Dead bugs, new fruit and gringas

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Churros on the street. These are just fried dough, coated in cinnamon sugar. Traditionally served with a chocolate dipping sauce.
Churros on the street. These are just fried dough, coated in cinnamon sugar. Traditionally served with a chocolate dipping sauce.
I'm surprised at how many stores sell very fancy ball gowns. Mexicans seem to need very fancy clothes! At many places you can rent the dresses.
I’m surprised at how many stores sell very fancy ball gowns. Mexicans seem to need very fancy clothes! At many places you can rent the dresses.
If you take the time to look, many old buildings have interesting architectural features, like this Mercury statue.
If you take the time to look, many old buildings have interesting architectural features, like this Mercury statue.
Here's a long shot of the building.
Here’s a long shot of the building.

8/21/2016

Sunday morning. The house was quiet so it seemed like no one was awake. I stepped into the shower and just put my head under the water when the hot water gave out. Wet hair, but too cold to wash it. Great. I gingerly washed the rest of my body in cold water and got dressed. I keep looking for another flat, but no luck so far.

In positive news, Thursday the place was sprayed for bugs. I don’t like the chemicals, but am at least grateful that it was done while I was at school. The next morning, the floor of the downstairs common areas were covered with dead crickets. Most are still there this morning. The even better news is that I specifically asked that the upstairs terrace (which is right outside my room) be sprayed too. Dead giant roaches everywhere. Pretty sure it barely makes a dent in the population, though.

This is oral exams week. Friday I gave about 25, plus 6 written exams for my off-set Level 8 class. Saturday I gave 17 more oral exams and graded two late written quizzes from Level 9. I’ve already started my paperwork for finals week, which is this week. Final exams in 3 classes are on Thursday. That’s the easy part. There are also final exams on Saturday and I have to teach, review and give the exam PLUS have all of them graded and my paperwork turned in by 1:30p. Since the class is officially over at that time, it’s pretty much impossible. And you don’t get paid until the paperwork is in. Ah, the exciting life of an English teacher!

Jardín Tequisquiapan, which I walked to on Sunday in search of breakfast.
Jardín Tequisquiapan, which I walked to on Sunday in search of breakfast.
Jardín Tequisquiapan is very popular. There are often food stalls, but not on this Sunday morning. Many people were walking with their dogs. The park is on Carranza Avenue, which is closed to cars on Sunday mornings.
Jardín Tequisquiapan is very popular. There are often food stalls, but not on this Sunday morning. Many people were walking with their dogs. The park is on Carranza Avenue, which is closed to cars on Sunday mornings.
They even had some activities for kids, including face painting and these easels set up for painting.
They even had some activities for kids, including face painting and these easels set up for painting.
Shoe shine and conversation.
Shoe shine and conversation.
Flautas at El Cubato. They weren't very good, but I'll give the place one more try.
I finally found breakfast for Sunday morning, but got quite a long walk in before I found a place open. Flautas at El Cubato. They weren’t very good, but I’ll give the place one more try since the staff is really nice.
This is where I get my whole, barbecued chicken, Pollo a la Lena. It's 100 pesos and includes salsa and tortillas.
This is where I get my whole, barbecued chickens, Pollo a la Lena. It’s 100 pesos and includes salsa and tortillas.

8/23/2016

Difficult day yesterday. Nothing was really wrong, I just slept badly and it was tough to get everything together and really going. Orlando invited me out for breakfast and that was nice, but I might have gone back to sleep if he hadn’t. Then Spanish class and 5 straight hours of teaching—including tutoring for a set of young teen-aged triplets. The boys were pretty spirited and would have been a lot more fun if I had more energy. I did have to tell them a few times to watch their language—you shouldn’t speak like that to an English teacher, after all, I know all those words …..and a lot more appropriate ones. As it was, it took all my strength to pretend it was amusing (or at least not overly insulting) and continue. I’d HATE to have them in class—they’d ruin it for the other students and I’d get annoyed with them quickly. Bright, but seriously affected with testosterone poisoning.

This morning, I woke up before 7a, got on the computer, but didn’t last 20 minutes. Fell back asleep for 2 hours. Groggy now, but better rested. I think for my energy level (and my waistline) I need to join a gym. I need to find an hour for more intensive exercise and some weightlifting at least 5 days a week.

There are workers at a half-constructed apartment building just outside my window. They pound away every day, but I can’t see that they are making any progress. It seems in a month I would be able to see some difference. But they do produce dust. I have to damp mop the floor daily.

This is a popular "candy" made of amaranth, a traditional cereal grain here in Mexico. It's not too sweet and probably better for you than most snack items. I've seen it sold on the street, but didn't know what it was.
This is a popular “candy” made of amaranth, a traditional cereal grain here in Mexico. It’s not too sweet and probably better for you than most snack items. I’ve seen it sold on the street, but didn’t know what it was.
Here is the wheel of amaranth unwraped--very little sugar with a few nuts and raisins for sweetness. I'll get more of this. More on amaranth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth
Here is the wheel of amaranth unwrapped–very little sugar with a few nuts and raisins for sweetness. I’ll get more of this.
More on amaranth.
This is outside my window. I hear them working on this 6 days a week, but I don't see any progress.
This is outside my window. I hear them working on this 6 days a week, but I don’t see any progress.
"Urgent: (female) Employee request counter. 18 to 25 years old. Make application here." That wouldn't even be legal in the USA.
Sign in shop window: “Urgent: (female) Employee request counter. 18 to 25 years old. Make application here.”
That wouldn’t even be legal in the USA.
These are the restrooms. You get use to M (mujeres) for women and H (hombres) for men.
These are the restrooms. You get use to M (mujeres) for women and H (hombres) for men.
Who knew? Indian nuts = cashews
Who knew? Indian nuts = cashews

8/24/2016

This is a tough week. Finals week for four of my five classes and oral exams for my fifth class. Tonight I give a review for three of my four classes. Tomorrow I give the exams. I’ve got all the paperwork done ahead, but I can’t finish it before they take their last test.

According to an email from Michael, the final grades for each class are due at the end of class, on Thursday, the day you give the final exam. In previous sessions the weekday classes have been due on Friday, day after the exam. I questioned him in an email to be sure that’s what he meant. It was. Of course, it’s physically impossible to do. Through the week, the students have until the end of class, only one hour, to finish their final exams. THEN you have to grade the exam, add the grade to your (hopefully already prepared) top sheet on each student, staple the exam to it, and total the final grade. You also have to update your form that contains all the students (Well, most of them. Six were missing from my form). Physically impossible. I didn’t argue with him. I find that a waste of time. He’d just get more entrenched into his position and I’d get more frustrated. Plus, it’s a great way to get fired.

Saturdays are the worse for final exams. You really do have to turn everything in right away. I will have to start the final early—it’s the only way. I can’t leave or be paid until I turn in all my grades for that class—and there are 17 students taking the final. Every teacher I’ve talked to says that’s a record number in a single class. Just grading the exams will take over an hour. Yea, me.

Having trouble buying clothes--everything is tight, short and sleeveless. It's...well...kinda slutty.
I’m having trouble buying clothes–everything is tight, short and sleeveless. It’s…well…kinda slutty.
See what I mean?
See what I mean?. Even the clothes for old, fat women are worn tight. No fat woman needs that much spandex.

For today’s walk, I went to El Centro to buy more underwear. Since I have to have it done at a laundria, I find I need my meager clothing stash to stretch for more days. Since it’s not terribly hot, I can wear shirts and pants an additional day, but I needed more undies. Bought more socks when I arrived and that’s helped, too.

During the walk, I went a different way and discovered several small eating places nearby that I hadn’t known about. There’s a cart that sells gringas for just 12 pesos (doce pesos). It’s a grilled tortilla with cheese and meat. I had bistec (beef steak, but probably really just hamburger). It’s about 2 ounces of meat and an ounce of cheese—perfect for a snack. Served with lime and salsa. I also stopped at one of the fruit and vegetable vendors. They sell ready-to-eat cups of diced fruit. I bought tunas, prickly pear cactus fruit. This was my first time to try it as it’s a season fruit. Tasty—sweet, rosy flesh, full of edible seeds, and at least three servings for 15 pesos (quince pesos). While I was in the mood for trying new things, I stopped in the downtown area at a stand I’d seen several times that serves a griddled bread. I bought a bag of 5 for 12 pesos. It’s just sweet dough, cooked on a tiny amount of oil. Nothing to write home about.

I noticed that the fruit and vegetable sellers are selling pumpkin blossoms, too. If I could cook in the communal kitchen, I’d buy a bag and fry them up!

Lots of fruit and vegetable sellers. This one is in front of the hospital.
Lots of fruit and vegetable sellers. This one is in front of the hospital.
She sold me a bag of cactus fruit, tunas, from the prickly pear cactus. They are in season right now.
She sold me a bag of cactus fruit, tunas, from the prickly pear cactus. They are in season right now.
The tunas come in many colors.
The tunas come in many colors.
This gentleman is making my gringa--I think it's the cheese that makes it a gringa (also a word used for Americans). Tacos never have cheese, despite what you see in the USA.
This gentleman is making my gringa–I think it’s the cheese that makes it a gringa (also a word used for Americans). Tacos never have cheese, despite what you see in the USA.
The prices are good.
The prices are good.
And here's my gringa--a good sized snack with salsa verde and limes.
And here’s my gringa–a good sized snack with salsa verde and lime.
I've passed this vendor several times but wasn't sure what she was selling.
I’ve passed this vendor several times but wasn’t sure what she was selling off that hot griddle.
I got a bag of five for 12 pesos and hoped there was a filling inside them. As you can see, they don't have a filling. Kinda dry, but like a cross between a sweet biscuit and a pancake, but dense in texture. Cheap and filling, but not my thing.
I got a bag of five for 12 pesos and hoped there was a filling inside them. As you can see, they don’t have a filling. Kinda dry, like a cross between a sweet biscuit and a pancake, but dense in texture. Cheap and filling, but not my thing.
Lots of little stands on the street with food, This one sells snacks in El Centro.
Lots of little stands on the street with food, This one sells snacks in El Centro.
Another fruit seller, this one in El Centro on the corner of the Jardín de San Juan de Dios,
Another fruit seller, this one in El Centro on the corner of the Jardín de San Juan de Dios.
This school is in session again as of this week. Unfortunately, they let out just at the time that I need to go to MY school. It's chaos.
This huge grade school is in session again as of this week. Unfortunately, they let out just at the time that I need to go to MY school. It’s chaos.
Cars and children everywhere--the noise alone is deafening.
Cars and children everywhere–the noise alone is deafening.
And 15 minutes before the school lets out, three snack stands set up to feed them, making the parking even worse.
And 15 minutes before the school lets out, three snack stands set up to feed them, making the parking even worse.
Then two blocks away THIS school lets out and they block off half the street for the cars to pick up the children. I must find another way to get to school.
Then two blocks away THIS school lets out and they block off half the street for the cars to pick up the children. I must find another way to get to school.
This is the menu as my favorite taco stand near the school. The Three Brothers. But so far, I've only seen one brother.
This is the menu as my favorite taco stand near the school. The Three Brothers. But so far, I’ve only seen one brother.

Yes, I’m a bit shocked at how many of my photos are about food. That’s just me.

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What does it take to be functional in a language?

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that's the adventureThere’s a classic language joke that I share with my upper level English students.

What do you call someone who speaks three languages?  Answer: Tri-lingual.

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Answer: Bi-lingual.

What do you call someone who speaks just one language?

                 Answer: a US American.

As a rule, Americans speak English, only, and are often very poor at grammar.

Full disclosure: I did take a language in school: Latin. It’s helped me with grammar and root words, but not with speaking. I wish I’d learned languages when I was younger, when it was easier for my brain to wrap around new vocabulary and my tongue to easily twist to new sounds. But I’m not going to learn any younger.

Mexico is my 5th consecutive foreign country to take up residence in (for those who are counting, there’s Vietnam, Turkey, Spain and Russia). In each, I’ve made an attempt (relative to my length of stay) to learn the language. In most countries I’ve taught English as a way to support myself. Spanish, however, is the first language I’ve set a real goal to become functional in. Notice I didn’t say fluent. That’s too much for me to imagine right now. I can envision learning the language well enough to function on a day-to-day basis.

So here’s what I’ve learned: It’s pretty amazing what you can do with just 55 words in a language. Honest. I start with 30 nouns (choose things you use every day. I start with food words & objects I use at work), 5 adjectives (pretty, happy, good, bad, sad), 5 verbs in simple present tense (want, need, say, walk, do), 4 adverbs (more, slowly, fast, not) and, MOST IMPORTANT, a handful of polite words (please, thanks, hello, goodbye, I’m sorry, excuse me.). You can get by in simple transactions like buying groceries or just walking around. Obviously, you will do a lot of pantomime and pointing. You’ll certainly look pretty silly most of the time. Get over yourself. You’ll still have to order food off a picture menu or point at street food, but you won’t starve. You’ll almost certainly be clueless as to what people are saying around you. Yes, they could be saying that you’re a stupid foreigner. You are. Get over that, too.

The next words to know are some simple phrases like, “I don’t speak very well.” “Please speak slowly.” “I don’t understand.” “I don’t know.” “What is that?” “How much does this cost?” and “Where is the bathroom/store/bank/pharmacy/hospital/post office?” PRACTICE THESE UNTIL THEY FALL OFF YOUR TONGUE EASILY. You will use them a lot.

But it gets better quickly. If you can learn the sentences above and double your vocabulary to just 100 words, you can now probably order in a restaurant without pictures, buy easy access items in a store, and ask very simple directions. And whether you realize it or not, you’ve been introduced to the structure of the grammar. Look at the sentences you memorized. Is the verb in the middle (like Spanish) or at the end (like Turkish). Does the structure of a sentence change when you ask a question (like English) or can you just add a question mark (like Spanish). At the end of a sentence, does your voice go up (like Turkish, English or Spanish) or would that change the word (as in tonal languages like Vietnamese)? Do the adjectives come before the noun (like Spanish) or after (like English). Are the words pronounced as they are spelled (which is true in most languages) or not (English). You’re learning, even though you may not know it.

I believe that if you can stick with it and up your total vocabulary to 1000 of the right words, you can be functional. Those words need to include simple present and simple past verbs, time words (today, tomorrow, next week, yesterday, year..), plus you’ll need to know numbers, days of the week, months of the year and direction words (left, right and straight). You’ll need the question words (who, what, when, where, why, how) and pronouns (he, she, it, we, they, you, this, that). With these words, you can function. You probably can’t negotiate a better home loan, discuss the finer points of poetry or defend yourself in court, but you can do most everyday things. With just 1000 words you can go about your business with little difficulty.

So that’s my current goal in Spanish: to be functional. It would be nice to be fluent, but I just can’t see that far yet. I hope, if I work hard enough, that I can be functional at the end of a year here. I take two classes a week and sit in on two classes that are a level above me. I’m a third of the way through a beginner’s book. There are three books and I expect to complete them in that time. I am also working through DuoLingo’s website, though at a very slow pace. I practice on my students and in the street daily.

And it’s working, though slowly. Every week, I can understand more of what my Spanish speaking students and co-workers say. Every day, I learn new words. With each conversation, I can remember one or two new words that I need to use to better communicate. It’s slow. It’s tough, but I’m learning.

I’m sure my life looks messy and disorganized from the outside. It is certainly less stable and predictable than when I had a condo and a cubical job. But I do have goals and a bit of a plan. Just a bit.

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The life of an English Teacher

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They hand trim the trees into great shapes. I've seen birds and spirals.
They hand trim the trees into great shapes. I’ve seen birds and spirals.

8/13/2016

I’ve survived my second week of classes, with includes Exams for each class (except my one off-set class, which had an exam last week.) I still have today’s class, Level 9, to grade, and that will take a while. There are now 18 in the class! It’s really too many for the room, but usually 1 or 2 people don’t show up, so that helps with space. Next week I give oral exams, which don’t take as long. I’m still learning the paperwork, but keeping up.

Today may or may not have been Amanda’s last day. She’s been the temporary head teacher, but has accepted a new fulltime job with Honeywell. I say “may not” because the head teacher at the smaller, downtown branch quit when she found out that the scheduling duties for the main branch would fall onto her. So now no one is doing scheduling and we are halfway through a 4 week session. Amanda indicated she was willing to do some of the duties, part-time, but she has to work things out with Michael, the director. I hope they can come to a fair agreement for everyone. Both branches need someone to do scheduling.

I’m figuring out ways to keep my food costs down while still eating healthy, with the added degree of difficulty that I don’t want to use the kitchen much. I’ve decided that my fruits and vegetables twice a week will probably come from a gaspachos (mixed fruit and vegetable “salad” in a cup, see previous post) or a smoothie/liquados. I just found a whole, freshly barbequed chicken (chicken a la Lena) with corn torillias and salsa for 100 pesos (about $5.50US)! I’ll be eating on that all week. While there are many small grocery stores (tiendas de abarrotes), they don’t carry much that I’m interested. It’s mostly snacks, soda, water and maybe beer. I need fruits, vegetables, wine and easy to prepare proteins. I end up walking many blocks to get a slightly larger store. To find a real supermarket, I need a taxi, especially to come home with all the groceries. And I still don’t have much space in the refrigerator, so I can’t get much in bulk anyway. Eating on the street may turn out to be as cost effective, and certainly easier, than shopping and cooking.

There’s no washer here, but there’s an excellent laundress about a block away. I pay 40 pesos for a week’s worth of laundry—about $2.20US. Everything comes folded perfectly and is done in 24 hours or less. There are (slightly) less expensive places, but I’m so happy with her service, that I doubt I’ll change.

There’s a leak on the drain of the bathroom sink, just as it connects to the wall. I noticed it yesterday morning and let the landlord know right away. Possibly it’s been leaking for a while and I just thought that people were splashing water onto the floor when they used the sink. Orlando tells me this is an intermittent problem that doesn’t really get fixed, just patched. I can see that the connection from the drain to the wall is a mismatched pipe, and it would be difficult to seal the two. To fix it correctly, you’d need to replace pipe. I also notice that the drain doesn’t have a u-trap. The bathroom downstairs doesn’t either. It’s not the best set up, but I’m told that is the way work is done here. By contrast, the tile job in the bathrooms is excellent and the floor in my bedroom has relatively new “mock” hardwood that is laid very well. Maybe it’s just plumbing?

Enchiladas Suezes--It's not really swiz cheese, but it is good. This is a common entre here, and the corn tortillas hold chicken and are covered in salsa verde and cheese.
Enchiladas Suiezes–It’s not really swiz cheese, but it is good. This is a common entree here. The corn tortillas hold chicken and are covered in salsa verde and white cheese.

8/15/16

Monday. The bathroom sink is still leaking. Auturo said he would fix it over the weekend. He came Saturday around noon. He pulled out the pedestal (which is easy since the sink is mounted to the wall and doesn’t sit on it). He put tools on the floor. He opened the door to the terrace (which has giant cockroaches at night), left mail on the upstairs tables…..and that’s it. Nothing. He didn’t come back Sunday either. In the meantime, Orlando used the sink just as he always does so the floor is wet with god-knows-what. I texted Arturo again today (Monday). He didn’t reply. I can avoid using the kitchen, but I NEED a bathroom.

It’s surprisingly dry here. My skin often feels gritty and I’m grateful to wash my hands (assuming I have a working sink). I actually damp mop the floor to my room most days (with the head of floor dusting mop I brought from Russia. Got tired of buying one at each place. Still need to find a handle that fits it, though). The computer screen always needs to be wiped off. The humidity is 60% today. I don’t think I’ve ever lived somewhere with low humidity. I like it, but use 10 times as much skin lotion and my lips are often dry, close to cracking. This weather makes my neck look wrinkly and old. I hate that.

The hand towel and washcloths in the kitchen are the same ones that were there when I moved in 20 days ago. Ick! I already know the dishes aren’t clean. I simply can’t use the kitchen, except in a very limited way. I’ve not been able to find paper plates, but I broke down and bought disposable, Styrofoam plates. Bad for the environment, but at least I’ll live. Will continue to look for a more eco-friendly option. In the meantime, I have my own cup (borrowed from the kitchen), silverware & knife (mine) which I wash myself and keep in my room along with snacks, like nuts, fruit, avocados and whole grain crackers. And cheap red wine. I’m still eating on the barbecued chicken I bought over the weekend and arranged in my tiny fridge space. Still tasty.

Mr Yogurt's doesn't look like much, but it's clean and the staff are friendly.
Mr Yogurt’s doesn’t look like much, but it’s clean and the staff is friendly.
Mr Yogurt's old tricycle, parked out front.
Mr Yogurt’s old tricycle, parked out front.

8/16/2016

Yesterday, another teacher quit. In the three weeks since I arrived, that’s three at our branch and one at the smaller, downtown branch. Paolo didn’t even give notice, just walked in and said he was done. His classes were canceled last night and I pity the person who has to find a replacement. (Turns out he had few hours and was only being paid 45 pesos an hour.) Saturday was Amanda’s last day. She had been willing to stay on part-time, though she wanted a higher hourly wage to do so. Seems Michael, the director, didn’t want to do that, Also, Amanda felt Michael blamed her something that she didn’t do. She’s not coming back. Edwardo had already given his notice when I met him my first week. The pay is poor. There’s no guarantee with scheduling. Communication is meager. Basically, it’s every school I’ve worked at so far in the last 2 years. The one bright spot is that yesterday was payday. Not only was the money on time, I didn’t have to go begging for it. That’s something.

Another good note is that the bathroom sink in the apartment was finally repaired. I can wash my face and hands again without stepping into the shower. And I don’t have to wear boots in the bathroom. It’s a miracle!

This is my second visit to Mr. Yogurt's, but I just noticed these signs. They read, (left to right} "A coffee--$25 pesos" "A coffee please--$20 pesos" "Good Day, a coffee please--$15 pesos" It pays to be polite.
This is my second visit to Mr. Yogurt’s, but I just noticed these signs. They read, (left to right} “A coffee–$25 pesos” “A coffee, please–$20 pesos” “Good Day, a coffee, please–$15 pesos” It pays to be polite.

8/17/16

Mexicans are expressive people and talk with their hands. I can relate to that. However, some gestures are different from what I’m accustomed to. When a Mexican puts their thumb and forefinger about an inch apart (as if they were measuring a small distance) it means they are talking about money, probably the lack of it. If someone is too busy to talk, or can’t speak to you when you greet them (such as you are in a busy classroom and they are in the hallway) you can crook your pointer finger as a way to say “hello.”

This was unusual. It's an Italian soda with "perlas explosivas." OK, so the pearls didn't really explode. The pearls are balls of juice with a thin outer coating of something like tapioca. You could pick the flavor soda and the flavor of the pearls. My pearls were mango and really good. The soda is Mojito, but it was too heavy on the mint and not enough on the lime (plus no rum). It ended up tasting like liquid chewing gum. But my breath smelled fresh! Also in the photo are the candies we were given with our bill. There are sweet and salty--two tastes that are commonly put together here. In fact, if a candy is sweet tamarind with salt and chili, it could be named the national candy.
This was unusual. It’s an Italian soda with “perlas explosivas.” OK, so the pearls didn’t really explode. The pearls are balls of juice with a thin outer coating made of something like tapioca. You could pick the flavor soda and the flavor of the pearls. My pearls were mango and really good. The soda is Mojito, but it was too heavy on the mint and not enough on the lime (plus no rum). It ended up tasting like liquid chewing gum. But my breath smelled fresh!
Also in the photo are the candies we were given with our bill. There are sweet and salty–two tastes that are commonly put together here. In fact, if a candy is sweet tamarind with salt and chili, it could be named the national candy.

8/18/2016

I just had an amazing sandwich at a place called Mr. Yogurt’s. Orlando had recommended the restaurant and it’s right near the flat. It was the best Cuban sandwich I’ve had since I left Atlanta. These are called tortas. They aren’t like the dry bocadillos we had in Spain. The bread is yeastier, though a tad smaller, and toasted on the grill. There was an abundance of meat (both ham and bacon) and cheese, plus mayo, lettuce, tomato and avocado. I also had a liquadoes, a mixed fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie. This one was called “Iron Woman” and had beet, carrot, banana, a little honey and yogurt. YUM. I walked away stuffed, with my minimum daily requirement of fruits and veggies.

Also, I’ve learned that my name is translated as Berta here. Interesting. I like Beth better. Even Bet (since they can’t say the “th” sound).

This is my Tortas Cubana. This one was actually taken the second day. The first day I had one, I forgot to bring my phone so I couldn't take a photo. It was so good, I got another the next day. This sandwich was $38 pesos.
This is my Tortas Cubana. This is a photo of my second sandwich. The first day I had one, I forgot to bring my phone so I couldn’t take a photo. It was so good, I got another the next day. This sandwich was $38 pesos.

8/19/2016

Just began my end of session paperwork. This is not the fun part. I’ll give about 25 oral exams tonight and 18 more tomorrow. Next week, final exams. The four week session is just flying by. All the paperwork is done by hand, which seems unnecessary in the computer age. A shared Excel spreadsheet would do the trick. I wouldn’t have to rewrite the grades on different forms, not to mention the lengthy names. Seriously, everyone here has four names and they use them all! I’m getting writer’s cramp. And then, someone else has to take my handwritten notes and put them into the computer. It seems like such a waste of time (none of which I’m paid for) and so much chance for inaccuracy when copying from one sheet to another. But it’s not like anyone cares about my opinion.

Really wondering about the schedule for the next 4 week session. I expect to have the same number of hours, or even more, since we have fewer teachers. I prefer just to work in the evenings, not a split shift where I come in for a couple hours in the morning and then a couple hours in the evening. Morning classes begin at 7am—too early! And evening classes aren’t over until 9pm. It’s bad when you have to do both. It doesn’t appear I have any choice, however. Of course, we have no one doing the scheduling, so anything can happen.

This is the Iron Woman--beet and carrot juice, banana, yogurt and honey. A Vampiro is the same, except no yogurt. Tasty! This liquodos was $25 pesos.
This is the Iron Woman–beet and carrot juice, banana, yogurt and honey. A Vampiro is the same, except no yogurt. Tasty! This liquodos was $25 pesos.
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Museo Regional Potosino

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The is and old convent and church, Aranzazu Chapel, now re-purposed as a history museum, Museo Regional Potosino. It's free on Sundays! Behind it is the Templo San Francisco and the San Francisco Garden. This used to be all one complex. This was the Convent and the chapel is on the second floor.
The is and old convent and church, Aranzazu Chapel, now re-purposed as a history museum, Museo Regional Potosino. It’s free on Sundays! Behind it is the Templo San Francisco and the San Francisco Garden. This used to be all one complex. This was the Convent and the chapel is on the second floor.

Also on Sunday, I stumbled into the San Luis Potosi Regional History Museum, Museo Regional Potosino.

I walked toward the old town area after breakfast. I love to read signs as a way to learn more Spanish. I seriously think this says "dead hand bar."
I walked toward the old town area after breakfast. I love to read signs as a way to learn more Spanish. I seriously think this says “dead hand bar.”
Bad photo, but a great candy shop. This is Costanzo Chocolates, made locally in SLP. http://www.chocolatescostanzo.com/2014/
Bad photo, but a great candy shop. This is Costanzo Chocolates, made locally in SLP.

I was thirsty and stopped for something cold. Sometimes, I don't actually know what I'm ordering. I basically looked at the sign and thought, "paletas agua? That sounds good, whatever that is." I got the grosella flavor.
I was thirsty and stopped for something cold. Sometimes, I don’t actually know what I’m ordering. I basically looked at the sign and thought, “Paletas agua? That sounds good, whatever that is.” I got the grosella flavor.
And this is a paletas agua--a Popsicle! Grosella flavor turns out to be currant. I call this a win.
And this is a paletas agua–a Popsicle! Grosella flavor turns out to be currant. I call this a win.
This is called Aranzazu Square, after the chapel. It's now the home of the museum.
This is called Aranzazu Square, after the chapel. It’s now the home of the museum. I love that it was free today.
Inside
Inside

SLP, Mexico, August 2016, 112 SLP, Mexico, August 2016, 113

The museum has recreated an old Mexican cocina, kitchen. That table is stone, not wood.
The museum has recreated an old Mexican cocina, kitchen. That table is stone, not wood.
other side of the kitchen.
other side of the kitchen.

SLP, Mexico, August 2016, 118 SLP, Mexico, August 2016, 119

Then steps lead you to the old church.
Then steps lead you to the old church.
Brush up on your High School Spanish and translate this for me.
Brush up on your High School Spanish and translate this for me.
Entrance to the church
Entrance to the church
It's even more beautiful than this photo.
It’s even more beautiful than this photo.

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This is one of three strong boxes on display. n Spanish, this is a "caja fuerte." Even now, some banks often have "caja" in their title and cash registers are called "cajas." See how much I'm learning?
This is one of three strong boxes on display. n Spanish, this is a “caja fuerte.” Even now, some banks often have “caja” in their title and cash registers are called “cajas.” See how much I’m learning?
Funerary sculpture of a Franciscan monk.
Funerary sculpture of a Franciscan monk.
I spent an hour in the Museo Regional Potosino. By now, I was getting hot and thirsty, so I dropped into this pub, located near Jardin Francisco. The name translates as the Caterpillar and the Barley--La Oruga y La Cebada,
I spent over an hour in the Museo Regional Potosino. By now, I was getting hot and thirsty, so I dropped into this pub, located near Jardin San Francisco. The name translates as the Caterpillar and the Barley–La Oruga y La Cebada.

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This begins....Beer is good for your heart....
This begins….Know that…..Beer is good for your heart….

After drinking a beer and studying my Spanish vocabulary, I headed home for the evening.

Another quite pedestrian street. It's best to stay in the shade. The temperatures haven't gone much past 85F, but the sun is fierce.
Another quiet pedestrian street. It’s best to stay in the shade. The temperatures haven’t gone much past 85F, but the sun is fierce.

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I even caught a photo of this swallowtail butterfly.
I even caught a photo of this swallowtail butterfly.
I love the little hidden side streets. This one is pedestrian only and has a fountain, lots of bougainvillea vines and benches.
I love the little hidden side streets. This one is pedestrian only and has a fountain, lots of bougainvillea vines and benches.
This cracks me up. It's a Papa John's, just like you'd find in the USA. Even the slogan is the same: Better ingredients, better pizza.
This cracks me up. It’s a Papa John’s, just like you’d find in the USA. Even the slogan is the same: Better ingredients, better pizza.
Centro San Luis Potosino de convenciones, desde 1980 (SLP convention center, since 1980). This is near my flat and it's often lit up on Saturday night with ladies in long gowns and men in tuxes and dark suits. Must be a very fancy place to rent for special occasions.
Centro San Luis Potosino de convenciones, desde 1980 (SLP convention center, since 1980). This is near my flat and it’s often lit up on Saturday night with ladies in long gowns and men in tuxes and dark suits. Must be a very fancy place to rent for special occasions.
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A Sunday at San Francisco Garden

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This Park has a religious name San Francisco, after one of the first religious congregations to arrive to Mexico, but it's official name is Jardin Guerrero, after an Independence war hero. Around this Plaza you can see three churches, two Catholic churches and a Protestant church, although in this photo, you mostly see trees. It's a nice, shady spot to enjoy on a sunny afternoon.
This Park has a religious name San Francisco, after one of the first religious congregations to arrive to Mexico, but it’s official name is Jardin Guerrero, after an Independence war hero. Around this Plaza you can see three churches, two Catholic churches and a Protestant church, although in this photo, you mostly see trees. It’s a nice, shady spot to enjoy on a sunny afternoon.

I woke up to a beautiful day Sunday. The sky was especially lovely with high, cumulus clouds. I got an extra hour of sleep, too, and that felt great! No classes, but I did have papers to grade, so I headed out to find breakfast on Ave. Carranza, the main drag in SLP, which is also closed to traffic on Sunday mornings.

I started breakfast (desayuno) at Los Volcanes, the Volcanos. I ordered chilquiles, tortilla chips covered in salsa verde and cheese, huevos a la mexicana and coffee. And every breakfast comes with a side of refried beans. I've tried their coffee before and it was horrible--I swear it is sweetened with red hot candies. I decided I had to be wrong and tried it again. Mistake.
I started breakfast (desayuno) at Los Volcanes, the Volcanos. I ordered chilquiles, tortilla chips covered in salsa verde, cheese and sliced avocado, huevos a la mexicana and coffee. And every breakfast in Mexico comes with a side of refried beans.
I’ve tried their coffee before and it was horrible–I swear it is sweetened with red hot candies. I decided I had to be wrong and tried it again. Mistake. Same coffee.
This is breakfast! At least it was filling and only cost 55 pecos, about $3US. Seriously bad coffee, though.
This is breakfast! It was very filling and only cost 55 pecos, about $3US. Seriously bad coffee, though. I’ll never order it again. I did get all my papers graded, though.

After breakfast, I walked to the downtown area to check out San Francisco Garden, Jardín de San Francisco, also called Jardin Guerrero. With the bright sun, it looked like a cool place to people watch and review my new Spanish words.

Plaza San Francisco is quiet, shady plaza is one of the city’s most restful and quaint gathering places. Its western side is dominated by the imposing Templo de San Francisco, a Baroque Franciscan temple dating to early 18th century. Also here is the Casa del Artesano selling craft items from throughout Mexico. This sculpture is of Vincente Guerrero.
Jardin San Francisco is quiet, shady plaza. It’s one of the city’s most restful and quaint gathering places. Its western side is dominated by the imposing Templo de San Francisco, a Baroque Franciscan temple dating to early 18th century. Also here is the Casa del Artesano selling craft items from throughout Mexico. This sculpture is of Vincente Guerrero, a hero from the War of Independence. The garden is also named after him.
Lots of artists sell their wares here.
Lots of artists sell their wares here.
This plaza/park was originally the Franciscan Temple and Convent Square, In the 1970's the square was completely renovated and the streets opened to pedestrians only.
This park was originally the Franciscan Temple and Convent Square, and much of it was destroyed. In the 1970’s the square was completely renovated and the streets opened to pedestrians only.
There is a central fountain, placed here in the 19th century, and I'm sorry that it has barely been working when I've visited the park.
There is a central fountain, placed here in the 19th century, and I’m sorry that it has barely been working when I’ve visited the park. There are lots of benches and places to sit.
In addition to churches, there's also the convent of San Francisco. Here you can see some of the sisters, in white, in the background having a bake sale. Another sister, dressed in brown, is resting on the bench in front.
In addition to churches, there’s the convent of San Francisco. Here you can see some of the sisters, in white, in the background having a bake sale. Another sister, dressed in brown, is resting on the bench in front.
The entrance to San Francisco Temple faces the garden. This is one of the most important temples in the city, both historically and artistically. It was here that the Franciscans started their ministry, though their first building was in the Plaza de Fundadores (Founders Square). The temple is a Latin cross floor plan and vault, ornamented facade in worked stone and one of the most beautiful vestries of the region. There was a service going on, or I would have taken photos inside.
The entrance to San Francisco Temple faces the garden. This is one of the most important temples in the city, both historically and artistically. It was here that the Franciscans started their ministry, though their first building was in the Plaza de Fundadores (Founders Square). The temple is a Latin cross floor plan and vault, ornamented facade in stone and one of the most beautiful vestries of the region. There was a service going on, or I would have taken photos inside.
This is area is part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro--The Royal Road of the Interior Land was a 1,600 mile (2560 kilometer) long trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, from 1598 to 1882. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Camino_Real_de_Tierra_Adentro
This is area is part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro–The Royal Road of the Interior Land was a 1,600 mile (2560 kilometer) long trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, from 1598 to 1882.

This is the Secretary of Culture building, also facing the garden. This side view is from one of the pedestrian streets surrounding the church.
This is the Secretary of Culture building, also facing the garden. This side view is from one of the pedestrian streets surrounding the church. I particularly love the architecture.
In the tiny bit of shade, the vendors sell gifts.
And this is the other side of the same street. In the tiny bit of shade, the vendors sell gifts.

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 San Francisco Garden-- Jardín de San Francisco. This city plaza is surrounded by numerous historic landmarks.

San Francisco Garden–Jardín de San Francisco. This city plaza is surrounded by numerous historic landmarks.
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