Sunday, May 29, 2011

week 4

what happened this week:
1. visited the palacio de gobierno (governor's palace) and looked at murals by Pacheco, that depict the culture clash between the Mayans and Spanish.

2. Went to the mercado. Again. Bought a hat for 60 pesos ($5). I realllly love that place.

3. Met with Alfredo Rodriguez y Pacheco, a senator for the political party PAN. He told us a lot about government corruption, especially among the opposing party, PRI. Also, the governor of Merida uses all the city's money to throw free concerts--Elton John, Shakira and Juanes all performed there for free, meanwhile no money is spent on parks, education, public health, etc. The people are tiiiicked.

4. Went to the beach at progresso and watched the sunset.

5. Went to a "play" that ended up actually being a silent film with titles in English. Ditched the movie to do some gift shopping, and ran into a man playing the saw. He and a little boy that sold flowers played the saw with us for about 30 minutes. I obviously needed to add another instrument to the ones I have attempted to play/play [poorly?]: piano, guitar, ukulele, violin, organ, accordion, recorder, etc. Bascially I aspire to be this man. He just hangs out in hawaiian shirts and plays the saw all day. What a chill life.

6. The Route of the Cenotes: On Saturday we took a long bus ride out to the middle of nowhere. When we got off the bus, we all packed onto these horse-drawn train/cart things. Half the time I thought these men were taking us out into the middle of the desert to shoot us...

view of the cart from the front

However, these strange contraptions actually took us to three beautiful cenotes! All of them were underground and two had really steep ladders leading down to them. Inside the water was incredible shades of blue and green. It was very refreshing--completely clear, cold, and clean. There were holes in the roof where light shone through and tree roots had grown down through the holes. We spent most of our time climbing up rocks and jumping off of them. Definitely an activity I need to do more often. Climbing up stuff and jumping off of it is the best. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


i'm trying to do homework but i just keep finding funny things that are funnier than homework! life is so hard!!!
like mindy kaling's new book. Sorry, it just screams my demographic (16-30 year-old girls that think they're funny. and no i didn't make that up. for serious i read it in wsj of all places. it's a real thing dude. also i'm now obsessed with the word dude.) 
also a joke site for girls??? made by zooey + co? duh, pleeease. So far it is so cute that i am "awwww"-ing more than giggling but i refuse to give up yet.
also, zooey blogs. and her blog is so much cooler than mine. i should probably just give up now.

not to be stalkerish or anything, but do you think she pins?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

week 3

weeeeek threeeeeeeeee.

On Monday, we went to a small pueblo called Komchen.  It was a LOT different from Merida. Very poor and humble. We went primarily to watch a bullfight, and we went and saw the bullfighting ring they had set up right after we got there. I was really surprised at how small it was. I saw a bullfighting ring in Spain that seated several thousand, but this ring was probably for about 200. Our guide took us to a little party they were having there, and then to a graveyard. I am always super fascinated by graveyards...this one was beautiful. They build these box type things above the ground to hold the body, and then bring flowers or things that they think the person would need for the afterlife. They also dig up the bodies after they have decayed. Needless to say we saw some bones and a human skull that still had hair on it. I didn't think it was real at first, but apparently it's totally normal. It was nice to see how much these people cared for those who had died and also how important religion is to them. 
As we were walking back to where the bull fight would be, this old shirtless man started talking to Catie and I...and we had no idea what he was saying. After a second he explained that he had been speaking to us in Mayan. (Another guy tried to teach us some German if learning Spanish isn't enough for you people...!??!?!) He was very nice but very drunk and kept telling us that he wasn't trying to offend us (?). His granddaughter was learning English but was too shy to talk to us (she was about 6 years-old), but as we left she yelled "Goodbye!" and I yelled "¡Adios!" It was cute. 
When we got to the bullfight, there were some little boys playing around with the capes, pretending to fight eachother. Then the real bullfighters came out...only they were like 16. They had these white painted boards that they could run and hide behind if the bull got too close/violent, and they used those a lot. It seemed pretty dangerous. We had heard that they always kill the first bull, so I was excited/nervous about that. But the matadores lured the bull all around the ring and then older men on horseback lasso'd the bull and took him away. They did this 6 or 7 times. . .until it was 10:30 and we had to leave. So no bulls were killed in the making of this blogpost! Also these dudes have my same tights...
Tuesday we only had class from 7-9am, so Catie and I went to the mercado in El Centro. It was a lot like the souqs in Doha. They even had some of the same stuff. It was really fun and we were actually where the real people that live here buy stuff--not a tourist trap! I thought I forgot my camera but noticed later that it was actually just hiding at the bottom of my bag. Oops. I am definitely going back though, so I will get pictures then. We also stopped and ate a a semi-sketchy street vendor. We had these mini-tacos that they have everywhere here with salsa and watermelon juice. Right after we were finished eating though, Catie noticed an insect leg in her juice. Now I can't drink watermelon juice without wanting to barf and our Mamá keeps making watermelon-flavored tang...I thought I had a stomach of steeel because I didn't get sick afterwards. Thank you to my parents for teaching me while I was young to cultivate my immune system through letting me eat potted dirt, seaweed on the beach, and snails from the backyard (actually what the heck kind of parenting is that?) However, on Thursday we didn't get home from school until around 2. The hottest part of the day. And it was about 104degrees out. We came home and ate lunch but I had a headache and felt reallllly hot. But I went to a friend's house to go swimming and then came home early because I still didn't feel well. The next morning I felt like trash and didn't go to school. I slept forever and thought I probably just got dehydrated. My host mom got really worried though and took me to the program doctor (it's free, so why not?). He just prescribed some antibiotics and said I should be fine soon, but that he didn't know what it was from. It could be from food (but it had been three days since the sketchy stuff!!!) or just from heat or dehydration, or whatever. The thing was that we were going to Chichen Itza the next day...luckily I felt a bit better the next morning, so I decided I could go. I liked Chichen, but I thought Uxmal was better. Maybe I was just tired and grumpy and still not feeling that well. Probably. Chichen is considered one of the wonders of the world, so there were a ton of tourists and vendors. It was very impressive though, and a lot of the rock carvings were extremely well preserved.
That night we got back into town so we could hear Elder Cook speak to the young single adults. Elder Cook, the mission president over this area and the representative of the 70 and their wives all spoke about qualities they found in their spouses. Just when I thought I had gotten away from BYU.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

food for thought

Week 2 In Review

So this week wasn't as exciting as last week (I have homework and essays? What?!), but Mexico is still the best.
On Monday night, we went to El Centro for FHE to watch a cultural dance performance. My favorite part was when they did this: 
Then on Friday we visited a hacienda called Yaxcopoil. It was pretty interesting and we mainly just wandered around. Afterwards we went to Uman and ate these banana snow cone things. Sounds weird and I was a little hesitant, but they were delicious. 

Catedral in Uman...that was closed.

On Saturday, we had an excursion to Celestun, a wildlife reserve. We saw saw some birds and flamingos, and then went swimming in an "ojo de agua." Like cenotes, underground water fills these pools with clean, see-through water. You could see right through the water to the very bottom and watch the fish swimming.
Afterwards we ate lunch and hung out on the beach for awhile.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Merida, The First Ten Days

Incase you didn't know,
I'm in Mexico!
I have been so busy that I feel that I haven't had much time to record my experience. So here we go:

Day One: I left friday morning (Thanks SO much to the Pauls for letting me stay at your place! You guys are great friends!!!)My second plane had a small mechanical problem, but it took them about 45 minutes to find a mechanic. We got here pretty late but I found my bag waiting for me and was the first student to meet my mamá. Her name is Lili and she lives with her husband and 23 year-old daughter, Lili Chica. This woman has been wonderful to us; she treats us like her own children and tells us that she loves us everyday. I am so grateful por mi familia here in Mexico. They do so much for us and really treat us like family.
By the time we got home, it was pretty late so we went to bed. 

Day Two: Lili and some of the other mamás took us on the bus and showed us how to get to school. It is really hot in the daytime, and there is a lot of humidity. Doha is probably a little bit hotter, but the humidity kills. We swam in their pool, played with their perrito, Tomás, and went to El Centro later with some other people in our group. It's basically the center of the city that houses a cathedral, historical buildings, shops, restaurants, and cultural activities. We walked around, explored, and ate at "Los Trompos."

Day Three: We went to church at a local ward. I think they were surprised to see thirty gringos there...It was testimony meeting and I was impressed by the strength of the testimonies of the members here. We had a great lessons and I understood pretty much everything. We relaxed at home and then went to a fireside at the stake center, which is in El Centro. We walked around the temple for awhile and then took the buses home.

Day Four: The first day of school! I had my Latin American Culture class from 11:30-1:30. We talked about the ancient civilizations in the area. It was pretty interesting. Me, my roommate Catie, and another girl prepared a 10-minute presentation about the Incans. (Side note: I have four roommates and I loooove them. They all lived in Foreign Language housing together this past year, so I am kinda the odd one out, but they don't treat me like that at all. They are wooooonderful.)My roommates and I went to another host house and swam in their pool. We went to "Taliban Tacos," which was a mix between Yucatecan tacos and Shawarma...kind of. There seems to be a bit of Arab influence here and some business have their names written in Spanish and Arabic. We also went to Costco which was pretty much exactly like it is in the US. Merida has a Wal-Mart, Burger King, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Sears, etc. The American fast food restaurants all deliver just like they do in Qatar. Everyone else is amused by this...haha. Later on we went to Profe's house for FHE. We did a get to know you game and his wife talked to us about how courage and patience are the two tools you need while traveling abroad--courage to try things new but patience to abide by local customs and maintain safety. Very wise advice.

Day Five: We had class at 7 am, so we left the house at 6 and I woke up at 5...mas o menos. Class ended at 1:30, and we went to the beach after we went home and had lunch. There were a lot of waves, so the water was throwing us around a lot, but it was still fun. We walked around, and I drank juice out of a coconut! It actually was actually kinda nasty. The guy that was selling them cut them open after we were finished and gave us what was inside...which was really slimy. Oh well, haha. 

Day Six: Woke up, went to class for two hours, and then went to El Centro...again. We seem to be going there a lot but I don't mind at all. It's very interesting and beautiful. All the buildings are in the colonial style and painted like different flavors of ice cream. I love it. We were there with almost the entire group. Really, this wasn't a very smart idea. It was fun to hang out with everyone but we drew a lot of attention to ourselves and the street venders wouldn't leave us alone. I had a guanabana popsicle...there are so many fruits here that I have never even heard of.

Day Seven: Most of our group went to the temple to do baptisms with the ward. It's a pretty small temple. We talked to the bishop's daughter a little, and she goes to the same school that we do! Later some of us went and ate a restaurant in El Centro, and Catie found a cockroach in her food! We were also serenaded by three mexican men. They asked us what we wanted them to sing, and Catie requested "Besame." The words in English are basically, "kiss me, kiss me more.." It was ridiculous, haha. 

Day Eight: Fridays are our field trip days, so we don't technically have "class," but our teacher takes us on an excursion and teaches us about it. We went to Dzibilchaltun (ancient Mayan ruins). It was sooo hot. Luckily we got to swim in a cenote afterwards. It was so refreshing and the perfect temperature.  Since they're full of groundwater, they're very clean and there were blooming lily pads. The water was blue-green and very clear. It was perfect. Later we went to a beach house of one of the families and ate tacos al pastor with our host families and enjoyed the beach. That night we went to an institute activity at the stake center. We thought it was going to be a dance, but it actually turned out to be a game and movie night. It was fun but a little awkward, atleast for my super-shy self. I did talk to a few Mexicans, and my Spanish held up pretty well.

Day Nine: We went to Uxmal! I think the photos speak for themselves--it was incredible. I'm amazed at the things the Ancient Mayans knew. Our teacher told us all about their customs and their way of life. I think this pyramid is better than the ones in Egypt. After exploring and climbing a billion stairs, we had lunch at Uxmal's hotel and swam in their pool. I talked to a Canadian girl who said she was also on a study abroad with her school, and they were going to Peru after this. I don't think she spoke any Spanish. That would be so hard. At night, we went to the light and sound show. They told Mayan legends over the speakers. It was way cool.

Day Ten: Went to church, came home and talked to my family, and relaxed! Spent forever editing photos and writing this! Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I wrote in my blog like you told me to.