Culture

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.

Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.

So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?

Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.

His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics. 

So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?

Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it! 

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Credit: The Splendid Table

Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat… 

Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla! 

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Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area. 

But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).

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Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition. 

So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you? 

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Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento. 

clearvoice test 2.29 – Mexico’s Popocatépetl Volcano Erupted And Now People Think The World Is Coming To An End

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clearvoice test 2.29 – Mexico’s Popocatépetl Volcano Erupted And Now People Think The World Is Coming To An End

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Three weeks into the New Year, and it feels like the end of times. Need proof? Australia is on fire, Puerto Rico won’t stop shaking, there’s flash flooding going on in various parts of the world, including here in the U.S., there are tornadoes in the southit’s snowing in Texas — and that’s just listing natural disasters. We haven’t gotten into the conflict with Iran that President Donald Trump started or the Ukrainian plane that was shot down during a missile strike. Now Mexico is dealing with another issue, and it has nothing to do with immigration. 

CREDIT: @ACTIONNEWSNOW / TWITTER

On Jan. 7, Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano, which is located  40 miles southeast of Mexico City, erupted. Thankfully no one was hurt.

The stunning images of Popocatépetl were impressive, to say the least, but people in the surrounding cities of Puebla and Mexico were warned to proceed with caution as the volcano is still active. Officials told people to remain cautious and keep their windows closed as ash continues to infiltrate the air. When the volcano erupted on Jan. 7 at around 6:30 a.m. local time, the mountain ejected ash and rock 20,000 feet into the sky. News outlets report that lava could also be seen from Popocatépetl. 

The name of the volcano — Popocatépetl — is an indigenous word that translates to “it smokes.” Locals call it El Popo. Since the Spanish acquisition, Popocatépetl has erupted at least 15 times, including last year.

CREDIT: @NWSTAMPABAY / TWITTER

People in the surrounding areas were given a Yellow Alert advisory, which alerts them that “Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background activity.” That alert is a bit vague. However, it is one of the least frightening volcano alerts. If they had been given an Orange Alert, which is a level above Yellow, then it would have certainly caused a bit more worry in the area. An Orange alert means, “Volcano is exhibiting heightened, or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain OR an eruption is underway that poses limited hazards including no or minor volcanic-ash emissions.” Everything after that level would basically mean, run for your life. 

Last month in New Zealand, the eruption of the Whakaari on White Island resulted in 19 deaths.

CREDIT: @QZ / TWITTER

At the time of the eruption, only 47 people were on the small island, and many of them were tourists. Aside from the 19 casualties, 25 people were injured. 

Paramedic Russell Clark told CBS News that everything in sight was covered in ash. “I can only imagine what it was like for the people that were there at the time — they had nowhere to go and an absolutely terrible experience for them,” Clark said.

The Popocatépetl volcano isn’t the only active volcano currently.

CREDIT: @VOLCANODISCOVER / TWITTER

Volcano Discovery reports that there are several active volcanos right now all over the world from Latin America to Japan. Clive Oppenheimer, professor of volcanology at the University of Cambridge, told the Telegraph in an interview that all of these eruptions are actually quite normal, and people should not be freaked out.  

“There have been quite a few eruptions in the news lately, so people question whether there’s an increase in rates of volcanism that we’re seeing just now, and this isn’t really the case,” Oppenheimer said. “Eruptions are happening all the time; some make the news headlines, and others don’t. He added, “If we look at the statistics back in time, the main thing we see is a reporting bias. There are not many eruptions during World War Two, for example, when people had other things to really worry about. So, of course, things will flare up in one place or another place, and then it will be very much how those eruptions affect people and whereabouts in the world [as to] whether that then becomes newsworthy.”

These eruptions may be typical, but with all the chaos going on in the world, people are still freaking out that it’s the end of the world.

CREDIT: @DOMINIQUEDAWK4 / TWITTER

How much more can we expect?

It’s all too much and it’s not a coincidence.

CREDIT: @BELLAV0725 / TWITTER

There’s no way to prepare for a natural disaster.

Let’s just pretend everything is okay.

CREDIT: @KYLATHECREATIVE / TWITTER

Denial never killed anyone. Right?

READ: Check Out The Image Of Mexico’s Volcano Popocatépetl Erupting 14 Times In One Night

Shop embed – This Indigenous Man Had To Face Harsh Criticisms For Being A Weaver—Now He’s Presenting His Designs At NY Fashion Week

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Shop embed – This Indigenous Man Had To Face Harsh Criticisms For Being A Weaver—Now He’s Presenting His Designs At NY Fashion Week

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Alberto López Gómez was born into a Tzotzil family in Aldama, Chiapas — a region of Mexico marked by economic and gender inequality. In Aldama, indigenous men work in the fields while the women weave, and this has been customary since time immemorial. Alberto, however, wanted to be a weaver since he was a child and after defying his community’s social structure, his designs are taking him as far as New York Fashion Week.

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For Alberto López Gómez, it was clear from childhood that he wanted to be a weaver.

In 2014, López Gómez decided to challenge traditional thinking. He was 25 and until that point had followed his culture’s expectations. He decided to change his life. The Los Altos region of Chiapas is Maya country where most people live in rural and traditional communities where the roles of men and women are strongly delineated.

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He had to deal with disapproving stares and being told over and over that his place was the fields.

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“A young man who is working at a loom is frowned upon. I thought things over and told my mother that I wanted to learn how to weave, and my mother said, ‘You know that men work in the fields.’” “But I answered that I had the right to learn how to weave,” he said in an interview with the German Network for Human Rights in Mexico.

Four years after he started knitting with his sisters, the Chiapas man, who had to face harsh criticisms for being a weaver, runs his own workshop.

Every day at 6:00 a.m. he got up to weave for as many as 14 hours at a time, allowing him to hone his technique. “I was hiding within four walls, working in my house,” he says. “People were whispering at my walk, but we are breaking the chain.” Later he moved to the tourist destination of San Cristóbal de las Casas where he established his own business. Here, over 130 Tzotzil artisans bring their textiles where they can get fair prices and be treated with respect.

Six years later, his talent and perseverance have paid off.

Gómez is slated to present his work and that of his community at Harvard University and New York’s prestigious Fashion Week. At the end of January, he will travel to Boston to give a talk about the cosmology found on traditional Tzotzil huipils, the square or rectangular garments common in central and southern Mexico, that are often highly decorated with woven and/or embroidered patterns. These designs are linked to the traditional beliefs and customs of a location.

He will present his own collection “K’uxul Pok” at the 2020 New York Fashion Week.

Posted by Aula Textil P'ejel on Friday, October 4, 2019

The designs of his ‘Huipiles’ (from the Nahuatl word ‘huipilli’), blouses adorned with symbols of the cosmos, family, and nature, take about five months to produce following a traditional procedure.

We’ll have to wait until Feb. 6 to see the essence of Mayan spirituality woven into a “huipil” on a catwalk.

Posted by Aula Textil P'ejel on Thursday, January 2, 2020

In the meantime, Gómez, who has nothing to stop him has set himself other challenges: to create a museum of textile designs in his native region of Aldama to showcase his work and that of his companions and to write a memoir about the difficult journey he has made, which he hopes will inspire other young men in his community to become weavers.

“As indigenous people, we don’t know about our rights,” says the Chiapas artist. “Machismo has beaten us,” he adds. Yet stories like his weave a much more egalitarian future and build bridges between tradition and modernity.