Thursday, March 28, 2013
Friday, September 28, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
Wow! I just revisited my blog and realized it’s been almost three months since my last entry. I’ll try to stick to the highlights here, but it’s hard when there’s a highlight almost every day.
I’m still feeling good about my contributions here. We are implementing the recommendations for improving internal communication at my center and turning our sights on external communication. My counterpart wants another volunteer to replace me and continue my work when I leave in June 2013 because there’s enough work to keep someone busy for years.
My counterpart and I were invited by the Peace Corps Mexico office to speak to the new group of volunteers to talk about creating effective counterpart/volunteer relationships. I was honored and very proud to be a role model, and am very fortunate to be paired up with this intelligent, talented, dedicated woman.
I held a second workshop at the botanical garden on making planters from recycled materials. My center is adopting the workshop for a public event in April, and people are now bringing recyclables to my office for that workshop. It’s starting to resemble a landfill here and I fear methane is not far behind.
One of my fellow volunteers teaches English in a small mountain community not far from the center. She asked me to help paint a mural near the school and suggested the solar system because the center’s Large Millimeter Telescope is visible on a nearby mountain. I took some photos of the precious neighborhood children hanging over the wall watching the mural unfold. Another photo shows the school’s maintenance employees helping me paint the sun, which was too high to reach. The mural needs a little more work and Saturn’s rings could use some plumping up, but I’m happy with it for now.
The trip there was breathtaking. I passed an abandoned hacienda that was stunning in the afternoon sun. I also photographed a shepherd bringing in his flock and the volcano at sunset. You can see the photos on Flicker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20264995@N07/
My brother, Chuck, visited me a few weeks ago. It was great to share my Mexican life with him. He kept me in smiles, as usual, and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He brought a stack of English children’s books for my English classes that were donated by his local librarian. The classes have moved to the neighboring community, and the response to the free classes has been tremendous. We had 60 students at one point, ranging from 4 to adult. Five other volunteers are picking up the load.
Six bricks: I witnessed an amazing feat of strength and coordination recently. Several men were unloading bricks from the back of a truck up onto a roof. The man in the truck grabbed six bricks at a time with his bare hands and heaved them up to another man hanging over the roof, who caught them in midair -- without dropping a single brick. I can’t imagine picking up that many bricks at once, much less throwing or catching them.
Speaking of amazing strength, the new record for the number of people on a bike is 5 – the father at the helm, the mother behind him holding a baby, with two more children in between.
Don’t try this at home (or anywhere!): I saw a young woman driving a scooter with one hand while holding an infant in the other arm, the baby’s blanket clenched between her teeth to make a windshield. The wind is the least of that baby’s worries.
Every day is a beautiful day in my neighborhood: I enjoyed watching the field behind my house come ablaze with snapdragons (see photos). Flowers are an important industry here, and the neighboring fields around my house are usually draped in richly colored floral blankets, the crops changing with the season and holiday. The same flowers I pass every day eventually end up for sale in the Mercado not far from my house.
We felt the earthquake here last week but there was no damage. I was working on my computer when my office mates said my name. When I looked up they were all staring at me. I said, “What?” and they said, “It’s an earthquake.” A second later I felt the earth sway and we all walked outside. That was it. We didn’t feel the aftershocks either. It was obvious on everyone’s faces that the fear of earthquakes is a part of their existence, especially for those who lived through the devastating earthquake in Mexico City in 1985. Someone I know lives in an earthquake-proof apartment building in Mexico City. The building moves whenever a bus passes.
This weekend I went with friends to Mexico City for the Iberoamericano Music Festival. We were guests of Foster the People (a Grammy nominee) because the lead singer is related to one of the volunteers (also named Foster). We stood on the side of the stage and looked out at 70,000 people in the audience (see photos). We stayed in a beautiful part of the city called Condesa, which has wonderful restaurants, lovely B&Bs, and a great night scene. Yesterday we visited the Anthropological Museum and decided we are definitely coming back for more. Yes, crime is a factor there, as with any huge city -- L.A., N.Y., Chicago, etc. – but with proper precautions there is no reason not to enjoy all of the wonderful culture and beauty the city has to offer.
I am now part of my neighborhood and take great pleasure in being greeted warmly by my neighbors and friends -- the shoemaker down the street, the laundry employee on her way to work, and the owners of the many little shops along my route between the bus stop and home.Adios for now