Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Updates...

Since I wrote that last post, my blog got sick. I hope it wasn't with the swine flu. But I'm now on my school's network, so I'll give you some more details...

Last weekend I went with my dear friend Kim to Puebla, a gorgeous, colonial city about 2 hours from Mexico City. We went a little crazy at the hippie markets there, buying lots of scarves, jewelry, and the pottery that Puebla is famous for (see below). Kim has gone home for the weekend to her bro's college graduation, so she was definitely stocking up on gifts. :)

It was a blast, we did a lot of relaxing, and it was SO good to get out of my house after 2 weeks of quarantine. We went on a tour of the city, but because our trip was so short, we didn't get to see a lot- so I'm going back this weekend. My French friend, Nina, lives in Puebla but I didn't get to see her last weekend, so we're going to hang out this weekend. :)

Like I said in my last blog, I'll be leaving Mexico in a little over 2 weeks. I'm excited to go home, but especially after going to Puebla last weekend, I'm reminded of how much there is to see and do here, and the incredible people to meet. Kim and I wanted to be friends with all the hippies ;) People have really taken the time to be patient with me, and share their stories with me, and that has been a huge gift.



As you've probably seen elsewhere, yes, things have calmed down quite a bit. Since that first week, the Monday or Tuesday after the announcement was made, things have really started to get back to normal here outside Mexico City. From pictures I've seen and friends I've talked to, things have been really different in Mexico City, streets deserted, etc. But here in the State of Mexico, even though we haven't had school and a lot of things were shut down this past weekend for the 2 back-to-back holidays, it seems as though people are returning to normal, daily life. I've been able to go out at least once a day since last Thursday, to a friend's house in Toluca (the capital of the State of Mexico), or for birthday festivities in Tenango, etc. It's good to get out of my house and return to a sense of normalcy.

I had really been looking forward to experiencing Cinco de Mayo here in Mexico, but alas, because of all of this all the festivities and parades, etc. that had been planned were canceled.

I watched a presidential address on Monday evening, in which the president (Felipe Calderón) congratulated people for following the guides about staying home, etc, and also congratulated the government and armed forces for acting so quickly to contain the spread. He told us that high school and university students will return to class tomorrow, Thursday, and that the younger students will be going back next Monday, May 11th. So a few more days of "vacation" before everyone's back.

I've been hanging out with friends lately, mostly my neighbor Francisco and work friends of his; they've all been very kind and welcoming to me... I wish I had pictures, but unfortunately, my camera broke a few weeks ago and I have to wait till I'm back in the States to get it fixed. :( hopefully I can piggyback on my friends' cameras for the remainder of the time...

But. I have to figure some details out, but if all goes well, I'll be home towards the end of May. I'm excited to see my family and friends, but I've also really enjoyed my time here. Whenever the subject of me leaving comes up, people ask, but, don't you want to stay? Haven't you liked Mexico? That's a hard question to answer in only a few seconds, which is what people are looking for. Yes, I have loved my time here, I've met some wonderful people, seen some incredible things and had experiences that I will never forget. However, I'm also excited to get back home and get started on the next chapter of my life, which will be a Master's in Hispanic Linguistics at University of Illinois at Chicago--where I'll have an assistantship, which means that I'll be teaching 3 sections undergrad Spanish-one of my dream jobs! :) So, I also have a lot to look forward to...

Thanks for reading~ Besos

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey Faithful Readers...

I'm still fine. The situation, however, has become more serious as the days wear on.

The following are a few questions/answers from the Naperville Daily Herald, they might use some of the info for tomorrow's paper...

3. What is the mood like down there right now?
That depends on who you ask. As I mentioned in my interview with WBBM yesterday morning, on Saturday afternoon I went to a birthday lunch for a friend. People were generally taking it lightly, not wearing masks or anything, and making plays on words (the word for flu, influenza, is similar to the word for influence, influencia, so people are saying things like, wow, that influence is really strong, things of that nature). However, later in the evening, I found myself chatting with a work colleague of my friend, and he was more somber and cautious in his perspective on the flu. Some of the people who were supposed to come to the party earlier, who live in Mexico City, did not come for fear of leaving their homes and traveling. A few that I talked to were 'barricading' themselves in their home, planning to cook for themselves and not go out all weekend. I attended a wake later that night, and approximately 50% of the people were wearing masks.
I live in a small town, so my perspective is different from that of my friends who live in larger cities. Both my Mexican friends and my fellow Fulbright and other international friends, again, have mixed feelings. I have been reading both the international and Mexican newspapers online, and yesterday (Sunday), it was all over the news, so I found myself sufficiently nervous. However, when I went grocery shopping later in the evening with my neighbor, I found people out and about as normal; who knows whether they were (like me) planning to be eating at home for a while, and planning ahead, or merely going about with their normal activities. Some people were wearing masks, particularly the employees at the stores.
My friends in Mexico City and Toluca that I've been in touch with are all feeling strangely-the streets are abandoned, nearly everything is closed, and it seems that everyone has their own opinion on what is happening. Some think the government is overreacting; others think they are not telling us the full story as to not incite panic in the population. Nobody really knows how long this is going to last, or how serious it is going to become.
My advisor here at the University tells me that she is worried mainly because even in the face of other health scares, the government has never stepped in like this to close schools, museums, movie theaters, masses, soccer games... so I would say the general perspective is one of uncertainty, concern about where we will go from here.
My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Caley McIntyrelives in Mexico City, and has told me that it would be ok if I passed on his blog, in case you're interested in a perspective from closer to the epicenter:
4. Do you find yourself forced to spend your time indoors? Are you able to go to work?
Both the advice from the Mexican officials as well as my official Fulbright contacts are highly recommending staying inside our homes, and even beyond that, preparing our own food and eating at home, to avoid the risk of eating food contaminated by people with the flu.
Since I am working at a University, no, I am unable to go to work because schools here are closed until after Cinco de Mayo, so returning May 6th (tentatively). So, yes, I have been spending a lot of time indoors, doing a little bit of work from home, being in contact with friends and family, and keeping an eye on the news. Also, the amount of public transportation has also been reduced, so it would also be a challenge to even get to work (I, like many people in Mexico, rely on public transportation for my needs), even if I could go.
5. How do you get groceries or other items that you need?
I have several friends with cars in the area, all of whom have been very supportive. My neighbor, in particular, has told me that I can call him anytime with a request or whatever it might be and he will help me out. I feel very confident that I will be alright in terms of physical needs; if I were to need anything or feel sick in any way, he would be who I call.
6. I have seen photos of people wearing surgical masks. Are you doing the same thing?
I would say between 40-60% of the people I come across in a day are wearing them; I have not gotten one yet, but I have heard that they are sold out and therefore nowhere to be found.
7. What things are you doing to protect yourself?
Generally, taking normal flu precautions; washing my hands at regular intervals, staying at home, avoiding large gatherings, being aware of sick people around me, preparing my own food...
8. Are you planning to leave Mexico and come home?
I had considered it, especially after a conversation yesterday afternoon with my parents, who are obviously concerned for my safety. However, after being out and about, and hearing from the Fulbright organization here in Mexico, I feel confident that following these precautions and staying here, near friends that I trust to take care of me in case of any problems, is going to be the best option. I have faith in the global medical organizations to a. find a vaccine and b. be able to disseminate it to the people who need it. I hope people are paying attention to these precautions being promoted by both the Mexican and international bodies, and the epidemic/pandemic can be brought under control as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your concern for my safety, and thanks for your prayers! I know my family appreciates it, too!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Almost Famous

Friday, April 24, 2009

ABC tonight

Also, be sure to watch ABC news tonight, I might be on it! ;)

Swine Flu Outbreak in Mexico

Nobody worry, I'm fine. But, in case you missed it on the news, similar strains of a swine flu found in California and Texas have been cropping up all over Mexico, specifically Mexico City and the surrounding State of Mexico. Which is where I live. We are on our way to being under quarantine, all the schools have been closed for today, we've been told to try to stay away from public transportation and really anywhere lots of people are gathered, since it is an airborne virus.

Yikes. But we're being careful, laying low, etc. Handwashing, covering our mouths and noses, etc.

I was planning to go to Mexico City on Sunday for a friend of mine's birthday, but alas, it's been prohibited.

More to come...


Monday, March 30, 2009

A quick update...

thank you, computer, for your assistance in procrastination.

Really quick... March has been a great month, especially on the weekends...

Last weekend I went to visit my friend Kim in Cuernavaca, and we had a great time. We ate out several times, went shopping, relaxed by her pool, went to a waterpark/river... Cuernavaca is sort of the playground for wealthy chilangos, residents of Mexico City, that come for the weekend, so there is much fun to be had. Expensive fun, but fun. :)

Last week was my last full week before I head off to vacation in Costa Rica... and also one of the last weeks of the quarter, so I took advantage of the time we had left and made a Jeopardy review game of all of their materials from the quarter for the TOEFL students... it ended up being a BLAST. The students had a really good time... some were quicker than others, but generally, it was really fun. :)

This past weekend was quite full... Friday during the day I went to Toluca for some festivities at Memo and Victoria's school, a French film and discussion... I actually understood more than I thought I would, which was fun. My friend Laura called and invited me to a motocross event for that night, and I said sure. So we went into Mexico City with a few of her friends, and let me tell you, I love motocross. Who knew?! I mean. I'm sure if I knew about motocross, it would be old hat, but it was my first time, and I really enjoyed it. I'm going to see if I can put up a video of it so you can see...

Saturday I was invited by my neighbor Francisco to go to Mexico City with a few of his friends to watch the Mexico/Costa Rica game... we went to this nice restaurant, and watched the game, then the mariachis arrived, then a live band played... we were there for a loooong time, but it was fun. :)

Aaaaand... tomorrow I leave for Costa Rica! My friend Courtney is getting married this Saturday, so my friend Hannah and I are going down to help out and then take a little vacation... getting all of Holy Week off is one of the bonuses of living in Latin America. It should be a blast... more to come on that! I'll also be celebrating my 23rd birthday there, which will be great. :)

Thanks for reading, and happy spring!