During this week’s lockdown I sat down to write this blog entry about Mexico and drew a blank as to where to start. I mean Mexico is huge, 40 times the size of Slovakia, and I had had the opportunity to travel through pretty much all of it and I had been amazed turning every single corner. When they say magic realism is a narrative tool chiefly employed by Latin American writers, I am not surprised. In Mexico there is magic everywhere, it is a part of daily life, so much so that you only see it in retrospect, as I do now. Suddenly all my memories fused into one, all the facts seemed important but there were too many to mention, and my kaleidoscope of color that is Mexico started turning so fast that all I could see was white.
Luckily, I found three other Mexicans in my apartment who had plenty of time to share their thoughts and help me out. What follows is a candid interview of different perspectives on this lovely country, which, I hope will inform and entertain.
Alejandra, 11 years old (A)
Mikaela, 8 years old (M)
Lets talk food. What is the best Mexican food or dessert?
What are tacos?
M: Tortillas with whatever you want inside, you can put whatever you want, meat, vegetables. It is always delicious.
A: The tortillas are made from corn. I like those better. There are flour ones too but those are for quesadillas.
M: And desserts, ice cream. Chocolate and coconut. Oh and the coconut water, horchata. I miss that.
D: Chocolate actually comes from Mexico. I also love cochinita, it is pork that is cooked very slowly underground over several days in a special sauce from axiote, you normally eat is as a taco or a torta (sandwich).
A: Tacos, tortas, tamales, the vitamin T diet.
M: Tamales, this is a maize paste cooked inside a banana leaf over steam. You can put anything inside, like beans and cheese.
What do you eat on Christmas?
D: Romeritos. This is shrimp jerky in a seep-weed sauce which is very strange. Turkey with stuffing, very similar to American Thanksgiving.
What about some fruit that you don’t normally see here?
M: Mango, definitely mango. With chili on top. When its mango season, mango is sold everywhere on the streets. Mango on a stick. Mango chopped up. But try it with the chili sprinkled on top.
A: Mango, papaya. We grew papaya trees in our garden. There is so much papaya, you can drink papaya water, eat it in dessert too.
What about candy?
A: There is a lolipop that is made of different fruits, the one that I like the most is watermelon and around it is chili and it has a watermelon shape.
Its not spicy for you?
A: No, it is a soft chili.
Do children each chili from a young age?
D: Yes, it is normal, chili is put on fruit, on sweets, pretty much on everything.
What are some of the most beautiful places you have visited in Mexico?
A: Isla Blanca, one of the most beautiful beaches I have every seen.
M: The water parks in Quintana Roo, like Xcaret and Xelha.
D: Oaxaca City, Morelia, the Mayan cities, Campeche, Merida, downtown Mexico City. Chiapas, Palenque, Cozumel Island.
Can you tell me how Mexican children celebrate their birthday?
What is that?
A: It is an object made of paper filled with candy, in different forms, princesses, animals, whatever the birthday person wants. At the end of the celebration you take a stick and you hit it until it breaks, everyone takes turns. And then you rush to grab as much candy as you can. It is a fun experience you share with family and lots of friends. In Cancun we have a lot of water parks, so most birthdays would take place in water parks or in a garden with a swimming pool, a kids club or party place.
Tell me about some Mexican animals:
A: Tlacuache (Opossum). It is the only marsupial on the continent. It is so cute!
M: A dog with no fur! I can’t remember the name. Ah yes, the Xoloitzcuintle,
A long time ago people would eat them. Oh, I remember another one… a dophin. There are a lot of dolphins in Mexico. Also the jaguar and crocodile.
D: Cenzontle: the Mayans would repeat the noise of the Cenzontle, a holy bird. If you stand a certain distance away from a Mayan pyramid and clap you can hear back the squawk of that bird, because the Mayans thought that the bird was sacred.
If you were to bring a present to someone from Mexico,what would it be:
A: A typical mexican toy: trompo.
M: Something traditional like a calavera (a skull), painted by hand, made from wood.
D: Tequila, this is an alcoholic beverage made from a plant called agave, traditionally only from blue agave. Mezcal is also a traditional drink, it is also from agave, but this drink is not allowed to have any chemicals added to it, unlike tequila.
Whats the concept of time in Mexico?
D: Irrelevant, everything will happen tomorrow, and sometimes tomorrow never comes.
Thank you for answering all of my questions!