Thursday, July 26, 2007

obesity as a contagious disease

great article today in NEJM that is right at the intersection of human behavioral ecology and medicine - Christakis and Fowler analyze a social network and make an argument that obesity spreads horizontally throughout....
ah, if only i would have thought of a project like that while at michigan!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

adiós mexico

Dollmaker in San Miguel de Allende


We left San Miguel on Friday morning July 6 and headed back to Mexico City for one last day. After arriving at the Central del Norte, we went straight to the bus marked "Pirámides" and started the 1 hour trip out to Teotihuácan - a perfect last day activity for Mexico.

As you probably know, this is one of the best archaeological sites in the world, with most of the buildings and pyramids still standing even though the site was deserted by the Aztecs years before the Spanish discovered Mexico. These sites near Mexico City are important because they represent the habitation of the area for thousands and thousands of years as the focal point for the population.
Plus, Pyramid of the Sun is the 3rd largest Pyramid in the world and, to Kryste's dismay, you can climb to the very top of it - sometimes even with the assistance of a handrail!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the site:

i dunno know

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More posts coming soon...

more mexico and keys scuba posts coming soon.....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dolores Hidalgo

Dolores Hidalgo may be the ugliest city in the world, or at least in Mexico...or at least in the state of Guanajuato...

Dolores Hidalgo is located about 30 miles north of San Miguel de Allende....about a 1 hour bus ride each way with no first class available (so while cheap - about $2 - also slow with many stops)....

The town can best be described as the land of exotic ice cream flavors (cerveza, avocado, cheese, etc), the bean market, and cheap pottery/ceramics. Oh, it's also the cradle of independence in Mexico as it is the sight of where Hidalgo started the march to San Miguel in the beginning of the revolution against the Spanish. You can read more about the history of Hidalgo and Mexican independence here.

Unfortunately, even with that claim to fame, there is not much in the way of historic or tourism interests here and the natural beauty of the town is lacking. The major historic site is the Hidalgo church and museum in the main plaza area.

Nonetheless, I did work in the ER here and found that it was worth the 1 hour bus ride each way from San Miguel in comparison to the other hospital site I was at. This is because there are medical students from the University of Leon at the facility, and, thus, the attendings here are a little more comfortable and acquainted with the role of a medical student.

Furthermore, Kryste and I did make a day trip out to DH to find hand painted plates for the house - which we did at won of the many many pottery/ceramic stores up and down the main strip of Dolores Hidalgo.

Of course, we couldn't leave without some strange ice cream flavors as well....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I've been meaning to write this post for some time now - and what better time than July 4th for this topic?

First of all -- yes, I do realize that Mexico is in "America" - but having said that, let me assure you that when someone here says "American" - they are referring to a person or style from the U.S.

OK - now that I've given my blurb, let me get to my post.

There is an area of town, a strip mall really, that we call "America". Why? Because if you didn't know you were in Mexico - if you just saw the picture or landed from a space adventure in this strip plaza - you would think you were in Novi, Michigan or Carollwood, Florida - any suburban plaza in the U.S.

America is pretty close to Atascadero (our neighborhood) and has (1) a very modern, large Grocery store, (2)A megaplex movie theater with movies in English and Spanish, (3)A Sushi restaurant --yep... (4)A coffee shop - with a name in English (5) A McDonalds coming soon and (5)A number of clothing boutiques selling American style clothes at American prices (600 frickin pesos for a dress, come on!).

Anyway, we visit America about once a week - on America Day (aka Saturday or Sunday)...generally on America Day, we sit at the coffee shop and study Spanish, eat dinner at one the Sushi place or the Sports themed Mexican Restaurant and then head over to a movie at the megaplex - Ocean's 13, Fantastic 4 - all the stuff you would expect at home - plus the Spanish subtitles do help with the learning - really. It's nice to hit up the Gigante on the way home to grab all the groceries that we could live with but wouldn't want to live without for 4 weeks (but Cous-cous and Ivory soap are rare commodities - even lacking at the Gigante).

This place is apparently brand new - within the last 6 months. The construction was meant with a lot of - understandable - resistance from the local community. Plus, I don't think that it is just land availability or a coincidence that the plaza is very close to the upper class white part of town.

Nonetheless, America makes a good diversion and a nice place to study/take a break from the trip 1 time a week - but anything more would be nauseatingly to similar to home.

Amazingly, the community has been very successful in keeping out big business - or at least tacky construction - within the heart of the town. Not even a Starbucks here. But there are a few places I will post about later......

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Markets in San Miguel de Allende

Mexico is a land of markets. In Mexico City there are countless markets - in San Miguel de Allende, the finite number of markets and their ability to actually be counted - is just a function of the relatively smaller size of this city.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of markets here.

First of all, you have the Mercado Ignacío Ramirez and the virtually linked Mercado de Artesanías. This is the major market in the center of town and is located just North, off of the Plaza Civica which is across the street from PACEMD.

The upper red thumbtack is the end of the artist market, the middle red thumbtack is the beginning of the vegetable/fruit market.

This is the market we visit almost everyday - to buy vegetables, fruit, chicken, and in other small things we need for dinner or for the day. Things are fresh and cheap in this market - plus there is nothing hidden like in the Grocery Store. For example, Kryste stumbled upon a truck full of cow carcasses today parked just outside the entrance, complete with skulls and bones. In addition, next to the chicken breasts were the left over chicken heads to use for broth. Still a fun place to go and just no comparison in terms of freshness to a Publix/Kroegers, etc.

In addition to the food market, the Artist/Craft market seems to stretch endlessly - moving via a series of stalls from building to building.

Now, don't think this is the only major market. Only 1-2 miles west at the corner of San Rafeal and Guadalupe is another major market -- Mercado de San Juan de Dios. This market has similar items to the big market described previously but is also the place to go for clothes and household materials - think Target/Walmart with a series of stand alone stalls instead of aisles. The stalls stretch out of the building and run for blocks north all the way to the corner of Insurgentes - essentially almost linking this market with the Mercado de Artesanías discussed briefly above.

The far left thumbtack (far west) is the San Jose Market. PaceMD is Yellow and the other market previously described is marked by the two diagonal red thumbtacks.

Okay, that's the two major markets that are always present but in addition, there are some rotating markets as well.

First of all there is the Tuesday Market which is in between the large modern grocery store in the plaza we refer to as "America" (more on that in another post) and our neighborhood - Atascadero.

The location of the Tuesday Market is the second red thumbtack from the bottom.
You can tell two things from this GoogleEarth image -- (1)It's not a Tuesday, because the area would be packed and (2) This is before the strip mall - America - had been built (no office depot yet).

I would describe the Tuesday market as something akin to a U.S. Flea Market, although I can't really see what the difference is between the cheap goods - shoes, pirated DVDs, pets, etc - sold at this market compared to the San Jose market - but people who live insist that there is, indeed, a difference. One of the strangest things to me about this market is how crowded it is - on a Tuesday morning - not a holiday.

Those are the markets you can find on the map. But, it seems like a market appears every other week in the Civic Plaza (for example, this week is the book fair and two weeks ago was the campos craft fair -- crafts from the surrounding areas). If not in the Plaza Civica, then in the mostly American run Instito Allende (this week there is a craft fair and there was also one on the weekend of Los Locos).