Make it Work (Again)


Only some of those are my Chone Choneys

In case you couldn’t feel my embarrassment emanating through your computer screen, those are indeed pairs of my undies hung out to dry in a forest of granny panties. The only thing that could have had me shrieking louder when I came upon this scene would have been the presence of tiny baby heads impaled on those spikes instead of my Vicki Secretos (thanks 10 pesos pile at Lagunilla tianguis).

To paraphrase that last paragraph – I’m living with my Gramma, OG Chilangabacha, again. You may remember reading the tale of the ghost sheets from the last time I lived with her.

Although I’ve eaten lots of delicious homemade salsa and experienced that unmistakable feeling of sun-bathed underoos, I am not the only one benefiting from this living situation. In addition to opening mayonnaise jars and chauferring on trips to the 99-cent store, I also saved O.G. Chilangabacha from death-by-tacos.

One Saturday night Gramma mentioned she was going to help out the Guadalupanas at an Oktoberfest. I didn’t ask for details ’cause I think Jeopardy was on. Anyway, after Final Jeopardy I got hungry and thought I’d pop by and see O.G. Chilangabacha among her peers.

The Oktoberfest was like a bad horror movie carnival, with screaming on the tilt-o-whirl and a corny Michael McDonald cover band. Plus, at 95 degrees in the shade  it was also more like hot-toberfest.  When  I finally found the Abuelita corner I discovered they had put my 81-year-old gramma on taco shell duty. She was frantically dipping tortillas into a Costco frying vat at a pace that would frighten even a Del Taco employee. The lady who was supposed to be helping Gramma was too busy platicando with the security guards to be of assistance, and some pimply teenager kept running over every five seconds to ask for more shells.

I was like, Gramma sit down, I’ll take over. She had barely asked me to walk her to her car when her eyes glossed over and she slumped forward like a borracha.

I was scared out of my ever loving mind – even more scared than the time I ended up in Tabacalera with no shoes on in the middle of rainy season. I’ll need a couple palomas to tell that story.

Please don’t die from making tacos, Gramma. That’s a worse way to die than when our great-great-great abuelo got drunk and fell in the pozo in Jesus Maria, leaving everyone to drink tequila for three days because the water was all boracho’d.

A million options ran through my mind. I thought of unplugging the Michael McDonald cover band, but instead I yelled at the Guadalupana taco shell helper.

“Why the heck are you keeping the fryer on at a time like this! Screw your tacos!” *

Luckily there were paramedics and an ambulance on hand. It turned out that O.G. Chilangabacha had just suffered heat stroke because she thought she could still work through the pressure like her days in the La Habra lemon packing factory.

I drove her home and made sure she was safely in bed before going out and picking up some Gatorade.

“Where did you get those?” she asked when I got back.

“The drugstore,” I replied.

“Ay Chilangabacha, you shoulda gone to the 99-cent,” she said.

Yeesh, I still have a lot to learn.

* other less PG words may have been used.


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Obligatory DDLM Post


Waiting for the Perfect Man

Did you happen to feel a little bit of spooky in your morning commute or find an eerie piece of lint in your laundry this evening? That’s probably because it’s Dia de Los Muertos, the day that we remember long-gone legends like Tin Tan, Pancho Villa and my Grandpa Chuck.

I was lucky enough to be in the DF over the weekend, visiting with friends, and picking up a muerto body-sized suitcase full of all the chanclas and huipiles I left behind (gotta make sure I have them again for my next Xicana night on the town).

I had some time to kill (get it?) so I decided to go to probably one of my favorite neighborhoods in the entire world, Coyoacán. I know, I know, how cliché. Frida Kahlo’s old hood is pretty much the first place anyone would pick to look for a Chilangabacha on the run. There are enough cobblestone cafe de olla stands and communist tributes to last a lifetime. And even more exciting was the fact that  on Saturday the locals were preparing elaborate altars in time for today’s festivities.

Behold and Enjoy.


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La Virgen De La Taza

I realize that my fans – all three of you, plus my mom – might be concerned for my safety out here in suburbia. After all, you never know when you’re going to have to duck out of the way of a rogue weed whacker, slow down so abruptly to avoid scraping the underside of your car on one of those mega speed bumps, or consume too many calories at the Starbucks drive-thru.

Well, stop preocupando chilangabachos, for I have been blessed with the presence of  steaming holiness – it’s just too bad my boss made me wash her off.

Believe it or not (BELIEVE IT),  I was minding my own business at the coffee shop, jammin’ out to some Mercedes Sosa and dusting the espresso machine when … no manches! Si, una Mancha! Holy mother of Macchiatos! La Virgen de Guadalupe in a coffee stain on a giant orange coffee mug.  Well, send me up a hill and call me Juanita Diego. I never thought such a thing could happen to little old Chilangabacha! Don’t those things only appear on tortillas for old ladies with 10 kids in Guadalajara? Apparently not, güeyes.


Scroll Down for a close-up.

Of course, I left my camera at home that day. So I prayed for a miracle and showed off my new little friend to many confused gabacho customers. I was about to give up when one of those coffee hounds inturrupted me mid-drip and said, “Um, I think a priest just walked in.”

Indeed, I had not noticed the white collar sported by a George Carlin-looking fellow who had ordered a tuna sandwich. He turned out to be Episcopalian, but he did have an iPhone and a sense of adventure. (He told me his favorite place to visit in  Mexico is the Zócalo).

Thanks to my new be-frocked friend, I have these pictures to share. Believe me, if I had it my way, I would have built a shrine and installed kneel-friendly carpeting, but I thought it was best not to push it.

So, what does this all mean? I know some of you are probably thinking that it looks more like a blob, but you’re missing the point! The point is, that something within my being has unequivocally changed. I’m now the kind of chica who finds small miracles in everyday accidents. Thank you, Mexico.



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Tijuana Blues


Why do you think I had to take the trolley home? The transmission dropped out of the Ghostang right at the border.

Immona let you in on little secret, Chilangabachos. When I came back from Tijuana last weekend I straight up started crying like a heavyweight boxing loser on the trolley to San Diego. And no, it wasn’t because I was missing a kidney.

My 48-hour jaunt across the border contained all of my favorite Mexican elements – nudey art, lady cops pointing semi-automatics out of patrol trucks, and free cantina food.

It’s one thing to get on a plane, pass out from the free Tecates and wake up in another country, but its a whole other thing to watch a country shrink into the horizon in front of your very prescription sunglasses you “borrowed” from the lost and found. The  sniffling that started in San Ysidro and turned into a full-on “boo-hoo-hoo” around Barrio Logan had nothing to do with my opinion that Petco Park is the worst name in baseball. I realized I miss living in Mexico like America Ferrera misses her  traveling pants.

But then, faster than you could say “Rancho Cucamonga,” I was back home thinking how awesome it was that  I could  be in both Mexico and California in one day without having to worry about duct taping my checked luggage shut.

Check out the gallery for more reasons I got all misty-eyed.

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Piglet Chuleta

Piglet Chuletas

I always thought Piglet was a bit of a masochist.


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Hola Chilangabachos.

Due to this crazy thing called life and these beings called humans, I’ve put my hobo stick over my shoulder and moved back to So-Cal. Chilangabacha lives. I just go on more freeways, eat Del Taco whenever I want, and have access to the latest cases on The People’s Court.

Does that make me La Gabachilanga now? Mmm, creo que no. In case you wanna fight about it, check the carefully worded definition of “Chilangabacha.” Like the piece of chicle you stepped on in the metro, Mexico City sticks with you – for life! The first week I was back in So-Cal I ran into Hello Seahorse at a dive bar in Anaheim. I was like, “Shouldn’t you guys be at the dos por uno Sushi across from Superama tonight?” Vanilla Face was all, “No dude, I’m from Van Nuys.”

You should see what I’ve done to the coffeehouse where I’m currently working part time. Every morning I turn off all the David Grey and freaking Jack Johnson “Bubbly Toes” nonsense  and turn on the Lila Downs Pandora station. It makes me feel empowered when I’m grinding beans. I’m also trying to convince my boss to put Molletes and Horchata Lattes on the menu. You know La Chilangabacha, always trying to bridge cultural gaps with frijoles and rice drinks.

I’m still going to continue to write regular travel pieces in Mexico, so stop giving me that “tu me has abandonada” stare. I’m going to TJ this weekend and back to DF the last weekend in March, so you can stop singing Paloma Negra, ok? Jeeze.

Stay tuned.


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Las Chicas De Oro

… you would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, “Orale Cabrona, eres una amiga chingonsisisisisima.”

My best friends and I have always had this pact that when we outlive our (currently non-existent) husbands, we’re totally going to move into a condo in Miami together. I don’t know why we never considered Caracas. The New York Times is reporting today that Disney is planning on producing a “Latin American reversioning” of the second greatest show ever to appear on television. (The first was ALF). That’s right, Mickey is going to make a version of Golden Girls En Español set in Venezuela.

I like to think their planning went a little something like this:

“Today we conquer Marvel Comics, tomorrow…Estelle Getty!”

Chilangabachos, you have no idea how sad I am that I’m not of the tercera edad. I would totally try out for the role of Blanchita Devereaux. Can you imagine how awesome it’s going to be to do casting for that show? I would totally choose the lady who played the lady who killed Selena for the role of Mamá and Rosario from Will and Grace to play Dorothy. The other two are wildcards.

In case you can’t wait to see how awesome this is going to be, here’s a bit of a low-rent preview. If you’re having trouble with the translation, the ladies are talking about buying condones for an upcoming cruise.

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Todos Somos Zombies

Remember when swine flu happened and we all thought DF was going to be taken over by zombies? I got a glimpse into the Apocalypse that never was this Saturday when I went to check out “Yo si Bailo Thriller” at the Monumento de la Revolución on Saturday. El Universal reports that more than 50,000 people showed up for the event and of those, 11,628 were registered dancers who helped to break the Guiness World Record for most people dancing to Thriller in one place.

When I first read all the hype around the “Yo si Bailo Thriller” event, I thought it was kind of random that the organizers would choose that song to bring together the masses. I’ve always been more of a fan of Billy Jean or Smooth Criminal. But looking out at the rain-soaked women in bloodied wedding dresses, grown men with their heads wrapped in surgical tape and little kids dressed as the dead pop star, it suddenly all made sense. It was so… Mexico. In a place where car accidents, decapitations, and point blank shootings are fodder for the front page of metro tabloids, anything with a tinge of the macabre is a guaranteed hit for the masses. Celebrating the life of a long-cold pop star by recreating a video where said pop star turns into a date-ruining zombie in a graveyard? Sure, why not? Bring the kids too.

The swelling crowd began to grow anxious around 4 pm so the organizers attempted to fend off a zombie attack by playing “Heal the World.” The be-wigged revelers were really into it, but most of them only knew a few choice words and attempted to improv the rest. Then it was time to weirdly wish Ghost Michael a happy 51st birthday.

It was eerie enough hearing the pulsing crowd sing “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional Mexican birthday anthem, but some of the lines were downright creepy, like this one: “Despierta, Michael, Despierta” or, “Wake up, Michael, wake up.”

Then, it was finally time to practice for the main event. An organizer/ voice of God gave the dancers some last minute tips. “Ok, todos somos Zombies,” he said, “Todos somos ZOMBIES!” We’re all zombies here. The practice run went along well, as many of the dancers had been practicing around the city for weeks. But the sense of anticipation was palpable.

What or who was everyone waiting for?

The answer came around 5:30 pm in a glittering white jacket and a taped-up nose – Hector Jackson. The famed Mexican MJ impersonator choreographed the event and showed up just in time to lead the masses in breaking the record.

I had a great vantage point and even fought off a Televisa reporter to get some great footage of HJ’s performance. Unfortunately, something entirely apropos happened to the video. Instead of uploading with the rest of the 87 files I captured, my perfect Thriller video is lurking somewhere in the limbo of my camera’s internal memory. It’s like it’s too awesome to live, but refuses to die.

Instead of Hector Jackson, I leave you with a video that almost sums up the event. Skeletor really wants to heal the world.


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MJ Thriller Pics

Check out homeboy in purple shirt practicing in the background.

Check out homeboy in purple shirt practicing in the background.

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Gringolandia Pics from Estadio Azteca

A United Statesian fights back.

A United Statesian fights back.

Bring it!

Bring it!

It's already been BROUGHTEN!

It's already been BROUGHTEN!

Team USA showing great defensive action.

Team USA showing great defensive action.

The DF police were not messing around.

The DF police were not messing around.

On the ride to the game our taxi driver said, "this may be a crazy country, but we always make sure to take care of our visitors." Well said, Eugenio!

On the ride to the game our taxi driver said, "This may be a crazy country, but we always make sure to take care of our visitors." Well said, Eugenio!


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