO!

October 21

During my week in the USA, I'm selling Ecuadorian handicrafts and requesting donations so I can spend extra months volunteering in Mexico...
SO excited! Dudes, y'all have donated enough to cover 6 weeks of volunteer time, and I have more donations coming tomorrow! Thank you so much.

Can you imagine what would happen if your hospital had no water? Newborns without baths, mothers without drinking water to nurse, no water to clean the building or wash hands?

Check out this video: Nurses from a hospital who is in this crisis speak about the impact of water shortage. Isla Urbana (who I'm volunteering with) is fundraising to install a water harvesting system on their rooftop.

October 20
Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home each day.
Millions of the world's poorest subsist on fewer than five gallons.
Source: National Geographic, April 2010 issue "Water, Our Thirsty World"
Headed to Mexico City to work with in a few days!

Trader Joe's Salem, I have paid my homage.
I will bring your raw nuts to Mexico City and beyond.
Next time have the vindaloo on hand. :)
-Salem : Mexico City

1842 : 1521 year founded
46 : 1,480 square miles
154,000 : 8,850,000 inhabitants
1,200 : 6,000 population density km(2)
154 : 12,900 (at highest) feet in altitude

Ohhhhh boy, are we in for some changes.
October 19

I support the local economy.
I must take my morning pill with food -
Today, Harry & David dark chocolate truffles.

October 18, four days after returning to the USA

V8 juice, cheddar cheese, agave and TJ Greek yogurt on oatmeal pancakes, dense soup, real maple syrup...
Homemade (All American!) apple pie, homemade pumpkin pie.
Mom's chocolate chip peanutbutter cookies, caprese salad
Smoothie of blended local fruits, apple cider doughnuts.
Veggie omelet smothered in cheddar cheese, plain cheetoes, See's chocolates...
All awesome products I ate that I won't have until Feb-March 2012.
It smells like OREGON and feels like fall and oooooh I am doing my best to soak it all in...