Mexico Interim Trip 2009 Updates
This morning we had another large breakfast and then got on the bus to Patzcuaro. Once we got there we boarded a boat to take us to Isla Janitzio. When we got to the island we hiked to the stop where there was a monument of Morelos, a Mexican Independence hero. We visited the museum inside. Next we got to shop at the mercado until it was time to head back to Patzcuaro. We then took the bus into the central part of the city where we had lunch and shopped at the mercado. I bought lots of jewelry. Unfortunately, we then had to board the bus for the long ride back to Guanajuato.
Today was exhilarating, thrilling, amazing, relaxing and breathtaking. I loved every experience that we were introduced to. First, we visited the National Park of Uruapan. It was gorgeous weather, and we had a really cute little boy for our tour guide. Later we went to the volcano and the church. The hour walk there was very chill and laid back, which I liked. When we arrived, we ate authentic blue corn tortillas. They were very good. The volcanic ash was unbelievable and I thought it was really cool how the altar of the church withstood the destruction. We had a nice bus ride home and dinner at the hotel.
Friday, we made our trip to Michoacán, waking up an hour earlier. We stopped in Morelia and we did some sight seeing on a little train. Morelia was extremely different from Guanajuato. Although both colonial, Morelia looked like it belonged in Europe.
We learned some exciting facts about the city's history and the facts behind the older buildings. After that, we went to a candy and chocolate house, which was an old house where chocolate and other traditional candies were made. Then we got back on our nice bus and headed to Uruapan to visit the waterfalls. The waterfalls were huge and beautiful. Near the end of our visit, we went on a huge zip line across the valley. It was exhilarating. Finally after a tiresome day we headed to the hotel for our first night away from our families ever this trip. The hotel was our new weekend home.
On Wednesday, we went to the "Casa del Buen Pastor", a home for girls whose parents cannot afford to take care of them. We played with them and helped make and serve their dinner. What surprised us the most was that these girls were, well, normal. They gossiped with us, put make up on the girls, and played games. Especially for someone in their situation, these girls were remarkably happy, thankful, friendly, and full of life.
We knew that this experience would stay with us forever right as we were about to leave, and the girls started singing a beautiful song about angels. We found that we didn't want to leave, and it took us forever to finish hugging and saying goodbye to everyone. Going there and talking to then truly put a lot of things in perspective for us, and we walked away with a greater appreciation for everything we have, both material and otherwise.
On a lighter note, we also took a salsa class, which was extremely fun and albeit very difficult. We have truly enjoyed getting to see the full spectrum of Mexico's culture.
Back to classes today, in which we went out into the streets and asked the locals a series of questions that our groups came up with. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but by the second question I had gotten comfortable with speaking. As it turns out, the younger generation (our age) is very conscientious of their government and the important events that surround them... Yeah it seems that there is not a lot of that back in the US.
Back at home, I watched the Simpsons with my señor. It was just as funny as the show would be in English, and it is pretty cool to see the same show dubbed in two languages.
Today was a normal day of classes, fun and full of learning. In the afternoon we visited Hacienda San Gabriel. There we walked through many beautiful gardens, terraces, and the colorful and luxurious houses of the hacienda. I've thought a lot about how far I've come since arriving here. I can see a big difference in my speech. I also feel ore confident when speaking. And since we're only halfway through the trip, I know I'm going to keep improving even more.
I'm getting used to the "school routine", and I know how to get there, which is very relieving! During conversation class, we went out on the streets to ask questions to locals about Guanajuato. A man (approx. 65 - 70 yrs.) came up to our group and sang to us.
Later we went to a cyber café, the first one I've ever been to in my entire life! It was pretty cool. I sent emails home, finished my homework assignments, and had an opportunity to text message with my brother.
Student journal entries:
Today was a very long day. We started out at the mummy museums. Next we went to a church called Valenciana, but we could not stay long because a funeral started. The church was more ornate than the one I attend at home. After that we walked over to the mines and learned the history of them. We then got back in the car to go to La Hacienda del Cochero. Here HM's parents surprised him for his birthday. Then for dinner we went to a hotel. They had reserved a room and had mariachis play for us and we all got up to dance to them. After dinner we saw the Callejoneada. I was surprised by the fact that it was at night and people did not mind us walking through the streets with very loud music, which we also got to dance to.
Today my señora´s kids had already gone to school when I went downstairs. Their mom walks them to school because everything here is pretty much in walking distance. In Houston, we drive everywhere. I wish we walked more. I love the fact that your pace dictates how long it takes you to get somewhere not traffic or wrecks. Everything is so close together. The classes help so much especially conversation because all we do is talk. However, the best classroom is my house. My family is constantly asking me questions making me reply on the spot without rehearsal.
Today, a new member joined my home stay family. He is a very nice old man from Seattle. In grammar class, we sang a song called ¨Ojala,¨ by Silvio Rodriguez. I am really beginning to deeply appreciate Spanish music. I focused on using my Spanish all day today, and I quickly discovered that it definitely pays off! I see so much beauty around me in the streets, stores, and people of Guanajuato. On the way to the movie ¨Bolt,¨ we walked through a long tunnel. We rarely see tunnels in Houston; therefore it was an interesting experience that we will all remember!
Day 6: Bufa
Climbing the "Bufa" was amazing! The view was unbelievable and we had the best time. Nowhere else would I be able to climb a beautiful mountain with twelve of my best friends and Profe!! I really opened up more at lunch and had actual conversations with the family. I loved being at Profe’s apartment to cut HM's birthday cake! I never get to walk everywhere and hang out with such great friends in Houston!
Days 3 4 and 5...
This weekend was a lot of fun. Friday, we did the normal school deal, but as an afternoon treat we went to go see a movie! Even though BOLT was a Disney movie, it has easier language, so it was less difficult to follow. Plus the movie itself wasn't half bad. We all had a good time.
Saturday we had an early start at 9am. We visited the mummy museum, which was kind of disturbing, but very interesting. Andy says hoodoo. Next we dove deep into a mine called the Valenciana. We all put on our hard hats and went down the 300 or so vertical feet of mined rocks. This place had gold, silver, copper, iron, and zinc and had been used for a very long time. Next we got back on the van and visited the Hacienda del Cochero, an old torture site where we (especially me) were surprised to see my mom and dad standing behind a cutout of a Guillotine guy. That night we went out to the Casa Colorado, a fancy restaurant with a Mariachi band, which we all danced to for a while. The dinner was fantastic. After that, we cruised through town with the Callejoneada, a group of musicians who were loads of fun. We had a pretty busy Saturday.
Sunday was easier because we got to sleep in until 10 am. We started off the day with a nice hike up the mountain called La Bufa. It was a beautiful climb, especially at the top where we had a 360° view of Guanajuato.
Every day here is an extremely exciting adventure. Class was so much fun today! In Grammar class, we reviewed subjunctive, and in conversation class, we acted out scenarios in Spanish. We laugh a lot at school. I realized that I am becoming more comfortable with my family. During the afternoon, as a group we went to the Museum of Diego Rivera and completed a worksheet about it. The museum was a fabulous and beautiful experience for everyone, and I enjoyed his art a lot.
On our way back home, we stopped at a newspaper stand to buy a magazine for our homework. Finally at home, I ate some dinner and fell asleep content knowing it had been a successful day!
At 8:30 a.m., my friends and I started to make out our 20-minute journey to school. Once we got to the beautiful University, we started classes. In the afternoon, we visited the "Alhóndiga the Granaditas" which is a very important place during the Mexican Independence in 1810. The "Alhóndiga the Granaditas" is now a museum. It is a beautiful place, and the murals were so old and very well preserved. After that we visited the Mercado Hidalgo. The "mercado" is a two-story building with food, souvenirs, and basically everything you could imagine. Then Profe walked with all the girls back to our houses and chatted with all of our señoras. It was a busy and good day for us.
When we arrived in Mexico, we took a short bus ride into Guanajuato. There we met our families and went to their homes. My family here lives in a pretty blue house with yellow windows. They are both so nice and welcomed me into their home. In the afternoon we went over our schedules. Then we had a tour of the city. We went to the top of a mountain using the "funicular". There, we saw the statue of Pipila a hero during the Mexican Independence and we had a great view of the city. The first day has been tough, but hopefully things will get better and my Spanish will improve.
Guanajuato is so beautiful that I bet everyone will love the pictures and journal.
You will hear from us soon,