Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter :)

Happy Easter, everybody! I am celebrating today by making five pans of jell-o. Or, I might not make them all today. Maybe I'll save some for Thursday.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I am putting more links to more pictres in the side bar --->
Now I'm going to do homework. Woe is me.
I come home next week!! Can't wait to see everybody!
<3 Allison

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Hello everybody. I know I said that I would cross-post all my BEDA blogs here, but... I decided not to. This is my Mexico blog. So I'm gonna delete the one I already have up, and if you want to read my Blog Every Day in April entries, you can read them at my BEDA blog. (I would recommend reading them. I think they're pretty entertaining.) Here is a link: BEDA!

Today, however, I BEDA'd about Teotihuacan! It was so amazing. I don't feel like talking about it again, because I'm tired, so I am just going to copy/paste. It's kind of a different format than my usual blogs, but I think it's more entertaining than usual, so hopefully you'll enjoy!

(Please be advised that this information comes solely as I remember it from the guide. If something is inaccurate, it could be my own forgetfulness or the inaccuracy of the information I received. That being said, aside from some dates, everything should be pretty much correct.)

Most people know Teotihuacan as an Aztec city. This is what I understood it to be until yesterday. Actually the city was built by the Olmecs over 2,000 years before the Aztecs found it. For whatever reason the Olmecs left or died off and the city was basically buried. When the Aztecs found it the pyramids looked like big hills because they were covered in thousands of years worth of dirt. Somehow they realized that the hills were not in fact mother nature's goose bumps* but rather man-built structures. I imagine the discovery went something like this:

Ancient little boy is playing ih his backyard with his plastic Fisher Price tool set. Little boy digs hole in his sandbox and hits a rock. Little boy digs all afternoon.
"MOM! Mom! Moooom!"
"Alex! Alex! Aleeeeex! See how annoying that is?"
Little boy huffs and runs into the next room.
"Dad! Dad, I found something cool in my SANDBOX!"
"That's nice, Alex."
Little boy huffs and goes back outside. Little boy takes human skull and carries it inside. Mom looks up from ancient telephone. Screams.
Next day ancient archaeologists dig up backyard and find part of a gigantic pyramid.

Okay, they actually probably didn't find skeletons on the pyramids. But, you get the picture.

So, the Aztecs find these pyramids and are like, "Hey. This is convenient. Let's build our temples on here!" So they build their temples on top of the already existing Olmec pyramids. Oh, and they're not really pyramids, they just have a similar shape to pyramids, so that's what most people call them. Yeah.

What else is interesting about the city? Oh! Want to know what "Teotihuacan" means? Land of the gods. Why? Because the Aztecs didn't actually live in Teotihuacan. They used it as a religious gathering place. (Let's say the little boy's sandbox was at church, and he was playing after Sunday School.) And they didn't know what it was called, because the Olmecs had built it thousands of years before, but they thought the structures were so enormous that no humans could have built it (these guys hadn't heard of the "wheel" yet) so they figured the gods must have built it. Enter the Spaniards. The Aztecs were just trying to tell the Spaniards about this city that the gods built, and they were like, "Come see this teotihuacan!" And the Spaniards were like, "Duhhhh... Teotiwhat? That's a funny name for a city." And so now we call it Teotihuacan.

Enough history? Okay. So there were three main structures and then a BUNCH of little ones. The first one we saw was the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (my FAVORITE Aztec god) and... another god whose name I can't remember. Sorry. But they shared a temple. And there were a bunch of serpent heads made out of rock on the side of the structure because "Quetzalcoatl" means "Feathered Serpent." This was very cool. We also saw some stuff set up for reconstruction. The guide said this is part of UN law that a country who discovers something has the obligation to reconstruct as much as they can or cover it back up. I don't know how accurate this is.

(Side note: Our guide was hilarious. At one point he got to talking about how the PRD, one of the main political parties, is the Mexican Communist party. And then he started going off on the Commies. One of the snarkier guys on the tour was like, "Good thing I didn't wear my Che shirt.")

Next we went to a museum with some artifacts and a huge replica of the whole area that took up the whole floor of a big room. There was a walkway going through the room made out of some kind of plexi-glass type thing. It was freaky, even though we were only raised two feet from the ground. I don't have a fear of heights, I just don't like feeling like the floor could collapse underneath me.

Then we CLIMBED THE PYRAMID OF THE SUN! I should mention that there are two big pyramids- that of the Sun and that of the Moon. The Sun is the biggest. Our guide said it was the second largest pyramid in the world (next to the big one in Egypt). The snarky guy had some pages from a travel book with him, and that said it was the third largest (next to the two biggest in Egypt? I think?). Either way, it was BIG. 354 stairs. I think. Maybe 10 more, I can't remember exactly. Yeah. So, we climbed. In recent years they have installed a really heavy-duty rope-type-thing that acts as a handrail. This was nice going up, but not COMPLETELY necessary. Now, going down is a different matter, but I'll get to that in a minute.

So, GOING UP the pyramid was NOT EASY. Luckily the pyramid had levels, so at each platform I stopped for a couple minutes and caught my breath. (Side note: I have borderline asthma, which makes climbing things just that much more difficult.) It was slow going, especially because it was very CROWDED. But I finally made it to the top, and oh! It was SPECTACULAR! The view was beautiful, once I got to a spot that wasn't blocked by tourists. And there was this big group of people standing in a circle doing some kind of meditation thingy on the top. That was neat.

Going down the pyramid? AWFUL. I HATE going down lots and lots of stairs. It hurts worse going up because you use these random muscles that you hardly ever use. It was rough. Also, it's a lot scarier going DOWN because you can SEE HOW FAR YOU MIGHT FALL. If you trip going down, you fall away from the pyramid. Not a happy thought.

(Side note: The sides of the pyramid have rocks sticking out of them all over the place. These were not, as our tour guide tried to tell us, for the ancients' coats.)
(That really was a SIDE note. Hahaha...)

At this point it's about 3:00. The sun is absolutely BEATING down on us. I have some sunscreen on my face, but I don't own a hat or anything. And I had plenty of water, but the water was getting HOT. And I felt exhausted from all the climbing. We took some pictures and then went to meet our group. A bunch of them had new water bottles and showed us the little shop where they bought them, so I drank the last of my warm water in anticipation of new, cold water. Go figure, they were out. They were getting more, but it was going to take too long and we had to go. Our bus was leaving at 4, and it was now 3:30. So no more water for us.

We didn't get to climb the Moon, because we were out of time, but I was kind of okay with that. I didn't want to climb anymore. I resolved to come back some day and climb the Moon. We took some more pictures. We had an interesting time finding the exit. Finally we got out of there and found bathrooms and a souvenir shop that had water and ice cream and nachos. I was so happy to eat those nachos, and I got a liter sized water bottle and drank about half of it before we even got to the bus. I also got a lime-flavored popsicle thingy (one of those big ones, not the tube-shaped ones) which was delicious. And then I half-slept the rest of the way home. When we got home, I had to pee really badly. And I had some kind of heat exhaustion or... something. I couldn't eat dinner. I felt too sick. And I had a hard time actually falling asleep. The fan was too noisy, but it was WAY too hot without it. I put my iPod in and listened to Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was too distracting. Finally I took it out and just closed my eyes. I fell asleep eventually.**

And that was my experience at Teotihuacan! Hope you learned something. Anyone with more information on the subject, feel free to post!


PS: I will upload pictures tomorrow, and I'll also link to my newest photo albums.

PPS: Speaking of tomorrow, I am going to do something like this for my BEDA post tomorrow. You'll see. It will be awesome.

*I was going to call them "Mother Nature's lady lumps," but that seemed somewhat inappropriate...

**My dream was so funny last night. My friend was over with her fiance, and he had made a list of... something. His favorite things on the internet? I don't know, I can't remember. But one of them was Mrs. Nerimon, and I was like, "Do you know who Nerimon is???" And he just shrugged and said, "Yeah." And then I asked, "Are you a NERDFIGHTER?" (This was important because he and his brother were the first people I thought of when I first watched Brotherhood 2.0.) He just shrugged again and said, "Yeah." And I was SO EXCITED because I had never met a Nerdfighter IRL (not counting my friends who introduced me to Nerdfighting), and it was so cool because he and his brother reminded me SO MUCH of John and Hank! So, apparently I dream about Nerdfighteria when I have Tiny Feathered-Serpent Disease. Go figure :)
(If you don't know what a Nerdfighter is, that's okay. I asked the guy I dreamed about if he knew what it was, and he didn't, either.)

By the way, I recently made it possible for people to comment on my blog. So, comment! I love hearing from you :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Acapulco, baby! (part 2)

Well, I just realized again how long it's been. Here's the rest of my blogging on the beach:

Whoa. Okay. So there's this pelican that was floating in the ocean, and it got a little too close to the beach and got caught up in a wave. He tumbled a little and then the wave washed him into the chairs of these two older ladies. He was kind of caught up in their chairs, and the lady stood up to move the chairs, but she didn't realize that he was there, and so she kmind of shuffled them around and then she saw him and screamed! It was funny, but kinda sad, because the poor bird was pretty disoriented. And now he's just sitting there on the beach. At first everybody was gathered around, trying to figure out what to do.
Now they've left him alone, and we think he's trying to dry out his wings, but this one guy keeps saying that he needs to stay wet so he won't die in the sun, and so he keeps pouring water on him. Now people are around him again. I can't really hear what they're saying, but I think they're trying to figure out what to do with him. It's still a debate between keeping him wet and drying him off. And that man is still keeping him wet. I still think he just wants to dry off. He's been there for like an hour now.
We'll see what happens. That man can't stay and water him all day. Now I'm going to go write. Or maybe read.

PS: There's still sand in my pants.

Later that day...

I no longer have sand in my pants. I now have small rocks in my pants.
(Very small rocks!)
All the men here are wearing Speedos. Well, okay, not actual Speedos, but their swimming suits look more appropriate for women than men. And if they are wearing shorts-style suits, then they are short and tight shorts. It is slightly awkward.
Speaking of awkward, earlier we were trying to make eye contact with our waiter to order some nachos and a lemonade, and a different waiter came over. I thought he would ask us if we needed anything, but instead he asked if we needed a massage. I said, "No, but how much are the nachos?"
He told us.
"Okay, we'll have a small one."
He called over our waiter.
"Nachos, please. Small. Oh, and a lemonade? Thanks."
He went to get them for us.
The other guy stayed and said, "Here, let me show you an example of a massage. It's free, don't worry."
It was awkward.
The nachos, though, were DELICIOUS.


Well, I learned something yesterday. If you're going to stay at the beach all day, you should probably put sunscreen on more than once. And when you do reapply, get more than just your face.
(My back/shoulders are burnt and they are not happy with me.)
Apparently the pelican eventually flew away yesterday, so that was good.
(Note from current Allison: Actually, it was there again the next day. They said it couldn't fly, which was sad. It was just hanging out in the shade with the waiters.)
We also had a turtle wash up onto the beach (a gigantic one), but he was dead, which was sad :( I don't know what they did with him. And now there are a bunch of seagulls, and they are really loud and kind of obnoxious.
They're gone now.
(Note: Wow. That sounds really evil. I didn't do anything to them, they just flew away. I swear...)
So, Callie and I were talking and she said that when we get back to Cuernavaca we're going to automatically shake our heads at anyone who comes up to us, because there is literally a vendor every five minutes who tries to sell us something.
There are a lot more young people today. And a lot of families. We made friends with a brother and sister who were in sixth and third grade, and we hung (hanged?) out with them in the water for like an hour this morning. It was tons of fun :)
The ocean is especially beautiful in the mornings. It is very clear and the water is so nice. Well, the water is nice all day long. It's a lot warmer than CA, but it's not exactly warm... it's refreshingly perfect. Except now it's kind of dirty... I mean, it's just dirt and algea and whatever, but it's less appealing than in the mornings. Still, though, I love it. I just love the beach. My skin? Doesn't really love the beach. But I do!
Which reminds me! I decided I am going to have my honeymoon in Oaxaca. I know it's not entirely up to me, but I hope he'll understand. And I knw I need to be engaged before really planning a honeymoon, but whatever :)
My hair is so frizzy. It's wild. I'm still kind of tempted to get it all braided. We'll see how much it costs. Maybe if it's cheap... okay, if it's cheap I will definitely do it, but I'm gonna wait until tomorrow.
(I never even asked how much it cost.)
Ahh, we just moved the umbnrella, and we have a lot more shade now.
This guy keeps coming around in captain's garb trying to sell us tickets on a "cruise." I'm pretty sure it's just a night thing, with drinks and dancing, but whatever.
Oh my gosh, people are bungee jumping! Are they CRAZY??
I love the beach.
Have I mentioned that yet? It's true. I love, love, LOVE it :)
There's this older lady from NY (I think) and she is hilarious. She was here yesterday, too. (The lady with the chairs and the pelican. And I think she's from Boston, not NY.) She is ridiculously tan. And she spends the whole day in the sun. Like, literally. Either she's sitting in her chair in the sun or she's floating on her raft in the sun. And she's very no-nonsense, but she's incredibly friendly. She's made friends with everyone here. She's jsut not shy at all. This can be proven by the fact that she wears a bikini. And instead of tying the streakps around her neck, she ties them around her back or in front. To avoid tan lines, perhaps?
Sorry, just needed to get that out there :)
Well, I meant to spend my day on the beach reading, but I haven't read anything. I've just been... sitting. And playing in the ocean. But, mostly sitting. It's nice, though. I love the beach :)
My tank top is bright yellow today, so I feel even more like a beacon.
I just remembered a funny story! Theose kids we were hanging out with this morning were collecting shells, and they said they were going to sell them. I asked if they were going to sell them when they got home, and they said, "Yeah, on eBay!" This made me laugh, but THEN they said, "We're going to take pictures up really close, and then people with think they're big, but when they get them in the mail they will be a lot smaller!" Hahaha! I thought they were just hilarious. I mean, I hope their parents don't let them do that, and explain how that's wrong, but the fact that they had the idea is just so funny.
On a completely different note, I can't sit in a sandy area and NOT dig holes with my feet.
HOLY CRAP! Our umbrella just flew away! It was hilarious! One second I was writing happily in the shade, the next second I was in the sun and it was flying over our heads into the table next to us. It was pretty funny, actually :)

Back to the present...
That was all I wrote. We didn't stay on the beach much longer than that. We went to get our bus tickets home, we ate some Baskin Robbins ice cream from the shop next to our hostel, and we just kind of chilled. We were exhausted. We probably went to bed at like 9:30.

Tomorrow I will tell you guys all about our trip to Las Estacas last weekend. It's a BEAUTIFUL river not far from Cuernavaca. And I mean it when I say I'll be writing tomorrow because I have some VERY EXCITING NEWS!
Starting tomorrow, I (along with many people who are a lot more famous than me) will be starting BEDA (Blog Every Day April) in celebration of the paperback release of Maureen Johnson's novel Suite Scarlett. Now, I haven't actually read any of her books because I discovered her only a couple months ago, and if you'll remember, I am in Mexico. It is NOT easy to get American books in Mexico unless they are SUPER popular. And ordering them through Amazon is out, because the shipping costs at least the same as the book itself, if not more. But I read her blog and I follow her on Twitter, and she is hilarious. And I figure I don't blog enough, so why not blog every day for one month? The posts will certainly not be as long as they have been. I promise. But it will be fun. Who knows what I will talk about? Mexico. Harry Potter. Awesome random stuff. The usual.
So, tune in tomorrow! I might have some more picsup by then, too!

Best wishes!
<3 Allison

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Acapulco, baby! (part 1)

Hey, all! Did you watch my video?? I know it was kinda long, and I'm sorry about that, but you guys are lucky that YouTube has a 10 minute limit, or it would have been LONGER. I'm still new to this whole vlogging thing, and I'm not very good at cutting things out... I LIKED everything that I said. It was FUN. But, like any good work, it's better when it's cleaned up. And that vlog wasn't cleaned up very well... or very much. But! I am going to get better at it! Like I said, I'll do a couple more of those from Mexico, and then I think I'll continue the vlogs (and probably this blog, too) so everyone can keep up with my crazy-cool college life :)

So, anyway, this is part three of spring break. Acapulco!

Callie and I got back to Cuernavaca (from Oaxaca) around 1 am. We were tired. I slept in Tuesday morning. Callie went to the bus station to buy our tickets. We still weren't sure where we were going to stay. We looked online, we called around, and we found this little hostel called K3. we never did find out what that stood for... Anyway, our bus left at 2:00, so we got there around 6:00. We watched some Garfield movie on the bus, and then a movie called... crap... I don't remember what it was called, but it was about a movie star dog who falls off an airplane (I know) and is found by this boy whose father is a firefighter. And the boy kinda hates the dog at first, but then they become bffs, and the dog saves people from fires, and then the original owner sees the dog and is all happy and stuff and takes him home, and the boy is sad because the dog was his bff. But then the dog runs away, saves the boy from a fire (which was set by a badguyfireman from a rival station), and the owner is like, "Oh, he loves you so much. Okay, he can stay with you." And the boy and the dad are happy. The end. Oh, and there was something in there about his uncle dying in a fire. And the boy didn't get along very well with the dad. But, you know, minor details.
Anyway, we got to Acapulco and checked in to our hostel. They told us we each had 30 minutes of free internet (which we never used) and then gave us our keys to our "room." We got to our "room" and opened the door and the first thing we noticed? It wasn't a room. It was a bed closet. I mean, literally, it was the size of a walk-in closet. There were two tiny bunk beds, and the only space between them was the width of the door. It was SMALL.

Lucky we were the only two in there, so we each just took the bottom bunk. It wasn't too bad, just... TINY. And the sheets! They gave us our sheets when we checked in. It was like a sleeping bag sheet. Like, the sheet was folded in half and sewn together at the bottom and sewn together for about a foot up the side. It was literally like a sheet made into a sleeping bag. Oh, and we got a pillow case. Thank goodness the pillows were already in the room, because I ended up stealing one from the bed above Callie (the one above me had... something that looked suspiciously like animal poop on it. EWWWWWW) to use in addition to my own. I can't stand sleeping with one pillow. It makes me snore even worse than usual.
Oh! And the signs on the doors were HILARIOUS. They were in Spanish and English, and... yeah. The grammar was bad in BOTH languages.

That night we walked on the beach for about 15 minutes, but it was getting dark, so we didn't stay.

We did eat at a restaurant that was on the beach, and we got an epic lemonade and some yummy quesadillas that were more like... cheese empanadas.

They were SO good. Mmmmm.

The next morning we got up, ate breakfast (toast and cereal, no joke) and headed out! We bought towels, because neither of us had one, I bought a big huge 1 liter water bottle, and we went to the beach. We walked in the opposite direction from our walk the night before, and immediately a guy came up and asked us if we wanted to rent an umbrella. My immediate reaction was no, but Callie is a lot smarter than me. She asked how much, turned out to be 30 pesos for the whole day, and so she said, "Okay." This was smart because we had no umbrella or anything to keep us in the shade, and we were planning on spending the ENTIRE day at the beach. So, good thinking, Callie!

While I was at the beach, I brought my notebook, and I wrote some blog entries, so I think I'll let me-from-the-past do the narrating now:


There's sand in my pants.
I love the beach, though. The sound of the waves, the oceany breeze. And we are the youngest ones here. Somehow we ended up on the old people beach. It's hilarious. The next youngest people are probably in their 30s. Oh! No, wait, two little girls just showed up. They look about 8 and 6, though. Under 10 doesn't count. And most of them are American, but they're all TAN. Like, brown. Like, we thought this guy was Mexican until he told us he was from New York. And we are both WHITE. Like, albino. Like, glows-in-the-dark, welcome beacon white.
There's sand in my hair.
At least my skin will be nice and smooth. I hope the calluses on my feet go away. Free pedicure! Yay!
So we rented a table (w/ chairs) and umbrella. It's really nice. Only 30 pesos for the whole day. And Callie brought her blanket for us to lay on. We put it out in the sun for a while, but the tide almost gave us a bath, so we moved the blanket behind the table and moved the chairs into the sun. Well, Callie moved her chair into the sun. I decided to sit in the shade for a while. I'd like to get tan, but I don't want to burn :) It's really nice out. It was cold in Oaxaca, but sitting on the beach with my feet in the sand is perfect. And the breeze is so perfect. And I just love the beach.
There's sand in my shirt.
Every five minutes or so a vendor comes by. Bracelets, hats, figurines, necklaces, shawls, magazines, and food. And a lady who will give you a massage or braid your hair into those tiny braids. And it doesn't matter if they've come by before, they come to you again. Here comes one now. Bracelets with your name. And each time someone comes by, I want to get something!
I am really tempted to get my hair done in braids :) And when lunch time rolls around, we are definitely buying some quesadillas. We don't even have to move an inch to get lunch! There's the quesadilla man, and then our table/umbrella is rented from some guys that run a restaurant/bar, and we have a waiter-guy who comes up every once in a while and asks ow we're doing and if we want any piña coladas or nachos or hamburgers. It's great. And the quesadillas from the quesadilla guy are like deep-fried... they look more like cheese empanadas than quesadillas. Mmm.
I think there's sand in my brain.
Wow, I'm getting hungry. And sleepy. I think I'll take a nap in the sun after lunch. A short nap. With lots of sunscreen :) But I do need to get some sun. I think some day I want to live on the beach. Just for a yaer or two. It would be so nuce to just walk down the stairs into my beach backyard and sit in the shade and listen to the waves and read or write. Maybe I'll to California after I graduate.
I'm watching somebody parasail right now. It looks pretty neat. I would like to try that some day. Maybe. Lol. Let's put it this way. There's also a bungee jumping place right next to the beach. I would MUCH rather parasail than bungee jump. :)

To Be Continued...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Special Bonus Post!

It's a VLOG! (Otherwise known as a video blog.)

PS: Don't forget to read my lastest post, "Oaxaca part 2," which I posted today, as well...

Oaxaca part 2

Well. When I said I would post "tomorrow," I clearly meant, "tomorrow plus eight days," or, "not tomorrow or the next day, but a week after that." Clearly.

ANYWAY. Let's get back to the story of Oaxaca! Sunday morning Laura and I got up and went to church. I only stayed for the first bit, because we were going to Monte Albán a little after 9:30. So I put some jeans, a shirt, a pair of socks, and my tennis shoes into a bag and asked my friend to bring it to the van for me, because I was going to get there as soon as they were leaving. Well, I got there. And three of our group were at breakfast, one of them being the friend I gave my clothes to. And Javier was ready to go. So he said that if they weren't there when the vans left, then too bad. It was already past the time to leave. This made me panick a little. I didn't really want to go to Monte Albán in my dress. I needn't have worried. They got to the vans with time to spare. I met them on their way back from the little restaurant (it was just around the corner from the hostel), and my friend didn't have the bag on her, so I went back to the hostel to get it with her. I thought about changing there, but I didn't want to push it. So we went back to the vans (the parking lot was on the same street as the restaurant, but in the other direction... still, very close) and they weren't ready to go. We sat there for five or ten minutes. I changed on the side of the van (I am very skilled at changing my clothes in pubic... you have no idea).

I thought it was going to be a bit of a drive, but it really only took us fifteen or twenty minutes to get there. And it was AMAZING. We went inside to look at some artifacts in a little museum-like display, and then we went back outside to the real thing. It was AWESOME. It was like... the town square of an ancient city. There were at least twelve pyramid-like things, one which had VERY TALL stairs leading to a sort of mesa on top with a pyramid and grass and tress... yeah. And it took us the whole hour and a half to walk around and see everything. We took some seriously awesome pictures (links in the side bar, to the right, though I haven't put anything new up since the last post) and just generally had a great time. It was also very cool outside, and windy, and it was just gorgeous. I had a blast. That was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. (Of course, that will soon be trumped when we go to visit TEOTIHUACAN!!!! I am very excited for that.)

Next we went to a market in a neighboring town, which was really neat. It was huge. We spent another hour and a half just walking around. We ate lunch from one of the little food stands. I got what I thought was a quesadilla with chicken, but there was no cheese in it. Just chicken, some kind of salsa, and spinach leaves. It wasn't that great. I had wanted the cheese. See, Oaxaca is famous for its cheese (quesillo). It's kind of like mozarella, because it's all stringy, but it's better. So, I was disappointed when it was cheese-less. I only ate half (it was REALLY big) and I gave the other half to my friend when we passed her in the walkway. We explored the area, and found the food part of the market, where they had tons of fruits and vegetables, meats, and a whole ROOM the size of a high school gym with BREAD! I bought a fresh concha (type of pan dulce, or sweet bread), and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever eaten in my life. I should have bought ten. One piece was only 2 pesos! (That's like 15 cents.) AMAZING. I also got a pastry thing with cream inside, which turned out to be a rice-pudding like substance. Very delicious. And then, I bought... a mango on a stick. I had seen them all throughout the market, and I really wanted one, so I got one on the way back to the van. THAT was delicous. Mmmmm...

After the market, we went to another little town with some more ruins and a mini-market with clothes. I got a shirt to wear to the beach (which, incidentally, I forgot to take to the beach). We went to see the ruins, and they had little openings so you could climb INTO them. We went in. One of them was a tomb, and it was REALLY humid and gross and creepy. *shudder* And the battery on my camera died, because I had taken so many pictures that morning. Which was sad.

Next we drove down the street in that same town to go to a place where they make Mezcal, a drink that's similar to Tequila, but different. Or something. Lol. Oaxaca is also known for its Mezcal. It wasn't all that exciting for me, since I don't drink. Kind of interesting, though, because they do it all without machines or anything. Like, they have a horse that pushes the stone in a circle to crush the juice out of the plant. Yeah.

After that, it started getting COLD. It was just really windy. We thought we were going home, but no such luck. We had one more stop. I almost didn't want to, but then I remembered what it was. The (most likely) oldest tree in the world. Over 2,000 years old, they think. And it was SO BIG. Like, I was expecting it to be tall, but it was so freaking wide! Like, the trunk was probably the size of a large house. Seriously. Not a cottage or anything, a large house. It was SO cool. Though, of course, at this point we were so cold that we basically stayed in a huddle the whole time. When we first got there, we ran around the tree once. It was fun. But it didn't really help with the cold.

We ate dinner at a restaurant near the big tree. It was yummy. I finally got the quesadillas I wanted. And we had hot chocolate. The third thing Oaxaca is famous for- its chocolate. The first time I tried the chocolate, I didn't really like it. The texture was weird. Grainy and crumbly. It ruined it for me. But then I drank some hot chocoalte, and... it grew on me. And suddenly it was just really delicious. Mmmm.

Finally we went home. I was exhausted. I didn't go to bed right away, though. We had a chocolate eating party in my room, and we played Egyptian Rat Screw with the cards I had bought at the museum the day before. It was fun :) I was SO tired, though, and I was glad when everyone was ready to go to bed.

The next morning we packed everything up, because we had to check out before we left for the day. We went to breakfast at the same place our friends had gone the day before. I had hot chocolate again, and it was so yummy. We hurried, because we didn't want to be late to the vans. We were fine. We didn't leave for quite some time after we finished eating.

That day we went to this really cool place in another neighboring town. They made this stuff called "barro negro," which was a specific kind of black pottery. It was beautiful. The man did a demonsration (I took some video of it... I might post it on here another day). It was really neat. Everything was by hand. He didn't have a wheel. He took one big plate and turned it upside down, and then put another plate on top of it, right side up. Then he put the clay on the top plate and started spinning the plate. With his hand. He spun with one hand while forming the clay with the other hand. It was SO COOL. And he doesn't use any finish. Instead he rubs it with some kind of gem or something (I think it was quartz) after it's been dried/baked. This gives it a smooth finish and a glossy look. And then I think he bakes it again... maybe. I don't really remember. But, yeah. It was so neat. I bought a LOT of stuff there. Like, I have this huge bag full. I'm going to have to buy another suitcase. Lol.

After that we went to this place (keep in mind, these places are not like your average store... they're more outside than inside, and the whole family is involved in the business somehow) where they made these little wooden figurines. I wish I could remember what they're called. It starts with an A. Lol. Anyway, they make wooden figures (some are tiny, some are absolutely gigantic) of mythical creatures and gods from prehispanic culture. They are painted with very bright colors, with symbols and things that are significant to the culture. This guy did a demonstration, too. Also very cool. He told us that generally the men in the family did the carving, and the women did the painting. He worked with his grandfather when he was a boy, and eventually took over the family business. I also bought some things here, because they were just too cool. Next we went to another place that sold the same things, because Javier wanted us to see the difference between the very high quality figures of the first place, and the lesser quality (but cheaper) ones of other places. I bought a couple things there, too, because they had stuff that the other place didn't.

After that we ate lunch (I had more quesadillas) at a restaurant across from the place with the high-quality figures (the guy who makes them told us he's been to AZ to work with art students at UofA!). Later we figured out it was run by the same family. Lunch was yummy. I drank a soda called Fresca, which is kind of like Squirt. It was yummy.

Finally we went back to the hostel. Everyone else was staying in Oaxaca until that night, because they were all taking a bus to the beach in Oaxaca. They got the stuff they didn't want to take to the beach, and put it in the vans for us to take home. I scurried to buy some chocolate while they were doing that (our hostel was also a chocolatería), and then I ran across the street to the panadería (where they sell pandas) and bought some more pan dulce for the ride home. Then I RAN to the bathroom. When I was washing my hands, the water turned off. I already had soap all over my hands. Lots of it. My friend Emily was there, though, so she poured the water from her water bottle over my hands for me :) And then we went back to Cuernavaca.

My friend Callie and I decided to go to the beach in Acapulco instead of going with everyone else to the beach in Oaxaca, mostly because it would have been like a sixteen hour ride home from the beach in Oaxaca. So we did the 8 hour ride back to Cuernavaca (which was free, because we were in the school vans) and then Tuesday afternoon we took a bus to Acapulco. Which was way fun. But, I'm not going to talk about that in this post, because it is already obscenely long.

So, yeah! That was Oaxaca. It was so amazing. I am DEFINITELY going back some day. Soon. I think that's where I'll honeymoon. You know, when I find a boyfriend who then turns into a fiancé who then turns into a husband :) Have I said that on here already? About honeymooning in Oaxaca? Probably. Ni modo.

Anyway, make sure to check out my pics if you haven't yet! Link in the side bar, toward the top of the page.

Keep an eye out tomorrow. I'll be putting up a special bonus post. It will be exciting :)

Thanks for reading! I love you and miss you all! Only five more weeks to go!


Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's been almost a month... but boy do I have a lot to say!

Well, everybody, let me start out with saying how SORRY I am that I haven't updated in so long. The thing is, nothing incredibly interesting was happening. It was just school.
(Side note: If anyone is interested in doing some good in the world, check out the situation in Chiapas. Mexico is a poor country in general, but Chiapas is by far the poorest state. It's actually the richest in natural resources, but the indigenous people there are in an awful state. And the government contintues to exploit. I really have no idea what I can do about, but I feel like it's important to spread the word. Go do some research. Maybe start with the Zapatistas (or "EZLN"). Now, don't freak out, I'm not saying I agree with everything about the Zapatistas, but it was through learning about them and their cause that I found out about the situation in Chiapas.)

So, yeah, it hasn't been incredibly interesting. But last week was spring break. (Note that it's not Spring Break, just spring break.) And now I have A LOT to talk about. So, prepare yourselves. Over the next several days I'll be posting much more frequently than normal. And it's gonna be exciting.

I'll start off today with the beginning of our trip. We left for Oaxaca (pronounces "Wah-ha-ka," more or less) on Friday at 1:00. Well, we didn't actually LEAVE at 1:00, but whatever. We rode in two vans, and the drive was about 8 hours. (Oaxaca is a different state in Mexico... it's not right next to Morelos, but the next state over, to the south-ish.) It was incredibly fun. We passed this active volcano on the way their, and the guy driving our van (he was a friend or something of Javier's family) told us that it had the most people in the world living near an active volcano. So, if it erupted, lots of people would die. Freaky. I would never live that close to a volcano. (Which isn't really true, because I live in Flagstaff, basically under the wing of a volcano, but it's not active, so it doesn't seem as scary. Even though I learned in my Geological Disasters class that the only difference between active and dormant volcanos is the period of time they've been dormant, and a so-called "dormant" volcano could totally erupt any day. But, whatever.) Anyway, he told us a story about the active volcano and the smaller dormant volcano right next to it. Apparently the smaller one was an indigenous princess (Aztec, I think), and she fell in love with the bigger volcano, who was a warrior. But her father forbid them from seeing eachother. And... there's more to the story. Something to do with her sleeping. I don't remember. But if you see like t-shirts of a big warrior guy carrying a sleeping woman, that's the story of those two volcanos. (Volcanoes?) Yeah.

So, the ride was fun, and we got to the hostel at like 9 or 10. We checked in, and then everyone but Callie and me went out to get food. We just stayed in our room and relaxed. It was nice :) The beds were... tolerable. Barely. But my pillow was AWFUL. It was like... I can't even describe it. It was WAY too firm and lumpy. It was like they shoved a bunch of cotton into a pillowcase. But it wasn't the fluffy, soft kind of cotton. It was the kind you find in bad couch cushions. Yeah. I thought all the pillows were like that, but I found out later that it was just mine. Lame. (It was worth it, though, because we each only had to pay 250 pesos for three nights, which is less than 20 USD.) Laura and Callie and I woke up at like 7:00 the next morning, so we went to the rooftop patio and sat in the sun and talked. It was really nice outside, the temperature was perfect. I had bought some markers that week, so I doodled. And we took pictures. And we talked about Pokemon with Patrick. It was awesome.
That day was a free day, so we walked around the main part of the city. We went to the town square, we went into a cathedral (there are cathedrals all over the place in Mexico!), and we went into this cultural museum. It was cool, I took lots of pictures of the stuff at the museum. It was set up so you could follow everything chronologically, but Laura and I kinda went out of order, so it wasn't as interesting as it could have been. And one time, there was this hole in the wall that looked like it used to display something, but it was empty. So, naturally, I wanted to sit in it. I was a little afraid (I don't like breaking rules, even if the rules aren't specifically stated), but I did it anyway. And I had Laura take a picture. Unfortunately, my flash was off (because that rule WAS specifically stated), and the security guard was getting a little upset with us (I could just hear her thinking, "Stupid Americans!"), so the picture turned out blurry. Sad day :(
After the museum we went shopping. There was a whole street full of vendors, and it was so much fun. Lots of cool clothes and jewelry. Everything I love to shop for. I ended up getting a hand-made rug (I wanted to get a whole blanket, but they were EXPENSIVE... I couldn't tell if the guy was ripping me off or what... I don't think so... I think they were just higher quality than some of the rugs my friends got, because the one I got is much thicker than theirs... but whatever) and a REALLY cute little dress for Verity, and a pretty blue bufanda (scarf). And while we were walking to this little market area, we saw this parade, and in front were these two huge characters (they were like fifteen feet tall), and we realized they were dressed up as a bride and groom! And then we looked behind them a little and saw the actual bride and groom! It was a parade for a wedding! HOW COOL IS THAT? I want a parade at my wedding... (Just need to find me a groom first.)
Oh, and I also bought lots of cool things at the museum gift shop. Like a deck of playing cards with the prehispanic gods. And bingo with prehispanic people. And memory with drawings of prehispanic animal figurines (which came with a list of all their names in Spanish and Nahuatl). I really like the prehispanic cultures. After I master Italian and French and maybe German, I want to learn Nahuatl and Quechua (indigenous lanugages).

Anyway, yeah, so the first day of Oaxaca was amazing. I loved it.

I'll talk about our second day tomorrow. It was equally as awesome as the first.


Oh, and stay tuned. I'm going to try to post links to my photo albums of all my Mexico trips so far... I think there's a way to post them in the side bar... We'll see :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Well, everybody, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet or traveled to another dimension or anything. (Besides, I'm pretty sure I could still post blogs from another dimension. I'm convinced the internet is multi-dimensional, if you will.) I have just been kind of lazy. And I didn't have anything incredibly interesting to share. And I was reading fanfiction and watching video blogs instead. But more about that later.

You know that thing called spontaneous human combustion? I blame Mexico. Well, Mexican food, to be exact. Spicy Mexican food. A few days ago I had my first (and last, if I have anything to say about it) encounter with VERY SPICY FOOD. My mamá made chile relleno for dinner-lunch-thing ("comida"). It's basically chiles stuffed with cheese with some excellent sauce on top. Now, she also made some with zuccini (or I think it was zuccini), which was absolutely delicious, because (as you know) zuccini is not spicy. At all. But she did make one chile relleno, and she told me I should try it. So I took a TEEEEENY little bite from the end of it and it wasn't too bad, so I decided to take an actual bite. BAD. IDEA. I got the seeds. I knew that the seeds were the spicy part, but I ignored that knowledge and ate them anyway. I kind of wanted to know what it would taste like. Well, now I know. "Fire" doesn't even begin to describe it. I couldn't eat anything for five minutes. I just sat there drinking glass after glass of Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water... like herbal tea, kind of... delicious stuff) until I thought I could stand putting something warm in my mouth. It was still somewhat painful, but I sucked it up because I didn't want to drink the whole pitcher of agua. (The next Monday, my mamá was telling my roommate about my chile relleno experience, and she said I almost cried! Which, thinking back, is quite accurate.)

The rest of my week hasn't been very Mexican-y. Almost all the students from NAU went on an excursion to a beach in Marquelia for the weekend, but my friend Callie and I stayed behind. A) because it was expensive and B) because they were going to sleep on the beach, and that just sounds gross to me... I didn't like the sound of "sand fleas" and I didn't like the idea of sleeping on hammocks out in the open. So, we stayed behind and had an awesome weekend of our own. Her *fiancé sent her the first two seasons of I Love Lucy on DVD for Valentine's Day, so we watched that almost every night. It was super fun :) And then we were going to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but we got there like fifteen minutes late and the lines were ridiculously long, so we walked around the mall (the movie theatre was inside the mall) instead. My hermana, Karla, wanted to get some clothes. I spent most of the time telling Callie all about my boyfriend from high school. Why? No particular reason. We're girls, we like to talk about those kinds of things :) Oh, and I got an Icee at the mall. It was blue raspberry. I liked it, and it made me happy, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed that it wasn't a blue/red mix. Oh, and then we got back from the mall, and it turns out my mamá had bought a bootleg copy of Benjamin Button on DVD! I didn't watch it, but Karla did, because she had really been dying to see it.

Okay. On to more important things. Brotherhood 2.0. Also known as Nerdfighters. Also known as Made of Awesome. There's this thing on YouTube. It's these two brothers in their late 20s. They decided that for a whole year they would only use textless communcation. This means no emails, instant messages, or anything of the sort. They could only communicate through daily video blogs. (And on the telephone... and in person.) So every day of the week, one of the brothers uploads a video on YouTube (usually about 3 or 4 minutes long). The videos are random and hilarious, and they gained quite a following. This all took place in 2007, so they're done with the year of textless communication, but they still do videos every once in a while, and they have a whole website where their followers (known as Nerdfighters) hang out and create their own video projects and such. Well, I had heard about them before, and the other day my friend posted one of their videos on her Facebook, so I decided to watch it. It. Was. AWESOME. So, I decided to watch all the videos. I'm about half way through July. Seriously? They rule. So, if anybody is bored and needs some amusement that comes in 4 minute segments, check out John and Hank Green- (all the videos are on here except Jan. 2, which is under John's username at

Aaaand, that's all for today, I think. Mexico is wonderful, and I wish I had more Mexican-y things to tell you about, but I'm afraid it will have to wait until next time. When I actually have something interesting to share.

Oh! Mexico vs. USA tonight! We're winning... not that I really care about soccer at all, my friend just told me we're winning because she said her mamá is very upset. Apparently it's a REALLY BIG DEAL if Mexico loses to USA.

And now that's all for today. Go watch Brotherhood 2.0! It's amazing!


*In case you were wondering, the difference between fiancé and fiancée is gender. Fiancé for the male and fiancée for the female. I like to think it's because "fiancée" looks prettier :)

Monday, January 26, 2009


Hi everybody! This weekend was so amazing! We visited Taxco, the silver capital of Mexico, which meant LOTS of shopping for jewelry. My FAVORITE kind of shopping :)

So we got to the bus stop on Saturday at 9:45 and we were supposed to leave at 10:10. Unfortunately, the bus only runs every hour from Cuernavaca to Taxco, and the 10:10 and 11:10 busses were sold out. So, we had to decide if we wanted to go at 12:10, or if we wanted to buy tickets for Sunday instead. We all really wanted to go that day, though, so we bought our tickets for 12:10 and walked around el centro. One of the girls had done something to her toenail the night before (she stubbed her toe and... well, it didn't look bad at all, but it's kind of gross to talk about), so we went to the pharmacy to get some gauze, tape, and iodine aand then we walked down to el centro (it was really close) and sat on some benches while another girl cleaned it and wrapped it for her. Then we walked around the black market for a while. I didn't buy anything, and they even had Twilight on DVD. But I don't like to support things like that. I'm not trying to be high-and-mighty or anything, but I really like to support the artists of music and movies and stuff, and I don't exactly feel comfortable with illegal activities, either. But it was interesting to see it. They had everything imaginable there, from Abercrombie and Fitch to portable phones. It was crazy.

It was finally time to get on the bus, so we made our way back to the bus station. Have I told you about the bathrooms yet? I think so, but I'll tell you again. They charge you to get in (3 pesos this time), and you're lucky if the toilets have seats, let alone toilet paper. It's gross. And at a bus station? That much more disgusting. *shudders* Anyway, we watched a movie called "Next" on the way to Taxco (it's Nicholas Cage and Jessica Biel... that ought to tell you something about the quality of the movie... top it with Spanish dubbing, and it was quite interesting!)- the ride was an hour and a half, so we watched the whole movie. And the bus was SO COOL! It had these things on the seats in front of you that you could pull down, and they would sort of connect with your seat to form a foot rest like on a recliner! It was SO COOL. (see picture of legs)

Once we got to Taxco, we had to go up these REALLY steep hills, and I was having flashbacks to the mountain in Tepoztlan. Of course, these were streets, not hiking routes, so it wasn't as bad, but it was just as crazy steep and it definitely made it hard to breathe. Plus, Javier was walking really fast, which didn't help much. But once we got to the town square it was awesome! There's this beautiful Baroque church called La Iglesia de Santa Prisca, and the architecture was amazing! (see pictures) It was so detailed and extravagant and grandiose and... well, you get the point. But it was so tall!! It was really cool.
After we walked through the church and took a bunch of pictures, we went shopping! It was literally a town of jewelry shops. I don't think there was any other kind of store around. Well, not in the town square, where we were. The jewelry in the actual square (it was more of a circle than a square, but whatever) was kind of pricey, but the shops that lined the street leading up to the square were a LOT more inexpensive. We spent about an hour going from store to store, looking for jewelry. It was SO MUCH FUN! I love shopping, but shopping for jewelry? I could do it all day. Seriously. We went down the street and went into every shop and looked at all the jewelry. I kind of had an idea of what I wanted. I knew I wanted earrings ("aretes" in spanish), and I was thinking about getting a ring, and I knew I had to get something silver, because it was the silver capital of Mexico. Well, I went through all the shops and then decided to go back to one of the first shops I saw, because they had some earrings that I liked and they were silver. I didn't want to buy them the first time I was there, though, because I wanted to explore my options. I didn't even end up buying the ones I originally wanted, because the backs were too small and didn't look right in my ears, so I tried some others. I ended up getting these really classy hanging earrings that were just silver (well, not pure silver, obviously... I don't have that kind of money) and kind of twist in the middle... I can't really describe them. Maybe I'll take some pictures and post them :) I also ended up getting another pair of earrings from the same little shop but a different vendor (I'll explain that, don't worry) that were dangly and had blue gems (which matched my shirt!) and were kind of sparkley... they were really cute!
Okay, so the "shops" along the street were kind of different... they were like booths that you would find lining a street, but the booths were inside and there were two or three vendors (at least) through each door. It was pretty cool. So in each "shop" there were actually a few different vendors. Anyway, you get the picture.
So, after I bought my jewelry, Laura and I were hungry (we didn't bring lunch, we wanted to eat there, and everyone else had brought their lunch and ate it before we went shopping), and we still had an hour, so we went to this little restaurant/cafe/thing for lunch. We stood in the entryway for a couple minutes, unsure of what to do. People were sitting at tables, and looking at menus, so we figured we should just sit at a table. We were debating on whether we were supposed to order at the counter (because it was kind of like a cafe) or if we should wait to be seated or if we should sit down... it was kind of confusing. But we sat, and a waiter brought us menus. I got three small quesadillas and a bottle of water, and Laura got taquitos and a mango milkshake-type-thing (she asked me if she should get strawberry or mango... I said mango). After we ate, we weren't sure what to do. A busboy came by and took our plates and stuff... but the waiter wasn't bringing the check. I had seen other people with their checks at the table, so I didn't think we were supposed to go up to the counter. So we sat there for a few minutes and tried to look like we were chatting (seriously, we were discussing how we should act like we were talking... it was hilarious!) and we couldn't get the attention of the waiter, so then we decided to stand up and ask our waiter what to do, and just as we got up to ask about the check, he said he would bring it to our table... it was really awkward. And we weren't sure if we were supposed to leave a tip or not (because you aren't supposed to tip taxis), but Laura said they had left a tip when she went out once, so we left a tip. It was great food, it was just kind of awkward.
After we ate, we sat in the middle of the town square and waited until we were supposed to meet Javier. We met a little boy who was selling gum and we talked to him for a little while. He was adorable, and it was sad that he was walking the square, trying to sell gum to tourists. There were a lot of little kids doing that. I didn't have any change, otherwise I would have bought some.
The bus ride home was uneventful, and Laura and Callie (the girl in the pic above) and I called a taxi to get home, but it took FOREVER for it to show up, which was annoying. But we got home just fine, and all in all it was an excellent day :)
I'll update again soon... we're going to salsa class tomorrow!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Are you freaking kidding me?

Okay. I just have to tell you all how incredibly disappointed I am. It seems that Mexico does not get NBC (at least not that I could find). That wasn't too bad, because I forgot to look until AFTER The Office had started last night, so I wouldn't have been able to watch it anyway. But just now I got on, because they put all the new episodes online, and I got to the page with all the videos, and I waited for it to load... and it had a little error message that said, "We're sorry, but the clip you selected isn't available from your location. Please select another clip."
So. Apparently the Mexican government does not want its people to watch The Office. I can't help but wonder why. Is it because of Oscar? Maybe they were offended when Michael threw him the welcome back fiesta, and it was full of ridiculous stereotypes? Ugh. I mean, we've been talking about corruption in the government, but I thought it had to do with gasoline and drug cartels, not paper production! *sigh*
Anyway, to those of you who don't get The Office references- it's okay, I forgive you :)

So I have homework tonight! Yay! (Not.) It's actually DUE tonight, which is why I'm not out with my friends right now. But that's okay, we're all going to Taxco tomorrow (Silver Capital of Mexico!), so we'll have plenty of time to bond. I'm excited to go, because I haven't been anywhere but school since Tuesday, really. I've been doing that thing where I hole myself up in the house and read. I'm getting kind of sick of it, though, so I think that means I'm getting accustomed to life here in Mexico. Still a little nervous about going out at night, but I think next time everyone goes out, I will, too. It won't be bad if we're in a big group.

Anyway, back to my homework. I learned something cool! We're talking about the Golden Age of Mexican Film, and the director I'm writing about, Emilio "El Indio" Fernández (maybe some of you have heard of him... he's really famous, and I'm pretty sure I had heard of him before this report) is the guy they used to model for the Oscar statue! Cool, no?

Well, I don't really have much else to say tonight. Nothing too exciting happened this week. I'm sure I'll have much to report tomorrow, along with some more pictures.

Hope all is going well!


PS: If I hadn't just watched all the seasons of The West Wing, I would have been REALLY surprised at how much Obama seems to be accomplishing in these first few days in office. But, of course, I know that a president really only has 100 days to accomplish anything. Thank goodness for TV.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Okay, well I wrote this yesterday, and apparently I forgot to post it! Oops. And just so you know how dorky I really am, I went through the whole post and changed every "today" to "yesterday." I wanted it to sound right. :)

Monday. Well, Monday was my first day of classes, and it was pretty good! We had orientation in the morning, so we all missed our first class of the day, and orientation was… well, it was an orientation, so you can imagine what it was like. A group of people in a room, a guy telling us how the schedule is going to work (although all of us from NAU are on a different schedule, so it didn’t apply), and the obligatory orientation video with a man and a woman named Steve and Melissa asking each other questions and talking about things we need to know (Steve: Gee, Melissa, it sure is too bad that there aren’t any cool places to go, like a town square or a place nearby with ancient ruins. Melissa: Funny you should mention that, Steve, because there are cool places nearby, and that’s what our next segment is about!).

After Orientation, I had my first class of the day: Phonetics and Phonology! Yay, linguistics! It was me and one other guy from NAU. That was our whole class. It was cool though, the teacher seemed pretty cool, and I’m really excited for the class. After that class, we had a class with the NAU director, Javier (or Alberto… but we all know him as Javier). It’s a class with all the NAU students, and it’s a class about Mexican culture through studying film. I’m pretty excited for it, because he said film in Mexico is different than the movies in America. It’s less commercial. And it’s sad. But it sounds awesome :)

After school we came home and had Comida, which is sort of like a late lunch (about 2 or 3 in the afternoon) and it’s the big meal of the day. Osbelia told us that a lot of Mexicans only eat Almuerzo, which is a hearty breakfast, and Comida, and don’t have any Cena, which is a light dinner around 9 or 10 at night. She feeds us Almuerzo before school, Comida right after school, and Cena around 7 or 8. Anyway, we had Comida after school, and then we went to buy cell phones. We ran into a couple of girls from NAU who live right across the street from us, and they wanted to get cell phones, too. Laura and I had to go to the school first – she needed to mail a package, and I wanted to buy some international stamps – and they had to go back to the house and get their money, so we decided to meet at the corner between our houses and the school.

(Side story- When I was buying stamps at the book store, the lady said it was “ciento cinco.” I handed her a 20. See, I was thinking she had said 15.50, because she said it so fast and I didn’t really have time to process. I should have known that was wrong, because 20 pesos is like 2 dollars, and I was buying ten international stamps. She looked at me kind of funny and pointed out that I had only given her 20. I blushed, laughed, asked her how much it was again, and when I realized that it was 105 pesos I got out one of my 100s and added it to the 20. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t even understand simple numbers! And I KNOW Spanish!)

Anyway, we met up with the girls and we asked someone at the desk in school where we could buy cell phones (the cell phone carrier that we wanted is called Telcel, so we asked her where the closest one was). She told us it was just down the street, before you hit the gym. So we walked down the street, and there was no Telcel. One of the girls in the group asked a person who was passing if he knew where Telcel was, and he said he thought there was one past the pharmacy around the corner. That was what they had thought, too, so that’s where we went. We found the place he was talking about, but it wasn’t Telcel, it was Nextel, and they didn’t have any prepay cell phones, they only had phones with contracts. They told us there was a Telcel at the Centro, and that a taxi there was only like 20 pesos. So the four of us got a taxi (which made me nervous because I had NEVER taken a taxi before, and the concept scares me… but there were four of us, so I didn’t really think anything was going to happen) and went to El Centro (which was like the downtown sort of area with a huge outdoor mall thingy). We got there and we didn’t see the Telcel, but we found a Movistar, which is just another cell phone carrier. We each got phones for 250 pesos (that’s like 25 USD, probably less) and they supposedly had 300 minutes on them, but apparently that only applied to local calls, because when I used my calling card with the cell phone, it only worked for like 15 minutes and then my cell ran out of minutes. I guess there must have been some kind of exorbitant fees for using long distance calling cards. Grrr. So now I’ll only use the phone for keeping in touch with my local friends and use the house phone or public phones with my calling card. When I run out of minutes on the calling card, though, I can buy international minutes for my cell phone. It’s only 11.50 pesos for 15 minutes of talk time. That’s way cheap. But I already have a bunch of minutes on my calling card, so I’ll use those up first. There are public phones on campus, so I can use those.

Anyway, after we all got our cell phones, Laura still needed to send her package (the book store on campus only sends letters, and the lady said we needed to go to El Centro to send packages) and the other two girls wanted to shop a little, so we split up. Laura asked a magazine vendor where the post office was, and we went there. Of course, once we got there, they didn’t have envelopes with bubble wrap on the inside, so the man told us where to get one. We went outside to where he directed us, but we didn’t see the place, so Laura (brave, brave girl) asked someone where we could buy something to wrap a package. It took us a few minutes to explain what we were looking for, but between our Spanish and his little bit of English, he told us where the Papeleria was (paper store) and said that they would have what we needed. We found it, but she didn’t have envelopes with bubbles either, so she told us to go down the sidewalk a little further to another papeleria where they did have envelopes with bubbles. We found it, and lo and behold, she had envelopes with bubbles! We felt so proud of ourselves after that adventure. It was a little nerve-wracking for me, but when we did it I felt pretty accomplished :)

We got home around 6:00 and I was exhausted. I sat around in our room all evening and did stuff on the internet. That night Karla had some friends over, and one of her friends also had a visiting student living with her. This girl was from Canada, and she was there for the high school program. She was 17. And she was out there with Karla and her friends, drinking! I didn’t really interact with her much, but Laura said this girl was REALLY drunk. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I was. High school girl, 17 years old, getting drunk in a foreign country where she barely speaks the language… that does not sound like a good idea to me. But, whatever. We had ham sandwiches for Cena and Osbelia asked us about our eating customs (how much we ate at each meal, when we ate meals, etc). I stayed up on the internet until like 11:00, which normally isn’t late for me, but this semester it is quite late because I have school at 8:00 in the morning.

Tuesday. Well, yesterday morning it was pretty hard for me to get up, but I did it. Now that we have cell phones we can set the alarm on those rather than use Laura’s alarm clock (it’s an awesome alarm clock – one of those classic alarm clocks with the bells and everything – but it’s really loud and kind of an abrupt awakening). I set mine for 7:00 and didn’t get up until 7:17. We had a lighter breakfast (I think because we told Osbelia about our eating habits the night before, and I told her that I didn’t like to eat too much in the mornings) – toast with marmalade (I don’t really know what the difference is between marmalade and jam, but it was called “marmalada”) and then she put out cereal and apple yogurt. That apple yogurt sounded funny to be, but it is SO GOOD. It’s really sweet and it reminds me a bit of apple flavored candy, but it’s real apples. Anyway, I had some yogurt and one piece of toast (they were HUGE) and I packed up the other piece of toast to eat at school, because I usually start getting hungry around noon and school isn’t out until two.

I had my composition class first thing and it was really fun. The teacher is AWESOME and we talked a lot and learned new words. His big thing is getting us to learn more specific ways to say things. For example, I always knew lightning as “relampago,” but he told us that a lightning bolt is “rayo” and lightning that lights up the whole sky is “relampago.” And we learned this because, for some reason, we got into a discussion about the lightning storms in AZ. They apparently don’t have lightning storms here.

Half way through that class we had a ten minute break (all the classes go 50 minutes, then 10 minute break, then 50 minutes, then 10 minute break, depending on how long the class is) and Javier came in to get me for a meeting with the director of internships (because I had told Javier I was interested in an Education internship). I don’t know the details yet, but I’ll be teaching English to middle school aged students at a nearby school, probably twice a week. I’m a little nervous for that, but mostly excited. It’s not like I’m teaching Spanish or Math or something.

After composition I had a free period, so I went to the computer lab and checked facebook and my email. It was about 10:00 here, so the inauguration ceremony was in an hour. Unfortunately, my next class started at 11:10, so I wasn’t going to be able to watch the swearing in, and the computers in the computer lab had some kind of firewall that wouldn’t let me watch any videos, so I couldn’t even watch the coverage beforehand or the beginning of the ceremony. I left the computer lab at 11:04 (everything is REALLY close) and on my way to class I passed by a crowd of people watching a TV next to the snack stand. It was the Inagural speech! I was so excited! I watched it for a few minutes, and even though it was dubbed in Spanish, it was still awesome.

My last class of the day was called “Mexico Hoy” (Mexico Today), and it is all about current politics and culture and stuff. I am SO excited for this class. I think it will be so interesting to learn all about another country, and a country so connected to ours. Again it was a class with everybody from NAU, and the whole thing was in Spanish, which was hard for some of the students who are beginners, so some of them might decide to drop the class. I am SO excited, though.

We got home, ate Comida, and then Laura and I went back to the school for a salsa dancing class. I wasn’t really in the mood for dancing, but I walked with her to the class and watched, and it looked SO FUN! I can’t wait until we go again. I don’t care how tired I’m feeling, I’m gonna dance!

And now here I am. All caught up with my blogging. And now I have some homework to do. A three paragraph mini-essay and some reading. Fun stuff.

Drop me a line! Send an email or comment here on my blog. Anything. I want to hear from you all!


PS: I know these last two entries were REALLY long. I don’t think they’ll be so long after this one, and I don’t know if they will be posted every day, but I will update regularly.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Beginning

Buenos dias a todos! Boy, do I have some stories for you.

Saturday. We had quite an adventure getting to the airport, because the 101 was closed most of the way, but we made it in good time. The airport was pretty empty. I don’t think we stood in a single line. Even the security checkpoint was ridiculously fast- we didn’t so much stand in line as walk up behind someone who was just finishing. So we had plenty of time once we got to the gate.
While we were waiting around to board, we met three other students from NAU who were on our flight. We all had seats near each other (well, one girl didn’t, but someone offered to switch seats with her, so then she was with us) and it made the whole thing a lot easier having a group of us together instead of just Laura and I. (For those of you who don’t know her, Laura was in my ward at NAU and we are roommates here in Mexico.)
The flight was fine, nothing too exciting. The wheels made a HORRIBLE sound while we were on the runway, which was kind of alarming, but they worked just fine. If you’re like me and haven’t flown in a couple years, you’ll be saddened to know that they charge for drinks now and they don’t bring you peanuts anymore. At least, that’s how US Airways does it. Maybe American Airlines will be different. I guess we’ll see in April.
When we landed in Mexico City, we all had to go to the bathroom, so we decided to do that before getting our luggage. We started walking down the corridor toward the bathroom sign (and past the signs for immigration and baggage claim) and a girl from our flight caught up to us and asked if we were the group from NAU. So now we had six Americans walking down the hallway looking for the bathroom. The nearest one was closed, so we had to keep walking for a few more gates before we found one. But find one we did, and once we were all ready to go, we went to immigration. All they did was take the paperwork we filled out on the plane (with all our info) and gave us the bottom half of the form we filled out. This bottom half is our visa and we have to have it to get out of the country. If we lose it, they’ll charge us $50. So, that is locked up and safe :)
Baggage claim was easy- we must have been the only US Airways flight or something, because there was nobody else around. (A sad side note- the handle on one of my bags broke. I couldn’t roll it, so I had to carry it. It was rather awkward. And heavy.)
We met up with the rest of our group and our program coordinator and his wife. We all hopped on a very nice bus (it was better than the airplane) and spent another two hours traveling. We watched Rush Hour 3 in Spanish en route. It was hilarious.
In Cuernavaca we all loaded into taxis and went to the school where we met our families. Laura and I were first, so we got out of there quickly. Our mama made us food when we got home and it was delicious. Ham and cheese quesadillas with a pasta salad type thing (also with ham) on the side. We met everybody, called our moms, and then went to bed. I was exhausted.

Sunday. Laura and I woke up early, got ready, ate some cereal, and went to church at 8:00. Our mama, Osbelia, helped us find the building Saturday night so we wouldn’t have to walk around looking for it Sunday morning. She ended up driving us there (she said she had some errands to run, though we’re pretty sure she was just being helpful) and we were a few minutes early, so we went in and sat down and everybody came up to us and introduced themselves and welcomed us. The brother who was leading the service asked what our names were, and then he welcomed us from the pulpit! It was really cool, and I can’t wait to go back next week. We only got to stay for the sacrament meeting (which is the general worship service), but next week we’ll get to go to Sunday School and stuff, too.
We didn’t go to everything because we had to get back and get ready for a group excursion with all the other students from NAU. We took a bus to a nearby city called Tepoztlan and hiked to the highest peak of the nearby mountain. Now, I’m not a big hiker AT ALL, but this was an exceptionally difficult hike. It was basically a gigantic staircase made from rocks, but each “step” was differently spaced and uneven. And it was steep. My legs still hurt. And the hike back down was almost worse, because instead of going down a hill, where you can kind of pick up momentum and just keep going, we were going down the crazy steep rock stairs. I didn’t even realize I HAD the muscles I was using. Our legs were basically jelly after that. But it was all worth it. Because at the top of the mountain, we got to stand on top of an ancient Aztec temple. It was amazing. I love learning about ancient civilizations like the Aztecs, and to actually sit atop one of their temple pyramids was awesome. (see pictures)
After the hike back down we were all exhausted, so we sat down at some tables on a patio right at the end of the trail and a bunch of the group ordered drinks (I was not one of them). We sat around for a while, and then we started moseying our way back to the bus station. There were tons of cool shops lining the street, but I didn’t buy anything. I was too exhausted. (Our family might take us back tomorrow night because they are having some kind of celebration with fireworks, so I’ll get something then.) Oh, and it cost 5 pesos (50 cents, more or less) to use the bathroom! And there was no toilet seat. It was weird. There was, however, a shower.
Anyway, some of the group was going to stay in Tepoztlan and the rest of us were going to go home, but when Javier (the program coordinator for NAU) tried to explain to the others how to get home, they decided it was too confusing and so we all went back to Cuernavaca. We were kind of half asleep on the bus, and we still had to walk down the street to get to our houses when the bus dropped us off, so when we finally got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. We relaxed for a while, had dinner (I can’t remember what it was called, but it was like an open face sandwich with beans and melted cheese, and she gave us tomatoes, onions, and peppers to put on it… I avoided the peppers), and then we found out that our family has wireless internet access! So now we aren’t confined to using the computer lab at school- we can use the internet from the comfort of our bedroom!

Oh! One other thing of interest- there are two other American students living in our house right now. They were here for a three-week course, and one of their weeks overlaps with ours. So Laura and I are in Karla’s room (the 19 year old daughter in the family) until the other girls leave. So on Saturday we’ll be switching rooms, and we’ll be staying in that room for the rest of our time here.

Well, I think that’s all for now. I know that was a lot :) Hope you all enjoyed hearing from me! I miss you all! If you feel like making an international phone call (or text message!), I got a cell phone today and my number is 044-777-152-3525.


PS: Also, my address...

Allison Ridley
Privada de la Pradera
Num. 9 casa 4
Cuernavaca, Morelos 62170