Rockport

After the Turkey Trot, we headed down to Rockport, a small town on the coast of Texas. While many Texans claim that Texas beaches are unimpressive, I on the other hand, think Texas beaches are pretty great. (When you come from the Pacific NW and must bring a winter coat on every beach trip [including those in the summer], a beach where you can wear a t-shirt & possibly even get a sunburn in November seems pretty darn awesome.) Funny how pretty much everything in life is relative, yeah?

On a vaguely related topic, although I’ve been here a few years, our proximity to Mexico still blows my mind. The thing I find most interesting is that although we’re so close to Mexico, culture/society/life in Austin feels like we’re a world away. I guess you could also say the culture/society/life in Austin feels like we’re a world away from Texas!

With this all said…enjoy the following photos from my Rockport venture:

 

Sex, Drugs + Cocoa Puffs…And Weekends + Swimmings Pools + Sunshine

  • Fact: I love reading.
  • Fact: I love owning books. I am a minimalist and do not like having STUFF. I don’t get excited about decorations, furniture or accessories. I do, however, get very excited about having books. (…and clothes, I will admit that).
  • Fact: My attention span + ability to focus in at an all-time low. Probably has something to do with this multi-tasking / over-stimulated / fast-paced / techno. – fiended millennial generation I am part of (ugh!).
  • Result: I have a sizable number of books that I have started to some degree…almost all waiting to be finished…
  • Fact: I love love love sunshine and being outdoors. Maybe it’s because I spent 15 years in Oregon where most of the time the skies were gray. Oregon is an absolutely beautiful place, but for everything, there is a tradeoff. We had gray skies but beautiful scenery, huge trees, and green everywhere.
  • There were a handful of summer months when there was sun; however, in high school and college I was either working, in school, and / or interning. …or practicing / at private lessons, rehearsal / string camp / etc. Freaking loved this stuff though. String camp was by far the highlight of my summers!

Anyway, I remember one summer I was inside and someone said something about the heat wave we were having. I remember thinking to myself: WTF? We’re in the middle of a heat-wave? Then I thought: How have I been so wrapped up in my work that I didn’t even know that was happening?

  • Fact: I’m bad at relaxing. Like…really really really bad at it. However, I am working on it. It’s hard for me to clear my head and do something enjoyable when there are 5.7 million other things I have to get done. However…again with this whole work / life balance thing I’m trying to get into my head…I have been getting better at taking bits of time to not multi-task and to do something enjoyable + relaxing.
  • Result: Pool time with a book! I am extremely lucky to have a beautiful pool at my complex. I am also lucky to have a few days each week that I can enjoy it during the daylight hours.
In case you needed a visual for the previous paragraph, here are my legs and my complex’s pool:
One of the books I have to finish is ‘Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs’ by Chuck Klosterman. Spent this past beautiful Sunday at the pool with this book. Love this writer…he’s very snarky…but in an intelligent and factual way.
  • Fact: Many people do things without thinking of the process about why they chose to do what they do. Acting without thinking. I suppose you can say many people think without thinking too. I guess that can also be called being brain-washed…or ignorant? Or Naïve? Or all of the above. Actually, let’s just call them ‘sheeple‘. More all-encompassing.
(=
Anyway, the short story long is that I was thoroughly enjoying this book. At the pool. In the sun.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pages along with some notes I wrote in the book. Enjoy:

¡Viva!

So, as I have spent the past week interning at a study abroad company, I’ve been nostalgically reliving my freaking awesome study abroad experience in Queretaro…already 2 years ago in a month of so. Crazy.

I pulled out the 56 videos I took during my study abroad and watched a handful – this is one of my favorites – this is video of the famous Mexican Grito on el dia de independencia, right in the center of Queretaro.  I love the spirit and Mexican pride coming from the Queretanos. Love it love it love it.

A new approach to social media? We call it Ecology.

Twitter prompts “What are you doing?” Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” Should we be surprised that people produce a stream of self-absorbed updates?

We are more connected than ever, but are we really connecting?  What if we could organize people around ideas, rather than a stream of personal updates?

We call it Ecology.  Ecology transforms the current concept of social media from a one-way model of personal projection and shallow conversation into a two-way platform of idea generation and worthwhile conversation.  The Ecology model uses a tree metaphor to demonstrate a more effective social media structure that is more organic, visual, and organized.

This is a work in progress Ashly, Michael and I have been developing this past year.  What do you think? Feedback? Ideas?

Here’s a link to our Ecology book.

Here’s the video:

are we business savvy and socially naïve?

I came across an article from CNN entitled: Are you ready for the future?

For me, the main takeaway of this article is the notion that everyone needs to incorporate big picture thinking into decision and policy making.

“The future of the human race is too important to leave to politicians and corporations,” says Reed. “A scientifically educated global population will help us focus on the truly important problems, such as energy – arguably the most important crisis we as a species will face – instead of wasting efforts on petty squabbles for short term economic and political gain.”

We have made some pretty amazing discoveries and technological advancements in recent years.  However, just because we have the ability to do something, does not mean it should be done – in my opinion, I really question the practical application and holistic benefit of how we have been and plan to use our knowledge.

“Though technology may be beneficial in many ways and we humans may adapt both intellectually and physically,” says robotics expert Joanne Pransky, “I question our ability to emotionally, socially, and psychologically acclimate at the same exponential rate.

Again, this goes back to education – I really believe we have been taught to be business “savvy” and socially naïve.  To make smart decision, we must begin to think on a micro and macro level, both forward and backward, horizontally and vertically.

Chicken Parade

So…we went to a chicken parade. Yes, you heard me correctly…and yes, it was one of the most unreal things I’ve experienced in my life.

We waited in line for what seemed like forever (but I’m sure wasn’t at all). The bus finally arrived and we all piled onto the bus with the other Mexicans going to the festival. We got off the bus and…well…all I can tell you was that the streets were PACKED. There were Mexicans and paper mache chickens EVERYWHERE.

There was live music everywhere. All the streets along the festival route were packed with restaurants and vendors giving away trinkets and food – breads, cheeses, desserts, etc. Here I am with some tacos al pastor. The best tacos en el mundo (=

Well, I guess the tacos are gone. But dios mio, were they good (=

Here are some chickens up close:

I’m still not sure how this happened, but we turned our backs for 2 seconds, the next thing we know, Jesse has a paper mache chicken in hand:

A bit of footage that cannot even begin to depict the insanity of the desfile de los pollos (=

…and on that note…one of my last, if not the last post before returning back home to the states /=

Criminal Activity & Faith

In other news…there has been some criminal activity in my neighborhood lately. It makes me a little concerned especially because the neighborhood I live in is not sketchy at all. For example, a few days ago, the house of doctor who lives down there street was robbed. What gets me is that is was in broad daylight and she has a German Shepard, but apparently that didn’t get in the way of the robber. Also, the one that scares me the most is a guy pulled a knife on a woman the other night a street or two away from my house.

I know these types of things happen everywhere, but it is a little nerve wracking to know that it has been happening close to where I am staying. I feel like a pretty big target as it is, being an American female. There really isn’t much diversity here, so when there is someone who looks different here, they really look different – exhibit A: ME.

I find it a little comical…I was talking with my host family about all of the criminal activity and I asked them if they are nervous or scared of everything happening in our neighborhood. They said no and my host dad explained to me that in the Catholic religion, every person has an angel who watches over them, so they aren’t scared because their angel in watching. In response to that, I asked them where the heck were the angels of the woman who was attacked by the man with the knife or the doctor who was robbed and their response was “Quién sabes? Es un mysteria!” This translates to: Who know!? It’s a mystery! HMMM. I don’t know what to think about that (who am I kidding, of course I know what I think of that..), BUT…está bien I suppose. I know we can’t live life in fear, but it’s hard not to when I feel like a big enough target as it is, without all this sketchy activity happening.

Aside from this little hiccup, everything here really is safe! I am hardly ever alone here…I rarely walk alone, and I am always always always aware of my surrounds. I don’t walk down dark streets, I don’t have my ipod on, I usually walk down the middle of the street, and I am conscious of any sketchy behavior (I am saying all this now in a preemptive effort to avoid an e-mail filled with safely advice (-: ).

Anyway, today we are officially ½ way between me arriving here in Mexico, and my return! Crazy how time flies!!! Nos vemos en dos meses!!!

Americans Could Benefit From Drinking More

Today I only had one class in the morning from 9 – 10 am! Sam’s host mom had gone to Mex. City for the day so we went back to her house and hung out.

After trying to work the washing machine for a ½ hour (no exaggeration) we made ourselves tortillas and watched some tv. Quick sidenote…for the most part I love the food here, but gosh do I hate corn tortillas! I guess that is ok since they are made from lard, but ugh. Flour tortillas are definitely the way to go!

At 4:30 Sam and I met the rest of our art history class at Gabi’s school. We proceeded to an art museum where our teacher took the six of us on a tour for our class today. It was quite interesting. The most interesting thing to me had to do with a doorway. In the museum there is a tiny arched doorway into another room. We learned the reason that the door is so small is so that when passing through, people were forced to bow in order to get through. This way, people had no choice but to bow to the gods.

Class ended at 6:30 where we proceeded to go to an internet café. I had a drink which honestly tasted like vanilla frosting in a glass. It was so ridiculously rich, I could hardly handle it. It was under the “skinny” menu but I have serious doubts that it was even partially healthy in any way shape or form.

After the café, we met up with Elizabeth, Sheri, Dan, and Torrin and went to a bar for a little bit. This may sound weird, but I love that drinking is such a huge part of this culture. I feel that because drinking is so – guarded I suppose – in the United States, when people do decide to drink (especially people my age), it gets out of hand. However, because drinking here is so prominent, it is no big deal to go out for a drink or two with some friends. It is so much nicer and although people will get drunk anywhere, I feel that the novelty here isn’t as prominent because people can basically drink whenever they want.

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