Monday, October 27, 2008


What a week it’s been! I haven’t written in a while, so there’s a lot to catch up on…
Anne-Marie, my new French housemate, moved in last Tuesday. She is officially the bomb. It’s so much less lonely with her here… it feels like I’m back in college, with my friends built-in. ☺

This weekend we (Anne-Marie, Victoria, Memo and their housemate Heather and I) went to Guanajuato, the site of the Festival Cervantino, one of the largest music/art/dance festivals in Latin America. This was its last weekend, so things were extra crazy.

Friday morning, we met up with a group from their university in Toluca, and taxi’d to another university, where we boarded a suuuper sketchy bus with some equally sketchy characters around noon. We stopped several times for potty breaks, and during the last one, we realized that we’d gotten a flat tire. Oh wait, but don’t worry, there was a tire replacement shop conveniently located at the rest stop—the only problem was that it didn’t have our bus’s-sized tire. Sad. So we drove slowly for about an hour and a half, with the bus listing to the left, until we got to the larger city of Querétaro. We waited for another hour or so, with the lights of the food places across the highway making our mouths water… we got back on the bus, everything good to go, and got to Guanajuato at midnight. That’s right, a 5 hour bus ride turned into a 12 hour bus ride. Thankfully, Anne-Marie and Memo’s French friends in Gjo. were kind enough to let us crash with them—we added to the total number of people staying there (in a studio apartment) to make 15. Things got pretty crazy around bedtime, but we were grateful that we didn’t have to stay with the other 50 people from the bus-eek!

Saturday we got up late, shopped, and made a delicious breakfast with eggs, fruit, bread… it gave us great energy for the walking around that we did for the rest of the day… Guanajuato is a beauuutiful city! It was chock-full of people, but for the most part that wasn’t a problem. We hiked ourselves up to the mirador, walked around the city, heard live music everywhere, saw live sculptures, and just generally enjoyed ourselves. Saturday night we tried to get in to see some of the musical groups, but just ended up walking around for a while, and heading back to Amaya and Pitu’s house…

Sunday morning Victoria and Heather went back to Toluca to catch up on some work, so Memo and I and some newly arrived friends (Alexis, Nina and Rachel) got up early and hiked up (not kidding—very hilly, Guanajuato) to see the Mummy Museum… it was a little morbid, but FASCINATING to see some people’s clothes and hair intact after being buried between 2-7 years before being exhumed… the world’s smallest mummy, a 5 month old fetus, is at this museum. After the Mummy Museum, we wound our way back down and then up again to the Valenciana mine… Guanajuato was one of the main Spanish mining sites, mining mainly silver and gold, along with some copper, lime, quartz, and other minerals. The gold especially is obvious in the church directly above the mine—the altar is nearly almost gold-plated!

Some quesadillas for a snack, and then back down the mountain… Sunday night was the largest concert, the Mexican group Café Tacvba, and the closing ceremonies, so things were getting crazy even from early in the morning as people lined up for tickets and seats. We didn’t end up getting in to see them, as we had to meet our group for our departure at 10 pm, but they were broadcasted onto huge screens all over the city… lots of dancing, lots of excitement, lots of overcrowding…

We boarded our bus at 12, and we all slept for a while, and then between 2-4 we were at a dead stop on the freeway from all the people trying to get out of town. Literally. Not moving. Thankfully, we cut our time down to 10 hours instead of 12, and we got home around 10 am. Overall, a blast of a weekend, so fun to meet the Frenchies, hear live music everywhere, see beautiful Guanajuato, and generally take part in a big deal in Mexico. ☺ This week is our second exam, so I have to write the bugger, and then go to bed early. ☺

Thanks for reading! Besos~

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brandon comes to visit!

A fun weekend, our friend Brandon (another ETA in Acapulco) came to visit Victoria and me... we had a blast catching up, eating French crepes made by Memo, making music on GarageBand, and doing touristy things in downtown Toluca...

This morning (Sunday) we went to the central plaza, ate some deeelicious quesadillas, walked around to the different vendors set up in the plaza, bought some movies and music, and some other nummies. The Day of the Dead is coming up, in November, and so vendors are out in style with their different takes on the art... chocolate skulls, marzipan depictions of foods, coffins, etc... I need to learn more about this day, and then I'll write more about it. :)

I have some lesson planning to do, but just thought I'd take this chance to write... hope you're all well!

Hasta pronto! Besos~

Friday, October 17, 2008

An unexpected day

Victoria had asked me to come with her to do this presentation about why English learning is important... so I said sure. I had NO idea what to expect, but we went this morning after throwing together a PPT presentation last night...

So we get to the small town of Santiago Tianguistenco (no, I'm not kidding, that's its real name), and were welcomed by María Teresa, a sweet lamb English teacher at the school. She tells us that we'll be giving our presentation twice, to a group of about 250 high school students then to about 250 university students... ooooh. boy. But hey, Victoria's the bomb, I did some translating, and I think overall the students really liked it... thankfully we were able to talk about lots of relevant stuff to them--not just studying English with the end goal of getting a better-paid job, but music, art, communication, travel, etc... it ended up being really interesting (well, at least I thought so:)).

Then María Teresa (Tere) and her colleague Ivan took us to lunch at the cafeteria (side note--this school, the Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios, CESU, is a private school and therefore has more dinero for their sombrero, if you know what I mean... the facilities were quite nice!), I had some delicious enchiladas, and then we prepared a little bit for our 2 o'clock classes that they had asked us to give... They had told us a little bit about what the students have been learning, so we basically made it up on the fly...

I ended up doing introductions, having the students tell me about themselves and then tell me about each other; then (because they were learning about clothes) we talked about what we were wearing, and then I had them help me create a doll--they named her Lizzy-- and tell me what she was wearing... it ended up being pret-ty hilarious. I'd just like to remind everyone that I majored in Spanish and Latin American Studies--nooothing to do with drawing. But we had a great time, and it was fun to explain things like curvy earrings and polka dots, etc... they were really good-natured and kind kids. Man I wish I would have had my camera... that drawing could have been a real winner. :)

Brandon's coming to visit from Acapulco, we get to see him tomorrow! Yay!

Thanks for reading, skype me sometime! ;)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A day in the life

So my schedule has changed around a little bit, so now on Tuesdays I don't go in until noon now.

I hopped in my colectivo, and who else should get on but not one, not two, but three caballeros-- stetson & denim wearing Mexican cowboys. We didn't exchange more than a few words in greeting, but during the 20-minute I found myself imagining what their lives must be like... It was pretty entertaining.

From there, I had my first class, in which we watched Crash. I hope my students are getting it all... it's pretty heavy, but there are some nuances that I would really like for them to pick up. Hopefully we'll get some good discussion out of this. After, I had my French class (super basic, don't anyone get too excited :P) which is fun; my future housemate, Anne-Marie, is my teacher, and she's a blast.

From 2-4 I had my first conversation workshop... I had no idea how many students would show up, or what exactly we would do, but thankfully it worked out. About 15 students came, and we did some basic introduction stuff, trying to work on pronunciation and fluidity... they're pretty basic, but they're all so nice and we have a great time. :)

This week has been a blast-- I've gotten to talk to a bunch of people, like my fam, my friends Mallory and Denisse from Chile, Lindsay, Adriana, Brian, Michael, Hannah and Courtney... I feel super blessed!

I'm going to peace, my eyes need a break, but thanks for reading! Hasta pronto, besos~

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Quite a full week... Tuesday school (Religion and the Cupid Shuffle--a random combination) and tae-box at the gym, Wednesday school and some lesson planning--Nirvana's asked me to help put together a "Lab Manual" for the other teachers, so that everyone can take fuller advantage of their time in the Laboratories, which have computer access, TV, stereo, etc... thankfully, it's something I really enjoy and have lots of practice with thanks to my TESOL certification program.

Wednesday evening I headed for Toluca, to take advantage of the half-price movies (it's $2.60--even cheaper than the Ogden! Can't see a bad movie for that price :)), with Victoria and Memo. We saw Mirrors, with Keifer Sutherland--worst idea ever. I didn't watch over half of the movie cause I was freeeaked. Bad news bears.

Today our topic was stereotypes, and I started by asking my students about stereotypes they have about others... they were pretty timid/respectful at first, but then the conversation switched to Spanish, and I told them I wouldn't be offended by anything they had to say--THEN the hands started going up. I heard a lot of things I expected to hear, like "All Americans eat fast food," and "All Americans are really concerned with fashion." Things like that are relatively easy to answer; it's a lot of hay de todo, you get every kind in every culture-- that yes, some people DO eat fast food, it's quite convenient if nothing else; yes, some people ARE very concerned about being current with their styles, but not everyone-- and I think I was able to get through to them that Hollywood isn't representative the whole United States. Then the conversation took a different turn-- I told them they could ask me anything, and I would answer it as honestly as I could and as specifically or as broadly as the question required... I got asked about "college girls," if they're really as crazy as they seem in the movies, if Latin men are really more passionate than US men...

Then one student, Mark Anthony, asked me about immigration. What I think, what the rest of the country thinks... and boy, did I have plenty to say (Gracias a ti, Profesora Beatson...)-- I won't go into it all here, but ask me about it sometime. I didn't want the class to end on a negative note, so we came back to a relatively lighter subject, that of "groups" or "cliques" in junior high/high school-- it really makes me wish I'd brought Mean Girls to watch with them. Oh well, next week is Crash, which they hopefully understand better after our conversation.

Ah, and I'm getting a housemate! Anne Marie, the French assistant at my school, has decided to live with me! I'm super excited-- not only is she cool, but we're going to teach each other French/English, sticking up vocab words around the house, etc... yes, I'm cheesy, and I love it. :) It will also be nice to have the company. Things do get a bit lonely sometimes.

Ok. That's enough. Thanks for reading!

Hasta luego~besos!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The teacher is still the student.

I just figured out how to teach present progressive versus the present simple! "Simple," I know, but a big deal. To be able to present it in a way that my student, Gonzalo, understands it, with some timelines, etc... I'm pumped.

Every day here is a learning experience, which is a big part of the reason why I like visiting other countries so much... every day I hear a new phrase, see a word written on a billboard, hear a different intonation for a word, and of course, come up against a new difficulty regarding teaching English. Today I was in my friend Nirvana's class, going over some pronunciation, and we were talking about ordinal numbers. For the class' sake, she asked me what we use ordinal numbers for (first, fourth, etc), and I had to think about it for a second--we use it for dates! Very different from Spanish, in which they use simply the cardinal numbers-- el dos de noviembre--> November 2nd.

I'm sitting here planning a mini-workshop for my fellow teachers, and typing up 14 pages of US idioms... it's a wonder that anyone learns English, with all the crazy things we do with it.

Oh, also went to the salsa class at my gym tonight... man, sometimes I wish my hips could do these things that the Mexican women's do. :)

The beginning of another great week--I can already tell. :)

Hasta pronto--besos!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

And so begins October.

What a fun week! I wrote and gave my first exam, and it went pretty well... I think my students are feeling more comfortable with their oral skills, and their writing (on the take-home essay) is pretty good. Unfortunately, I have my first cheating situation to deal with on Monday, so that will be great. Erg.

But a fun weekend... Friday afternoon I headed for Toluca to hang out with Victoria, and then we met up with my colleague Pilar's son, Pablo, who is studying the double bass, and he took us to the opening show of the Toluca symphony orchestra... It was a beautiful concert, which included a visiting pianist (Russian, living in the US) whose fingers moved SUPER fast, and then we headed out for tacos afterward with Pablo and his friend Luis. Saturday, also in Toluca, we met Victoria's new housemate and the French assistant at her university, Guillaume... very kind, not like we were expecting. :P We took advantage of his newness to take him on a tour around Toluca (also my first tour :P), and got some quesadillas, some ice cream, and did lots of walking around the downtown.

Saturday night we went bowling with two French professor at their school, and their significant others, and to my surprise, I won my first game of bowling ever! It wasn't the highest-scoring game ever, but no worries. I enjoyed my victory. After bowling, we headed to Crise and Marc's French café, near Victoria and Guillaume (Memo's) house, and I ate my first goat cheese salad since being in Mexico... and seriously enjoyed it. Another sleepover, and back to my own house this afternoon... A chill day, including a chat with my dear friend Mallory!!! :) Some grading, some lesson planning, and then some sleeping :)

Hasta pronto! Besos~