Category: History

Country Profiles: Mexico

Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s map of Tenochtitlán (1556)

Now that we are a year away from the start of our trip, let’s start getting some of our research organized and up on the blog. We will be visiting roughly twenty countries throughout the world. There are a lot of details to understand regarding the logistics of getting to these places, what to do, and where to stay. Here’s how we are organizing each country’s profile:

  1. We start by looking at the travel advisories from Global Affairs Canada and the US State Department.
  2. Are any visas required?
  3. Are there special vaccinations required?
  4. What is the country’s currency and how does it compare to Canadian dollars?
  5. Are there any other special requirements for entering or exiting the country?
  6. Next, we collected a list of books, films, or music for each country to give a quick snapshot of the culture.
  7. Each country profile has a list of phrases that are useful to know.
  8. Then, we made a list of a) places to see, b) places to eat at, and c) places that are free or under $10 to see. These aren’t exhaustive lists, most have about five items. If a country has a certain attraction that requires early reservations, Studio Ghibli in Japan for example, this is noted.
  9. The last item lists possible places for sleeping.
  10. In addition, JBot created a binder of country profile information for the kids that uses CultureGrams. It may be available at public libraries? These CultureGrams provide useful timelines, an understandable summary of history, and general snapshots of modern culture.

Country Profile: México

Travel Advisories: Canada, United States (FYI, the travel advisories are severe for México. However, we are only visiting México City and are avoiding problem areas.)

Visa: Not required

Vaccines: Yellow Fever (Similar to malaria or dengue as it is spread via mosquitoes. A certificate to show you have been vaccinated will suffice. I always thought the name came from the Yellow River for some reason… It refers to the jaundice symptoms. Info on where to get shots in Canada are found here.)

Currency: 1 CAD = 15.0282 MXN peso (08.25)

Other Requirements: Obtain a tourist card upon arrival

THINGS TO READ:

PHRASES TO KNOW:

  • Disculpe – excuse me
  • Es una piña! – Literally “it is a pineapple” but it means “it’s a joke!”
  • Felipe y con tenis – “Felipe and with tennis” means happy and content
  • Voy a perseguir la chuleta – “I’m going to chase the cutlet” means I have to go to work but I don’t want to…
Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954)

STUFF TO SEE:

  • Mexican Wrestling at Arena México
  • Frida Kahlo Museum
  • México City Historic Centre – Unesco World Hertiage site includes the Zócalo (Aztec city centre, large square or plaza in colonial times). There is an archaeology site for the Aztec centre of the world (Templo Mayor), MUNAL (national art museum), the presidential palace, a cathedral, and a really, really big flag. The Palacio de Bellas Artes (iconic), the Museum of the City of Mexico, markets, and tons of other museums and palaces are close by as well.
  • Bosque de Chapultepec – huge park with a Castillo of the Spanish viceroy, the children’s museum. The really fantastic looking anthropology museum is close by as well.
  • Museo Jumex is a funky looking modern art museum in the Polanco neighbourhood.
  • Teōtīhuacān – you can take public transit!! Visit the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun by walking the Avenue of the Dead.

FREE OR UNDER $10:

  • Palacio Nacional – The office of the president, great Diego Rivera mural about the history of Mexico.
  • The Sears building has a cafeteria on the 7th floor that gives a great view of Palacio de Bellas Artes.
  • Free walking tour

PLACES TO EAT:

  • Mercado San Juan – Market in the city centre where you can eat chapulines (deep-fried grasshoppers in a taco) and escamoles (ant eggs)
  • In what I am guessing will be a trip-long trend, there is a Starbucks about three blocks from Templo Mayor
  • Lalo! – funky cafe, pizza, burgers, COFFEE
  • Taqueria Orinoco – dude, tacos.

PLACES TO SLEEP:

  • Gran Hotel Ciudad de México – too expensive but the interior is gorgeous! (Set for the James Bond’s film Spectre)
  • Hampton Inn and Suites México City Centro Historico – perfect location (2Q $118 USD 09.12)
  • Hotel Diligencias – They have a family room, $550 CND for the week, great location
  • Puntu DF – hostel that supports local arts. They have private rooms (with bath) that sleep two in a queen. $962 MXN per night ($66 CND)
  • Casa Eufemia – Hostel, we may be able to rent a 4 bed room. Cost for one bed is about $20 CND a night. Great location. They don’t have their own website though?
  • Hostal Regina – has a private loft room with 4 beds, however they are a party focused hostel, probably too loud. $1100 – 1300 MXN ($75 to 90 CND)
  • Hostal Suites DF – private room with 2 singles $740 MXN ($50 CND). A private bath as well.

History of Global Living Conditions

A very interesting and must read article titled “The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it” by Max Roser that answers the question, “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?” by looking at the history of global living conditions.

two-centuries-world-as-100-people-750x514

Travel Idea: Shakespeare

With the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death last week there was quite a bit of talk about the bard.

I came across this link of “Pubs That Shakespeare Actually Drank At” list and wanted to bookmark it for future reference, cuz you know, beer:

 

The George Inn, London – An Elizabethan inn-yard theatre, burned down and rebuilt in 1677, National Trust site
The Bell Inn, Welford on Avon, Warwickshire – Open fireplaces!
The Windmill, Stratford-upon-Avon –2 minute walk from Will’s house, built in 1599.
Shakespeare’s Tree, Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire – This is evidently a tree that the great bard, um, passed out under. Good to know!
The George Inn

Germs & Genes

I’ve just finished a course on the History of Science and wanted to share some neat resources:

Philip Ziegler’s The Black Death is a fascinating read about the spread of the bubonic plague throughout medieval Europe. Thoroughly gross (pus, pus, and more pus) and decidedly depressing (“Let’s blame the plague on the Jews, round them up and slaughter them!”), it is also useful for increasing the amount of trivia you have at the ready to gross out your friends and family. For example, to prevent contracting the plague just hang out around latrines and breathe in the fumes, it worked (not really) for the Europeans!

Ziegler

Continue this theme with a rousing game of Pandemic and feel completely paranoid and compelled to wash your hands repeatedly.

I was also fascinated by this great video by CGP Grey on the importance of the environment on the spread of disease:

I also wrote a paper on the controversy surrounding Watson & Crick’s Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the structure of DNA. Check out Watson’s “memoir” The Double Helix.  It is a quick and entertaining read, albeit rife with sexism. Sexism you say? Hoho! If Watson isn’t busy playing tennis or going to cocktail parties, he is criticizing Rosalind Franklin’s looks and dismissing her brilliance. Franklin was one of the many scientists that Watson & Crick took advantage of in their personal race for Nobel glories. Check out Brenda Maddox’s book on Franklin to learn more.

The Loxelys and the War of 1812

I found the graphic novel The Loxelys and the War of 1812 by chance on one of my first trips to the public library. We have recently moved to the Niagara region and I have to admit that my memory of the War of 1812 and its impact on this region is pretty foggy.

This graphic novel is appropriate for children who can deal with issues related to war. It is a great resource for learning about the impact of the war on more than just soldiers. For example, the narrative follows the experience of women and native peoples as well.

You can see an animation of the novel here and a trailer for the book below:

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