28 June 2012

Greener Me

When I was a kid I was an environmentalist.  I wanted to save the rainforest and the whales.  And be like my big sister who wrapped our Christmas presents in newspaper.   In high school my friends called me a hippie.  I ended up going to college in Santa Cruz - thinking I'd find others like me!  Well, I did and I didn't.  What happened was I found out ABOUT ME and how much of a certain type of environmentalist I really am not.

I don't like it when people will take their dogs to an acupuncturist but feel uncomfortable talking to a black person on the bus.  Or when someone will insist on an organic, gluten free, raw food, ayurvedic diet but smoke weed everyday.

Ok, I know, I know, there is hypocrisy everywhere, we are all guilty of it - duh, we are human.  What I didn't like was that there was this arrogance, or attitude around "I'm better than you because I care about the environment and show this by what I eat, where I shop and what I buy."  There is something wholly wrong with this attitude.

When I was in college I met a girl who considered herself a "freegan" instead of a "vegan"... She would eat vegan when she could, and then if something was going to waste (example: oops the restaurant forgot to leave the bacon off my salad) she wouldn't throw it out or freak out, but would eat it, because otherwise it would go in the trash.  If someone wasn't going to finish their burger, she'd take it home for dinner later.  She was against waste, not fanaticism.  I totally appreciated this perspective.

The crazy-over-the-top organic obsessed privileged rich white hippies in [__insert town name here__]/Santa Cruz totally jaded me. And I didn't want to be like them.  I stopped thinking of myself as an environmentalist.  Even though I still recycled, I didn't freak out if someone threw a can in the trash.  I never bragged about buying a natural, organic or eco product.  I decided that it's up to everyone to decide how they want to live and it's not up to me to preach about what I do or tell others how to be.

Just recently I have started blogging about natural living for a blog called KeenForGreen.com and have been doing quite a bit of research.  I realized that the green movement still has the nutsos out there (Gotta love Portlandia for making fun of these people!)

Now that I've been doing a lot of research on the chemicals in cosmetics, food, household cleaners and all the other unhealthy aspects of mass produced items - I'm getting back into the greener way of things.  And really enjoying it!  I take everything with a grain of salt- I prefer the laid back approach.  Do the best I can when I can, dont fret too much about it otherwise.  It's better to chose the lesser of two evils than obsess about perfection.  If others are interested in this information - they will ask or find it on their own.  No preaching necessary. 

I still think the yuppy-hippies in Santa Cruz are obnoxious.  Some things will never change :)

Check out what I've been writing on:

A Packing List for the Ecotourist and stay tuned for more!

05 June 2012

Election Day

Today is the primary election day in the United States.  And I can't help but have Mexico on my mind.  Their presidential elections are just weeks away... on July 1st.

It is an important event, because in Mexico a president only serves ONE term that last 6 years.  That way the incumbent president is not seeking re-election while they are trying to run the country.  I am no expert about Mexico, or their political system but I know a few things worth sharing:

(unofficial) GRINGA GUIDE TO 

There are currently three dominant political parties in Mexico, all of which are referred to by acronyms: the PRI, PAN and PRD.

Recent presidents of Mexico:

2006 - 2012: PAN Party / Felipe Calderon
2000 - 2006: PRD Party / Vicente Fox  
1928 - 2000: PRI  Party dominated the political scene

The 2000 elections were historic marking the moment Mexico no longer under the dictatorial rule of the PRI party.  Mexico was now a democracy.

For 2012 the two leading candidates up for election are:

          Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI                            Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD 

Obrador was the actual winner of the 2006 elections, the elections had been rigged and Calderon actually eluded to this during his acceptance speech!

There has been corruption and campaign sabotage during the last months as we inch closer and closer to yet another momental moment for Mexico.

Having the PRI back in power in Mexico, IS NOT GOOD.  As a friend of mine in Mexico said "I'm afraid we will lose what little progress we have made as a democracy if the PRI return to presidential power."

Overcoming the PRI's power hungry dominance in the country is still an uphill battle, the PRI holds power throughout local, state, and national-level offices.

A word or two on the PRI:

The PRI has been widely described as a coalition of networks of aspiring politicians seeking not only positions of power and prestige but also the concomitant opportunity for personal enrichment. At the highest levels of the political system, the major vehicles for corruption have been illegal landholdings and the manipulation of public-sector enterprises. In the lower reaches of the party and governmental hierarchies, the preferred methods of corruption have been bribery, charging the public for legally free public services, charging members of unions for positions, nepotism, and outright theft of public money.

Why I support the PRD:

The PRD is a revolutionary party born out of the political upheaval of the 1980s.  The PRD's party program emphasizes social welfare concerns and promotes economic nationalism, as opposed to the structural neoliberal changes that focus on increasing trade and foreign investment to boost the Mexican economy introduced by the PRI.

You might know about NAFTA - a disastrous neoliberal program created under the PRI - it is the North American Free Trade Agreement involving Mexico, the US and Canada.  This made the US rich, fast and was hugely beneficial at first, now its a mess.  If you need to know why NAFTA still sucks for everyone and has killed jobs in all three countries, read this.  The PRD seeks to boost Mexico's economic autonomy. A stronger healthier Mexico is a good thing.  A co-dependent unequal relationship with the US, bad news for everyone.

As Hilary Clinton recently commented - The PRI will return to presidential power in Mexico - over my dead body!

Please keep your ears open in the next 25 days leading to election day.

Change in Mexico = OBRADOR  2012 - 2018. 

Also, check out the ANTI-Peña Nieto student protest that has gone viral in the twittersphere - #YoSoy132

04 June 2012


I guess its time I came out with it.  It took me a minute to feel comfortable saying it.  But truth be known,
(as in Spain/España/Europe/OMG/WTF)

So, let me catch you up... Back in October I submitted an application to be a teaching assistant in Spain.  It was a "just in case" plan.  For those in my life that think I always have something up my sleeve, well this time it was Spain. oops.  Here we are in June and I have officially been accepted into the position. (bureaucracy in Spain is a little slow).

I have been finger printed, got an FBI report (no records uncovered, phew!), the Secretary of State gave me the official Apostille stamp, I have my four passport size photos, my visa application, official record of my health, immunizations and mental sanity (dumb luck), I have proof of employment, savings (pennies), income, planned travel itinerary (unplanned), a new passport (brand spankin new!), photocopies of passport, a money order for the visa, a visa appointment (July 3rd) and let me see...

Am I forgetting anything? Probably.

My employment is through a grant from the Ministry of Education - better known as the Language and Cultural Assistants of Spain program. The position is part time, so I am also actively seeking consulting and interning opportunities with SEITAR and other intercultural firms.  Of course I will also stay active with InterNations and you know me... networking like crazy :)

I am designing my new Madrid life via Pinterest --- and dancing around the blogosphere of expats in Spain... slowly its starting to feel REAL, but I still have a few months until I depart (in September).

As some of you know, I like to be warm (all the time).  I also like to be near the ocean (or at least water).  Madrid is neither near water or warm all the time.  So, it took my spoiled California gringa booty a moment to adjust to the idea of being in the MIDDLE of a country at 2,000ft above sea level sans agua. I had originally asked to be placed in Barcelona (partially because its called Barça for short, and I think the ç is really cool) and also because its near water and has a warmer climate.  However, the program was cancelled in Barça due to the financial crisis in Spain.  Oops.


I still have lots of things to figure out, like...

Where will I live?

What will my job be like?

Will I start speaking Spanish with a lisp

Will I root for Real Madrid or Barça?

Where do I begin?

(Wine regions of Spain)

Who will visit me first?