I realize that I am lucky to have been born in the United States. I didn’t understand the magnitude of my good fortune until I lived in Mexico for a few years. Don’t get me wrong—Mexico is a great place to live, absorb culture and increase language competency. I’m not writing to bash any country. I’m just pointing out that a trip to the post office can be a radically different experience depending on the location.
What I mean is here in the U. S., I have a car and a good job. That gives me the ability to go to the store when I wish or to the post office. I remember when I was in Mexico I’d chat with friends and family who would remind me to check the mail. That could be a major day trip in some cases in Mexico. The small town where we lived didn’t even have a post office. I had a Suburban to drive, but I didn’t always have the pesos to put gas in the tank. That meant I had to spent a few pesos to ride the bus from the village to the city of Mérida. I was also at the mercy of the bus schedule. Usually one left on the hour if the drivers were on time.
The bus trip itself took about 45 minutes each way on a good day, not counting traffic or maybe oppressive heat. (Sometimes the heat alone would leave me melting in my hammock! Forget travel on days like those!) Are you with me so far? We haven’t made it to the post office yet! To get there, I would have to get off of the bus at the corner about ten blocks away from the actual post office. I’d either wait for a city bus or I could walk. If it was a cooler day, I’d walk. I knew I was getting close when I passed the police station. Once at the post office, I’d chat with Doña Landy as I checked the mail. The ladies there took good care of us.
Since Mexico is a warm place and I spent time walking, I’d need to get a Coca Cola before boarding another bus to go to the centro (downtown area) to take the bus home again. I always thought it best to make a morning trip to the city if I had to go. At least that way, I might be home by early afternoon before the full heat wave hit. By the time all was said and done, a simple trip to the post office would have cost me a lot of effort and probably at least half the day.
The next time you check your mail, remind yourself that things aren’t always as easy as they seem.
Unless you have a camera recording all the time, when events have passed, all you’ll have are flashes of memories—snippets. My snippets from my latest “adventure” include: a frog-faced woman at the airport, a double rainbow in Merida, ice cream with Maestro Wilmer, riding the bus with Judith, playing air hockey with Chary….There are so many memories in my head, I’m afraid they’ll be forgotten before I can put them on paper. Gone like leaves in the wind. Some things I wish I could forget. Those things are tucked away until they are manageable.
Leticia’s restaurant has fabulous food!
Wow. Today was pretty darn good! Just being Friday (which means early release) put today a step above the rest. One class had an all-time best for vocabulary, so they got to play basketball for almost 20 glorious minutes. How does it get better than that? My small Spanish class of seventh graders had an even better time. We were lucky enough to Skype with one of my former bosses in Mexico. (Mrs. Cochran made it possible with the camera and microphone.)
The kids loved chatting with Joe, and so did I. After the call ended, though, I felt an unexpected moment of sadness. Just seeing the familiar buildings and faces made me realize how much I miss being there. I remembered everything…..the banana tree in the back patio, the classrooms, the street in front of the school. Simply describing things to my students is just not enough. They need to SEE it all. The entire class is willing to visit Joe and check out life in Mexico.
The kids learned that Joe has been in Merida for the last 20 years. He owns and operates the American English Center. According to Joe, more students study at his school than before. It’s good to know his business is growing. Joe’s a top-notch boss as well as a great friend. His home state (Texas) should be proud of him. At least I’m sure he’ll go down in history with my young students.
Today’s topic: How would you rate your self confidence? When is it at its lowest? When is it at its highest?
Even if I don’t feel confident, I can fake it pretty well. I feel my best when I’m on what I consider “home turf.” I could confidently show a friend how to navigate downtown Merida, for example, or rural Virginia where I grew up.
My confidence is a bit shaky when I have a presentation to make. I was a bit nervous at the NILA conference last year. It didn’t help that my video segments refused to play during the presentation! I admit to feeling out of my element in crowds, but I can survive it. I hate to be put on the spot without warning.