Day Trip!

Day Trip!

Last week, our friends, Tiffany and Tom, invited us to go with them to Dolores Hidalgo. They were heading out there to look at possible tiles for their new home. They had been there before and knew that it was a center for ceramics. Since I don’t work on Fridays, I had a free day.

Lyn and I hadn’t been to DH before. It isn’t far — about 45 minutes on the other side of San Miguel de Allende. Neither of us knew anything about it other than it is one of those quaint Mexican towns.

After stopping to look at tiles, we ventured into the town, parked the car and headed out to the plaza. The town itself looks like a lot of towns — colorful stucco homes, lots of churches and plazas, and street vendors occupying many streets. Apparently, there was some type of festival going on. There were many vendors selling unusual flavors of ice cream. Things like mole or shrimp and octopus. Ick.

There was one vendor selling huaraches. They were really beautiful! I was so tempted to try on a pair, but I didn’t. I’m still trying hard not to spend too much money.

The chapel for quiet contemplation.

After looking around the plaza and the marketplace, we went to see some of the churches. They were amazing! The first one we visited was done in a Baroque style. Very ornate! In two of the apses, there were these incredibly carved walls. Of course, there were also life-sized statues of Jesus, Mary and others. One of the chapels was extremely simple. The room was reserved for quiet contemplation and prayer with plain white walls, a simple alter and flowers.

The main altar.
Intricately carved apse.
Wine bottle map.

Another stop on the tour was the Wine Museum. Very interesting! While it wasn’t a huge exhibit, it did have interactive displays and a really fun map of Mexico made out of wine bottles. The building where the museum is housed is a former hospital. The grounds were lovely, and included a terrific Italian restaurant.

Courtyard of the old hospital where the wine museum is located.

I’m not sure the name of the second small town we visited. There wasn’t a lot there, but the quaintly cobblestoned street was lined with vendors. Again, we stopped mainly to look at the church. Apparently, it is referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico. Once you walk inside, it is clear just why.

The ride back to Queretaro was quiet. I was falling prey to a bad cold and drifted off every now and then. Needless to say, the next few days were spent sipping tea and trying to cough up a long. Yuck. All better now.

It’s done.

It’s done.

So, Lyn is back home, and with him he brought me some warm hand-me-downs and, most importantly, five canisters of Spark! Oh happy Day!

The clothes arrived just in time for a cold snap. Yesterday it was 6-degrees Celsius — a little above freezing. I don’t know what I would have done without the warm sweaters Saadia sent down. I layered as much as I could to get through my class.

The school isn’t heated. In fact, in the middle of the building there is a very large circular opening (maybe four-feet in diameter) with just a decorative grate. Thankfully my car has heat. And, even more thankfully, our AC unit is also a heater. That meant we had heat in the bedroom. That, extra covers and two cuddly dogs did the trick.

Today is warmer, but the temps will drop again once the sun goes down. Good thing I moved south to avoid the cold winter weather!

On the Boise front…

Lyn’s mom got moved into her new room at the assisted living place. Lyn’s brother managed to get it all done. I can’t dwell on it, or the whole thing will make me crazy. I’m just glad it’s done.

Other news…

Lyn had a job interview this week. This is a good thing. The school is right down the street from my school and almost exactly across from where he used to work. Hector, my academic director, recommended Lyn for the job. Hectors wife works there too, it’s a preparatory school, so high school students. And, they told Lyn that next year they want to offer math in English. That would be awesome! Of source, we’re not counting chickens yet.

Happy Day of the Dead

Happy Day of the Dead

Halloween was last week. Here in Querétaro, they celebrate Halloween as well as Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 2nd). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I had been told  that kids do trick or treat — sometimes for two days — but a bit differently than in the U.S. For example, rather than saying “trick or treat,” they sing. Of course, since I was working, it didn’t matter. I didn’t see anyone.

Turns out that our condominium had a small party for the kids at the pool that evening. They asked what houses would participate so they would only go to those that were on the list. Phew. Although I did buy candy. I’ve been taking it to school for my students.

Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — is what I was looking forward to. I had been invited to go to an event in a cemetery. Everyone I told about the invite said I would absolutely love the experience. Unfortunately, I had to work (again) that night and missed out on the opportunity.

The tradition around Dia de los Muertos is fascinating. In fact, at my school, we participated in a school-wide competition that involved creating an elaborate altar with seven levels. Every level has certain requirements, including food and drink, religious images, use of specific materials (ash, seeds, flowers, candles, etc.), and the highly decorative skulls that are so popular.

Pan de Muerto

There is even a bread called Pan de Muerto. It is a sweet bread with a depiction of bones on the top. It is very yummy.

 

Initially, I was assigned level 7 (the floor), and one of my students and I put together a little display. Ultimately, the school redid it, but I thought ours came out nicely.

Me and Fabiola’s level 7 display. Ultimately, it was replaced with the one below.

Bottom line — Our School Won!

Here’s a pic of the schools alter:

The Anglo’s Day of the Dead altar.

The school also decorated the halls. Since the idea is to celebrate the dead, they had photos of famous English and Mexican writers and celebrities posted around the building, as well as hand decorated paper skulls and halloween decorations. It was very festive.

On Halloween, the school hosted a costume competition for the kids. They were very cute. All-in-all, it was a fun day.

Of course, Christmas is coming and they are already plotting the next competition — a door decorating contest.

Drama. Ugh.

I’m an unusually happy person. I wake up singing. No joke! Singing. But these past few days have tempered even my sunny disposition.

Mi Suegra

My mother-in-law, Mary, has been in the hospital for the last three weeks. My husband went back to Boise to help her transfer ultimately to an assisted living situation. In the meantime, he has to be her full-time caregiver. He’s never been good at these types of things, and now he is responsible for making sure she is compliant with her care instructions. Never mind that he has to get her to acknowledge that she can’t stay in her apartment, will have to get rid of 80% of her stuff, and probably won’t be able to keep her dog. No fun.

Even though he will be there a total of 20 days, there is so much to be done that it is doubtful he will get through it all. His brother will be coming to help out for a couple of weeks as well. Ultimately, I don’t know what is going to happen, but there isn’t anything I can do about it from here. I’m working really hard on letting this one go.

Mi Familia

Even though the new baby is only a week old, there is already drama on the home front. I really dislike drama. Now I am the one in the barrel. My niece is angry with me because I said she needed to be respectful of her grandparents who are getting on in years and have their own issues. You see, she and her boyfriend and the baby are moving back home, into Bob & Ellen’s house, that is. Having a newborn baby around isn’t easy when you are the mother, never mind when you are older. Crying babies, dirty diapers, extra people and a dog can all add a lot of stress, never mind expense. More laundry, more showers, more electricity, more people, more money.

What can I say? Bob and Ellen have been the bedrock of this family for 50 years. They have given and given and given, yet it is rare that anyone takes their feelings, needs or wants into consideration. It makes me angry.

They, however, just keep putting up with it. “Going with the flow,” is what Bob said to me this morning. At some point, the “flow” just might drowned him. And then what will the family do?

Ah, well. I promised myself I wouldn’t get too enraged about this. Again, I have to let it go.

Let it go.

Let it go.

Let it go!

It’s a Boy!

It’s a Boy!

I just learned that my niece, Jennifer, had her baby. She wasn’t due until the end of the month, so it came a little early. Nevertheless, he’s a healthy 7 lb 8 ounce baby boy named Bryson Bruce.

It was welcomed news during a period of intense stress over health issues with family. My brother-in-law just had a hip replaced, my step-dad is going through chemo (again), and my mother-in-law has been in the hospital for three weeks and will likely be there a while longer. Being in another country has left us a wee-bit helpless in all of these situations. Although, in some ways, it has been a blessing.

In fact, one of the reasons we left the US was to get away from the hassles of caring for everyone. I admit, I’m a fixer, and if I were there, I would be doing everything possible to make everything “right,” which is what I always did when I lived there. That made me totally crazy and stressed out. From here, while I feel powerless, I at least am more sane not having to be the one to do everything.

With regard to my side of the family, they are well equipped, emotionally and financially, to handle their lives. My husband’s family, well, not so much. So, right now, with his mom in the hospital with a recurrence of breast cancer and a brain tumor, we are paying for people to assist and support her as well as doing whatever we can from afar. Fortunately, Lyn has taken over the responsibilities of managing it all. I couldn’t have done it for many reasons. First, I’m working full time. Second, I am not the one who should be making decisions about her healthcare. It’s time for Lyn and his brother to take over.

So, that where things are.

My beautiful, very pregnant niece, Jennifer.

Congratulations Jennifer! I can’t wait to get pictures of the newest addition to the family. And, please, remember that Bob and Ellen are getting on in years and have their own issues. I love you, sweetie! Be good.

Time is flying

Time is flying

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I wrote anything here. It isn’t because I don’t have things to say — I always have something to say — it is more because I have been so busy!

Teaching

I started my new job about six weeks ago, so I have completed the first round of classes. I definitely LOVE THIS JOB! I am having so much fun. The people that work here — the teachers, the administrators and the staff — are just wonderful people. Every day you are greeted with kisses and hugs, coffee and plenty of happy people. And that’s just the people who work here.

The students are equally wonderful. They are typically excited to be here. They pay a lot of money for the opportunity and are motivated to achieve their language goals. There are a couple of younger students (teens 14-19) that are a bit more challenging to engage. After all, they already have school work to do. This just adds to it. Nevertheless, if you can find a way to engage them, they bring an incredible life to the classroom.

For example, I have one 17-year-old student that loves science fiction movies, so, yesterday, we talked about SETI, METI and the pros and cons of finding life on other planets. We also talked about movies like Arrival, which was focussed on decoding language in order to communicate with visitors from another world. When possible, I also bring Marvel and DC comic movies into the discussion. They are very popular here.

If there is a downside, it is that some of the classes are small, like two people. Sometimes both students are absent. When that happens, you have to stick around to be sure that they don’t just show up late. That is a little dull. In fact, that is why I am working on this blog! I know for sure one of my students isn’t coming. The other hasn’t reached out to me yet, so I can’t be sure if she’s just late or not coming at all.

Business Classes

I did have the opportunity to teach at a business, too. It was a course on telephoning and teleconferencing. At first, it was very challenging, as the materials were not really appropriate for the level of the students. Additionally, the materials were out of date. It took a while for me to actually figure out how to manage the class. My midterm reviews from them were not good. In fact, I would say some were downright mean.

Nevertheless, I carried on and got through. After it was all over, they were happy.  They even wanted me back! That was a big surprise. However, here, they rotate the teachers to give students different perspectives and expose them to different styles and accents.

My business class at PSL.

The Home Front

In August, Lyn got a job teaching 7th Grade English. At first, he really liked it. But the honeymoon period was over quickly and the students’ behavior became unmanageable for him. I met the kids one night when we were at the mall. A big group of them were also there.

Lyn’s 7th graders

 

The end result was that he quit the job. It was best, although he was very sad, too. He really liked the kids; he just couldn’t control them so he could teach effectively.

In the long run, this was a good thing. Shortly after he left the job, his mother developed some serious medical issues and, as of right now, is in a rehab hospital. Lyn’s time is being devoted to managing her care and, alternatively, to studying Spanish.

Ten months and counting

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 months since we left the US. While the first month was in a different city, it was effectively the start of this grand adventure. We are finally getting a little time to explore and enjoy ourselves. Lyn is starting to drive and get out and about on his own. This morning he is grocery shopping while I work on my lesson plans for the week.

I’m always checking in with him about this move, if he thinks it was a good thing or if he has any regrets. He seems to be content overall. Me? I’m happy as a clam. I’m making friends, going places, learning new things. If only I could get some exercise, I’d be even happier. Ah, well. Soon.

 

 

 

A New Normal

A New Normal

Most weekdays

5:15 a.m.

  • Get up (really?).
  • Feed the dogs.
  • Shower, if time.
  • Dress.
  • Eat.
  • Take meds, vites, etc.
  • Kiss the hubby good-bye while he slumbers
El Refugio at 6:00 in the morning.

6:00 a.m.

  • Leave. If I’m lucky, I’ll get their before the students do. Class starts at 7:00. Ah, traffic!

7:00 a.m.

  • First class of the day. Everyone looks tired. I know I am. Here we go, though.
  • Smile.
  • Get the students talking.

9:00 a.m.

  • Head back home.

10:00 a.m.

  • C’mon mom! Let’s play!

    Take a nap, if possible. (Dogs: seriously? what about our walk? You’ve been promising….)

  • Work on lesson plans.
  • Freelance assignments.
  • Laundry, dishes, housework, pay bills, make calls….

2:45 p.m.

  • Head to Juriquilla to pick up Lyn at 3:30.
  • Hit the bank or grocery store on the way home, or sometimes stop for a bite to eat.

4:00 p.m.

  • Lyn vegges, naps and/or showers while I start dinner.

5:00 p.m.

  • Eat (standing up).
  • Wash dishes.
  • Review lesson plan for evening class.

6:00 p.m.

  • Head back downtown to teach.

7:30 p.m.

  • If I’m lucky, I’m there a few minutes early. If I’m not, I’m running in the door three steps ahead of my students.

9:00 p.m.

  • Head back home.
  • Get the morning’s materials together so I don’t forget anything.
  • Drink a glass of wine.
  • Shower.
  • Prepare clothes for tomorrow so when I wake up in the dark I can find them.

11:00 p.m.

  • Collapse into a coma-like state. 5:15 will be here before you know it.
The Anglo glows in the dark to greet me each morning.

Saturdays

6:00 a.m.

  • Wake up.
  • Slug coffee, breakfast, meds and vites.

6:45 a.m.

  • Leave for school. Traffic is lighter. Phew.

7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

  • Class.

2:00 p.m.

  • Fill out class paperwork, talk with colleagues.

3:00 p.m.

  • Home.
  • Nap.
  • Drink liberally.

Sunday

  • Thank you, God, for a day off. Well, not really.
  • Grocery shopping, laundry, housework.
  • Me and Jonathan at my favorite place — the pool! He’s helping me with my Spanish.

    If I’m really lucky, a quick dip in the pool.

Monday…

Repeat as above.

Oh, wait! I have another class starting tomorrow. A business English class on telephone and teleconferencing skills. M,W,F from 4-6 p.m. Looks like Lyn will have to find another ride home.

TTFN