After our exciting adventure in Cerro de San Pedro, Alex left Marc and I off on the far side of the old town in San Luis Potosi. It allowed us to walk through El Centro to get home and enjoy the perfect weather and hunter’s moon out that night.
Saturday, after class, a couple teachers from SLP took Marc (the newest teacher, from Canada) and I to see a nearby ghost town, Cerro de San Pedro. Cerro means “hill” and there are lots of hills around, though the one the town is named after doesn’t exist anymore. The town is located about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of the city of San Luis Potosí, where I live now.
Off and on for about 500 years, there’s been open pit mining–mostly gold, but other precious metals as well.
According to Wikipedia:
The town started as a Spanish colonial mining settlement for gold and silver, and was formally established in 1592. It was the founding town of the state, and a symbol of its mineral rich hill is prominent in the state’s coat of arms. Unfortunately, the hill has disappeared in the 2010s, due to the new open pit mine consuming its mass and site.”
Currently, the town is a weekend destination for day trippers and the mine seems to be closed, for now.
Felt really lucky to have been treated to this outing! I don’t have a car, so anywhere that isn’t walking distance seems far away at the moment! Thanks again to Carlos, Alex and Fatima for this adventure!
My dear friend David responded by email to my concern about the next election. I’d said that I was afraid that if Donald Trump is elected, I might not be able to come home again for a long time.
He replied, “The Russians are hinting they will shoot down our planes in Syria, the president of the Philippines has explicitly told us we can go to hell, China has claimed the entire South China Sea as their territory, and the Iranians are working hard to detach Turkey from NATO; there may not be a USA to return to if Trump is elected. The pool of quality candidates from which to choose for office in a “democracy” is much like the contents of a septic tank, in which what floats to the top isn’t necessarily the best choice. Were I traveling abroad, would be tempted to put my passport in a brown paper cover.”
The die is cast for me, or at least the ballot. Though it is quite difficult to vote from abroad, it’s easier than ever before. I’ve managed to register online, NOT receive my paper ballot (I don’t seem to be getting any mail), wait 6 weeks, list the ballot as missing, download a second ballot, print it, fill it out and mail it in (which takes two separate envelopes, one inside the other) Phew! Glad that’s done. I could only vote for state and federal offices (nothing local), but it’s better than nothing.
I’ve so missed my ukulele. It’s tough to travel with a fragile musical instrument, and packing it correctly takes up so much room—I only have two traveling cases! That’s why I gave it away when I was in Spain this spring. However, I’ve missed it. So this week I bought another. I’d priced them at one place on Carranza and they were more than I’d pay (+2,000 pesos!), but another shop on Reforma was less than half the price. I don’t think this uke is as good as the one I had before, but it will have to do. It does hold a tune well.
Today, I successfully played all the way through Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the IZ version). Feeling triumphant, even if my fingers are quite sore.
128 straight days of using DuoLingo.com! I only do about 2 quizzes a day, but I think it helps me a lot. I can recommend the website for learning languages. It’s not a substitute for taking a class and I think you need even more vocabulary practice, but it’s a great addition to a language learning program. I work in a textbook every day as well as two one-hour classes a week with Ana Maria.
This is the last week of my “easy,” evening-only schedule. No idea what the next schedule will be. I hate that the schedule isn’t given out until the last possible moment and I get pretty nervous about it starting a week before. I try not to obsess about it, but I do. It feels rather passive-aggressive and controlling that they won’t give the new schedule to you until Saturday afternoon, AFTER you’ve turned in all your grades, for classes that start on Monday. While I’d like more hours, I don’t want a split shift. Based on past schedules, it looks like the director tries to completely change your classes every two sessions. I’m also concerned because the school appears to have fewer classes than in the past. I have half the students I had initially and that was considered a “slow” period. I am considering looking for a couple private students just to have as a backup income in case the school doesn’t have enough classes to support me. The branch downtown, which has never been large, only has evening classes and just one teacher. At the moment that teacher is Orlando. While it’s an enviable commute and a nice schedule, he gets lonely and doesn’t like the students nearly as much. I wouldn’t want the position. Orlando’s had it for 8 weeks now, and I worry I’m next.
I came perilously close to missing my early class this morning. Woke up at 6:35, an hour late! Good thing I lay out all my clothes and have my backpack ready the night before. I was out the door in 4 minutes, with no coffee (a true hardship!). Because of the repair extravaganza in my room yesterday, I didn’t get my afternoon nap. To make matters worse, I had a hard time settling down to sleep last night. Only one more day of this schedule. I hope. There are few mirrors in this flat, but I got a good look at myself yesterday. Lack of sleep ages you and I certainly feel bad much of the time. I don’t have the energy to see the city or go out and I’ve made several stupid mistakes because my concentration is off. Most have been small, but I almost stepped in front of a moving car a couple times. I don’t think I can do another bad split shift. It’s not safe or healthy. Marc is supposed to take over my 7am class and while he does have some evening classes, I notice that his last class ends at 6pm. Not 9pm. He’ll get a full night’s sleep, which should help.
Despite the morning drama, I made it to class before the students and gave the final exams for Level 2. I’ve started grading them and so far they seem to have done better on this test than the quiz two weeks ago. Feeling a bit better about my ability to teach. Students can learn a lot in 5 weeks. I’ll miss them, but not the 7am start time.
I’m finding it difficult to stomach the very different reception my new, male colleague from Canada has received compared to mine. The girls in the office simply fawn over Marc. (also the gay, male attendant.) They giggle and ask questions and laugh at anything he says. These are the same young women who barely say hello to me. In fact, the woman in the morning won’t say hello or print things for me—which is her job. (Based on results, she’s there to catch up on her texting.) I had thought most of the female office workers simply didn’t have the English language skills and so tried not to be offended. I was wrong. Patty sat patiently with Marc yesterday, showing him how to fill out his time card. She managed several completely understandable English sentences and phrases, including polite words. To me, she just threw the paper on the table and said, “Now!” (Since she isn’t my boss and I wasn’t on the clock, I responded, calmly, “No. Soon.” I finished what I’d come in early–on my own time–to do, then I did the time card.) According to Marc, the director, Michael, has met with him several times to check on him, which certainly didn’t happen with me. Also, Michael just opened a “conversation” class on Saturdays, for Marc. I had suggested a class like this to Michael and he thought it a “bad fit for the school.” .
Marc is in my former room back at the previous flat. The landlord, Arturo, couldn’t do enough for Marc, even taking him to lunch yesterday. Of course, it might have been a mild shock for Marc to find he was on a potential “date” since Arturo is gay.
The female students crowd around Marc, too. Yesterday, during class, I had to walk out into reception and ask if they could bring the volume of the flirting down a notch or two, since I had students trying to take an exam. Marc is a 30-something guy of average intelligence and appearance. He seems nice, but he probably doesn’t get this kind of attention from women back home. I’m happy he’s had a positive reception and hope he enjoys the new attention, but suspect these young women are looking for a “rich” foreigner to marry and rescue them. It’s like I’ve time warped back to the 1950’s USA.
Anyway, I’m finding it difficult and I am a bit jealous. It’s not that I want him to be treated badly. It’s just that I’d like to be treated well, too.
Got up at 5:30a for what I hope will be the final time. I had no class, but still had to show up to do paperwork. I finished grading the Level 2 class and am very pleased with their improvement over the previous quiz. Also graded the Level 9 class (both are offset classes, so one week behind the others). The grades were pretty good and two students I feared would fail, didn’t, though the way the points system is set up, you have to do VERY poorly to fail. One is a young woman, Valarie, who showed serious improvement in the final 2 weeks. I think it scared her to realize she was about to fail. I don’t think she wants to learn English, but her mother insists. The young man, Edgar, however, just barely passed the course. He didn’t pass his quiz or final exam (THIS is what I mean about the points system). I’m grateful I won’t be his teacher next session since I don’t think he can pass without substantial extra work. Since he doesn’t do his homework, that’s not likely to happen. The extra paperwork and scrutiny a teacher gets when she fails a student is tiresome (at best) and demeaning (at worst).
My new favorite quote, “Love is always a calculated risk. But I’m bad at math.”
Three straight days of sleeping 8 hours a night. I feel, and look, like a new woman! Yesterday (Sunday) I had the energy to walk around the old town for over 4 hours, taking photos, trying a new food, investigated some shops and looked into churches. That’s what I’m here for, not working all the time! For the next three weeks, I’ll just have 3 evening classes, plus Saturdays. It’s less money, but I think it’s worth it. Also, if you missed it, I posted 2 YouTube videos about SLP.
This morning I successfully found a place to put in a new zipper in my favorite grey hiking pants. I’m sure my new hobby of eating tacos had NOTHING to do with needing a new zipper! The seamstress only charges 50 pesos and the pants will be ready in 2 days. Excited to find this place.
Looked at a couple used bicycles at a second hand store (bazar retro). One had a broken seat and the other a bent rim. The guy was asking 1,000 pesos for either and I’d need to pay for extra work on each. Not a good deal for me. For double that, I can get a new bike. I’ll keep looking, but it would save on transportation costs and I’d probably investigate more of the outlying city if I had a bike. If I’m not run over by a car, that is.
Applied to potential school #3 yesterday (Sunday). This morning, the school’s director asked for an immediate interview before 1pm and seemed reluctant to answer questions by email. Had to ask twice for the two school locations (he didn’t give me actual addresses, just plazas), which are far from my flat and from each other. When I asked about buses that went to these locations, he simply stopped communicating. The school also has one very recent (September 2016) and very negative review online. Pretty sure I have my answer on the school. Three down…..
Seriously depressed over the upcoming election. If Trump is elected, I’m not sure I’ll be going back to the USA for quite some time. I think this is the most important election of my lifetime and I’m shocked and appalled that a misogynistic, hate-filled, self-centered, liar can be so close to winning the White House. Hilary wasn’t my first choice, but I’ll take her any day over Trump. Voting overseas is VERY DIFFICULT, but I’ve finally found a way to get an absentee ballot. I’ve printed it and filled it out. I still need the signature of a witness and to figure out how to send it. My earlier absentee ballot appears to be lost in the mail. I’ve lost friends on FaceBook over this election, possibly real life friends, too. It saddens me, but I am compelled to take a stand and to vote my conscience.
Still feels amazing to get a full night’s sleep. This new schedule is less money, but so much better for my health. I hope more evening classes will open up, but I can make it on this reduced amount now that we’ve gotten a pay increase and I’m in a less expensive flat.
Today I retrieved my pants from the seamstress. A perfectly installed new zipper for 50 pesos (about $2.60US) in less than 2 days. I expected the zipper alone to cost more than that.
Also found a good tamales vendor down the street for breakfast—yes, tamales are breakfast food in Mexico!
The photos on today’s page are all from this morning’s outing.
I started my blog less than three years ago, as I was planning my “escape” from the real world. At that time, I probably had few followers who were interested in what I was doing. I was busy, though. In the fall of 2013, I sold my side business, Atlanta Culinary Tours (though the new owner chose not to continue the business). By October I’d sold my house and given away most of my furniture and possessions. In January, 2014 I gave notice at my job and probably shocked my co-workers. I’ve not looked back since. I spend the spring and most of the summer hiking about 2/3rds of the Appalachian Trail (1,405 miles). It’s one of the most difficult physical challenges of my life. Then, I began my new life of traveling the world as a wandering English teacher (erante maestra de ingles) first in Vietnam, then Turkey, Spain (including 450 miles on the Camino de Santiago), Russia and now Mexico.
This is my 500th post and I find I’m nowhere near the end of my travels. Who needs “roots” when you have the world? Have I learned new things? Certainly. But I’ve learned more about myself and my home country, the USA, by contrast.
I don’t have solid plans for the future, just a few ideas. I expect to be here in Mexico for a year and concentrate on learning Spanish, with the idea of future travel in Latin America. I may retire in Latin America since I don’t think my meager pension will support me in the USA. I also plan to try to monetize this blog and to work on writing a few more books. I always have a few “wild and unlikely” ideas, too, but I’ll share those if they look like they could work out.
Anyway, thanks for following along with me. We aren’t done yet!