An Unexpected Fiesta

I took the bus again alone today except for it wasn’t as smooth. Let’s just say I felt like I was on the crazy bus from Harry Potter and my “gringa-ness” definitely came through. Mastering the Mexican bus system – everything from driving to riding is quite a tedious task. Even though I don’t enjoy the transportation system, I give major kudos to those who survive it day in and day out.

Class went well today. I had 318, composition, and art history in the afternoon.

Yesterday Nacho and Maruca invited Sam over for comida today. We got home around 12 and they said comida would be around 2:30 or 3 which is perfect b/c we have to leave for gabi’s school at 4. Well, we are upstairs doing our homework and watching tv what seems like forever. It gets to be 2:30…2:45…3:00 and no one has come to get us for food. We decided to venture downstairs to figure out the plans for comida. WELL, we down down and out to the side room, only to find A FIESTA. The tables are covered in food, drinks, pastries, and tons of people!!! They failed to mention to me that there would be a fiesta taking place at our house this afternoon. Also, when Sam told her host parents she was invited over for comida today, they said nothing about a party, even though they were two of the guests. When we realized what was going on, I think we were both too shocked to do anything, so we just kinda said hello, sat down wide-eyed, in complete shock until it was time to leave for school roughly 20 minutes later.

Speaking of cake, I feel as though we have enough cake to feel a small army right now. We have white cake, apple pie, cookies, donuts, jello, flan, another two cakes not even touched yet, along with one or two other pastries. It’s ridiculous! Too bad no one made brownies, cake cookies, or ice cream cake! (= Just kidding.

After class I went to an café with wireless with Sam, Elizabeth, and Ali for a bit. Finally had the opportunity to read the news from cnn.com. I feel so isolated and disconnected from the world while I am here because I don’t have access to a daily newspaper. I will just have to make a point to read the news as frequently as possible.

Speaking of news, I was reading about the wildfires in Greece – not good. I hope they are able to take care of that sooner than later. I know not only were they having problems with the fire, but for whatever reason, the government is having difficulties reacting to this problem which only makes it worst. Did I also read that there was an earthquake there within the past few days or no?

Well, Sam and I started a exercise routine. We are beginning with 40 situps and 10 pushups a night. Each week we will increase the situps by 10 and the pushups by five. Day two and so far so good (= Beginning next week we’re going to begin running/walking in the mornings. I really really would love to pick up pilates again. I am so sore and tight. I took pilates freshman year and I LOVED it because I felt so relaxed and “noodle-ey” for a lack of better words.

Anyway, mom and dad, I am sorry I have not been more consistent with calling. It seems that when it is a good time for me, it’s not for you and vice versa. Same with online…when I’m there, you are not. Hopefully we can figure out a system soon.

Well, I am tired. Last night I woke up at 2 and was still up at 3 regardless of what I tried to do to sleep. It got to 3:15 and I still couldn’t sleep, so I though to myself…well, might as well do homework – kill two birds with one stone. I figured I could do my homework to get is finished #1 and my #2 reason was that hw usually puts me to sleep, so it might help in this instance too. I tried, but with no avail. I finally got to sleep around 4, but had to wake up at 5:45 for school and today, I didn’t have time for a siesta!

Well, that’s ok. Things here are going great and I need to go finish my tarea. Gross. Hasta luego!!!

Takeaways From Mexican Culture

I took the Mexican buses today alone to and from school! It went smoothly and I got to school with a ½ hour to spare.

Here’s my school, the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro (UAQ).

Class went well. My cultural seminar teacher brought us cookies today. I really love that class. Today, we learned about currency. For example, the people on the currency on US money are all people from the past…we focus more on the founding fathers and the beginning of our liberty. However, on Mexican currency, the people represent various stages of the progress of Mexico throughout many many years.

Also, my teacher is friends with the current president – Caldéron! She said they were neighbors growing up and they always played as kids. Lulu (mi profesora) said it was funny because Caldéron would always say that he was going to be president – even when he was very young. They would always say: “Yeah yeah, ok, whatever..!” but look – he’s now the president of Mexico!

After class I went to the library to type up a paper. Felt good to have that out of the way!

Today is my host Mom’s b-day. She said that her friends are giving her three different parties. None of them are at our house, but they are throughout the day. I got her a Greek cookbook. I will have to give it to her tomorrow, but I’m sure she will like it because she loves to cook! Today for lunch we had cooked bananas, rice with carrots and peas, sautéed mushrooms with green beans and chicken, salad, flan, jello, and apple pie. So much food.

Nacho is having the best time testing me on learning the names of body parts. Forehead, elbows, knees, eyelids, ribs…you name it and I am learning it. haha I never learned the names of body parts, so I guess now is the time to learn!

At 4:30 Sam came over and we took off to Gabi’s school. The weather was nice and sunny when we left. About five minutes into our walk, the skies turned grey, it began to pour, and the street began to flood (and of course we didn’t bring umbrellas). We ran to the closest covering but it was took late. We were soaked. The thunder and lightening and flooding was ridiculous…it hasn’t stopped raining! While we were taking refuge under a tree this interesting man came over with a ½ eaten cob of corn covered in some sort of red hot sauce and a rose in the other mad and kept trying to shake our hands and talk to us. It was quite irritating, but funny to look back on now. We just said, “no necesitamos, estamos bien” but he wouldn’t leave. SO, we ran across the (flooded) street and continued on to Gabi’s school.

HERE I AM COMPLETELY SOAKED. The sad thing is, this picture hardly does the rain any justice.

Here is a video of the ridiculous rain:

We had to go to Gabi’s school to speak to some professors from the education department from U of O regarding our experience thus far in Querétaro. Four of my group members and myself met them in a room where we were fed tamales (spicy and sweet!) and just talked for an hour or so. These professors were given a grant to study the Mexican school system so that they can better understand and create a more efficient curriculum in the Oregon school systems. It was neat to talk to the professors and a good chance to express our experiences and feelings regarding the subjects of education, culture, Mexicans, schooling, etc. in a more intimate setting.

Sam, Ali, Sheri, and I stopped for coffee before we left to go home. By the time I got home, Sam and I were completely drenched and dirty from the massive puddles in the streets. However, it was awesome and I will never forget this experience (even though I’m not a fan of the whole drowned rat look).

In random news:

We are organizing a mini-excursion to Wal Mart on Friday which I am quite excited for.

Nacho and Maruca invited Sam over for comida tomorrow for a mini b-day celebration

Mexicans do not have b-day cakes like we have in the states. They also do not eat ice cream with cake – they have jello!

I tried flan for the first time today.

I will try to add pictures to my blogs as soon as I can. It is difficult because the internet is pretty sketchy, but I will add more pictures as soon as I can!!!

I am still trying to figure out the Mexican transportation system. I am attempting to understand why they bother painting lines on the roads to divide the lanes, as no one follows the designated lanes. Also, why are there not more accidents? As terrible as I think Mexican drivers are – they sure are talented as I have yet to see an accident yet, even though they drive like maniacs! AND, is it a game to try and hit pedestrians? Just the American ones? Who knows…

Anyway, I’m sure there’s more, but I’m tired and have an early start tomorrow!!

Hasta luego!

Adjusting To A Slower Life

So, I am loving it here more and more each day. I don’t think I could like it better, but another day passes and it continues to improve.

Today, Sunday, was unusual for me because I had so much free time! I set my alarm for 7 am and was ready by 8, however had no where to be until noon. At first I didn’t know what to do with myself because I honestly never EVER have free time in which I don’t need to be doing ANYTHING. So, after realizing I had 4 hours, I organized my book a little, called Mom and Dad, and took my book out to the balcony where I read until Nacho and Maruca came home. I have been loving reading…I have read about six books this summer during my vacations and my trip here – before this I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book front to back and it’s because I just have not had the time!

After breakfast (cereal, fresh fruit, eggs, tortillas, HOMEMADE APPLE PIE), Sam and I took off to the centro where we were meeting everyone to work on homework.

Here’s Maru’s apple pie. One of her many ridiculously delicious recipes.

Sam, Dan, and I walked home and Sam came to my house for awhile after returning. At first, we needed to ask Nacho some questions about México for homework, but we ended up talking for about 3 hours (in Spanish mind you) about everything from various students in the past, to politics, vacations, and obesity. I have actually had some pretty interesting conversations regarding obesity with him. He showed Sam and I how to make an amazing quesilla. SO FREAKING good. Oh my gosh I am loving the food here. I have decided that I need to work on cooking when I get home…as much as I love spaghetti and broccoli, I think I need a little more variety in my diet (=

After our snack and talking with Nacho, we hung out for a bit more…watched some TV, and Maruca came up and watched with us for a bit until Sam left to go home. Now I am here, about to do a little homework, organize things for the week, and then go to bed! (I have class at 8 three times a week, which means I have to leave at 7!).

Tomorrow is Marucas b-day. I asked her if she had plans and it sounds like her friends are having lots of parties for her! It should be nice. I bought her a Greek cookbook for her b-day so I hope she likes it (and I hope she can use it as it is in English!).

It has been so interesting for me to get to know everyone on my group. I am almost positive I would not be friends with any of these people had we not been in the same Querétaro group; however, I have been having the best time getting to know each of them. Many of my friends have similar backgrounds and lives so it has been so fascinating to learn more about these people’s lives. Dan, for example, was raised in Taiwan and began living in the U.S. seven years ago when he started high school. Naturally I always am asking him questions…haha he probably feels that every time we hang out it’s another game of 20 questions, but I find other cultures – especially other cultures I have not been around – so interesting!

Also, (brace yourselves Mom and Dad) I have been LOVING not having internet at my house! I am beginning to realize how much internet consumes my life and how much it takes away from other important aspects of everyday business. Granted, I do like being able to hop on the computer to check a recipe or find a definition, but I am so distracted when it is available 24/7. I know that I am a busy person, but I also know that in the past I have wasted A LOT of time because of excess of unimportant things. I guess it’s the American way…excess of everything…internet, food, belongings, anything and everything tangible it seems. We were watching Apocalypto on the bus to Bernal yesterday. While watching the movie with the indigenous people I got to thinking that even though many years ago times were difficult and survival was an everyday challenge, it seems that life was also so much more simplistic and black and white.

Anyway, I need to get going…organize myself for the week…week 2 of 16! Geez, I can’t believe one week has already passed. These next four months are going to FLY.

Un poco en espanol…

Cada día, pienso que puedo hablar más bien. También, puedo oír y comprender muchos más cosas. Si no conozco una palabra, puedo describir la palabara y todo esta bien. Estoy aprendiendo cosas, frases y palabras cada día. Pienso que mi espanol es 100 porcentaje mejor en solo una semana! Tengo feliz y no puedo esperar para diciembre porque pienso que mi espanol es va a mejorar mucho. Mi problema principio es que casi siempre habla en ingles cuado soy con mis aimigos que es una cosa que necesito mejoror si quiero hablar espanol más bien. Haber, todo está bien y tengo

Climbing Bernal

OH MY GOD I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO SORE IN MY LIFE. Ok, so I’m really not THAT sore, but I am definitely feeling the effects of climbing the second tallest monolith in the world. Today my group went to Bernal which is a beautiful little pueblo at the base of the monotlith. The view is magnificent from the top, but man on man, getting there is quite a challenge.

THE ARROW IS HOW HOW HIGH WE CLIMBED ON THE MOUNTAIN!!

We left at 9 am for Bernal on an extremely nice tour bus. On the bus we started watching Apocalopto which was interesting because the actors were speaking in an indigenous language and the movie had Spanish subtitles. I enjoyed the movie, until everyone began killing each other and there was blood and screaming every ten seconds. Thankfully, we arrived at Bernal shortly afterward this began.

We climbed up and down the mountain which took about three hours total. It was the most extreme hike I’ve taken in my life. Some parts required all hands and feet in order to not fall down the side of the mountain. I also definitely got my fair share of sun today. I tend to forget A. how powerful Mexican sun is because I’m closer to the equator, B. Querétaro is located 6,000 feet about sea level-far higher than the barely 500 in Salem/Eugene, and C. the rock is even higher in elevation than the city of Querétaro at 6,000 feet!!

ELIZABETH AND I AT THE TOP

Once returning to the town, we had lunch and amazing peach flavored helado! On the bus home we were shown a video of Bernal – one of the first songs on the background music of the movie was Greig’s Holburg Suite…I was thinking..hmm wait a minute…I have played this before! Also, in the town, one of the stores was blasting random music – Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, the flight of the bumble, and Spring by Vivaldi.

Got back to our houses around 5:30, and at 6:20 Dan, Sam, and I left for a guitar concert in the centro. The concert was really good – Mom I know you’d enjoy it. When we arrived at the concert, a man offered me his chair and then we began talking…he was quite nice – I guess he studied English in the states and is from Jalisco but now lives in Querétaro. He introduced us to his family and welcomed us to Mexico. Definitely a nice gesture! After the concert, we walked around the centro where were all sorts of giant ranas (frogs) designed by various artists. It was so neat! There were also women dressed up at various locations around the centro giving tours and sharing information about history of Querétaro, etc. It was so neat! Since we had a long day, we grabbed a quick dinner, and headed back home a little earlier tonight.

Anyway, other than that, things are going well. I am not homesick at all (although I do miss you all dearly!) and I cannot believe the first week is already over! Only 15 weeks left. It’s funny, when reminded of loved ones by things, other people, shows, etc., other students here frequently talk about how they miss they boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, family, whoever. Of course I miss my friends and family too. However, when I hear or see something familiar that sparks memories, it usually has to do with music. I am definitely miss my violin and piano hardcore right about now…I have got to play the as soon as I get home. As we were walking through the centro tonight, there was a violin sitting there and I was so tempted to pick it up and play it. I miss playing SO MUCH. AHH.

In other news…I am so thankful for my host mom’s cooking. Some of the students def. are not as lucky in the food department as I am. Laura, for example, is served hot dogs for breakfast and hot dog sandwiches for lunch. For breakfast this morning, I was served an amazing fruit salad (bananas, grapes, grapefruit, peaches, pineapples, mango, papaya, pears, etc), healthy cereal with soy milk, and these amazing eggs mixed with a delicious sauce, vegetables, and a type of meat. I am so so so so so lucky.

Anyway…in random news…

I saw the Acuaducto de Querétaro for the first time in person today. It is quite stunning!

The brooms here are ridiculous. They are honestly sticks picked up off the street bound together with a strong rope, tied to a pole. It’s ridiculous, but I guess it works!

Disfrutando La Vida Mexicana

Es viernes!! I had one class this morning from 9 – 10 – composition. After class I waited for Sam for her class to be finished at 11:30 so we could take the bus home together.

In between coming home and comida I had about an hour of free time. Immediately I began planning what homework I could finish in that time or maybe what I could accomplish in that hour. However, I realized, that I HAVE TIME here. The pace of life here is so much slower than back home. It is hard for me to take an hour and just relax and do something not school or work related and not feel guilty, but gosh I was able to read my own book in that hour and it felt awesome! (although yes, I couldn’t feel completely guilt free doing so). Anyway, continuing on…

For comida we had so much food! We had fish (I didn’t eat any, but I know I should…it has the healthy fatty acids…maybe next time!), salad, a different type of pasta, and rice with BANANAS! It was the craziest thing, but it was actually quite good. Of course it was good, my senora is an amazing cook.

So at 3 Sam and I took off and eventually met the rest of the group at 6 at the centro. We talked with some summer students which has made me feel a lot better about classes, etc. I really don’t think I have as much to worry about as I have been worrying about in the past few days.

We met Ana, Ashley, Alisyn, Elizabeth, and Laura in the centro and hung out for a bit…had dinner and saw an art exhibit. We went to a restaurant/bar place with Jesse and Torrin which was awesome because there was a live singer there. It was so nice to see people (natives) sitting in the restaurant just having a good time, taking a break from life. The American lifestyle is so fast paced so often, that is it easy to forget to take a break and enjoy life which is exactly what these people are able to do.

Concert:

Mural inside of restaurant:

Mis Clases Mexicanos

Well, school was canceled today because they were afraid of flash flooding (Querétaro has a terrible drainage system). HOWEVER, it was sunny today!! I went to a shopping center with Elizabeth, Sam, and Alisyn. We got cell phones which I am very excited about…it will be so much easier to keep in touch with one other. AND, my phone is hot pink. Oh and also, I can receive calls from anywhere in the world for FREE (meaning it cost you, but not me)! I would love to hear from anyone and everyone back home. If you buy phone cards online (www.ibuyphonecards.com for example) you can buy minutes to mexico for as cheap as two cents a minute.

My phone number is:

011 521 442 362 6681

Feel free to call. All calls are welcomed. (:

In other news, I dropped my conversation class. That still gives me about 26 credits…I love the class but I have spent too many terms with too many classes. This term I want to have time to explore the city and the country and enjoy the culture and NOT be locked away at the library, which has pretty much been my life for the past two years. Although I did like the class, I don’t need it to meet any requirements…so I dropped it!

Nicole – thanks for the e-mail!! It was so exciting to hear an update from you! Sam and I stopped by a pilates place today…I think we might start taking classes!! I am so excited for our runs, it will be crazy. And p.s. I wish you were here…the food is ridiculously good and my host mom makes the best pasta I’ve ever had.

Mom and dad- thanks for the e-mail updates! Try calling my cell phone and see if it works! We have been having problems with the phone numbers so if it doesn’t work, don’t freak out juts send me an e-mail and we’ll figure it out. I was going to get a sim card for my phone, but there was a special promotion so it was less expensive to get the new phone. Plus, the new phone has a sim card, so I can always switch it if necessary.

Well, more later. E-mails are always welcome (hint hint). (:

First Day Of School

In case you were curious, the mosquitoes are still here and biting! I have to go to the store tomorrow because I itch like crazy!

Today was the first day of school. I had Spanish 318/319, Composicion and Comunicacion. I like all of my classes, but I think I will have to drop one of them because I know I have a habit of spreading myself to thin and taking 31 credits down here I think might put me over the edge and, well, also just isn’t necessary. Plus, I want to have time to experience la cultura down here without having to stress about getting everything finished.

As for that hurricane that hit…well, it won’t reach us because we are too far west. I had no idea there was a hurricane…

I got wireless set up on my computer today so hopefully tomorrow I can get online and update and respond to people a little more. Oh and do my homework.

After class I came home and went to the store with my parents. Let me just say, that store has SO MANY PASTRIES!!! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, fruit tarts, breads, you name it and they have it. Also, I passed more American stores! Office Depot and Office Max to name a few.

I had comida with my parents…we had spaghetti (so good) rice, salad and a mixture of rice with shrimp. I told mi Sra. That I thought seafood was nice, but I didn’t eat it often, so she immediately brought me out a bowl of chicken. Haha. Ugh. Not what I was implying…I felt badly. Note to self!

Also, mis padres are very into recycling! Another plus! You know those plastic bags you put apples, tomatoes, peaches, etc. in at the store? Well, they bring their own bags for that and then their own bags for the groceries. Love it!

I came back and did some homework and then it was time to go to Gabi’s school for art history. Nacho walked Sam and I there. We had class until 6 hung out with our friends from school and then Sam and I turned a 20 minute walk home into an hour walk home because we got lost but that’s ok.

Tomorrow I am going to school by myself! I can either take the bus or walk…the busses here are a little loco for me at the moment and I am actually ok with taking them, but I want to walk tomorrow to see how long it will take. Nacho dice solo treinta y cuarenta minutos pero I don’t know so I am going to give myself an hour and hope all goes well!

More later!!

Last Day In The States!

Well, it’s finally here…tomorrow is the big day!! I can’t believe beginning tomorrow I will be living in Mexico for the next four months. Ever since I began planning this trip a year ago, it always seemed so far away; however, now here I am, one day out.

Last night Tia hosted a going away party which was quite generous of her and a lovely way for me to be able to see everyone one final time before I take off. As for today, I am just working on packing and getting every last detail taken care of!

I had a few minor…bumps in the road which I am so thankful happened before I left.

#1. My ipod died! (1st world problems) One day after I returned from Europe, it completely died. Thankfully, I was able to re-order a new one from Bridgeport and get everything taken care of.

#2. Courtesy of identity theft and terrible people, I had to close out my bank accounts because someone had tapped into them. Again, even though it was a hassle, thankfully I was able to link my old debit card to my new account because I didn’t have time to wait for a new card to come in the mail.

#3. The credit card I was sent had my name misspelled on the card and I am still waiting for the replacement! I sure am hoping it arrives today.

Anyway, that’s all for now, I’ve got to get packing and run some errands. I am going to run down to the Larson’s to see John and Claire (kids I babysit for) I think for a bit this afternoon. Also, Tia is coming over tonight, and hopefully Nicole will be able to stop by because I haven’t seen her since I moved out of the apartment in June!!

32 hours and one minute until takeoff!!!

Europe And Onward To Mexico



My trip to Europe was an incredible adventure and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It was the quickest and fastest month of my life but a month full of so many incredible memories and experiences. I will update with more details at a later date; however, as for now, I do not have time as I am preparing for my 4 month study abroad to Queretaro, Mexico! I leave in 3 days which I cannot believe.

Monks Are Getting Me Through

This afternoon, I decided to take a break from my info hell annotations and look through old photos and came across some photos I took in the summer of 2005 during my trip to Europe. One photo in particular reminded me of a day we were on a bus and decided to take a stop in the middle of nowhere. Turns out, we wound up at a monastery of all places (though as it is a monastery, I suppose it isn’t all too surprising).

It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The architecture was ornate and the statues were beautiful. The landscape was absolutely breathtaking. We wandered around the grounds, and eventually found an open door. Upon entry, we discovered about a dozen monks praying, worshipping, and doing their monk thang. It was a humbling experience to say the least. 

It’s easy to be consumed with trivial stuff. And yes. I say “stuff” because at the end of the day, that’s all it is. I know I get caught up in my own minuscule world on a daily basis. As I sit here in the middle of my info hell project, it is amazing to think that right at this moment, those same monks are thousands of miles away, probably praying and worshipping. It’s a humbling (and hopeful) thought, knowing that there is so much more out there.

It’s a nice reminder that there are so many more experiences and places waiting for me. And that my life isn’t destined to slaving over journal articles for hours a day for the rest of my being.