I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

sábado, enero 29, 2005

Ode to the Tortilla

I cannot express how much I am missing my fresh-made tortillas now. When I was home my mom and I would buy the "masa" (dough) from the "tortillería" across the street instead of buying tortillas, and then I would make tortillas every morning and night fresh. In the morning for the eggs and at night for the quesadillas. When we bought the dough it would still be warm from having been ground. Making tortillas just right is quite an art. I don't even do it the real way, by hand. I do it with a press and plastic sheets, and still there is some artistry involved in knowing just when to flip over the tortilla. I'm very particular about texture, the amount of time they're cooked, making sure they blow up like one of those mylar balloons so they get the "skin" on one side, getting a good thickness.... Man, if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would probably be corn tortillas.
I bought "Maseca" here, which is one of the commercial corn flours they sell, but it is just not the same thing. AT ALL! My aunt says it's because they grind the corn cob in too. It's pale white and it's a lot grittier. The dough we buy at the tortillería is ground there fresh, while the Maseca flour is dehydrated, so that could be another factor. I remember Masa Harina not being as bad a brand, but I couldn't find it the other day (despite there being tons of Mexican "tiendas" here). I went to the Whole Foods store where they used to have it bulk, but they didn't even know what I was talking about. They pointed me to cornmeal, which is radically different than the corn flour used to make tortillas. They add lime to corn to make Mexican corn flour. Not lime as in the citrus, but as in the mineral. I don't know the chemistry of it, but I'm sure it's what gives it the distinctive taste. If you're gonna buy corn flour to make tortillas, make sure it lists lime as an ingredient or says that it has "maíz nixtamalizado" (which means it's corn treated with lime). I'm so desperate for my real corn tortilla taste that I'm thinking of going all out and making my own corn flour with the explanation given on this site. *sigh*

sábado, enero 22, 2005

En Defensa de los Estadounidenses / In Defense of Americans

Conozco mucha gente que odia a los Estados Unidos y a los americanos, y con razón. Pero habiendo vivido acá más de 16 años, me importa que el mundo sepa que no todos los americanos son una mierda. Los medios en los E.E.U.U. no cubren lo extensa que es la oposición a Bush, y por lo tanto pienso que mucha gente en el mundo nunca se entera de la oposición que tiene aquí el gobierno. Por eso pongo estas fotos de las protestas a la toma de posesión de Bush de hace dos días.
I know many people who hate the U.S. and Americans, and with reason. But having lived here more than 16 years, it's important to me that the world know that not all Americans suck ass. The media in the U.S. does not cover the extent of the opposition to Bush, and because of this I think a lot of people in the world never find out about the opposition the government has here. Because of this, I am putting up these pictures of the protest at Bush's inauguration two days ago. [Photos removed]

Una Buena Puntada

There's a term I like a lot in Spanish that came up when I went to see Ong Bak with my friend Jason last night. Maybe someone could help me with a better English equivalent than I can muster. When a film, for example, has a joke or a comic moment that's really right on, you say it was a "buena puntada"--literally, a good stitch. In any case, Ong Bak tiene muchas buenas puntadas.

By the way, you all should check out Ruth's blog "La Tertulia" if you're interested in different Spanish terms and sayings throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

It's Completely Irrelevant

...and I'm sure will bore everyone, but I have this thing about filling out surveys, so I have to jump on the one that's been going around Blogger.

3 names you go by:
1. Nayeli
2. Nai
3. Na

3 screen names you have:
1. ilinx
2. mobius
3. nayeligk

3 things you hate/dislike about yourself:
1. my lack of dedication
2. my body hair
3. the worn and broken parts

3 parts of my heritage:
1. my mom's parents are refugees from the Spanish Civil War
2. I'm about 25% Basque
3. I'm 1/32 Philippino

3 things that scare you:
1. being rejected for screwing up
2. the power of the US
3. dying feeling like I didn't live life to the fullest

3 of your everyday essentials:
1. laughter
2. fruits and veggies
3. sunlight

3 things you're wearing right now:
1. a silver ball chain necklace
2. a squint
3. my favorite old blue hoody with the broken zipper

3 of your favorite bands/artists today: (I'm taking this to mean who are still active creatively today)
1. Leonard Cohen
2. Tom Waits
3. My Morning Jacket

3 of your favorite songs at present:
1. Peregrinitos by Estrella Morente
2. Jed's Other Poem by Grandaddy
3. Last Fool Around by Migala

3 things you want to try in the next 12 months:
1. finishing my degree
2. moving out of the US permanently
3. completing some of my film projects

3 things you want in a relationship:
1. honesty
2. understanding
3. creative rapport

2 truths and a lie (in no particular order...to keep you guessing)
1. I've had lice
2. seeing guys kiss turns me on
3. I watch at least 2 hours of TV a day

3 physical things about a love interest that appeals:
1. beautiful eyes
2. long, elegant fingers with perfect nails
3. a smell I find attractive

3 things you just can't do:
1. the splits
2. follow a recipe without messing with it in some way
3. lie to someone I'm in a relationship with

3 of your favorite hobbies:
1. papier maché
2. embroidery
3. puzzles

3 things you want to do badly right now:
1. get my feet warm
2. get a backrub (does that count?)
3. eat warm, chewie brownies

3 careers you're considering:
1. filmmaker
2. film editor
3. carpenter

3 places you want to go on vacation:
1. Japan
2. Brazil
3. Amsterdam

3 kids names (either boy or girl)
1. Aiden
2. Janic
3. Aria

3 things you want to do before you die:
1. skydive
2. make a feature length film
3. build my own house

jueves, enero 20, 2005

NPR Just Doesn't Cut It

Has anyone else noticed how conservative NPR has gotten over the past 3 years? At least it has here in North Carolina. Too much airtime is given to people on the Right. I can understand interviewing some of these people to set up a polemic, but the interviewers are awful about asking tough questions. Neal Conan in particular seems to shield his conservative guests from the hard questions asked by callers of a more liberal bent. And today Terry Gross let Richard Land blab his idiotic conservative agenda unchecked. She seemed too concerned with offending to ask him any really tough questions and let him control the field. Sure, they had Rev. Jim Wallis on for balance, but I'm REALLY missing the acute, ballsy questioning of Loret de Mola and Victor Trujillo on the Televisa news shows in Mexico.

Congratulations Bush / Felicidades Bush

...for entering your second term with the lowest approval rating ever for a second term president, and for having four more years to ruin the lives of people all over the world.

...por entrar a tu segundo mandato con el nivel de aprobación más bajo de cualquier presidente estadounidense en su segundo mandato, y por tener cuatro años más para arruinar la vida de gente en todo el mundo.

miércoles, enero 19, 2005

Condie Rice the White House Wife

Well, here I am back in the U.S. and having a bout of culture shock. Just when I was getting used to Mexico again. Take me back! What is WRONG with this country?
Listening to the confirmation hearings on the radio this morning, I couldn't get the "real" image of Condoleezza Rice in my head...though I've seen her on TV plenty (unfortunately), the voice just didn't fit my memory of her face. There was just this image of a white, ultra-conservative, house-wifey person evading questions and blabbing the party line. Yeah...that's what she is...she's the White House Wife, standing by her hubby. I thought they were gonna use her up and throw her away to clean up the mess last time she was being questioned. But no--she actually got a promotion!
It also struck me while I was hearing Joe Biden question her how "nice" everyone is generally in politics here. "Have a Nice Day!" nice. Biden said he was going to vote for her approval just because he thought the President should be able to choose his own cabinet, and he asked her some hard questions (not like Boxer, but he made some good points), but at the end they were laughing together about his daughter like buddies. The woman is evil incarnate! Don't pander to her! The first week I was in Mexico last year there was lots of news coverage about things getting physically violent in the "Cámara de Diputados" (one wing of the congress) and I was like "oh, man...this is so embarrassing and disgraceful." But I'll take THAT over this fear of getting tough and mean when we need to. Screw "getting along" and false camaradery. We're talking about major crimes against humanity here.
I've never been a fan of the U.S. government, but this administration has got to be the worst one ever. And to add insult to injury, its policies are sickenly sugar-coated with claims of spreading "freedom" and 'democracy." The U.S. should work on becoming a real democracy before it starts dishing around its infected version. "Outpost of tyranny" indeed.

Escuché a Condoleezza Rice en el radio contestando las preguntas de unos senadores que tenían que votar para ratificar su asignatura por Bush a ser secretaria de estado. No suena para nada como una mujer negra...tiene la voz de una ama de casa blanca...y eso es lo que es realmente, la ama de casa de la Casa Blanca, defendiendo las acciones de su "marido" (la administración de Bush). Yo pensé que la iban a usar de chivo expiatorio cuando la cuestionaron sobre los ataques del 9/11, ¡pero ahora resulta que fue ascendida!
Cuando los del PRD se pusieron medio violentos en la cámara de diputados en México el otoño pasado me dio un poco de vergüenza, pero la verdad prefiero eso a la disque-enfrentación que le han hecho los políticos al gabinete de Bush aquí. De los 16 senadores del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado que tenían que votar para ratificar a Rice, sólo 2 votaron en su contra: Barbara Boxer de California y John Kerry de Massachusetts. Los demás demócratas del comité protestaron un poco pero la acabaron aceptando.
Nunca he sido una aficionada del gobierno estadounidense, pero esta administración es la peor de todas. Lo peor de todo es la hipocresía en afirmar que el país intenta traer "libertad" y "democracia" al mundo. Los E.E.U.U. deberían trabajar en convertirse en una democracia de verdad antes de contaminar al mundo con su versión enferma.

Lynching: The New City Pastime

Something that's been getting a lot of press lately is a case of lynching that occurred in the Tlahuac neighborhood on November 23rd. Three policemen were attacked. All three were beaten and two of them died when the mob poured gasoline on them and set them on fire. The police were working under cover, supposedly investigating drug sales at a school. The lynchers told the media that they thought the police officers were kidnappers, but a few days later a video emerged, taken by someone amongst the lynchers themselves, that proved they knew they were police officers, and that this knowledge is what prompted the murders. The media speculated that the lynchers were from a radical group that controls the area, possibly a group that the police who were lynched were investigating.
There was a huge uproar because the news crews got there before the police. The uncovered video actually shows a couple of officers and judicial police present, some doing nothing and some trying to negotiate for the liberation of the officers, but they were far outnumbered and were unable or unwilling to help. In any case, the controversy resulted in President Fox removing the Secretary of Public Safety of Mexico City.
Since my family had been watching the first three seasons of 24 on DVD, the lynching prompted my dad to comment that he'd love to see a special season of 24: "Jack Bauer in Tlahuac." Now THAT would be entertainment.

viernes, enero 14, 2005

The Illustrious Salinas de Gortari Family

Ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari's brother, Enrique, was (allegedly) assassinated at the beginning of December. To give you a little background, Salinas de Gortari was president from 1988 to 1994. He "officially" won the election with 50.4% of the vote, but it is widely known that Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas, the candidate of a coalition of several opposing parties, won the election. This was at a time, however, when the PRI was still in firm control, and they simply stole the election (for more on Mexico's political parties, read the Mexican Politics 101 post). Salinas de Gortari is probably most remembered for signing NAFTA. Now he's referred to as "el innombrable" (He Who Shall Not be Named). In any case, the Salinas de Gortari family is SHADY. They are extremely rich, with properties all over Mexico and the U.S., Swiss bank accounts, the whole bit. The ex-president's other brother, Raúl, is in jail for some kind of illegal money activity, and he was also arrested for masterminding the assassination of José Francisco Ruiz Massieu, though the ex-president claims he was framed and I believe he's now been acquited for that charge. (People speculated he had Ruiz Massieu assassinated because he had threatened to reveal the family's links to drug trafficking.) There was also some speculation about whether Raúl had been behind the Colosio assasination in Tijuana (Luis Donaldo Colosio was going to be the PRI candidate after Salinas, but tension in the party resulted in his assassination and the rise of Ernesto Zedillo, who became the next president of Mexico.) Enrique, the one who was just murdered, was being investigated by Interpol regarding Swiss bank accounts. A real gem of a family, I tell you. And they started at a young age. As children, Carlos and Raúl killed one of their maids with a shotgun.
So the question is, is Enrique Salinas de Gortari really dead? There is some speculation that the body found may not have been his. But even if it was, something fishy is going on. The body was found in a car with a plastic bag over the head. The cause of death is allegedly asfixiation, but not with said plastic bag. And the murder did not take place where the body was found. Someone left the body in a car that was driven to a neighborhood in the state of Mexico. Security cameras recorded all of this, but no license plates are legible. Why the state of Mexico, when the murder is thought to have occurred in the D.F.? Could it be because the Salinas family has connections there? They were able to have the body incinerated only a couple of days after it was found. This is highly irregular. The authorities claim that all the necessary evidence was extracted, DNA samples taken, an autopsy performed. But now there is no body to confirm any of it. The DNA could have been taken from anywhere. I'm sure there's something behind this murder that implicates the ex-president's family.

lunes, enero 10, 2005

Budget Blues

So...the battle for the budget between the president and the "Cámara de Diputados" (the equivalent of the House of Representatives) continues. There was a hilarious skit on El Privilegio de Mandar where Fox (who in the show is not the president but the head of the "Colonia el Relaxo (con equis)") and the "diputados" do a little musical number to fight over the budget. Kind of like a Mexican version of rapping, I guess...it's music from Guadalajara, and they sing in "décimas," a type of verse, taking turns to take down the opponent.
What's really bizarre, something I don't think you'd ever see in the U.S., is that the Cámara de Diputados has put out magazine and TV ads attacking Fox's revisions to the budget (President Fox doesn't want such and such roads to be built in such and such states, he wants to take money away from such and such, etc.). It's the type of thing you see in the U.S. come election time between parties...but here it's happening between different branches of the federal government!

Fox's "Private" Beach

There was an article in the magazine Proceso about the president acquiring a private beach for himself in the state of Michoacán. The thing is, legally all beaches in Mexico are public. You're supposed to leave a right of way too, so that people can get to your beach. Of course, plenty of hotels will try to kick you off "their" beaches, and they build out onto the beach further than they're supposed to. We used to go to the beach and they'd try to kick us out. I'd love the look on their faces when a 12 year old was telling them that the law says the beach is public so they could go screw themselves. Of course, if I was darker skinned I probably wouldn't have gotten away with it.
Anyway, so Fox allegedly was going to get himself this private beach by buying all the land around it, effectively sealing it off. He's using a third party to make the purchase so his name's not on the deal. But to add insult to injury, the land he needs to buy up to get his beach is part of an "ejido"--communal land that can't be sold. I read today that they started a committee to prevent the sale of the land, but he'll probably get his way.

jueves, enero 06, 2005

Three Kings Day

Ever wonder about the "12 days of Christmas"? Well, those are December 25th through the "Día de los Reyes Magos" (Three King's Day), which is today. Of course, just like with Christmas, we celebrate it the night before. As soon as Christmas is over, Santa Claus mysteriously disappears from television ads and shop windows to be replaced by Baltasar, Melchor, and Gaspar. You're supposed to leave your shoes out on the night of the 5th, and the three kings will bring you gifts and leave them in your shoes. The night of the 5th (and, well, a bunch of days before and the 6th too, since Mexicans like to extend their holidays as much as possible), we have "rosca de reyes" (pictured here). Inside is a little plastic baby Jesus. Whoever gets this doll is then obligated to host a party the "Día de la Candelaria," February 2nd. Supposedly before instead of a baby Jesus they used a bean. Now they go nuts and put in several dolls. One year we practically had the whole manger, three kings and all. This year it turned out Jesus was a triplet.

miércoles, enero 05, 2005

Bush III?

I heard Jeb Bush is touring Banda Aceh with Powell.... Could this be his debutante ball for the international community? Will we be seeing him as a candidate in 2008? Or is he over there just so A Bush is doing the rounds, if not W. himself?

Only in Mexico

I'm sure this happens in other countries as well, but it's a pretty established saying, so....

1. Mexico City's program to prevent drunk driving, which started in September, was suspended Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve to give officers the chance to be with their family members.

2. Since December we have to separate our trash here in the city into organic and inorganic. When the trash truck comes by, they throw it all together. Did they just want us to start practicing?

(From what I hear, trash collectors do a little business on the side recycling cans and bottles and selling salvageable items. There's a whole mafia-type business set up around this. There must be pretty high stakes, because there have even been murders over it.)

martes, enero 04, 2005

Loret de Mola in Indonesia

The Mexican journalist Loret de Mola (see news shows post) is now in Banda Aceh as a special envoy for Televisa. I have to say he is now by far my favorite newscaster (I never thought I'd say that about a Televisa newscaster). He strongly criticized, on both El Cristal and Primero Noticias, the decision by the American government not to give more than 350 million to the worst natural disaster in recent history. He also had strong critique for Colin Powell, who he says is really only pretending to visit the affected area: he's getting off his jet and onto a helicopter directly to see the devastation from above, but is not actually visiting any of the affected populations. I'd love to know how this is being reported in the U.S. media.
I think at this point, the problem is not how much money and resources are being sent over, but how to effectively distribute aid. What little infrastructure existed for this was obviously devastated by the tsunami. Some areas are getting too much water and medicine, when what they need are construction supplies, and the worst affected areas that need the basics are largely stranded. Loret de Mola said that he observed that because of lack of medical supplies, rescuers are having to amputate limbs that in better conditions could be saved. He reported that the devastation is far worse than it seems on televison. And THAT is saying a lot. I can remember after the earthquake here in Mexico, the incredibly pervasive smell of the dead bodies that lingered. I can't even imagine what it must be like when those cadavers are so much greater in number. The spread of disease, the lack of water and food, the hundreds of thousands or even millions of people left homeless....
I saw on the news an interview with some tourists who stayed to enjoy the beaches. I don't even know what to say about that. They weren't staying to help, and when interviewd, they didn't even have a reason that I could swallow like, "I want to support the area economically with my tourism." They had broad smiles and commented that it was a beautiful day at the beach and the sun and waves were pleasant. I agree with getting on with your life...but I really don't know how I feel about that kind of attitude. Maybe there's no difference with me going on with my life here: I still laugh, I still enjoy. But wouldn't it be kind of like going for a picnic at a cemetary where they're having a funeral? Perhaps because I'm Mexican, I have a pretty dark sense of humor when it comes to tragedy...but I don't know that faced with the reality of the devastation there I could just soak in the rays.

Random Plug (ugh...sorry about the pun)

OK, so this is completely off-topic, but I thought I'd endorse one of my favorite products, an alternative for women to pads and tampons. Well, actually, there are three products. They are all "menstrual cups" (gotta love the term)--reusable silicone or latex cups that don't pollute the environment and that are healthier to use. You can access them here: The Keeper™, here The DivaCup™, and here: The Mooncup. I've used both the Keeper and the Diva Cup, and though the Keeper is the original one (though different types of menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s), I have to say I prefer the Diva Cup because, being made of silicone, it's easier to keep clean and it can be boiled to disinfect it. I can't personally vouch for it, but the Mooncup looks just about the same as the Diva Cup. They all cost about the same amount of money.
I've been using one or the other for over four years and love that I never have to buy tampons again! The Diva Cup costs $35.75 including shipping and handling and lasts for years, so it's a less expensive option too. So why not help out the environment by lessening the thousands of pounds of waste created by pads and tampons? Feel free to ask me questions.

sábado, enero 01, 2005

OK in India

As a little inspiration to donate to a Tsunami relief fund, here's an email from my friend Sam:

"Hey everybody,

I'm alive & well, up in the north of India in
Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama) - hundreds of
miles away from the tsunami that struck the south of
India & other SE Asian countries. Thanks to everyone
who wrote & was worried. I'm sorry I haven't been in
contact sooner, I've been away from the internet fer
quite a while. I'll send out a proper dispatch with
all my recent adventures soon, but wanted to get this
out asap. You may remember me mentioning Cov from my
second dispatch - we were really worried that he was
dead, since his plan was to go to Sri Lanka to go
surfing on christmas (Sri Lanka was the worst hit
during the tsunami). Amazingly, he's alive, and I'm
attaching an e-mail he sent out recently detailing his
experience. The death toll has now reached 119,000,
and will probably continue climbing. Britta is right
now looking into flying down south to help with relief
work - I'll keep ya'll posted.

I hope everyone had a nice christmas, and has a great
new year.

Love, Sam


Cov's story:

I want to thank all of you who have e-mailed or called
my parents. I am OK, just really sad. I don't know
how my friends and I are alive--I'm still trying to
remember what happened, but all I can hear is the
sound of wave and shattering glass. We had just walked
from the beach where there was a huge sweep of sand
and into a restaraunt composed mostly of windows.
Right after we walked in we looked back and the water
was lapping up on the porch, but it all looked pretty
harmless--kind of like a lake splashing the shore.
People started running out, but I walked back to get
my flip flops which I had taken off a the front. They
cost about $1. I just didn't understand what was
happening. I mean, there was no warning. It all seems
so dreamlike now. Anyhow, a wave came crashing in and
the tables out front just exploded into the windows
and the water came racing in. All I can hear in my
head is the sound of wave and smashing glass. Still I
was confused, and kind of figured it was a tidal surge
caused by the full moon. So as the waves came in, I
jumped up on the wooden bar that was swept violently
in to the corner of the room. One more window was in
tact, and I was wedged between it and stackes of
bottles--cokes and beer and stuff. There was this 85
old man Sri Lankan man who owned the place and he was
quite a fixture, always asleep at a table after having
eaten breakfast. His chair swept past and I was able
to wrestle him onto the bar. Buildings were collapsing
all around me, but I didn't notice. I am traveling
with two of my close friends--now I feel like they are
brother and sister--and Simon climbed up a tree and
Rachel, she ran off. Simon was yelling at me to get
out of there as roofs were falling, but I couldn't
hear b/c I am so deaf, and, like I said, building were
being swept away. But I was wedged in the corner and
the water wouldn't let me out. Plus, glass was
shooting pack and forth in the water in sharp pieces
like huge knives. The window was right in front of me,
and I had this old man to deal with. The window
finally crashed on us, but I only got a few cuts is
all--I don't know how. With that I was sucked out, and
I managed to hang on to the old man. I held him afloat
with my head below water, coming up for breaths.
Another wave rolled though, and I lost him. He just
sunk right there, and I didn't see him again until I
ID'd his dead body that was wedged under some debris.
The water finally receded, and I got my bare feet on
the ground and got out. I don't know how, but my feet
only got cut up a little bit, but I didn't feel the
glass in my feet until this morning. My friend Nathan
and I searched through the rubble, while Simon
searched for his girlfriend Rachel. Parents came back
crying hysterically searching for infants and
toddlers, and frantic spouses for partners. Everyone
took to the hills expecting another series of waves,
which did come, but later, fortunately. We found a man
wedged naked and face down under a roof frame. A few
of us managed to pry him loose. He must have been
stuck there under water for a long time, but managed
to come out ok. Rubble was everywhere. It was at 8 am
so a lot of people were sleeping in their bungalo's
after a x mas night party. No telling how many were
stuck. One family escaped through the roof b/c you
just couldn't open the door with all the water in the
room and pushing from outside. Simon came back and
said he couldn't find Rachel. We searched everywhere
for the next three hours, going to all the hills and
the more elevated areas, but couldn't find her. We
managed to keep it together pretty well throughout the
process, Simon more so that me, really. We found her
finally and just laid on the grass on a hill sobbing.
People were naked having lost everything--no money or
passport or clothes-- Sri Lankan mothers beat the
ground with their fist screaming, houses were totally
washed away, businesses smashed. Nothing on the beach
was left standing. We are still trying to figure out
why, you know, the mechanics of the waves that hit
us--they were not the crashing type that blasted all
around us like dynamite, but more like the rising,
surging type. Had they been of that nature, we would
have been dead instantly. I don't understand it at
all. Why? Just up and down the beach bodies were lying
by the road, buses were turned over and cars were in
trees. Boats were all over the roads.(People had been
out diving, snorkelin and surfing--Simon and I planned
on getting up early for a surf, but overslept.) The
water smashed 3 story buildings, in some places
washing 2 km's inland. Our guest house was up a hill
away from the beach--we had decided to stay there b/c
the family owners were so nice, but a few days before
we almost moved to a little shack right on the beach
which was obviously pulverized. Anyhow, afterwards we
packed up our dry belongings and sat on the street
looking for a ride to Colombo, the capital. All the
gas stations were wrecked so every driver was out of
gas, or their car was totalled. A huge truck drove by
with an 8 member family in the cab. I flaggged them
down, and they asked if we were going to Colombo, and
I said hell yes, so we all loaded into the flat-bed.
We drove inland b/c, of course, the roads and bridges
were destroyed. After a 7 hour trip we made it to the
airport at 2 and managed to get out on the first
flight to Bangkok at 7. We didn't sleep for two days
or eat much. Power and phone lines were down, but I
was able to text message my parents which made me feel
better. But we were in shock for a while afterwards.
We were just stumbling around last night virtually
hallucinating b/c we were beyond sleep, really. It is
just hitting us today after having seen the footage.
Sri Lanka got hit the hardest, and when it's said and
done, I can't imagine how many will be among the dead,
but it will be much higher than the numbers indicate
right now--I'm guessing 3 times as many or more. We
feel really bad that we left them like that, but we're
trying to figure out what we can do. So many lives are
ruined. The homeless survivors...I don't know how
they'll rebuild or with what--they don't have
insurance here or anything remotely comparable to it.
We were thinking that we could help by telling people
like you what we saw, and encouraging folks to make
donations to the Red Cross or some relief
organization. Sri Lanka is the poorsest country hit, I
think, and they are just emerging from a long civil
war. The toursit industry really just took off at the
end of the fighting. All the Sri Lankans were
apologizing to us! People who had lost everything were
apologizing to us. They kept telling us not to forget
about Sri Lanka. So we are safe trying to find all our
other friends who are scattered around Asia on the
islands--everyone went to the islands for X mas.

We are trying to see if we can go back to do anything
to help, but I don't think we'll be of much assisance.
Our thought process is that we would consume
resources, diverting food and water from the Sri
Lankan people. But we're looking to see. Otherwise,
I'm flying home Thurdsday, and I'm ready.

Thanks again to all those who have reached me somehow.


The official death count is now up to about 145,000. Thanks to all the people who criticized and pressured Bush, he upped the US contribution to 350 million dollars. No props to him, since he wouldn't have done it on his own, but props to Japan, who is donating 500 million, and to all the other generous countries and people who understand the necessity of humanitarian aid.

Work on making this a happy New Year, everyone!