Tuesday, February 28, 2006


We have an attendence policy at the Universidad de Tecnologica de la Mixteca, and while it may seem surprising to have one at the university level, the fact is that if we didn't, noone would come to class. The rule is that students can miss a maximum of 10 classes in the semester, and once they pass this cutoff, the do not have derecho (right). So as we approach the end of the semester (only 3 weeks left!), the students with bad attendence are starting to panic, which means I'm getting a flood of letters from doctors, dentists, and university officials offerering various justifications for the absences. Of course, many of these are forgeries. And not very good ones at that. To be honest, I've even been a little insulted to see how stupid they must think I am by bringing these totally obvious fabrications to me. But it's really more like a game that everyone plays, and if you bust them for it, they just laugh as if to say: "O.K., you got me this time, maestro! But we'll meet again..."

o poster tube, where art thou?

Every now and then I need to purchase a product that I'd guess to be quite commonplace but then turns out to be completely unheard of in Mexico. Last year I had this problem in Huajuapan when I set out to buy some resume-quality paper. Turns out there's no such thing. This weekend I've run into it again as I've tried to buy a mailing tube for some posters I want to mail to a friend. You'd figure that it would be a fairly easy product to find, but now having inquired at probably every papeleria here (at there must be at least 50 of them) I've learned that this is a technology that has not yet been unveiled here. People seem to understand me when I explain what I'm looking for - a tube made of cardboard that could be used to send a rolled-up poster through the mail - but as I describe the thing it becomes clear that this is the first time the concept has ever entered the shopkeeper's consciousness. But they do seem to respond in such a way that suggests that they'd approve of such a product if it ever were to be invented. So maybe one day I'll make my own, patent the design in Mexico, and make a fortune. In the meantime, it looks like my friend is going to get a big manila envelope with some folded-up posters inside.

Housekeeping: trickle-down economics or insult?

I've been given some thought lately to getting a housekeeper.

Not the live-in kind, but just someone who could come by every week or so and tidy up. See, here in Mexico, things can get dirty fast. I have some pretty big windows, and those things are filthy within moments after I wash them. And it seems like every other day that I have to wipe a thick layer of dust off the surfaces around my apartment.

It's actually quite common here for average folk like me to have a once-a-week housekeeper, and from what others tell me, it's also quite affordable. Still, the concept of having someone clean my house makes me a little uneasy.

First, there's the personal responsibility issue. After all, the accumulation of scum in my shower stall is my doing and my doing alone, so really it seems like it should be my responsibility to clean it up.

Then, another thing that occurs to me is the whole power-structure/class relationship involved in having a housekeeper. I mean, just because someone has had the misfortune to be born into a lower socio-economic class than me, does that mean that they should also be forced to scrape three-day-old scrambled eggs off of my stovetop? That's just seems like adding insult to injury.

Now of course I realize that there are plenty of people out there who need work, so in that way I'd be doing someone a favor by hiring them to clean my house. And maybe I'd end up hiring someone who was really cool and we'd end up being friends or something.

You see, any way you slice it, it's a tough call. I guess I'd better think on it some more.


As far as I'm concerned, they really ought to pass a law saying that any restaurant that has breakfast items on their menu must serve those items during all hours that they are open. This "breakfast menu available until 11:00 a.m." business really must be stopped. It's just flat-out discrimination against that segment of the population that gets up at noon, I tell you.

When I go out looking for my first meal of the day at 1:00 p.m., my stomach is just not ready for tacos or tortas; I need huevos a la mexicana or hot cakes (yes, they're called that here, too). So when I sit down someplace, glance over the menu at all the delicious breakfast options only to be told by the waitperson that they stopped serving breakfast two hours ago, I feel that my basic human rights have been violated.

I'm not just talking about amending the Mexican constitution to protect the breakfast-eating rights of late risers; either. This is also a major problem in the U.S. and Canada, and probably in many other nations as well. So at the very least, the issue needs to be addressed during the next NAFTA meetings, and the WTO might want to start taking a look at it, too.

That said, if any of you find yourselves in the Centro Historico of Mexico City, you'll do well to stop in to La Pagoda, formerly known as Cafe Popular, on Cinco de Mayo and Filomena Mata. The Pagoda is not only open 24 hours, 365 days a year, it also serves delicious and inexpensive breakfasts during every minute of those 24 hours and 365 days. What's more, they have one of the best cups of coffee you'll find at an all-night diner. And if you stop by around 1, you might just see me there.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...