Friday, March 10, 2017

El Paso: UTEP: Milky Way Explosions



Milky seed pods, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


These splashy milky Angora-cat silky seed pods.

Milky seed pods, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

On a walk on the UTEP campus in March.


Milky seed pods, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

El Paso: Border Servant Corps


The Wall, looking east toward El Paso. December 2016.


Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly.


This is the mission of the Border Servant Corps.

I learned about the BSC by chance when I went to a 12-step meeting at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico. There was a flyer announcing an Issues Night, to be presented by some Catholic sisters who work with people in Puerto de Anapra, just over the border into Mexico.

I saw that - hey! - the Issues Night would occur literally around the corner from my apartment in El Paso.

I'll get to that Issues Night, and others, but for now I just want to introduce the Border Servant Corps.

Border Servant Corps promotes and demonstrates justice, kindness, and humility through the intentional exploration of community, simplicity, social justice, and spirituality in the U.S./México border region.

BSC puts together volunteers-in-residence with organizations that support BSC's purpose. There are one-year volunteers and there are short-term volunteers, e.g. for the month of January or during the summer. The volunteers come from all over the United States (and can come from other countries); they live in one of two communal houses, one in El Paso and the other in Las Cruces.

Happening onto the BSC gladdened my spirit in a time of despondency following the November 2016 election.

The current administration and its modern-day Vichy collaborationists scuttle across the banquet table, biting and snarling and ripping meat from bone, dropping miserly orts to the floor for us ordinary folk, telling us we are eating cake.

The Border Servant Corps - it brings light and succor.

Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Juarez: Fourth Date: Adelita!

Adelita, Museum of the Revolution on the Border, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.



On my 4th date with Juarez, I visited the El Museo de la Revolucion en La Frontera aka the Museum of the Revolution on the Border.

That's where I met Adelita.

Adelita is armed and can jump on a horse while wearing stilettos and a very tight dress.

Adelita is a blend of real life, fantasy, and the romanticized archetype of hundreds (thousands?) of women who fought in the Mexican Revolution.

There are stories and songs of Adelita. A movie. Art.

The video below, Adelitas: The Unknown Heroes of the Mexican Revolution, is a quirky, yet informative telling of history, produced by students in El Paso:



Here's the famous song about Adelita, performed in Spanish but with English subtitles:




But below are two soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution, more tied to reality, photographed by Agustin Victor Casasola.

Soldaderas, Mexican Revolution. Photo by: Agustin Victor Casasola.

Shep Lenchek wrote an instructive piece about women soldiers in Mexico, not only during the Mexican Revolution, but during the Spanish Conquest, in Soldaderas - Mexican Women at War. An excerpt: 
While there may be some lingering doubt about the exact role of women in the Conquest, their participation in the Mexican revolution is well documented. However, now they were oft times classified simply as camp followers or prostitutes. Perhaps here too male chauvinism played a part in denying or minimizing the truth that female Soldaderas often stood shoulder to shoulder with male soldiers and fought to the death. ....
.... While it is true that the vast majority of the Mexican women who were involved with the military were non-combatants, it is also factual that thousands of these women lost their lives while performing their very necessary tasks [in the front lines]. Because many of them did become involved sexually with the soldiers they served, either for love or for money, it has become too easy to dismiss all of them as simply prostitutes or else simply ignore their existence.

Mr. Lenchek introduces his readers to a book that examine the real soldaderas in Mexico:Soldaderas in the Mexican Military, by Elizabeth Salas.




Movie poster of 1958 movie Si Adelita se fuera con otro. Source: Stanford University.


This article gives me an excuse to post - again - this painting by Carlos Flores:

Carlos Flores painting, El Paso, Texas.

Viva la Revolución, hermanas Adelitas.




Monday, March 6, 2017

El Paso: Stopped at the West


The end of a road over Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.



An El Paso buddy of mine is an American of Yaqui, Spanish, and Mexican descent. Maybe a pinch of Mescalero Apache.

When he was young, his parents moved from Segundo Barrio out to the Lower Valley, which is in southeast El Paso. His was the second family to move into a brand new subdivision there, where they bought a house.

In the 1970s, when he was an adolescent, he would, from time to time, ride his bicycle to El Paso's West Side. Let's say the West Side boundary, at that time, sat just north of the current UTEP campus.

I'm a little blurry on where the west/east boundary was, but I'm not fuzzy about this: Each time my friend rode his bike to the west side of the city, a police officer stopped him and told him he could go no further. He had to stay on the east side of the city.

In He Forgot To Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Saenz touches on the geographical demarcations in El Paso in the not-so-distant past:
[Ramiro] We have our own house on Calle Concepcion. …. Mrs. Herrera, my English teacher. She … thinks we’re just a bunch of dumb-ass Mexicans good for nothing but flipping burgers and making breakfast burgers at Whataburger, and that I’ll grow up to be one of the better burrito-makers. Yup, that’s what she pretty much thinks, we’re all a bunch of burrito guys.  … Thomas Jefferson High School [in South-Central El Paso]… “La Jeff.” .. And our rival school, well that would be “La Bowie.” .....

There’s a pre-med magnet school that they built right next to our school …. all the pre-med students that come from the other parts of town all go to their classes in their nice separate building and have their nice separate classes. Put it this way: The good, intelligent pre-med magnet school students attend their classes in a separate facility. So we don’t even have “contact.” That’s the word they use, too. “Contact.” Like they’ve landed on the moon. … What are we gonna do to those kids, kill them? Touch them? Infect them with Mexican ways of thinking? Make them ride burros? Take their English and put it in between two pieces of corn tortillas until it sounds like Spanish? …



Sunday, March 5, 2017

El Paso: UTEP: Purple Grape Extravaganza


Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


What a visual and olfactory feast when walking on the UTEP campus in March!


Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


For some, the feast included the taste of nectar, as below.




Another admirer, human, told me she thought the flowers smelled like grapes.

Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


The lavishness of the Texas mountain laurel displays was almost obscene. Come look at me! Touch me! Smell me!

I succumbed.

Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.



The violet carpenter beetles gorged on the sweet banquet.

Violet carpenter beetle on Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

Violet carpenter beetle on Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

Violet carpenter beetle on Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

Violet carpenter beetle on Texas mountain laurel, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.






Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mexico: Juarez: Fourth Date: Grasshoppers and Cow Udders



Fried chapulines - grasshoppers - Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.




This visit to Juarez was my time for adventurous eating. Chapulines and tacos de ubre.

As soon as I saw the shiny buckets of grasshoppers - crickets? - I knew I had to have some.


Fried chapulines - grasshoppers - Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.

Fried chapulines - grasshoppers - Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.


They cost 35 pesos, or about $1.50 USD, for about 2/3 cup.

Fried chapulines - grasshoppers - Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.

Fried chapulines - grasshoppers - Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.

You can have 'em with lime or with hot sauce. Or both, I guess. I chose lime, but I soon set that aside just to munch on the crispy crickets alone. Tasty.

Some more shots of the chapulines at the bottom of this post. And some info here and here and here on the delectables. It doesn't seem that chapulines are actually in season right now, so I don't know the story on these that I saw in February. Could be from last year's crop; could be some grasshopper species outside the traditional chapulin.

For lunch, I had four diminutive tacos. With the help of another customer, I noted my filling options included tripe (tripa), liver (hígado), steak (bistec), cow udder (ubre), and some other choices.

I went with liver and cow udder. The liver tasted like liver and the cow udder was surprisingly flavorful.

Ubre tacos (on left) and hígado (liver) tacos on right, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.


Lunch cost 28 pesos - 18 pesos for the tacos and 10 pesos for the bottle of Coke Light. 28 pesos is about $2.50 USD.

Apparently, cooked cow udders used to be quite commonplace in Great Britain a couple of generations ago. Here's someone who really went to town with cow udder. Here's a roasted cow udder recipe. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

El Paso: UTEP: Trees Like a Spring Bride


White blossoms on tree, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

For days, as I walked through UTEP's Plaza Garden, adjacent to the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, wafts of a delicate fragrance made me stop and breathe deeply so I could inhale more of the perfume.

White blossoms on tree, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

At first, I couldn't pinpoint the source because the carrying breeze didn't chart a direct path back home.

White blossoms on tree, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.

But my nose finally tracked it down to the twin trees, newly blooming, in front of the Undergraduate Learning Center.

White blossoms on tree, UTEP, El Paso, Texas. March 2017.


Heady stuff.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mexico: Juarez: Third Date

Municipal Palace, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.



On the Friday after New Year's Day, Juarez going in and coming out was much speedier than pre-holidays.

Municipal Palace, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.



The sun shined, but a brisk breeze blew. I wore my black hoodie jacket and gloves, but I wished I'd brought my wide black-and-gray winter scarf. 


Municipal Palace, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


On this visit, I covered some of the territory I've walked before. The photos above are of the Municipal Palace, the front exterior and the interior courtyard. On my first two visits to the city, the horses in front used to be on Calle 16 de Septiembre, near the Abrazo Monument. 


Statue of Vicente Guerrero on Calle Francisco Villa, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.

Each time I go into Juarez, I try to explore new territory. So far, I've only entered the city by walking over the bridge on El Paso Street, but there are three other ways to Juarez from the El Paso metro area.

House-and-tree at 175 Amado Nervo Street, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.

At 175 Amado Nervo Street is this unlikely marriage between an elderly house and tree. One wonders which is supporting the other? I think it must be a mutual partnership.

House-and-tree at 175 Amado Nervo Street, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


From Amado Nervo, I turned left onto Calle Miguel Ahumada. There's something about the lucha libre that charms me.

Lucha libre poster, Calle Miguel Ahumada, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


On Calle Miguel Ahumado, a number of motels intrigued me. Their upstairs flats with wrought-ironed balconies seemed a distant cousin of a New Orleans esthetic. Which is, of course, a derivative of its ancestral settlers' own designs from back home in Spain, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, coastal Africa ... .

Calle Miguel Ahumada, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.

Calle Miguel Ahumada, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


I captured a Juarense sidewalk tourist trap for my collection:

Tourist trap, Calle Miguel Ahumada, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.



When I came across a pocket park, I took a sharp right onto Nicolas Bravo.

An apartment perched on the top of a corner building waved at me with her tattered black veil.




The music, sidewalk menu, and a red parking meter added flavor to the moment.

Juarez has a fascinating highway system that seems to live under the city. On my second visit to Juarez, in the Plaza de Armas, I heard a rapid whistling-rumbling noise. I looked all around me to catch where the sound came from. I asked a nearby man what it was, maybe a train? He said, no, and pointed to a raised cement platform with a grille over it. It was a highway.

The highway beneath Plaza de Armas, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


I stepped on top of the platform and peered through the grille. Well, hot damn, cars charging through on a two-lane highway tunnel below. Here's the video:




I'm trying to visualize how this all hangs together in Juarez.

As I ambled up Calle Santos Degollado (I think), a sorbet-and-white wall, shedding its skin, a-peeling:

Calle Santos Degollado, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


Unfortunately, an inebriated fellow chose that moment to try and shake me down for some change, and I pushed on without striving for a better shot. Maybe another day.

From this approach to the park that I think is called La Gran Plaza, I enjoyed a happy view of the lucha libre mural I'd seen on my first visit.

Murals on Calle Ignacio Mariscal, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.

Two minutely different takes on the same scene. Just can't decide which I like better. 

Murals on Calle Ignacio Mariscal, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. January 2017.


It looked so grand against the backdrop of that dramatic sky.



Related posts








Wednesday, March 1, 2017

El Paso: The Cloud Goddess Comes


Clouds on Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas. December 2016.



December 2016

Saturday afternoon, the last day of the year.

I turned east onto Mesa Road, one of El Paso's major arteries, and on the west side of the city, a long, congested trail of generica, a series of traffic lights to pass under.

But not today.

Clouds on Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas. December 2016.


The goddess slipped from the heavens to rest on the shoulders of the Franklin Mountain line.


Clouds on Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas. December 2016.



Gorgeous.

Clouds on Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas. December 2016.