<![CDATA[Irish I Were Mexican - At Post]]>Wed, 13 Nov 2019 06:32:32 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[My Experience Filming House Hunters International]]>Tue, 15 Oct 2019 13:58:29 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/my-experience-filming-house-hunters-international
The road to House Hunters International began a decade ago...hahaha!
Well not exactly, but I became a fan of the show about that long ago, and being married to a diplomat I knew one day I would move abroad. I told myself, "When that day comes, I will apply." So a decade and two kids later word came that our family was off to Mexico. Now for those of you who don't know, moving internationally is incredibly stressful and your plate is already full, so throw in filming a show and it is like...a lot. Plus The Diplo-hubby was starting his new job at the new post, so it took some careful, gentle convincing that we could handle all this.

In February 2018, I sent an email to casting with our little story and some pictures letting them know we would be moving later in the year. Weeks and months went by and I didn't hear anything. Figured heaps of people apply to this show and it wasn't going to happen, but at least I had tried. Then on June 5th, in the middle of full court press on our move, I got an email. They wanted to know if we were still moving and still interested. Within two days I had a Skype call I think just to make sure I was real, could speak, and wasn't a psychopath. After the face to face call they sent me a questionnaire. NO JOKE the document was 5 pages full of questions...like 100 questions! They wanted basic information, details of our house hunt and who wanted what, budgets, neighborhoods, etc., etc. It took me 3 days to finish filling it out!

Two days later I had an email to set up a 45 minute Skype interview, with my husband this time, and the Casting Director. That went well and then came all the legal stuff. Location releases, image releases, legal documents, financial documents...O My! And we needed to create a casting video introducing our family, giving a house tour to see how we handled being in front of a camera, and doing an interview with the two of us about our history and our house hunt. Here are some clips from our videos...it is nothing fancy.
With some good old sticktoitiveness we made it through all these hoops. Our package and casting video was then presented to HGTV and we sat back crossing our fingers. Then...
Woohoo! Ready for filming. We got a some direction on what to wear on TV, no logos, no black or white, small patterns, or stripes. And no loud jewelry that would interfere with sound. Here are some pics of me testing outfits which I sent to friends and family for opinions. "Can I wear the hoops with the beads or is it too much?" "Are these earrings too big with this necklace?" You know how it is ladies...
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They flew a director, a cameraman, and a sound engineer from the east coast and we used a realtor who lives here in Mexico. There was also a local fixer who was responsible for public filming permits, grabbing food and drinks, and making sure no one got towed.

There was no make up person, no hair person and plus they were all guys. I had read some blog posts from other people who had filmed HHI about directors wanting the contributors to show them different clothes, but my director was like "looks good." I promise you no one but me was concerned about how I looked. It was not their first priority. No one was going to tell me I needed to refresh my lipstick, my hair was sticking out, I needed to powder my nose, or my shirt had come untucked. So who knows what I will look like in the final edit.

I knew I liked the soundman right away. Because I asked him if my necklace was going to be a problem for the sound. I had also read blog posts about sound engineers telling people to take off their jewelry, but I had bought this colorful necklace in Oaxaca, Mexico, and I really wanted to wear it because it made my chambray shirt way more exciting. Like MacGyver he whipped out some clear Toupée tape and told me it wouldn't be a problem.
 
​Below is a clip I filmed right before we met the crew and began tapping.

We began filming at a gorgeous castle right here in the middle of Mexico City called Chapultepec Castle. I was AWESOME having it to ourselves before the hoards of tourists came through the gates. We spend 5 days filming at 3 apartments as well as at parks, restaurants, and downtown at the Zocalo. Having a film crew follow you around a really crowded city was fun. People think you are famous and wonder what you are up too. It was really cool (for a few days).
5 days of filming for about 22 minutes! I have no idea what I look like, what I sound like, or if it will be edited to make one of us seem crazy. I got sick before filming and my voice was really hoarse (ate more cough drops in three days then in my previous 38 years.) We also have no idea what the realtor said about us on the side. With just one cameraman, we basically refilmed walking through the apartments multiple times at multiple angles saying the same things over and over. But the cameraman was super professional and efficient so the repetitiveness didn't drive us totally nuts. We tried to be as flexible and easygoing as possible because nothing happens on schedule or goes as planned.

Our director was very sweet and constantly complimented us saying "You guys are doing great." I am not really sure if it was true or just part of his job to keep spirits up during the long filming days. I suspect the latter. He asked us questions from behind the camera about our thoughts on the houses we saw, but he said he wasn't really into the fake made up drama and did not make us throw our spouse under the bus. Although we might have done that on our own! He did not make us sit in tubs, put on sombreros to show we were in Mexico, or really do anything we were not comfortable with. He said our story was interesting enough and he didn't feel the need to create some drama between us. I am so thankful we got a good director who didn't try to make us into people we weren't. Fingers crossed the editing people are just as great as the crew they sent us.

The filming experience was fun and I learned new and interesting things. During a break I overheard the cameraman say "Let's put a bra on the Diva!" What! I looked at him and started laughing. He explained it is like a filter for a certain light. I also became very familiar with the concept of room tone (basic room background noise) the sound man needs for editing. So we all had to stand perfectly still at each place we filmed for a minutes so they could record room tone.  Who knew? You never think about all these things when you watch tv.

Trying to film and get clear uninterrupted sound in Mexico City is a task! Between airplanes, loud trucks, and construction the sound man was consistently stopping filming for some sound to die down, and then we had to start over and repeat ourselves. Had to stop a few times for this sound as well...a sound anyone who has spent time in Mexico City is familiar with. While filming our 1st apartment we heard this loud and clear making its way through the neighborhood. And we had to suspend all tapping.
Hahahahaha. This is so classic Mexico City that I tried to convince them to let the sound play for authenticity, but they rejected that idea.

Anyways...that was that. And now we wait. Lucky for us, while we were filming, the stipend they paid to contributors on House Hunters International increased. Our family was paid $2,000 for our time filming. They also paid for babysitters, and meals. So nice! All in all it was a fantastic once in a lifetime experience. It was also an affirmation of "Just Do It." Just give it a shot and try although it seems unlikely you will get it, you'll never know if you don't try. I sent and email one cold February day and here we are. It all culminates tonight when it airs.  We are nervous but looking forward to watching. And we will be able to hold onto this little slice of a time in our life forever.  Who knows? Maybe we will do it again for our next post! Hope you all enjoy it. Feel free to leave your comments on the episode below. Did you guess the house right?

In Love & Tacos 
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<![CDATA[House Hunters International Drinking Game]]>Tue, 15 Oct 2019 05:00:00 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/house-hunters-international-drinking-game
Here is the drinking game I created if you want to spice up your evening while viewing our episode of House Hunters International. Although parts of this can be used for any episode of HH. Cheers!
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<![CDATA[Interviews with the Crew from House Hunters International (Part 2)]]>Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:25:04 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/interviews-with-the-crew-from-house-hunters-international-part-2
This is part two of my interviews with the crew who worked on our House Hunters International episode. My last post includes interviews with the Director and Producer (link here). As I explained before, House Hunters International is an incredibly popular show worldwide, but we often don't stop to think about the folks behind the scenes who make it all happen. Our crew was great! Friendly, professional, and fascinating people who have a ton of travel experience and have been to some really cool places on the job. Keep reading to learn a bit about them.
Anthony Smith, Sound Engineer
Website anthonygreysmith.com

How did you, get into film?
When I was 13 or 14 a friend showed me a VHS movie he made, and I was just inspired by the ability to edit and tell a story, so I worked all summer at the Oregon coast aquarium in Newport Oregon and saved my pennies and bought a camera.

What is the craziest place, circumstance, or story you experienced while working in film?
Working with special ops covering the war with ISIS in the Middle East. Antarctica was crazy too, but beautiful.

One place you have always wanted to go for work?
The Galapagos, and I missed out on Mike's Easter Island trip. (See below)

One piece of travel advice? Or one thing you always bring when traveling?
Don’t stay at an all inclusive.

Dream project?
Make a movie or documentary 

How many House Hunters/House Hunters International episodes have you done?
Maybe a dozen or more at this point

Is there one contributor (episode subject) you will never forget? Good or bad. No need to name names.
We worked with an Elvis impersonator.

​Worst thing about Mexico?
Mexico is awesome.

Best thing about Mexico?
Fresh fruit. Plantains and mangos!
MF Cormier, Cameraman
Website mfcormier.com

How did you, get into film?
I bought a Super 8 film camera to take with me to South America in the 80’s and ended up filming 3 pilot whales 🐳 being rescued in the Magellan Straights. I was hooked and wanted to become an international cameraman, so I made that my inspiration. It happened!

What is the craziest place, circumstance, or story you experienced while working in film?
Easter Island 🗿 was by far the most exotic location I shot. The closest habitable island 🌴 is Pitcairn Island where Mutiny on the Bounty occurred. 

One place you have always wanted to go for work?
Mongolia 🇲🇳 

One piece of travel advice? Or one thing you always bring when traveling?
Don’t take a tour, guide yourself and see the country you’re visiting through unfiltered lenses. And don’t forget your camera!

Dream project?
My dream project would be filming around the world at different exotic locations that show we are all one on this planet. Everyone is a mother, brother, sister, son, aunt, uncle, etc. and when you travel and meet these people it breaks the barriers that separate us at borders. More US citizens need to get a passport and see the world, and personally, it shouldn’t be on a cruise. 

How many House Hunters/House Hunters International episodes have you done?
Around 60. 

Is there one contributor (episode subject) you will never forget? Good or bad. No need to name names.
I’ll always be forever jealous of the contributor got a house in Costa Rica near the beach for $79g. The original asking price was $239g but there were no takers for over a year and it wasn’t in the greatest condition. But, after a little elbow grease and minor repairs it was in great shape!

​Worst thing about Mexico?
There is no “worst thing” about Mexico. It’s a great country and I’d love to retire there. 

Best thing about Mexico?
The best thing about Mexico is the people!
Show these guys some love in the comments and let them know what you think of the show and tune in on October 15th on HGTV.

In Love & Tacos
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<![CDATA[Interviews with the Crew from House Hunters International (Part 1)]]>Mon, 07 Oct 2019 21:32:15 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/interviews-with-the-crew-from-house-hunters-international-part-1I'd like to bring you behind the scenes with House Hunters International. While filming our episode in Mexico City, we ate a couple meals with the crew and had the pleasure of getting to know them. The show flew three people to Mexico for our story. The director, the cameraman, and the sound engineer. That was it, the three of them and us.
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Left to Right: Sound Engineer, Cameraman, Director
​We also had a producer who worked on the episode from New York and a local Mexican fixer. I quickly realized that these were fascinating people with fascinating lives and jobs. It occurred to me, for the immense popularity of this show, not many people know who makes it all happen. Who are the folks behind he scenes? I decided it would be fun to conduct a little interview with them. I have made it a two part series so the posts aren't too long. I begin here with my director and producer.

​Justin Herman, Director
Instagram @Justin_Herman

How did you, get into directing?
After film school I was lost in terms of how to start my career, so I did what seemed the most fun; I shot my own comedy travel show pilot. I directed, hosted, produced, wrote, edited, etc. It helped me get my first job producing travel shows and it's a genre I’ve specialized in ever since.

What is the craziest place, circumstance, or story you experienced while working in film?
Carnival in Salvador, Brazil. Carnival further north is not the flashy runway work of Rio; it's a street party of 2 million people dancing in the streets, while these double decker trucks called Trio Electricos drive 4km an hour through the streets with famous musicians and bands and DJ’s blasting music from the top, while people dance around it. Our Trio Electrico got tear gassed while the host was doing a final lines to camera. It was nuts.

One place you have always wanted to go for work?
Antarctica.

One piece of travel advice? Or one thing you always bring when traveling?
​Travel foam roller. The old bones ain’t what they used to be, and a good foam roll can be a saving grace after the physically taxing days.

Dream project?
I still think I nailed it when I was 22 with a comedy travel show!

How many House Hunters/House Hunters International episodes have you done?
I’ve worked on dozens of episodes of this show in various producing and directing capacities.

Is there one contributor (episode subject) you will never forget? Good or bad. No need to name names.
I think a lot about the Namibian and South African couple who moved to Galway. They were young, excited to see the world and came from a very different point of view compared to the more common western or American perspectives we more commonly showcase.

Worst thing about Mexico?
It’s hard to hate anything about a beautiful, rich, diverse country with such kind people.  

Best thing about Mexico?
See above.

Justin moonlights as an international stand up comic. So I asked him if he had any good Mexico jokes...
Most of my cultural comparison jokes are usually vehicles to point out the flaws in America compared to how the rest of the world lives. I love touring internationally, but because I predominantly perform in the US, its more important to me to expand the minds of that audience to see the rest of the world as better than perhaps stereotypes suggest, and show that we have as much to learn from them as they do from us.

No joke there, but a terrific mission in my opinion. I do remember Justin joking around about how fantastic his bank account looked in pesos! I second that feeling.
Ines Pierce, Producer
Instagram @tuddaloo

How did you, get into production?
The road to me becoming a producer had lots of twist and turns. I’ve been in this business for 14 years and started producing 7 years ago. I started as an intern at Entertainment Tonight which in turn got me my first full-time gig out of college working for a production house. I was a PA/Production Coordinator and eventually they let me produce a few red carpet events. When the recession hit, I started freelancing (which was terrifying) and started working on commercials and music videos still as a coordinator/manager. Somehow I landed in the reality TV end of things and after a few gigs I knew I wanted to get into creative. I had a friend set me up on a food network show and things spring boarded from there. I worked on a few big name reality shows (Apprentice, Chopped, Project Runway) and eventually landed my current gig at HHI. My current position is considered perma-lance which is a unicorn in this industry. I’m pretty happy and get to really enjoy a great work/life balance which is also very rare when working in TV!

What is the craziest place, circumstance, or story you experienced while working in film?
I one time had to drive three hours in the wee hours of the night in rural Louisiana to find an armadillo for a nature show I was working on. Looking back it was a pretty dumb move to go with one other person to some random guy’s house, but when I saw him literally watering an armadillo out of a tree (ala Looney Tunes) I knew he was legit.

One place you have always wanted to go for work?
The show does a lot of traveling and I am fortunate enough to get to go on a shoot here and there. One place I would love to go to is Iceland and see the northern lights.

One piece of travel advice? Or one thing you always bring when traveling?
Always bring a pair of plug-in headphones with you and an eye mask. You never know if you are going to be stuck in a bright hotel room after traveling for 15+ hours and desperate for sleep!

Dream project?
I would have killed to work on Game of Thrones. #teamdaenerys

How many House Hunters/House Hunters International episodes have you done?
I’ve been here for two years and produced about 40 episodes, which is nuts to think I have done almost two a month in order to make that happen.

Is there one contributor (episode subject) you will never forget? Good or bad. No need to name names.
I’ve had a lot of unique contributors and have been pretty fortunate to keep in touch with a lot of them. I don’t have any favorites but the stories that have stuck with me are the ones where the person is in a second chapter of their life. Something about their passion and fearlessness to change course and live their life to the fullest really connects with me.

Worst thing about Mexico?
The mosquitos. The end. Period.

Best thing about Mexico?
The people. The colors. The FOOD. I really love the warmth of the culture and how vibrant life is there. Every time I have left I really start appreciating the little things more and more and realize what is most important in the every day. 
It has been fun to shed a little light on the people who create House Hunters International. Feel free to tell them what you think of the show in the comments! Part 2 will be posted tomorrow with my interviews of the cameraman and sound engineer.

Don't forget to tune into our episode Tuesday Oct. 15th!

In Love & Tacos
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<![CDATA[Breaking: Irish I Were Mexican is on House Hunters International]]>Wed, 25 Sep 2019 04:43:47 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/breaking-irish-i-were-mexican-is-on-house-hunters-international
Breaking News…I officially got word that HGTV is getting ready to air our episode of House Hunters International!!! We are so excited to share this with you and I am also totally terrified. We filmed many months back and have been waiting to see if they deem us “suitable for TV.” We filmed for 5 days and they only really use like 22 minutes, so I have no idea how I will come across or what I look like. Do I say the stereotypical stuff about a deeply rooted need for double sinks and closet space just for me? I also remember getting sick before they filmed and my voice was super hoarse. It is terrifying to have your face blasted across national TV for all to see. And the folks on twitter using #househuntersinternational are a passionate bunch, but aren’t that kind. Our episode is called “Getting Diplomatic in Mexico City”. The description reads…

”After 16 years abroad, a Mexican diplomat based in Washington, DC, returns home to Mexico City with his American wife and two young kids. Having moved frequently for his government work, the couple has grown accustomed to the nomadic lifestyle, but moving out of the US with the kids may require more than just old-school diplomacy.“ 

Are you gripped?!?!

I am planning to write two more posts about this. One about our experience on the show and another with interviews of the crew who work on the show and travelled to Mexico to film us. I think it is fun to get to know the professionals behind the scenes.

We will be season 144 episode 8! Yes, there have been that many seasons of HHI (as they call it for short). Our air date is Tuesday, October 15th at 10:30PM EST/9:30 CT. You all might get to see it before me, unless I can find someone here in Mexico who is pirating American TV.

If any one doesn’t know, HHI is a show that features people who move from one country to another and follows them on their house hunt at their new location. It is fun to see what houses look like around the world and you get to try to guess which one they pick. For years I was a big fan and avid watcher. House Hunters has been described as television “comfort food.” The format is simple, familiar and repetitive to those who watch it. It is also family friendly and non political.  TV you can veg out and relax with. Tune in!

In Love & Tacos
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<![CDATA[Limitless: The Story Of A 21 Year Old Girl Who Traveled To All 196 Countries]]>Thu, 05 Sep 2019 00:36:50 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/limitless-the-story-of-a-21-year-old-girl-who-traveled-to-all-196-countriesHave you heard of Lexielimitless? Lexie Alford is the youngest person to travel to all 196 sovereign nations in the world. This inspiring young women accomplished this feat at the age of 21. A short background: She is from Nevada City, has a travel agent mom, and had been to 70 countries by the age of 18. As she reached the end of school and that age where everyone asks "what are you going to do next," it came to her. She decided to take her love of travel one step further and try to see every country and beat the current world record. Did you know more people have been to space than have seen every country on earth? It is an exclusive club and the number of women who have done it is even smaller.
Impressed by her accomplishments, I decided to watch her TEDx talk and at the end I felt rather inspired by her tenacity. Then, as any good citizen of the internet, I read the comments! 🤦🏼‍♀️ I couldn’t believe what I was reading. So much negativity aimed at this 21 year old girl. Things I never even thought of because I don’t spend my life trolling other people online. Things to the effect of...
"Why is this even a record wtf, this just requires having a lot of money and country which has a good passport and can get you visas."
"This brat needs to work a night shift at Taco Bell on the line so she can actually truly appreciate her privilege."
"Accomplishments that come from money and privilege are not impressive."
“So a child treated world travel experience like Pokemon. I don't see why this is being celebrated. It's actually really sad that world travel has been reduced to a checklist."
"You are just looking for fame and to beat a record.” And...
”Yeah, easy for a white girl.”

EASY? These people think this was easy? Having been to a mere 33 countries in my life, I knew intrinsically this feat was not easy, even if she started with a position of privilege we can all respectfully acknowledge. In my travels there have been plenty of moments when I thought to myself, "This is not good. How am I going to get myself out of this?" And I haven’t even travelled anywhere particularly crazy. EASY? Even if you ignore the amount of planning, and saving, and visa applications, and logistics. Most of us spend hours to weeks planning trips to Disney or a beach vacation. Imagine doing that for 120 some countries. Even if you ignore the malaria and food poisoning she faced alone in strange places far from home.

EASY? Any 18 year old girl in her own town in most parts of the world takes a risk just walking down the street at night alone. Nevermind walking down the street in Somalia, Congo, Venezuela (in its current situation) Syria or Yemen. Young women don’t get the freedom to walk on this earth without being alert and taking safety precautions. EASY? An Immigration official in West Africa told Lexie “I’d like to keep you in my closet.”
​​She traveled to 50 or so countries alone as she became less able to convince family and friends to go with her to some parts of the world. Most people don’t like going to the movies or to a restaurant alone. We yearn to share the experience with someone. To turn to another face and nod with acknowledgement about how crazy or amazing any particular moment is. And she faced anxiety. 30% of the population does. She suffered anxiety attacks in public, yet alone in a foreign country. She also experienced true panic and fear as 50 men gathered outside her hotel in Yemen and began firing guns. She hit the floor and could literally do nothing but sit there alone with her fear. She cried herself to sleep after they left only to find out the next day it had been a part of a wedding celebration. A cultural misunderstanding, but still, can you imagine? By the age of 21, Lexie learned how to be alone without being lonely and how to cope with anxiety, two problems full grown adults still struggle with.

What can we learn from Lexie? She arrived at the other side of her adventure with two great pieces of advice.

1. Never take "no" for an answer.
Through visa denials, closed borders, travel logistics and naysayers, she pushed through. Never taking her eye off the goal. If you have a dream or a goal you really want to accomplish, don't take no for an answer. Just because one door closes, it doesn't mean there isn't another way. Persevere.

2. Live your life by asking one question...“Will I regret this if i don’t do it?”
If the answer is, yes, you have a moral obligation to yourself to do it, according to Lexie. This is  something I actually do and try to instill in my children. At the zoo recently I said exactly this when my 6 year old was contemplating whether or not to hold a hissing cockroach. I said, "You might not get this chance again, and you don't want to regret not doing it." I am always open to being pulled onstage at some cultural event to embarrass myself, to touch exotic animals, or to swim in a strange body of water where you can't see the bottom. I apply to odd things like decorating the White House or to be on TV (both of which I got) simply because I think "I'll regret it if I don't try." I agree with Lexie this is an important piece of advice. Advice more people should take. It is a question you should be asking yourself regularly.
​Lexie set off with the goal to break the world record, but she discovered a new goal along the way that resonates with me. As she got further into her journey, she went to harder and less traveled places. She found that regardless of a country’s political situation, the people themselves were always welcoming. The best part of her journey was "finding the light in places that have been painted with a dark reputation." “The countries that have such a bad reputation that people don’t dare to go are the places that spark my curiosity,” says Lexie. “I experienced so much more kindness and natural beauty in places like Pakistan and Venezuela than I ever found in typical tourist destinations.”

"I couldn’t give up when things got tough. I was determined to show everyone that the world isn’t as scary as the media portrays it to be and that there’s kindness everywhere.”
​-Lexie Alford

All photos are from Lexie's instagram account
If you want more of Lexie Alford you can follow her at @lexielimitless on Instagram
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<![CDATA[When Art Speaks To You]]>Mon, 03 Jun 2019 15:11:58 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/when-art-speaks-to-you
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Luis Selem
Art does not often speak to me. I can absolutely appreciate the great and refined skill that goes into a beautiful painting, especially when just writing my name looks like the work of a kindergartner (as anyone who knows me can attest.) I often wander the halls of museums and marvel at how people can create fine details with just a paintbrush, but rarely do I feel like I need to have it hanging above my sofa or adorning my dining room. Art obviously means something to the person who created it, but usually does not resonate with my own life or existence. 

Since childhood I have always connected more with photography, I prefer documentaries over romantic comedies and sci-fi, and I read books based in history or autobiographies over great works of fiction. My favorite traits in a person are logic and reason. I think this is why I have always liked photography, the capture of a moment in time, something based in reality but from a different perspective. Well, until I came across my new favorite Mexican artist, or just artist period, Luis Selem.

I was walking down the street about two months after my move to Mexico City and saw this hanging in a gallery window...
Now, as with all art, this may not call to you but it caught my attention. "What a great shot" I thought. As the wife of a diplomat I loved the word "Fiesta" on it. This piece is called "We are Party." I decided to go inside and inquire about the price, as I could actually picture this in my new Mexico City loft. This is when I fell hard. I saw more pieces like the ones below.
What I quickly realized after walking in was that these were paintings, not photos. How can he possibly make each wrinkle, crease and shadow look so incredibly real? How did he choose what the newspaper said? Did the newspaper's words add to the meaning of the item or was it random? I was suddenly pondering art like never before. And as it turns out "hyperrealism," I now know, is my favorite form of painting.

Then I read a little of the history of the series as described by the artist. My best translation...
"Painting is my mother tongue, my lifestyle and my passion, it has been this way since we discovered each other. My work is based in experiences lived during childhood, to connect with this child scared and afraid because of his first move. Scared and afraid not for the change, but for the preoccupation that his most precious objects (toys) would suffer some damage in the move. From there my eagerness to wrap, to preserve what I loved most. To wrap with a paper that has no significance to a child, newspaper..."

A tear came to my eye and my jaw dropped.  "I get it" I shouted in my head! This had been my second major move where I did the same thing with my precious objects that create a sense of home anywhere I go. And beyond that his words resonated because I had just moved my 5 year old son. Picked him up from his perfect suburban life, all his friends, and everything he had know and moved him to a different country. But he was so good about it, his only preoccupation was that his toys would arrive at his new home. HIS precious items that made him feel like he was surrounded by the familiar. Could there be more perfect art to represent diplomatic life? I feel like all diplomatic families will understand why Luis Selem's art struck a chord in me. I had just seen all my objects wrapped up in this manner and would likely see them like this again, five or six times more, over the course of our diplomatic life. Trying earnestly to preserve all that represented my life. An item or two are lost every time, despite our best efforts. Lost to the arduous journey of life.

And now Luis Selem is at it again, creating a series of portraits representing the various regions of Mexico with their beautiful embroidered clothing and jewelry but with faces obscured by newspaper so that the portrait represents everyone and not any one individual. Again I ask, is there more perfect art for the wife of a Mexican diplomat? What I would give to have these beauties adorning my home. And you can be sure they would be carefully wrapped and protected in each subsequent move. A wrapped precious painting of an item preciously wrapped in newspaper. Deep.

Art that finally speaks to my own life and existence. Now excuse me while I go start a "Go Fund Me" page to be able to afford a piece from this renowned artist.  You can follow him on Instagram @luis.selem.

In Love & Tacos

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<![CDATA[The Queen's Birthday]]>Sat, 27 Apr 2019 00:32:48 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/the-queens-birthday
Cheers! For 93 years old, The Queen sure knows how to party! In a previous post I mentioned that the diplomatic cocktail parties everyone associates with diplomatic life only happen a couple times a year. Well, we attended one last night. We were invited to the UK Ambassador's residence to celebrate the Queen's 93rd birthday. This event happens at British Embassies world-wide every year.  After a few cocktails someone asked the British diplomats if this was sort of like their national day or independence day. It struck me, the independence days I had become accustomed to all over the Americas probably did not exist in most of Europe. The British diplomat responded with a wink admitting, "Well yeah, most independence days are a country's celebration of their independence from us!" Hahaha. I had never really thought about it from their perspective before. According to Wikipedia, "At present, the Queen's Official Birthday is marked as a de facto national day by British diplomatic missions overseas, but not in the UK itself."

Well anyway it was a bash. I had been expecting an evening garden party with wine, silver platers, clinking glasses, and pleasant hushed conversations. Instead the Ambassador gave a toast and ended her speech with the line from Bohemian Rapsody "Is this the real life..." and within seconds a Queen cover band finished the phrase, took over the stage and rocked (see video). There was Johnnie Walker and Hendrick's Gin alongside mezcal and Don Julio. There were dessert tables, modern art, Triumph motorcycles, photo booths with crazy hats, and someone walking around in a Queen's Guard outfit (fuzzy hat and all). I have to give a shout out to their 2019 plastic reduction campaign and art theme. It was a far cry from what I had expected but I gather the Queen knows how to have a good time, even in her 90's. Plus I got to speak English...God Save the Queen!

In Love & Tacos
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Mr. Doodle
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<![CDATA[All The Flowers]]>Thu, 11 Apr 2019 16:12:21 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/all-the-flowers
I got the most wonderful surprise this weekend. I was walking to grab a bite to eat and I started noticing that things looked a little different. There were flowers literally everywhere! Wrapping the doorways, draping over balconies, arched into tunnels, and even arranged into adorable animals. I had run right into a fabulous springtime event called "Polanco En Flores." I was absolutely floored...there were literally thousands of fresh flowers. It was just beyond gorgeous and smelled so good. Because they are fresh this event only lasts 3 days. So what is a girl to do? Take the diplo-babies on a selfie tour with the stunning arrangements. Please keep in mind as you view these photos that the flowers are all real! There is not much more to say so this post is basically a gallery of springtime glory in Mexico City. If you are planning a visit to Mexico in 2020, I recommend to come for this event. 
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<![CDATA[The Popo is Erupting!]]>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 14:50:57 GMThttp://irishiweremexican.com/at-post/the-popo-is-eruptingYes, I said it. The Popo is erupting! No no no (clutching my pearls) I am not speaking of Moctezuma's revenge or the intestinal distress often caused by travel in Mexico. A classy lady never speaks of such things. I mean the volcano! "El Popo" is the nickname for the Popocatépetl volcano which resides about 50 miles southeast of Mexico City. Popocatepetl means smoking mountain in the native aztec language. I'd say that is a pretty fitting name for him. I took this picture from the the car one day when we went to a Christmas tree farm at the foot of the volcano. Below that is a professional shot by Roy Salazer.
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The last time this guy had catastrophic eruption was about 1,000 years ago and he was considered dormant for about 50 years until 1994 when he spewed back to life. The Popo is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Well recently he has not been on very good behavior and they have just raised the alert level from Phase 2 to Phase 3 (yellow alert). Great. I move here for like 3 years and suddenly, after 1,000 years, the volcano wants to live it up a little! The government has been circulating flyers about what to do should he blow. These are things I have NEVER thought about. I knew I was moving to earthquake country but being born and raised in San Francisco this did not bother me so much. Still, volcanos are like another level. This is a stratovolcano the likes of Krakatoa, known for its catastrophic eruption in 1883 and Vesuvius, whose eruption caused the destruction of Pompeii. I am willing him back to sleep.

In case you are wondering why I refer to him as a he, it has to do with aztec legend. Apparently he was an aztec warrior who died of sadness after returning from battle and finding his love had died of a broken heart when she received the false news he had been killed. She is the neighboring volcano Iztaccihuatl. The gods were touched by their story and transformed the humans into mountains so they could be together forever. Here is Artist Jesus Helguera's rendering of the volcanos and the legend's characters.

Below you will find more shots taken in the last month by Roy Salazer of "El Popo" in action. YIKES!
In Love & Tacos
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