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Long Waited Conclusion

I returned from my Adventures in Mexico and began a new school year the very next day. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of words were left unshared and the blog itself has lacked an adequate conclusion. Here it is already intersession break, and my group of fourth graders are working on their own blog responses to the book The City Of Ember. I thought it would be a good time to write one last final post.

I am so thankful to Fund For Teachers for providing me with the ability to have an adventure of a life time. I feel that i came away from this experience stronger and more self confident. I am ready to take on the world! I find that i look at the studnets in my school in a whole new life, and understand their struggles and their confusion a little more. I wonder too, if some of our immigrant families miss home, and if the American Dream is all that it promised to be for them.

Javier told us a story of a man in Mexico, sitting in his hammock, playing his guitar and surrounded by family. The table was set with the days fishing catch and everyones stomachs were full. An American passed by and remarked on the man and his small fishing boat. He wanted to know why this man did not expand his business. Why catch only enough fish to feed your family? Why not catch enough that you can sell to others? Build a fleet! Make a profit? Save for the future so that you can retire at an old age and live without having to worry about anything. Without having to work so hard. The man looked around at his family, and back at the American, saying "why would i want to do this when i am already living the life that i dream of?".

He also pointed out, that in America, being poor means that you might not have a safe place to sleep. You might not have food. You might starve to death. In Puerto, the world was a vastly diferent place. Most everyone was what I would consider "poor". But in Puerto, being poor did not mean that you would starve. Having no electricity in many places, there were no utilities to be "cut off". Food grows directly from the ground and from the trees and almost jumps right out of the ocean and onto your plate. In Puerto, you can get by on a little money. Life is not so fast paced, and despite all previous misconceptions, i ended up feeling completely safe within this little town.

I miss my summer in Puerto. I miss the people and the food, the smiles and the slow paced rythem of life. I miss the kids and thier unquenchable thirst for education. Their laughs.

As a society, we view this life style as underprivilaged. Poverty. Don't these people want something better for themselves? I know all of Mexico isn't the same as the little corner that i lived in, but i came away with a bit of envy for a culture that is able to be so self sufficient with natural resources and so little assistance from the "outside" world. At the end of a stressful day, when my oversized classroom was out of control, i was yelled at by a parent who didn't feel that they are getting everything that they are entitled to, i was late to my second job because the bus was late picking up one of my students, the fact that i have to have that second job just to make all the bills.... to PAY for the electricity, cable, internet, cell phone.....
I often think of the fact that i could live for half a year easily, and in relative comfort, on what i make in a month here.

Do i appreciate everything i have here in America? Yes... of course! I just also feel that as Americans, we take so much for granted. Sometimes "progress" manages to become so important that you forget what is really important in life; enjoying it.

I would love to become less materialistic. To want less, need less, desire less..... but find that i have fallen right back into my past patterns and habits. Buying, spending, consuming, working long hours, living day to day just to make it to the next day.

The days that i love the most are the ones that i stop and enjoy.

My goal, is to find a perfect balence.

Our temazcal Ceremony

A temazcal is a type of sweat lodge which originated with pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica. In ancient Mesoamerica it was used as part of a curative ceremony thought to purify the body after exertion such as after a battle or a ceremonial ball game. It was also used for healing the sick, improving health, and for women to give birth. It continues to be used today in Indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America that were part of the ancient Mesoamerican region for spiritual and health reasons.
The sweatlodge in Mesoamerica is usually a permanent structure, unlike in other regions. The temazcal is usually constructed from volcanic rock and cement and is usually a circular dome, although rectangular ones have been found at certain archeological sites and this shape is also used. To produce the heat, volcanic stones are heated (volcanic stones are safe because they do not explode from the temperature)and then are placed in a pit in the temazcal, located in the center or near a wall.

On our final day in Puerto, we wanted to experience a ceremonial temazcal experience. It took an hour to build the fire to heat the stones. We were first clensed with the smoke from the sap of a sacred tree and then entered the lodge one by one. This lodge is designed to hold up to 16 individuals. the three of us, and our guide, were the only ones inside today. Hot stones were added to the center circle, more sap, and the door was closed with thick wool blankets. The heat began to rise and a special tea of rosmary, sage, water, was dipped onto the stones. During the first session we became aware of ourselves, in our bodies, aware of our thoughts and gained control and gave up control. The door was opened. Rocks were added. The door was drawn. During the second stage we drummed and sang and welcomed. Welcomed High, and welcomed low, and welcomed in a medium tone. Welcomed all. We became closer to the mother earth, safe within her womb. The curtain was drawn and we were given a tart tea to drink. To drink in and swirl and drink down with purpose and to breath and to feel. to taste the drink and the air and the energy of the drink. And the rocks were added, red hot and sizzling, and the curtain was closed. And we meditated. and we became the earth, and we though of good, of happiness, surrounded ourselves of happiness, and i thought of my grandmother as she had come to me in a dream many years before, dancing down the aisles, radiently happy even as she was saying goodbye, and how pure and simple her love had been, and how now it is my turn to pass on that pure and simple love. And we breathed in, smelling and breathed in tasting and the tea was added and added and the heat grew and was fanned on us, was intense and yet chilling, and i sat bare upon stone, now in a puddle of water, my skin dripping and hot, shaking and crying without actually crying and breathing, and the curtain is opened. and the light pours in, and slowly the intense heat escapes, and i feel strong yet defeated and elated yet devistated and know without a doubt that this has to be the catelyst for something in my life.
This energy, this reminder, this direct contact with the path that i am meant to be on makes the path that i have been following feel so plastic and fake, ornamental when all i need is simplicity. This entire fellowship, my three weeks spent here, has reminded me of what is important, what SHOULD be important, and has made me see how so many little things get in the way of the pure simplicty of simply existing in the moment, of loving the moment that you exist in. I realized today that i have to find that balance again. Not just for the 6 weeks of my "summer", but i have to find this balence and bring it into my life everyday. this is what i am missing..... what keeps me from being me to my full potential. And the journey begins, as this fellowship draws to a close, another chapter of growth will follow.

Brian was obviously never a scout!

Thursday Night. Denise and i met Brian at the school at 8pm (Tina was sick and stayed at home and was very sad about it). Our plan for the night was to go Kayaking and diving with phosphorescent plankton. We had our diving masks, snorkels and fins in our bag and were ready for an adventure. Now mind you, we had not done any reasearch on exactly WHAT we were going to be seeing, just assumed that it was something that grew on the bottom of the lagoon that glowed this time of year and we would dive down and look at it. Brian laughed at our fins, our first indication that we might be wrong. We loaded up in his illegal vehicle once again and headed out towards the lagoon. We parked at a best western of all places and learned that this is where we would rent our kayaks from. One for Brian and one for Denise and i to share. they were sit on top tandoms. i had never padled a tandom or a sit on top and it was Denise's first time in a kayak of any sort. The sun was going down in the sky, the water lapped the edges of the lagoon, and the stench of dead fish was overwhelming as we stepped over them and on them to get into the boats. For some reason, in parts of the lagoon it seems as many fish float on top of the water as swim under it this time of year. I think it has something to do with excessive rainfall and the change in salt water concentration. The water now, is a deep chocolate color, but the locals keep telling us that sometimes it is actually blue. We padled and padled and padled out into the water and into the growing darkness. We finally settled some 20 minutes up the lagoon and sat talking as it grew even darker. The horizen was stuffed with dark clouds that blocked the rising moon yet gave the clouds amazing depth, and straight up, the sky was clear and the stars were clear and bright with no city lights to cloud them. Brian dipped his paddle in the water and said, "i think we hit a spot. Its happeneing". We look in the water, deep as we can in darkness and chocolate and think that he is NUTS. "Sure thing brian".... but as the minutes pass IT happens more! Think of a glow stick and the brightness of the liquid that is inside of it on a dark night. The warm water below our boat was now pitch black. When we dipped our finger in the water and "disturbed" it, it was as if we activiated the molecules within the glowstick and made it shine. As long as we moved, the water lit up. Forgetting about crocodiles and fish so thick that they jumped in the boat with us a dozen times on the paddle out there, forgetting about the smell and the dark, we slid into the water. Everywhere our bodies touched, glowed, every movement we made, glowed. Looking under the water we would push the water towards our mask and it was like being inside a carbinated beverage of light. I could do the breast stroke and look like a glowing angel. It was AMAZING. Quit, dark, and glowing. Back in our boats we could splash water and watch the bright light drops land on the dark surface and ripple outwards. It wasn't blue light so much (as in the picture i found online)... but more.... white, green, blue, bright..... As we paddled back the wake created from the boat glowed, and the millions of fish that swam around us glowed like shooting stars as they swam around us. It was mesmorizing! Amazing! I don't know that my words can even do justice to just how.... odd this was and how big the smile plastered on my face was at the time.
It was Sooo mesmorizing..... and so dark.... that we missed our turn off back to our little cove. back and forth we paddled (with completely flat bottom boats with no rudders) and all we saw on the shore line was darkness. Darkness and mangroves. The birds had begun to laugh at us. Brian finally admitted he didn't know where we were and should probably pull up somewhere and walk to the road and figure it out. So we did. Shored ourselves by a house that looked nice. We could hear them watching TV. "BUENOS NOCHES" Brian yelled a few times, but no one responded. So he got out to go explore and find road despite being barefoot, without a flashlight, on a blocked moon night. A few minutes later, lights came on and a family is standing there looking at us, pulled up among all the dead fish, and decided to help us out. They pulled our boats out of the lagoon and put them in the back of a pick up. Put brian in back with the boats and Denise and i up front with the driver and drove us back to the Best western where we returned the boats, payed for the boats, and retrieved our shoes. We made it back to Casamar by 11:30 and tried to make Brian promise to take a flash light the next time he attempted this feat! What a great night. I wish Tina had been there with us to experience this, and i hope that everyone who is so set on being afraid of Mexico and all the bad things that happen picked up on the part where we pulled up in someones yard in the middle of the night, woke them up, and got HELP, not kidnapped for ransom. I have to say that i LOVE the people of Puerto and feel totally taken in by the entire culture here.

These are a few of the saddest things......

Books. Books. Books. and the fact that there simply are NOT any.

You can't go a block in quaint little towns in America without finding book stores. Used book stores, New book stores, private owned and corporate giants. I've looked in the Mercado - no books. Looked in all the little shops - no books - looked at the grocery - no books. Gwen says the children say they have NO books at home. We brought books. They LOVE them, love reading, but there ARE NO BOOKS!
We stopped a taxi today because we saw a sign that said "bibliotec" Finally!!!! It was american run, all the books were used american paperbacks, for all the gringos that live here. Seriously? I sat and talked to the volunteer running it and she couldn't think of a single place in Puerto to buy kids books. I'm to the point that i want to just start handing out books to every kid that i see. I can't imagine ANYONE growing up without BOOKS! I need to come back here with a suit case FULL of books and just hand them out like candy. Anyone know of a grant for THAT? I'll buy my own plane ticket and bring a tent - all i need is a nice family to loan me a corner of their yard for a few days - and a SEMI full of BOOKS! And i can't just mail them, because they won't GET here - or if they DO get here, some customs official will have imposed a great big TAX on them to be paid by the reciever - and no one that i want to give my books to has money to pay tax on such a gift. But i hear that most things simply don't make it by post anyways and its best to not even try! I need a grant for books, need to borrow a camper van (since realistically i can't drive a semi), i need safe passage through the border towns, and need to go from small town and village to small town and village giving books to kids next summer. And i need all these books to be in Spanish please. Real spanish and not just bad translation of english books. Then i need to teach these kids how to write their OWN books. Ok, so i either need to move here or face the fact that its after midnight and i should go to sleep because i'm getting carried away.

I have read SOOOOO many books this summer. I take books for granted. They are my best friends and some of my favorite vacations. I can't even imagine NOT having a book in my house - not having ACCESS to a book ............ i'm going to have nightmares tonight.

Consolation Prize

After our Diving gone wrong experience we had a nice lunch (i had a tomato and avacado chicken soup) and one of our table side vendors happened to be two women with books of hair braiding. I had seen them a few times in the Adoquin (the beach area where we were) and decided that only a head full of braids would make me happy after such a gloomy stormy dive. So i made a reservation for when i was done eating and while denise and tina wandered off i went down and sat looking at the ocean while these girls put hundreds of braids and shells in my hair. It was fun to hear them talking and gossiping above me, though i really had no idea what they were saying most the time.... ok, so most all the time. But 30 minutes later i was tightly braided and full of shells and wondering if i will clear customs on sunday! :-) When denise returned she decided she wanted to be as cute as me and got her hair braided too! I liked that the restaurant just let them sit us at one of their tables, use their chairs, use their table even. Of course it is also a regular occurance to have several cute children come up to you while you are eating and bat their cute little eyes at you and try and sell you bracelets or paintings or purses. the younger they are the harder it is to resist! There is certainly no "no soliciting" policy here. We also have a new perspective of what our kids mean when they say "i couldn't do my homework last night, i had to go to work with my mom". If i had to go to work with one of MY parents i think that i would have been sitting there reading a book, coloring, getting in the way, but i think that when our hispanic children are saying this - they mean it. They had to Work. children don't seem to be too idle here. They seem to be put to work in the family stores, actual stores or street vendor stores. Young and old alike. Some of the kids at the super che can't be much older than the kids in elementary school - and our best bracelet seller was only 6. And everyone here takes so much pride in their work. Pride in presentation and service. I have NEVER stayed in hotel type accomodations that are as clean as CasaMar is. We even get clean BEDSPREADS once a week. Floors cleaned daily, pool chairs scrubbed daily, constant sweeping - even of the roofs. I feel VERY pampered and spoiled and taken care of here. My feet are NEVER dirty here! Sandy yes.... but all the sand disapears again while we are out for the day. And this in turn has made us more conciencious of how WE are keeping things - turning off fans and lights and unplugging things we are not using and keeping our things cleaned up. I knew i was a lazy person..... america...... is a lazy society.... my little corner of oklahoma, with horrible public transportation and a city plan that isn't conducive to walking or biking...... i miss my roots. I think they might be planted somewhere here under a plum tree and i will have to come back and water them often.

Making Mole' with Mari!

One of my favorite activities here is STILL cooking with Mari! The more time I spend with her, the less uncomfortable i become with not understanding most of what she says and i think she grew more comfortable with us too! We just smile and say Si' a lot. Even when no one really means it. Tuesday we made Mole Mexicana - which is Mari's favorite kind. Our daughter was excited after reading my facebook post and wants us to make it when we get home. Her boyfriend loves it! So... Catt, have you been reading my blog? Let me tell you the story about Mole.......
First... It requires hands of steal to make. The list of ingredients is endless. Mari actually wrote them down for us this time since we are always trying to take notes anyways... not that we remembered to GET her notes or even to take a picture of them.... we were WAY to busy working. First - there were three, maybe four diferent kinds of chilies that we had to destem, pry open, and scrape the seeds out of using our fingernails. The chilies smelled a bit sweet like prunes, so we followed Mari's example and deseeded them all. Set them aside. Broke apart a small loaf of bread, a few tortillas, cut up a tomatoe and an onion, put together a selection of seeds nuts bark and chocolate all the while the chicken is cooking and our hands are starting to burn, and tinas face is on fire and denise has alit her upper lip by tasting a peanut. Gringos like us, should NEVER touch chilies without protection you know. Mari on the other hand can flip frying objects with her bare fingers without flinching. Tina is pouring sweat now because her face is on fire as well as her hands, we are washing our hands with laundry soap and salt and nothing seems to help. I decide just to pretend it didn't hurt at all... but it did. and continued for about three hours until we were home, dinner was cooked and we were ready for bed. Now, back to all these ingredients. Fill a pan with oil and start frying. Fry the breads - set them aside. Fry a bananna - put it in the pan too. Fry all the chilies and put them in the pot. put all that in a blender with some pollo broth and wiz. fry the nuts and chocolate and tomatoe and onion - put in a blender with pollo broth and wiz. Mix all together and cook. fry the rice and then cook in pollo broth. put the cooked chicken in with the mole sauce, serve with the rice and with tortillas that are warmed on the stove. Laugh a lot about the hands (mari, of course is fine.... she even flips frying food by just sticking her figers in there and grabing it). We made enough mole' for a small army - since we don't actually speak fluent spanish we cut up EVERYTHING she put in front of us not just the "right" amount...... or maybe just too many of the little peppers, the chipotle ones.... i'll never know for sure. But it tasted GREAT as always when we sat down to eat it two and a half hours later. Creepers this home cooking takes HOURS!!!! And that was with three extra pairs of hands to chop and stir and fry! I think Mari likes us. Brian says that usually they only have a cooking class maybe once a month or so..... but we just kept wanting to make more and more and more! At dinner last night Mari gave each of us a gift all wrapped up in tissue paper and kisses on our cheeks. We want to figure out how to wrap up our new mamma Mari and bring her home with us to the us so that she can teach us even more!!!! The process of cooking is fun, overcoming the language barrier is fun, and sitting down to a meal where we try to converse in broken spanish over our hard work and cold cervesas is fun! I can't think of a better way to learn.... anything!!!! Hands on AND tasty! (and so hot that we will NEVER forget it! - though the food itself was tamed with sugar and was not very picante at all!)


Today we went diving. Or should i say...... attempted to go diving. Bags packed, suits on, got to the dive center five minutes before they opened and got our wet suits on, our jackets and tanks on our backs.... checked our air and plodded out to the boat. First negative sign was of course the grey overcast sky. Second, was the dip and sway of the boat that tried to buck us as we boarded. Third, well maybe there were only two. There were five of us diving and a bunch of snorklers on board as well. Off we went. Around to a little cove, maybe even the same one we were at on Sat but a bit further out..... Up and down and up and down and sideways and around our little boat went on its teather. And maybe one dramanine wasn't enough..... FINALLY i flip backwards into the water. Fighting the current to stay in one place, with the group while they all got situated, was hard. Holding onto the boat platform, was nausiating. FINALLY - ready to submerge. Empty all that air, not sinking, ...... wow, sure is dark and murky under here.... wow, the visibility is worse than the lake in Arkasas.... still not sinking. I air up and surface. The sky is darker and the waves are bigger and i feel like i'm going to vomit and can't fathom getting back on the boat or even riding on the waves while they find more weight for me..... not for the chance to see..... nothing..... so three of the five of us call it quits and get back on the boat. Two went down with the Padi Master only to come up 6 minutes later and say it was a bust. No one is interested in trying our second dive shop, the snorkle girls are freaked out about the dark skies, and i'm hugging the side of the boat understanding how much sea sickness sucks. The air and spray on the ride back was a welcome relief! I think i will go back to the lake to dive.... or maybe try Mexico in December next time.... and maybe take TWO little yellow pills instead of just one........

And then there was Sabado

We took a taxi to a beach that was located down a little less than 200 steep stone stairs. Sheltered from some of the larger waves, we were told it is a great place to learn to surf and to snorkle. Denise was recovering from being sick the day before and relaxation in the sun (and shade) was called for! I sat on the rocks in the picture for a long time watching the water roll in, sometimes splashing me, and other times staying a good 8 feet below where i was seated. I sat so still that i tricked the crabs into thinking i WAS a rock and they came up tentively to explore. I finally stopped twitching enough that a small one crawled up on my big toe and was using his little pinchers to try and eat my skin. It made me laugh, and he was small enough that it was cute until he moved to the toe next door which was a bit more tender and i had to twitch him back off. i snorkled out to where some diving rings were set a bit off shore and was going to share the landing until i was close enough to see that the divers WERE divers, but were also spear fishing for dinner, so i snorkled around some big rocks watching little florescent blue fish and yellow tailed fish swim in and out until i was exhausted from fighting the current! We had some excellent food, some brilliant sun, lots of time to read, and some great conversation with locals that i will talk about some other post.
I spent Sat night sick while the rest of the world slept and spent all of Sunday sleeping. Monday i was still exhausted but managed to make it sea side to nap, read, and finally eat something when i got back home.

Comida con los muertos

On Friday Tina and I went to the cemetary by the Marcado after class. An odd thing to do i suppose..... but the photographer in me likes to photograph concrete angels and Tina has a fascination with gravestones. The older the better. This was an interesting graveyard as graveyards go. Many of the graves are built above ground much like they are in New Orleans, which makes total sense being this close or perhaps even below sea level. There was little to no organization and it almost seemed as if the plots were planted on top of each other. Upon looking at the state of things i assumed some of the graves to be very (very) old, but Tina pointed out that she wasn't finding anything older than 20 years. Just another display of how fast the sun and salt eats away at things. Tina learned later from her Spanish teacher that the cemetary is indeed recent, and a new concept here, that there really are no regulations and most people had just been planted out by the mango tree rather than in a plot of land. It was perhaps the creepiest cemetary i had been in. So close together, over grown, an actual smell of decay and two places where the buzzing of flies was audible over all else. A clutch of puppies, a blind dog that actually growled at me while looking sideways through milky eyes, and in the far corner there was a makeshift house set up.... tarps, cardboard and old metal sheeting. I found some great angels, and a quiet shaded spot by the entrance that was peaceful and not creepy and sat and had a peanut butter sandwich, sharing it with the mamma dog, who obviously needed protien to feed all her puppies! Tina caught up and joined me on our picnic and then we walked down a side street about 8 blocks to the main road and caught a colectivo home.

La Tarea

?Que es lo bueno y que es lo malo de ser mama?

Yoy soy a madrasta. Yo soy la madrastra par nueve anos. Yo tengo un hijo, Nathan, ahora tiene diez y ocho anos, y dos hijas, Catt y Olivia, veinte y veite y dos anos ahora. Ahora ser una de dos mam'as es dificil para los hijos. Yo digo ?donde esta' tu tarea? y la hija dice .... URG, mi otra mama preguna que! Ser la madrastra es dificil porque yo tengo mas responsibilidades.
Con veinte y cinco anos you tengo tres hijos. !No mas noches tarde para mi! Ahora para mi, es cocinar, limpiar, ensenar, y amar mientras que la tora mama va a la escuala de noche. Pra yo disfrutar ser mama.
Me encanta estar con mis hijos, criardos y ayudarles a aprender. Yo no tengo bastante edad para ellos. A veces y me entiendo mejor con elles que con la otra mama, para ellos ella es la primera!

Still in need of a modified keyboard or insert menu. Obviously. :-)

Iguanas and Crocs and Birds Oh MY

Thursday, after school and the mandatory walking around and shopping, we went BACK to the school for an Iguana and lagoon tour. First, we piled into Brian's illegal vehicle and went to the Iguana Sanctuary. It was amazing, and amazingly simple. There were HUGE pens of Iguanas. Mostly green ones, a few black ones that are native to Mexico. THOUSANDS of Iguanas. Three giant pens and a smaller holding pen for baby's that won't be released until October. He is repopulating them to release into the wild. He also had a pen of Crocodiles that will be bred in 2 more years (they were all female and all the same age despite a HUGE variance in size). And he had turtles as well. A few red ears that are not going to be released because they don't belong here and then native ones that are being bred. In the middle of the pens and cages was his "living room" - really just a hammock set up beside a few snake cages and a chicken pen. Right beside that was the bedroom, a bed built with rope and covered in mosquito netting and situated under a beautiful tree. I don't recall seeing the cooking fire, but it would have been around there somewhere! With all the rain, i can't figure out what kept them dry while they slept.......

We then picked up a guy from the village and he crawled into the back of the bronco. We went down some dirt side rows, coming to a gate, which was locked and was the entrance to the lagoon preserve. We walked through rows of pines and swarms of mosquitos and came to the lagoon and a bridge in various states of decay. Thousands of birds and hundreds of crocs and millions of fish live in this lagoon. No fishing, hunting, or loud noises allowed! We boarded a small boat which was propelled by a long stick and ventured out. Imagine, if you will..... Its about 7pm. There are dark storm clouds in the sky and the air is still. The mosquitos buzz and are flipped with human horse tails made of branches. The air smells fresh, yet a bit rotton with growing algea. There is no sound aside from our breathing, the lap of the water against the sides of the boat, MILLIONS of birds, and the sound of the ocean waves breaking on the otherside of the trees. The green tree line was absolutely saturated with bird life. White birds and black birds and pink birds, adult birds and baby birds, birds in flight..... My camera couldn't even begin to do it justice. It was a bird haters nightmare and my mother would have been in heaven. I stared, open mouthed (until a mosquito flew in) in wonder. (though the girl behind me looked a little bored). We also saw a couple baby crocs sunning on sticks above the water. Was it worth the mosquitos? For me, yes! I took it all in through my mother's eyes and found it absolutely delightful! (especially all the nests that were full of sparse feathered babys!)

The Library (community center)

This is Gwen. Gwen is running the "tutoring" program that we have been volunteering at on Monday Wednesday and Friday fro 4 to 6. The first week of the program was also our first week of being here. She is offering "reading" twice a day - two hours in the morning and another two hours in the afternoon. I think her original idea was to just have the kids read - straight - for two hours (at least in the afternoon). Of course the first couple of days the kids did great and were entertained by the new books (remember there are VERY few books - the 45 we brought and maybe 20 more). First day there were maybe 9 kids. Wednesday there were 21! And, as kids will.... they have amazinglly become much more animated! Honeymoon period is over! We assured her that this is normal and will, unfortunately, get worse. Amazing how kids are kids despite the country!!!!
Gwen is originally from Canada and has a son that is 16. They live around the corner from the school in a one room house that Gwen purchased many years ago. Gwen used to work at the university here but the hours of work (7am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm) didn't agree with her, so she stopped. Her only source of income is money that her parents send her and she is trying to figure out how to fundraise for the school. We brought books, and have picked up some notebooks, school supplies, and little manipulatives we have used with our own teaching and learning. We have talked to her about wanting to continue once we are home and get our schools involved in a sort of "adoption" concept. And now, i think we have come upon a bit of an ethical roadblock and i'm not sure if it is cultural, plainly human, if we are too sensitive.... or if Gwen is just not thinking things through. Comments on this post will be appreciated and we also plan on talking to Gwen about it ourselves this afternoon. While Gwen really appreciates the gifts that we have brought, i think what she is really wanting is simply.... cash. Not cash so that she can buy supplies, but cash so that she can feed herself and her son in order to be able to continue to do nothing but help in the community. I get this. Even not for profit organizations have to pay their employees for the work that they do. But yesterday she went to Brian, the director of the school we learn spanish at and who arranged our volunteer opportunity, and told him that she would like to charge people who volunteer 50 american dollars each in order for them to have this experience. That having volunteers was a lot more dificult than she imagined and it will help offset this, as well as generate funding. Now we KNOW where she is coming from. She needs money. for us though, we find it rude that she would ask. We brought $200 worth of books to the school, have spent even more on supplies, have taken her to dinner, have basically run her afternoon classes and given her loads of ideas and support and have talked about going back to our schools and having coin drives and book drives and how to best get money to her and how to get books to her without having to pay custom taxes.... I think we have failed her. I think she sees our excessive american spending, our instant willingness to give and to buy her dinner, and to donate our time.... and i think we instantly felt taken advantage of when our funds became a mandatory cost and not an in kind donation. To the point that despite our LOVE of going to the school, which is one of my favorite things to do here, all three of us just want to stop going and have the attitude of "we didn't know we were so much work, and we are not going to PAY to volunteer for you". Of course this is childish of us and we know her enough now to know that this isn't really what she meant. She just wants to feed her son and devote all her time to this project and sees an opportunity to fund it. So.... you tell me, do we pay the $50 each or not?

Our school routine goes like this.... First, we read with the students. They read in Spanish of course and we try to understand and even to question them. We point out pictures on the page and they tell us what the Spanish equivilant is and we try to pronounce it perfectly and they giggle and laugh. Then we all circle up and review introductions, and numbers, both in spanish AND english. And then we introduce a handfull of new English words. First we did body parts and now we are doing Animals. Denise and i bought some plastic Animals and the kids write the Spanish and we write the English beside it and then argue over whether or not the "sheepdog" is a dog or a wolf. We let them win. Wednesday we sang old mcdonald!

And after we sing our new song, we review the other songs that we have taught. (they LOVE the hokey pokey) and then they go to their tables and write down the english words and illustrate it with pictures.

Working in this program has been very rewarding, fun, and a natural way for us to learn and find comfort! For some reason kids are a lot less intimidating to have broken conversations with than their adult counterparts :-)

Coctail de camerones y ceviche!

Boil cooked shrimp in a bit of water for about 5 minutes. Set aside. chop onion and cilantro very fine and mix together. Dice an avacado into small bite size chunks. (add tomatoes if desired, but we did not tonight). Put shrimp into a cup or bowl. Add water from the pot as well. Add a scoop of the cilantro and onion mix, top with a healthy portion of catsup, a dash of olive oil, and a dash of worchishire sauce, a few avacados bits and verde chili if you want it a bit spicey. Sqirt on a bit of lime, and serve with crackers. Eat with good friends and a great chef who speaks no English.

Take a soft white fish, (we used red snapper - which was already headless and gutted when i got my hands on it). Peel the skin off of it, chop off the tail and fillet the sides. Dice it fine and put in a pot. Squeeze the juice from limes until well saturated covering the fish with the acidic juice. Put a lid on it and prepare the other ingredients. Dice onion, tomatoe, parsely and pickled jalepenos (with seeds removed) - including some of the carrots in the relish. Let the fish "cook" in the lime juice for 15 minutes (or longer if a "harder" fish) and then drain the majority of the juice off and discard. Stir in the tomato, onion, parsley and jalepeno, and serve with crackers. And.... its GOOD!!!
Follow this meal with conversations with your hostesses, who laugh at what you say as you hope you haven't said anything.... rude or crude on accident!

Tonights cooking lesson was even better than the first! My comfort level was up, and while i obviously haven't become fluent in the last few days..... i was less afraid to try, make mistakes, and be laughed with.

Stay tuned, next week we learn Mole'

Me fastidia las personaa que son intolerantes!

y me fastidia y didos dedos se arruga con agua. Wierd, i know. School wasn't so bad today. I felt a little less.... unteachable.... I think i will enroll in a spanish class for the fall semester when i get back to Tulsa. I am considering not taking classes next week here though and instead trying to put to use some of what i have learned. It is just SO much information to take in, and there are still SO many things to do before we leave. I will wait and see how the rest of the week goes. We went back to the school today at 2:00 and had a great time with the kids. We reviewed what we learned last Friday, sang the head and shoulders song again, and learned the hokey pokey. I sat with a five year old for a long time and we would trade words - spanish for english and english for spanish and she would copy down my english making the typcial transcription mistakes that all kids do. She would ask me questions in spanish and i would try and answer and try and ask her questions in return and she would giggle. She would often forget that i didn't understand 95% of what she was saying and just start rambling away. (she was terribly shy, but only for the first 5 minutes). We looked at one of the books that we had brought - animales - in spanish and in English. They were animals such as tiger, hippo, lion, giraffe.... about ten of them. Giraffe was the only one that she could name even in Spanish. It really drove home to me the challenges that we deal with on a day to day basis within our classrooms at Marshall. We really aren't teaching just ENGLISH vocabulary, many of our students come from a limited (or diferent) vocabulary base than what we would take for granted. What kid doens't know what an elephant is!!!! It made the concept of "being there" experiences - of simple things like taking our kids to the zoo...... all that more important. We work so hard to tie objectives to field trips when in reality, the trip itself, the eye candy that it provides just in being able to "name" objects is worth the price of the bus. Even for me, here, there are so many things that i have no name for. Such as the spikey green food on the kitchen counter now; that is like a veggie if you steam it and a fruit if you boil it in salt. It is nameless to me (seeing as i already forgot the name). Taxi down to the adoquin for dinner and now we are home to blog and do homework and read (of course).
Me encanta el mar! I'm going to spend my morning there tomorrow!

so many pictures

It takes a good 5 minutes min. to load each of the pics i have running on the right of my page. I have been absolutely camera happy the past two days and this time constraint is killing me. I can't wait to get home and actually edit some of these pics, make slide shows, and delight your eyes to my fullest potential!

Catching a Wave

What a great weekend this has been! We had breakfast Sat at CasaMar and then took a Colectivo to the Mercado and spent hours walking up and down the aisles of the open air shopping market, bartering for handmade crafts, taking pictures and selecting some odd looking fruits and vegitables to try once we got home. We went home with full bags and smiles, changed into suits and headed to la Punta for an afternoon in the sun and surf. We walked down to the rocks, and because it was low tide could navigate under and around them, look in tide pools, get sprayed by random waves smashing against the rocks, and chase the crabs that hid in crevices! We played in the waves, an absolutely exhausting and exhilerating experience. The pull of the waves so strong that they knocked you over quicker than you could stand and it was nearly imposible to walk against the current. We stayed at the point, having coctail de cameron (shrimp) and coctail de pulpo (octopus) for dinner till the sun set.
We woke at 6am this morning and caught a taxi to the school to meet Brian for an adventure in rock climbing. We drove to a small village and walked along the ocean edge until we came to some large rocks. Brian went up and set up lines and we went around. Tina read in the sun and Denise and i bouldered the rocks to the base where we would climb. We skirted with crabs, laughed at the millions of bats that came flying out of the cracks, bled a bit from our knees, and had an amazing time! Climbing was amazing as well and definetely something that we shall have to do again! We had an amazing lunch seaside with Brian before being dropped off at the super che to buy stuff for dinner, heading home and napping till it was time to skype with the family. We cooked at home tonight, and are now in the "community" building watching some australian show called "alice" while it rains buckets outside! The roof above us, made only of wood and what looks like teracata pots cut in half and stacked, is leaking a bit now and the fan is spraying a slight mist over us. Its hard to believe that we have already been here for an entire week!

Estoy no bien estudiante de espanol

I think i'm a lost cause. I went to class today (without Denise, because she went for a walk and got lost and overheated and didn't make it home until well after class started) and sat there, worrying a little and feeling like i am no further to making progress than i was five days ago. Day one, i was excited. Day two, was fun. Day three, was..... tedious, Day four was, and today i felt myself mentally tune out, put up a brick wall thats only purpose was to prohibit further learning. Amazing. After FIVE whole days... TEN whole hours of learning Spanish, i am not 100% fluent and am ready to simply give up. If i can't do it perfect i don't even want to try anymore. Yeah.... i've seen this attitude on students faces before. Seen them "check out". Language aquisition has never been my thing. So... I take a deep breathe and focus on the deeper objective here, which is culture, understanding and comfort. Ok, so i'm doing ok with those things. I went alone on the colectivo to class after losing Denise and being left by Tina. I ordered us all breakfast for tomorrow morning. I got us home to the right place by taxi after shopping at the super Che. I spent two amazing hours with students (four times as many than on Wednesday), read with them, taught them a song, laughed with them.... they find my lack of knowledge hilarious and are eager to help me learn. Basic things. Like body parts. I've sweated out buckets of water the past two days, loving the sun, the lack of rain.... but oy, its hot out there. I was so thankful to have a pool to collapse in after the 10 minute walk back from the school. the sun is down and my soul is at peace. Buenos noches!

What a GREAT day!!!

I feel like a published writer :-) I have to say, i'm tired and ready to fall into slumber but am forcing myself to stay up yet a little bit longer in order to load pictures and blog. I LOVE the comments! Keep them coming!!!! Denise is Jealous and wants for everyone to "follow" her blog too - so I added a link to the top of mine to make it super easy. I am not reading hers and she is not reading mine, and tina is not keeping one since she forgot her password... she will claim it is because she has such little computer time, but i had to finally wresltle this little machine out of her hands in order to keep my audience entertained!

Yesterday, was.... rainy. We woke to downpours at 6:30 and assumed we would not be going on our boat tour. I posted pictures while the girls slept and while the skys continued to cry. Then it rained some more. We went to class.... in the rain. We had class, on our little terrace with the rain pounding on our tin roof and the instructor trying to yell over the racket. We congegated verbs and blah blah blah. The rain made me distracted and glum. Add to that some horrid cold that i seemed to have picked up from someone back in oklahoma prior to leaving and i really just wanted to be away from others and sleep. I got a short break back at the apartment and then we went to the school we are working at at 4pm. The "school" is actually a community building run by a woman named Gwen. It seems to be more of a ... tutoring, suplimental, not quite defined program as of now. It just started Monday. Gwen used to be a college professor and is originally from the States. She tired of that life and now lives here on $300 a month that her parents send her. This is the same money that she funds the educational program with. She (and the studnets) LOVED the books that we brought. We read with the kids and brainstormed with her. Tina Denise and I are all.... planners and grant getters (obviously) and are all set to provide her with a mission statement and a solid plan of action before we leave. We are already trying to tie this program into our schools, classrooms, and a new grant possibility that was emailed to me from our community schools administrator back in oklahoma. I think this is going to be a great experience and one that will last long term. I actually managed to forget momentarily that i felt bad! For dinner last night we ordered pizza with the only two other inhabitants of our dwelling complex. They were both from Germany. We sat under a palapa by the pool (yes, it is still raining.) The pizza was delivered by bike (not the motorized kind) and i tasted an apple pepsi for the very first time. Oddly good. Ever had a pizza with black beans and chorizo? You should try it. I skipped blogging and went to bed early, sleeping soundly through the night (and the rain).
6:30 this morning, the SUN was out. Best news possible! Javier picked us up right before seven in his old VW bug. Javier is a man that was recomended to us by Andi, the manager of CasaMar. We were promised a lagoon tour, lunch, and a drop of at our school by noon. Javier was young, spoke English a little, lived in the states for Two years and enjoyed talking with us i think. Tina asked him "if you could do anything, what would it be?" this really confused him. He related it to being in school in the US and being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?". He said that he would want to be right where he was. He is happy, healthy, has family, enough money, everything he needs right in front of him. I like that. I think sometimes that we underestimate the internal happiness of others by ranking it next to our own middle class values. Javier played Bob Marley on his radio while he drove us out to a friends - who had a boat. (and stopped and got a huge block of ice from a nondiscript store). We waited at the friends while they determined the passibility of the road and then loaded back into the VW for a trek through jungle like land to the edge of a river. Spun in the mud for a while before finally turning around, parking, and taking off our shoes. We hiked through the river/creak until it opened up into a lagoon where the boat was docked. My mother would have LOVED the boat ride. SOOOOO many birds. I tried to take pictures..... i don't think i will have done them justice. He told us history of the area, of how the river meets the lagoon, meets the ocean, how now it is dark, the river is VERY dark, but in October the ocean is cut off from it and the lagoon becomes blue. He told us about all the birds, and his home, which was our destination. Puerto Suelo. We saw where the ocean met the river, took a right and pulled the boat to land a bit up on the left. Puerto Suelo is bordered on one side by the river, one the other by the beautiful ocean. About 15 people live there. No electricity, no gas, no creature comforts. Lunch, as it turned out, was not simply sandwhiches, but a meal cooked over a hot fire by Javier's mother and served to us under a palapa. We waited for the meal while drinking cocunut milk out of freshly corked nuts, watching the ocean crash against the shore, and feeling so..... peaceful. The meal itself was amazing. Pescado (fish) - that was crunchy on the outside, and wonderful, a salad of cactus tomato and onion, cheese tortillas and frijoles! I didn't want to leave.

After school we went down to the adonquin area of town, which is an "older" tourist area. It seems to have less "american" type tourists and more tourists that are from other parts of Mexico. It is also where many boats are docked and many locals actually swim, despite the fact that the water seemed a bit dirty and particulate filled. It was a great place to do some shopping. We got handmade wooden toys, instruments, pottery,local art and practiced our ability to name amounts in Spanish as well as barter for better deals! After dinner (of coctail de camerones for me) we headed back to swim (STILL SUNNY... HOT and HUMID) read, blog, and relax.
As soon as my pictures are done loading i'm calling it a night! What a great day!!!!

Mi hermana

Te presento a Sarah. Ella es mi menor hermana. Ella tiene veite nueve an~os. Ella teinos un hijo. Su nombre es Wesley. El tiene cuatro an~os. Su esposo es Derek. Derek es muy bajo pero E`l es divetido e inteligente. Mi hermana Sara trabaja con animales. Ella trabaja en Tulsa Zoolo`gico. !Yo estoy orgullosa de mi hermana menor!

Now.... to only figure out how to add the characters on TOP of the letters and to turn those punctuation marks upside down.....


First, to comment on the blog click on the (0 comments) link at the bottom of the entry. It will pull up a form that will allow you to comment - you can then use the drop down menu to determine how you want to be known. I'm guessing name, then guessing it will ask you what that is. Hello world! Are you out there??? :-)

I got up this morning and swam laps then we caught a colective to class. I am really enjoying the classes and our teacher Irene' is very nice. Today we went over numbers, verbs and verb tense. After class we walked down to la playa and had lunch, did some shopping and ended up in hammocks with margaritas and doing our homework. I got some pictures of surfers in order to try and give a perspective on the size of the waves. I also found myself wondering if it would be right to come to one of the most amazing places(aparently) to surf and not to at least try it. I'm taking votes!
Tonight we had a cooking class. We were to make Tamales and Tequitos with Mari, who is the mother in law of the owner of the school, and who speaks no English. It was an AMAZING experience! She gives instructions and i have no idea what she is saying and it is uncomfortable and strange and made me feel akward and slow! But Mari was patient. I found myself thinking about our studnets who come, knowing NO English and sit in class before us. We talk louder, we talk slower, we repeat ourselves. Funny how none of that works. Tamales take SO much time, effort, and elbow greese! Mari had all the meats for our dishes precooked and on the stove. All the chilies were also precooked. The mesa was ground and all we had to do was add salt, lard, and pollo broth. We wrapped our tamales in banana leaves and corn husks. We soaked the husks and singed the leaves over the fire. Three hours later they were ready to eat. Mari seemed to love cooking, love teaching us, and love that we LOVED the final product. I am most certainly going to be more grateful and... honored when our Marshall families cook for us. Even the tequitos that we made were not a short process. We were well rewarded for our hard work and got to sit down with Mari, mari (her daughter) and Brian, the maestro over tequitos caliente, tamales y cervesa!

Out Past Dark

What an EXHAUSTING day!!!! :-)
Denise and i got up and went directly to an hour and a half yoga class that is offered three days a week under a palapa where we are staying. It was nice. Kind of like Hot yoga... but not AS hot. Especially this morning with the early rain and cloud cover. I watched yellow and black birds in palm trees during the warrior pose. Does it get better than that? We decided to walk to our noon Spanish class... along the beach. It took 50 minutes to get there and i was covered in a nice sheen by the time we arrived. I actually found a nice pink shell for my mom and decided i would collect it, photograph it, and put it back.... but.... it was crushed in my pocket before i had a chance. Spanish class was actually fun. Denise and i are in a beginner group with two other students. A man from New Zealand and a man (also a teacher) from Baltimore. Tina is in a higher level class with a kid from LA named danny. In our class we played "eye spy" and in Tina's they played with Barbies. We all have homework and are all going to bed without even thinking about doing it. Teachers are the WORST procrastinators. After class we went down to the strip of beach that is by the school and had a picnic of peanut butter sandwiches and chips.... soaked in sun until the afternoon storm rolled in and caught a cab back home, actually making it home before the first rain drops fell. We were picked up at 5pm for an orientation tour of Puerto Escondido. We now know that there ARE restaurants, that tourism is currently at 1/5 of what it typically is due to the fear of traveling to Mexico, that we are staying in a less touristy part of town, we know where the party strip is, went to the market and ate some grasshoppers, bought some fresh ground coffee and two notebooks for class, visited the different beaches, went to the old tourist area..... and i know i am forgetting tons, but i'm TIRED :-) Maybe i should write in the mornings and not last thing at night! The tour was worth it! We had Brian (tour guide and owner of the language institute) dropped us off at a good restaurant where we ordered margaritas and dinner and watched the sky turn dark. The surf was full of surfers which were fun to watch. A cute seven year old sold us woven bracelets right at our table and sang to us at her mothers prompting. After having told her that we were maestra i think she knew we would give at least a peso for a performance. A cab ride later and we were back at home.
I'm trying very hard to blog each night and to keep track of all our expenses at the end of each evening. We are supposed to collect receipts for everything that we do, tape them into a notebook sequentially, numbered and categorized and then transfer the same to an excel program. The problem here is that no one GIVES reciepts. Numbers are only written down when i stare blankely, not understanding spanish numbers over diez, and random others, and hand over my little notebook and pen. I have a receipt book that i was making my own from, but am already to the point that i think maybe just writing them in the notebook might be good enough. I should email that question on to someone official. Tonight though, i am settling with just the blog and off for a grande siesta!!!!

rogue waves

We woke up this morning to mostly sunny skies, put on our suits and ventured down to the beach, about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. We are not actually supposed to swim in the ocean where we are. a bit further down there is a lifeguard stand that is sometimes occupied, but due to the large surf (i'm assuming caused by the rainy season) it isn't recomended that you get in the water. It WAS a great place to lay out our towels, lather in sunscreen and read some. The waves are HUGE - or can be spontaneously as we discovered when all of a sudden our nice peaceful moment found us floating on top of sand and surf. First lesson of the day.... don't trust the water line on the sand. Move back. Then move back another 12 feet because it WILL happen again. I went for a walk to find shells for my mom. I found many little yellowish fruits that might have been lemons, some old coconuts, a lime, and a few smooth rocks. (all washed away in the second rouge wave - sorry mom).
After this short excursion we dressed for town and walked out to the highway and stood there till we were picked up by a collectivo - a truck with a wooden bed covered in a blue tarp thing. We took this into town and got off at the first stop light that we came to. We went up the street looking for something to eat. The tourist guides online say not to eat from street vendors. MY question is.... what exactly IS a street vendor? The guy on the corner with the hot dog cart - yeah. got it. the little restauraunts that are randomly placed along the sides of the road behind what look like garage doors that are closed at night? Filled with folding tables, flies, and you can see the kitchen set up hot plate style in a corner... how about that? Street vendor? Restauraunt? Somehow i think it might counnt as the former. So we went right in and had ourselves a seat and had bottled water instead of tap. A misconception that i had about Mexico was that once we got here, my lack of language wouldn't be too big an issue.... that many people would know enough english and take pity on me. I don't know what i was thinking. If this assumption was true, then why to so many of our student's parents not know or understand a bit of English when their kids start school with us? Anyway, at lunch, i found myself looking at a menu again, again, only spanish, and again, not knowing what on earth i should be ordering. So we all order different things and decide to write down what we are eating, take pictures of it when it arrives and look it up afterwards. Hmmm........ I got the most unknown dish today and i don't think it had anything too foul in it. Basically it was a hodgepodge of meats stirfried with some onions and peppers - much like fajitas would be. I could recognize most of the meats... aside from an oddly died reddish orange one that tasted good.... and the hot dog pieces were a bit odd.... but it was good! We had a dish of green verde to share (another one of those things that we shouldn't eat)...... and i think we were all pleased. We walked directly to the pharmacy afterwards and purchased Bactrim, which we will continue taking daily for the remainder of our journey. Tina actually went into a doctors office to ask about such things (obviously not wanting to take my dads word on it) and left with a prescription, a bill for 400 pesos, and having paid only 100 pesos, which she said was totally worth it just for the experience of talking to doctor - who told her not to eat oysters under any condition and to bathe after she got out of the ocean because the water was dirty right now (sure this has something to do with the daily papas river that feeds into it). At the pharmacy i get my bactrim and she gets her prescription and i don't change my mind, so she does..... deciding to try the bactrim too. I looked up what she was prescribed back at the apartment and learned that it is not available nor made in the USA, is often used to treat alcholics and causes severe sickness when mixed with alchohol as it prevents the body from metabolizing it right or something. DO NOT DRINK while taking this medication under ANY situation. Kinda glad she decided not to take it.
We poked our heads in some stores looking for grass beach mats, as obviously our towels are not going to work as they become wet, encrusted, weigh 15 pounds when we are done and take over 24 hours to dry..... Then we headed to the super Che to buy groceries.... got dinner fixings, sandwhich fixings, goggles for lap swimming and got a taxi for the trip back to CasaMar. We layed around reading on our porch, cooked dinner and played skipbo. Tomorrow Denise and i are getting up early to do yoga on a terrace upstairs assuming the instructor comes... sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. Buenos noches!

papas agua

Have I mentioned that i know.... NO spanish. Ok, so i know how to say... cuantos, hola and gracias.... I have actually taken Spanish I.... and German I and II. (after not doing so well in German II despite having taken it in Highschool i switched languages) The funny thing is that when i try and think in spanish it gets jumbled with German and ends up being really wierd sounding. I thought about brushing up on my Spanish before coming but then decided that to have a truely authentic out of my comfort level experience that i should be as innocent and language deprived as a typical kindergartener.
Navigating the Airport and customs in Mexico City is interesting when all you can say is Si and Cervesa.
We have arrived in Puerto Escondido and are now moved into our apartment. The humidity is Amazing.... and we lack air conditioning. This apartment reminds me of a hostel that I stayed at in in Australia. It is enclosed, has a great staff and a very communal feel to it. We navigated customs, declarations in Puerto, getting a taxi without being ripped off and are now safe at CasaMar.
We got unpacked and headed out in search of food. We walked down narrow roads with chickens, stray dogs, kids in underwear, stores, and the ocean so very close. We found a place to eat dinner that was under a thatched roof overlooking the beach. Barefoot with our toes in the sand. Tina had enchiladas that were mas caliente. Denise had Tacos that looked like taquitos and i had a burito that looked like a quesadilla. We watched the surfers, the stray dogs, and a horse down in and by the surf. At the very end of the meal came a tremendous downpour and our waiter came and held a large umbrella over our heads while we finished up our meal. We walked along the beach under the deluge of water, crossed where the river ran into the sea, made our way through flooded streets where potatoes floated in the current and found a building that looked abandoned and gutted but contained a nice man eating dinner and a woman who sold us cold cervesas. Its almost 8pm and getting dark. It has been strongly suggested that we not leave our gated complex after dark, so we are settled in for the night and may just go swim in the rain! Buenos Noches!

Leaving Soon

We leave on Sat. I don't even remember what time, but i think it is early in the morning.
Our volunteer experience has been arranged and we will be reading (or rather having children read to us) as part of a tutoring program for the summer. Thanks to Amazon and easy ordering we have a modest stack of picture books to take with us to share with the school. Some in Spanish and some in Spanish AND English. I can't think of a better way to be taught language than by children and children's stories.
I feel like i should start packing....
passport, three week supply of medicine, antibiotic - just in case, fins and snorkle mask, picture books, MY books, towels and sunscreen, clothes, of course....
Do i take my camera or do i take a cheaper digital that doesn't look so lavish....
Looking on Weather Bug it appears to be raining daily, temperatures somewhere around 80 or 90 and humidity off the charts. Do i need an umbrella or a sweat band?
I'm excited, nervous to navigate, and can't wait to meet the kids, learn some spanish, and go on some amazing excursions!

Puerto Escondido

This is Puerto Escondido. Both our school and the Apartment that we are staying at are on the sea side of the coastal highway. Said to be about a 20 minute walk on the beach from one to the other..... and a trip i was told, that we will NOT want to take during the heat of the day. We want to look into bicycle rental, but i imagine that we will often end up taking the public bus for about 30 pesos.

One of the things that i am most looking foward to is shopping in the local market! I intend to find clothing there to wear, food to buy as i learn to make authentic meals, and find some amazing photo oportunities too!!! I have heard mixed rumors regarding the safety of the fresh fruits and veggies, poultry and fish, and Tina and Denise are totally against my purchasing live chickens...... but i do plan on seaking out fishing boats as they come in for the day and getting fresh catch right off them! I suppose i need to add fishing knife to my ever growing list of things to purchase before i go!!!

Wow! This is really happening isn't it?????

I have a completed grant, created by Denise, Tina and myself, and an acceptance letter stating that OUR grant was chosen! We are official "fellows" now, and ready to begin our adventure. We have three plane tickets which will take us from our safe little homes in Oklahoma and deposit us in Puerto Escondido Mexico on July 10th, where we will stay until Aug 1st. We have reservations at Casamar for a two bedroom apartment that we will call home for 22 days. Or should I say, call "Casa".
I have little to NO Spanish speaking ability under my belt despite two years of taking Spanish. It mingles with the German i took and creates mush that no one understands. Sprechen si Espanol? We will be taking two hours of Spanish daily once we get there, but i do not kid myself that between that and the flashcard app on my Itouch that I will be able to communicate without getting anything in return aside from laughter and blank stares. This should make shopping at the local market..... interesting to say the least. I do like a good barter.... guess i should brush up on my number naming ability and download a pesos conversion app for sure! I am Extremely excited yet.... nervous to be putting myself in this situation. We are going in not knowing what to expect, planning only to take Spanish, volunteer in the community, shop the markets and learn how to cook, and to participate in Puerto Escondido's environment to our fullest capacity. I expect to be lost, frustrated, scarred, embarrassed, empowered, thrilled, suntanned, bartering in another language, cleaning fresh fish for dinner, eating an abundance of mangoes, missing Ice, learning, challenged, and feeling totally out of place! I imagine that is EXACTLY how our immigrant Family's here at Marshall feel when they first come to the US, move to Oklahoma, to the apartments two blocks from the school, and how those little ones feel when they first set foot in our American, English speaking classrooms. Lost, and Alone. Part of me wishes that i DID know Spanish, or had at least retained what i tried to learn years ago..... but part of me is glad that my mind is foggy since i think it will install in me a greater empathy for the students that surround me.
Check out where we are staying!
We are in the Alcatraz Suite.
And this is the school that we will be attending!