I made it! Almost a month here and I not only arrived safely but have now navigated three of the more challenging weeks I’ve had in recent years. I have moved from my initial hotel in El Centro to a Host family near my school and as of this last weekend to the Teacher Housing/Volunteer Program Housing. As I settle in with a desk and chair to my own, a more positive attitude and comfort about it all, I am ready to launch my blog.
I am going to simply list a few of the better experiences and low points for a general idea.
1- Fried food. Didn’t expect it, especially this close to the water but even when ordering fish or shrimp it’s all breaded. My homestay truly presented a challenge of how I could stay healthy long term here and was a catalyst for moving as well as wanting camaraderie with other teachers as we work opposite schedules many days. Fried taquitos, fried empanadas, rice and beans and barely a vegetable to be seen. I’m here for the full immersion but like anywhere, people have different ways of living and in the shared housing the Senoras cook veggies every night and papaya is a mainstay at breakfast, so I’m in. Renting an apartment or house on my own is an option but the length of time to find a place and simply get Wifi setup lead me to take a “ready made” spot with fans, food and friends.
2- THE HUMIDITY. I could write a thesis on how extreme heat can be debilitating, instead I’ll just keep the fans on and handkerchief nearby to mop up any sweat. It does limit activities to certain hours and for this I love morning and evening best, right along with the locals who don’t like the heat either. October will bring some relief.
3- Communication/Cultural differences. Last week I started having conversations with the school director about possibly changing housing. Navigating social grace and taking care of myself on a tricky topic in another language with my Host mom and small town word traveling quickly with some mis-communication lead to some stress, need I say more. In the end all good and everyone is happy and they have a new teacher in already at their house.
1- Old world Mexico meets new world modernity. Every night about 6pm a man on a tandem bike using the front area to strap on a board that is loaded with baguettes, cookies and rolls rides down the side streets sounding a children’s bike horn and yelling “Pan, galletas, pan!” He passes Audi drivers, a huge grocery store and an Infinity dealership on his way in an out of the neighborhood.
2 – My neighborhood, Colonia Maya, is middle class with houses stacked tightly next to each other painted vibrant colors and kept clean all among absolutely crumbling streets and mom and pop shops selling sodas, chips and fresh tortillas. A half mile away is Plaza Altabrisa Mall with a Starbucks, Sears, P.F. Chang’s, the Infinity dealer etc. There is no such thing as zoning, or street repair it seems, and it’s like playing frogger to cross the 4 lane boulevard, there’s 1 actual crosswalk to get over to the mall and the sign to the drivers translated states:
“If you don’t stop for people you will pay a fine”
Glad I can run. I think the unspoken slogan of Mexico to a foreigner is “Don’t try and figure it out, just enjoy this charming place at your own risk”.
3- The people are so genuinely kind, warm and welcoming. An authentic care and open arms from most any one you meet. I honestly know right now if I ran into trouble the janitor at the school and his family would take me in : )
4- The students are great! Earnest, polite and ready to learn. Most have some basic English down including a 6 year old high intermediate student and beginner 16 year old. The contrasts continue. Feel very grateful to be a part of their education and this week my focus is on lesson planning to meet their level.
Adios for today, miss you all and will continue to embrace Merida!