Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 15: New Discoveries

These past few days of teaching have been pretty fun. Besides sometimes not having kids at all, the days I do have kids, they are pretty good for me! I like teaching the older kids and having pretty decent conversations with them. I also enjoy teaching a lot of different subjects... This makes me wonder if I should go into K-6 teaching... that's new discovery #1.
Discovery #2. Kids here like the Muppets more than Sesame Street. Good to know for future learning videos. 
I made another discovery. I was craving chocolate today. I didn't know this though until one of the little girls brought in a chocolate bar and said it was for me. As soon as I realized what it was, I was pretty delighted to have chocolate. The other discovery as I ate it later, things either taste better here or better in America. Chocolate here is better. However, wafers are not. But that's ok. It was still a good chocolate bar. 
Another discovery I made about food was definatly a surprise to me. I was eating a really good soup mi mama had made and there were these pieces of what tasted like dense popcorn. I asked what they were and she told me they were Garbanzo Beans. REALLY??? I'd gone through my whole life never trying them and thinking they would be gross. Turns out, I like Garbanzo Beans. Go figure. 
And the discoveries keep coming!! I looked on Netflix because I was kind of bored and a little sick one night and I found that the movies on the Netflix channel in Mexico are 1 Million times better than the movies in the USA! Or Netflix just got a deal with disney and The Back to the Future people. Yesterday's movie? Back to the Future III with spanish subtitles. Woo! Tonight's movie? The Swan Princess! I love everything about this movie. It's funny, witty, and the music is pretty awesome. 
So that's my day today. Pretty good. I'm excited for friday though. :) Tomorrow's discovery will be on how to use the Kombi. Wish me luck!! 
Still lovin life like crazy

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 12: First Day of School

Today was finally the day. 

The day that I had prepared for.

The reason I am in Mexico.

Today was the first day...

I taught English. 

After all the vacation and meeting mi familia, it was time to buckle down and get to work. I was stressing a lot today before I had class because I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if I would have enough material for the 2 hour classes, if it was even at the children's level, whether or not the kids would behave or even like me... There was a lot of uncertainty when I woke up this morning. 

However! I realized it was Monday, and Monday is always a good day because I get email. I have a dear friend who is serving a mission in Sweden who sends emails out to family and friends weekly. His awesome mom posts them on a blog (so go check it out if you'd like to know more about what he does {Austin's Mission to Sweden: I felt like a greenie again!). This email was actually pretty perfect for me and gave me hope. He talked about his recent experience with an investigator. He was called in to help teach someone in french because he used to speak french (before he started to learn swedish). It was interesting to read that even though he prepared like crazy, he still didn't do as well as he had hoped. However, he didn't give up. He went home and studied. He prepared more. I think if that had been me, I wouldn't have done that. It payed off for him though! He succeeded in teaching in french the next day. It's actually better if you just go read the story cause he tells it way better than me. 
ANYWAY. Long story short, I felt like even if I failed today, I could regroup and try again tomorrow. 

So I prepared till my first class started at four. Leslie, my sister was the first to arrive.
We waited for the other girls that were on the roll to be in my class. 

We waited...

And waited...

And waited...

And then...

waited a little longer...

Finally, I decided to start the lesson because who arrives to class 30 minutes late? Seriously. 

I taught my entire lesson with just me and Leslie. It was actually pretty fun. She is very smart and a good learner. It was actually more stressful when my Head Teacher came in to see how things were going.

After the first class, I actually felt a little sorry for the other teachers. They looked like their nerves were being tried to the limit. I was grateful for the tender mercy God gave me today. I can't let this get to my head though. There are always things I can improve on. 

The second class was good too! There were four boys (huh, kinda like home) and they were all really smart and definatly right at the level that I had prepared. I'm waiting for the second shoe to drop though... it's almost too good to be true to have 2 classes where nothing really goes wrong. 

I have a feeling that this semester will be a good one. I will probably face challenges with the kids but for now, I'm glad they were good for me today. It gave me confidence to move on and to take a breath and say to myself, "You're ok. You can do this."

I know that this is going to be a part of my life forever. Teaching. I love it and I love to see kids learning. My favorite part is when you're explaining something and they're struggling but all of the sudden something clicks and they get it! The light goes on. That's why I like teaching. You're teaching these kids truth and as soon as they understand, they get a little more light in their life. Truth is what I love and I can't help but share that. That is why I am a teacher. I love it. :) I love it like crazy

Day 11: Mi Familia en Mexico!

Ok, I skipped a couple days but mostly it was traveling, training for teaching, and getting settled in Tehuacan, and I forgot the rest. Kind of boring stuff. And today was a good day so I wanted to write about it before I forgot it. 
Today was a pretty good Sunday for me! I got to go to church and lucky me it's only a five minute walk away from my house! I got there and it was kinda funny cause I was the ONLY blonde in the building. Oh wait, there was one other. It was one of the missionaries. Actually, he walked in and saw me, and his eyes got really wide like he was surprised to see a white girl.

Sacrament meeting was really good and I understood some of it... ok not too much but a bit. Then the missionaries told me where Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society met. In gospel doctrine I met a lady who was from Idaho Falls who was kind enough to sit with me and help translate for me. She had the cutest little kid you ever did see! 
The lessons were good. We were in Helaman 13-16 and the talk from last conference called "Sacrifice" by Elder Oaks. We talked about where your heart is and the sacrifices that we make as members of the church. It was good even though I didn't understand a whole lot of it.

After Church, mi hermona y yo watched the hunger games. To help with her english, we watched it in english with spanish subtitles. It's still a good movie the second time around. It was my sister's first time seeing it though so she was worried the whole time that Katniss wouldn't make it! Yeah, it actually scared me a little too... even though I knew what was coming. Funny how movies can do that. 

After the movie we went on a little drive up to the mountains to play with one of the family's friends. We went to this restaurant that was pretty cool. I call it the secret restaurant because when you drive up to it, it just looks like an ordinary general store. BUT in the back, is the entrance that opens up to a nice restaurant. I thought it was cool. I tried Pozole for the first time. My host dad loves it and they told me it was only a little spicy. So, me and my tender taste buds decided to get adventurous. 
That isn't my picture but it is Pozole for ya'll who are wondering what the heck it even is. 
I actually really like the stuff in it. Except the broth. I would change the broth to a chicken stock and it would become my favorite soup. Closely behind clam chowder and my mom's chicken noodle soup. The broth was kind of spicy, but as you ate more and more, it felt like the spice just kept adding instead of fading away. I had to stop eating it so I wouldn't make myself sick... which was sad cause I wanted to eat it... Does anyone else ever have this problem? 
So, I learned a valuable lesson and my familia won't let me forget it. A little spicy to mexicans is REALLY spicy for me. I'm proud of myself for trying it though. Just had a thought: Chandler would LOVE it. 

We got up to the park in the mountains called Puerto del aire and it was SO BEAUTIFUL!

Mi y mis hermanas
Once we got out of the car, as is custom and expected, out came the futbol. We were just kicking it around but then we started a game. Me and mi papa vs Daniel (the family friend) and Leslie. 

Not to brag or anything, but me and papa totally won after a awesome comeback. Woo!

Then we went walking through the foliage and saw some pretty amazing sites from on top of this mountain. It reminds me of Oregon... just different trees and bigger hills. 

The coolest part about being up that high? It feels like you're touching the clouds. At one point, we were actually in a cloud as it rolled in and you could feel it in the air! Too cool. I've always secretly wanted to touch the clouds and now I have!

Holly (dog), Daniel, Leslie, Me, Camila, y Mama
I call her Sugar. She's too sweet!

This picture gets to be explained. Me and Leslie bust up laughing every time we see it. So what had happened was we were playing a little futbol before we left and I don't know why, but Leslie decided to pick up a stick at the same time me and mama were posing for a picture. Somehow, that stick got tangled up in my hair, and when Leslie went to throw it on the ground, I went with it. Best part was, this all happened right as papa took the picture. Still laughing... but maybe it was a "you had to be there" moment.  

I love spending Sundays with family. No matter what part of the world I'm in. It's always fun to laugh, play, and bond with those people who are near and dear to you. I plan on doing things like this with my own future family. As our family says, "A family that plays together, stays together."... and "Long live the Dinosaur!" But that's a different story. 

So all is well in beautiful Mexico. Loving it like crazy. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 7: My life in Ruins

Today started off with another early morning. This time it was to catch the bus to Palenque. One the way, I decided to do some prep for the upcoming adventure of the day. I watched a beloved movie of mine...
 Road to El Dorado. :D
Ok it's not totally about Mayans but we were going to Palenque to see ruins. Actually there were some similarities between the movie and the things we learned about the Mayans.

Back to the day...

We got to Palenque and realized that it was SUPER hot there. Mostly muggy. So we changed at the hostel and then caught a kombi to the ruins. 

Mi kombi primero (my first kombi)!

It actually wasn't too bad.

It wasn't a very long bus ride to the ruins and once we got there, everyone decided we were going to take a guided tour. Honestly, I wasn't really into it because I feel like money just kind of disappears on vacations... But it turned out to be a really good thing. Our guide was pretty funny and had tons of information about each of the ruins and the jungle we went through. We didn't get a whole lot of time since the park closed at 5 but we were able to see just about everything. 

First, we saw the palace. This was where the King lived and our guide told us about the King Pacal. He actually had a limp that is depicted in one of the murals on the palace pillars. 

There was another mural that was the coronation of the king. It is his mother on the left giving the crown to Pacal. I think the Queen's name was also Pacal. Don't quote me on that though.

There were other murals in the palace. There was "Mickey Mouse"... and other random carvings...

To the right is a carving of the God of Rain. I don't remember his real name... 

Inside the palace was the royal court where there were certain seats for the rulers. The chief would sit in a special place where the sun would come through the window at a certain time and illuminate the spot where he sat. Pretty smart construction if you ask me!

From this court we could look out and see what was apparently once a ball court! They played the game similar to the one in "Road to El Dorado". Too cool. I would totally love to play this game. Kinda like futbol but you play with your hip and you have to get it through a hoop. 

Near the court there was this tower where they charted the stars and created the mayan calandar....
"Stars... Can't do it... Not today."

 The doorways were so short, I barely fit through them. It was kinda funny to feel like I was tall for a change. 

That rock table? That's actually a bed. Now take a moment to appreciate that your bed is not actually a slab of limestone. Go ahead. Think about it. :)
We wandered some more and our guide was kind enough to show us how the bathroom was used by the Mayans. This is his demonstration. Classy, no?

Then we were shown the aqueducts that they built. The water came from natural springs near the temples. 

Avocado anyone? 

Or perhaps a banana? 

Next stop was the temple of the sun. I think how it worked was on the summer solstice the sun would shine through the top in a certain way... again don't quote me on it. There were lots of cool inscriptions on it. I think it was one of my favorite temples. 

Next to it was the temple of the shaman, or the medicine man... or maybe it was the priest... no, It's the shaman's temple. It seriously had a million stairs. Ok, not quite that many but I can imagine that this shaman either never came down from the temple or had legs of steel. The view from the top of the temple was beautiful though. you could see everything. And hear everything. There were these howler monkeys that sounded pretty angry. I thought it might be a jaguar at first but the guide said it was howler monkeys. Go figure. They really do howl. 

Then we ventured into the jungle. There were tons of huge trees (as is to be expected)...

And lots of vines to swing on and pretend I'm Jane of the Jungle!

I think this is leftover ruins of another pyramid. The jungle took over the pyramids before they were uncovered again. Some ruins weren't able to be uncovered though... I call this one the hobbit hole. :)
While walking through the jungle, it started to rain really hard but none of the raindrops hit us. We were totally dry under the canopy of the jungle trees. I thought that was pretty cool. Continuing our journey, our guide was following us and then suddenly stopped and looked at the ground where I was standing. Now you know when your guide freaks out, there's got to be something wrong. So I'm standing still all worried and all I can say is "QUE?" (what?). Then he just laughs at me. Funny scare. Ha... At least there wasn't anything really there. 

And then our tour was over and it was time to go home for a nap. Hooray! All the adventures and walking was starting to wear on me. But I definatly enjoyed the day's adventure and learning more about the Mayans. It was cool to wonder what story from the Book of Mormon would talk about this place, or who lived here, Nephites or Lamanites? I won't know till I ask them in heaven but it would be cool to really know what everything meant and what the people were like and such. 

All in all, a pretty love like crazy day. :) 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 6: Total Tourist

Today was definatly a tourist day. We woke up and started to... 

wait for it...

let the suspense build...

Site seeing. Oh yeah. 

Even better we found...

A flea market. And Ponchos. Yeah. We're cool. No really, we're just tourists. 

Most of this post will just be pictures. Not a whole lot to say actually. The most we saw were streets and cathedrals. They were pretty awesome. 

There was lots of really awesome wall art around the streets. This is just the coolest one I saw. And the Rainbow Door. We were loving that.

This girl would not leave us alone. There's lots of peddlers who come up to you (with most of the same things) and will try to get you to buy something. Most of the time we can get away with saying "No, gracias." But this girl was either persistent, or didn't understand us. So in hopes to kind of scare her, I took a picture. She wasn't looking so it didn't really work. She eventually left but now I have a picture. The kids here are pretty darn cute. 
I have to explain that the picture with us walking was incredibly hard to do! We did this picture probably four or five times. All the while, these guys found us quite amusing as I went back and forth to see if the picture turned out. I was a little embarrassed but we got the picture. Mission accomplished. 

Most people who see us must think we are so weird for taking so many pictures. This was supposed to say "Friends 4 ever". You can see the 4 ever part. Just a reminder of the great friendships we're already making on this trip! 

The find of the day? Harem pants. No joke, I really got them and they're super comfy. Mine even have silver thread in them so they kind of sparkle. I'm a total sucker for sparkle. And comfort. Janessa and I got some. Success. :)

For dinner, we were in search of a supposed Tai Restaurant that was apparently really good. But we didn't find it. However, we did find Falafel and that was REALLY good. Falafel with veggies and humus all stuffed into a fresh made pita bread. Even though it's not Mexican, still delicious.

They had this really cool mural on the wall with things written in different languages. Most of them were "thank you" and "delicious". 
I found one word that I know in a different language (besides spanish). 
"Tack" means thank you in Swedish. :)

That car made everyone's day. Of course we would freak over a car with a big Auto-bots sticker on the front of it. Wouldn't you? Ok maybe not, but hey, it's still a good memory.
Autobots, Roll out!

As it was getting dark we headed to the last Church before heading back to the hostel. There were quite a few steps to get to the top of it, but the view was pretty incredible. While sitting and gazing out over the city (there were even a few lightning flashes was in the distance), we sat in silence and pondered. I don't know what the other girls were thinking but I was thinking about the view. It reminded me of long drives with my family when we would go for miles without seeing a city and then all of the sudden there would be lights in the distance. I was always mesmerized by the lights. I don't know why. 
After sitting for a while we decided that we should all tell stories. First, we started with embarrassing ones. No, I won't tell them but they were definatly funny. Then we started talking more and more and I could feel the bonding. Funny how talking is the real way to bond. If you want to get closer with someone, talk with them. Ask them their thoughts, and listen. It's becoming my favorite thing to do. 

There's something about this place. It's making me see the world not necessarily in a different way, but more of how similar everything is. I mean, the USA isn't too different from Mexico probably because of how close they are, but it isn't as strange as I thought it would be. Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon stage of culture shock, but I also feel kind of at home here. Don't worry mom, I'll still come back, but the only thing out of place about me and Mexico is the fact that I'm blonde and speak very little spanish. Although I don't plan on becoming a brunette anytime soon, I hope to learn more spanish in the coming months. 

I love what I'm learning out here. The things I'm seeing, the people I meet, the friends I've already made, it's all a wonderful experience. And it's not even close to being over! I'm so excited for the rest of my journey and the growth I will hopefully gain from it all. :)

Just another day where I remember the things that make me love life like crazy