31 March 2013

Fire-roasted Kid

If you live in Nuevo Leon (the state wherein one finds Monterrey), you have to eat fire-roasted kid, or "cabrito" as it is called here. The Hernandezes took us on an adventure to various places in the city. They all had "cabrito" in common. We ended up eating at "The King of Kid." It is exactly what it sounds like--a place that serves hundreds of roasted baby goats to hungry "norteños" and tourists every day. We started at the market where they sell the freshly butchered kid and made our way to the restaurant downtown via open fruit markets, local souvenir shops, and the central wholesale market. 

Freshly butchered kid (baby goat)

Method of roasting kid and entrails over coals

The happy goat-eaters sampling various cuts of goat meat

The meat was tender, tasty and very mild. Served with melted cheese, fresh flour and corn tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, limes and three kinds of salsa--it was a pretty amazing meal. The restaurant is decorated with a variety of stuffed animals for your dining pleasure and photos of every important North American entertainer for the last 50 years. 

Several stuffed animal displays from "El Rey del Cabrito"

Just for show--they don't eat lion here. 

27 March 2013

Chile 2, Argentina 1

Three young women between the ages of 19 and 21 sat in the foyer of the temple after a session, pensive and nervous. We introduced ourselves to the two sitting together and learned that they were sisters--and they were both leaving the next week for missions in Chile. They had never flown, had never been out of Mexico before, and knew nothing about this exotic, far-away place to which the Lord had called them. When we heard they were going to Chile, we were so excited. We told them we had lived there and how they would love the generous, kind, open-hearted people in that incredibly beautiful country. We talked of the strength of the church, the yummy empanadas and the world's most heavenly fruit: chirimoya. As we talked, you could see the worries of the  mother, grandmother and older sister who were with them dissipate and the excitement of the two missionaries grow. The entire family left with big smiles on their faces.

We then turned to greet the other sister who was sitting across the foyer all alone. She had been coming to the temple every week for about six weeks and Linda had been with her every step of the way. She had overheard the conversation with the other women and blurted out, "I leave for a mission to Buenos Aires, Argentina in two weeks. I wish I was going with them!" And much to her surprise, we told her that we had also lived in Buenos Aires. She started to laugh and asked if we had lived everywhere. Then she said, "But, the Argentines! They are so haughty and so aggressive--it will be so hard!" We assured her that there were many, many wonderful, kind people in the Buenos Aires North Mission that she would learn to love deeply, and talked about some of our dear friends there. We told her of the yummy Argentine empanadas and the abundance of delicious meat--she was relieved to about that because the Norteños (northerners), do love their meat! We assured her that the Lord would bless her heart and her work as she shares with the Argentines the best Mexico has to offer. This sweet, gentle hermana will touch many hearts.

It was very sweet for us to have brought back to our hearts the blessings of having lived in Chile and Argentina. We are grateful for the people in those countries who touched our hearts, our kitchen, our language, and our perspectives--they made an everlasting imprint on our lives.

22 March 2013

A Holiday at Zion's Camp or Campamento Sión

The Holiday

Monday we got two national holidays for the price of one: The birthday of Benito Juarez and Oil Expropriation Day. Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec indian origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico in the mid to lat 1800s. He fought off the French, restored the Republic and modernized the country. Oil Expropriation Day celebrates the expropriation of all oil reserves, facilitates, and foreign oil companies in Mexico on March 18, 1938. It took place when President and General Lázaro Cárdenas declared that all mineral and oil reserves found within Mexico belong to the nation. It is a highly political holiday in which the political is ignored and the holiday is adored. 

The Camp

Our landlords, the Taylor's, invited us to join them and their extended family, the Treviño's, for a Mexican-style picnic at the church camp south of the city. It is an amazing facility that is used for YM, YW, and EFY camps. 

One of two large kitchen/bowery facilities to left, cabins and screened classrooms to right. 

One of the many cabins that sleep 44 with gathering room, fans, and fireplace.

Creek running through the property which also has its own fresh-water spring for drinking water.

Entrance into the large amphitheater area. 

The camp can service up to 600 people at a time. There are hiking trails, tons of trees, three full-size basketball/soccer courts and many barbecue pits. We saw first hand what they do with those pits.

The Carnivores of Northern Mexico: A step by step guide on barbecuing Norteño (Northern Mexico) style. 

When coals are almost all white, put tomatoes and jalapeños on to roast. 

Cut a small cavity into the center of the white onion and stuff it with a whole jalapeño. 

Wrap onions in foil and put on the grill. 

Meanwhile, squeeze lime juice over the meat and then rub both sides with the lime half.

Sprinkle meat with salt and with Canadian meat seasoning on both sides, then spray with butter. Meat must be cut very thin (buy it at a Mexican market for best results).

Remove the tomatoes and peppers from the grill and peel the skins off of the jalapeños (Gringos should use gloves!). 

Use the whole roasted jalapeños and tomatoes to make the salsa. Start the guacamole. 

The sausages (previously de-skinned and cut in half by the beautiful 16-year-olds) now go onto the grill.

When they are cooked they go into a small thermos to keep them warm--guarded by the salsa/guacamole guru. 

The coals are now white-hot and the first round of meat is spread over the grill. Note the large rock on the left. It keeps the grill in the air because there is no center support for the three grill racks to rest on. 

Pepe and crew turn the meat when the blood rises to the top of the uncooked side and the bottom is toasty-brown.

As soon as the meat is nicely browned on both sides, they start pulling it off of the grill so that it doesn't dry out. 

The second round shows some of the cuts they use: arrachera, costillitas (cross-cut ribs), sirloin, and T-bone (all thinly cut).

The last round of meat and sausages goes on and the "taste-testers" show up. 

As the meat finishes, the quesadillas hit the inside grill: best with flour tortillas and Oaxaca cheese. 

Some of the yummy results above and below. 

Always with a big glob of guacamole and extra lime! 

Other beautiful sites at the camp: 


Sour orange blossoms with a sweet, sweet scent. 

Giant tree shading the BBQ pit.

One of three red-headed sisters there for our entertainment.  

Forest Fires and Jabalí

Last month there was a forest fire that crossed onto the property. The firefighters had to cut the lock from the gate in order to prevent the fire from destroying the property. When someone from the stake arrived, the fire chief was very apologetic about having to “break into” the property. The hermano told him not to worry about it and thanked him for getting to the fire quickly. He then asked the fire chief how they could help. The fire fighter was confused and asked, “What do you mean, help?” The brother replied that they would like to do something to support the crews and asked if they would like to use the large kitchen or the cabins to feed and sleep the men. The fire chief was very grateful for real beds, a deluxe kitchen, and spring water in order to support the crews, which stayed there for several days.

Wild boars (jabalí) are often seen in the area and apparently one was shot by one of the police from the Fuerza Civil (Police Force) with his big, big gun. It was then roasted over one of the pits and shared with some of the family who were there. They said it had a very strong, very wild taste. Wild boars are frequently seen in the Sierra Madre mountains as well as in the desert between here and McAllen, TX. 

17 March 2013


There are numerous interesting critters that live amongst us here, some of which have become dear friends. Our most cherished feathered friend is an outcast, living a lonely life along the Silla Mountain River. He is surrounded by birds both "of a feather" and those different, but he is always separate from the main group. We have named him, Juan Salvador Garceta (Jonathan Livingston Egret).

We are inviting the grandchildren to try to match the critter pictures to their names (click on the photo and it will enlarge):

  1. Ants
  2. Burro
  3. Squirrel
  4. Tri-colored Heron
  5. Muscovy Duck
  6. Tarantula
  7. Goldfinch
  8. Rooster
  9. White-faced Ibis (3 pictures)
  10. Caterpillar
  11. Black Bear
  12. Snowy Egret (2 pictures)
  13. Black-crested Titmouse
  14. Great Egret















The photo of the black bear sign was taken at the university near our house that backs up onto the mountain wilderness. Apparently there are quite a number of them roaming the mountains here. The tarantula was wounded on the road to the park. Other pictures of miscellaneous birds were included to because of limitations of the phone camera. 

  1. Ants-D
  2. Burro-E
  3. Squirrel-A
  4. Tri-colored Heron-M
  5. Muscovy Duck-L
  6. Tarantula-B
  7. Goldfinch-O
  8. Rooster-C
  9. White-faced Ibis (3 pictures-F, H, N)
  10. Caterpillar-G
  11. Black Bear-I
  12. Snowy Egret (2 pictures-J, H)
  13. Black-crested Titmouse-P
  14. Great Egret-K

11 March 2013

Hermano Loreto

We have become friends with a very interesting man who recently began training to work in the temple. His name is Hermano Loreto, and he has an unusual background. For over 30 years, he was employed as the secretary to the local Catholic bishop’s council. We haven’t determined how many bishops were in the council during those years, but his job was to coordinate bishop-level activities among the various episcopates in the area. He is innately a religious man - gentle, kind, courteous, civil in all respects. 

When his son married and began his family, he came to notice his daughter-in-law to be a very special person. She was LDS. As he watched her raise the children and involve them in church activities (the son did not participate in the church during this time), he noticed her efforts to teach the children correct principles, participate with them in church activities and show, by example, how to live correctly. This very much impressed Hermano Loreto and he began to enquire about why she was like she was. Soon, he was invited to a church activity and began to investigate the church. He took several sets of missionaries through the ringer, but wasn’t convinced. Finally, a stake president and friend challenged him. He responded by saying he would join under two conditions: First, he wanted the stake president to baptize him; second, he told the stake president that he (the stake president) represented the foundation of his faith and that if he did not live a representative life, this man, Hno. Benitez, would leave the church. He also readily admits he did not gain a testimony of the truth of the church during this time, only that he liked being around members and respected their example

As time went on after his baptism, he began to really study the gospel, learn the doctrine, pray earnestly and seek a greater understanding. As he has done so, he has confirmed for himself the truth of the gospel, the priesthood, the ordinances and the Lord’s plan. 

He, of course, had to leave his work in the Catholic church, for which, after 30 years of service, he was told “thank you” and to leave immediately, no pension, retirement consideration, nada. Since then, he has struggled financially, but he has been faithful in his church affiliation and duties. His son, by the way, is now serving as a bishop.

10 March 2013

Building a Mexican House


The overall impression of housing in Monterrey is a hillside of light-colored boxes. Some boxes are small and tidy and some are large and sprawling, but all begin with the same premise: cinderblocks, cement and squares. 

Even the apartment buildings are built using the same plan. The only difference is that they go a few stories higher into the air. 

If you want to expand your house, you just keep going up. The house below has added this second story over the last few months. 


First, several piles of sand and gravel are dumped in front of the house. Then the cement is mixed by hand on the street in front of the house,  scooped into a bucket and lifted to the second floor by a pulley system. This is repeated thousands of times until the addition to the house is complete. One day we did catch this real cement pump truck pouring a roof/floor/patio--the only big cement truck we have seen in the city. 

Once all of the cinderblock is finished, the walls of the house are stuccoed inside and out. The scaffolding systems are quite unique and very precarious. 

The construction of this apartment building saved some money (?) by using a sieve to separate the sand and gravel instead of paying to have them delivered separately. They did go to the expense of buying a cement mixer, though, so the mixing is faster. Pulleys are still used to lift the buckets of cement to the upper levels.  

Rooflines and the Middle East effect:

Though most of the houses resemble stacked boxes (like the one below), periodically we will catch a glimpse of something unique. 

The style that is the most intriguing to us is the domed roof. These appear quite often across the horizon and the overall feeling is more Middle Eastern than Mexican. 

Other unique rooflines: 


And, of course, the grand finale is color! Most houses here are not colorful; but just when it gets boring, fuchsia, orange, purple or green will jump out and grab your eyes forcing you to stop and sigh with wonder. I love the colors of Mexico!