Sweaty tacos?

Here's the tacos de canasta dealer nearest my house. Her's is a relatively post set up. Some folks just stand on the corner with a basket. The tacos look a tad oily and are nearly translucent in the middle. They are served with the salsa of your choice, I chose verde (green).
Here’s the tacos de canasta seller nearest my house. Her’s is a relatively “posh” set up. Some folks just stand on the corner with a basket. The tacos look a tad oily and are nearly translucent in the middle. They are served with the salsa of your choice. I chose verde (green) and took them para llevar (to go).

Tacos sudados or “sweaty tacos” doesn’t really sound all that appetizing, does it? Fortunately, they are called tacos de canasta “basket tacos” here in San Luis Potoasi. Either way, they are a steamed taco. They’re easy to find, sold on street corners. They can be messy to eat by hand, but try them anyway, even if you need a bib.

Here are the varieties she sold: Cochinita--suckling pig (which I will try next) Deshebrada--"shredded" meat, usually beef. Tinga--this is what I tried, chicken seasoned with onion, tomato, peppers & potatoes. Pleasantly spicy. Chicarron--pork rind Papa--potato Huevo--egg Bisteck adobado--beef marinaded in adobo sauce. All are flautas (white, wheat tortillas) with contents slowly cooking into a thick stew--like a taco baby food, and even more comforting.
Here are the varieties she sold:
Cochinita–suckling pig (which I will try next)
Deshebrada–“shredded” meat, usually beef.
Tinga–This is what I tried, chicken seasoned with onion, tomato, peppers & potatoes. Pleasantly spicy.
Chicarron–pork rind
Papa–potato
Huevo–egg
Bisteck adobado–beef marinaded in adobo sauce.
All are flautas (white, wheat tortillas) with contents that are slowly cooking into a thick stew–like a taco stuffed baby food, and even more comforting. YUM.
These are Tacos de canasta--tacos in a basket. They’re the soft, steamed tacos sold on the street, and they’re usually stacked in cloth-covered basket. The good thing about the steaming is that they are "fairly" sanitary for street food. Also they come in many varieties since they can be stuffed with anything.
These are the Tingo Tacos de Canasta–cpicy chicken tacos in a basket. They’re the soft, steamed tacos sold on the street, and they’re usually stacked in cloth-covered basket. The good thing about the steaming is that they are “fairly” sanitary for street food. Also they come in many varieties since they can be stuffed with anything. I managed to get the verde sauce (not shown) all over me.
A perfect drink with them, if it's too early for cervaza. This water is bottled in a nearby town and the locals swear it cures a hangover!
A perfect drink with them, if it’s too early for cerveza (beer). This water is bottled in a nearby town and the locals swear it cures a hangover!

Yes, I’ll probably eat anything….once

This is proof positive that I will try anything. Can you guess what's in this meal? It was a first for me.
This is proof positive that I will try anything. Can you guess what’s in this meal? It was a first for me.

It was Sunday. I slept in. No one else was awake in the house, so I had a leisurely breakfast of Enchiladas Potosinas–which I can buy cheap and ready made at my local grocery. Potosinos (as residents of San Luis Potosi are referred to) are proud of their bright orange tortilla shells stuffed with cheese and spices. They are often served fried with refried beans and fresh slices of avocado, as I had them. I played on the computer. I answered emails. I worked on my Spanish and I didn’t work on lesson plans–we all need a break from work!

Parque Juan H. Sánchez. Many walking paths. In fact, it seemed as if everyone with a dog was walking it here.
Parque Juan H. Sánchez. Many walking paths. In fact, it seemed as if everyone with a dog was walking it here.

The weather was fair–warm, but with high clouds and a slight breeze. Perfect for a stroll. Before lunch, I started walking. Last night I’d gone east to the old town. Today I turned my feet west. I wanted to check out a large park that was recommended to me as a place to people watch and catch a very late lunch. Here’s my day, in pictures.

This is the entrance to Parque Juan H. Sánchez, also called Parque Morales.
This is the entrance to Parque Juan H. Sánchez, also called Parque Morales.
A statue of Francisco Gonzales
A statue of Francisco Gonzales
There was a small festival going on--food, music, face painting and even a large boa constructor that you could pose with.
There was a small festival going on–food, music, face painting and even a large boa constructor that you could pose with.
Parque Juan H. Sánchez
Parque Juan H. Sánchez
Playground, Parque Juan H. Sánchez. The park is lovely with many mature trees, but it needs some attention, as you can see.
Playground, Parque Juan H. Sánchez. The park is lovely with many mature trees and comfortable benches, but it needs some attention, as you can see.
Parque Juan H. Sánchez has many fountains. Unfortunately, none seemed to be working.
Parque Juan H. Sánchez has many fountains. Unfortunately, none seemed to be working.
I decided to try a new restaurant, El México de Frida. I'd talked to one of the owners on the phone, Lola, because she had an apartment for rent. Unfortunately, someone else got the apartment, but she seemed so interesting that I decided to check out the place.
I decided to try a new restaurant, El México de Frida. I’d talked to one of the owners on the phone, Lola, because she had an apartment for rent. Unfortunately, someone else got the apartment, but she seemed so interesting that I decided to check out the place.
Close up of mosaic at El México de Frida. The restaurant is a tribute to all things Frida Kalho, one of Mexico's most famous artists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frida_Kahlo
Close up of mosaic at El México de Frida. The restaurant is a tribute to all things Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
Close up of mosaic at El México de Frida.
Close up of mosaic at El México de Frida.
Inside El México de Frida. It's really beautiful. And the restaurant was swamped in the middle of the day on Sunday.
Inside El México de Frida. It’s really beautiful. And the restaurant was swamped in the middle of the day on Sunday.
Art everywhere! This place is too expensive for me to come to often. If you're spending US dollars, it's a great price, but I'm paid in pesos....and not that many of them.
Art everywhere! This place is too expensive for me to come often. If you’re spending US dollars, it’s a great price, but I’m paid in pesos….and not that many of them.
Even the menu was attractive.
Even the menu was attractive.
This was my drink. I had it with mescal (similar to tequila and also made form the agave plant). Not sure the chia seeds improved the drink. They made it a tad crunchy. Also topped with a sprinkle of dried oregano, which added to the bouquet.
This was my drink. Of course, I had it with mescal (similar to tequila and also made from the agave plant). Not sure the chia seeds improved the drink. They made it a tad crunchy. Also topped with a sprinkle of dried oregano, which added to the bouquet.
I ordered Escamoles--a "pre-Columbian delicacy, ant eggs sauteed in butter with a touch of garlic, serrano chili and epazole." That last one is an herb, unique to Mexican cooking. Epazole. Pronunciation: eh-puh-ZOE-tay Also Known As: Mexican Tea, Wormseed, Pigweed, West Indian Goosefoot, Hedge Mustard, Jerusalem Parsley and Pazote. http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/spanishterms/g/Epazote.htm Wait, pigweed? I think I know what it is. I've always known it was edible, but I've never done more than tasted it once just to give it a try. I know. You're shocked that I'm more interested in the herb that flavored the dish than the ant eggs, right?
I ordered Escamoles–a “pre-Columbian delicacy, ant eggs sauteed in butter with a touch of garlic, serrano chili and epazote.” That last one is an herb, unique to Mexican cooking, but according to the internet, it grows wild in Mexico and the USA. Pronunciation: eh-puh-ZOE-tay Also Known As: Mexican Tea, Wormseed, Pigweed, West Indian Goosefoot, Hedge Mustard, Jerusalem Parsley and Pazote.
Wait, pigweed? I think I know what it is. I’ve always known it was edible, but I’ve never done more than tasted it once just to give it a try.
I know. You’re shocked that I’m more interested in the herb that flavored the dish than the ant eggs, right? And the prices are in Pesos, not US dollars. We share same symbol for money: $.
And here they are: Ant Eggs! There wasn't much taste really, but they were somehow very rich. Difficult to describe. I ate them on fresh, hot corn tortillas with the extra tasty salsa and guacamole.
And here they are: Ant Eggs! There wasn’t much taste really, but they were somehow very rich. Difficult to describe. I ate them on fresh, hot corn tortillas with the extra tasty salsa and guacamole.
This is the side dish--pickled vegetables with a heavy sprinkle of cheese on crisp tortilla chips. Yum!
This is the side dish–pickled vegetables with a heavy sprinkle of cheese on crisp tortilla chips. Yum!
This dragon hung above my table. Though there was a line to get in, I was seated immediately since I was alone and they had a small table for one in the back.
This dragon hung above my table. Though there was a line to get into the restaurant, I was seated immediately since I was alone and they had a small table for one in the back. Sometimes it pays to travel solo!
Lola had mentioned that she was working on a new mural. Restaurant guests can drop by and help. Lola wasn't there and no one was working on the mural on such a busy day, but it looks like it will be an interesting addition.
Lola had mentioned that she was working on a new mural. Restaurant guests can drop by and help. Lola wasn’t there this day and no one was working on the mural on such a busy day, but it looks like it will be an interesting addition.

A rainy Saturday night in San Luis Potosi

A fountain on the western entrance to El Centro
A fountain on the western entrance to El Centro

Yesterday I completed my first week of teaching here in SLP. I have a great group of students and feel lucky to be their teacher. Saturday classes are 4 hours–a long time to be on your feet, but I feel the class of 14 students really moved forward. I’m teaching mainly adults, most are 17-22, with a few older students thrown in. It’s my favorite age. They are still young enough to learn quickly and old enough that I don’t waste class time with discipline.

This is a church just one block from the popular Plaza Del Carmen. There was a wedding, so I didn't go inside.
This is a church just one block from the popular Plaza Del Carmen. There was a wedding, so I didn’t go inside.
This is a tower of the same church.
This is a tower of the same church.

After class, I took a short nap, then headed to El Centro, the historic center of the San Luis Potosi to explore and practice my Spanish. The city is larger than you might think, but it is the capital of the state of the same name. This is my evening in pictures.

Plaza Del Carmen--busy even in the rain. This is the largest plaza in the capital city and includes Teatro de la Paz.
Plaza Del Carmen–busy even in the rain. This is the largest plaza in the capital city and includes Teatro de la Paz.
Plaza Del Carmen
Plaza Del Carmen
Plaza Del Carmen
Plaza Del Carmen
Plaza Del Carmen, Museo del Virreinato
Plaza Del Carmen
In the Plaza de las Armas there was a music festival going on. Traditional costumes and songs. Of course I don't have a history of the event, but hope to ask my students about it this week. They practice their English, which I learn.
In the Plaza de las Armas there was a music festival going on with traditional costumes and songs. Of course I don’t have a history of the event, but hope to ask my students about it this week. They practice their English, while I learn!
I found their costumes very interesting, especially the capes festooned with ribbons.
I found their costumes very interesting, especially the capes festooned with ribbons.
When I got hungry, this was the place I decided to stop. It seemed fairly clean, occupied by locals and served Mexican food. The only American food on the menu was hamburgers. The owner was a marvelous Potosino who (with broken English) told me she spent 6 months in Nebraska working at a Burger King. She hated it and came back home to open this place. Now she has a grown daughter and employs mostly family members here.
When I got hungry, this was the place I decided to stop. It seemed fairly clean, occupied by locals and served Mexican food. The only American food on the menu was hamburgers. The owner was a marvelous Potosino who (with broken English) told me she spent 6 months in Nebraska working at a Burger King. She hated it and came back home to open this place. Now she has a grown daughter and employs mostly family members here.
At the restaurant a ordered a delicacy my students recommended: posole! It's a rich soup with beef and rehydrated dried corn. In the plate on the side is lime to squeeze on top, chili pepper (it was already hot enough for me!) and onions with lettuce. In the small brown bowl is a mixture of oregano and salt--which really added to the flavor. It was a huge bowl and I should not have eaten it all, but it was wonderful.
At the restaurant a ordered a delicacy my students recommended: Posole! It’s a rich soup with beef and re-hydrated dried corn. In the plate on the side is lime to squeeze on top, chili pepper (it was already hot enough for me!) and onions with lettuce. In the small brown bowl is a mixture of oregano and salt–which really added to the flavor. It was a huge bowl and I should not have eaten it all, but it was wonderful.
Temple of San Juan de Dios and de Nuestra Senora del Rosario. There are so many beautiful churches here. Most have architecture similar to this. I particularly love the chandeliers and the fresco at the front.
Temple of San Juan de Dios and de Nuestra Senora del Rosario. There are so many beautiful churches here. Most have architecture similar to this. I particularly love the chandeliers and the fresco at the front.
Outside one of the shops on the main street of El Centro. The store sells native crafts and clothing. A few streets in the center are pedestrian only, and filled with people.
Outside one of the shops on the main street of El Centro–the sign says “don’t touch me.” The store sells native crafts and clothing. A few streets in the center are pedestrian only, and were filled with people, despite the rain.
The official name of this park may be "La Alameda Juan Sarabia de San Luis Potosí" though everyone refers to it as Parque Alameda. Alameda Park is less crowded than the other parks in San Luis. It lies on the eastern edge of the central downtown area. This large statue of Juan Sarabia stands prominently in the middle of the park.
The official name of this park may be “La Alameda Juan Sarabia de San Luis Potosí” but everyone refers to it as Parque Alameda (Mall Park). Alameda Park is less crowded than the other parks in San Luis. It lies on the eastern edge of the central downtown area. This large statue of Juan Sarabia stands prominently in the middle.
Parque Alameda is low-key and peaceful. It is a large open space, and not as lush as the other small parks that sprinkle the city, but it's a nice place to stroll and relax between visits to the many museums, cathedrals, and visitor attractions nearby. Directly across the street to the west is the main cultural center, Centro de Difusion Cultural, which I hope to see soon. Alameda Park has a medium-sized duck pond, El Lago de Pato, surrounding a large tower.
Parque Alameda is low-key and peaceful. It is not as lush as the other small parks that sprinkle the city, but it’s a nice open space to stroll and relax. Directly across the street to the west is the main cultural center, Centro de Difusion Cultural, which I hope to see soon. Alameda Park has a medium-sized duck pond, El Lago de Pato, surrounding a large tower.
Parque Alameda features a large gazebo surrounded by a "moat" they call "El Lago Cultural de la Alameda Juan Sarabia." As you can see it is empty now, but seems to be a spot for teenagers to hang out.
Parque Alameda features a gazebo surrounded by a “moat” they call “El Lago Cultural de la Alameda Juan Sarabia.” As you can see it is empty now, but seems to be a spot for teenagers to hang out.
There are a few fountains, each different in construction.
There are a few fountains and statues with many benches. I was surprised at how many people were there, since it rained off and on. While the rain was a hassle, it did cool things down.

Observations on San Luis Potosi

I've let my stomach settle a little before I tried any street food. This is my first--a taco truck near my school. The owner and operator was friendly and dealt well with my minimal Mexican vocabulary. His other patrons were kind and we resorted to Google Translate to communicate.
I’ve let my stomach settle a little before I tried any street food. This is my first–a taco truck near my school. The owner and operator was friendly and dealt well with my minimal Mexican vocabulary. His other patrons were kind and we resorted to Google Translate to communicate.
....and here is the al pastor, or Shepard's taco. It's a very simple combination of roast pork on two grilled corn tortillas. The most important thing about al pastor is the Adobo marinade. Heaven. Add a squeeze of lime and a bit of salsa (wow, was that spicy) and you're done. My three tacos and a bottled iced tea was 38 Pesos, about $2US.
….and here is the al pastor, or Shepard’s taco. It’s a very simple combination of roast pork on two grilled corn tortillas. The most important thing about al pastor is the Adobo marinade. Heaven! Add a squeeze of lime and a bit of salsa (wow, was that spicy) and you’re done. My three tacos and a bottled iced tea was 38 Pesos, about $2US. The best news is that the food “agreed” with me. No Montezuma’s revenge!

I’ve been here in SLP, Mexico less than two weeks and taught classes for a week. Here are some random thoughts on my new hometown.

  • So far, I find the Mexican students are far more willing to speak and use the English language than any place I’ve been. This makes my job easier. And their pronunciations are pretty good, too. I have to correct individual words, of course, but that has more to do with English than them. The sounds I’m working on “y” and “th,” Once again, my name is unpronounceable!
  • With 50 minute classes and exams every other week, I have almost no time for activities or games. I think it would be more fun if we had them and give the students a chance to use their language skills more.
  • I’m always surprised at how little cash businesses have on hand. If I buy an item for 60 Pesos and hand the cashier a 100 Peso note, they will likely have trouble breaking it. When I changed money on arrival to Mexico, I was given 500 Peso notes, so this is an issue for me.
  • I can’t get over how friendly everyone is. People wish you a good morning on the street and there are lots of smiles. I think this is going to be a more comfortable country for me, as long as I can learn to relax about time.
    More renovation going on. This is in the old town, El Centro.
    More renovation going on. This is in the old town, El Centro.

    Construction means improvements, but they aren't as concerned about safety. You have to pay attention yourself.
    Construction means improvements, but they aren’t as concerned about safety. You have to pay attention where you walk.
  • Mexicans seem to be quite calm about waiting in line, much calmer than Americans. They are quite “flexible” about start times for appointments and classes (students often arrive late). But when Mexicans get behind the wheel of a car, they drive just like in the U.S.! Horns honk when the light turns green if the first car hesitates for a fraction of a second.
  • There are fruit juices and smoothies everywhere, and it’s fresh fruit, too. Orange, mango, pineapple, banana, strawberry, avocado…..YUM!
  • Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand the concept of iced coffee. You can get a frappe—with lots of sugar and whipped cream, though. I’m trying to consume less white sugar, so all I want is coffee, a little milk and ice. I’ve learned how to explain it in Spanish, so it’s not a language problem. It’s just not done here (unless I go to Starbucks). Coffee is served hot. Iced tea is no problem, but again it will have lots of sugar. In fact, EVERYTHING has sugar. Some restaurants even serve their black coffee with sugar already in it. There’s a place on the main street that seems to put Red-Hots candies in their coffee. Sweet and spicy. I didn’t like it.
    Odd. This church has cannons!
    Odd. This church has cannons!
    Couldn't find the name of this church, but isn't the facade lovely?
    Couldn’t find the name of this church, but isn’t the facade lovely?

    Inside one of SLP's beautiful churches.
    Inside one of SLP’s beautiful churches.
  • This is the only place I’ve lived that bus drivers will let you off whenever you request it. They don’t wait for a bus stop. The drivers all seem to accelerate as fast as they can, then slam on the brakes to stop. It’s a rough ride.

    I don't know what this protest was about, but it was going on in one of the main plazas in El Centro.
    I don’t know what this protest was about, but it was going on in one of the main plazas in El Centro. It was peaceful and I didn’t see any police around.
  • They close the main street of Carranza on Sundays from 8am to 1pm so that people can stroll, bike or jog. It’s adorable.
  • My big discovery: Cheap Mexican wine is pretty good. Not as good as cheap Spanish wine, but much better than cheap Russian or American wine.
    My big discovery: Good, cheap Mexican wine. Just a glass or two at bedtime. And I keep it in my room, since I often can't get into the kitchen, or cook. Did I mention I'm looking for another place to live?
    My big discovery: Good, cheap Mexican wine. Just a glass or two at bedtime. And I keep it in my room, since I often can’t get into the kitchen. Or cook. And I have to wash the dishes before and after I use them. Did I mention I’m looking for another place to live?
    Oh yeah. That looks safe. It's a different world, folks.
    Oh yeah. That looks safe. It’s a different world, folks.
    Just one of many holes on the sidewalk. You have to pay attention when you walk.
    Just one of many holes on the sidewalk. You have to pay attention when you walk.

    Just another reason to watch where you are going. Every block has holes in the sidewalk like this. I'm surprised I don't see more people fall. Someone in a wheel chair might find it impossible to navigate.
    Just another reason to watch where you are going. Every block has holes in the sidewalk like this. I’m surprised I don’t see more people fall. Someone in a wheel chair would find it impossible to navigate most sidewalks.

Welcome to San Luis Potosi, Mexico!

The view of SLP from my hotel window the first morning.
The view of SLP from my hotel window the first morning.
I spent the first night in the Hotel Real, on the main drag, near downtown.
I spent the first night in the Hotel Real, on the main drag, near downtown. Sorry the photo is through a screened window.

7/31/16

Today I complete my first week in San Luis Potosi (SLP), Mexico. It’s been rough, but to be fair, the first week in any country is difficult. There’s good and there’s bad. I hope the bad things are just temporary or things I can improve in a short period of time.

GOOD

  • SLP seems a lovely city. Lots of parks, plazas and interesting churches. There are a few museums, including an art museum. I’ve found some local crafts for sale in the downtown area.
  • Mexicans seem very warm, friendly people. Lots of smiling and people talk to you easily, even though my Spanish is very poor. Twice, young men have given me their seat on the bus and once a young man offered me his hand to help me off a particularly long drop when exiting the bus. His smile was electric. He made me feel like a queen being helped off her throne. That never happened in Turkey or Russia.
  • The weather is warm, but not nearly as bad as Atlanta in the summer. Temps reach a high of the mid 80’s, and lows drop to the 60’s or even the 50’s. Humidity is about 70% and there’s usually a breeze. The sunshine is quite intense. I’ve had to buy a huge bottle of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Almost no air conditioning here, but most places have fans.
  • I’ve been able to sit in on a few classes at my new school this week and now have textbooks for the classes I will teach. The curriculum is in-house and while not perfect, it is at least straightforward. I won’t have to supplement heavily, but I do believe some activities and dialogues could liven things up.
  • Spanish classes are set to begin tomorrow. Learning Spanish is one of the reasons I’m here so this is very good news.
  • While I didn’t get a schedule until after noon Saturday for classes beginning Monday (and it still may change), at least I now have a schedule. It includes 4 evening classes (one hour each, 5 night a week) and 1 Saturday class (4 hours, starting at 9:30a). Twenty four teaching hours is a full load, and enough hours to pay the bills (barely). At least it’s not a split shift and I’m only working at one location.
  • I’m making a few friends here—particularly two female teacher who I really like.
  • I can’t find a bus schedule, but have figured out how to take a bus on the main drag. Cost is about 8 pesos (less than 50 cents).

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 4 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 5 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 6 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 7 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 8 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 9Not So Good             

  • There were a few “misunderstandings” my first week. Things aren’t exactly as promised. Mostly I feel thrown into the deep end with very little support. If this were my first time out of country, I’d be in bad shape. I’ll survive, but had hoped for better initial treatment.
  • I have jet lag (14 hour time difference from Moscow, which was 7 hours different from Nakhodka), altitude sickness (I’m over 6,000ft and have been at sea level for most of the last year and a half), and Montezuma’s revenge (thank GOD for Imodium).
  • My flat is less than ideal.  While it is clean and safe, I am looking for better. The bedroom (which I don’t share) is large,—two rooms—but it isn’t well outfitted. No fan. No cross-ventilation. I didn’t expect A/C, but a fan is a necessity here. My first night was miserable, but I’ve bought a fan now. Also no hangers, wastebasket, broom, vacuum (there’s carpeting in one of the rooms), night table or desk. I share a bathroom with two other men and since it’s upstairs, it has VERY low water pressure (imagine a shower in a very heavy mist) and unreliable hot water. Of my last five showers, only two had hot water for more than 1 minute. There is nowhere to hang towels or put bath items so you drag your shampoo back and forth from your room. The living room and kitchen are shared by everyone in the house—all 12 of us. There is no hot water in the kitchen at all. I honestly don’t mind heating water to wash my dishes, but based on observation, not everyone bothers. At least one roommate (who walks around in his boxers each evening) doesn’t even bother to use soap. I wash my dishes both before and after I use them. I have EXTREMELY limited fridge space—2.5 shelves on the door. I don’t even have room to store a whole roast chicken. The Wi-Fi is usually OK, unless several people are using it at once, which can easily happen in the evening or all day Sunday. There is no washer. Additionally, it’s 2 miles from the school and over a mile from a decent grocery. The school director arranged for me to meet the landlord of this apartment, but it was take -it-or-leave-it. I was given an address and told me to take a taxi with my luggage. The director had never seen the apartment, didn’t know the price, nor how far it was from the school. This is the only housing assistance I can expect from the school. I’ve already looked at another place and hope to see more this week.
  • If you need support or assistance getting oriented in a new country/job, this is not the place to come. You are on your own, except for paperwork assistance with your work visa (which I hope will be this week). They do not pay the cost of the visa (over $200, though they are supposed to reimburse this cost if I last a year). No one met me at the airport, or my hotel, or took me to the school. I got phone service by myself—which is an added degree of difficulty in Spanish. I was sent to get visa photos on my own (though I’d been promised someone would go with me), and given the wrong directions and address to get there. Try working through THAT in Spanish, in a city you don’t know. I did.
  • I won’t be making any money. The exchange rate between US dollars and Mexican pesos is good. Unfortunately, I’m paid in pesos. Some of my expenses are in dollars, especially the big, initial ones. This school doesn’t reimburse for travel, cover insurance or pay a housing supplement. The hourly pay is minimal. My current flat takes 60 working hours to pay for—more than two weeks at my current schedule. My next schedule could have fewer hours. The flat I looked at yesterday was more expensive. That doesn’t leave much for food, laundry, transportation and incidentals. It won’t pay for the cost to travel here, insurance or travel to see other parts of Mexico. This week I’ve been to the school every day, at least once, and sat in on classes. There’s no pay for that. When the school closes for holiday breaks, I’m not paid (with a few rare exception).
  • I’d been told I’d probably have a Level 17 class and given a book. When we didn’t have a schedule by Thursday of this week, I went ahead and planned out lessons for the first week for this level. Naturally, I’m not teaching Level 17. Waste of time.
  • Turnover is high. Few teachers last a year. I sat in on a class Saturday and it was the teacher’s last day. The temporary head teacher, Amanda, has given her notice. That’s a shame because I like her. The head teacher before her quit two months ago. I need a head teacher and I hope someone else is ready to step into the position, but don’t know if that will happen.

So it’s another adventure, this time in Mexico!

Yes! There's a tour bus! NO, there's not English tour.
Yes! There’s a tour bus! NO, there’s not English tour.

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 12 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 13

An amazing number of parks and plazas. They have people in them, too.
An amazing number of parks and plazas. They have people in them, too.

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 15 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 16

Art museum
Art museum

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 18

I have never been anywhere that loved fruit juices so much. You can buy juice everywhere.
I have never been anywhere that loved fruit juices so much. You can buy fresh juice everywhere.

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 20 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 21 SLP, Mexico July 2016, 22

This is my new school. It has two branches. This is the main one and where I will be teaching this four week session. There are 24 levels, so you can complete in under two years.
This is my new school. It has two branches. This is the main one and where I will be teaching this four week session. There are 24 levels, so you can do them all in under two years.
Enchiladas Positanos!
Enchiladas Positanos!
A local chocolate factory. YUM! Of course I had to taste.
A local chocolate factory. YUM! Of course I had to taste.

SLP, Mexico July 2016, 26

Tarte de plantanos--fresh banana slices, dulce de leche, whipped cream on a graham cracker crust. YUM.
Tarte de plantanos–fresh banana slices, dulce de leche, whipped cream on a graham cracker crust. Sugar rush!