Popocatépetl – Central Mexico’s reminder of who’s really in charge.

This past sunday, while enjoying the long weekend in the state of Morelos, we spotted what looked like a mushroom cloud way off in the distance. In my ignorance I exclaimed “there must have been an accident over there” (cue chuckles from those who know better); I was quickly informed that it indeed was an eruption from Popocatépetl,  a volcano some 70 km south-east of Mexico City.

I’ve always been fascinated by this volcano with the (until recently for me) unpronounceable name. The name Popocatépetl comes from a word compound in Nahuatl, Popoca = It smokes and Tepetl = Mountain, literally “Smoking Mountain”.

I can’t see Popocatépetl from my home in DF, nor was it visible from where I was in Morelos last Sunday. Distance and air contamination make it difficult to make out. When in the state of Puebla it would be much easier to see as its proximity and size makes Popocatépetl dominate the skyline there.

Once I arrived back to Mexico City; I investigated a little on what the situation is with this volcano and if there was any real danger. What I found was that Popocatépetl regularly ‘exhales’ as they say and that scientists do not expect an eruption in the immediate future. However it was clearly pointed out that there is never any way to tell for sure and as Popocatépetl is an active volcano there is always a chance that there could be an explosion at anytime.

The last eruption of Popocatépetl was in December of 2000. 30,000 residents within the immediate vicinity of the volcano had to be evacuated because of the gases and ash that were thrown up into the air. My partner told me that the ash reached as far as the north of Mexico City covering everything in layers of ash and soot.

Popocatépetl, an awesome and constant reminder that humanity is forever just guests on this earth.

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Back after a prolonged absence

For anyone out there who reads this blog with any regularity; I’m so sorry that I’ve been away for so long. The truth is that I’ve had some personal ‘stuff’ to deal with, including work and school. My plate has been and still is full with my day-to-day activities, but, as it’s been sorting itself out as of late I thought it would be a good idea to get back to this blog that I love.

In my absence I’ve missed out on so many opportunities to share with you the holidays and activities that have happened here. One big one that I was really looking forward to sharing were the Day of the Dead festivities. Truth be told I didn’t even celebrate in the way that I would have liked, however, that being said I did give it a go…as good a go as I could.

I’d like to share a few pictures of the ofrenda or altar that I set up for the occasion.

Well, it’s good to be back. I don’t want to be away this long again. Too many experiences to share. Until the next time, take care.

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Independence day….the Aftermath!

How was your Independence Day? What did you do to celebrate?

I went with my partner to his family’s home in Azcapotzalco. We went to the fair that was set up around the Town hall and the market, ate a little too much food, drank a little too much beer and then went and had more food and beer with his family. All in all it was a great night!

Here are some pictures I took…before I became too tipsy on the beer.

Happy Independence Day!

Today marks the beginning of the “Independence day” celebrations in Mexico. People are dressed up in their patriotic colours, have hung up their flags and other decorations and there is a general sense of festivity in the air.

At 11pm (Mexico City time) the President of the Republic, Felipe Calderón, will give the annual “Grito Mexicano”. A patriotic cry naming the heroes of the Mexican war of independence and ending in three shouts of ¡Viva México!

For those of you who read this blog, I wish you a happy and safe Independence Day. In the years to come, we who love this country, have a responsibility to improve the situation here in Mexico. So raise a glass to Mexico and all who live here. Certainly, working together we can change everything.

¡Viva México!

¡Viva México!

¡Viva México!

We’re number 1!!!!!

….but not for anything worth celebrating.

One of Mexico City’s worst reputations is in regards to its traffic. We’re talking INTERNATIONALLY known and recognized as having the most horrible, stressful and nerve shattering daily congestion on the streets.

This week we were officially recognized for this…dare I say achievement.

IBM’s “2001 Commuter Pain Index” polled drivers from all over the world to see whose daily commute was the most soul crushing, based on the following factors and indicators:

1) Commuting time
2) Time stuck in traffic
3) Price of gas
4) Traffic is getting worse
5) Start/stop traffic
6) Driving causes stress
7) Driving causes anger
8 ) Traffic affects work
9) Traffic so bad driving stopped
10) Decided not to make trip due to traffic.

I live here and see the traffic on a daily basis, I’ve even driven in it on occasion. But what is shocking to me is that it is worse here than in Shanghai or New York. To take first place distinction from every other internationally recognized traffic “hell on earth”; maybe it’s time that we as residents and the government of Mexico City start trying to come up with solutions.

The question of how to prevent grid-lock remains, and according to IBM the solution lays in data. With the use of GPS and road sensors, data can be collected and traffic therefore organized more effectively. Of course this may mean staying at work 20 minutes later or leaving 15 minutes earlier, but the pay off would be the fact that traffic flows smother and less delay in getting from point A to point B.

Does data gathering seem like the most viable option to you? What would you be willing to give up or change in order to improve bad traffic in your city?