Saturday, April 24, 2010

Idiomasyncracies: Gente and People

Some idiomasyncracies are funny while others, like this one, are meant to be informative.  These are questions Spanish language learners/practicers ask me, and they are concepts that can be confusing.

In the Spanish dictionary gente means: people; persons in general; folk; nation; those who comprise a community; family. A good example of its usage would be, "Es buena gente."  In English, "he's good people" or "he's good folk", etc. 

In this phrase, "La gente de Chiapas es muy pobre," I am simply saying "the people of Chiapas are very poor."  You'll notice that "la gente" is a singular word and even though it is used in a plural concept its verb is third person singular.  "Me cae bien la gente del Yucatán."  "I like Yucatecan people."  The noun and verb remain in singular form.

La gente can be pluralized.  Las gentes is a correct way of saying "the peoples" in many groups of different categories of people.  So you CAN say "Las gentes de Chiapas son muy pobres,"  because the truth of the matter is there are scores of indigenous groups who speak unique languages and live with unique customs in Chiapas, and they represent a large percentage of the abject poverty of the state .  Should you choose the second phrase with las gentes, you will be understood to be talking about more than one group.  If you say, "Me gustan las gentes de Mérida," "I like the peoples of Mérida," the response will be big eyes, because that is a very large, all inclusive GUSTO.

The confusion enters when translating to our word 'people'.  It is a plural word. It always indicates a body of persons sharing a common thread and automatically takes a third person plural verb form.  "People are broke."

'The people" denotes the mass or ordinary persons, i.e. the populace.  It too requires the third person plural verb accompaniment. 'Peoples' is an acceptable plural form of people, but it's only used in the plural (peoples) to refer to two or more groups considered to be political or cultural entities:  "The Mayan peoples' history,"  for example.

The lesson then would be that a singular noun in Spanish must be accompanied by a singular verb and singular adjectives.  Even if the noun indicates a group, that group becomes a singular item.    On the other hand, the English word 'people' is already in plural form and thus requires plural accompaniments.  This is just another example of how we look at things a little differently, and another reason it is so confusing to learn another language. 

¡Ojalá le gustó a la gente este artículo!
I tried to download a video but the procedure has changed, so I am not sure if this is going to work for you or not.  You should be able to just click below to hear the song.   If you can handle Latino rap or whatever this is, the lyrics are great.  Unfortunately they are sung so fast you don't understand a thing. The point is, it is a song about all kinds of GENTE.  They played this video for six months, once an hour, on a tv station we watch.  After a few months I'd gotten the lyrics and actually liked this song  Funny.  

Wild Song about lots of GENTE

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Time To Swim

Buenos Días.  The day has finally come!  The weather has begun to warm up.  At 10pm last night it was 34°C (94°F).  Now that is a beautiful evening!  The low overnight was expected to reach 24°C (74°F).  Right now, at 7:50 am on April 23, 2010, I am going to get into the pool with Mike for morning exercise....first time in months.  The pool temp was 86°F yesterday afternoon.  Right now it is registering 83°C and the air temp is 26°C (77°F)....a little cool for me, but it is time to take the morning plunge. 

Sitting on a stool outside the pool drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is not exactly morning exercise, but that was mine all winter, keeping Mike company as he froze his buns off in the pool. He is waiting for me now, so off I go into the refreshing wet.,

(Happy Birthday Lee Majors, you dirty old man)(My mind remembers odd things. What can I say.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cute Cat Pics: A Post for Cat Lovers

I find I have to label the cat photo postings, because some people really like them and others skip them all together. Especially the DOG people!  I can understand.  It's just so hard to NOT take photos of the kitties, they are my family and we spend a lot of time together. We study each other.  I think Moka and Mokito are ahead of the race to understanding and WORKING other people!  Mokito is a professional scammer.  He has all the guys in the house trained, has them convinced we do not feed him ever, and he actually sits and howls outside their doors for them to let him into their rooms, or harrasses them in the kitchen until they give him some of what they are cooking. 

Mokito into the catnip the cats received from Aunt Cherie.
They all love it. Buster is pretending not to care, but he has already had his time rolling about in the new stash.
Buster sends a personal thanks. He doesn't allow too many photos taken.
Moka and Lorenza like to cuddle, mostly Lorenza. And she often likes to cuddle Moka right out of the spot she was comfortably sleeping in.

This character! Paint on his foot from walking on Pablo's painting. Stickers stuck to him everywhere. Dirty after rolling in dirt.  Sitting spread eagle. Thinking about where trouble may lurk so he can find it.

These two are often found snuggled up. Lorenza's a momma's girl. They SHOULD be comfortable on the new 440 count sheets Jay/Cherie brought in a care package!

I reinforced and restructured their cat scratch and climb juguete. It's ugly but sturdy and they like it. Weasel, who doesn't even live here, spends most nights curled up where you see Lorenza now.

Busmo says "here's five  four", he's hangin' in the shade with the gargoyle.
Sak Boox is in training as assistant supervisor.
And lastly, Mokito THE ANGELITO on his BED.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ant Rant: The Ant Invasion

Lorenza, in the box, and I, Moka, have nothing to do with this post. We just want to let Aunt Cherie know that every single part of our care package means a lot to us. We take turns using this cool box.

Friday morning after drinking my coffee I went up to the kitchen sink to wash the few dirty dishes. The usual routine. The housekeeper was here the day before so the kitchen was sparkly clean. There were no crumbs on the counter, a miracle in itself in a house where five young single guys use the kitchen. Not to be discriminatory, but most of the men I have known don’t notice details like crumbs on the counter.

Before I could wash one single coffee cup, little black ants were crawling up my legs. It was my mistake for forgetting my flip flops, so I ran to grab them after a quick rinse in the shower. Those little buggers bite, and their bites last a long time itching and blistering. I had one of those “Oh no I am going to be eaten alive” moments that linger from learning adventures gone by.

We have heavy duty ant killer, H24 Polvo Para Hormigas but we can’t use it in too many places because it’s so toxic. There are too many humans and animals about the house. I am aware of spraying areas with vinegar water to disorient the ants, but I can only handle so much vinegar smell. So I use talcum powder. Ants don’t seem to like it.

I looked at the floor and saw two Corn Pops and one dead palmetto roach. I know the male person who eats corn pops and the cats hunt down those giant roaches and bring them in to play with! Luckily they play to the death. Those three items were enough ant food for the zillions of ants I saw prancing around the kitchen floor. So I whipped out my talcum powder and ‘empanizado’d (a term meaning breaded, but after a shower when I cover myself in talcum powder, I say I am recently empanizado’d. A local thing, sorry.) The entire kitchen floor. The talc only confuses them, but it gives me a chance to sweep them up without them eating me alive first. The down side of this ant treatment is it leaves the floor extremely slippery, and I have to sweep it up several times.

After confusing, moving and then killing the kitchen ants, I headed over to the cat feeding station. Someone treated them the night before to some fresh fish and there were bones scattered about among crunchies that had been pulverized by teeny tiny red ants. There were trillions more ants just trailing along like they owned the cat station. In the cat station I use a spritzer of Fabuloso to clean the mess six cats plus the uninvited ones leave over night. Fabuloso also kills the ants. I don’t give those miniature red ants a chance to bite me, so I can’t say if they do bite. Then I throw talcum powder in the doorway to head them off in another direction.

It was a beautiful day and I decided after ant duty I’d head out to the pool, thinking there wouldn’t be ants there. There used to be! But I recently changed the plants in the planters that surround the pool. I had something in them before that it turned out ants loved. They look like this now and the ants could care less about them.

My last few outings to the pool have been ant free, so much so I was thinking how pleased my friend Mike would be when he comes over to swim. But not last Friday. I washed them all away with chemicalized water. However it was luckily the last ant detail of the day. They must have been very thirsty because they were heading for any wet spot and investigating the entire outdoor area. We haven’t had a drop of rain in months, and the ants have gotten out of hand.

We also have the giant biting red ants, but I don’t see them too often. We have the carpenter ants, the leaf cutters, from the prehistoric monsters to the newest alien versions. You live in the tropics, you deal with ants. By the time I got around to writing this blog post though, we have had some rain. And that means some respite from the ant problem. I still have to stay on my toes to keep it under control, but the rainy days seem to be helping a little. Only a little. There are other ants who like to come inside when it rains to see what goodies they can find on the floor. It really never ends. I just talcumed my bedroom floor.

Today my concern though is really mosquitoes, which are out in force after 24 hours of light rain. I have Mexican incense lit next to me; Raid Mosquito Killer Coils is the name if you want to find them at the store. Lavender scented. That’s it, that’s my ANT RANT.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ball Park Treats

The Pizza Hut guy. Hot and freshly made on site.

This is the pizza. Looks kind of gross, doesn't it? It was pretty good actually.

Kibis and Piedras. Kibis are mashed fried garbanzo balls. Piedras are little balls of masa with hamburger or something inside.  Both are served with a little shredded cabbage and habanero salsa. 

This kid has what appear to be apples on his stick.  They didn't look like apples up close though, unless half of them are covered in chile.  How old is this kid, about 7?

Tortas. In my opinion the most common food eaten here, your basic ham and cheese sandwich on "francés" (white bread bolillo).

A cooler full of chicken wings. Not appetizing, will skip these.

Cotton Candy. A staple at any Yucatecan gathering.

Fresh fruit.  Jicama and mango. Very impressive.

The lady in front of me bought one. She had some syrup poured over it, and I see it has a spearmint garnish. Hah, unless that is a hot chile!

Elotes and Esquites.  Corn, on the cob or off the cob. Served with medium cream and limón. 

Nestle Ice Cream Treats. 

Of course, the CHICLET salesman.

The guy behind us caught a foul ball.
That should about cover food at the ball game! 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Park!

Kukulcán Sports Center.

Last Friday, April 2nd, Pablo and I attended our first LEONES DEL YUCATÁN baseball game of the season. The season started last month, we just got around to going. The Leones beat the Veracruz Rojos del Águila,  9-8.

Pablo bought me a Leones Tshirt. Now I am ready for more games!

We learned Fridays are two for one nights.  Therefore we splurged 90 pesos for seats in the butaca baja (lower Mezzanine?) and found seats at the first base line with a great view of the batters and entire field.  It wasn't very crowded since it was Good Friday, residents mostly in church or at the beach.  

The seats are made of the hardest plastic ever made, and they sit low to the ground.  I practically had to look over my knees to see the game.  I didn't think to take a cushion, and my bony ass and confused back could only handle 7 innings.  We drank one large beer each per inning, and we don't even like beer that much. Especially Modelo, blaaaahhhh.  They sell Corona too, but again, blaaaaaahhh.  

The game was long and boring.  I hate to say this, because baseball is always kind of a slow game.  I love going out to the ball park!  It's just that they walked practically everyone, usually with a full count.  So at 6 pitches per batter, that's a lot of time and spitting. Since I was physically uncomfortable and forcing down those beers, it just seemed like the night moved in slow motion. 

Things did pick up eventually, Fernando Valenzuela Jr. hit one out of the park, bringing in at least one other guy with him.  I was yelling, "Vamonos, Fernando!  Uno para tu papá"...of course I was the ONLY person yelling (what's up with that?) and whammo! Home run!  It was just an unexciting game, but we do want to return to watch them play again soon.  I have their site bookmarked so maybe there will be a more exciting game to report on later.

At most US baseball games, THE most popular food item (not counting beer) would be some variation of HOT DOGS.  Plus the french fries, more fried things, and variations on junk food.  I was fascinated with the food sold at the local baseball park last time and managed to get some good shots of these venders last week.

This is the peanut guy. These guys have pillow case type carriers made out of a sheet, I think.  The pockets hold plenty of delicious HOT fresh roasted peanuts!

Pepitas (roasted shelled salted pumpkin seeds), peanuts in chili powder and salt, plain roasted peanuts with or without pepitas....with chile-salt and fresh lime added. Served with a utensil..fork or spoon...I am getting these next time.

Here we have the Modelo beer guy on the left, and a vendor of a variety of marshmellow candies.

These are my favorites, the white ones, but I can't remember what they are called.  Pablo says they call them chicharrones or fritura. They are like puffed up styrofoam in texture and crunchy, but they melt in your mouth. The white ones are made with potato or potato flour.  They serve them with hot chile poured over the top. 
I really did want to post photos of all the different foods they walk around selling. It is so different from our NOB customary baseball game.  So, tomorrow's post will show photos of more of the vendors from the baseball game.  

PS.  They sell beer during the entire game, they don't stop sales during the 7th inning. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Last night I looked at the earthquake map and saw that within that hour a 7.8 earthquake had struck Indonesia, off Banda Aceh.  I checked for news and all I could find was the report that it had happened. No information.  It was late at night here but the middle of the day there.  This morning I saw they cancelled the tsunami warning etc, but there is no news of damage yet.

Last week Mexicali got hit by a 7.3 quake.  There have been 806 quakes registered in that area in the past two weeks.  From first hand experience I can say a 7.3 quake is mind boggling.  In 1992 we were in Joshua Tree National Park, five miles from the epicenter Landers 7.3 quake.  It struck at 4:50am.  Half asleep we hopped and crawled our way out of the house, dodging falling furniture, wall hangings, etc.  The earth is moving underneath you and you feel seasick.  You are not in control of where you put your two feet.  When we finally got outside it was a scene from a La Bamba video. The cars were literally bouncing up and down and back and forth.  From our vantaget point, we could see the dust rise off the desert and hear the quake rolling closer.  It was fascincating, bizarre, and of course scary. The house was on a cement base which cracked along the entire diagonal of the property.  But we were ok.  Several aftershocks and hours later, we headed into Los Angeles to continue on with our vacation.  After a big adrenaline filling earthquake, your mind is naturally just waiting for the next one to hit.  This anxious waiting takes place for a while.  Imagine being near the BC - CA border right now, having earthquakes every few hours...wondering if this one more shake will do in your house...(By the way as I was writing this another quake, small, 3.1, woke Mexicali.)

I like to watch the earthquake map to watch trends.  Although I don't know that much about geology, I find it fascinating all the same.  I can tell you that the average number of earthquakes on the worldwide earthquake list for two weeks is usually around 200.  If you click on the earthquake page, you will see that in the past two weeks there have been over 900 earthquakes sizable enough to mention.

The Yucatán has its hazards, but earthquake is not one of them.  There are no faults presently anywhere near us.  That's not to say the earth's crust couldn't create new fault lines, especially when so many are active at this time.  But again, outside my league of knowledge.  I just thought it was interesting.