Isla Mujeres on Saturday
Back in Merida on Monday:
This morning I headed out from our teacher housing glad to have a couple hours for a walk and cup of coffee before it would hit 90 degrees, which is typically by 10 a.m. I was about to go into 7-11 and grab a nice cold bottle of water when a cop turned the corner, adjusted his machine gun and walked in first. As casually as I could, I turned on my heel and walked the other direction, as if I just remembered I didn’t have enough money, or weapons. It’s unsettling to say the least the amount of armed forces present in all of Mexico, but particularly the growing number of police in Mérida “promoting safety by their presence.”
One night in OXXO (the highly preferable convenience store because they stock fresh avocados and bake their own baguettes every morning) a group of police came in, quickly parted the line of men buying Tecate and me and the other teachers balancing bags of chips and fudgesicles in our arms, each cop pulling a gun off their chest and directing the 16 year old clerk to open the safe and count out the money. By the way the clerks reacted it was normal procedure so we followed suit with everyone else and casually waited around while these cops, or possible costumed robbers, finished up. Part way through the other clerk started ringing people up. I learned two things this evening: after “la policia” confirm the safe is full of what they deem is correct, they too just want a cold drink, and the proper term for an icy frozen treat on a stick, according to Brits and Aussies, is “ice lolly” not popsicle.
I’ve grown weary this past week. I was weary by week 3 or 4 and now at week 7, it’s still feeling a bit uphill. Humidity maintains it’s fight to keep us all moving slowly, my best students have all started acting in a way that makes me wonder if they had a double shot of espresso before they came in and decided to not sit down or listen for the entire lesson, I’m not meeting anyone my age to connect with, challenging school administration/office politics and now the rising question in the back of my mind as to what I’ll do next. This can be both exciting and absolutely daunting. Buying 30 cent avocados of course entices one to stay in Mexico, having to buy your own 20L water bottles and transport in a wagon when you don’t have a car makes Seattle look like paradise. Actually water bottle refill day is fun, I’ll share a video of this process soon.
To escape the heat and get some time in the water, a teacher with few classes offered to substitute teach for me last Saturday (Saturdays are as normal of a work day here as a Tuesday but a Sunday is always a free day) and caught the 8am bus to Cancun which took exactly 4 hours, transferred to a foot ferry and arrived on Isla Mujeres by 1pm. The beach was a beautiful respite. The water is not so much turquoise as it is a gorgeous pale jade green, covering a creamy white sand beach that extends for miles at about 2 feet depth. I swam and sat and read and then snorkeled and watched sunsets and ate fish tacos. I listened to Americans speak English which was music to my ears, for about 15 minutes.
The 3 of us English teachers have to travel more or less solo because we all teach our classes at the same time and someone or two has to teach and combine classes. It’s not ideal but it’s worth seeing more of the Yucatan however we can right now.
Two days back at school and I am a bit more in the swing of lesson planning, having fun with the kids while maintaining some order. The election is on everyone’s minds, and by that I mean my two favorite 10 year old students inquire frequently as to what I think will happen. I have no answers of course but it opens up for great discourse and I have them practice debate style conversation by answering the question “What would you do, if you were President of the U.S. or Mexico?” Before I could finish the sentence Alejandro, shrieked: “I get to be U.S.A. Presidente, Jorge has to be Mexico!” Followed by: Make the peso equal the dollar, help the people without the food, make the jails be closed (are they open?), be more fair, not build a wall, keep nature safe from destruction.
Having declared “temporary overseas residency status”, King County Elections said my ballot will be coming via email shortly, then I will begin the arduous process of finding a shop with a printer I can connect to, print, fill out, sign, scan and email back. At least I think that’s the drill to keep safe from electronic fraud. I’m pretty sure there’s a printer involved, and I’m quite sure the printer at school is broken.
More stories to come…thanks for all the words of encouragement. I heard it was National Taco Day yesterday. We had tamales 🙂