Archive | October, 2016

I love Mexico City

19 Oct

My long-weekend trip to Mexico evolved and the night before I left I boldly stated “I have never felt more prepared for any trip, ever!” Except for the fact, to quote Helen, “you haven’t even packed yet.”.

Boom, good point.

I threw all of my items into a carry-on purse, except for a huge umbrella which I had to hold seperatly and didn’t use one.  I had heard it was raining and what was more appropriate during rainy season than to accidentally leave your favorite umbrella at an Airbnb forever.  “Dearest umbrella, I hope your new Mexican family loves you as much as I did.”


La Ciudad de Mexico

I stayed in a gorgeous, tree-lined part of the city called Condesa, on Calle Amsterdam, and despite both the reputation of Mexico City and a street named Amsterdam, no one offered me any drugs during my entire stay in Mexico.

Before I had arrived lots of people not currently living in Mexico warned me to “be careful”.  And I was! But if Mexico City distanced itself from the name Mexico might it improve its international reputation?!

I read a wonderful guidebook called Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler (that I took as law), color coded my, and my wonderful friends — Brett, Dana, Bety, Nicholas, and Ben — offered advice, companionship, and photos that shaped this spicy trip. 


Arte in the parquet.

I dropped off my bag (and umbrella *sigh*) and headed straight for tacos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Literally the best tacos I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  And that plastic coating made for a cheap and easy clean-up plus an efficent  turn-around!

I watched the ordering procession before choosing a broccoli and steak taco, I think.  My Spanish was good enough to order the food but surprised by what came (and what didn’t come).  I scarfed down whatever type of AMAZING tacos I had been served and ordered two more before I realized that my mouth was on fire.  I tried unsuccesssfully to hide my distress as I bought a bottle of water from a laughing Mexican at the stand next door.

“Picante?”, the man chucked as he handed a bottle over and tears streamed down my face.   Mexico has a standard level of spice with plenty of options to add more heat.  Despite my reaction, I really did love it.  The tacos were so fabulous that they rivaled (in both taste and price) the street food I had eaten in Thailand.


Lard is an actual ingredient.


Free condiments making each bite tastier and sloppier than the last.

In Mexico, street-food is an honour system.  You order, stand to the side, eat, order more, eat more, maybe order again, and finally pay.  There can be 30+ people standing around full-joying.


Amazing Taco al pastor from a friendly man.  An adaptation from the Middle Eastern immigrants.  Turkish-Mexicans. Cool!


Blue corn flatbread. And I know that’s not my hand because I’m growing my nails.

I ate chilaquiles, mole tamale for breakfast, all the tacos, chile nargota with pomegranate, taquitos/flautas, string cheese, fermented pineapple (not good), coffee that didn’t wave, horchata that tasted like chai, a beer version of a salty bloody Mary, and always, always  bottled water.   Except for once when we ran out and melted ice from the freezer to brush our teeth.  Resourceful times.


Conspicuous lack of burritos.  Did you know that’s a United States concept????!

For dessert there were dulcerias and bakeries with old-fashioned hand painted signs.  They were pretty and busy but unfulfilling.  Strong preference for TACOS.


Chocolate covered figs (bottom right).


After years of being apart, brilliant Dana and I got to reconnect in Mexico City!!  “What benevolent forces made this happen?!” It was with gusto that we saw each other everyday.  I was wowed and inspired by her fluent, Argentine Spanish.  We caught up, laughed until we cried, and talked lovingly about the sweetest Paula.


My darling, outroverted Dana!

There was so much to see!:

  • A shop where they fixed bicycles and chopped meat; hind quarters and bike tires were hanging from chains around the garage.  We didn’t eat there.
  • A shop where they both cut hair and sold tacos.  We also didn’t eat there.
  • Mariachis.  Standing on the side of the road, trying to get work.  You could hire them for an entire day to follow you around or sing to your girlfriend on her birthday.  Allegedly, different coloured hats meant they were from different cardinal directions.
  • The mystery of the organ grinder: Why isn’t there more variety?  Is it just an old fashioned boom box?  Do they control things other than the speed at which the sound comes out?
  • Diverse architecture and an excessively positive Museo Nacional de Antropologia experience explained to us by the wonderful Frederico, pictured below.  His friendship made exploring and finding more food a pleasure and I have the newly married Bety to thank!  I am eternally grateful  ❤  Muchas, muchas gracias!

Matching glasses.


This picture is because of the one you sent, Nicholas!


The Mayans thought people with Downs syndrome knew something.


Flying men in Chapultepec!  HUGE thank you to Antonio for answering (and looking up) every single bizarro question that I had!  I was mesmerized.


Mexico City has a higher elevation than Denver, Colorado.




Lucha Libre, elegant sounding words, no? — Like a foreign film or “free lunch” — But in actuality it’s Mexican wrestling.


The masks for sale outside of the venue. We, of course, bought some.


“This is not how I work up but, it’s how I look now.”

The event is a family affair and the smell of microwave popcorn hits you as soon as you walk into the arena.   At an early age kids started training — similar to signing your child up for Taekwondo you could sign your niños up for Luche Libre clase.

2 hours of pure entertainment. Good guys vs. bad guys, long standing disputes, and dozens of actors whom we knew nothing about.  A full impact event, these people destroy their bodies, throwing themselves off of the stage and into the isles. I loved it!  The sport — and I do think that’s the right word — is popular and wasn’t as funny as we’d thought it was going to be because it was actually really cool.


El Conquistador and La Samurai.


The next morning, in stark contrast (and because I’m a humor thrill seeker),  we went to church.


The most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.  An 8:30am service with a children’s choir.  In the center of this photo is the Virgin de Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary with a different skin colour. Those empty seats up front were filled by a parade.




Postcards of the Pope, he’s wearing a sombrero bottom right.

Mexico City and I had a Honeymoon.   There were blue titled buildings that reminded me of Portugal and jungle gym intricacies filled with happy children.  The harassment was barely there, no men kissed at me or tried to touch me!  The people were polite, kind, and courteous, even as I navigated through busy markets.  The begging was minimal.  The dogs I saw (and I saw heaps) were well-groomed, without mange, and all on leashes.  Where were the strays?!  I was continually impressed by how wonderful of a place Mexico City was!!

Other notes: cool temps, older folks dancing in the park, horrendous traffic, a hot-rod extravaganza (!), parques galore, the modern day library Biblioteca Vasconcelos, that flower market!!!!!, Mexican furries, and why would you eat anything other than tacos?



My (double) Quinceanera’s coming up.

Love, from the top of the Mexican Angel of Independence,

Bow wow wow, Yippie yo yippie YAY

15 Oct

If there is one week when I am guaranteed to laugh until I cry on a daily basis — which I think we all can agree is the best feeling in the world — it’s the week the furries are in town.  And this year, July 2016, was no exception.



If you’ve never met me, here’s a post explaining what they’re all about.  And here’s a link to last years post.  And here’s a gratuitous time when I saw them in Australia.

My best friends came from around the world on staggered days, some of them meeting each other for the first time.  In the order they arrived:
Colleen flew from Ithaca
Molly flew from LA
Russ drove from Mississippi
Travis flew from Australia
Patrick flew from Iceland
and Helen lives in Pittsburgh


We started wearing our tails 5 days before official Opening Ceremonies.


Can you believe this event happens in my hometown?!?!?!?!


Wag wag WAG





The best kind of Panda-monim.


But now he’s just some bunny that I used to know.


Raquel, taking selfies with the extra-large local celebs.


The “Macro furs” ready to right-foot-red/stomp-on-buildings!!!




The connector between The Weston and The Convention Center: The air-conditioner is blasting to keep the people in my favourite kind of suit, the fur-suit, happy.


What do you call a magic dog? A Labracadabrador.


Dat tail doe.


“Patrick says ‘I you can laugh you Rus’.”  I mean, I wrote it down verbatim.

Russ sang What a Wonderful World at furryoke this year and it was epic!


My furiends at the dance party ❤

I’ll call this video of me dancing, the tail wagging the dog 🙂

Special shout-out to the after party with Britney and Ricky. One of the best nights of my life  ❤


Ponying up some money to buy one of everything in the Dealers Room.

Speaking of ponies, the My Little Pony talk was a highlight even though we were all rubes.  There was a raffle — which anyone could win — and therefore gave my team a fair chance.  Several different sized stuffed-animal Octavias were up for grabs and no, we didn’t know who that was before we won. (Turns out, an adorable grey cartoon horse who we later donated to Helen’s young niece, not in attendance.)  When it came time for trivia, my team was stumped at the specific questions asked (the name of the father of the best friend who appeared only once in episode 3 season 4) and flabbergasted at the amount of exuberance and knowledge the rest of the room showed.   Helen’s seat-neighbor was a smart, shy fan of the show and he won us a Rainbow Dash! The entire room murmured with jealousy.


A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever can not change her spots.


Happy as a clam, if a clam had fur.


Adult life is wonderfully weird.


How now, brown rhinoceros.



Early Sunday morning, when we were a lifetime away from the furries, Patrick and I decided to make a move: The Closing Ceremonies were still 7 hours away, enough time for an adventure.  We hitched a ride downtown and talked about how different everything would be if we had masks to wear when I remembered I’d heard it was fursible that this year there was an artist who was renting “heads” by the hour.  Eureka! We deh pon a mission.  Heading to the Dealers Room we discovered exactly two “heads” for rent — which is how, for $20 an hour, Patrick and I transformed into a lion and a zebra, respectively.


Straight from the horses mouth.

Instantly, our worlds changed.

And not just because we weren’t able to see or hear as well.  The masks provided anonymity.  They were an equalizer, a way to view the world without being viewed ourselves; these heads anthropomorphized us.  We admired each other’s outward appearance and linked arms as we began to navigate our new lives.  Everything seemed different.

“Is it difficult to see out of your mask?” I asked Patrick while focusing on the ground.  “What?” Came the muffled reply.  We had to stop shuffling in order to listen to each other — it was impossible to talk, walk, and hear simultaneously — and quickly realized that the best way to communicate (both to hear and to see)  was out of each animals mouth-hole , which belied the proverb “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, ha.


Can you hear me now? This is what I looked like when I pried the mouth open, attempting communication.

We worked our way up the escalators with limited sight, the masks acted as blinders and my peripheral vision was completely shot.  We moved at a slow speed because I couldn’t see any “people” until they were directly in front of me.  One such “person” was another zebra who gave me his business card; he also questioned my motives for fraternizing with a predator.

“Let’s go to the head-less zone (a room only mask wearers are permitted.)” , Patrick suggested, “since we’ve never been allowed inside of there before.”  Great idea! The Headless Zone, it turned out, was a room full of fans, drying racks (on which to hang your sweaty outfits), and jugs upon jugs of ice-cold water.  If only they could come up with a better name.

“Let’s try to switch heads”, I proposed, as I gratefully peeled the zebra head off, wanting a break.  The lion mask had lighter eye swatches and thus made it slightly easier to see out of merely “impairing your vision by 60%”, according to Patrick.  Ha.  With either head on, we both would have passed as legally blind.  We switched back.  Patrick looked good as a zebra but since my shirt was striped it made me look like I’d woken up knowing I was going to be a zebra.  Holding tails, we continued to blunder our way around the convention as adorable, vision impaired, predator and prey.

We loved our new fursonas!

“Let’s go outside”,  my lion friend roared. We walked the streets and relished our new perspective; this was even better than I’d thought it was going to be!  It was crowded on the sidewalk and we blended in among the full-fursuiters.  A dream I had not even realized I had had!

All of a sudden, someone stopped to ask me for a photo!  “Sure!!” I squealed as I dropped Patrick’s tail and stopped to strike a pose, balled my hands up into the shape of hooves and held them up against my chest.  I hoped Patrick was behind me pretending to attack.  “Thanks!”, came a reply.  I turned towards them and responded “No problem!”  So this is what that felt like.


Vogue.  Tourists pay thousands of dollars for this shot in the Serengeti.

Patrick grabbed my arm just as someone else asked “Hey, can I also get a picture?”  “Yup!” I said, as Patrick, who, I know now was laughing hysterically, could barely choke out “Sammi, no.”  I tried to find where his voice was coming from but it was difficult to see with the mask and all the people. “Wait, the picture,” I tried to tell him but he pulled on my arm again, “They’re not taking a picture of you”, he said, his voice breaking from laughter-tears.

Whhhhhhaaaaaaaat?  My face was quizzical but the mask hid everything.  Patrick must not have seen the people who had just clearly asked take a picture of me.

I held my mouth-hole open to see as much as possible as I searched for Patrick.  He was very close and also holding his mouth-hole open, tears streaming down his face as the oblivious crowd swarmed by.  It was like having Planet Earth-themed tunnel vision.

“Those people didn’t want a picture of you.”

I was so confused.

“Yes they did,” I countered, not seeing anything besides Patrick out of my mouth-hole.

“That big Moose furry, the one with the sombrero, was next to you.  Those people wanted a picture of him.  You just posed for a picture you weren’t in.  You weren’t even turned the right direction for the picture.


A picture is worth a thousand herds.

My eyebrows furrowed as I turned my ear away from the mouth-hole.  I was unable to both hear and see at the the same time.

What did Patrick say??

I reeled as Patrick, who could barely breath because he was laughing so hard, doubled of over.  The realization started to hit me and I began to laugh, too.  We were crazy people.

“And then”, he wheezed “in the end, I watched you turn 45 degrees in the wrong direction to tell no one ‘you’re welcome’.” We’re both in tears now.  “You weren’t even facing them!”

The blood rushed to my face (not that you could tell).  The wrong direction?!  I wasn’t talking to anyone??!   This was news to me as we both launched into hysterics.
“I wanted to tell you”, he managed to say, “but you couldn’t hear and by the time I reached you someone else had stopped The Moose and asked to take his picture. Again, they weren’t talking to you.”

“They weren’t talking to me?!” I was incredulous.  “Are you sure??”  “YES!”, Patrick exclaimed while cracking up, “I was watching you!  I could see the whole thing!!”

“You can see?!!” I don’t know which piece of news hit me hardest:  That Patrick had watched my entire performance when I had put the camera before the horse, so to speak, and posed for a photo taken of someone else, that I had said “no problem” to literally no one, or that Patrick had had sight this entire time!

We held onto each other as we stumbled back into the air-conditioning and laughed.  I was exhausted and satisfied and it was sadly time to return the rented heads and attend Closing Ceremonies.  My face was wet from crying.



This year, the 20th anniversary of Anthrocon, was the largest furry convention to date with over 7,300 registered fursonas and I think it’s safe to say that next year will be even bigger.

Cat’s outta the bag, yinz. — Mark yo’ calendars:
June 29th – July 2nd 2017

Birds of a feather.

All the wags,
‘mi wearing a zebra head