Before I left the US I booked a vegan/vegetarian taco tour of the Zocalo. I eat meat, but I’m weird about eating meat that I don’t know what it is…so. I decided to start my Mexican eating tour with vegetarian options. I booked this tour on Air B and B, and Mena was amazing! She walked us 8K (5 miles) and my feet were SO TIRED by the end of the day. As I was leaving the US at the last minute I chose to bring my black waterproof bootie boots that I live in while in Oregon, and left my hiking shoes at home. DUMB MOVE. I walk everywhere here. I’ve probably done 5+miles a day each day so far, and it’s very uneven ground, filled with cracks and potholes and missing street pieces, etc. By the time it’s 7 PM my feet are ready to be up for the night. So no joke-wear your most comfortable and supportive shoes if you come here.
So we met at Hemicicolo a Juarez in the Zocalo. It was guarded by many Policia and it felt slightly odd. Mena told us that it’s because people do stupid shit there, and so they keep up the presence. Across the street is the Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia, and they have a big LGTB+ exhibit right now, being June and Pride month. Mena explained to us that when the museum opened, it was exclusively about the European Holocaust of Jews and didn’t have any history about Darfur, Rwanda, Guatemala, etc. And it wasn’t very tolerant. A trans man and his trans wife from another state attended the museum about 5 years ago. The trans woman was apparently too flamboyant for the conservative museum and they DIDN’T LET THEM IN. The couple went to the media and said, “how can you be a museum of tolerance and not be tolerant?” So the museum completely redid their exhibitions and focus, and now it is much more inclusive. Museum of Memory and Tolerance in CDMX
Next door to the museum were a group of teenagers selling candy bars. There were girls and boys, and the boys were wearing women’s clothes and laughing and the girls were making them up in makeup. The boys were selling the candy bars. Next to the teenagers was a man playing the organ with a stuffed monkey on his organ. He was wearing military clothing. Apparently this was a way 100 years ago or so that the military raised money for the troops! Now it’s strictly street performance, and the performers still wear the costumes. It’s nostalgia, basically.
So, all all this history was taught to us before we barely had left the Hemicicolo! Mena is a political writer in geo-politics, a Native of CDMX, and has traveled extensively all over the world. And she’s like maybe 30. It was really impressive. I was also on the tour with Lucky and Jenna. Lucky is a PhD candidate in Statistics from Perth, and Jenna is a teacher from Illinois. They currently reside in Perth while he finishes his studies. They were fabulous and completely my kinda Tribe members. Jenna especially-we had so many similarities, not just the name. We had many conversations over the tour about politics in the US, Australia and Mexico. It was fascinating and highly educational.
The tour was about food, but what I learned more than anything was an insight into cultures I didn’t know anything about, and now know a tiny amount more. The Mexican elections are next week, and Mena talked a lot about how complicated it is. She said Mexicans are very racist, and that if you are white/light you will be fine, you’ll make it. If you are brown, and the darker brown you are, you are kinda screwed. I remarked that that’s basically the way it works in the US, too. Later we went by the US Embassy and it was barricaded with a wall. There was some political drama about moving the Embassy or something, and no group/government could figure out how to do it.
Me and Jenna joked, “is this the wall?” (;
Just like in the US, the elections for President here are all about money, and people are saying things like if the liberal presidential candidate doesn’t win, I’m moving. Mena pointed out that the liberal candidate is just as corrupt as the rest of them. It was like I was listening to US politics. The poorer you are, the more screwed you are, and the more marginalized your group/color, the more of a shit time you are going to have.
Jenna and I talked about reproductive rights and gay rights in the world, especially in the US, about education around the world, and this thing we are both seeing in a culture of kids that don’t know how to think outside of the box, problem solve, are immature emotionally and angry. She’s seen it, too. She’s taught in Honduras, Republic of Georgia, Colorado and Perth. She said it’s something that happens working with middle-upper class students. They are not accustomed to much struggle cognitively and it gets them stuck. They raise their hand immediately and don’t know how to think for themselves, and don’t know how to talk to peers. She spent a lot of her time in Colorado helping kids learn how to talk to each other.
She said in Perth where she teaches science, she takes her STEM activities to the private schools in suburbs of Perth. The kids get totally stuck and can’t do the beginning levels and raise their hands and complain. When she goes to Aboriginal communities and teaches the STEM classes she can do level 4 activities and the kids totally rock it. And these are kids that don’t go to school usually and have little educational background in a “school” setting.
IT WAS LIKE I WAS LISTENING TO A PROPHET.
This is what is up, folks. Kids that live with a little privilege can be very challenged at thinking for themselves. It is somehow related to technology and how families of privilege can put a piece of technology in front of their kiddo to be a babysitter, or to avoid having to play the ultra-boring games kids love. That’s not a judgement-I remember how boring it was to push trucks or balls across a room for 2 hours with a toddler. It can be a bit soul-numbing.
This problem is in part about not communicating directly to our children the values and the cultural expectations we have because they are our children. And then about also explaining as a parent the ULTRA IMPORTANT 2nd part: that those are your values and that when they are an adult they can choose for themselves but when they are under your roof they are to live by your values. There is nothing wrong with this. It is our job as parents to instill something solid in our children. And then tell them that it is their right to take the parts they like as an adult and leave the rest. This is OUR JOB as parents.
I will piss people off with this, but I don’t care. It is my truth and my blog. Because what this means is-a parent with views strikingly different than mine can instill them on their child and that is their right. I believe that, even though it is blood-curdling to imagine the damage that that concept could do with racist/classist/bigoted beliefs. But I believe that if a parent was open enough to tell their child that they can decide for themself at adulthood-that is a parent that is doing it the right way.
Parenting children that can handle the world is NOT about always saving our kids from struggle. It is about letting them struggle a little in an age-appropriate way. I know as a parent that we generally want our kids to have better than we had. I struggled with this as a parent, too. I wanted my kids to have a little more, so I tried to get that for them.
I was and am not a perfect parent.
But I was and continue to be, a straight shooter, and I always told my kids honestly what was up. I told them about my liberal politics and discussed them with them, but also every time said, “you get to decide for yourself. This is your decision and your path.” And they knew I had their back no matter what they decided to do with their one perfect precious life.
This is what travel does to me. It shows me other sides of things and wakes me up. It disturbs me and makes me angry. It shakes me and makes me happy. It is all of the things, and the most educational experience anyone can have.
At the end of the tour, Lucky asked Mena if we could meet her dog, Yoshi. So Mena called her business partner David to come bring her. Yoshi was a sweetie!
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