Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I think I'm finally starting to think in Spanish. I have to think now about works in English. Well, OK, only one really. Tubos. Concrete pipe. I look at concrete pipe now and think tubos. Which when you are talking to someone who speaks English - the word comes across as being kind of funny.

I also had my first serious misunderstanding in Spanish. I was totally confused about some measurements, and I was trying to explain what I thought, and Jorge was trying to explain how it actually was. It should have been about a two minute conversation, but it took us about 30 minutes to drudge through. I kind of felt like an idiot, because it was just a confusion about the metric system (mm, cm and m). It was so incredibly hard to try to explain and point out things that you are absolutely SURE of when you don't know the words and you can't be understood exactly. I was SUPER frustrated, but I handled it well. Instead of clamming up I continued to try to explain myself in different ways, and I actually was laughing, although I wanted to cry.

Turned out we were both right - he just used a different way to notate things in his log book. But now, at least he doesn't think I'm an idiot (at the end of the conversation I said "I promise, I am very intellegent!". He seemed to believe me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

oh what a weekend

The weekend passed well, with mucho mucho action! We went shopping on Saturday, and then attended our holiday party. I didn't win a TV, but I did score a new Sony DVD player, so that worked out OK. Keith managed to make out by scoring a new God Father, and he also learned the term "Tequila por favor. Derecho." which means straight in a little brandy glass with no chaser. He should have learned his lesson when we were out in Mexico City - but alas, no, he did not, and suffered horribly as I heard him hurling through my thick concrete walls.

This morning, he didn't get up with me to go to visit the family of our friend Veronica, and her friend (now ours too) Consuelo. They are two very fun women! I had a great time today, because I love meeting new people, espeically if they like me and want to adopt me as a surrogate child, and esecially if free food and beer is involved. Thats not my problem at all. I have come to find that I am a true American, and I only like to visit people for a couple hours. Mexicans like to visit for HOURS AND HOURS ON END! We got to her brothers house for the little fiesta at eleven, and finally left at 7!!! It would have been more enjoyable had I not had a tiny "cruda" or hangover from the night before. I managed to put down three beers with lunch (Carnitas, mole, arroz, y consumme) but Vero and Chelo put down five more aftelr I was done. I was so ready to leave by 3pm.

On a side note I had no idea there were a million different "breeds" of fighting roosters. Vero's brother Roberto was big into them! He had about 30 of them at his shop (he's in the truck transportation business, the party was at his shop - it was ginormous!). They were each in individual, very spacious corrals, and apparantly they are entitled to congugal visits because they had a few girl chickens in thier own spaces too. Naturally the boys were all separated. Now, I have never been a big fan of animal fighting (racing, yes, fighting, no), but apparantly its quite a site to be seen. So, Keith and I are officially invited to the biggest cock fighting event of the year in March to watch his birds have it out. I will say this, these animals are INCREDIBLE looking! Colorful, grandious, amazing birds! I will post some pics when I get a chance.

Anyway, it was 8:30pm by time I got home, and I was relieved to see that Keith was still alive, watching the bonus features of the Cinderella DVD Pat O'Brien bought me :) I'm ready to hit the sack. Its hard work being around all those people for so long....all I really wanted to do was go home and cuddle up with my cats and read a book. I cherish my alone time. Although part of the experience of being an expatriate is trying to adapt to different cultures, so I will try my best to not be a loner. Its going to be a consentrated effort, though.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A post about nothing

I really dont have a lot to write about today, but I figured I would anyway. Oh, I could write about how Keith was an hour and a half late from picking me up from work yesterday, and that I will never leave him the car during the day again EVER - but I decided against dwelling on the past and will not be discussing that.

What I will discuss is our adventure for tonight - our first Posada. They start from now until Christmas. Here is a description of what it is:

"La Posadas," the remarkable buildup to Christmas Eve, is perhaps the most delightful and unique Mexican tradition. Beginning December 16th, it commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

After dark, each night of the "Posada," a procession begins led by two children. The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. Other members of the company, all with lighted long slender candles, sing the "Litany of the Virgin" as they approach the door of the house assigned to the first "Posada." Together they chant an old traditional song and awaken the mast of the house to ask lodging for Mary. Those within the house threaten the company with beatings unless they move on. Again, the company pleads for admittance. When the owner of the house finally learns who his guests are, he jubilantly throws open the doors and bids them welcome. All kneel around the manger scene or "Nacimiento" and offer songs of welcome, Ave Marias and a prayer.

Now it's time of the "Pinata," refreshments and dancing. The "Pinata" is a pottery (or paper) container, brightly decorated and filled with candy and toys. It is hung from he ceiling or a tree. One by one, the children are blindfolded, turned around and instructed to strike the Pinata with a stick. Usually several attempts are made before the container is broken. Of course, when that happens, there is an explosion of goodies and a scattering of children.

We're going with Marta, Fernando and the kids to Alex's school for this posada. We were also invited to one on Saturday night, but we have my work party :) They have lots of raffle prizes like TV's and cameras, so hopefully I will luck out and get something cool! But, if I get a blender, thats awesome too because I lost that in the divorce and need one anyway. How else am I goign to make margaritas! Aside from the prizes, there will also be Mariachis, other music, lots of food, and Tequila! It should be a good time. I'll make sure to post pics.

Another note - my countdown to home begins! T - 1 week! yay!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Beautiful time, beautiful city!

The drive to Querétero was less than exciting, and since I was hopped up on cold meds I slept most of the way....but the city itself was beautiful!!!!! We were in the central area, and there were fountains and little squares around each corner. Many of the streets were pedestrian only, and there was no graffitti and tons of color and colonial architecture, little cafes, bars and restaurants, and stores to shop at. And, even though our cell phones didn't work and I forgot to bring Lisa's number, we managed to meet up around 7PM and have a great dinner. It really was fantastic to see her, it feels so good to be reminded of home :) Here's a pic of us, and of the city:

We left at about 10:30pm, and ended up getting home at 1:30AM. Keith shirked his Red Bull allegence and decided to try some of the other energy drinks here, most of which are carbonated. It tasted nasty, kind of like medicine we had as kids (but not the yummy pink bubble gum kind). It apparently did the trick because we got home safe and sound!

I also picked up the letters from México City for my landlord - I hope its what they are looking for. As I thought - they wouldn´t pay for any bills I don't pay, which makes total sense, but just vouched for mycharacter and my salary and said they would notify them in the event that my work was terminated before the contract was up. I am not exactly sure what kind of assurance this gives people, but hopefully its enough so that we can stay in our house!

OH YAY! Today is Jueves - cleaning day! When I get home my house will be nice and sparkley because Matilde came today! Whooo HOooOOooO!

ALso, the first game of the soccer finals is today - Los Diablos de Toluca vs Monterrey........so far we're down 3 - 2, but its not over yet. I have discovered that I can't understand a word of play by play, but I really really like it when they sing, and when they say GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

And now, your moment of Zen

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Visitors and being Ticked off

I have more visitors coming to México today! My friend Lisa is in Querétaro for work, so Keith and I will be traversing to go have dinner tonight. It’s a bit like driving to Grand Rapids from Ann Arbor for the evening, but the distance doesn’t bother me at all – especially since Keith will be driving home. I’m super excited to see some more familiar faces!


So my company is supposed to write a letter to my landlord as well as my new car people to essentially vouch for me, and say that if I don’t pay that Apasco will. I can't believe that any company would do that, but whatever. Well, I needed these letters like two weeks ago, and I’m still waiting. I’m starting to get a bit PO’d, especially since the real estate lady called me last night and said that she was going to have to take the house away from us if we don’t get that letter. I really hate being threatened, even more so when it involves being HOMELESS!!!! I do understand her frustration, but geez – telling us she’s going to kick us out? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?

I’m going to start being “That Person” and call HR every two hours on the hour until its done if I don’t get it soon. I also have had my boss and my bosses boss team up too, so I’m hoping I will get some results……soon!

Poop – Beware TMI ahead

OK, so I’ve lived here officially one month, and I don’t think I’ve had a solid bowel movement in about that time. Yes, gross, I know, but oh so true. I couldn’t tell you if its because of the food, the water, or just plain old stress. I even have medicine that I’m supposed to take if I have diarrhea, but I can’t remember to take it three times a day – I HATE medicine that I have to take twenty times a day. I never remember. Anyway, its not like its explosive diarrhea like Finch in American Pie or that I have severe cramps or anything, its just stinky and loose. They say to keep hydrated, get potassium and sodium in your system and eat bland foods. I can handle the first two, but how the heck am I supposed to eat bland foods in Mexico where everything is chile coated?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Ah. Some days are better than others. Today is not a good day. I’m not sure why, I’m just kind of tired and crabby. I don’t want to speak Spanish at all, and I’m ready to shoot myself because I’m SICK and TIRED of not having INTERNET SERVICE!!!!!!!!! I can’t do any flipping work because I have to patiently wait to bother other people and use their computers when they are off doing other things. I have a shit pile of things to do, and I can’t do any of them. It makes me want to SCREAM!!!!!! And, I can’t set up my stupid online banking account because the instructions are all in flipping Spanish – and I don’t understand A GODDAMN THING!!!! So that means I have to spend most of my lunch hour waiting in line with the rest of the stupid drones in order to pay my flipping bills. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

I’m trying so hard to be patient, but I’m failing miserably. All I want is my own computer; with internet access so I can pay my stupid bills in the US, occupy myself and communicate with the rest of the world until I learn how to do stuff and can participate as a real human being not just a space taker-upper. Shit. Is it time to go home yet?

On days like this, only Calvin can help.....

Monday, December 12, 2005


Oh man, it’s my birthday. One step closer to 30. Oh well, I’m not really that concerned over it. The main thing is that TODAY, in honor of my birthday; I get a half day off. Well, not really just because its my birthday. Its el día de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, which is a pretty important holiday here, so there is a half day. There is also a shit pile of fireworks going off, which started about two days ago, and culminated last night exactly at Midnight. Which was a real nice wake up call!

Something really cool happened to me at work :) There was all sorts of commotion going on out in the hallway, so I peeked out to see what was up, and everyone was standing around. So I mosey down and see a big yummy cake and some pop…..for me! Everyone sang the Mañanitas song and took pictures and gave me a trick candle, and it was completely super nice! It made me feel pretty much at home! And the cake, oh sweet mother was it ever yummy. Chocolate and almonds with fudge frosting….super rich, but very good.

Anywho, back to la Virgen. The main celebration takes place in Mexico City, at the Basilica de Guadalupe. Beginning at midnight (last night) people gather and circle around this tiny church to see the cloak in which la Virgen appeared to the poor Aztec farmer Juan Diego. That little apparition is marked as the entire reason why the country of Mexico is devout Catholic, as well as so dearly tied to la Virgen. Keith and I went to our church today at the 6PM mass, and it was pretty packed. The weirdest thing was that everyone brought in their statues and images of la Virgen to be blessed by the priest. I was unaware of this custom, or I would have brought my own! It was pretty impressive to see all the various images big and small crowding the altar. I didn’t quite understand all the mass; it appeared that the readings weren’t from the bible, but were historical readings of the story. I thought it was pretty cool.

After church we met up with Fer and Marta and family at our house (which is now sans boxes and bags! YAY!) to have a little birthday celebration – with a Tres Leches cake with strawberries (YUMMY!). They sang the Mañanitas song as well as happy birthday. We also had some habenero chips – I think I am developing a taste for hot chips now…..they made me want to barf about a month ago. Apparantly I’m becoming more Mexican!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


HAPPY BIRTHAY LORI!!!!! It’s an honor to share sequential days with you! I super hope New Years works out :)

Oh boy today was action packed! We went to Xochimilco and Cohuacan which are suburbs of Mexico City in the South, and we also car toured Mexico City Central – at the Zócalo. It was way way super awesome. We went with Fernando (Keith’s friend he met at church) his wife Marta, their two kids Alejandro and Fernando (who really couldn’t be any more adorable) and Fernando’s brother Erik. Fernando and Erik both learned to speak English in school, and Marta learned when she studied abroad in Taiwan and Japan for a year and a half (apparently English is easier to learn than Asian languages, and just as easy to communicate because many people speak English there). Fer doesn’t talk much because he’s one…..he says important words like “Piñata” and “Leche” and “Jugo”. Alex is about four years old, and was cracking me up all day! I don’t know what it is that makes kids speaking in a different language so cool but I could have listened to him all day. He is learning English and French in school, but retains more English because his parents speak. He saw a King Kong billboard and pointed and said “Mira Mama – King Kong is muy BIG!”. I was laughing forever. Then he started the game with us “Como se dice in Ingles……”. That lasted for a while. He really was hilarious!

It was cool to tour the area with people who spoke English, but also spoke in Spanish too….it was a day of very little miscommunication! And, the sites were awesome! The thing that was most interesting was riding around in a Ford Ka. Think about the old Ford Escorts, but cut in half (see photo below). We had 7 people in it. Yeah, we felt like real Mexicans! Granted, two of the people were kids, but still, 5 adults in this little tiny car is a push – but it was a great time!

Ford KA

For reference, the roomy Ford Fiesta

Xochimilco is hard to explain, but I will try. You ride around in these gondolas, but they are super colorful, and you have a picnic with your friends and family. You can hear different kinds of music and buy food or crafts from other people floating around. It really was a trip! Then, there is a cool Mercado in the surrounding areas, in addition to an incredible flower market (I’ve never seen so many poinsettias, or Noche Buenas as they are called). It’s called the Venice of Mexico! Here is a pic.....I couldn’t find a boat with my name, so I had to buy one - but we did see one called Camilla!

OK - here is an official description from a website www.oldandsold.com:

Xochimilco is generally called "The Floating Gardens," although a more accurate translation is "The Place of the Flowers.". Many years ago, it is said, the Indians made a floating garden by floating large mats, covered with thin layers of earth, on the water of the great lake, of which Xochimilco is today the only remaining section. But, in the course of the centuries, trees grew on these floating islands, the roots anchored them to the bottom of the lake, and now it is a district of islands among canals. It is about as lovely as anything you will ever see. Xochimilco was formerly a playground of the Aztec nobles, and even today the Indian boatmen and gardeners the Aztec language and preserve to some extent the Aztec culture......

......you will be literally bombarded by musicians rowing up beside your canoe and wanting to play to you, photographers insisting on taking your picture, and flower vendors trying to sell you posies. Once you have managed to get past them, you can go on to one of the most delightful excursions you have probably ever taken anywhere. Your boatman will pole your canoe slowly through the canals at an average rate of speed of about two miles an hour, or less, under bridges reminiscent of Venice, and through backyards!

....As a special treat, I suggest that you hire a large canoe with a table in the center. You can either bring your own box lunch or buy hot foods and cold drinks from one of the floating lunch carts in canoes that ply the canals. If you like, for a few pesos, a marimba orchestra or mariachi band, also in canoes, will follow alongside your canoe and play to you while you are having lunch.

The whole setting is exquisitely romantic-the fresh flowers, the fragrant odors, the sentimental Mexican airs. Except for the occasional music, the place is delightfully quiet. (No motorboats are permitted on the waters.)

Cohuacan was where we saw more Mercado’s, a super hippie village area, and ate some damn good tacos y quesadillas (con queso…..you have to order it that way in Central Mexico to get cheese on them, don’t ask me why, I still don’t get it). Then we made our way back to the highway via downtown Mexico City. The zócalo is incredible – positively the largest cathedral I’ve ever seen. Apparently the architecture of the cathedral in Guadalajara is exactly the same as the one in D.F., but it’s a bit smaller. We didn’t stop because it was getting dark, but the whole square was decorated with huge scenes of lights, and there were a billion people around because of the holiday tomorrow. We also saw el Angel de Independencia, and el Monumento de Revolucion, both very impressive monoliths.

By the end of the day, I was wiped (Keith was too). Now I am totally ready for bed!

Friday, December 09, 2005


A little word about the cold. Yeah, blah blah blah, I know you got 500 inches of snow in Michigan. Bo flippity hoo. At least you all have HEATERS!!!! That’s right, I’m living in the coldest city in Mexico, sans any central heating. In order to maintain any heat we pretty much have to sit with three blankets on us and take turns holding a space heater by the coils. The whole place is tiled, so if you forget to put your slippers on and accidentally step on a freezing cold tile, your feet automatically turn into 2’ cube ice chunks. Its so cold, that I was contemplating, seriously contemplating, buying my cats a sweater. Have you ever showered in the morning when its 0 degrees outside and you have no heat??? Scalding hot water does nothing to warm up the tiles.

At work, inside the buildings, everyone wears their coats all day long because THERE IS NO HEATING!!!! People hover in the lab in the morning because it’s the only place that’s temperature and humidity controlled (73 degrees, always!). Sunny Warm Mexico my ass. If one more person emails me and says “Hey, I bet your enjoying that warm sunshine” because they think I’m testing concrete on the beach while drinking a margarita, I’m going to kindly remind them I’m three hours away from a beach at 8-freaking-thousand feet above sea level and THAT ITS NOT WARM! I’ve never been so cold in my life. Sheesh.

Well, I might be exaggerating a little, and really, I can’t complain too much – its only rained a couple of days, and there hasn’t been any snow except on top the Volcano for the past 20 years. And, it warms up to about 60 during the day……but as soon as the sun goes down, bust out the down jackets!

GaDEV & B-Day #2

Gracias a Dios esta Viernes! Just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? Ah yes, another week gone by, another million headaches past. I have to admit, though, my resolve and attitude are improving, and I think it is in direct relation to the amount of communication I have going on – the more I understand and talk, the better I feel. Its pretty cool. I’m beginning to get to the point where I really don’t care what I sound like, I just get it out and be corrected. It’s a huge step for me – its hard for me to sound dumb….it makes me feel, so, well, stupid! The other half of the story is that things are beginning to fall into place, and before I know it I won’t be scrounging around for internet access anymore, and maybe we’ll have some TV. I don’t know how many more times we can watch my pathetic DVD collection. At least Keith is keeping busy during the day– he found my CD player, put together my desk and hooked up the home computer - I came home and country was blaring and he was paying games. I am pretty sure he is a minesweeper master. He said during the day he was utilizing my “learn Spanish your way” CD’s. I’m not sure how much I believe him. Come on – we’ve all wasted entire days before palying computer games…….haven’t we?

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for next week! I have a feeling the rest of it will fall into place.

Before I forget:


Make your cute little brown babies give you a hug and a kiss for me on your birthday

Car situation update – I’m going to go on Sunday to buy it – keep your fingers crossed that everything works out. I don’t have original copies of pay stubs, or my original FM3 so lets hope they accept copies! Basically what I’m going to do is buy it here with the up the arse high interest rate, and then just get a different, normal, car loan when I get back to the states. I get screwed now because I have to pay the down payment and all, but luckily I’ve got a lot of people willing to help me out so I’m not out in the cold. Here's a pic of the one I'm going to get....its sooooo cute!

Also this weekend, we’re going out with some peoples from work, and I am really looking forward to it. I can’t wait, actually. Hopefully I don’t overdo it and end up butt ass hungover……..

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Happy Birthday DAD!

Congratulations – you’re officially almost 50! Love you tons!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A new dawn......

I apologize for no making an effort to update this while Pat O’Brien was here….it wasn’t just that I was busy canoodling with him, it was the fact that my home was stacked to the brim with boxes and we spent the entire weekend unpacking and rearranging and hanging out in a house with no phone and no cable. I will say though, it was fantastic having him there to help out. I left all the heavy lifting to the two big strong men J I’m pretty proud of myself, too. I didn’t even cry myself to sleep last night. I think it just felt good to be in my own room with my own stuff, it was very comforting. Don’t get me wrong, I was missing him something fierce as I used a T shirt of his for a pillowcase, but, I also knew that really, we’re going to be OK and everything is going to work out better than I expected. The first few weeks flew by, and I was miserable – so I figure the time has to fly faster as I get settled and have more fun and more experiences!

I never did get a response from my doctor, so I am sans anti-depressants right now, since Thursday. I actually felt pretty good over the weekend, but I had a heck of a time getting out of bed this morning. I think that’s more of a function of me not going to bed until 1:00AM! And no, I wasn’t engrossed in unpacking, either. It was Keith and I staying up to watch the rest of the 3rd season of Sopranos (or as Keith says, the Sopornos). That damn show is so addicting. I really don’t know why I care. But, I know that we will be engrossed in seasons 4 & 5 as soon as I can get them from Pat O’Brien J

What else has happened?

Bought a fridge and cute itty bitty microwave from Wal-Mart yesterday. It was supposed to be delivered to us yesterday, but I guess they decided it would be better manana.

We met with our landlords last night at their coffee shop to go over some more details and to get an extra key and such. I really like them. The official owners are an older couple, but they are expatriating to Costa Rica, so the daughter (Claudia) and her fiancé (Emannuel) are going to take over, and they also run the coffee shop – which consequently has a really fantastic chai latte. They are about my age, and speak very good English. It was also promising because Manos (Emannuel) is from Greece, and has only been here 8 months and is pretty damn fluent in Spanish already. Yay! There is hope for us!

Oh yeah, we’re still non-rental-car-less and I have less than a week to figure it all out. My ideas keep on ending up in the toilet, but thankfully my ever-thinking Dad is still on the ball. He suggested I check on car loans originating in the US, but for cars overseas…I thought I remembered already checking into that, and that it was a No Go, but since I had to call National City anyway, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to double check. Turns out, it might not be a bad idea! If Dad gets a loan and has it wire transferred to the Mexican Dealership, it can all work out. AND, let me tell you, a 7% interest rate car loan sure the heck looks a lot better than a 19% one!!!! I’m hoping I can take care of everything this week. The thing about this whole situation that made me a bit proud of myself – instead of crying my eyeballs out I decided to make a chart on potential solutions to the problems, and the feasibility of each. I must say, it was much more effective!

So, ta ta for now – more adventures to come (and they will come more frequently when I get high speed internet or until we find an internet café – whichever comes first!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

sorry - long time!

no post :) just a quick update - we're in our new joint, and things are going well. We won't have internet for a long time, so i probably won't be updating on a regular basis until about a week or so. Pat's visit was amazing, eventhough he was fighting off a cold the whole time :) We didn't do a whole lot exept unpack, but it was great just to have him close. it was tough to see him go this morning.

OK, thats all for now - this week of transition will be tough, but we'll be back in contact with the world soon. We might have to find a local internet cafe to visit.....