Sep 27, 2012

Cuetzalan... A Mexican city, literally on the side of a mountain.

For the weekend of Mexico's Independence Day (that's Sept. 16 for those of you who don't know) we took a trip out to Cuetzalan. We didn't really know a whole lot about it, because it's a pretty small city and not much for tourism. Some past ILP groups had gone there before and we heard it was just a beautiful place to enjoy nature. After the first few weeks of teaching, nothing sounded better! So, we hopped on a bus and headed for the mountains.
The road was long and windy, and we thought it might just lead to our deaths, but the beauty of this place did not disappoint. I love the mountains! And I've never been so far up, literally in the middle of the clouds before. It was quite exciting. Don't believe me? Try it!
Viva Mexico!
This picture does no justice, but the streets here were SOO steep! It was seriously a hike to get anywhere. Our legs got a workout that weekend, that's for sure.
The church and city hall in the zocalo
I love how the decorate everything for Independence Day! There were so many decorations in Tehuacán, and everyone would dress all patriotic like... that's my kinda country!
I'm convinced that it's impossible to take a picture by anything significant here without having a couple completely in the way. It was one of those things that could be really irritating, and kind of was, but you really just can't help but laugh.
Where there's a pole in the middle of the city, there are men in costumes to climb it and then swing down on ropes. Hey, why not?
Climbing up, and...
ready to fly!
Might I add, that it was raining while they did this. Hence, the water spots on my lens.
The drum line held very still all throughout the rain. I was very impressed.
And later, it POURED.
A photo of the pre-festivities. Here they have cans of foam, kind of like silly string, but instead just foam, like shaving cream... and they spray it all over each other. They also take egg shells and fill them with confetti and smash them on each other. It's a good time. When the show finally started we listened to a mariachi band for far too long, but for awhile they had Chipwrecked playing in the background, so at least that was a little entertaining. Following that they had a little flag ceremony and the mayor? some city official, waved the flag from the top of a building and we all got to yell "viva" for Mexico, Puebla, Cuetzalan, freedom and all sorts of good things. It was super cool. Then another band that played country-ish music came out and started performing with Bon Jovi music videos playing in the background... it was quite interesting. There were fireworks too! At that point, it was pretty late and we were tired and wet and cold, so we decided to go back to our hostel and get some god shut eye.
The next day was Sunday (actual Independence Day), so we wanted to take it easy and just enjoy some of the nature we'd heard so much about.
There was some eventfulness to our morning though, when my head got squished by a car! We don't think there's any damage... but we're still not entirely positive.
We found the mariachi band from the night before!
Waterfalls, this way.
Roughin' the streets of Mexico, day 30-something
The hike to the falls was beautiful!
and then we finally found them
This water felt so good. There were a few people swimming in it, but we never did.
I love the beauty that our HEavenly Father has created for us to enjoy.
I'm telling you, these dang couples! They refused to stay out of our pictures! it was slightly irritating. But, at least we finally got a picture all together. And that was our lovely first vacation weekend. It was very much enjoyed :)

Sep 21, 2012

Some of my little mexi babies!

 Don't let their angel faces fool you....
 they are quite the little terrors!
 I taught them how to arm wrestle... 
 and then they all ganged up on me! That was a hard one not to lose, not gonna lie.
 Have no fear, the Captains are here!
A class full of Harry Potters!
One of our students drew me this picture. He's so sweet!

Sep 18, 2012


Overall, I'm a pretty big fan of food. I like eating it, growing it, smelling it, and cooking it. HOWEVER, I have finally come to experience some of the more.... interesting food choices of Mexico. 

Weird food #1--->  I don't like my food too spicy, but I like it to the point where you if you wait too long between bites, your mouth starts to feel fire-y, so you have to keep eating so your mouth is hot, but not too hot. So far, pretty much all salsa I've tried in Mexico has been too hot for me to want to put it on my food, and if I did it anyways, I didn't enjoy it. But, I don't like how limited my food choices have been because of food being hot, so I've been trying to adjust my taste buds to like spicy food and be able to tolerate it by eating hotter things, more frequently. Well, my host parents like to snack on these lovely (looking) little green chiles with dinner every night. 
So, one night I asked if they were hot, and my parents answered yes. I decided that I was gonna be tough and eat something even the Mexicans thought was hot, and I was gonna deal with it, no problem. ha. Dang that pride gets ya. I asked if I could have one. They looked at me slightly concerned, but said yes. I grabbed one and popped it into my mouth. To say it exploded with fire, would be putting it mildly (pun intended). I started coughing and drinking lemonade (not the best choice) and my host parents started laughing. There was bread right in front of me, but unfortunately I was already way too full to be able to eat it. Even drinking milk made my stomach want to explode. You could say that my mouth was burning for the rest of the night, past the time that I finally went to sleep. Mexicans are crazy! Needless to say, I don't think I'll be eating one of those again. What kind of pepper was it you ask? A Serrano pepper, which is ranked somewhere between a jalapeno and a habanero just in case you were wondering.

Weird food #2---> It was a seemingly normal Friday night (9/7/12). The family was going out for dinner and I was excited! My family doesn't really eat dinner the way most people do.... So far it seems like we either get tacos or dinner is bread with coffee (chocolate milk or coca). This happens frequent enough that I even get really excited about tacos because it's a real meal. Anyways, so we went out for dinner. My host mom asked me what I wanted. I said pollo y queso (chicken and cheese) empanadas. Sounds pretty good right? She writes down the order. The waitress comes back. They talk. It sounds like they're out of something, but I'm really not sure. Oh! Also, when I say "going out for dinner", I mean we drove to a street, and walked past a fryer into a section of someones house. Anyways, I get my food. It's deep fried goodness. I have some chicken, have some cheese, have something else. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I saw a bunch of veggies in a bowl on the counter so I thought it might an egg roll type thing. The texture was a little weird, but it didn't taste too bad so I just kept eating it like nothing was out of the ordinary. The next morning, my host mom asks me how I liked my food the night before. We talk about it and I say it was pretty good. She then goes on to tell me that that weird one that I ate just happened to be pig brain. My reaction: "PIG BRAIN?!?" She didn't tell me at the time, because she knew if I knew what it was I wouldn't eat it. Well played mom....

Weird food #3---> After church one Sunday, the Sunday after I ate pig brain to be exact (9/9/12) I went back up to my family's land with them. On the way back home, we stopped on the side of the road and got a drink. They started talking in Spanish and I heard the word alcohol, and then they handed me a white milky substance. My family knows my standards so I trusted my mom not to give me something alcoholic, but when I tasted it, it was so nasty I had to wonder, so I asked just to be safe. It wasn't alcoholic, just fermented fruit. Lovely. They added strawberry soda to it, which made it a little better, but it was still pretty gross. Then I saw something on a table across the way and asked what it was. Worms. Of course. And after I asked, they naturally told me I had to try it. With a bunch of Mexicans watching, I ate my first worm.... and wasn't a fan. It didn't taste too bad... it was the earthy aftertaste that was so gross. It's hollow when you eat which is a little weird. They toast them and add salt. It's kind of like a chip I guess.... That's how they described it. It's really lovely.
What it looks like cooked................................. and not so cooked.

Random side note: my family got a "new" car! I miss the really nice one that they sold... but, c'est la vie. you can't win them all. This is much more mexican!

Mi familia!

So, I kind of really like my host family here in Mexico. Being the youngest, I've obviously never experienced what it's like to have little kids running around the house that always want to play, look at your stuff, and cry. Well, I now have an 8 (almost 9) year old little brother and a 2 1/2 year old sister. Might I add that with me included, this is the same little kid formation (girl, boy, girl) as my family, so that makes it more fun. I seriously love these kids. They're so cute and sweet, but they do still have their little sibling moments, especially when I get home at 9 pm from teaching all day and am really tired. But, I'm glad I have people to come home to that are always really excited to see me. My parents are awesome too. They have a restaurant that I'm lucky enough to eat at every day. Love me some real Mexican food- not the fake American kind. Not the same. At all. Anyways, they're 29 and 30 I think. I realized one day that when my little brother is as old as I am right now, I'll be as old as his mom is right now. Kinda cool, huh? Really it just makes me feel old... which is annoying since I'm really not at all. No matter where I go, I almost always manage to be the baby of the people I'm around, except when I went to school (thanks Nat! ;)). So, without further ado, here is a little bit of the fun that is my Mexican family.
Emilio was a little more enthusiastic about photo booth than Valentina was
Last saturday I spent the day with my family looking at the land that they bought to build a new house. It's about 20 minutes north of Tehuacán, out in the country by some corn fields, right at the foot of some mountains. It's beautiful there! It was an enjoyable day.
My family's LOVELY green van.... it reminds me of playing in my grandparents' old van
Where they're gonna build the house
such a cutie! I just adore this little girl
yo y mi familia
 Mi familia! Mario, Sandra, Emilio, y Valentina
 These things grow in the trees... apparently they use them at Christmas time. I'm not really sure what it is... but it looks like a rambutan! (AKA hairy strawberry fruit)
 cheese ball...
 the kids LOVE to play with Mario
Valentina kept wanting me to "paint" the weeds with her
why yes, that is a couch in the back of the van
 I live with a superhero....
Sometimes he drives a little pink car :)