Posts Tagged ‘Cuernavaca’

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Tyler: New Years

January 2, 2012

The past couple of days have been insane. I have constantly been on the go. There is just so much to do here!! Okay so I will start with New Years Eve day…

On New Year’s Eve day we had our first test. For 2 hours before the test, we just had a review session which was really nice. We pretty much quickly covered all the things that we had learned during the week right before the test. For me, I thought the test went pretty well! I hate the anticipation of waiting to get a test back. 

One thing that was really different and that would never happen in any school in the United States is that after our test, they had a ton of salsa and chips for us. They also had bottles of real champagne for us after we got done with our test to bring in the New Year! It was insane! All of us were like, “Is this really happening right now?” It was a lot of fun just hanging out with the teachers for a while.

During the week we have to write one journal entry in Spanish and turn it in to be graded. The first one we had to turn in was on last Thursday and it was supposed to be about the first 3 days that we were in Cuernavaca. My housemates and I all turned ours in together. When Saturday came around and people were getting theirs back with grades on them, I noticed that I hadn’t gotten my back yet so I went and asked one of my teachers. There ended up being a note for me saying that I hadn’t turned it in but I could still turn it in on Monday but lose some points. This is where it gets really complicated. The woman who is in charge of grading them only speaks Spanish, just like the rest of the teachers. I went and saw her and had to explain to her that I had turned it in with my roommates and that they could they could vouch for me. She then asked me to go look in my backpack and notebook again to see if I had it so I did just that, knowing that it wasn’t in there. After “looking” for it, I headed back to her office and told her that I know for sure I turned it in and that it was on notebook paper with my name on it and everything. After she kind of got frustrated with me arguing with her, she finally said that she would look around for it a little later. After the test we all just hung out around the pool at the school for a couple of hours. Right before I was going to leave Nancy, the teacher, comes out with my journal entry graded and said that it had fallen behind a desk or something (I didn’t really understand). There that was a win for me! It is so hard to have a conversation like that with someone when you can only speak a little bit of the language that they only speak. It has definitely been really difficult here at times with the language barrier but it is also a lot of fun as well.

After that mess in the afternoon, we headed back to our house and hung out there for the rest of the day until it was time for us to head out. That night we went to this club called “Juarez Cuatro”. It was the recommended club for us to go to because the head of the school knew the owner of the club. It was really expensive but it was also a lot of fun. This is where a lot of people may have made their New Year “mistakes” that night at the club (haha). It was really packed. They pretty much only played American dance music which was cool because we knew all the words.  Here are a few pictures of me throughout the night…notice how sweaty I am, I was definitely dancing a ton.

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Tyler: Intercambios

December 31, 2011

Here are some more pictures of our house. The house is kind of small but it is really comfortable. It is one of the better looking houses that are around here I think. Last night we had “pizza of Mexico”. Gloria likes to make food with the colors of Mexico and they are always delicious.

The past two days have just been filled with a lot of class stuff. I’m beginning to find it hard to write in English actually. Sometimes I will just type in Spanish or have been saying things in weird ways in English haha I guess I’m learning Spanish! Class actually doesn’t seem like its 5 hours at all. It always goes by really quickly. The teachers are a lot of fun and laid back. It’s like we learn a lot of different things but we always just hang out and talk a lot. Today our teacher told us to we were going to play a game. He told us to go buy some chocolate at the store that is at the school and then come back to class. After that he had us eat it and that was the entire extent of the game! After we just talked for about 30 minutes. We can tell that the teachers here just want us to do well without being intimidated or anything since it is a class.

Yesterday we also had our first intercambio. The guy that I meet with is really cool! His name it Pablo and he owns a bird breeding company for pet stores. He sells his birds to a pet store that is all over Mexico. During these intercambios, we talk for about an hour in Spanish and then we talk for an hour in English. We talked about a ton of things like music, where we have visited, places we want to visit, the differences of living in the states and Mexico, and just a bunch of other things. I will be meeting with him again on Tuesday. The only conflict is that is also the day that they have a trip to an orphanage…my roommate and I are going to try to get our intercambios changed so we can do both. 

I don’t really have much more to say…I am having a great trip so far. I can tell my Spanish is getting a lot better. Last night we went out and we made a lot of friends that live here. It was really cool being able to talk to them in Spanish! Of course our Spanish is still pretty broken but it’s getting better!

After class today we just came back to the house and ate lunch. After lunch we all slept for like 2 hours and then explored a little bit. We have our first test coming up so we just did homework and studied a little bit after dinner. I’m going to get some sleep tonight so I can do well on the test!!! Aaaaand have energy for tomorrow night!

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Tyler: Class and Homestay

December 30, 2011

Morning in Cuernevaca

Yes, this is what I woke up to the first morning.

The guys that I am living with are great. We all bring a lot of different things to our household. The woman that we are staying with, Gloria, spoils us so much. We were talking with some other people that are here with us and it seems like their host families are nothing compared to how great Gloria is to us. Every meal we are treated like we are kings. She was explaining to us that when we are in Mexico with her, we will be getting authentic food. The food so far has been incredible. For lunch today, we had baked peppers that were stuffed with meat and for dinner we had these baked variations of tacos. I have become slightly addicted to Salsa Verde. It is a slightly spicier salsa but not too spicy. It is perfect for everything! This is a picture of our room.

Room in Cuernavaca

Pretty exciting picture but I thought it was worth uploading quick. I will get some more pictures of our house up soon. We have just been so busy that we are kind of always on the go.

We started our classes yesterday. They were not kidding when they were saying the classes are really intensive and fast. The schedule for classes is from 9-10:50 am we have one professor and then there is a 20 minute break. After the breaking, we have different professor from 11:10- 1pm. Then we finally end with grammar practice from 1-2 pm. Then we are free to leave. So far the mornings can get a little long. During those hours, the only time I hear any English is when we are on breaks. All of the professors are from Cuernavaca and most only speak Spanish. They know a couple of words in English but at times it can be really hard to figure out how to say something in Spanish. Every night we have homework. Tonight was a little bit longer than it was last night. All of the homework probably took us about an hour and a half but that is including a journal entry that we only have to do once a week that is due tomorrow. At the end of each week we have a test on the material that we just learned and then there is also a final as well. We are also doing something called a “intercambio” where throughout the 3 weeks, we will be meeting with someone that lived in Mexico and just speak with them in Spanish/English. Some of the people who we could have are professions like doctors and lawyers that want to be able to practice their English and then we are able to practice our Spanish with them. The school is awesome. It is more like a resort than an actual school. Our classrooms are outside either under a canopy or just outside in general. There is a swimming pool there too…no big deal.

School in Cuernevaca

 

We are always on the go. These past two days we have had to go back to the school for meetings and other things in the afternoon. It has been kind of a pain but it should be over soon. We went and explored the nightlife here a little bit last night. It’s amazing how nice everyone is here. We definitely stick out though…everywhere we go there are people just looking at us. Cuernavaca seems really safe though! I mean, it’s hard not to feel safe with you see police with huge guns riding in the back of trucks right? The language barrier can be really interesting. Tonight we stopped at this little cafe close to our house and out of the 10 of us there, no one could really figure out what our waitress was saying. Luckily a guy that was there knew English and came to help us out. It seems like everyone is more than willing to help anyone that needs help here which I think is awesome.

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. It’s weird, I have been getting way more sleep here than I usually get. I’m really enjoying it! I’ll try to post tomorrow but we have a really busy day and I think that we are checking out the city tomorrow night. 

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Tyler: Day one: longest day of my life

December 26, 2011

Today was for sure one of the longest days of my life. First of all, I pretty much decided last night that I just wasn’t going to sleep before leaving for the airport because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep anyways. I was actually quite impressed with how fast I got into the actual airport. I left my house at 3:50 am and was in the actual airport, past security and everything right at 5:00 am. Being 2 hours early for my flight, I just kind of hung around and ate breakfast. The first flight I was stuck with the dreaded middle seat, it wasn’t the worst thing ever but it really ruined my plan to sleep on the plane. After I got off that plane, the entire group that was coming to Cuernavaca met up outside of the terminal because they didn’t print the gate number on our layover tickets. We got that all squared away and then began to actually talking and we all ate lunch together (airport food is way too expensive). 

Our flight from Dallas, Texas to Mexico City then took forever to actually get boarded and we ended up taking off like 20 minutes after we were supposed to. After going through customs in Mexico City, we were supposed to meet someone in the food court that would have a U of M sign with them. They were the representative that was going to take us to the bus to get us to Cuernavaca. The only problem was no one could find me! We waited for about 30 minutes and finally we decided to give the program a call with a toll-free number they gave us for problems like this. This is where my Spanish skills were put to the test. I offered to make the phone call. When I finally figured out how to use one of their weird pay phone things, I got a hold of someone that is a part of a program and the first thing I asked was if they spoke Spanish. The reply was, “no hablo inglés”. This is when it got interesting….after talking to the guy for about 5 minutes, he told me to call him back in 10 minutes if the representative didn’t show up. Then about right when I got back to the rest of the group that was waiting for this guy, he finally comes out of nowhere! I wish I could say I saved the day but I think that the guy who I talked to on the phone called him when he was taking down our names. I was just a little short. 

After finally meeting up with this guy after waiting for 45 minutes, we began our bus ride to Cuernavaca. The ride literally felt like it took days. Everyone was extremely tired by this point and mostly sleeping. The ride to Cuernavaca was incredible though! We kind of drove up this mountain and then back down the other side of it. The view from the top of the mountain looked awesome. It was like we were above the clouds. I wish I would have gotten some pictures of it but the camera was in my luggage in the bottom of the bus. 

After arriving to the school that we will be taking classes at (which is awesome btw), we meet up with our host mother. It is 3 guys and I staying with this 5 foot 3 little Mexican woman. She is great! She is so talkative and has a lot of energy. She also speaks a good amount of English which is good for us! We got the tour of the house and were taught how to use the keys to lock up when we come in at night. Tonight she made us chicken fajitas and this soup that was delicious (no idea what it was). 

I am insanely tired since I have now officially been up for 36 hours straight. Tomorrow we have to be at the school at 8 am for some info session thing and then we have our first day of class from 9am-2pm. It shall be interesting! I will post pics tomorrow of our house here and the school that we will be studying at. Now it’s time for bed!

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Tyler: Pre-departure

December 25, 2011

Getting ready for this trip was kind of a struggle. I just got done with finals on Thursday night, the 22nd. I was home in Sartell and saw some people on the 23rd. The 24th and 25th I was busy celebrating Christmas with the family. Christmas night, I found myself struggling to get everything in line. I am now fully packed and ready to go and it is 12:30 am on the 26th. I thought about sleeping for about 3 hours until I needed to go but 1) I’m too afraid of not waking up to my alarm and 2) I just had a full mountain dew and am wide awake. Sooooo….I thought this would be a good time to start this bloggity thing.

My itinerary for Monday, December 26th:

3:30 am  Wake-up
4:00 am Cab arrives
4:30 am Arrive to airport and try to figure out where to go
5:00 am Finally figured out where to go…
7:15 am Flight out of Minneapolis Airport
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Chill in Dallas and then take off again
3:05 pm Arrive in Mexico City to meet up with the rest of the program

I honestly have no idea where it goes from there. I will be studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It is just a little but more south than Mexico City. I will be taking a bus with the rest of the program to Cuernavaca but after that it’s really up in the air. I will be staying with an older woman named Gloria Perez along with 3 other guys that are in the program. I’m really excited about some authentic Mexican food and to just be a part of their culture. During my studying abroad, I will be taking a Spanish class from 9am-1pm every day (not sure if that includes weekends or not).

I’m pretty much just going with the flow with this trip. I’m really excited about the experiences that I have coming up and what life is going to be like in Mexico. This is my first time ever leaving the United States! Hopefully I don’t get kidnapped by drug lords and forced to become a drug mule….I’m thinking that is worst case scenario though!

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Mark: La Fiesta de San Antoni0

June 15, 2011

A few days ago, we visted La Fiesta de San Antonio which takes place every year (one local told me for the past 400 years) in the barrio of, appropriately, San Antón here in Cuernavaca. The day-long celebration consists of about half a mile of amusment park rides, tiendas, fireworks and revelers. Young people also give twelve coins and pray to San Guadalupe to meet their soul mates at the church. The evening culminates in a giant close-and-personal pyrotecnic display and dancing. Last night we got the first significant rainfall in my nearly 4 weeks here, not that anyone let that snuff out the festivities.

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Mark: Agua

May 30, 2011

On Sunday we made a day trip about 3 hours north to what is left of the ancient city of Teotihuacan (I will be posting those photos on Flickr in the next day or two).  At its epoch the city was home to around 250,000 people before it disapeared for thousands of years. Teotihuacan probably suffered an ecological disaster. The city’s year-round water supply came from springs at the base of the volcanic mountian that towers over it, just like Cuernavaca and countless other cities in the region today. During the rainy season, water falls on the mountains and gets caught in the forrests before being absorbed by the porus volanic rock. The people of Teotihuacan cleared imense ammounts of timber to build their roofs, cook their food and heat limestone to create the ornate cement that used to cover the pyramids of the sun and moon and nearly every other surface in the city. The result was that water rushed into the valley of the lakes instead of being absorbed by the rock and the springs could no longer support the rapidly growing metropolis.

I come from a place where clean, drinkable water is always plentiful. In our country everyone has nearly free access to potable water, even if its from the bathroom sink at McDonald’s. Yesterday I saw poverty on a scope and scale you just can not find anywere in the United States. Leaving the Federal District of Mexico City and driving into the State of Mexico I saw thousands on thousands of squatter camps stretching miles up both side of the valley. These families literally build their shelters homes overnight five hundred at a time on any available piece of land in hopes of staking a claim and after ten years being granted the title to their plot. Another student studying here has spent some time doing aid work in Monterrey.  He said one of the questions people ask him a lot is why he feels like he needs to help in other countries when there is so much to do at home.  His says they would understand in a heartbeat if they saw these places themselves.

When Will and I got back to our host mother’s house, we found out that the water was not working, and we were almost through our rooftop resivour. That means plastic dinnerware, rationed tiolet flushing and definately no showers after a day of climbing pyramids in the sun. Our area is in a drought, but the rainy season should be coming in the next weeks (or months) and our water within the next day or two. It did rain again last night. It was cold and quick, but it was the perfect way to freshen up after a long day.  Standing on the roof in our swim trunks.

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Mark: Lluvia y adventura

May 27, 2011

I’ve seen lightening from our roof almost every other night since we got here about a ago, even if we haven’t really seen any rain.  This time it was right above our heads.

My roommate and I hung out there for a while to watch until the rain started pouring, when we went to run back inside.  The problem was the door to the balcony and roof had blown shut behind us.  In Mexico people are very serious about protecting their property, and they have to be.  Every house in Cuernavaca is either surrounded by walls topped with barbed wire or the windows are barred, often both.  If you close a door behind you, you won’t get back in without a key.  Apparently that goes for doors on the upper floors too. 

We called for help but our  host-mother  couldn’t hear us.  Will thought he might have left his keys in pants pocket, in our bedroom.  Fourtunately with a little luck he was able to reach them through our window with a mop.  Unfortunately the roof door uses a different key.  So we thought about jumping to the neighbors roof and seeing if they would let us in.  And jumping the 15+ feet to the concrete sidewalk barefoot.  Will boosted me up and I  reached through a missing window pane in the door to take the keys from the other side.  But they slipped out of my hand.  About an hour after we went to the roof I finially managed, standing on Will, to use a stick to knock the handle on the other side over the open.  Me gustan adventuras!

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Daniel: El Bosque de Agua y Petunia

April 20, 2010

A week ago I went with an environmental group to a forest in the north of town where the state of Morelos borders on the Federal District. We spent the entire day either walking on trails through the forest, learning about the vegetation, and making new friends or simply climbing. We climbed two portions of a ridge that overlooked nearly the entire forest and part of the highway going from Cuernavaca to Mexico City.

The environmental group’s central concern at this point in time is a proposal for building a highway to divert traffic from the main autopista running along the East side of Cuernavaca, to a bypass on the west side that would essentially cut the forest in half. It’s the last remaining national forest in Morelos and is a key factor in regulating the amount of water that Mexico City and other cities in Morelos receive in both the rainy and dry season. If the forest is damaged in any way on a large scale—like if someone were to put a giant highway right through it—two things will inevitably happen.

The first is the issue with the water flow out from the ridge which constitutes more than 50% of the water used by Mexico City. That’s a lot considering the population of the city itself is just about 9 million and there are just over 21 million living in the metro area. The other issue that would be created by this highway is one that could potentially ruin Cuernavaca’s trademark attraction, “The city of eternal spring.”  Since the city is conveniently located a few thousand feet below a tall ridge, and has over 30 large ravines running through it, the temperate climate here is controlled much like a radiator is. In the morning, all the warmer air creeps up from the valley below and into the city, heating it gradually as the day progresses. In the afternoon and evening as temperatures reach their peak, the cooler air flows down off the higher ridges cooling the city and keeping the temperature more or less constant. Any damage to this delicate system of climate balance, say a highway clogging one of these ravines, would dramatically change the mean temperature of this city on any day of the year.

On to the photos: These go in chronological order of the hike and actually when i took them.

  • The top two are just after starting out and before our first climb.
  • The following 5 make up some of the vegetation and sites we saw along the way, not much explaining to be done there.
  • The last one from the hike is the one and only Charlie Goff resting after we lost about half the group somewhere on the trail. I’ve never seen anyone conduct a search effort so effectively from his back, no sarcasm intended.
  • Last is Petunia, the donkey of Carol Hopkins.


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Daniel: Más Tepoztlán, El Centro, y El Mercado

April 17, 2010

Here are some photos from the ninth roll of film I’ve taken (ISO 100). This roll ended up being pretty diverse in terms of locations and shots, though most come from El Centro this past Sunday where I just wanted to finish the roll to get it developed since I was there doing homework anyway.

The top photo is actually from a market near El Centro where we went last week for a portion of a class. I should have taken more there as everything was incredibly interesting, but the lighting on the section inside was a bit dim, and I was nearly the victim of a broom-swatting when a woman thought I was taking a photo of her and just asked me “Por que?!” (Why?!) as she tried smacking me with one of her homemade cleaning utensils. I replied with a very simple “No se, estaba tratando incluir todo” (I don’t know, I was trying to include everything) and gave her a cold, long stare.

The next four are from this past Sunday in El Centro as I already explained. The first of which is a guy playing the snare and trumpet in the middle of the Zocalo. It took me about 5 minutes of waiting to get that shot without having someone obstruct my view. The next three are the result of me being a creep in the Zocalo. I wish I could’ve gotten a better shot of the older men on the bench, the man in black stood up just moments before I took this. I sat for at least 20 minutes right across from them trying to figure out the best way to get a shot of them without their knowing. Once I did, it was too late. The last of them is below a bridge near another cafe that I quite like where all the Mariachis gather to do whatever it is Mariachis do when their not performing. Chat I guess?

The following three on the bottom are a continuation of our trip to Tepoztlán a few weeks ago. On top is a picture from one of the main streets and in the top third of the photo, you can see the pyramid we climbed too. It’s quite small so I’d recommend enlarging it. Below that is a street dog, definitely putting together a series of there when I get back. Last is a crazy tree near the path on the decent back to civilization.

I just got back from a hike in a national forest on the Northern part of the town bordering the DF and am exhausted. Got up at 6:45 and got back to my house around 7:30. Excursions are always so rewarding and insightful, but just kick the motivation to do work right out of me. I shot 28 film photographs there today so I should have those up late this week hopefully. I have ceased to shoot digital, at least in the past 3 weeks or so.

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