Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dad comes to visit!!

Whew! BOY do we know how to pack things in. And have a great time!

Dad arrived last Thursday, and thank goodness, I was there to pick him up--not another debacle like Chile (ask him about THAT one). We were back in Lerma by about 3:30ish, and we went out for quesadillas (Dad's favorite part being the sun on his face :)), and got ready for Game Night at my house, buying snackies and getting the house ready... Al final de cuentas, only 1 of my coworkers made it, Juan Miguel, but that was OK- we were 4, with my housemate Anne-Marie, so we played some Scrabble (and yes, the native English speakers did have an advantage, we know), and then Spades... over cider and lots of English conversation.

Friday morning we took our time getting ready, headed to my school for some make-up presentations (ask me if they showed up), and Dad was able to meet some of my colleagues and a few of my students. In the afternoon, we headed to Mexico City, getting there around 3, and got to our Hostel/Hotel, then got together with my friend/fellow Fulbrighter Zach for Linner. He was in a bit of a rush, so we headed to a quick place to eat and catch up. Dad and I walked around the Zócalo a bit (the main square in Mexico City), and checked out the Christmas decorations, including an ICE RINK on which they were performing The Nutcracker with a live orchestra... it was cool. We didn't see much, only the closed-circuit TV, but it was cool.

Saturday we headed to the world-famous Anthropology Museum--Dad was in heaven. On the way, we grabbed our first tamales of the trip. :) I've been there before, but it was WAY different going with him--he critiques the outdated explanations, etc., and his general excitement makes it more exciting for those around him-namely, me. For lunch we headed outside for some huaraches (a crisp, nutty flatbread, topped of with beans, nopales (cactus), cilantro, cheese and saaalsa), and headed back inside for another turn around the place. It's so huge that you reeeally have to be specific--in only a few days, there is no way you can see everything the museum has to offer.

Saturday afternoon we headed to La Ciudadela, a ginormous outdoor handicrafts market to get a jump on our Christmas shopping... it took a while for us to get going, but we did get on a roll. It's a beautiful place, full of bright colors and hawkers: "Pásale, güerita, lo que guste, sin compromiso..."

Sunday morning it was back to the market to finish off our shopping... we had quite a list of people to buy for, but I am happy to say that we got everyone checked off. :)

Sunday afternoon we took a walking tour around the Zócalo and the Alameda (a big park), getting to places I've never even been to--according to Dad, we saw the ENTIRE population of Mexico City around there--all 18 million of them. We got some ice cream, then headed to the movies-we had to take advantage of the cheap-ness. We saw "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and metro'd back to our hotel... at that point we 2 compulsive email checkers decided it was time for some internet exposure, and headed to a local hostel that provides internet. We got caught up, and then I ran into 2 Frenchies, Cedric and Alexia, who were about to head down to Guatemala... I love running into people I know in the least-expected places. Just ask Mallory... :)

Monday was a big day--after a delicious breakfast of huevos a la mexicana for me and huevos con chorizo for Pops, we headed to the Pyramids at Teotihuacán. It was a similar thing to the Museum--It was actually my third visit to the Pyramids, but with Dad's excitement and awe, I was able to see it again "for the first time." I had never taken the time to look at all the viviendas- the living places of the Teotihuacán inhabitants-, since the 2 large Pyramids are the main attractions, but with Dad, it was a different story. He was fascinated by the layout of the common living spaces, including their porches and common cooking spaces... anywhoo, it ended up being a blast. In this picture, we are standing atop the Pyramid of the Sun, and you can see the Pyramid of the Moon off to the left in the background... We walked allll over, several miles plus the climbing of the pyramids-needless to say, we got plumb tuckered out. When we got back, bought some sugary snacks, and settled in for a night of tv-watching, the only activity for which we had the energy.

Tuesday morning we packed up all our stuff, and headed back to the Museum-Dad hadn't finished seeing all he wanted to see. We got more tamales for breakfast, and boy, you really gotta ask for extra napkins for those bad boys--the spicy salsa verde will reeeally make your nose run. For lunch, we headed to the Casino Español, this classy restaurant in a gorgeous building that the Spanish used to enjoy in their heyday... it was pricey, but delicious!

After lunch, we headed back to Lerma, and saw Anne-Marie off to Chile (!), we hung out, then went to the gym, talked to Mom on Skype, and then enjoyed some TV-on-the-internet. Wednesday morning was chill, then around 3 we headed to my University's end-of-the-year/Christmas party... I had NO idea what it was going to look like, but it was a lovely banquet, some raffled items (no, I didn't win anything-lame), some speeches, and then, DANCING! Quebradita, salsa, cumbia, mambo, norteña, you name it, I danced it. It was a BLAST! I love that the dancing here is in partners, and that pretty much everyone knows how to dance. Even Dad got his groove on. Ask him later how long we were there for...

Today we're heading to Toluca for some sightseeing with Memo, and then in the evening dinner with him and Victoria and her boyfriend Ari who's visiting... tomorrow home to Chicago-hopefully we'll miss the storms! Then the family starts to arrive, and then it will REALLY feel like Christmas. I can't wait to sing Christmas Carols...

Thanks for reading this loooong entry! besos y abrazos, y felices fiestas!!!!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winding down...

Wow, who knew these months were going to go by so fast?! Another excellent week at school, some really great presentations, some not so great, and some completely unprepared... the ones that weren't ready will go tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes...

Thursday night I went over to Victoria's house; she and Heather were having a dinner for their English 8 class... we played Mafia, ate some homemade tinga, enjoyed some sangria... a pleasant evening. Friday Victoria and I climbed to the hill in the center of Toluca--there are some beautiful views from up there! It was super relaxing, and made Toluca seem a lot prettier. :) It's really not that bad. :P

In the afternoon I came home to Lerma, and a few Frenchies had already arrived in anticipation of our trip to Valle de Bravo, a gorgeous town on a lake, a super touristy spot... but since we were going with locals, we had the hook-up. Friday evening we got there late, around 10, so we went for some tacos, then ended up at Fernando's house for some games... We played the French version of Mafia, which i'm sorry to say is WAY more fun than the version I know... and then this great one called Psiquiatra...Psychiatry. Hard to explain, but a blast to play.

Saturday morning we headed over to Marco's house--his mom had offered to cook us breakfast (for all 11 of us, it was a push), and we arrived to a gorgeous table, delicious food, and a sweet lady. :) Chilaquiles, carne con chícharos, pan, fruta... it was a feast! Then we chilled there for a while while the boys were arranging things, and then we headed over to the lake in the back of Marco's pickup, and boated and tubed and wakeboarded for a few hours... it was gorgeous. And a little bumpy--my chin hit the tube at one point, and a bruise developed by the evening! Oh well. No teeth lost. That's the important thing. :)

After the boat, we headed back to our hotel (Jaime's mom has a hotel, and was generous enough to let us 5 girls crash in one of the rooms), got prettied up, and went to a gorgeous Italian restaurant... we got wine, camembert, artichokes, and everyone got a pasta/pizza dish... qué rico! All of it was so good, as was the company. Later, we went to a mezcal bar (a drink similar to tequila, though even a bit stronger) and later to a karaoke bar... we danced and sang and laughed until the wee hours of the morning... Karaoke is one of my all-time favorite things to do. :)

Sunday morning, we headed to the outskirts of the city, and hopped on some horses... we rode for about an hour, up to the mirador, or lookout point for some beautiful views of the town. My Latigo Ranch lessons came flooding back to me as soon as I hopped on Colorín. :P In the afternoon, we sat down to watch a Mexican movie, Y tu mamá también, and I definitely fell asleep. We headed back in the evening, trying to get the other Frenchies back in time to catch their buses... and BOY did I sleep well that night.

Monday-->back to the grind! This week, since classes are over, I'm dedicating my time to putting together an Activities/Games manual... different from the Lab manual of before. :P This one is basically games, divided into sections based on language used and for what levels the activity would be appropriate... It's actually fun, and an excellent resource for me, too!

More exciting news--My dad arrives in 2 days! Well, 1.5 at this point-I'm pumped! I've been consulting my Lonely Planet to decide where to take him... I have a feeling we'll be cramming a lot into a little bit of time. We're hopefully going to hit the pyramids at Teotihuacán, be here for my University's Christmas party... well, I'll let you know when we decide. ;)

Thanks for reading! Besos~

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

another tidbit...

Oh, I forgot to mention. I had a blast with my students teaching them a little bit about a United States Christmas (or at least a Bolyanatz Christmas).

It was the last week of class, so things got even more fun. I used Barry White's "White Christmas" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" (in that order), and I was even surprised how much we were able to talk about, how many things were foreign to them... the idea of a white christmas, Santa's sleigh, stockings, mistletoe... etcetera.

I ended up drawing some pretty sick dibujitos on the board, like a chimney and fireplace and stockings, with a little Santa Claus coming down... it ended up being pretty awesome.

That's pretty much it. Hasta pronto! :P