Jun. 19th, 2014 10:18 am
taz_39: (Default)

We are finally leaving Mexico City!!

With all of the shows that we played, I didn't make time to visit other areas of Mexico City, and so what I experienced here was only a fraction of what this huge city has to offer.

Some things that were different from two years ago:
The area near the arena seemed a bit cleaner, and there was a stronger police presence. This may just be my imagination, but that's what I noticed. There were also far fewer people attending our shows. This was really disheartening. Feld doesn't get money from ticket sales here(?), but still...some nights we had to start the show with fewer than 100 people in the audience, and in a 22k arena that's just depressing. It's a big change from two years ago, when we had to delay the start time because so many people were on the arena floor taking pictures. I really hope that in the future, we'll find a way to advertise more or do what needs to be done to get butts in the seats, because it's a hard thing to do twelve shows a week for only a handful of people per night.

(photo courtesy Brett)

Some things that were the same were the houses and the general living conditions of the working class. Although many people here seem happy, it makes me feel sad to see families living in houses made of scraps with no doors, no clean water. As mentioned in the last post, stray animals are rampant. I have seen so many types of feral cats and dogs wandering the streets, and some lying sick or dead next to the road. I wonder if the Mexican government has any programs in place to at least begin to address the problems of potable water, sanitation, and animal control.

Anyway, although I personally didn't get out much, I think many people had a good time in Mexico City. We did a better job of taking care of ourselves this time around; fewer people got The Revenge, and I didn't see many people passing out either. We got through it! Great job everyone :)

I had been a bit under the weather on Sunday, so spent the Monday train run resting and taking pictures from my window.


This is kinda interesting, some walls use broken glass cemented to the top in place of barbed wire.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)

Monday, our one and only day off. A large group of circus folk went to the pyramids, and then to other destinations such as the cathedral. I didn't go because I went to the pyramids last time, but will steal some pictures as soon as people post them ;)

I stayed home to rest and to take care of my mouse problem, i.e. I went to Wal-Mart to buy rat poison. Here are some photos of Mexican Wal-Mart.

Very similar to an American store, but set up more like a Sam's Club.


Instead of the smiley they have a yellow shopping cart mascot :)

An aisle dedicated to tuna. There was also a rice-and-beans aisle and one just for juices and nectars. It is very difficult to find fruit juice without added sugar here.

The bakery.

The meat section.

I got the rat poison and also a storage bin to hold food/keep mice from my food. For the ride home I got a popular Mexican snack: a pressed cake of nuts and seeds held together with a sort of caramel coating.

Back at home, I spent several hours removing all of my items from storage so that I could drop rat poison down into the gap between the wall and my floor. I was pretty tired after that, so enjoyed a relaxing evening of chilling out.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)

Well, here we are again! The yard:

I found a little shrine near the end of our cut. As I was shamelessly taking photos, a yard worker came up and offered to unlock it for me. He spoke no English but made it clear by gestures. Using small words so that I could understand, he explained in Spanish that the shrine was there because today is a national holiday. I was too shy to actually go inside; as you can see, it's a very small space and I didn't want to dirty the floor.

Walking around the yard, I encountered a few groups of people getting ready to go out and see various sights. I was tempted to tag along, but then I found out that there'd be another run to Wal-Mart so decided to do that instead.

It's just as I remembered it :) I didn't need much, but picked up some favorite candies to share (Bubulubu, Glorias), some stuff for Jameson, and a big jug of water. Oh, and that wash that they sell for cleaning produce.


Actually it's ionized silver, and you can use it to disinfect drinking water as well. I have plenty of water but am feeling paranoid about the train water as it's hooked up to a pipe sticking out of the ground. I'm washing dishes normally but rinsing them with the BacDyn water. That's probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.

The only other interesting thing that happened today was a mouse got into the cubby where I was storing canned goods. A mouse!! I didn't see it--it's probably following the wiring through the train--but opened the cubby to find little turds everywhere and a chunk missing from my bag of rice cakes. He didn't get into anything else, thankfully. I spent a lot of time emptying the space and cleaning it, and relocating everything that's not canned or bottled. Sigh.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)

We arrived in Loredo on Thursday night, a few hours late. As we were spotted, we were also informed that no 'greywater' would be allowed in this yard. This meant no showers, dishes, etc., because all of that water gets flushed right onto the tracks. A little frustrating, as many people have gone days without showering at this point. Eew.
On the upside, there is 'ok' internet and phone signal! I'm savoring the connection before a month of data withdrawal :P

During the night there was a big thunderstorm. Kinda cool and unexpected!
In the morning around 7am an announcement was made that inspectors would be coming through. I made my preparations and waited, and waited. Eventually some train crew came through with trash bags to take any food that we wanted to throw out before customs came through. Around 9:30am customs reached our car (they started at the high end and we're in the middle). It was about the same as last time, except this time they did actually bother to come into the room and look around (last time they just stood in the hallway and glanced in).

Guy #1 wished me 'good morning' and came in with a big binder. He stood in the center of the floor and kind of turned in a slow circle, looking at my countertops and cabinets. Then he made a little note in the book and stepped back into the hall. There were three other dudes in the hallway with him; the second guy told me to take my passport down to Pie Car for paperwork. The third guy glanced into my room and said, "Nice floor!" (you remember I installed some vinyl faux wood flooring a few months ago). I said thanks. Guy #2 came back to glance in again and asked if I had installed it myself ("Yes") and complemented me on how it looked compared to the standard flooring. :D

Anyway, I took my passport to Pie and was surprised to find both US and MX customs set up inside, and doing a great speedy job of processing everyone. Last time this part was a mess; this time it took less than five minutes. US Customs checked me off first, then MX Customs filled out an FMM form for me and stamped the passport. Everyone was polite and quick, and it was really easy.

(photos courtesy Claudia)

I was glad to have my feet on the ground even for a little bit!
The weather was nice, cloudy and rainy-looking. I had hoped to find some dung beetles rolling poop around to photograph for you, but I guess they're not fond of this weather.

When I returned to my car, there was an orchid in the trash. Someone had dumped it either because customs told them to or they figured customs would take it. I fished it out.

Train Run )
taz_39: (Default)

Day 1

From about 5-6am to 2:30pm, we did nothing but jerk back and forth as far as I could tell. I'm sure there was a reason, but if you don't know it, it's hard to assign logic when you wake up after eight hours of movement only to realize that you're still in Louisville.

Anyway, the sun was shining and there was a bit of internet. I got up and ate breakfast, then went back to bed as I'd only gotten about four hours of sleep. Later in the day we got a weak internet signal, and I used it to gather some useful Spanish phrases including how to ask for small bills at the bank (a definite need-to-know) and current exchange rates. I also downloaded a map of the Metro in case there's time for sightseeing.


Starting today, I am trying to go cold turkey on coffee just because I've got four days to do it and I don't want to HAVE to have a cup every morning or else suffer a blinding headache. Actually so far it's not that bad; I feel a little fuzzy in the brainpan and have a mild headache, but it's a much better reaction than I expected.

Monday is a day of rest for me. I won't usually exercise or do anything super productive. But since this run is so long, I'm gonna start a routine tomorrow: morning stretches, resistance band exercise, practicing with a mute in, and spending X amount of time outdoors. I've also got a few little art projects planned, and some books and movies. With all of this, I hope to ward off cabin fever.

A few hours later the headache gets a little stronger. Well, I knew it wouldn't be fun! We passed through some lovely forest areas, with goldenrod lining the tracks and a nice clean tang to the air. I'm enjoying it very much.


At dinnertime Jameson and I went down to Pie Car to see what's up. He got stead & eggs, I got chicken parm on brioche and a Mtn Dew to help combat the headache. Clockwork Orange was playing so we watched a bit of that. Uncle John came through and gave us each two jello shots. It's a train run, after all ;)

Many people call this the "ghost run" because few people are on the train; many opt instead to take a vacation or visit relatives. This year I feel like there are more people here, but maybe that's my imagination.

We spent some time on the vestibule, then went back to our rooms. I watched Wreck It Ralph and made a schedule for myself for the next several days so I don't get too bored. We'll see if I stick to it.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)

The train run was looooong.
We were supposed to arrive on Monday night around midnight, but didn't even leave Columbus until after 6pm. We missed our window. It was a long day. In its own way that's relaxing, but still wish I could've gone outside for a bit. Instead I cleaned up my room, made a list of things to do before Mexico, and tried to create my own flavored water using mint/vanilla extracts (a horrible failure as extracts are 98% alcohol).

Old telephone poles:


I recognized this farmhouse...we were stopped in front of it for over two hours the last time we were through. The house itself is gorgeous (not pictured) and so is the barn. The owners were out front waving to us. They have a big brown horse and a dog. I'm kind of jealous :)

I had hoped to take Jameson for a date on Tuesday but he came down with a chest cold, poor guy. So instead I went downtown to enjoy the fine weather. I visited the Waterfront Park again (had been there with Cindy the last time we were in town).

The Ohio River.


A statue of York, the first African American to cross the country. He was a slave, but participated fully in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The long-distance viewer for looking at stuff across the river. And the view through said viewer :D

Then I went to my bank to deposit some checks and make sure they knew that I'd be going to Mexico soon. Then I went to a nearby salon to get my hair cleaned up, as there won't be another chance for haircuts until June. Then I was going to go grocery shopping, but got hungry and tired and decided to pick up dinner for Jameson and I at Panera instead.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)

As you might expect from one of our country's most dangerous cities, Trenton is kind of a bummer.
There wasn't much to do within walking distance of the arena.
In fact the only attraction was a Food Bazaar across the tracks.

It's like a Fiesta grocery, with lots of Hispanic and international foods
and tons of produce at a great price.
I got cactus fruit, pineapple coconut candy and fresh mango along with my usual groceries.
The snack aisle reminded me of the Mexican Walmart :D

They had Jamaican hard dough bread from Golden Krust, a Brooklyn-based chain.
I've seen this bread in other stores in the past, and was interested to try it.
Just one loaf weighs almost two pounds!!
Turns out it's just like any other bread, only more dense and maybe just a little sweeter.

I threw half of it in the freezer...probably can't eat something like this in one week!

I also got a 'round bun', a sort of muffin-sized fruitcake that tastes strangely like egg nog.

A totally uneventful week.
I'm excited to get to Hershey,
where I'll get to see friends and family before the Red Unit goes west for the summer.

The Blue Unit crossed the border into Mexico this week, and will be there for almost a month.
Have fun guys! Don't drink the water!

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)
*warning, this is a long post.*

We're in the trainyard waiting to go. The train was broken into 7 pieces to fit into this yard, so it's going to take a while to reassemble it. When the train is being put together/taken apart, the power goes on and off several times probably because it needs to be shut off to add other cars.

I can't wait to get back to the US, mostly because I miss digital conveniences :)
It's been so long since I've had a phone conversation! I'll probably spend a day just calling everyone. That and catching up on facebook!

This weekend was difficult for everyone...nine shows! Compared to a regular job, it's only 18 hours. But imagine being a strongman and having to lift a telephone pole with two people sitting on it, and spin it around, for five minutes three times a day for three days. Or the animal trainers, who have to make their animals perform the same tricks even though the animals may be tired or aggravated. (You could tell the horses were over it this weekend...there was a lot more kicking than usual.) Or the floor crew, who has to scrape elephant poop off the floor and move heavy set pieces around pretty much constantly. That's a lot of work! As for the band, we really did get 18 hours of playing in the past three days (now I know why circus musicians are called 'windjammers' haha).
Even if people don't get physically tired from the job, it can be psychologically tough to do the same show that many times in a row without time for R&R in between!

In other words, I'm totally impressed with everyone who works here and am awfully proud to be among people like this who buckle down and do their jobs with minimal complaints. We're pretty epic. :D

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)
It's been two months since I joined the circus :)

I'm starting to get a feel for circus life. It's not the same as traveling with a touring group, where the show ends on a set date and everyone goes their separate ways. Most people are here for the long haul...some families have even been here for generations. As a result of that, living here feels like being part of a large family or small neighborhood. Everyone looks out for each other whether they speak the same language or not, whether they're acrobats or floor crew or concessions. Of course everything's not always rosy and some people don't get along, but for the most part it's a really great environment.

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)


This morning a group of us went to an artist's market!

It was Brett and his wife and kids, some of the sound crew, and Slick (trumpet) and I.
We shopped for souvenirs :) Some stuff was really tourist-y, like little tequila bottles with sombreros. But there were unique handcrafted items as well: paintings, blankets, sculptures, glasswork...all that good stuff.
I got to practice my haggling :) Though I may not have always gotten the best deal possible, I did save at least 40 pesos on everything I bought. My best bargain of the day was something that started out at 180 pesos, and I got it down to 100. Not bad I think!

One or two vendors spoke excellent english, but most knew little to none. But luckily numbers translate pretty well. For one transaction I used my phone to type out the prices I wanted, and the vendor responded with a calculator.

I'm sorry there are no pictures from this trip...Julio is borrowing my camera.

Oh, getting there was somethin' else too! We must have picked a bad time of day for public transit, because it was PACKED. And I mean packed into the cars like sardines. Even in New York I've never been so squished on a subway! Haha.

Now it's time to grab lunch and play some shows!!

Last Show Day )
taz_39: (Default)

Well, it's been a full week of shows!

The first several shows were pretty small audiences :/ The arena is HUGE, with more than five levels, 120 suites and seats all the way up to the ceiling. So I guess it would be hard to fill. But Sunday afternoon seems to be the time when most people want to go. It was packed yesterday!

I haven't written anything because I got Montezuma's Revenge :( :(

icky. )

Anyway, I wasn't about to let Montezuma wreck my good time ;)
Today Aaron, Jason, Gerome, Tom and I went to Xochimilco and rode a riverboat!

We took public transit to get there, which is THREE PESOS. That's like $0.20. FABULOUS.

It was relaxing and fun in a quiet sort of way, just what we all wanted after a week of performing and being sick.

More pics & stuff )

The souvenir hawkers weren't too pushy, I was glad for that. Aaron bought a little wooden replica of the riverboat, Tom got a beautiful necklace for his wife, and I got some souvenirs as well though I can't share what because they might be gifts ;)

Overall it was a great way to spend the day!

Let's see, what else has happened this week...

There's an outdoor market right next to our venue that sells fresh produce, tacos and tortas, and clothing:

Many people like to go there for meals between shows because it's super cheap and better/cheaper than the catering the stadium provides. I got a meal and a drink yesterday for $2.50 USD. Can't beat that!

The language barrier is a little less daunting than it was when I first got here. Vendors and people in general are very patient :) To get to the boats today, we spent a very long time on Mexico City's lightrail and subway system. Aaron speaks spanish at a high level, and he helped me to ask for smaller bills at the bank and to get tickets for the lightrail. Jason knows limited spanish, but was able to hold a short conversation with a child on the metro. We ran into a few english-speakers too who were excited to try out their knowledge on us.

As far as safety, Mexico City during the day seems average for a major city. No one bothered us and we saw no one else being bothered.

Oh! Speaking of being bothered! PETA is here!!! Can you believe it??
Human rights is a big issue in Mexico right now (there were loud protests at one of our subway stops today). So PETA is protesting for animal rights in a place where people are living in scrap heaps.
I don't think much of that.

Well, Mexico is a complicated and beautiful place. I'm looking forward to Monterrey in a week...maybe that city will offer a different perspective on life in Mexico!

taz_39: (Default)

This is going to be a VERY long post, sorry about that :/ Internet is scanty here so I want to post as much as possible when I can!

The post is divided into sections by date. I can't upload all the photos now, so will be adding more later!

Getting Into Mexico (May 18) )

We are in Mexico! (5/19) )

The Pyramids! (5/20) )

Free Day (5/21) )

Day 3 of 4

May. 16th, 2012 02:33 pm
taz_39: (Default)

So far it's been a good train run. We're passing through Monroe, LA now.

Yesterday it rained for a few hours, so didn't spend as much time outside. We also had a VERY long stop to walk the animals, and during that time we weren't allowed off the train :( But it was nice out, so I took a book out on the vestibule and also went to the pie car to grab a homemade fruit parfait :)

I haven't gotten many good pictures either...either I'm not quick enough with the camera or it's too dark by the time we see something particularly awesome. Pardon my french, but it's a damned shame I can't take night photos. Everything looks so different in the dark...more animals come out, and going over bridges is a whole new experience too!

Today I woke up and went onto the vestibule, and was surprised by how different the air smelled and how humid it was. We're definitely in the south!

taz_39: (Default)

Just a quick note!

The train's moving now. Not sure how long I'll have internet, but we'll be moving for four days and I'm sure we'll pass through towns with signal.

I have lots of books and movies to keep me occupied, but will probably spend a great deal of time on the vestibule enjoying the scenery :)

Everyone in the band has chosen to visit family or take short vacations during this time, so I'm more or less alone on the train car. I like the quiet, but will probably be visiting the pie car more often this week to socialize.

I don't know how much we will get to do and see in Mexico, but there's no sense worrying about it. We'll do our job and get on with it :D

If I have internet, I will post more!

Sidenote, I've been picking up locally-baked bread at almost every stop since West Virginia. The Charleston Bakery sourdough was very good; I got it fresh and warm first thing in the morning, and it lasted for about two weeks and was light and good as toast. It started getting very dry near the end, though.
The Albany, NY sourdough was labeled "Local", but turns out it was from Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Massachusetts. Might explain why it went bad in less than a week *frowny face*. It was 'just OK'...very moist and had a strong sour flavor. But because of the moisture, it was not good for toast...because of the strong flavor, it was no good for sandwiches.
The most recent bread from Columbus, OH is from Crumbs Bakery, and it's the best so far. I got the whole wheat, so maybe it's not a fair comparison. Very simple ingredients, but wonderful flavor and texture. Probably won't make good toast because it's kinda dense.

I'm not a breadophile, really! :P

taz_39: (Default)

We had a meeting on the trip to Mexico yesterday.

So, it looks like we'll be there for about a month, from May 15 through June 15 give or take a few days. During that time, my phone will be off, so don't try to call me :)

The tickets for these shows were sold to an outside company, so if you were thinking of flying down to see me, don't :P There will be no family/friends discounts or freebies.

I will not be allowed to leave the train alone, or even with a group of girls...I'll have to bring a guy(s). Laaaame.

It's unclear whether we'll need pesos or not, but tomorrow I'm going to try calling the nearest PNC to see if they can do a currency exchange for a small amount. At the very least I can then avoid an astronomical charge at the venue's ATM.

We're not allowed to bring any plants, produce, or weapons. My fish is a subject of debate, but worst case scenario I may give him to the person who's holding our plants in Loredo.

We're also not sure about exactly which foods will be allowed across the border. According to Google, frozen foods are ok, so I'm crossing my fingers that my frozen veggies will pass. I guess it all depends on the mood of our border crossing agent.

There will be security on and off the train, both Feld's and a hired company.

Not sure if we'll have internet at the venue, but I know in Monterrey I should be able to find some so I'll check in then at the very least.

That's all I can think of for now. Gotta go make a last-minute grocery list!


taz_39: (Default)

March 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 10:25 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios