Still in Mexico!

This is from my new neighborhood, Insurgentes. One of the things I truly love about Mexico, is how colorful things are.

…but not for long. Monday, I’ll start my final 4-week session with English Unlimited in San Luis Potosi. I’ll finish the first week of July and then will move on to my next adventure. More about that soon. Hard to imagine that I’ve been here almost a year! Every new country feels like a separate lifetime–full of new adventures and surprises.

…Even the graffiti is attractive.

I’ve lost motivation to work on this blog for a while. I hadn’t intentionally taken a break, but my mother’s death has hit me hard and I’ve needed extra time to contemplate. I’ve also had a series of small illnesses, which might be related to my mental state. Still, I want to post a few more times before I leave this area.

The houses are always a riot of color, even old ones that need some attention.

Flowers too. Here, poinsettias grow taller than a man and burst into flame red for a few months of the year.
You see a lot of religious iconography.
Not many orange buildings in the US, but you can easily find them in Mexico.
A jacaranda, crepe myrtle with a bougainvillea vine.
This is not the finished version. I’ll show that soon.
A white bougainvillea, with petals so thick they look like flowers.

And the street reconstruction continues. I’d hoped they finish with the main street of Carranza before I left, but it’s as messy as ever. Still, they need the plumbing fixed. Drainage is a major issue during heavy spring and fall storms.

I’ve moved. Again.

This is Ivan and Meliza, my new family! They let me teach their sons in exchange for room and board. They are here pictured in El Centro, Plaza de Armas.

I really didn’t have a concept of how many times I’d move during this adventure. It’s not always that I’m in a bad situation, but sometimes I just find something better. In this case, MUCH better.

The shabby rooming house I was living in was going downhill. There was always a plumbing issue. Usually at least one bathroom was always unusable. But lately the owners had simply stopped responding to requests–like the day we had no water, with no explanation or estimate as to when we’d have water again. It was over 12 hours and I never knew what the problem was.  Others had already left–half the rooms were empty–and I was looking for something better. One of my dear, dear students, Meliza, offered to let me live with her family in exchange for teaching her two sons English. It’s turned out to be a godsend–lovely people, a very nice home and a comfortable, safe situation for me. The boys even act as though they don’t mind my English lessons.

Sign on the boys’ bedroom.

The only downside is that it’s an hour’s bus ride to the main school branch. At least the buses run pretty regularly and are mostly clean and not too over crowded, but there’s lots of cobblestone streets and barely a shock-absorber in sight. I was working 26 teaching hours a week, commuting into the school twice a day (4 hours total commute time), all the usual (unpaid) prep time/paperwork/grading) and teaching the two boys daily. It made for long hours, less opportunity to blog and and a very tired girl.

This 4 week session I’ve landed a better schedule with half the commute time, so I feel much better and hope to come back to blogging more. I also hope to explore the new neighborhood more and—some please hold me to this–join a gym.

One event I didn’t post about from February: The Chocolate Festival! It was a small event, but it’s the first annual, so I expect it to grow.

Costanzo is the local chocolate maker in the area and a very popular choice.
Fortunately the festival had some nice samples. I particularly liked the mole bar–a dark chocolate with mole spices. It was mostly spicy with a hint of salt and sweetness. That’s a popular combination in Mexico.
Hugo and his mom, Meliza, pose with one of the chocolate sculptures.
all chocolate!

Looking down on the Chocolate Festival.
The building is right off Plaza de Armas, a perfect location for rotating exhibits. Last month they had King Tut.

Christmas in San Luis Potosi

A tree in one of the small Malls downtown.

As the year winds to a close, it’s time to celebrate Christmas! Last year I was in a predominately Muslim country, so I saw few Christmas decorations. This year, I’m in Mexico and it’s overwhelmingly Christian, so lots of holiday cheer. On the other hand, it’s a nice warm mid-70’s F each afternoon, so it doesn’t really feel like winter. Personally, I love the weather, but it’s like there’s two seasons. Warm and a bit cooler. With no chance of snow or even frost, the flowers are in bloom and the leaves never change color.

Plaza Fundadores (Founder’s square) has turned into a winter wonderland, minus the snow.
Winter Festival entrance.
Santa’s house
The big tree–obviously sponsored by Coca Cola, as was the winter parade.
Even ice skating!
One of the lovely old homes is lit up at night. It’s much prettier than this photo.
Plaza Del Carmen is still packed–a place to rest between shopping.
The main branch of the school where I teach has un arbol de Navidad (a Christmas tree). We were even given a very nice Christmas dinner–paella!
In the mild weather, flowers continue to bloom.
…even some flowers I don’t recognize.
This is the tree at the downtown branch, where I’ve been teaching for the last 8 weeks. It’s near my flat, but I’m the only teacher most days, so it’s a tad isolating.
The churches are always ready for Christmas, right?

Too depressed to post

Did you know these were native to Mexico?
Did you know these were native to Mexico?

11/21/2016

I’ve been too depressed over the election to post to my blog. I continue to journal, but it’s all negative, with a few rants. I don’t think anyone wants to hear it and I don’t believe my opinion will change anyone’s mind. I’m sure many believe that I am overreacting. I hope they are right, but I don’t see anything positive coming out of this next presidency. I’m trying to be patient (not my strong suit) and wait to see what will happen. I am using the time to rethink my priorities in light of this immense change in the direction of politics, humanitarianism, poverty and world peace. We will just have to see what the new Trump presidency does, but if his cabinet picks are any indication, it’s not good. For the time being, I will hold off on considering coming back to The States or working for a US supported agency, such as the Peace Corps (Of my two top picks, one program was canceled and the other postponed).

In the meantime, here are a few things that have happened.

Saturday, we ended another 4 week session at school. Some of the grades were VERY low in my weekday classes, but I only failed one student. Several others got notes from me indicating that they had fallen behind and needed to catch up or they would fail next session. All my Saturday students are great. I will continue the next four weeks at the downtown location, where I’m the only teacher through the week. The original receptionist, Veronica, will no longer be working there. It seems some money is “missing.” She was not nice to me, so I won’t miss her. Fortunately, Poncho replaced her, so the place doesn’t seem so lonely.

I'm still at the smaller, downtown school location. It's a nice place, but a it isolating, since I'm the only teacher through the week. The students simply aren't as serious about learning and attendance is terrible.
I’m still at the smaller, downtown school location. It’s a nice place, but a it isolating, since I’m the only teacher through the week. The students simply aren’t as serious about learning and attendance is terrible.

Today, I moved to a smaller, upstairs bedroom. The pluses are that it’s less expensive, has a great closet, will be much quieter (I was wrong on this point), and my neighbors are all nice. The best perk is that I’m now sharing the best bathroom with much better roommates. Unfortunately, I just took a shower and the water pressure is much lower and there’s hardly any hot water. Also, I have only one electrical outlet and it isn’t grounded. That’s going to make it impossible to use my electric kettle or space heater, unless I can find adapters (I did). You can’t have everything.

Today is a Mexican holiday, Revolution Day. This past weekend, I had planned to go to a party but it was changed from Sunday to Saturday and I didn’t find out until the last minute. If it hadn’t been for the room change, I’d have gone out of town this weekend since it’s my first 2 day weekend since I got here. I kind of feel the opportunity was wasted.

I’ve been hand washing my clothes for the last month. It’s not much fun, but the woman at the place I liked quit and the owner doesn’t keep regular hours, nor does he do a good job. I tried a second place, but it was more expensive and they lost a black sock, a bra but gave me a pair of men’s underwear. Ick. I’ve been too depressed to give another place a chance. As the weather gets colder, I’ll be forced to find a new laundry place.

We’ve had nice sunshine for the last two days, but it was cloudy and rainy for 2 weeks before that, the after effects of Pacific hurricanes. It was so depressing.

Ana Maria brought me to a new restaurant just off Armes Plaza. It used to be a private home.
Ana Maria brought me to a new restaurant just off Plaza Armes. It used to be a private home.
I got the variety plate with many SLP delicacies.
I got the variety plate with many SLP delicacies.

I continue to worry about the school. Enrollment seems lower than when I came in July and I don’t see anything being done to change it. Last session I had 24 hours per week, a schedule I like, though many would consider “light.” This coming session, I’ll have only 19 hours a week—which is the bare minimum to pay rent and eat.

I finally get private Spanish classes two days a week. Orlando has announced he’s not returning after Christmas break. While he could continue to take classes, he’s lost motivation and will drop out. Marc and I were sharing a class, but are several chapters apart in the book. Learning Spanish is a high priority for me, but not for him. I’m grateful we will get separate lessons now.

I continue to learn Spanish, but seem to be at a mental plateau. With the depression, I’ve continued to force myself to move forward in the text book and on DuoLingo.com, but retention has been poor. I’ll have to keep reviewing these sections.

The Spanish word for brownie is "brownie." See, you know some Spanish!
The Spanish word for brownie is “brownie.” See, you know some Spanish!

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Ana Maria's dinner was veal. We splurge once a week on a nice dinner after Saturday classes.
Ana Maria’s dinner was veal. We splurge once a week on a nice dinner after Saturday classes.