New flat, old teaching struggles

The Independence Day parade was mostly military, police, bands and Red Cross (Cruz Roja).
The Independence Day parade was mostly military, police, bands and Red Cross (Cruz Roja).

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher


I moved into the new flat yesterday and am getting settled. Also taught my regular five classes. Tired. But this evening, I took a HOT shower with water pressure I would have bragged about in the USA. Totally worth it.

In other good news, I got acknowledgement that my visa status has been changed from “Tourist” to “Work.” I must go in next week for fingerprinting at Immigration. It will take a few more weeks after that and then I’ll get my actual work card, so it’s official.

With this schedule, I’ve mostly only worked and not had much time to see the city. Nothing new to report. My blog posts have slowed down. I hope to get a break soon. Next week we have Independence Day off, Friday. Not sure what celebrations there may be.


I’m so tired from not getting a good night’s sleep for three weeks. My schedule makes 8 solid hours of sleep impossible. My body says it’s mandatory. At best I can get 7, but 6 is more common. I talked with Michael yesterday about the schedule. He seemed to think I was asking for a favor. I’m not. I’ll work mornings/evenings/weekends. I just can’t be expected to work the 7am class AND finish classes at 9pm 5 days and still function well. I’m not convinced he understood that. Or cares. He says he has another teacher coming next week, but he won’t start until the next session. He chided me for not trusting him. It’s true. I didn’t trust him. He promised the new teacher would be there to take over the morning classes before the end of this 4-week session. No teacher.

Today I’m giving quizzes to my off-set classes and oral exams to my others. The paperwork is exhausting and all has to be filled out by hand. So grateful for a day off tomorrow, Friday, Mexican Independence Day. Unfortunately, it gives my students less time and no one did well on the Level 2 quiz. If I’d had another day to review them I think they would have done much better.

I continue to be surprised by how little cash a seemingly thriving business will have on hand. Getting change is almost impossible. Today, I ate at a busy restaurant. My bill came to 53 pesos. I handed the waitress a 100 peso note. She asked for change. I gave her 3 more pesos thinking she could give me a 50 peso note back. She still couldn’t make change. When I saw the cash drawer, I realized she literally had only a few coins inside! So I took back all the money and scrounged around in my backpack and purse until I could give her exact change. Unfortunately, I then needed to pick up my laundry. Now I didn’t have any change! I gave the laundress the 100 peso note for a 40 peso laundry bill, but she couldn’t break it. She went to two places before she found someone who could give her two 50’s for it. She had to dip into her own purse for the remaining 10 peso coin. Since I am paid in 500 peso notes, it’s a struggle to buy things sometimes. I have to keep coins since I take the bus four times a day. It’s only 7.8 pesos each way, but it adds up. They have coins to make change on the buses, but can’t take a bill much larger than a 20 peso note. It’s surprising how much this adds to the stress of an average day.

Bad photo, great breakfast.
Bad photo, great breakfast.


Today is international “Talk Like a Pirate” Day. I used to love this holiday, but no one here understands it. I tried to explain this it to my students. They just didn’t get it. “So….talk bad, close eye, sound like bad man of sea? Teacher, I no understand.”  Some things just don’t translate.

So far, the new flat is working out OK. It really is a pretty shabby place, but everything is operational. Function over form. I do wish that it was closer to the school. Walking distance would be ideal. While I’m grateful for public transportation, an overcrowded bus isn’t the best way to begin the morning. And the drivers are so aggressive—accelerating quickly then jamming on the breaks. And you can hear the breaks squealing, so you worry that, maybe today, they won’t stop the bus. It’s going to ruin roller-coaster rides for me.

I realize that technically, it is walking distance. I walked from Georgia to New York State, so everything is walking distance if there’s no large body of water or civil war in the way. But I just don’t want to walk 2 miles before a 7am class. Even with the bus, if I go to school twice each day, I still walk 3+ miles since neither my apartment nor the school is on the bus line and I have to walk to/from a bus stop.

I had Friday and Sunday off from school and I barely got anything productive done. I’m tired. I mostly stayed in bed, binge watching Netflix (Criminal Minds, seasons 9-11) and playing solitaire. It’s how I unwind. Seems harmless, but unproductive. But it means that I made almost no attempt to attend any Independence Day celebrations. I’m here to see this beautiful country and experience it’s traditions. Unreasonable work schedules and job stress get in the way of that. Sometimes you just need to rest.

But I did make it to the parade:

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I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

4 thoughts on “New flat, old teaching struggles”

  1. Have you tried taking your larger peso notes to a bank for smaller units? Or maybe they wouldn’t want to do it if you don’t have a bank account…

    In any case, all of these things are part of learning what it’s really like to be in a country other than the US.

    1. I have tried, and you are right. I don’t have a bank account, so they won’t help. I simply don’t make enough money to bother with the hassle of getting one. This is a problem in most countries, but it just seems a bigger issue here. There are always struggles….

  2. First of all, I love the blog. I get to visit all of those places with you.

    Mexico sounds like a trial so far. Now that you have a new place to live, I’m hoping your schedule improves so that you get more rest and have some free time to explore that beautiful country.

    Hang in there.

    1. Beginning is almost always a trial in ANY country. It doesn’t help that I’m tired. I still love travel, but I need to stay put for a bit and rest up, get used to my surroundings and feel “at home.” It takes a few months and I’m not there yet. And at this point I’ve grown quite depressed and jaded by the schools–they all lie. It’s a tough realization and not what I expected, but that’s the facts and it’s always better to face the truth. I’ve found a better and cheaper living situation. If I can just get a decent schedule where I can sleep 8 hours each night, the entire country will suddenly look a lot better to me. I’ll probably never be able to endorse this school (or most of the schools I’ve worked at) as a great place to work, but they do pay on time–better than most.
      Thanks for your continued support and good wishes. It helps to know that someone is thinking about me. And if DT becomes president, maybe you’ll join me here?

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