"The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~Marcel Proust

06 diciembre 2011

Rock y Cerveza

A few weeks ago, we went over to our art teachers house to eat after going on a field trip to a hacienda near her house. Regina (our art teacher) and her husband (Salvador) are the two that went with us on our trip to the Sierra Gorda! They are both wonderful people and it has been so fun getting to spend time with them. That day at their house, Salvador was proudly showing us his music collection. Our time was cut short and he looks at the guys and asks....

"Do you guys want to come over another time to listen to rock music and drink beer?"

This guy knows what's up.

After Thanksgiving dinner, Sal took us back to his house. We stopped to get drinks and he said he had plenty of food. We got to his house, dragged his giant speakers into the back yard, put on the music, enjoyed food and drank beer and some tequila. Sal disappeared only for a moment to put on his skinny jeans, Pink Floyd t-shirt, his flannel from 1955, and he grabbed his football from his high school years. We threw a football around the back yard and had a great time.

Día de Gracias

Now I could have said "Thanksgiving." But that would have been boring. So here is the story...

We did not get to celebrate thanksgiving on Thursday as usual because we are in Mexico and it is not celebrated. Therefore, we had classes that day. However, we did get to celebrate it on Friday. We were planning a get together with the group to celebrate and all of our professors were invited to join in on the gringo celebration. We each were assigned a dish and the plan was to have traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Dr. Montgomery's house. fun is that?

Earlier that morning, Jack and Matt had gotten a hold of me and told me they wanted to bring a surprise to the party. Matt solicited by help in this matter and I went to work in the morning. I googled "Mariachis in Querétaro." Found a number, dialed, and had one of the greatest phone conversations in Mexico. The plans were made and I could not wait.

That afternoon, the party was underway and I looked at my phone. The time came to slip outside and greet our surprise.  I saw a van coming down the street. I knew it was them. They piled out of the van, all half drunk, but very much ready to play.
I explained the situation in Spanish to the head guy...

"Here is the deal. Inside, we have a bunch of gringos celebrating a gringo holiday. BUT we are still in Mexico, and my friends and I wanted to bring a very mexican aspect to the party. This is where you guys come in....hit them with the traditional songs!"

The tuned up in the street, began playing, and marched in through the house. Best decision by far!

 Yes there was turkey

But we also had MARIACHIS....great success and a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving mexican style!

05 diciembre 2011

Operation: Tons of Fun

This title is in English for a darn good reason. We decided it was time to start having fun, living life, enjoying the smallest of things, sometimes making other people feel awkward, etc....a little hard to explain. My friends Jack and Matt know the inside scoop.

So we went to Mexico City for our last excursion of the semester. First stop was Teotihuacan to visit the pyramids.
Pyramid on top of a pyramid next to pyramids 
Great group!

We stayed right in the heart of the Zócalo, visited churches, the Palacio Nacional, saw Diego Rivera's murals, watched a giant military parade celebrating the Revolution....too many fun things!
The fun did not stop there.....the next day, we decided to abandon the itinerary and make our own plans to go to the Zoo. THEY HAVE PANDAS! I mean why we hopped on the metro, went to Chapultepec park, and went to the zoo. Jack, Matt and I decided to get our faces painted. Our intention was to keep the face paint on for the formal dinner and folklorico ballet we would be going to later that night at the Belles Artes. It happened.
Tigre Blanco, Tigre, y OSO PANDA! FTW
Other adventures included going to the Chapultepec Castle (Maximiliano's house) the Museo de Antropologia, we went to Carlos Slim's new museum, visited Plaza de las tres culturas where the Tlateloclo massacre took place, and did a handful of other things. On our last day we visited Xochimilco to see the chinampas. These are basically floating gardens that are still used for agriculture. Let's not forget that the whole city (back in the day Tenochtitlan) was built on a lake. Therefore, it is now a lake bed....everything is sinking...slowly but surely

the church is sinking
We brought food to picnic with on the boat, putted around, and paid for mariachis to subir and tocar! So much fun. Great trip besides the 8 hours it took us to get home....terrible semi-truck accident on the freeway and we were stuck forever.

Regardless.....operation: Tons of Fun....COMPLETED

Yo puedo, yo puedo

For our communications class we went to a kindergarten to tell stories. We had to memorize the story, make it fun, and present it to the class.

I worked with Zach and we translated the story The Little Engine That Could. También conocido como La pequeña locomotora que si pude! School in Mexico is too much fun!


29 noviembre 2011


After 5 days in Oaxaca, we headed closer to home and spent two days in Puebla. We saw the churches there, found a giant festival, had cuban cigars, visited another cemetery still alive with Día de los Muertos celebrations, chilled on the roof of our hotel.....Good times in Puebla.
Check yourself
"Guero...ven aquí..." So I made friends here too!
Church in Puebla...and big party
Inside the church
On the roof of the Hotel....Wouldn't fly in America

Día de los Muertos....¡Días de las fiestas!

Death is dealt with very differently in Mexican culture. It is not such a hidden, unspoken, scary phenomenon. It has been present in almost every piece of Mexican literature I have read, it comes up easily in is just different.

Basically, Mexicans know how to celebrate dead people. Being in Oaxaca for Día de los Muertos was an incredible experience. We went to the Panteon and had the chance to talk with families at gravesites. And by talk I mean party. And by party I mean Mexican style! Food, mariachis, tequila, cerveza, jokes...Just an all around good time. We spent about an hour getting to know one lady who had lost her son. Urriel was 24 and died in a tragic car accident. The car he was riding in on a long road trip collided with a cow that ended up coming through the windshield. Such a tragic event did not put even the slightest damper on the party. We joined in, became a part of the family, and CELEBRATED...well...a life given by God even though it was short. Here are some photos from the Panteon that night.

Quesillo, Mole,Tlayudas, Chocolate....Comida Riquísima!

So we got in a bus aiming for Oaxaca. Roughly 9 hours away. What a haul that was. But lets just say it was worth it. We would be spending time there during the days that Dia de los Muertos is celebrated. (Wait for it!) Oaxaca still has very many traditional celebrations since there is such a high percentage of Indigenous people. First up we visited Monte Alban. A giant ancient city on a hill that was once occupied by the Zapotecs.
Another epic adventure was in store as we took a short trip out to Mitla. We stopped on the side of the road, unloaded our bus, and piled into a fleet of rickety pick up trucks. Riding in the back was more than an experience as we embarked on a 45 minute drive up and over a mountain on all dirt roads. 

On the other side of the mountain we found the Cascadas Petrificadas....Petrified waterfalls. Super legit and a beautiful day to hike around and explore.

 We learned a lot about how everything is made. Visited a Mezcal factory (kinda like tequila...but mas fuerte!) We went to a pottery shop where the famous barro negro was invented (black clay pottery). Saw rugs and clothing being made. Went to a chocolate factory (Oaxaca is famous for Chocolate)...not to mention ate plenty of mole and hot chocolate!

In front of an Alter