Monday, April 20, 2009

Alacránes y Búfalos // Scorpions and Buffalos

The above image is from the greatest Mexican juego de mesa (table game) of all: lotería. It's basically Bingo, but with words and pictures instead of numbers, which for my money makes the whole thing way more fun. It's also a great way to learn vocabulary. When I visited Mexico on the 2007 J-Term Mexico City Immersion Course, we stayed overnight with a Mexican family for one night, but we, the students, were all pretty nervous about it, since our Spanish wasn't great. But when the family brought out lotería, the laughs, the conversation, the - dare I say it? - fellowship began.

Lotería is especially fun because, in the classic version, the pictures include such classics as "El Borracho" (the Drunk), "El Valiente" (the Brave Man? the image is of a guy who looks like he just left a barfight, I don't know...), "La Muerte" (Death, looking like the grim reaper), and, of course, El Alacrán - the Scorpion.

I post a photo of El Alacrán today because, how do I put this, some of his little scorpion friends have invaded our apartment. On Friday we returned from a movie (Monsters vs. Aliens, appropriately enough) to find a little scorpion scurrying out from under a chair. Chris quickly crushed it, then spent the rest of the night worrying about whether it stung her through her new Chuck Taylors. (It didn't.) Then, this morning, Chris went to wash some breakfast dishes to find - no! not again! - a scorpion in the sink. Both were only very small scorpions - alacranitos? - but hey, a scorpion is a scorpion. Click on that link and tell me the photos don't creep you out.

We're not quite sure how to handle this latest problem. We took care of the mosquitoes with some locally-recommended plug-into-the-wall repellent. Roaches - Chris prefers to call them beetles - only seem to come into the apartment to die, and we've only seen a handful in six weeks. From reading James and the Giant Peach recently, we learned that Miss Spider in our bathroom is actually quite helpful for taking care of our mosquito problem. But scorpions?

Look, people, we're from the Middle West. We have, like, ants at picnics and flies in the summertime and every 17 years or so a cicada invasion, and that's about it. Maybe you Texans are all over this problem - and if so, we welcome your advice! All we're doing at this point is wearing shoes in the house all the time and taking care to, as Chris put it in her note describing the scorpion discovery this morning, "Be careful of dark places!"

But alacranes aren't the only wildlife in beautiful Lagos de Moreno. Recently the local paper has been documenting the saga of a herd of buffalo that were abandonado - abandoned - in the local fairgrounds. By "documenting," I mean the paper has featured these búfalo in a giant color photo and big bold headline on the front page for four days in a row. (Did I not just call this the Mexican Kansas?)

On the first day, the story was just about the discovery of the herd. On the second day, the newspaper reported that "a representative of the owner" - the owner apparently being too embarrassed to make contact himself - had called the city to claim the buffalo. The "representative" explained that their buffalo transport equipment had broken down, but because it was Semana Santa, there was no one available to repair it. They tried to call the municipal government to get permission to leave the buffaloes were they were, but, again, because of Semana Santa, all offices were closed. So they just left them. This didn't quite explain why the buffaloes were still there without explanation at the end of the week after Semana Santa, but, come on, I think we've all been there. I mean, who among us hasn't had to leave their buffalo herd in the local fairgrounds for an extra week or two?

The next two days of front-page búfalo coverage will have to remain a mystery, however, because we failed to buy the paper over the weekend. Today, though, the poor beasts were knocked off their press perch by - what else? - fútbol. The Chivas of Guadalajara defeated Club América 1-0 in the spring Superclasico match, a repeat of their victory in the fall.

We watched the Clásico de Clásicos at La Cura, a local bar and seafood place that is known for being popular among Chivas fans. A few yellow-and-blue Águila (Eagle) fans (referred to loudly as Americanistas or simply chilangos, residents of Mexico City) were in attendance, but the red-and-white striped Chivas (Goats) of Jalisco soundly drowned them out. And the winning goal? It was a cabezazo (pronounced ca-bay-SA-so, and, incidentally, was also the word Mexican commentators used to describe the end of the 2006 World Cup), or header, and it was awesome. Went right past the diving body of pretty boy (we kid because we love) Guillermo Ochoa, goalie for the Águilas of Club América and backup goalie for the Mexican national team.

So: Scorpions, buffaloes, eagles, and goats. Adventures across the border, indeed...