México from A to Z

August 11, 2011


Agave – beautiful vistas of dusty blue, and when harvested – Tequila!  Photo ©Suzanne Barbezat
Amar – lovers share a private moment in a city park. Many people live in small houses overflowing with family… so a moment shared in public is actually quite private.


Banda – The favorite music of Sinaloa! Yes, that is a tuba there on the right of the photo, an album cover from Banda El Recodo, Mazatlán’s favorite.
Blue corn tortillas – my personal favorite.


Chinampas – when you visit Mexico City’s Xochimilco, you will take a ride in a trajinera (the boat, pictured above) and perhaps visit a chinampa (the island in the canal).  I promise you’ll have a wonderful afternoon.
Comal – this isn’t a Mexican comal – I inherited this one more than 35 years ago. A must-have in a Mexican kitchen, and used daily in mine.
Cuauhtémoc – the last emperor of the Aztecs, is venerated throughout México, even though he was defeated (by Hernan Cortéz). There’s another Cuauhtémoc who is currently very popular – Cuauhtémoc Blanco – of México’s World Cup football team.


Deer – Mazatlán is the Land of the Deer. Above is a picture of our Deer Monument.
Deer – the deer-corn-peyote symbols are at the heart of the Huichol religion, and the deer symbol above is from the Sinaloa state shield. (Photo swiped from Yod.ca, with thanks)


Equipal furniture – We love our equipal furniture – it’s comfortable and durable for our climate. The word comes from the Nahuatl language, and it means “chair for gods.” Sorry, Coco, I don’t think you are royalty, exactly!
Estacionarse – or in the sign above, no estacionarse. I love this word! To park yourself, basically, as it is a reflexive verb.


Frutas – This tile mural is above my cooktop. The fruit in México is spectacular.
Frutas – more tropical fruits – aren’t you intrigued?


Gaspacho – this is a fruit treat we first ate in Morelia… cut up fruit with a bit of cheese and chili on top. Mmmmmmm.
Guadalupe – The Virgen of Guadalupe is the most revered saint in México and the first brown-skinned saint ever.


Huipil – Traditional embroidered or woven blouse or dress.
El Hielo – Block ice is delivered to most palapa restaurants on the beach so that they can cool their beer and pop. In Mazatlán, at 9 am you will see blocks like these strung out like pearls on a necklace all the way up the malecon.
HBO – We occasionally watch HBO on television, but the real thrill is listening to the announcer say what is coming up…… on “ah-che-bay-oh.” I really could say that all day!


Iguana – don’t they make you think “prehistoric?” Thanks for the photo to Isla Gringo at http://bnwisla.blogspot.com/
El Inodoro – Another great word. And the image above is one made out of talavera. Really gives new meaning to the word throne, doesn’t it?


Jicama – If you aren’t accustomed to eating these, peel, cut up, squeeze some lime over it and shake some cayenne pepper, too. Delicious.
Jeep – a great vehicle for the coast – or anywhere in México where you don’t know what the road will be like! Plus, how fun is it to have a “heep?” (That’s how it’s pronounced in Spanish)
Jamaica – dried hibiscus flowers make delicious tea. It’s my favorite beverage these days!
Jitomate – delicious Sinaloa tomatoes. What could be better?


Kiosko – The kiosko in the Plazuela Machado isn’t the most beautiful in México, but we love it. This is an old picture, it looks much nicer now.
Frida Kahlo – her work and portrait is so overused on tote bags and miscellany that we forget that she was a brilliant painter, fascinating person, and revered Mexican personality.


Lotería – Bingo is mundane, Lotería is a fascinating look at all things Méxican!


Lucha Libre – Méxican macho performance art or wrestling? You decide!



La Llorona – is the story of the crying woman who killed her children to be with the man she loves – and was subsequently rejected by him. She is doomed to search for her children for all eternity, and is constantly weeping.  (the verb llorar is to cry)  In the video below, the late Lhasa de Sela performs the song.



Mango – The state of Sinaloa grows a lot of mangoes – the drive from Mazatlán to Tepíc takes you through many groves of mango. The picture above shows the way they sell them on the beach here.


Mariposa – The monarch butterfly winters in the forests in Michoacán. To learn more (and where the picture above came from) visit http://www.learner.org



Nopal – the paddles of the cactus are used frequently in Méxican cuisine. The spines are cut off and they are usually cut into strips and cooked. They make a great salad for those who like the slightly gooey sap.


Niños – México population is very young – something like 35% under the age of 15. The children above are participating in an Independence Day parade.



Oaxacan textiles – these beautifully made rugs are made by hand with traditional dyes. Photo courtesy of IslaGringo (http://bnwisla.blogspot.com/)


La Olla – the photo above is a traditional earthenware bean pot. I plan on getting one soon to to cook my favorite Peruano beans.


Pulmonía – there are several thousand of these open air taxis on a VW chassis in Mazatlán. As far as I know Mazatlán is where they were invented and the only city that uses them!


Palapa – The perfect tropical shade! And you really do stay cooler under a palapa than under other kinds of umbrellas.


Pangas – these flat fishing boats are used for everything from fishing to transporting people from Mazatlán to Stone Island.


Queso – the photo above is Oaxacan cheese that is made in ropes and wrapped into a ball shape. ¡Una quesadilla para mi, por favor!


Quinceañera – when a girl turns 15 (quince) she becomes a woman, and in many families a religious ceremony and large formal party is the way the event is marked. The dresses above are XV Años dresses… see the sign?


Diego Rivera – He was an artistic genius, womanizer, Communist, and Mexican patriot.


Rebozo – this is my lovely handmade silk rebozo. It’s the Mexican sweater, baby carrier, art object, and scarf.


Sandía – watermelon is available everywhere and is delicious.


Sol – We love the sun – Mazatlán has (probably) more than 320 sunny days per year – and almost every night is another gorgeous sunset.


Sal – I love the sea salt from the state of Colima. These big bags of delicious sea salt were something like five pesos each, bought by the side of the road.   I am running low, we need to go on a road trip I think!


Tuna – the fruit of the cactus is eaten fresh and made into drinks. Very healthful, just like the cactus paddles. Our parrots will eat them at the exclusion of anything else!


Tortillas – fresh handmade  tortillas are pictured above. When they are warm just sprinkle with a little sea salt, roll up, and eat. Mmmmm.


Talavera – This is the tile that says “México” to me.


Uxmal – we visited the ruins last year when we were in the Yucatán. They were incredible. (There are lots of pictures in a photo gallery on my Photos page, above)


Usted – is the formal tense, used for people who are older than you or in formal business situations.


Tu – I include this here since you’ll use the informal when speaking to your friends and family.


Venados – Mazatlán is the “Land of the Deer” in the Nahuatl language, so of course our baseball team is the Venados. They play winter league AAA ball and have been Pacific league champions for the last few years. In the center of the picture above is the mascot, Vinnie the Venado.


Volcano – the photo above is the Volcán de Colima, taken from the road.


Wrought iron – we love leaving our windows open for days (or weeks or months) at a time. The wrought iron protections let us have a nice breeze without worry.


Xoloitzcuintli – this is a friend’s xolo, Hondo, a Mexican hairless dog.


Xihuitl – the Aztec 365 day solar calendar that consists of 18 months of 20 days each plus 5 “unlucky” days.


Yaguar – the jaguar head above is a Huichol artwork. The jaguar is an important symbol to indigenous people and currently there is education going on to propose alternatives to the ceremonial killing of jaguars since they are an endangered species.


Yerba Buena – Gotcha! Mint.


Zapatos – the zapatos (shoes) above are called huaraches. Most of the workers we see here wear them.


Zarandeado – above is Pescado Zarandeado, or grilled fish. At most of the seafood restaurants in town you will be offered a selection of fresh fish to choose from. They will clean the fish and open it flat to grill it in between two grates above charcoal. Served with rice, beans, vegies, and tortillas it is an amazing beach lunch!

Gracias a todos!

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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. I still love everything on this list! Especially your Equipal. That looks so comfortable. Perfect for reading! 🙂

      As for the nopales…I take it you don’t like them because of the gooey sap. I have the same problem. Have you tried them grilled? Much tastier and a lot less gooey!!!

      Loving the design changes you’ve made to the blog. 🙂

      1. Leslie, I bet you like little Coco on the equipal, too! I love to sit there in the afternoon and watch the hummingbirds. Nopales, you’re right. But I have had them grilled and they are pretty good as long as there’s some other grilled goodies to go with! (and thank you, I have been tweaking the blog a bit, nice you noticed!)

    1. Love love LOVE this list, Nancy! Somehow I missed it the first time around. Definitely one of your best!

      1. Dianne, Thanks so much, I really loved it when I did it but it lost something being in four parts. My most commented on posts ever I think.

        Bill, Thanks so much!

    1. Great post Nancy! I enjoyed reading it. You had some very interesting and funny ones.

      My Favs were “the throne” toilet: I have never seen one made out of talavera, HBO & the Jeep: always find myself correcting my husband when he says things the Mexican way. One of the ones he always says is knee-ke for Nike. And last but not least your Rebozo! I have found that I need to invest in reobozo’s because it is too hot to wear a sweater or jacket and too cold not to have something over your blouse. I really like the color of yours.

      1. Laura, When you get one everyone will call you “Your Highness.”

        Contessa, Thank you! (We are going to Stone Island tomorrow, fingers crossed!)

        Trinidad, Thanks so much, I had a lot of fun doing this post. And I am so with you on the rebozo, it is so versatile! Although it is too warm at night here in Mazatlan for one right now.

    1. A great post Nancy, congratulations. Your list is amazing but the truly amazing thing is that there is still so much that could be added to it.

      1. Ken, Thank you! And you’ve given me an idea…maybe there will be a sequel on day. Hope you’re enjoying your month in the cool, see you soon!

    1. Hi Nancy — just as fabulous the second time around! Love the mural detras de Coco!!! Really enjoy your blog

      1. Berly, Thanks so much! (And yes, we love our mural, too!)

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