Split shifts come to an end!

It was National Taco Day this week and I celebrated with local tacos--these from a cart a half block from the school. Notice how the plate is covered with a plastic bag. That way it can be reused without washing. Only the bag is tossed. A good option for vendors of stalls who don't have much water.
It was National Taco Day this week and I celebrated with local tacos–these from a cart a half block from the school. Notice how the plate is covered with a plastic bag. That way it can be reused without washing. Only the bag is tossed. A good option for vendors of mobile stalls with no water hook up. Saves on trash, too.

9/29/16
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 have seasonal fresh fruit and veggies every day, but usually this is how I get it--one cup at a time. A cart down the street now understands that I want a mixed fruit cup (vaso de fruita mezcala), though it may also includes cucumber, fresh coconut and jimica. Tasty. I also have pomegranate seeds 2-3 times a week along with avocado.
I have seasonal fresh fruit and veggies every day, but usually this is how I get it–one cup at a time. A cart down the street now understands that I want a mixed fruit cup (vaso de fruita mezcala), though it may also includes cucumber, fresh coconut and jimica. This particular cup has watermelon, papaya and jimica sprinkled with chili. Tasty. I also have pomegranate seeds 2-3 times a week along with avocado.

9/30/16
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).

The tamale vendor is just about a block from me.
The tamale vendor is just about a block from me.
I bought 3 tamales, each different flavor, for 24 pesos ($1.25US). They come wrapped in this natural packaging--corn husks. Then they're steamed, making a perfect street food--filling, cheap, easy to eat on the run and reasonably clean.
I bought 3 tamales, each a different flavor, for 24 pesos ($1.25US). They come wrapped in this “natural packaging”–corn husks. Then they’re steamed, making a perfect street food–filling, cheap, easy to eat on the run and reasonably clean.
....and here's the inside of one of the enchiladas. The flavors I got were lomo rojo (spicy salsa over pork loin), pollo (chicken with vegetables) and queso y papas (cheese and potatoes).
….and here’s the inside of one of the tamales. The flavors I got were lomo rojo (spicy salsa over pork loin), pollo (chicken with vegetables) and queso y papas (cheese and potatoes).

10/1/2016
My new favorite quote, “Love is always a calculated risk. But I’m bad at math.”

I love this name--The Contented Heart Taco restaurant.
I love this name–The Contented Heart Taco Restaurant.

10/3/2016
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.

Sometimes I drink my greens too. This is a combo of juiced, mixed greens, nopal (cactus) and a bit of honey (miel). 30 pesos for at least 16 ounces.
Sometimes I drink my greens too. This is a combo of juiced, mixed greens, nopal (cactus) and a bit of honey (miel). 30 pesos for at least 16 ounces.
I don't know what these are called yet. They are sold occasionally on the street near my house--dense biscuits with filling. Then the vendor pours spicy red salsa into it. 13pesos and very filling.
I don’t know what these are called yet. They are sold occasionally on the street near my house–very dense biscuits (probably made with a combo of coarse ground wheat and corn flour), partially opened and stuffed with filling. Then the vendor pours spicy red salsa into it. 13pesos and very filling.
And here's the biscuit, ready for eating. Just one was filling enough. A good value, though.
And here’s the biscuit, ready for eating. Just one was filling enough. A good value, though.

10/5/2016
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.

There are some lovely old houses here. Don't you want that elaborate front gate? You can't see it in the photo, but the ceiling on the upstairs porch is painting with cherubs.
There are some lovely old houses here. Don’t you want that elaborate front gate? You can’t see it well in the photo, but the ceiling on the upstairs porch is painted with cherubs.
OOOoooo an Italian restaurant. Must give this a try.....
OOOoooo an Italian restaurant. Must give this a try…..(translation of last window: Typical Italian food)

My 500th post

never-home-againI 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!

Sunday in San Luis, continued

There were so many photos from Sunday, that I had to post a few more. Enjoy!

This is the Colon Garden, formerly the location of the Our Lady of Mercy Convent. It's now another one of the lovely parks in SLP. Potosinos use their parks, too.
This is the Colon Garden, formerly the location of the Our Lady of Mercy Convent. It’s now another one of the lovely parks in SLP. Potosinos use their parks, too.
Close up of the clock tower in Colon Garden, also called "The Garden of Mercy."
Close up of the clock tower in Colon Garden, also called “The Garden of Mercy.”
This is one of many statues located along Guadalupe Road, just past Colon Gardon. This tree lined walk, an elaborate boulevard, is part of the longest pedestrian avenue in the American continent. Since the 17th Century it has been a space for social meetings, pilgrimages, novena prayers and the annual procession of the Virgen de Guadelupe to the cathedral.  There are many stone benches, flowers and sculpted shrubbery along this shady path, too. The road is flanked by important buildings such as The Barracks, the Center of Bicentennial Arts, the Potosino Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition building as well as grand important houses.
This is one of many statues located along Guadalupe Road, just past Colon Gardon. This tree lined walk, an elaborate boulevard, is part of the longest pedestrian avenue in the American continent. Since the 17th Century it has been a space for social meetings, pilgrimages, novena prayers and the annual procession of the Virgen de Guadelupe to the cathedral.
There are many stone benches, flowers and sculpted shrubbery along this shady path, too. The road is flanked by important buildings such as The Barracks, the Center of Bicentennial Arts, the Potosino Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition building as well as grand important houses. There was no name on this statue.
You'll find many bronze, life sized statues like this in SLP, usually on the sidewalk or in a plaza. But sometimes you find the "statue" you are looking at isn't made of bronze after all. It's common for street performers to dress up and paint their faces too look like statues, even standing next to a real statue. It's uncanny and a little frightening when one suddenly moves!
You’ll find many bronze, life sized statues like this in SLP, usually on the sidewalk or in a plaza. But sometimes you find the “statue” you are looking at isn’t made of bronze after all. It’s common for street performers to dress up and paint their faces too look like statues, even standing next to a real statue. It’s uncanny and a little frightening when one suddenly moves!
This water reservoir (caja de aqua) is also called La Conserva. It is supplied by an undergrowund aqueduct that runs along the Calzada de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Road). It was designed in a neoclassical style and built in stone. There are many fountains in SLP, but there used to be many, many more.
This water reservoir (caja de aqua) is also called La Conserva. It is supplied by an undergrowund aqueduct that runs along the Calzada de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Road). It was designed in a neoclassical style and built in stone. There are many fountains in SLP, but there used to be many, many more.
I love the name of this ice cream shop--Alaska Snow.
I love the name of this ice cream shop–Alaska Snow.
Garden of children, or the more common German word, Kindergarten.
Garden of children, or the more common German word, Kindergarten.
Another plaza, this one with a small carnival.
Another plaza, this one with a small carnival.
The legislative office of President Juarez.
The legislative office of President Juarez.
There's often a band on Sunday afternoons in El Centro.
There’s often a band on Sunday afternoons in El Centro.
Another beautiful church. Huge, too. There was a service going on, so this is taken from behind the pulpit, where a (seemingly tiny) priest stands.
Another beautiful church. Huge, too. There was a service going on, so this is taken from behind the pulpit, where a (seemingly tiny) priest stands.
You can't get away from pumpkin spice in October, even in Mexico.
You can’t get away from pumpkin spice in October, even in Mexico.
It's said that SLP has 100 churches. I'm beginning to believe it.
It’s said that SLP has 100 churches. I’m beginning to believe it.
Not sure what this is--the Institute of Julies Verne. The sign translates as "nurse and permaculture" whatever that is.
Not sure what this is–the Institute of Julies Verne. The sign translates as “nurse and permaculture” whatever that is.
What an unfortunate name, and color, for a club. I'm sort of relieved that it's out of business.
What an unfortunate name, and color, for a club. I’m sort of relieved that it’s out of business.
No matter what country, we love our pets. This is a veterinary hospital for small species. The dog in the front window is stuffed, which seems kind of creepy.
No matter what country, we love our pets. This is a veterinary hospital for small species. The dog in the front window is stuffed, which seems kind of creepy.

Sunday in San Luis

I finally felt that I had enough energy to go exploring today. It’s the first time I’ve been caught up on sleep in 5 weeks. The split shift kept me from a full night of rest and little energy. It’s all I could do just to keep up with classes. But that shift is over (at least for awhile). Excellent weather and sunshine helped draw me outside, too. Here’s my day, in pictures.

It's fall, but the flowers are still in bloom.
It’s fall, but the flowers are still in bloom.
Plaza de fundadores.
Plaza de fundadores.
There had been a fun run earlier in the morning and many of the vendors were still set up. This little girl was so excited to be the only one popping all the bubble.
There had been a fun run earlier in the morning and many of the vendors were still set up. This little girl was so excited to be the only one popping all the bubble.
Don't these look tasty? Grilled banana peppers are stuffed with carne adobado and cheese. YUM.
Don’t these look tasty? Grilled banana peppers are stuffed with carne adobado and cheese. YUM.

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Plaza del Carmen
Plaza del Carmen
Plaza del Carmen
Plaza del Carmen
At this stand, off the Plaza Del Carmen, I tried a new snack, elotes. It's another word for corn.
At this stand, off the Plaza Del Carmen, I tried a new snack, elotes. It’s another word for corn.
First the woman let's you choose the chips of your choice. I picked spicy Doritos. Then she squeezed fresh lime on top. Here, she's adding piping hot white corn kernels. Next, two kinds of cheese. I declined to add mayonnaise.
First the woman let’s you choose the chips of your choice. I picked spicy Doritos. Then she squeezed fresh lime on top. Here, she’s adding piping hot white corn kernels. Next, two kinds of cheese. I declined to add mayonnaise.
Here's the finished creation, topped with chili. Tasty, but not exactly healthy.
Here’s the finished creation, topped with chili. Tasty, but not exactly healthy.
You can't get away from US politics. The title of this book asked with Trump is the head of the mafia.
You can’t get away from US politics. The title of this book asked with Trump is the head of the mafia.

slp-mexico-october-2016-17

It's October and you know what that means, right? Halloween!? No. Dia de los Muertos--the Day of the Dead.
It’s October and you know what that means, right? Halloween!? No. Dia de los Muertos–the Day of the Dead.
These are the largest chicharon I've ever seen--deep fried pig skin.
These are the largest chicharon I’ve ever seen–deep fried pig skin.

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Lots of pedestrian streets in the old center.
Lots of pedestrian streets in the old center.

Enough photos for today. Maybe more tomorrow?

Two videos of my new “hometown” San Luis Potosi

I just happened to run across these two YouTube videos. Today I spent a lot of time walking around SLP, enjoying this lovely city. Photos of my day later, but here’s a couple videos for now.

The firsts was published on Oct 11, 2013. Canadian singer and songwriter AMANDA MARTINEZ teams up with her filmmaker cousin ANDREA MARTÍNEZ CROWTHER to make a series which explores the sights, sounds and flavors of Mexico. In the first part of this series, Amanda visits the beautiful city of San Luis Potosi.

The second if from Mexico’s Tourism Board, from 2010. I’ve not yet been to see the waterfalls they show in this one. I still have to figure out the transportation.