Great New Spanish Vocabulary Book

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What do you call an ice cream scoop in Spanish? Yes, I know, most people would say cuchara para helado, but that is not its proper name. Specifically, that serving utensil, in Spanish, is called a funderelele, which is the title of Laura García Arroyo’s terrific little book of wonderful-sounding yet rarely-used Spanish terms. Funderelele y más hallazgos de la lengua is her attempt to share her love of words and encourage a more precise use of the Spanish language.

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Laura is a Spaniard living in Mexico City who grew up loving words. Her parents would read her to sleep, resulting in a lifelong love of the written word, and everywhere they moved the family’s books joined them; they were members of the family, as well. She is a translator and linguist, and has kept lists over the years of fascinating vocabulary she’s come across. Funderelele is based off that list.

The dictionary of the Real Academia Española contains 80,000 words, to which we could easily add another 70,000 Americanisms; there may be as many as 300,000 words in the Spanish language. It therefore saddens Laura that the average Spanish speaker uses only about 300 words in daily conversation—though most people have a passive (recognize the word when reading it but don’t use it in conversation) vocabulary of up to 4000 words. Laura is on a mission to help us improve our vocabulary, to love the Spanish language, to put into daily use some of its gorgeous terms.

Have you ever picked up a book that had some of its pages uncut, so that they stuck together? That’s called a libro intonso. Timar is what two lovers do when they understand one another with just one glance. I suppose that could apply to parents and children as well. The Spanish word for doppelgänger? Sosias. The smell of wet rain? Petricor. Isn’t that a cool word to know? Reminds me of some of the emotion-laden words in my beloved Japanese that have no equitable translation in English. How to say “fake news” in Spanish? Paparrucha. What about that gorgeous red color of the clouds we so often see in Mazatlán at sunset? We can communicate that beauty in just one word: arrebol.

One of my favorites in the book is giste, which refers to beer foam, that which so often remains on your lip as a mustache when you drink. And how do you describe someone who steps on the accelerator as soon as the traffic light turns yellow? Lord knows Mazatlán is full of people doing just that—flavilabando, which is much quicker and easier to say—with the slight downside that no one will understand you.

Most every word in the Funderelele has a two-page spread: a drawing at left with the word’s definition, and a short essay about it on the right. Its 152 pages aren’t meant to be read in one sitting, though that could easily be done. This is a book to have handy to peruse, so that the words insinuate themselves into our vocabulary and bring their history and culture into each of us and our daily lives.

In Laura’s opinion books don’t exist to make us happy, their purpose is to stir us, to move us: to feel, to take action, to think more deeply. She wonders why we spend more time dressing to present ourselves than we do in choosing our words, which she feels can count for much more in communicating our identity to the world. Like me, Laura feels she started to learn her birth language in a meaningful way when she began studying a second language; for her this was French, when she was in elementary school in Belgium.

I heard about Funderelele and Laura García via my book club. I’ve told you about my terrific book club in an earlier post—I am absolutely blessed with intelligent, talented, funny and interesting friends there and enjoy it thoroughly. Starting last year, Laura Medina, our wonderful local natural resource who has owned Casa del Caracol bookstore for the last 14 years, has organized an annual “gathering of the clans,” a reunion of all the registered book clubs in town. This year that included 16 different clubs who met in Casa Hass this Thursday evening.

In preparation, each club chose a minimum of ten books that our members loved, and which we wanted to share with others. Laura would lay the books out on a table during the event, one member from each club would be our representative, and choose new books for our club. It sounded like an interesting way to get some new books in the club library, although I’ll admit it was very painful saying adios to some favorite volumes.

The exchange was fun, and I’m excited about our club’s new books. I enjoyed sharing our favorites. The highlight of the evening was the talk. But, I have to tell you, the food was also wonderful! Oralia Medina makes delicious desserts, most Mazatlecos know that. But I did not know that she also makes some incredible savories: ceviche with coconut milk and mustard and empanadas with pumpkin seeds among my favorites.

Laura (Medina), thank you for your dedication to promoting reading in Mazatlán, and to always being ready to order the book we need or want. Thank you for arranging such a lovely and enjoyable evening for all of us. You are yet one more reason we are blessed to call this port home.

Two Great New Restaurants in La Noria

Most of us love a quick trip to the mountains to breathe some fresh air, enjoy a change of scenery and partake of a different style of cooking. La Noria is so very close to Mazatlán (45 minute drive), and late last season I told you about one of the new restaurants thereLa Vaca Lupe.

Friends of friends own the place, so we’ve gone quite a few times. La Vaca Lupe is a typical campestre/rural-style restaurant, serving very good grilled meat, fresh cheese and salsas in a rustic, open-air environment. They do menudo on Sundays, and bake wonderful conchitas and other breads in a traditional wood-fired oven. Greg loves the meat, and I love the huge grounds of the property. The owners have put in trails so you can work off some of those calories post-meal. One of the trails goes up and around the hill and the views are really pretty. Vaca Lupe also has lots for kids to do: there’s a wonderful petting zoo, awesome rope swings, and bicycles. I recommend it. It’s on the left side of the highway as you go into La Noria, just past Los Osuna distillery.

 

The second place we just tried this weekend—La Martina Sabor con Historia. It has been open for three months and is a similar campestre/country-style restaurant. This one, however, is less rustic and more hacienda-style. You enter a nice covered courtyard with a fountain surrounded by tables. Beyond that is a beautiful high-ceilinged, well-decorated room, and, finally, another terrace that overlooks the valley. Up the hill they’ve built a small chapel, so it’s all quite scenic. I had one of the best salads I’ve ever had, seriously. Greg wasn’t as impressed with his stuffed steak, but he did enjoy it. Total for two people at lunch? 295 pesos! Entrance to the restaurant is via the Los Osuna distillery driveway, just keep to the left instead of going into the distillery on the right.

Both of these places are only open during daylight hours, around 9 to 5, and you have to bring your own beer or alcoholic drinks.

 

La Noria is a wonderful little town with quite a few traditional artisans—cheese, leather, machetes, wooden barrels, pottery. Los Osuna distillery is there as is Huana Coa zip line. These two restaurant options make it even more of a draw for a terrific day trip. There are also a couple of balnearios or swimming pools in the area, if you would like that. These are the basic, rural Mexican variety and a lot of fun. The restaurant that’s been on the road for a long time—La Abuela Tina—is still there. It’s just past the entrance gate to town on the left.

Tickets (really) Available Online!

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Yes! It’s true! Really! This time it works! As of this past Monday we can buy tickets to CULTURA Mazatlán events in the Angela Peralta theater online!

Mazatlán is blessed with world-class cultural events—my beloved opera, classic and modern dance, theater, music—but until now domestic and international tourists have been frustrated by an inability to purchase tickets in advance of their travel to Mazatlán. Residents have also been frustrated. Those who live outside the Centro Histórico have for years been handicapped—we fight traffic and torn-up roads only to get to the theater to find the box office isn’t open. Good tickets get sold out before we can get any, or we have to impose on friends who live downtown to get them for us. Even those who live downtown can struggle.

Our prayers have fortunately been answered. Even though for years it’s been announced that people can buy online, the system never worked. Lic. Raul Rico and his staff wanted to farm out the work, but the municipality said they wanted to do it in-house. They never did. Finally, however, the IT people at the municipio have come through! So far, the online purchase does not work for events in Casa Hass and elsewhere, but I’m told that will come soon. Fingers crossed.

The process for purchasing tickets online is as follow:

  1. Begin at the calendar/cartelera: http://www.culturamazatlan.mx/calendario.php  Sadly this page is currently only in Spanish. Cultura has been looking for months for English-language assistance…
  2. Click on the event of interest to you, and you will see (in Spanish) the date, time and location at the top of the pop-up window. Below it will appear intended audience, ticket prices and a summary of the event. On the upper right you will see an aqua blue box that reads Comprar boletos (buy tickets).
  3. Once you click on Comprar boletos, on the next page you will need to select the time of the performance you wish, and then click Continuar sin registrarme, or “Continue without registering.” Alternatively you can enter your “Yo + Cultura” card information to track your purchase for goodies.
  4. Once you finish there, the system will take you to a map of the venue. As you mouse over the seats available the ticket prices appear. Click on the desired seats, and click on Confirmar tu compra or “Confirm your purchase.”
  5. You’ll be taken to a confirmation page where, if everything is ok, you’ll click Realiza tu pago or “Enter your payment.”
  6. The next page will ask you for your email (correo electrónico) and cell phone number. This is great, because you’ll get a confirmation email for your purchase, and they will send the tickets themselves to your cell phone!  So, be sure to enter the numbers correctly and double- and triple-check them. That way, you can print them out, or you can just have a virtual copy on your phone to show at the door and save a tree.
  7. On the final page you’ll enter your payment information:
    1. Cardholder name (Nombre del titular)
    2. Card number (Número de tarjeta). Supposedly any credit or debit card except American Express will work.
    3. Expiration date (month/year)—Vigencia (mes/año)
    4. Security code (Código de seguridad/CVV2)

I trust you are as excited about this news as I am. Kudos to the city, and to the folks at Cultura, for getting this done. It’s obviously the new administration who will get the advantage of all their hard work—what a wonderful parting gift—but the biggest winners should be all of us who enjoy our Cultura events!

A Challenging Race is Coming to Mazatlán

Something Different for the Running Community

Extreme price and info

As most of you know, I like to run – a lot. I enter most carreras here in Mazatlán with a personal limit of half-marathon (21 km or 13.1 miles). Most of the races close the Avenida Del Mar for a brief period and runners run on the pavement instead of the malecón, where most train. But, it’s still the same view, it’s still relatively flat and many consider it to be unchallenging. With a few minor exceptions, to join a race with hills and trails, you must leave the area of the malecón and often drive or bus a great distance. Next month, however, brings a unique opportunity starting right along the malecón.

If you’re still reading, I will assume you are interested in participating in something different – something beyond flat. A respected runner in Mazatlán, Prof. Sergio Javier Leyva Santos, has put together XtreMazatlán, to be held on Sunday, October 28th. This 12 km (about 7 ½ mile) run will have runners going over two hills (Ice Box Hill and Lookout Hill) as well as up and down the Faro. Some will find this too difficult to imagine, and for that there are options to sign up as a pair or as a relay team of five people. He has assembled many great sponsors including dportenis, Powerade, La Mazatleca restaurant, TVP, Eléctrica Valdéz and Turbulence Training. I was fortunate to attend the press conference last week and can tell you that enthusiasm for this race was over the top! Many of us run the Faro on a regular basis and have longed for a race that would include it. Our wishes have been answered.

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The race begins at the new Sister City Park where Zaragoza hits Paseo Clausen. From there, it is right down to business with a run up Ice Box Hill, down the stairs into Olas Altas, up Lookout Hill, down Paseo del Centenario, and up to the lighthouse. If you sign up as a running pair, you will end your half here and your partner will take over. Once down the lighthouse, it’s up the 175 stairs to the Restaurant La Marea (formerly El Mirador), around and up the backside of Lookout Hill, back down to Olas Altas, up the stairs to Ice Box Hill and around and down to return to Sister City Park. There will be five water stations, most of which runners will pass twice. The relay points for the teams of five are shown on the map below.

Extreme 12k map

There will also be a 5K (3.1 miles) for runners, walkers and families in the general area of the park and Zaragoza. The 12 km begins at 6:30 am, the 5 km at 7:00 and kids’ runs beginning at 9:00. You can sign up at dportenis locations in the Gran Plaza, Plaza Sendero and in El Centro on Azueta. Cost is 300 pesos per person for the 12 km and 100 pesos for the 5 km. The first 100 people to sign up for the 12 km will receive a dry-fit shirt and a commemorative medal. The first 200 people to sign up for the 5 km will receive a commemorative medal.

Extreme 5k map only

The running community in Mazatlan is very welcoming, supportive and inclusive. Don’t be shy about signing up, and feel free to ask me if you have any questions. In the meantime, click any picture below to click through a slideshow and see all the pertinent details:

While I’m at it, there are a few other upcoming races you may want to know about:

Sunday October 21: Trail run in Cosalá. Choice of 10 km, 15 km or 30 km. Very challenging. Incredible views and lots of hills. This will require a hotel stay the night before. Be prepared to get wet, perhaps very wet, on the longer distances depending on creek levels. The photo below has all the details.

Cosala Trail Run

The same day as the Cosalá trail run there is a Píntate 5K sponsored by MazAtún. If you are not familiar with a píntate, as you walk or run, you will have exuberant youth throwing non-toxic, somewhat clothing friendly, colored powder on you. If you choose to pass through it, there is usually a spray station which will mist you up to enable the colors to stick better. Lots of fun. Price is 150 pesos, no time given, but it will be in the morning. With the malecón construction, I’m not sure of the route.

The most well-known annual event is the Gran Maratón Pacífico, this year celebrating 20 years of bigger and better races. The event is Saturday and Sunday, December 1&2. Saturday features a 5km and a 10km with Sunday featuring a half and a full marathon. Saturday night, traditionally, is the Festival of Lights with fireworks around the bay. Last year, this was postponed due to road and malecon construction. If you don’t participate by running, spend some time cheering on the runners and admiring their dedication. The Kenyans come to town along with a host of International and National runners so the competition is truly world-class.

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A general tip if you are looking to find competitive running in Mazatlan is to look on Facebook (including joining the group: Mazatlan Running Group), listen to local radio and check the newspaper periodically.

I’ve started training for the hills? How about you?

Miracles Happen

Cultural Detective Blog

IMG_1539I grew up in small town Wisconsin surrounded by Catholics of German ancestry. While I moved when I was eleven, I remember the town as having a wonderful community spirit—a volunteer ambulance way back before small US towns had such things. I remember a town that was lily white, the men barrel-chested; hard-working people who weren’t very emotionally expressive. The biggest cultural differences, and they were huge, were between town folk and farmers.

Today I have tears in my eyes as I have witnessed a most beautiful blessing. I heard there would be an outdoor Mass in my hometown, Burlington, in the park where I ice skated as a kid. I love outdoor spiritual celebrations. It’s a beautiful day, and I was excited to attend.

IMG_1537When I showed up at Echo Park there were several large tents set up and an altar ready in the pergola. Parking was at a…

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