November has, thus far, been rife with disappointment. On a personal level, I have slowly been making peace with my mother’s passing, less than two months ago, while weathering a relationship break-up that felt like a sucker punch. Regarding the former, it took several weeks to even register the fact that my mom was gone. As for the latter, I’ve been trying to assess what I must have done wrong, but am slowly coming to the conclusion that I will never know for sure. All I can say is that I haven’t been sleeping well.
On the world stage – and for the second occurrence in my lifetime – the better candidate for the United States Presidency won the popular vote but lost the election. And the other day, I logged onto social media to learn that one of my favorite mood poets, Leonard Cohen, had passed away at age 82.
At times like these, I tend towards the melancholy. I spent much of yesterday doing some archiving and came across a few blog posts from 2013. I realized that it was Election Day, 2012, when I moved to Mexico City and established gringopotpourri.com. My blog has changed a lot over the years. For one thing, the writing is better now than it was then. Darker, perhaps, but also better. The regionality of the content has also shifted from being mostly Mexico-focused to being largely Tennessee-focused.
To “celebrate” my blog’s four-year anniversary, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite posts for you, along with comments on how those posts either came to be or how they hold up today. And as always: Thanks for reading!
Life in Mexico
One of my earliest posts, “Stinking Badges” was about my efforts to learn Spanish. I would like to note, for the record, that although my mastery of the language still falls closer to “Spanglish” than to avanzado (advanced) fluency, I have never taken a single formal lesson.
If there is a single must-see site for visitors to Mexico City, aside from the Centro Histórico itself, I would say that the archaeological complex of Teotihuacán, with its pyramids of the Sun and Moon, is that site. This entry describes a day trip to the pyramids in which everything went according to plan. A great day.
My series of articles portraying Mexico City’s rough-and-tumble “barrios bravos” (brave neighborhoods) is arguably the closest to National Geographic-worthy writing that I’ve done. Although my articles on Tepito and Iztapalapa received greater readership, my third entry in the series, about the apartment towers, museums, and violence that co-exist in Tlatelolco, is my personal favorite.
Perhaps the longest entry, and certainly one of the most emotional, this one tells, as best as I could put in words at the time, why I chose to leave Mexico City. This blog post also features the most readership of anything that I’ve written, and the final paragraphs of the entry are triumphant, even if I ultimately was unable to stay.
Life in Tennessee
I don’t think Tennessee is the place for me. However, the Volunteer State has been my home for almost two-and-a-half years, and I have been doing everything I can to enjoy what it has to offer, fall colors and Appalachian culture among those offerings. This entry from one year ago stands out not just for the content but for the fact that the events I blogged about here, the Mountain Makins’ festival and a day trip to the Museum of Appalachia, were two of the last times that my mom was able to get out of the house and truly enjoy herself.
Nothing special here in terms of content, but the cuisine of Tennessee and surrounding states is another drawcard for living here. As much as people enjoy reading about foodstuffs, I am surprised that this post never found a larger audience.
I wrote this almost two years ago in response to the Paris attacks that targeted the offices of Charlie Hebdo – the first of several recent attacks on the French capital, as it turned out. Like later posts on similar subjects (Brussels metro bombings, Istanbul airport shootings, etc.), I tried, and succeeded, I think, in mixing the horrific with the magical.
This lengthy, detail-heavy entry should have been broken down into two parts, but it is some of the best writing I have ever done. If you ever want to attempt a multi-day hike or climb in a foreign land, you could do worse in your pre-trip research than read my post.
Another adventure from the same trip that including my Kilimanjaro summit, and this time broken up into three parts. Part Two details the gorilla trek itself, but as if often the case, the journey can be as fascinating as the destination, so I’m sharing Part One – the long journey to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – instead.
Machu Picchu is at or near the top of almost every traveler’s bucket list, so it seems strange to me that this post never found much of an audience. I wrote it, in part, to distract myself from the fact that my mom was dying, and she passed away the day after it was published. The photos aren’t great (I had a 4mp camera and wasn’t much of a photographer in 2005, what can I say?), but the post includes a day-by-day hike itinerary and additional tips for a successful visit.
World travel photography has become a recurring theme in my blog since I introduced my “Photo Locale of the Month” feature in January, 2015. I think I shall feature urban India in my next entry; here is another Photo Locale entry about India – one of my first in this series, and profiling the Taj Mahal, one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World.
One of my friends gave me some harsh words once, saying that the top ten lists I frequently publish (averaging perhaps one every six weeks) are merely filler. Ouch. And here I thought, having taken classes in film appreciation and review writing, that I was at least moderately qualified to blog about movies, books, and music. Bleh.
I hardly remember writing this non-pop culture-themed top ten list six months ago, but I stumbled upon it last week and its words still ring true. Like much of my writing, it is filled with truths, some idealistic and others harsh, along with a healthy dose of humor.
I wrote about my mom and her background in August of this year, just one month before she passed. But that was Part Two; Part One focused on my father and his parents one of whom raised nearly a dozen children while the other worked in various ports of call around the world. To me, his story is a more interesting one, which is why I told it first.
This one, finally, is perhaps more telling than any other post that I have shared today. And I featured it just for fun.
What is your favorite post from gringopotpourri, Loyal Reader? What kind of content would you like to see more of?