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SUMMER 2018

MACEDONIA BLAS FLORES activism from the roots

PIA CAMIL

Mexico City and destabilization of things

JUNE ERIC-UDORIE future of feminism

KRISTIN ADDIS

myths about solo female travel

VICTORIA, GALA, FELINA and other muxes from Oaxaca

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Travel consciously has always been our motto, and in the world full of fake news and fake stereotypes it’s especially important to use your own reason to simply not lose your mind. It is also about breaking stereotypes: about women’s roles in the world, about female traveling-be it solo or not, about tourism and cultures. We promised ourselves that there will be as few politics in this issue as it was possible. We do mention politics once or twice, but mostly this magazine is about people. Honestly, what else matters when you travel? Conscious travel means going out in the world with widely opened eyes and your mind opened even wider. In this issue we will see Mexico from the side you probably haven’t before. There will be NO beaches and spring break parties. There WILL BE indigenous activists like Macedonia Blas Flores who find strength and dignity when everything else is against them; Oaxacan muxes who represent third gender minority in patriarchal Mexico and quietly fight for the right of being just whoever you are; ordinary Mexican people who create their own world in the markets that are actually heart and soul of any Mexican city. On our way back home we will cross the border with California via an amazing artwork by Ana Teresa Fernandez to explore some more of American west coast. Don’t forget to check our lists of non-profits and volunteer opportunities in Mexico and other Latin-American countries: every month we get a lot of letters from women who started to travel as volunteers or solo backpackers and it totally changed not only their view of the world but – which is more important – their perception of themselves. One of the favorite quotes of this issue is by the writer and traveler Kristin Addis: “The honest truth is that I was incredibly scared and overwhelmed with the idea of traveling solo until I finally just got on the plane and went”. Let’s go then!

Anna Atiagina

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CONTENTS

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June Eric-Udonie Writer and feminist campaigner is only 18-years-old but has been an active activist for over three years.

Kristin Addis 8 common myths associated with solo female travel and how to not let those stop you.

Pia Camil Her symbolic and increasingly participatory work around Mexico City and the destabilization of things.

Macedonia Blas Flores Her long fight for the rights of the most unprotected women in Mexico: the indigenous.

Muxes Five stories from the third gender Zapotec community that lives by their own rules in patriarchal Mexico.


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Summer 2018 ISSN-2193-0673 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Anna Atiagina EDITORIAL BOARD: Jill Vartenigian Julia McNamara ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Gretchen Nash Amy Harrington Kirk Damer Justin Av Natalia Brown Nina Wesler Isabel Blue PUBLISHER: Seattle Central Creative Academy SPECIAL THANKS: travelaway.me elleuk.com nytimes.com mexicocitydf.blogspot.com theculturetrip.com wmagazine.com thefifthsense.i-d.co piacamil.com

The Mexico Issue

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Citlali Medal Matthew Preuschjuly Kristin Addis Ted Campbell Jodi Bartle Luis Cobelo Lauren Cocking Alex Holder CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Citlali Medal Whitney Lauren Luis Cobelo Felix Russel-Saw Anna Atiagina COVER ILLUSTRATION: Anna Atiagina ILLUSTRATIONS: Anna Atiagina COLLABORATIONS: hello@wanderwomen.com WEB DEPARTMENT: Erik Fadiman Anna Atiagina wanderwomen.atiagina.com

wanderwomen.atiagina.com Read us online:

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[ SHOPPING LIST ]

GADGET GUIDE Some of them are just too fun to miss, others add extra convenience to our experiences, yet others open up new realms in the world of technology. You’ve guessed it: we’re talking about travel gadgets! These smart tools that have forever changed the way we experience the world are life-savers for today’s travelers.

Pocket-Size Laundry Whether you are backpacking through Europe, going on an African safari, or traveling on a budget in South Asia, you are going to love the Scrubba Wash Bag. Equipped with a flexible washboard, this lightweight, pocket-size wash bag will not only help you do your laundry anywhere on the road, but also save you money and time. With only 2-4 liters of water and a bit of washing liquid you’ll have your clothes fresh and clean in less than 3 minutes.

Travel Steam Iron Featuring a 420-watt motor and three fabric heating levels, this mini travel steam iron is the smallest of its kind in the world. The compact device is about the size of a computer mouse and can be extremely useful for business travelers who are on the road and need to remove the inevitable wrinkles from packed clothing.

Hi-Tech Foot Warmers Foot warmers are known for making winter activities as comfortable and enjoyable as a day at the beach, but the innovative ThermaCELL Heated Insoles will take your feet comfort to the next level. Equipped with state-of-the-art thermal technology, these remote-controlled foot warmers will keep your feet warm and dry thanks to a thermostat-driven control system and a water-resistant fabric liner which protects them from moisture. 10 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]


[ SHOPPING LIST ]

Luggage Scooter A practical, stylish, and fun travel accessory, the Micro 3in1 Luggage Scooter helps travelers move around quickly and easily. Designed in collaboration with DJ Steve Aoki, this innovative trolley that doubles as a kickboard scooter also has Bluetooth Sound2Go speakers incorporated for listening music while gliding your way through the airport. Carrying your luggage will never be boring again with this multifunctional travel gadget!

Tampon Flash Drive

for more details about these products visit

Well, if a luxurious vibrator with a USB plug and 16GB of storage may seem too sophisticated for your tastes, maybe the Tampon Flash Drive would be a better solution to store and protect your information. This USB tampon-shaped flash drive might be a bit weird, even embarrassing for some, but think again – no self-respecting thief out there would want to steal your tampons.

wanderwomen.com/tips/

Ostrich Pillow Ostrich Pillow is an extremely useful accessory for when you’re on the go and just need a quick nap to refresh and increase productivity. Envisioned by Kawamura-Ganjavian architecture and design studio, it provides you with a micro sleeping environment. Although it might seem a little weird, its design is fun and intuitive, featuring polystyrene filling and a soft interior that lets you sleep literally anywhere. [ Summer 2018 ] | 11


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JUNE ERICUDORIE In her own words, she tells us about her activism journey so far and her plans.

Wander women can be met in any country and they are of all ages. We present you one from the UK. She is credited with getting feminism added to the A-Level politics curriculum in the UK, and she recently raised £6000 in a week to take 400 girls of color from low income backgrounds to the cinema to see the film Hidden Figures, which tells the story of a team of African-American female mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA’s space program. Here, in her own words, she tells us her activism journey so far and her plans for the following year. ‘When I was 14-years-old, I learned of how my grandmother saved my mother from female genital mutilation, or FGM. I was horrified to learn of the practice, and the fact that millions of girls worldwide were still at risk of this gross violation of human rights. But I knew that I couldn’t stay silent, because being silent made me complicit in the practice. The first step I took was to join global children’s charity, Plan UK’s Youth Advisory 12 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

Panel. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the beginning of my journey I’ve worked directly with the UK government on policy and campaigns to end female genital mutilation and child marriage. My activism has taken me from classrooms in the UK to conferences with world leaders at the UN. In 2014, I was invited by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, to be part of a youth steering community on the best ways to tackle these issues. Following the Prime Minister’s summit that summer, I co-founded “Youth For Change” with other young activists, it’s an organization fully funded by the UK government that works to end violence against women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the UK. I have a constant commitment to making the world a better, more inclusive, more equal place. In 2015, the UK government announced their changes for the A-Level Politics Syllabus, which included a removal of feminism from the curriculum and listed only one woman out of sixteen key thinkers

that students would be required to study. I single-handedly led a national campaign against these changes, writing articles in The Guardian, appearing on BBC 4’s Woman’s Hour, in addition to starting a petition that was covered in every major British newspaper and which gained nearly 50,000 signatures in only days. I also lobbied my local representative MP, Rupa Huq, to hold a parliamentary debate, resulting in the Education Secretary retracting her proposed changes, and announcing an addition of women and feminism to the syllabus. This is just one example of the many ways challenges do not intimidate me, they motivate me. I recently fundraised nearly £6,000 in a week to take 450 low-income girls of color from 17 schools around London to see the film Hidden Figures and I’m currently editing an anthology on intersectional feminism. For the rest of 2017 my goal is to continue being authentically mysto keep fighting for what matters to me – and to hold onto hope.’


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Writer and feminist campaigner June Eric-Udorie is only 18 but has been an activist for over three years.

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Taking the leap to travel can be difficult for a lot of reasons, but especially with all the misconceptions out there. Kristin Addis addresses 8 common myths associated with solo female travel and how to not let those stop you.

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I had a lot of misconceptions about traveling alone before I went overseas. I thought it might be dangerous, lonely, too much work, or make people think that I didn’t have any friends. Moreover, I always thought that being alone as a woman would make me a target for terrible things (thanks, mainstream media!). Plus, who wants to see all these amazing places completely alone? It sounded like a non-option, at least at first. Then I realized that nobody had the time to go with me. My friends were working on their careers while I had just decided to take a break from mine. I couldn’t wait. I just had to go, or else I might never go. So I went alone and found out that all of my assumptions about traveling solo were dead wrong. I wasn’t lonely, I didn’t end up kidnapped, and, in a lot of ways, it was actually way better to travel by myself. The freedom it afforded me, the way it grew my confidence, and all of the new friends I made were huge benefits that wouldn’t have happened it I went with a group of friends. So for everyone who thinks that solo travel is lonely, dangerous, or boring, I want my first column ofthe new year to be on the common solo female travel myths — and why they are all wrong – to help give you the courage to get over your fears and conquer the year:

Myth #1: Solo traveling means being lonely often.

All images below: Kristin Addis’ Instagram account, @bemytravelmuse.

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The scariest thing about traveling by yourself is the thought that you might be alone for your entire vacation, right? Who wants to travel to the other side of the world only to have to be by herself while looking at the majestic red sunrise over Angkor Wat? I was really worried about this before I started traveling solo. Thankfully, I came to find that I made more friends in one week on the road than I had in a whole year back at home. The best thing about traveling solo is that you’re not the only one doing it. More and more women are considering the concept of solo traveling to be realistic these days, and I couldn’t believe how many other solo female travelers there were on the road with me! Since so many other people are in the same boat, they tend to be pretty outgoing and friendly. It’s as simple as staying in a

social hostel — you can easily find which those are by doing a quick search on Hostelworld — and heading to the common room. I regularly did that all over Southeast Asia and I rarely felt alone during my years of traveling there.

Myth #2: Solo traveling is only for those who are single. Before I started traveling and meeting people with all kinds of different stories and backgrounds, I figured that if you’re traveling by yourself, it must be because you don’t have a significant other. People who have commitments like a family or partner don’t just go traveling on their own. It must mean there’s a problem in the relationship or that they’re escaping their commitments, right? Wrong. I came to learn that plenty of people who are in relationships travel alone, and for all kinds of reasons. It could just be that they have different interests, something many relationship experts say is totally healthy. Maybe their partner can’t get time off from work, or maybe both parties made a conscious decision to do some soul-searching on a solo adventure, even just for a portion of the trip, and meet back up again. Many solo travelers are single, but there are many more who are in relationships too. Just because you’re not single doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome trip by yourself.

Myth #3: You must be extraordinarily brave to travel on your own. A lot of my friends thought I was ultra brave and independent because I was going to travel alone. The honest truth is that I was incredibly scared and overwhelmed with the idea of traveling solo until I finally just got on the plane and went. To fear what you don’t know is just to be human. Despite being terrified, I went anyway. Later I laughed at how scared I had been, after I realized that getting around, meeting new people, and finding things to eat was all way easier than I had ever thought it could be. You don’t have to be sure of everything and incredibly courageous to go traveling on your own. Those things may come as a nice benefit of traveling solo, but they


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The honest truth is that I was incredibly scared and overwhelmed with the idea of traveling solo until I finally just got on the plane and went. don’t have to be prerequisites. The hardest part is getting on the plane. After that, it’s surprisingly easy to get around language barriers, figure out timetables, and have an adventure. Plenty of locals speak at least some English, and Google Maps, translation apps, and cellphone connectivity have all made traveling so much easier than it used to be.

Myth #4: You can’t be an introvert. I used to quietly watch the TV in bars or wear my headphones in public places so that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I used to feel pretty paralyzed in a room with someone with a strong personality. Basically, I was kind of awkward. But an incredible benefit of traveling by myself is that it has made me super outgoing. Even if you have trouble starting a conversation, in a hostel common room, chances are really good that eventually someone will reach out to you and bring you into a conversation. I recall that in the Philippines, a girl tapped me and asked where I’m from, and after chatting for a while, we became friends and hung out all week. You will probably also find that after a few times approaching new people — which will be incredibly nerve-racking at first — they will be so much more open than you feared that it will be an encouraging surprise. It’s

so easy to start a conversation by simply asking somebody where they’re from or where they just came from. I know those are cliché, but they also work, and before you know it, you have something to talk about. It’s easy to build up confidence around travelers — they’re just really friendly people!

Myth #5: It’s dangerous to travel solo as a woman. You’ve seen the movie, Taken, right? The one where Liam Neeson’s daughter gets kidnapped in Europe and he kicks major butt and rescues her? Or what about Brokedown Palace, where Claire Danes gets thrown in Thai jail when a handsome stranger plants drugs on her? This is our image of girls traveling the world (thanks, Hollywood!). I’m guessing that, given dramatic stories like these, the biggest argument against solo travel that you might be hearing from your friends and family is that it is dangerous. First of all, neither of the protagonists in those movies actually was traveling solo. Maybe if they had been, they would have paused and listened to their voices of reason and stayed out of trouble. Staying safe on the road is all about trusting your intuition, behaving abroad like you would at home. Would you get super drunk alone at a bar at home? Would you walk around alone at night? Talk to the locals at your guesthouse about what you should

watch out for, and practice common sense. What kept you alive at home and keeps you alive on the road, too.

Myth #6: You will constantly get unwanted attention. It happened from car windows when I was walking home from school at age 14, it happened when I was getting into my car at a random gas station in the middle of nowhere in Nevada, and it happens when I walk down the streets of New York City. Sometimes a boyfriend was only a few steps away — it didn’t matter. Catcalls happen abroad and at home. They’re annoying, yes, but don’t let them keep you from having the awesome solo trip you deserve. The best way to deal with that kind of attention is to make sure you understand the modesty requirements in the countries that you visit and dress accordingly. Some women suggest wearing a wedding band, but I find that being very confident, looking people in the eye, and being respectfully assertive are all good ways to stand my ground as well. While simply being a female does open you up for catcalls and unwanted advances in some parts of the world, in many cases, though, it’s quite the opposite, and I’m treated with respect and kindness, particularly because I’m a woman traveling on her own. [ Summer 2018 ] | 17


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Myth #7: It’s way more work because you have to do everything yourself. If you travel on your own, you will be making all of the decisions. This is also the biggest benefit of traveling solo. It means that you don’t have to plan ahead if you don’t want to, worry about whether the other person is having fun or not, or stress about doing everything for two or more people. Solo travelers get to have more serendipitous fun, the novelty of which we are hardwired to crave. There’s often room for just one more on a motorbike, in the car, or at a local’s family dinner, and you’ll be able to make split-second decisions without asking anyone first. I found that the benefit of complete freedom while traveling solo outweighed the extra legwork that I had to do. I also found it easy to just ask a friend which restaurant or activity they liked, or the person working at the hostel counter. It’s not that hard. (Besides, planning for multiple people and keeping them happy is a lot of work too.)

Myth #8: Traveling solo is a huge, life-changing decision. A lot of people sell off everything they have and take off to the other side of the world with a one-way ticket in hand (I’m talking about myself here), but that doesn’t mean

that everyone who travels solo has turned her life upside down in order to do it. It can be as simple as a weekend trip alone to another city, a two-week jaunt to a warm and tropical place you’ve never been, or a monthlong solo backpacking trip in Europe between semesters. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, and you could come right back to life as you know it before, with a few new adventures and a bit more confidence. It turned out that, contrary to what everyone (including me) thought, solo traveling wasn’t dangerous, boring, or lonely at all. It actually was one of the most social activities I’ve ever tried. I ended up finding that, instead of solo traveling being a disadvantage in any way, it was actually advantageous to be free when I traveled. It endeared me more to locals, and I got to have unique experiences because I could say yes to everything, and that’s something that only solo travelers can say. It’s a big benefit to be able to go where you want when you want. There must be a reason why it keeps growing in popularity year after year, right? If traveling is about the benefits, the time spent in a new reality, and a departure from your normal, everyday life, then to traveling solo is to put those benefits on steroids. Give it a try, and you too may find that your misconceptions about it are all wrong.

Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over four years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore. Images on the left and on the right: Kristin Addis’ Instagram account, @bemytravelmuse.

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[ GO SOLO: MEXICO ]

THIS IS

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MEXICO and you’re gonna love it

No country in the world (not even Kazakhstan) is more misunderstood than the land across the Rio Grande. (We don’t even blame Trump.) For whatever reason, gringos always seem to visit only the absolute worst places: all-inclusive tourist hellscapes where you need a wristband to order a watery margarita and the quesadillas come with a side of ketchup. But Mexico has quietly become a world-class travel destination, without sacrificing its character and history—its soul. Why should we fly across an ocean when, right across our border, cities are booming with Europe-level restaurants and parks are packed with Australia-level adventure? It’s insane to think that while we’ve been backpacking through Thailand and foodie-pilgrimaging to Copenhagen, Mexico has been right there all along, getting better (more stable, more progressive, more sophisticated) all the time.

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In the past few years, the country’s interior has become as compelling as its shoreline. The art scene now rivals anything in the hemisphere. Even though it’s close enough for a quick getaway and familiar enough to require zero acclimation, parts of its landscape feel like a different planet. Extravagance abounds if that’s your thing, but the country’s cheap thrills (e.g., carnitas) offer at least as much primal pleasure. This is, after all, the culture that gave the world chocolate, guacamole, mezcal, and Salma Hayek. It knows how to have a good time. In these pages, you’ll find dozens of other reasons to go right now. So join us as we get re-acquainted with our southern neighbor. Because with every passing day in America, Mexico seems less like the cause of all our problems and more like the solution. There are so many reasons you’ll love this country, and here is why...

...FOR THE TOTALLY SURREAL WILDERNESS Chiapas will remind you of your best days outside in Colorado— minus the legal edibles. Much of the state is nature preserves. And most of the action is within driving distance of the charming town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the perfect place to wind down with the local ceremonial drink, pox, which is to Chiapas what bourbon is to Kentucky. DAY 1 Trip Out Underground Head to Sima de las Cotorras just before sunrise, when the thousands of green parakeets that live in this sinkhole—about 500 feet across and deep—rise in spiraling flocks in search of food. Rappel to the bottom and gawk at wall paintings believed to be up to 10,000 years old. Chiapas is littered with other dramatic caves, including El Chorreadero, which you enter like something out of Tomb Raider, descending into a vast network of caverns with underground springs.

59 lakes, each a unique and vivid color due to its mineral content. Or raft Agua Azul, a series of stepped waterfalls with up to 50-foot drops. Or (if you’re not insane) plunge into Cenote Chucumaltik, a crystalline lake (a sinkhole, really), and dive above petrified trees, a quartz deposit, and an altar to the Virgin Mary.

...FOR OUTDOOR NIRVANA IN ONE EPIC RIDE Mexico’s most famous passenger train—nicknamed El Chepe— makes the 400-mile trek from the parched dunes of Chihuahua through the Sierra Madre and into the sugarcane fields of Los Mochis in about 16 hours. Here’s what you’ll see along the way. Westworld IRL After trundling across a cowboy landscape that Pancho Villa once roamed, you reach the town of Creel and a 4,134-foot tunnel—only the second-longest of 87 you’ll encounter. Just-as-Grand Canyon Divisadero is where Copper Canyon cleaves, revealing its awesome emptiness, so hop off and ‘gram it. Bonus: Vendors huddle by the track, heating blue-corn tortillas over smoky fires. Quick Break In Cerocahui, a remote farming village of about 1,500 people, spend a night at San Isidro Lodge, an eco-retreat that features an electricity-less meditation cabin. Quick Workout Six thousand feet below the canyon’s lip in Urique, the 50-mile Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon, memorialized in the best-seller Born to Run, draws hundreds of locos every spring. Vertigo! As the mountains spill into rivers, you cross Río Chinipas on a spine-tingling bridge 335 feet above the water.

DAY 2 Roll Up to the Pyramids To get a feel for the bonkers topography of Chiapas, where pines Big Reward battle palms for real estate, sign up for Jaguar Adventours’ bike Down by the Sea of Cortez, you’ll find pescado zarandeado: a whole excursion to the Río Totolapa—it starts on a mountaintop and butterflied, chili-marinated fish grilled over smoldering mesquite. ends at a waterfall. Or, if you’re more into hiking, visit the Mayan site of Toniná, the tallest pyramid in Mexico, at almost 250 feet. All the structures (and their 360-degree views) can be explored without a guide; in the States you’d have to sign some kind of death waiver.

…FOR UNA VACACIÓN MUY ROMÁNTICA

DAY 3 Ride a Waterfall Chiapas may have the most aquatic diversity in Mexico, with countless freshwater bodies and 180 miles of secluded ocean beach. So kayak your way through Lagunas de Montebello, a network of 24 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

Three absurdly quaint (and Valentine’s Day–appropriate) towns a few hours from Mexico City. Street Life in Guanajuato Buy sweets at Xocola-T Boutique, a chocolate shop the size of your


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Expendio Records The spot for underground vinyl and rowdy parties. Panadería Rosetta “Havre is kind of the ‘gentrifier’ street, and Rosetta bakery is the best place to hike your sugar—and pleasure—levels.” Café Gaby’s “It might be the only old-school coffee shop like this in the neighborhood. I love the collection of old coffee mills and Dining in San Miguel de Allende molinillos, which are hot-chocolate beaters.” This cobblestoned town has so much great food that Top Chef Marso Gallery Housed in an ornate old mansion, it’s one of a filmed a finale here. Sample the tacos at Tianguis de los Martes handful of contemporary-art galleries to open in the area. (the Tuesday market), try the tasting menu at Áperi, or hit the Corner of Berlín & Versalles “It’s one of the prettiest and most roof of Hotel Nena, where you’ll soak up both city views and the historic parts of the neighborhood.” mole sauce on a suckling pig. average elevator. At dusk, follow a band of troubadours who’ll lead you up all the steep stairs and blind alleys (above). The next day: Ride the funicular up the hill. If you’ve got a diamond, now’s when you break it out.

...FOR THE SWEATS

Shopping in Puebla Forget that Callejón de los Sapos translates to Alley of the Frogs. Just go there. You’ll seem like a hero for “discovering” this corridor At the end of a hike up Tepozteco Mountain in Tepoztlán, you’ll of antiques shops. Then carry on to El Parián, a seven-days-a- find a 12th-century temple to Tepoztecatl, an Aztec god of drink— week crafts market, for brilliantly colored ceramics and textiles. or, specifically, pulque, a pre-Hispanic tipple of fermented agave sap, still sold in town. (Try one. Actually, try a few.) It all makes for an apt intro to an intoxicating place whose presence in Aztec myth supports its status among big – city weekenders as a hippie hideaway. Spas are everywhere in Tepoztlán, and chief among these is the temazcal, an igloo-shaped stone-and-adobe sweat lodge whose form is said to echo Mother Earth’s own womb, What you see in the picture all the way at the top of the page is not so that each temazcal experience is a rebirth. You can get the authentic guided experience at Hotel Teocalli, some new glamping situation in Marfa. It’s not Mars 100 years after Elon Musk plants his flag. It’s Mexico. Encuentro Guada- where a temazcalero leads you through a series of pre-steam lupe, to be exact—a design hotel that’s easily the strangest, most chants, stretches, and herb inhalations. Then, as you enter the exhilarating base for exploring Baja’s burgeoning wine country. temazcal—claustrophobes, turn back now—medicinal herbs Each of the 20 “eco-lofts” (starting at $275) is a freestanding pod, are burned as well as infused in the water thrown on walls to reachable only by shuttle and/or hiking trail. There’s no TV, no ice create near intolerable heat levels. Leafy branches are waved to machine. Just you, a view, and the realization that you’re doing distribute and adjust the steam, then beaten on you to encourage Mexico the right way. For more on that, keep reading. detoxification. (You’ll love it!) Further exfoliation comes courtesy of stones and grasses. After about 20 minutes too long, you exit, lie dazed in a pool, sip tea, and ponder your next pulque.

…FOR THE FREAKY SOLITUDE

...FOR MEXICO CITY’S MAGNIFICENT TRANSFORMATION

...FOR ALL THIS CRAZY JUNGLE STUFF!

As the city becomes a mecca of art and food, new neighborhoods keep popping up as symbols of the revolution: first Condesa, then Roma, and now Colonia Juárez, a district of rehabbed mansions. Here, author Jorge Pedro Uribe (the Anthony Bourdain of Mexico City) maps the highlights.

Until a freak frost in 1962 killed his beloved flowers, Surrealist-art patron and certified eccentric Edward James had been living on a former coffee plantation in the Mexican village of Xilitla among 18,000 orchids. Deciding he’d make a more permanent paradise, James then spent the next two decades constructing 36 WTF-ish Bar Milán and Parker & Lenox “Parker & Lenox is a great concrete structures in the middle of the rain forest. Called Las speakeasy for jazz, swing, and other sounds of the ‘30s and ‘40s; Pozas for its many spring-fed ponds, it’s an outsider-art masterBar Milán is a classic that I hope can survive.” work: The Watts Towers, Grey Gardens, Gaudí’s Barcelona, and Amaya The hottest restaurant opening of 2016, bar none. Disneyland rolled into one. Barbería Capital Because every hood needs a hipster barbershop.

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HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF MARKETS IN MEXICO where the heart and soul of Mexico is

by Ted Campbell

The lives of countless Mexicans revolve around the local market: restaurant owners make regular trips to buy fresh ingredients, mothers and children go before the school semester for new clothes and shoes, taxi drivers get a quick haircut on a break, and office workers stop in for a fast, cheap lunch. [ Summer 2018 ] | 29


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Families share the responsibilities of each enterprise — the man chops the meat and the woman takes the money — and the children grow up in this environment of fast commerce, hustle and bustle, bright colors, constant noise. For the foreign visitor, the market is a great place to see local culture firsthand. You can enjoy a good meal, buy plenty of exotic fresh fruit, find toiletries like soap and toothpaste, load up on batteries and new headphones, pick out a big bouquet of flowers for a new friend, and re­place dirty, worn-out travel clothes without breaking your budget.

For the foreign visitor, the market is a great place to see local culture firsthand. Every town and city in Mexico has a market, sometimes many, and whatever the region is famous for — mole in Puebla, chocolate in Oaxaca — the market is the best place to find the freshest, cheapest, and most authentic version.

Clothes

Most Mexican markets have long hallways of floor-to-ceiling shoes and clothing for great prices. Look for packs of socks, underwear, and t-shirts — necessities for any long-term traveler. Bags and backpacks are usually also just around the corner. You’ll see leather ladies’ purses, school bags featuring Sponge Bob or Spiderman, laptop-sized briefcases, and even big duffle bags for travel. A wide selection makes the market the ideal place to buy clothes. It may not be exotic like tropical fruit or traditional medicine, but hey, it’s cheap.

Produce and Natural Products

High quality fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant throughout Mexico, and the local market is the best place to observe its va30 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

riety. Unlike big supermarkets, where produce must travel down a long supply chain, fruit often comes directly from the farm to the market. Therefore, in the market you’ll find whatever’s fresh and whatever’s local. However, fruit and vegetables are only the beginning if you have a taste for natural food. High quality coffee is grown in many states in Mexico, especially Chiapas and Veracruz. In the sprawling municipal market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, a kilo of dark black coffee costs about 60 pesos (US$4), which is half of what you’d pay in fancy coffee shops a few streets away. Cacao, the rawest chocolate, is native to southern Mexico. You can find raw cacao and good chocolate in every market from Oaxaca in the east to the Yucatan in the west. Cacao seeds are bitter — they need sugar to become chocolate — but every chocolate lover deserves to try the rawest form of their obsession. Chocolate from the state of Oaxaca is the most famous in Mexico, and it’s sold as solid bars or in big bags of powder. Traditionally, chocolate is consumed as a drink, so boil up water or milk and add the chocolate. It may need sugar or may not, so be sure to ask when you buy it. Speaking of sweets, most markets have a section of handmade candies. Most are fruit-based and regional. In Puebla, a few hours east of Mexico City, look for stacks of camotes, candied sweet potatoes, piled up in little white boxes in Puebla’s many downtown markets. They come in several flavors, such as vanilla, strawberry, or orange.

Lunch

Come to the market hungry, but don’t make a meal of all the fruit and candy you buy. Most markets in Mexico have a section of small restaurants, usually the best place in town to find the most representative local food. They certainly are the cheapest. For less than 40 pesos you can get a set meal, which includes soup or rice, tortillas, beans, and a fresh drink. In Puebla and Oaxaca, look for mole, a curry-like sauce that may include hot peppers, chocolate, cinnamon, pine nuts, or animal crackers. Served over chicken and rice, it comes in black, brown, rust-red, green, or even pink. When in the Yucatan


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peninsula, look for cochinita pibil (marinated shredded pork), which is served in tacos or other local specialties like panuchos (a black bean-covered tostada). The tangy red sauce is called ashiote, and you can buy a packet in the market to cook at home. Just add lime, and fry it up with chicken or beef. Mexico City is known for antojitos z: tasty finger food like pambasos (deep-fried sandwiches), huaraches (long bean-filled tortillas with ingredients on top) or gorditas (crispy tortillas stuffed with meat). The options are quite extensive, so don’t be afraid to point at what someone else is having and say, “I’ll have that!” And everywhere in Mexico you can find tamales: steamed corn meal wrapped in a cornhusk or banana leaf. There are two kinds of tamales: first is salados (salty), with different types of meat such as chick-

en, shrimp or even iguana; or dulce (sweet), with fruit or chocolate. Each part of Mexico has different options for tamales, and at the market you’ll find all the local choices in one place. You might just have to order three or four.

Juice

Sure, you can order delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice, but there’s a lot more to try from market juice bars, and it doesn’t get any fresher. Stain your teeth red with a vampiro (vampire juice), which is made with beet, carrot, celery, and orange juice. Jugo verde (green juice) may have nopales (cactus leaves), celery, parsley, pineapple, the native Mexican fruit xoconostle, and orange or grapefruit juice. Finally, try hearty alfalfa juice, which may also include lime, pineapple, guava. [ Summer 2018 ] | 31


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Juices can be regional too — for example, look for chaya juice in the massive market in downtown Merida, the capital of Yucatan state. Chaya is a leaf, like alfalfa, but it has a special flavor and can only be found in the Yucatan. Juice bars are everywhere in Mexico, but are always cheap in a market. In most places a big Styrofoam liter costs 20 pesos (US$1.20).

Odds and Ends

Of course, markets have much more than food and clothing. You can find inexpensive, easy-to-carry items that not only make good souvenirs, but also teach you a little about Mexican culture. Colorful candles are sold in bundles in the section of religious items in most markets. The candles are lit before effigies of saints, and each color is used for a different petition — red is for love, blue is for work, and so on. But there’s no reason you can’t use them at home, and like everything else in the market, the price is right at less than 10 pesos for a handful-sized bundle. For a cheap, natural deodorant, look for Alum stone (piedra de alumbre). This whitish, crumbly substance is used in religious ceremonies, but get it wet and rub it under your arms or on your face after shaving. Finally, amber-colored copal is a good incense alternative. This hard tree resin is 32 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

burnt in religious ceremonies all over Mexico and Central America. You will recognize its sweet, earthy smell if you have visited indigenous churches or seen dance ceremonies on the street. Take some home for an olfactory reminder of your trip to Mexico.

Souvenirs

Artisanal souvenirs are generally well-made and tasteful in Mexico. You’ll see them in little airport tourist shops as soon as you get off the plane: colorful woven purses, sun-and-moon pottery, hand painted bowls and glasses, minutely detailed leather belts, and endless key chains, pens and magnets. As you travel, you’ll notice that certain goods are the same all over Mexico. As you can imagine, the farther you get from the airport, the better prices you will find. In places frequented by tourists, like Cancun or Mexico City, there are whole markets of handicrafts and souvenirs. Selling souvenirs at market in Mexico Making and selling souvenirs in Mexico, including amber stones. Not only do these markets offer the best selection, but because of fierce competition, they offer the best prices as well — much better than tourist shops in hotel lobbies, for example, which sell the exact same goods. Which leads us to…


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Haggling

Yes, you can haggle in Mexico, but you will seldom need to engage in the kind of hard bargaining you might do elsewhere in the world, like touristy parts of Asia or even Guatemala. However, some merchants will try to overcharge tourists, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Ask around at a few stands to learn the fair price. Rarely will something be available at only one stand. To find out if you are being overcharged, politely thank the merchant and walk away. If she immediately calls out a lower price, let the bargaining begin — or look for the same product elsewhere now that you have a better idea of the price. Also, there’s a big difference between buying t-shirts and shot glasses in the tourist market in Cancun and buying a bag of fruit from the municipal market in a small town like Valladolid two hours away. Definitely haggle when buying souvenirs. Buying everything from the same vendor is a good way to get a discount: “Ok, how much for 3 t-shirts then?” But it doesn’t make much sense to haggle for 5 or even 10 pesos when buying fruit in a non-touristy, “real” market. Typically the first price they give you is the real price, and if you’re not sure, hang out a little bit until you overhear a local asking the same question. Perhaps they will overcharge you a little, perhaps not, but why drive a hard bargain over less than a dollar with people who sell fruit for a living? It not only makes you look bad, but can reflect on tourists in general.

On Hard Sells

In many markets in Mexico, you will constantly be called out to as you walk around. ¿Que le damos? ¿Qué buscas? (What can we give you? What are you looking for?) Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you will quickly learn these phrases as you travel though Mexican markets. You only need one word — gracias (thank you). Just smile and give a firm gracias, which also means no thank you. Don’t hesitate to look at something, accept a free sample, ask questions or ask for the price. But, if you don’t want to buy it, don’t be apologetic, and don’t feel pressured — though the pressure will be on. Just say gracias, smile, and walk away.

Final Tips

Bring small bills, preferably 100 pesos or less. They might not have change for a big bill like 500 pesos, and using one to buy something cheap will reinforce the view that you are a rich foreigner. Also, 500 pesos may be equivalent to what some vendors earn in a week, or longer. If you want to take photographs, always ask first. Many people don’t like having their picture taken, especially in southern Mexico with its large Mayan population. It is actually true that some Mayans believe that they lose part of their soul when they have their picture taken. Buying something first is the easiest way to get permission to take a picture. Finally, take it slow. Look around, stop for a meal or a drink, and ask questions. If someone is especially nice, spend a few pesos. Shopping at a market isn’t a race, and buying — even haggling — doesn’t need to be a competition. Rather, it’s a great chance to broaden your palate, absorb some culture, and leave a good impression on the friendly, hardworking people you meet.

Take it slow, look around. Shopping at a market is not a race. Ted Campbell is a freelance writer, Spanish-English translator, and university teacher living in Mexico. He has written two guidebooks about Mexico, one for Cancun and the Mayan Riviera and another for San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque in Chiapas, both available at Amazon.com.

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VIVA LA CUI– DAD Your ultimate guide to the best neighborhoods of Mexico City.

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If you’re looking for cool neighborhoods to explore on your next visit to Mexico City, you’re in luck. The Mexican capital has what is often considered to be one of the world’s coolest barrios, such as Roma and some more underrated but equally artsy zones

like San Rafael. Head south and you’ll find Copilco and Tlalpan, which are practically unvisited by the casual tourist. There are plenty more, and here are 17 of the coolest neighborhoods that visitors should consider checking out.

Condesa If you’re a first-time visitor to the city, you’ll likely end up in Condesa, and rightfully so: This lush neighborhood of meandering streets, upscale shops, and hopping nightlife is one of the city’s most famous. Condesa gives posh young Chilangos countless excuses to slip into stilettos or suits. Condesa’s days begin with beautiful people streaming through parks and designer boutiques, pausing to sip lattes al fresco. Its extravagant nights begin once valets take the keys and velvet ropes are pushed aside. Marked by a larger corporate presence than neighboring Roma or Hipódromo, Condesa’s venues might seem all-too-familiar, but the crowd is always fresh.

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Doctores Lucha libre, known more simply as Mexican wrestling, takes place all over the city, but the home of the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre league is the Arena Mexico in the working class Colonia Doctores neighbourhood. A sport that’s wholly unique to Mexico, lucha libre takes to new heights the showmanship characteristic of WWF wrestling in the U.S. Wrestlers are masked and in dramatic costumes, typically brought to the ring by scantily clad women. Conflicts are recurrent, whipping the crowd into a fevered frenzy. Vendors circulate in the stands with gigantic beers, Micheladas (a beer-based cocktail), and snacks. In the crowd you’re as likely to spot businesspeople still dressed in their 9-to-5 suits as families, groups of friends, and diehard fans who wouldn’t miss a match. It’s a memorable experience.

CONDESA

DOCTORES

Patriotismo

Centro Medico

Chilpansingo

Hospital General

Chapultepec

Niños Heroes

Juanacatlan

Salto del Agua


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Roma After colonía Condesa, Roma is Mexico City’s second most fashionable neighborhood, restored to its former glory thanks to investors who bought up broken and busted colonial homes, restored facades, gutted interiors, turned classic mansions into luxurious residences as well as hip restaurants and bars. Roma Norte’s residents ink their neighborhood’s alleyways, ink their buildings’ brick facades, and ink themselves. In this nearly central expressionist enclave, single speeds help artists save on gas and the spare change helps them buy organic. Less focused on their image than most, Roma Sur’s Chilangos cherish the simpler things in life. Housewives buy fruit from street vendors, teenagers grab lunch at Mercado Medellín, and old-timers sip coffee and flip through the newspaper as familiar faces stream by.

El Centro Whether you are slowed down by pilgrims on the way to seeMexico City’s cathedral or performers re-enacting Aztec history in the Zócalo, rushing through the streets of Centro Histórico is not an option. This city’s oldest traditions, oldest buildings, and oldest businesses are here, right in the heart of the capital. Its volume of experience is palpable—it’s exactly why authors, musicians, and museum-goers continue to gravitate to the city’s core every hour, every day, every year. Anchored on the tourist-magnet Zócalo, El Centro is where Mexican gastronomy is on most colorful display, whether at classic cantinas, bustling markets, or creative new restaurants in restored mansions.

Polanco It’s easy to dismiss Polanco — the Beverly Hills of Mexico City — as a skippable part of town. Still, it’s likely you’ll end up here for one reason or another: The city’s fanciest hotels stand in this area, and so do some of its most highly-rated expensive restaurants. Just north of Chapultepec Park, glittering district of Polanco serves as the city’s rich and famous playground. Businessmen, politicians, and social elites sip, dine, and shop along Mexico City’s luxury lane and sleep in its colonial mansions. It’s all fun and games, but unless you’re Somebody you should prepare for some challenges—valet parking is obligatory, dress code is most definitely enforced, reservations are required and, sometimes, the hostess might call you “Mr. Nobody.”

ROMA

EL CENTRO

POLANCO

Cuauhtémoc

Bellas Artes

Polanco

Insurgentes

San Juan de Letrán

Chilpancingo

Hidalgo

Centro Medico

Juarez

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Coyoacán Ten kilometers south of the city’s most fashionable districts lies Coyoacán, a delegación (similar to a borough, but with its own elected officials) composed of nearly 100 different colonías, or neighborhoods — worth its own day trip. Spirited debates over the merits of democracy and communism feverishly churn in Coyoacán‘s coffee shops and on its park benches. Sequestered in the south of Mexico City, this fiercely independent and intellectually eager neighborhood actually was independent of the city until fairly recently. The neighborhood’s progressive attitude and unbending countercultural zeal make it a legendary place to visit—not to mention seeing the marks left by legendary figures like Leon Trotsky, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera.

Chapultepec History meets modernization in San Miguel Chapultepec, a seemingly sleepy labyrinth of tree-lined streets, snaking highways, stately homes, and decrepit buildings. Its contrasts are exactly what convince artists to move to San Miguel, while its convenient location near Paseo de la Reforma attracts professionals to the area. Add to its peculiar attributes its perfect location on the border of Mexico City’s most majestic park and you too might find your feet on the path to San Miguel.

Narvarte Its community gathers in its churches in the morning, its cafes after the service, and its parks in the afternoon. Politely residential just south of Mexico’s City’s core, this family-focused neighborhood covers a lot of ground. Despite its seat as one of the city’s biggest neighborhoods, Del Valle’s tree-lined streets, kid-filled plazas, and errand-running parents lend it a cohesive feel. Enveloped by a vintage air, Narvarte serenely lingers in the past at the southern edge of the city. Papelerías, tlapalerías, and ferreterías opened during DF’s construction boom in the mid-20th century continue to serve decades-long loyal customers. During the same boom, Japanese, Lebanese, and German immigrants moved into the area. Many still call Narvarte home and their diverse tastes flavor the neighborhood with a welcomed cultural richness.

COYOACÁN

CHAPULTEPEC

NARVARTE

Patriotismo

Chilpansingo

Eugenia

Chilpansingo

Chapultepec

Division del Norte

Chapultepec

Juanacatlan

Etiopia

Juanacatlan

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Juarez Thanks to the slew of hip bars, restaurants, and shops opening in this trapezoidal neighborhood, Juárez has been proclaimed by some to be the newer, better version of the hip neighborhood directly to the south, Roma. A part of colonia Juarez is Zona Rosa. The 1960s artistic heyday of Mexico City’s historic gay neighborhood may be long past, but the its central location makes it an ideal place to see the city’s diversity parade by. Just west of the city’s center, this gay friendly, party friendly, and tourist friendly area emanates a kinetic energy that begins the morning of and ends the morning after. Neoclassical buildings, erotic shops, and a vibrant Korean community contribute to Zona Rosa’s appeal, but the neighborhood isn’t for everyone—what some love about it others call rough edges, and what some call sexual liberation others find seedy.

Tepito Known as the “Barrio Bravo,” Tepito is essentially a huge outdoor market that’s especially busy on Sundays, when the neighboring Lagunilla (outdoor) market is also in full swing. Tepito market is also a wonder of merchandise and delicious Mexican street food. Most visitors who have the sense to keep a low profile have no problems wandering the aisles of the market. Streets to avoid are Jesus Carranza Street, from Bartolomé to the Eje Central 1, and Tenochtitlan Street, from Matamoras to Jesus Carranza. Matamoras Street has the most pedestrian traffic and is the easiest entrance if you are checking out the market for the first time. This market is no Disneyland. There have been shootings, drug busts, and arrests within its walls. Anyone brave enough to wander through it should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. At the same time, you will find that below the surface of all the commerce and fierceness is a neighborhood with a very strong connection to its roots and lots of hospitality to offer its customers.

Santa Fe New, modern, and beautiful, this neighborhood located 5 miles west of downtown includes high-tech and international companies as well as big banks, a University, and a large shopping mall. It is fraught with young professionals and you can feel the energy of the area in its booming restaurant and nightlife scene. From any lookout in Mexico City you can spot the tall skyscrapers of Santa Fe glistening in the sun. Santa Fe has grown in the last decade to become one of the most exclusive areas of the city. Here is where the large corporate headquarters relocated. Luxury hotels arrived. Hypermodern, cutting-edge apartment towers rose. Fine restaurants opened their doors, some of them very well known, in Santa Fe and Bosques de las Lomas. And new and larger shopping centers are still opening with luxury brands and leisure area.

JUAREZ

TEPITO

SANTA FE

Juarez

Bellas Artes

Cuahtémoc

San Juan de Letrán

No metro in the area, use bus transportation

Sevilla

Hidalgo Juarez

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San Angel Neighbor to Coyoacan, San Angel also has narrow streets, colorful plazas, and Colonial mansions to view. It was once a getaway for Spanish nobles, but has long since become a part of the city’s fabric. It is incredibly beautiful to behold, full of color and action, especially the Bazar del Sabado (Saturday Bazaar) at Plaza San Jacinto where antique treasures and arts and crafts are sold. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby to enjoy a lazy day out on a patio sipping tequila. For two famous baroque pieces visit the Iglesia San Jacinto, a 16th century church with a baroque altar, or the baroque fountain made of broken porcelain at the Casa del Risco.

Xochimilco Although it is a bit far from downtown (15 miles south) it is noted for its famed canals and gorgeous Floating Gardens, both a mustsee in Mexico City. With a population of 300,000 the brick streets can become heavy with traffic during rush hour, but the large number of locals leaves Xochimilco feeling extremely authentic. The historically significant churches are a marvel to tour, and there are restaurants and shopping at the edge of the canal. Plus, you’ll love visiting the town market specializing in rugs, ethnic clothing, and brightly decorated pottery. If there’s a festival happening in the city, chances are it will be hosted in Xochomilco, which hosts over 400 annually! The largest festival is a celebration of Niñopa, a figure of the Christ Child that is believed to possess miraculous powers. The week before Easter is the Feria de la Flor Más Bella del Ejido, a flower fair when the most beautiful girl with Indian costume is selected.

Tlalpan Around Tlalpan are some of the most important natural areas of Mexico City. Families, students and fans of running find authentic green oasis at the Fuentes Brotantes National Park, the lake and the Loreto Peña Pobre eco-tourism park. Archaeology lovers must visit Cuicuilco. Cuicuilco is one of the cradles of the Mexico Valley civilizations, the forerunner of the Teotihuacan civilization. Adventurers will enjoy hiking at the Tlalpan forest or at the rugged terrain of Cumbres del Ajusco National Park. The routes inside the park, as well as the bike path up to La Cima, are favorite destinations for mountain biking enthusiasts. Six Flags México is an amusement park located in the Tlalpan forest and borough, on the southern edge of Mexico City, Mexico. It is owned and operated by Six Flags Inc. and the only Six Flags park operating in Latin America. It is the most visited theme park in Latin America with 2.5 million annual visitors. It was previously known as Reino Aventura and was a Mexican-owned and run theme park; the orca whale Keiko (featured in the movie Free Willy) was then its principal attraction.

SAN ANGEL

XOCHIMILCO

TLALPAN

Miguel Ángel de Quevedo

Tasqueña

No metro in the area, use bus transportation

Barranca del Muerto

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CU (Ciudad Universitaria) Mexico’s UNAM is nearly always at — or near — the very top of the best 100 universities in Latin America. Ciudad Universitaria (or CU), UNAM’s main campus, is literally a small city — CU covers more than 10 million square meters including the ecological preserve, hosts 1,000 buildings, 138 libraries, more than 5 million books. Since CU’s inauguration in 1952, the school has shone with the creative genius applied by the country’s best architects, muralists, and thinkers. From Mario Pani and Juan O’Gorman to David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, the architecture, design, and artwork of the buildings, gardens, libraries and public spaces have been among the best and most inspiring in the country. Multiple films have been produced on-campus simply because UNAM’s looks so good. Among the most important was Luis Buñuel’s “The River and the Death” (1954) but that’s just one of many. Artist Juan O’Gorman designed the mosaic murals that cover the Central Library facades. To achieve this, he had thousands of colored stones brought from all over the country. That’s why the murals are just as colorful today as when they were originally unveiled around 60 years ago.

Satelite Satélite is an upscale suburban area located in Naucalpan, State of Mexico. There is not much to do in Ciudad Satelite as it is mainly a residential area. In spite of that, two of the biggest shopping malls in the metropolitan area of Mexico can be visited: Plaza Satélite and Mundo E, the last one with a great variety of restaurants, night clubs and entertaiment establishments. Different pubs and bars in Satelite are popular amongst the youth and you can be surprised by the low prices of alcohol compared to the establishments in central Mexico city. Los Remedios is an antique basilic and one of the oldest in all the country, its a nice spot to visit and the little town there is exceptional to bargain if you are in search of local art. In the municipalities of Naucalpan and Tlalnepantla there are several industrial parks where many multinationals have their factories, therefore if you come on business travel Ciudad Satelite is a good choice for a break to have lunch or hang out.

Airport Mexico City International Airport (officially Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez) is an international airport that serves Greater Mexico City. It is Mexico’s and Latin America’s busiest airport. The airport sustains 35,000 jobs directly and around 15,000 indirectly in the immediate area. This hot and high airport is served by 30 domestic and international passenger airlines and 17 cargo carriers. As the main hub for Mexico’s largest airline Aeroméxico, the airport has become a SkyTeam hub. It is also a hub for Aeromar, Interjet, Volaris, and a focus city for VivaAerobus. The airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 (for most international flights) and Terminal 2 (mostly used for Sky Team airlines). The airport is at full capacity and a new airport is under construction ten miles further east along the Texcoco highway. This is expected to open in 2020.

CU

SATELITE

AIRPORT

Universidad

No metro in the area, use bus transportation

Oceania

Copilco

Terminal Áerea Hangares

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PIA CAMIL

the mexican artist talks

There are two themes that roar through the symbolic and increasingly participatory work of Mexican artist Pia Camil; Mexico City and the destabilization of things. by Jodi Bartle

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Sprawling, ancient, chaotic Mexico City is Pia Camil’s birthplace and birthright – her knowledge of the city and the ease at which she has learned to navigate it informs her work at a basic level. Born and raised there, it was her mother who introduced her intimately to the sensory overload of Mexico City, ‘knowing every nook and cranny like a cab driver’ and this, she says has had huge impact on her intuitive, intimate and subjective work. At 16, Camil left for boarding school, then to the US and finally London for grad and post grad studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Slade School of Fine Art. The plan was to become an artist ‘somewhere else’ but from London she was deported and returned to Mexico City: this forced reorientation forms the basis of her significant work. ‘I was quite surprised by the city and had a new perspective on it because it had been decided for me. Now most of my work deals with the relationship between me and the city and how I find ways to access it or comment on it.’ are ‘contradictory and layered and complex, The other overarching strand in Camil’s and woven within these ideas is Mexico City work is an intention to destabilize things ‘in itself because it is a complex city – a monster.’

What is it about Mexico City that inspires you?

Everything is an experience, an overload of shit, so sensorially charged and it is not the experience you get from an ordinary city.

order to fuck things up, to find new meaning in things and not just take them at face value.’ Camil’s 2015 Frieze show in New York was a starting point for her kind of destabilization – she flipped the phenomenon of the major international art fair and art market on its head by giving away 800 ‘habitable paintings’ in the form of ponchos for free. Camil’s other works with disused billboards, abandoned highway buildings, re-purposed shop fittings, formalized paintings and participatory performance work 44 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

The spirit of Mexico in general is always an inspiration but I tend to target specific areas of the city. I work with lots of outdoor secondhand markets in marginal neighborhoods with a large working sector and they are informal and conflicting and plagued with lots of economic, social, and political issues. Intuitively I seek these places out because they are engaging visually, aesthetically, even by the sound. Everything is an experience, an overload of shit, so sensorially charged and it is not the experience you get from an ordinary city. It is crazy, noisy, the smells are intense, everything about it is intense. I like the nature of when things are in a chaotic unstable place, because I find points of engagement more easily as opposed to things being in a gentrified state. In New York I find it incredibly boring and some places in Europe I think ‘fuck, man, it’s so orderly and perfect.’ I hate to generalize but perhaps artists feel drawn to this in-


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stability, like New York in the 80s, which goes to say that Mexico is not the ‘it’ place to be. I think that Mexico City has always been like this, inside, forever.

In what way has your experience of going away and coming back given you a different viewpoint? Do you need distance and absence to be able to claim a thing and see it more clearly? Yeah, going away helps. It had to become unfamiliar for me to recognise it again, otherwise it is too much part of your everyday landscape, but the other side is that you realise it works because it is familiar to you and you know how to navigate it properly. An artist friend showed me an Instagram photo of an artist who is not from Mexico City and she had on a disguise of a wig and glasses and a hoodie and she was proud she was going to a badass neighbourhood which is still badass but not what it used to be back in the day. We both laughed because you get such a different understanding of the city when you are here; you know the codes and the language. It is interesting to me how these codes get broken down when you are from here, or you are not from here, and how you perceive that. In my case, it is a mix of enough familiarity that I can be very fluid and go in and out of these places quite naturally, but then when I am in there I am not necessarily 100% part of it. I am seeing it with a type of subjectivity, I guess.

What do you consider yourself? Sculptor? Painter?

From left to right, clockwise: Wearing – watching, 2015. Photo by Timothy Schenck. Courtesy Frieze Art Inc. Divisor Pirata, 2016 Second-hand t-shirts (from the market in Iztapalapa) 6 m x 14.5 m. Divisor Pirata, 2016 Second-hand t-shirts (from the market in Iztapalapa) 6 m x 14.5 m. Frontera, 2014 Hand dyed and stitched canvas 240 cm x 240 cm. Courtesy Blum and Poe.

That’s a tricky one – I don’t know. I trained as a painter and I remember a teacher at Rhode Island Design School saying that no matter what medium you do, you always think as a painter. That stayed with me, because I have done lots of different shit but I always see them compositionally, in a very formal way, like a painter would. But I don’t necessarily think of myself as a painter even though the work looks to a formal engagement and aesthetic. That’s been changing more and more with my interest in offering an element of participation in the [ Summer 2018 ] | 45


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work. It is a conscious decision to let that formality go a little bit and introduce more play and a little bit more of the unexpected into the work and the formal element has been slowly diluting. All the labels dilute as you grow older and you get more immersed in your work.

and I stop by at the seamstress’s home and I am there for a little bit and they talk to me about the issues of the neighborhood and whatever — you just shoot the shit and talk about their problems and I talk about mine and it is a climate I like to foster when I make the work.

Is that where your creative journey starts – seeing things differently and also putting different questions to the same stuff that everyone else sees?

So what happened at Frieze 2015 show?

For me, yeah that is part of it, but the other part has to do with an urge to use your work as an output for something. If you don’t have that output, you find it quite frustrating to deal with your own stuff…it is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, it becomes a world you can easily access in and out of, like a very personal language. My work now is on a different scale but it is exactly what drawing used to be for me when I was little, just this little place I could go to to express stuff; then you become older and it’s much more of an elaborate vocabulary.

Your work has increasingly highlighted the importance of collaboration. Can you tell me about that? I have always liked collaborating and after I became a mum it seemed like the idea of me being alone in the studio just wasn’t going to fly. My textile work is with groups of seamstresses and it became natural — this relationship I was building with women I was working with is intrinsic to the work. I am trying to bring this to the front of the work as opposed to an element that never gets discussed. Not ‘Oh look, what amazing work Pia does’; instead there is a whole story behind. Lately I have been titling the work with the first names of the seamstresses as a way for me to recognize them. Most of the seamstresses I am working with now are part of a collective. They live in one of the areas have been going to and I think of it as a place I don’t just go to as a tourist, where I might buy a t-shirt then go back to my house — no, I go to the market 46 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

The free poncho thing immediately set off an incredible response from the public from the most positive to the most negative. In the end it was a successful piece because it brought all this stuff out — I remember after the first day I went back to the place I was staying at with my boyfriend and I just cried. He was like ‘Why are you crying? It’s been amazing, great…!’ and I was like ‘It was horrible!’ I hated seeing that! It was crazy.

Why? Some visitors were bribing other people to be able to cut the line, or name dropping – ‘I am so-and-so, can I cut the line?,’ people offering money — $1000 for a poncho right then and there. This was not the point of the project — you needed to fucking get in line. Other people were so mad: ‘I’ve been standing for three hours and I didn’t get a poncho so, whatever, I will just take this one’ and just ran off. It was incredible. Then you see the good side of people coming up and exchanging shit for the poncho, saying this was such a nice project, the energy you put into it, and they gave me little things they had with them in return.

All the labels dilute as you grow older and you get more immersed in your work.


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Your 2016 work ‘A Pot For A Latch’ was an extension of the idea of exchange. What was different this time? I wanted to emphasize the importance of getting something back in return and generating an idyllic economy system in a bubble. Visitors were asked to bring an object of no significance except to themselves and to exchange it with other objects in return. It was in the New Museum gallery where one facade is just glass, so I thought it would be nice to do a store front — where you can be window shopping, typically New York. It was a simple setup based on how markets in Mexico City put things in a minimal formal way — a grid system. First we started being really strict about what the objects were but then I realized the more you let go, that’s where the heart of the piece lies. People were bringing very significant stuff and it was much friendlier than Frieze. For me this piece is important because it gave so much value to the spectator formally and conceptually — they make the work. I set up the structure and the rules and the public made it happen, bringing amazing shit and great stories.

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Previous page: Pia Camil at Blue and Poe gallery, LA, 2014. Photo by Sukilynn. Below: A Pot for a Latch, 2016. Metal grid panels with donated objects from the public. 3mx3m. Images courtesy New Museum, New York.


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Macedonia Blas Flores and her long fight for the rights of the most unprotected women in Mexico: the indigenous.

In 2005 I had a day out in Amealco, and I found Macedonia in the main square in her craft stall. I recognized her because months before I had seen her in a television interview made by Adela Micha. She talked about a complaint she had made and the injustice on the part of the authorities to which she had been subjected. These events happened on June 23, 2003, when the gossip watered in the community accused Macedonia of adultery, so a couple of women beat Macedonia half to death and then hold her and spread a mixture of chili peppers on her genitals. It took 6 years to arrest her aggressors, something very common with the justice system in Mexico. During those years, Macedonia fought against the injustices towards her person and other indigenous women in the country, besides of having to work to support her children alone. On that occasion I saw Macedonia and talked to her about her story. She told me a few stories from the time when she went to Mexico City where she stayed with some political figures. Some of them gave her financial and material support, thanks to all the attention from the media. She told me that on one occasion, at an event with indigenous groups in Los Pinos, then first lady Martha SahagĂşn de Fox approached her and discreetly gave her a small bag with $1,000 Mexican pesos. Martha told her that she did not give more because at the moment she did not had more money in her vallet.

by Citlali Medal photo: Citlali Medal on the left page: Macedonia Blas Flores, OtomĂ­ Indian from the municipality of Amealco de Bonfil, QuerĂŠtaro

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Her story is story of a woman who had everything to lose, but drew strength from her pain and made it an unstoppable impulse to prevent other women, indigenous, poor, and victims of violence, like her, go through what she had to go through.

Macedonia was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She’s done a lot for her people being a founder of a non-governmental organization helping the Otomi in 1997, and a single mother of 12 children. It is a long fight for the rights of the most unprotected women in this country: the indigenous. She does not stop smiling for a moment. She seems cheerful all the time. If anything, what she had to live through would not have made a dent in her optimism. At 50, Macedonia Blas Flores says: “That luck has touched me,” remembering the misfortunes she experienced. However, more than resignation, her story is that of a woman who had everything to lose, but who drew strength from her pain and made it an unstoppable impulse to prevent other women, indigenous, poor and victims of violence, like her, go through what she had to go through. Macedonia had 12 children, of whom ten live, nine with her, in her house in San Ildefonso, community of El Bothé, municipality of Amealco, Querétaro. The oldest is 30 years old, and the youngest is five. Macedonia had devoted almost all her life to making handicrafts, napkins, embroidered tablecloths, dolls, and even today she makes a few of those objects to sell them in the meetings she goes out to. “Now I do not suffer as before... When I start thinking about the past, it makes me sad. We stayed at the power stations or in the little doorways to hide from the water when we went out to sell our crafts”. Macedonia began to fight more intensely for sexual and reproductive rights based on painful personal experience. It was a day in August 2003, when Macedonia was walking down the street and was attacked by two women, a mother and a daughter. The 52 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

reason? They accused her of adultery with her husband (and father of the daughter), something that was not true, but that cost her a lamentable attack on her privacy, only because the lies that a man told were believed by his wife. That was not the first violent episode in the life of Macedonia. She had suffered violence from her husband. Macedonia was kind enough to share her memories with me. “My case, I lived it and suffered, for that right now I have fought so that a change is sought, that women do not suffer violence, that they know their rights, that they know that when there is violence it is necessary to denounce”. Citlali: What was your case? Macedonia: I had an alcoholic husband and he left me with 11 children. Then I suffered violence and I was even the victim of a woman from my community. I already worked in the organization to defend the rights of women, and maybe out of envy she attacked me, jealous because her old man defamed me. There are men who are bad, they like to defame women and I do not remain silent. I have always explained it and I keep working on it. Citlali: What did that woman and her husband accuse you of? Macedonia: Of adultery, they said that I was with that gentleman. I had had a son with another man, and they said it was his. Gossip was ugly, that’s why sometimes I start to think there are cowards. They said it when they knew it was not true. I think they thought I was not going to get ahead, but I did not stay quiet. I don’t think about those problems anymore. I’m living a new life, with new friends, the companions of other organizations. And I will never be silent.


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THIRD G ENDER

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ancient Zapotec community and modern patriarchal Mexico

Muxes are people who are born biologically male and dress as women—but they don’t consider themselves cross-dressers or transgender. Instead, they are treated as “the third gender,” and they identify neither as men nor as women.


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by Luis Cobelo photo: Whitney Lauren and Luis Cobelo

In the Istmo de Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, lies the district of Juchitán. This was the land of the ancient Zapotec civilization, whose language and culture still thrives here. One of the many distinguishing characteristics of Juchitán is its population of muxes (pronounced moo-shays), which means “woman” in Zapotecan dialect. But they are not women. Most crudely put, they are people who are born biologically male and dress as women—but they consider themselves neither cross-dressers nor transgender. Instead, they are treated as “the third gender,” and they identify neither as men nor as women. Because of that understanding, muxes often do not face the same levels of discrimination that gay men or trans women do here. Many engage in work that is traditionally reserved for women, but others do men’s work, too. It was in Las Velas—Oaxacan parties where people dance, eat, and drink—that muxes found their place, dressing up in traditional kehuana costume. Since the 1970s, they have held their own vela called The Authentic Intrepid Danger Seekers—a sign that society and the government believe in the sexual diversity of Oaxaca. In order to learn more about muxe culture, I traveled to Juchitán and met several muxes who prepared traditional dishes for me from the area while explaining their backgrounds and their experiences. [ Summer 2018 ] | 55


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LA TOYA

Victoria López Ramírez, better known as La Toya, is 32 years old. She lives with her mother María and her sisters, and makes her living by doing hair and makeup for women and other muxes. “I sell clothes, I teach Zumba classes, and I make flower arrangements for birthdays and weddings,” she tells me with a smile. Ever since she was young, she knew that she was attracted to men. “I wanted to be a muxe when I was 12 years old. I didn’t understand it myself, and my family didn’t take it very well at first, but then they didn’t have any other option than to accept it.” La Toya speaks of Juchitán with reservations. “In this city, even if they let us be free, this is not a paradise ... There are homosexuals who are muxes that come to Juchitan to take refuge, because somehow we are accepted here—but there is still a long way to go. We need to stop being treated as a tourist attraction.” The dish that La Toya prepares for me is usually eaten at breakfast: deer stew with green chili, garlic, and tomatoes. Deer meat is very tough, so she cooks it for at least three hours in water with

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garlic and oil. Then she adds tomatoes, achiote (a red paste that is used as a seasoning), and chili to taste. I ask her if it is true that some families actually push their kids to become muxes. “I don’t know about that,” she answers. “What is sure is that nobody can teach you to be gay. You can’t assimilate into something that is natural. There are families that want their kids to be ‘machos,’ but you can’t fight the natural instinct of the person. That is why many come to Juchitán—to be what they truly are.”


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MÍSTICA

Mística Sánchez Gómez is 37 years old. She makes her living by selling multi-flavored jellies around town every morning. I find her on a Sunday in the cemetery hawking her jellies, which she sells out of in a matter of minutes. “This is what I do every day,” she tells me. “Other than this, I cook for anyone who asks me to.” Mística prepares me a traditional breakfast dish of tomato and iguana. She first kills the animal and lets it bleed out slowly. She then places it over a fire, which softens the skin and allows her to remove the scales. Once it’s clean, she places it in a pot of water with tomato, achiote, and chilies. (The legs and the tail are the tastiest and most sought-after parts of the animal.) Mística also cooks the iguana’s eggs, which are boiled for at least 30 minutes. “I have been doing a woman’s job ever since I can remember,” she says. “I wash clothes, I sell my jellies, and also sell cheese. I have respected my birth sex and I would never think about getting a sex-change surgery. I am muxe and I am integrated, and I have a respected place in society. I feel proud.”

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GALA

Gala is now 22 years old, but she began dressing in women’s clothing when she was only 4. “That was what allowed me to come out of the closet, because before that I wouldn’t dare,” she tells me. “I was always a homosexual and I believed that my family would reject me. When I decided to be a muxe, it was easier and not so traumatic, it was a joy, and now everyone looks at me with admiration; to assume homosexuality as a muxe is more socially accepted.” Gala works and waits tables with her aunt in a booming botanero (a type of bar) where they serve little plates of food along with beers, tequila, and mezcal. She prepares a shrimp salad, one that they usually sell to customers at the bar. She cooks the shrimp with onions, lemon, and tomato, before adding a bit of cilantro on top. They are eaten with baked tortillas called totopos. Her other dish, served as a botana (appetizer), is a thick, meatbased broth that’s traditional to Juchitán. It’s made with yellow corn flour, tomato, epazote, onions, and beef. “We are not men or women,” Gala says resolutely. “We are a third gender. Men are men and women are women—and muxes are muxes. Is that simple.”

FELINA

Felina Santiago is 48 years old and lives with her niece and her dad, whom she supports with her income as a hairdresser. She asks me not to call her by her birth name, but adds, “Part of our identity as muxes is to keep our real names and to defend our identity while we immerse ourselves in the customs of Juchitán; what makes the difference is how you live, instead of where you live and how we relate to each other. This is where I am Felina Santiago.” Muxes do not necessarily need to be dressed as women, but they assume their role as muxes in society. “It’s a way of being,” Felina tells me. “Whereas you are a man or a woman, we have the best of both worlds. We are obviously homosexuals, but our behavior is different. We have intercourse with heterosexual men—which I always say are closeted gays—and we would never have a muxe as a partner. Ever.” I asked Felina about a rumor that, in the not-so-distant past, many men in Juchitán would pay to lose their virginity to a muxe. She rolls her eyes and tells me, “Muxes have always been open to sexual encounters but never for money … Many men in this town had their first sexual encounter with a muxe, way before they ever did it with their official girlfriend. But no one is going to admit that.” Felina cooks me a braised fish, a very simple dish. She tells me that you use any of the fishes from the area, but in this case it’s a black sea bass. She stuffs it with diced onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. She then ties up the fish with a string and places it in a traditional oven called a comiscal, or “mud pot,” for 45 minutes. In one of the rooms of Felina’s house is a flower – and candle-covered altar with the Virgen de Guadalupe and a picture of Felina’s mother, who passed away a few years back. “My mother supported me in everything,” she says. “Fathers always want to fix you, but mothers are always more understanding. In the end, everyone ends up accepting our condition. They have no choice.” 58 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]


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Five LatinAmerican Non-Profits that Need Your Support Myriad organizations based in both the U.S. and across Latin America benefit Latino communities, many of them focusing on education and health care, access to both of which are also a specific target of the Trump administration. Here, we round up five that need your support. by Katherine Cusumano

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Amid the wide-ranging, xenophobic policy proposals put forth by President Donald Trump and his administration, targeting immigrants, disabled individuals, women, and people of color, Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been especially singled out since the beginning of his unlikely presidential campaign. And since his election, Trump has persisted in demanding a border wall, a physical barricade between the United States and Mexico, to prevent the entrance of immigrants he callously, and falsely, called “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” Though a recent budget deal did not include any funding for such a wall—which Trump assured his supporters would be repaid in full by the Mexican government—Trump still claimed the deal a victory, referring to a “down payment” towards the construction. It is worth noting that an estimated 79 percent of Latino voters turned out in favor of Hillary Clinton in November. All this is to say, there’s particular cause to support Mexican and Latin American-based organizations amid the hateful rhetoric emanating from Trump and his flunkies. Myriad organizations based in both the U.S.—particularly in New York—and across Latin America benefit Latino communities, many of them focusing on education and health care, access to both of which are also a specific target of the Trump administration. Here, we round up five that need your support.


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Project Paz Founded in 2010, Project Paz works primarily Fundacion Origen Since 1999, Fundacion Origen in Juarez, Mexico, offering afterschool arts, athletic, and literacy programs to children. This year, Paz began to expand into the Bronx, New York, with literacy programs for the children of immigrant families. In addition to its community-based work, Paz also coordinates fundraising and collaborations within art and design circles to benefit its mission. Today, in New York, the organization is hosting a fundraiser hosted

has offered relief and aid to women who are victims of domestic violence. Origen operates a hotline, job training, and education programs aimed at narrowing the wage gap, helping women become more financially autonomous, and promoting legislation that helps victims of partner violence.

Glasswing With headquarters in New York and El Salvador

and additional offices in Aruba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and beyond, Glasswing’s impact is wide-ranging. The eponymous label Garciavelez, and George Sotelo, of Thorsun, and organization, which celebrates a decade in operation this year, has Karla Martinez de Sala, a former W editor who’s since become programming nearly as wide-ranging as its geographic locations, editor-in-chief of Vogue Mexico and Latin America, among others, spread across education, healthcare, volunteer coordination, and will throw a fundraiser alongside Project Paz to benefit Masa, the immigration safety and reform. New York-based educational organization that focuses specifically on at-risk youth in the South Bronx. According to Masa, Mexican El Museo del Barrio On New York’s Upper East Side youth have “the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group in the lives El Museo del Barrio, the museum whose collections focus city,” with just more than 40 percent neither graduating from nor on Caribbean and Latin American art and artifacts. It named a attending high school. The group was birthed out of the push to new director in Mexico City-based curator Patrick Charpenel at pass a bill in 2001 that would allow undocumented immigrants the beginning of the month. In addition to its permanent and attending public universities to receive in-state tuition.(They rotating collections, the Museo also hosts an array of programs succeeded.)Since then, Masa has worked on afterschool programs, including conversations and lectures, concerts, community outreach, and workshops. mentorship, and college advising across the city.

Masa On Cinco de Mayo, designers Carlos Garciavelez, of the

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[ CROSSING THE BORDER ]

Ana Teresa Fernandez Erasing the Border (Borrando la Frontera), 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

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GRAIN IS COOL AGAIN What you can shoot in 24 hours when you find yourself in Santa Monica, CA with one expired black and white film.

Photo: Anna Atiagina

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Your Victorian Getaway [ ONE TOWN STORY ]

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[ ONE TOWN STORY ]

Old Port Town’s Appeal reaches far beyond Northwest by Matthew Preuschjuly photo: Anna Atiagina

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Jeanne and Kevin Clark bought a vacation home in Nevada City, Calif., about 20 years ago. They had planned to relocate to Nevada City, a historic gold-rush town northeast of Sacramento, after their careers as high school teachers in Southern California. But when they visited their former hideaway a few years ago, they realized it had become too smoggy and too overcome by traffic, not the quaint town they had originally bought into. “So we went looking for another place, and we looked all around between Anacortes and Port Angeles” on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, Kevin Clark said. “We decided Port Townsend was the best place in the whole area.” They were charmed by the town’s red-brick waterfront, where ferries drop visitors from across Puget Sound; its vibrant cultural scene in a small-town package; and the mild climate. Smitten, they bought a 2,900-square-foot contemporary with cathedral ceilings and hardwood floors in a residential part of the historic port community in 2002 for $384,000, and they have spent summers and holidays there ever since. “We just love it here, and we don’t think there is a better place in the Northwest in terms of amenities,” Mr. Clark said. Traditionally a weekend getaway for Seattle residents, the region now attracts part-timers from Chicago, Washington, Texas and even Western Europe. Most are liberal-minded, middle-age couples, many with retirement on their minds, who are drawn to the city’s keen sense of history and its range of cultural offerings. “It’s generally empty nesters and people who want to be involved in the community,” Michelle Sandoval, mayor of Port Townsend and co-owner of Windermere Real Estate Port Townsend, said of those who buy second homes there. “They don’t want to be anonymous. They want to be engaged.” Many second-homers are nautical by nature, drawn to the region’s sea kayaking, sailing and craft maritime industry as epitomized by the Wooden Boat Foundation. Once a Victorian-era seaport, Port Townsend sits at the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula on a dogleg called Quimper Peninsula. To the north is the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the entrance to Puget Sound, whose waters are home to islands that fill the eastern horizon. Port Townsend was the first white settlement on the Olympic Peninsula, and its sheltered harbor became a center for the sea trade that defined the region’s early history. Port Townsend once considered itself the “New York of the West,” but it was bitten by hard times when the railroad passed it by in the late 1800s. After the financial panic of 1893, the population dropped from 7,000 to less than 2,000, according to Historylink.org, an encyclopedia of Washington State history. It was reborn as a paper-mill town in the 1920s, and has evolved into an arts-focused tourist town with a strong maritime heart. “It’s very eclectic,” said Renée Klein of Seattle, who, with her husband, Jim, enjoys spending her weekends walking around town. The Kleins bought a 1950s three-bedroom house in the Morgan Hill neighborhood in 2003 for $315,000. “The kind of dialogues you have at a cocktail or dinner party would rival anything you might find in a big city,” Ms. Klein added. 76 | WANDER WOMEN [ travel consciously ]

But the town certainly isn’t all rarefied conversation. After work, shipwrights shell peanuts as they quaff pints of Hop Diggity I.P.A. ($4.25 a pint) at the Port Townsend Brewery’s taproom, right beside wooden boats up on blocks in the industrial park. On the waterfront, cormorants and gulls sun themselves on pitch-sticky pilings, and though there are a number of tacky trinket shops, the place is still authentic enough that a white captain’s hat can be worn without irony. And the bygone glory is as palpable as the grooves worn into the floor in front of the tellers’ windows at the imposing Romanesque post office and customs house that


[ ONE TOWN STORY ]

The place is still authentic enough that a white captain’s hat can be worn without irony

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overlooks the harbor. The wise don’t waste the sunshine when it arrives, working their vegetable gardens or heading into the nearby Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. The city has for decades attracted artists and other creative types from Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, and today Centrum, a nonprofit arts association formed in 1973, hosts writers’ conferences, jazz concerts and fiddle workshops at nearby Fort Worden State Park. Port Townsend is also home to Copper Canyon Press, considered one of the country’s best publishers of poetry, and its writers include W. S. Merwin, Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. The ample arts offerings and dozens of restaurants mean transplants from cities don’t feel like cultural pioneers anymore, which has also made the city more popular with retirees. One downside for all of those Left Coasters — it can be almost easy to forget which gray Prius is yours in the parking lot of the Food Co-op Port Townsend. “We all joke that we’re sort of left-over hippies,” Ms. Klein said.

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Pros Sitting in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, Port Townsend gets about half the annual rainfall of Seattle, about 19 inches. But because it comes in small doses, winters can still seem gray and endless. On the plus side: “You never need snow tires, and you never need an air-conditioner,” said Jerry Hutter, who with his wife, Kc, bought a 3,700-square-foot custom-built house on five acres south of town for $650,000 in 2004.

Cons Often the first thing you notice after the inland waterway vistas is the ripe wind wafting across the waterfront from the Port Townsend Paper Corporation’s mill, which is the county’s largest private employer. Much of old town is a National Historic Landmark District, which serves to maintain its character but can be cumbersome to homeowners hoping to remodel protected homes. If you can get the permits, options are limited for contractors, and newcomers might be surprised by the easygoing nature of those who are there. “We call it P.T. time,” Ms. Sandoval said. “People work when they want to work.”


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TO-DO LIST what

when

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Before You Go More Latin American non-profits that need your attention.

Biblioteca Los Mangos (Puerto Vallarta): bibliotecalosmangos.org Casa de los Angeles (San Miguel de Allende): casadelosangeles.org El Mundo para Puerto Morelos SC (Puerto Morelos, Q.R.): www.emppm.com EntreAmigos (San Pancho, Nayarit): entreamigos.org.mx Feed the Hungry (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato): feedthehungrysma.org Flora, Fauna y Cultura (Playa del Carmen, Q. R.): www.florafaunaycultura.org Fundación Ayuda Niños La Paz, A.C.(FANLAP) (La Paz, Baja): www.lapazninos.org Fundacion Kristin (Puerto Vallarta): www.fundacioncorazon.mx International Community Foundation (San Diego, CA): icfdn.org Jovenes Adelante (San Miguel de Allende): www.jovenesadelante.org Kayak For Kids (Baja California): www.kayakforkids.org Maestro Cares (orphans care, Mexico and Latin America): maestrocares.org PEACE Mexico (Punta Mita, Nayarit): peacepuntademita.org Peñasco Children Foundation (Puerto Peñasco): www.puerto-penasco.com/charity Project Concern Int’l (San Diego, CA): www.pciglobal.org Project Explorer (New York, NY): www.projectexplorer.org Rocky Point Food Bank (Puerto Peñasco): www.puertopenascoliving.com Water Cleaning (San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas): www.yokchij.org Ciudad de la Alegria (Cancun): www.ciudadalegria.org Corazon de Vida (Irvine, CA): www.corazondevida.org LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Los Angeles): lapca.org Casita Linda (San Miguel): casitalinda.org PVAngels (Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco): pvangels.com Por Los Niños (Zihuatanejo): porlosninos.com

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Wander Women. The Mexico Issue  

Magazine for female travelers. Student work by Anna Atiagina (Graphic Design, Seattle Central Creative Academy).

Wander Women. The Mexico Issue  

Magazine for female travelers. Student work by Anna Atiagina (Graphic Design, Seattle Central Creative Academy).

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