North Portland and Other Adventures

Hola chica!!

I’m sorry it has taken me a while to get back on here. I LOVE those photos of you in Puebla and that BEAUTIFUL SELFIE in Polanco. All of your roomies and friends seem so great. You are killing it, sister. I also really appreciate your reflections on the CDMX metro system. Fascinating. I think that it’s interesting that even though you have these thoughts, you still feel more comfortable on the Women’s/Minors only car. I probably would, too.

What’s been up here, you ask? Oh, nothing too new. I’m doing well, as you already know! Working at BridgePort about 35 hours/week / 5-6 days a week. I really do love my job. Sometimes it sucks, and sometimes I feel like going bananas with the sound of the front door opening and closing every damn time that I’m away bussing a table or doing something else. Haha. I’m starting to hear this door in my dreams…Ah yes, the restaurant life. I still really love my coworkers though–both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house (the kitchen crew). It’s a wonderful spot to find some community in Portland. I’m very grateful for it, and everyone has been so supportive of me there.

I also LOVE my neighborhood. It’s interesting….a few blocks down Albina Avenue (where I live), you hit the swanky Mississippi Avenue, which is super fun for restaurants/bars/going out. But where I am, it feels a little more neighborhood-y…a more diverse, less fancier/hipster part of Portland. This city, as you know, is very white, and the black neighborhoods that were once very prominent have been dwindling because of rent hikes and subsequent evictions. It’s a HUGE problem here, and terrible. But I happen to be in a neighborhood (that used, to, I think, be even more black), that still has some diversity. Thank goodness for that. But UGH. Thankfully, a wonderful woman named Chloe Eudaly was just elected to the City Council here, and her mission is to begin to remedy the Portland housing crisis. You should look her up…she’s a boss.

Anyways, that is a glimpse of some of the politics in Portland. In other news, I’ve been doing some exploring…checking out various cafes and bars and such, and walking/running around my North Portland neighborhood. I’m sitting in a cute little cafe right now, a few blocks away from me :). Did I tell you that I live only a few blocks from PCC Cascade, a Portland Community College campus?! It is cute…and it is actually very comforting to live near a college and to see students walking around.

For fun, I often hang out after work at our restaurant’s upstairs bar with coworkers. It’s great–there is a little section on the side of the bar with low seating that we tend to occupy after the shift!! Always a nice little treat after the work day or night. Also a great way to bond with the team there, and share in a free beer :).

I’m currently trying to figure out how I would like to spend my free time/how to continue to meet more people here. There are a couple of things I’m interested in, such as this non-profit called My Street Grocery, the Montavilla Farmers Market (a market with a food-security mission-YAS!), and the Oregon Food Bank, which I visited last week. Oh, and I’ve finally gotten in touch with a Planned Parenthood person. So, we shall see. I feel like this extra work/extra thing to do will fall into place after Christmas, ya know?

I love you very much, girl. Am I really seeing you in 9 days?!?!?!? WHAT. Peace and love, homie.

PS: Photos shown below!!

1.The outside of BridgePort Brewpub, YAY.

2. My commute over the Steel Bridge to work!! The bridge that you see here is the Fremont Bridge–one of my favorites…I think it’s beautiful. Did you know that PDX has been nicknamed Bridge Town, because we quite literally have 12 bridges?! Yup. Hence, BridgePort Brewery, haha.

Love you girl.

 

 

 

A lil glimpse..

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my group of fellow CDMX Fulbrighters and my mentor about our initial experiences here, and observations about the city. I’ve decided to  use some of my thoughts from that conversation to paint a picture for you of where I’m living.

The subway (el metro). This city has an incredibly efficient subway system, and it certainly puts NYC’s to shame. I have never had to wait for more than five minutes for a train, and when I do wait five minutes it’s a slow day. The downside to the metro is the amount of people that live in this city, and how crowded the cars and the stations are. Think about our high school experiences on the 1 train riding from Columbus Circle to 66th street- Lincoln Center (never worth the stress, so walkable). Anyways , el metro en la CDMX feels like that. Amost all the time. TEEMING.

What particularly struck me though, more than the crowds, was the women’s-only car on every train. On every platform there is a sign that reads “Solo mujeres y menores de 12 años” or “only women and kids younger than 12 years old”. I had read about the system before coming here, but it was still an adjustment after having ridden in essentially gender neutral cars my whole life in New York. As a lady that feels more naturally comfortable around ladies, I always make a bee-line for the women’s car.  There have been a few instances where the train has approached the station as I reach the platform, and I hit panic mode– and literally RUN down the platform to the ladies car. It’s a sight to see. Like in other cities, this women’s only car aims to decrease the instances of sexual harassment and assault that occur in subway cars. The intention is there. However, it’s scary to think that separating women from men is the only way to fix this issue. It suggests a inherency to this behavior … like, well, men are going to harass women, and that is that. Men are naturally sexual predators, so let’s just create a separate car for women. That kind of normalcy and complacency with regard to sexual assault is the most scary. It puts a blanket over the real issue, stifles discourse, and hinders more nuanced solutions.  There’s also a weird like paternal protectiveness about the policy that frustrates me. I see  the male police officers monitoring the women’s section .. and I’m like how about instead of trying to protect me (which only normalizes this violence and further ingrains these gender roles of protector and vulnerable ladies), you create convos with your buddies to end the cycle???

I also feel like women’s only spaces can cause violence towards others who may not fit perfectly into that category, nor feel secure in a co-ed heavily masculine car. AND instead of actually putting an end to sexual harassment, officials are only perpetuating the cycle by suggesting to young boys that yes, when they’re under 12 they can be in the women’s car…  but once they reach a certain age they won’t be able to control their urges towards women, and will be likely to harass one woman or another. Government officials themselves are creating this harmful expectation!! I frequently see little boys on the women’s car with their mother and I’m like aghhh… Okay, perdóname. That was a mish mosh of thoughts!! They’ve been in my head, but I haven’t been able to get them on paper. I’ve been trying to work through them! I love you, Emma.

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¡Oye! ¡Estoy aquí!

Hi Emma! I’m going to do a few updates tonight. I believe the last time I wrote I had just returned from Puebla, but I never uploaded any photos. The majority of these photos are from that trip to Puebla in October. Aside from those, in the middle I’m with my friend /roommate Miri at the trajineras in Xochimilco! We’re holding “micheladas”, a very common beverage here. The picture to the right of the middle was taken with some of my fellow runners from a group called “RunnersPlus Mexico” after running an 18k! I did not run that amount on purpose… but I did it! I have been running a lot here, but unfortunately the last couple of weeks have been busy, so I haven’t been able to run with this particular running group. On the bottom is a little selfie I took during a relaxing walk in a neighborhood called Polanco. Polanco has a lot of cafes and beautiful parks…but also makes me fee weird because it’s EXTREMELY swanky. I would declare it the East Hampton of Mexico City. Walk a couple of blocks, and you’ll be sure to catch a glimpse of a little boy with parted and gelled hair, maybe a mom or dad with pastel clothing, and you’ll DEF pass a Starbucks. These are not the most common of sights in Mexico City, so it doesn’t feel the most authentic. But hey, a good cafe is a good cafe. Okay. I’ll leave these photos here for you to peruse, and get onto my next post. ¡Te adoro!

No Longer Stranded on the Island…

Yo!! You sound so good, Gab. I’m so proud of your adventurous self–goin to a different city and making amazing gal pals like Lily and Kristina. And trying crazy cool food even though you haven’t been feeling 100%!! And clown class. WHAT haha. El Dia de los Muertos sounds like an amazing celebration to witness. I was in love with your catrina costume (still not totally sure what it is, but I know it’s a common/artsy thing to dress up as there).

I am sitting in our favorite “Commissary” coffee shop right now getting some good ol wifi. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, people. Oh lord, I am working tonight…I should go find some puppy ears or something. UGH. You know me and Halloween. 😉

So, I got off the infamous island. I got a job at a brewpub (BridgePort, Oregon’s oldest craft brewery!) which I am really loving so far. Good team there, and super welcoming. Also pub food and beer…what could be better, am I right chica?! I just need you to come dine with me there, and I would be all set. YAY, I think you would really like it and its vibes. 🙂 I am working on my people skills at the door and my receptionist skills on the phone. I am also doing a lot of bussing of tables (no official bussers) and putting food orders in the Micros POS system. Really excited to be back on the fast restaurant grind again. It feels good to be in a new place and showing people what I can do, ya know? Also to be constantly learning. “Thank you for calling BridgePort Brewpub! This is Emilie…So that’s a vegan cheeseburger with a gluten free bun and one order of the soft pretzels?! [LOLZ WHAT?!] That will be about 20 minutes, see you soon!” You should prank phone call me one night…I dare you.

NOTE: As a female host, I have a goal to do a badass job and start to change the problematic common assumption that hosts are just the pretty lady faces at the door…but more on that feminist agenda later!!

Oh, I committed to an apartment yesterday. Haha. A lot is happening. The girl, Savannah, is 26, lives in North Portland, and I got good vibes all around when I went to meet her a couple of days ago. A real mature and nice lady. HURRAH. First apartment search ever…DONE! I’m really excited to be on the East side of the city…and to travel to work on a bus as opposed to just walking 4 blocks haha. Don’t get me wrong, that convenience has been pretty darn cool, but I feel like I would be limited to one part of the city if I were to stay in the NW section.

So, I’m doing well…there have been moments of stress and anxiety for sure, but when I’m laughing at work with wonderful coworkers or breathing in the fresh Oregon fall air on my walk home (love it, man), I feel better. It’s those little moments, right? Peace and love, homie. Love you so much and miss you all of the time.

PS: This rando older dude just sat next to me at the coffee shop and was trying to chat it up. He was like, “What are you up to right now?!” And I was like, “I’m writing an email to my sister.” AKA, BUG OFF, SIR. Hopefully I haven’t ruined his Halloween. 😉

 

 

Princesa in Puebla

Hi Emma!

Greetings from… well Popotla, again! This past weekend I did my first weekend trip outside the city, to a state called Puebla! Well, we were in the city Puebla too, so, Puebla, Puebla! It’s city south (and a bit west) of Mexico City, and only a two and a half hour drive away. I planned the trip with Kristina, and Lily (my orientation roommate from Colorado). Lily’s sister also lives in Oregon! It felt really great to plan my first galpal trip, and have it be super successful. It also got me pumped for the long weekend trips I hope to do in the coming months. There’s so much to see in this country, Em. It reminds me of Chile in the way that so many different climates and cultures span the country. What I didn’t see in Chile (i.e Patagonia/ Atacama Desert) I hopefully will make up for here. And I’m still counting on you and Mom to make that Patagonia trip with me!

The three of us stayed in a hostel called Hostal Santo Domingo, which was a blast. Hostels are never squeaky clean, nor super fancy, but you always meet the coolest people and save that guap. We met a Brazilian girl that gave us some great travel recommendations, and also invited us to stay with her in Guadalajara when we visit. We also met a German girl who’s passing through Mexico City this coming weekend! I’m sure I’ll meet up with her. Both were traveling on their own, exciting to be around, and totally inspirational.

Ughh how do I describe Puebla. It reminds me of the more Spanish colonial parts of “el Centro Histórico” in Mexico City, but less crowded, and better preserved. The Spanish settled Puebla in 1531, and for a while it was the second biggest city after Mexico City. The historic center has over 70 churches alone, and they’re all painted beautiful colors. I felt like I couldn’t walk down a street without glancing up and marveling at the towering pastel structures. There are cobblestone streets everywhere and fruit stands galore. Kristina recently has turned me onto freshly cut coco (coconut). It’s DELICIOUS and so satisfying.  You’d be into Kristina’s food knowledge, and snacking habits. I’ve also loved munching on papaya, mamey, tunas (prickly pear), and of course aguacates. Puebla (along with Oaxaca) is also known for its mole, a traditional Mexican sauce. Every mole seems to be different. There’s green mole, red mole, mole poblano…etc. Kristina and I tried some delectable mole poblano, a recipe that calls for cacao, at least three different chiles, nuts, onions, cinnamon…and the list goes on. Mole poblano is known for being an insanely complicated recipe that seems to be ever-changing. Indulging probably wasn’t helpful for my adjusting tummy but it was MUY RICO.

Puebla also adheres more than other cities to the traditional celebration of Día de los Muertos. There were catrinas, and ofrendas everywhere! Although the big CDMX isn’t as rooted in the Día de los Muertos customs as some smaller towns, I hope to do some Día de los Muertos celebrating this weekend. There are a few parades, exhibits, and traditional ofrendas that I want to attend, for sure.

It was wonderful to reunite with Lily again. There’s something about that first friend… She was initially in Chiapas (which I need to visit!!), but then was relocated to Veracruz because the teachers in Chiapas were on strike, and she couldn’t work. I think it’s been a super hard adjustment for her, but from what it sounds like she’s been getting on her feet these past couple of weeks. I’m grateful to be surrounded by such resilient, and tough women. She may visit me here in the city in November!

Okay Emma. I’m off to bed soon. I’m so glad you’re getting into your new job as the brewery. You’re such a badass, sister friend! Tell me about your first few days! I just today got a volunteer job at a women’s migrant organization called IMUMI (Instituto Para Las Mujeres en la Migración)! They take a real intersectional approach to immigration policy and advocacy, and I’m diggggin it! Having a lot of free time has been a hard adjustment (especially after being overbooked/worked in college), and I’m looking forward to being healthily busy with this new work, and switching up my schedule a bit. Also, I may be taking my first clown class next Thursday at an improv studio downtown! No, this is not a drill. I miss you as always, and am looking forward to hearing from you.

Love,

Gab

Hi Em! From Popotla, Mexico City

Hi Emma!!

Beautiful words as always. You should actually be a satirical writer. I’m so proud of you for being your sassy self, and educating these white boyz/showing them where you come from. WOMEN-PICKING ONLY is my life goal. There are actually women only subway cars here. Well, women and kids under 12. V interesting… I just had dinner with one of my new housemates Miri (Miralda)! I’m no longer the nueva chica en la casa! She’s on my left in the photo below. And those are my other two good friends, Kristina and Jacqueline.   I really really enjoy Miri. She’s from Veracruz (a state on the east coast) and is 23. Miri gets home a little earlier than I do, and it’s been super comforting to get back from work, chat with her about our days, and cenar together. Usually around that time, the rest of the house is at the gym. I live in a casa muyyyy sana. I’ve been also noticing that’s she’s casually a fabulous cook, and definitely have been picking up some tips from her. I think in a couple of weekends (not this one, because I’m going to Puebla with Lily and Kristina!), she’s going to teach me and Karla how to make “chilaquiles”. She made chilaquiles to pack for her lunch tomorrow and I’m like whatttt…

As I’m writing now I hear my housemates in the kitchen. There are 10 of us here, but it still feels so spacious– and we keep it very clean! Our “cocina” seems to always be filled with laughter, and pots clanging. It’s a lovely reminder that I’m surrounded by such good people / always a little overwhelming when people are cackling and I have no idea why because the joke went right over my head… Ah, así es la vida de una extranjera.

Welll I’m finally getting back into the classroom this week. Because last week was the end of a our “bimester” at the Instituto Politécnico, students have been signing up for classes and taking exams, and I haven’t been able to teach much. BUT I’M BACK. As ambassadors we’re expected to not only be teaching English, but also giving themed “cultural” presentations to our classes. I’ve felt conflicted about this Fulbright responsibility, but I’ll address it in another blog post. October’s theme is Hispanic/ Latinx Heritage Month, so I’ve been planning activites and lessons accordingly.  I don’t know if I told you, but I had some Latinxs from F&M (Karolina, Johnny Andrade, Ashley Ceron, Matt Nuñez lol) send me short videos of them answering the question “What makes you proud to be Latinx?” They actually sent me the most thoughtful  and truthful videos, and I showed them today to an intermediate class. I then posed the same question to my students, and they worked in groups and developed their answers.

In some ways, this classroom activity seemed to be a powerful way to combat Trump’s demonizing, hurtful, and threatening words… nonsense that has just gotten worse over the past weeks, and has affected both you and me too. I had students sharing with their classmates that they loved being Mexican because of Mexican warmth and friendliness. They were proud to be Mexican because of their pre-hispanic roots that were “stolen” from them during colonization. They loved being Mexican because of the prioritization of family time, and the delicious food that changes from region to region. UGH such a feel good activity, and ah, so many other thoughts about this, but I’ll save them. I’m so glad to be here, and was really pleased with the way my class went today. My students (college students and older!!) are so boss, and so intelligent. I’m really looking forward to doing activities like this in the future. It helped me get to know my students better, hopefully increased their trust in me, and also satisfied (for the moment) my WGSS bug that’s always a’biting.

Buenas noches mi “cuate” linda.

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