Taking Things for Granted

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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.

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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.

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Snippets

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.

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Leticia's restaurant has fabulous food!

Leticia’s restaurant has fabulous food!

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A Productive Day

I got up earlier than planned this morning, so after my first cup of coffee, I threw on enough clothes to avoid arrest and went to feed a pal’s cats and make sure Bela’s horse, Oreo, had plenty of fresh water for the day.  Oreo was happy that I showed up with a bit of grain for her (not that she needs it).  I even managed to check the mail and take out the trash.  (In all fairness, Bela helped with the trash.)

The part of my day that made me feel super, über productive was attending a few webinars for teachers.  I signed up for five, but I think I might skip the one about math apps.  I can always watch it later if I need it, but math is not my area of expertise.  I teach 7th grade world history and Spanish (in case you didn’t already know that).

Anyway, I have already started typing my notes to share with a fellow educator using my Google Drive.  My friend, Wilmer (in Mexico) was “stuck” in meetings today, so I promised that I’d share my notes.  Wilmer and I are a lot alike.  We are language teachers who always keep learning, and we enjoy collaborating.

My friends know I collect certificates, and I’m always seeking online (and free) classes.  I need to stay busy.  (I just started a Chinese for Beginners class on Coursera!)  Staying busy keeps me out of trouble (always a good thing), and the classes can be done in my living room.  In my jammies.  You can’t beat that kind of convenience.

This morning I attended Lauren Boucher’s “15 Free Mobile Apps to Promote Creativity through Creation,” Shelly Terrell’s “15 Free Mobile Digital Storytelling Apps,” and Dr. Jayme Linton’s “15 Free Mobile Apps to Engage and Motivate Learners.”  I knew about some of the apps, but there were many more I hadn’t heard of.  I am so glad I took the time to attend!

If you are a teacher who loves technology, please head on over to Simplek12 and sign up for some really interesting and helpful webinars.  You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.simplek12.com/

 

Ready, Set, GO!

I have noticed that I am getting less and less tolerant of everything. I have never been the most patient person, but lately I have even less than normal. Kids misbehaving? STOP! Kids who don’t want to put in time to learn? FAIL! I can’t make people do anything, so I will allow everyone to make choices based on their goals in life. After all, I have to decide for myself. If I want to earn a living, I’ll work hard. If I want to succeed or learn a special skill, I will find a way to do it, not make an excuse for why I can’t. What all this means is that I am ready for a break! I can be packed in about ten minutes.

I’ve been looking at old photos from Mexico, and I am missing some friends and places. I’m sure you can tell by what I have posted recently! The first chance I get, I’m heading south for a few days. There are plenty of places for me to crash without worrying about paying hotel prices. I could spend days catching up with friends. We stay in touch with Facebook, but it’s not the same as sitting down over coffee.

Hopefully, one day soon I will be posting some up-dated photos of friends and places in Mexico. Until then, I will try to be more patient….

You having fun over there?  KNOCK IT OFF!

You having fun over there? KNOCK IT OFF!

Summer Treat

Looking through my old photos makes me long to be back in Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, things weren’t always fun and easy, but Bela and I had many good times. Bela loved getting a “raspadita” every chance she got. 🙂 Snow cones are wonderful in any language!

I bet these guys are still selling raspaditas in Seye.

I bet these guys are still selling raspaditas in Seye.

White Skin, Mexican Heart (Preview)

I see my younger daughter’s eyes glaze over as her daddy and I tell one more round of “remember that time in Mexico….” Used to be, she’d chime in with her own recuerdos. Now that she’s a teenager, her memories seem to be pushed back into the closet of her mind, stored like winter clothes no longer needed, but pulled out when the chill comes to the air once again. She is living in America after years in Mexico. I am still living in Mexico, at least in my dreams.

For as long as I can remember, my dream was to live in Mexico. There was never a solid reason why; it was just something I had in my heart and guarded until the right time. When I met my husband, things suddenly made sense. He took me to visit there, and I was in love—with him and Mexico. My mom jokingly told me I was dropped by gypsies, and that’s where my urge to travel came from.

My husband, mi media naranja, and I relive Mexico like it was yesterday, for it feels that way. We lived through hard times, no doubt, but we have made it—back on top after years of struggling and separation. And, yes, we do remember vividly all the battles we fought to be together and make a life that matters. As he says, “When the children are gone, what will we have? We have to build our lives, not around them, but as an example to them.” My hombre is a smart one.

I remember when I took our young daughter, Ysabela, to Mexico for the first time. We drove from Virginia to Merida, then on to Seye. To home. My father-in-law came with us to “protect” and smooth the way. I suspected he just wanted to go home and relive his old times with his friends. He did help, especially when we crossed the frontera. Everyone was crammed into a blue Suburban bought for four thousand dollars. We received many funny looks—a gringa with her hija, suegro, seven huge cats and a guard dog bigger than most had ever seen in the pueblos. Amigo was his name, and he was magnificent. Part chow, part German shepherd, he had a cinnamon Chow physique with the black muzzle of the shepherd. In his eyes, I could see an almost-human intelligence. Once we got to the village, he was my guardaespalda. Nobody dared come near me when he was close. One wrong move and I know he would have gone for the throat. Somehow, the malvados knew it too.

I was excited to see Mexico through Ysabela’s eyes. All she knew of Mexico was from our stories. The first day of our new life was full of wonder—for us, especially Ysabela—and for the gente in the village. Apparently we were the first gringas to be there in a long time. They were accustomed to the church missionaries visiting and leaving soon, but we were different. I moved the pets in and secured the house while I watched Bela out the living room window. I lost sight of her, so I went outside. She had been playing in the park across the narrow street. All I could see at first was a mosh pit of Mexican children. I finally caught sight of her in the very center of it all. Girls were touching her hair and looking at her like a doll on the shelf at Wal-Mart. Bela has always had the black hair and eyes of her daddy, but pale skin like me. The first few weeks were difficult for her, I know. You would have never known it just by watching her, though. Full of herself at just seven years old, she expected to be liked and accepted. Eventually she was. She learned Spanish the easy way—she was surrounded by it and consumed by the desire to make herself understood. In three months, the bad kids no longer could insult her and sit back and laugh. She could defend herself quite nicely—or not so nicely. While she learned the language and soaked up the culture, she would tell me some of the kids called her “inglesa.” I told her she’s americana. That’s different. Many of the children were simply curious; others were hostile and envious. In their eyes, Ysabela had it all. She brought toys with her, of course, and everyone wanted in the house to see and report to their mamas. There was much chisme about who we “really” were.

To be continued….

The Chicken Chick

Ruins

My friends, Rosario and Judith, took us to see some ruins near Tekax (Yucatan, Mexico) a few years ago. I had a lot of fun, but Ysabela and I were sure tired when we got finished! It was awesome to meet their families and enjoy some great cooking!

Victory!

Victory!

Beautiful scenery near Tekax!

Beautiful scenery near Tekax!

Sinister, isn't it?

Sinister, isn’t it?

Rosario and her dad

Rosario and her dad

Rosario and her mom

Rosario and her mom

Judith and her mom

Judith and her mom

The Chicken Chick