Tuesday, May 31, 2011

an appropriate 200th post

I made a StumbleUpon account yesterday. Today I was graced with this picture.

here
Thanks a lot, National Geographic. Now I want a baby Asian elephant.

Once Upon a Time

What do you know about yourself?
What are your stories?
The ones you tell yourself,
and the ones told by others.

All of us begin somewhere. 
Though I suppose the truth is that we begin more than once; 
we begin many times.
Over and over,
we start our own tales,
compose our own stories,
whether our lives are short or long.
Until at last all our beginnings come down to just one end,
and the tale of who we are is done.


This is one of my all-time favorite books.  I've read it a billion times. It was one of two books I brought with me on this trip. They told us that maybe we should bring a comfort food to have a taste of home every once in a while; I brought this book. I fell in love with it the first time I read that first paragraph. I was reading it at the beach last week and have been thinking about it lately. I've never read that paragraph and then really thought about it for myself, but this time I did.

What do I know about myself?

What are my stories?

What stories do I tell myself about myself?

What stories do I allow others to tell to me? About me?

What times in my life have I decided to start over?

How is my tale coming along?

If my beginnings were to come to an end today,
would I be happy with that end?


Sometimes it's hard for me to think about good qualities I have, but I've been trying to do that since I read this last week at the beach.  I also read a quote last week that said,

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself 
instead of a second-rate version of somebody else," 
(Judy Garland)

and decided to make that my goal. Thinking about these questions have helped me do that, I think. I have still a ways to go before I'll be at the desired end for my beginnings, but I like the way my tale is coming along so far.

How about you? Instead of just reading this and moving on, try reading it and applying it to you. Maybe you'll still be thinking about it a week from now like I am.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday: Papers papers.

School was hard today but not impossible to stay awake :) It was a little sad because today was our good teacher's last day... Tomorrow we start with the blind man. I'm going to die.


Adrienne was also super funny after school today. I was telling her about the Copo bus and asked if she wanted to go with us so we could show her how to save a bunch of money, and she said, "Well, if I'm going home on a different bus and there's a chance of me getting lost, I'm going to the bathroom first."  ..... I guess you had to be there. Just know it was awesome :)


I can't remember if I've told you about the Copo bus... so last Sunday we had that pachanguita, remember? And when Emma and Cassyie came, they told us about a bus route that they found out that goes from our house to the school!  They just found out about it because they were trying to figure out how to get to our house and their maid was like, "Oh, you didn't know? There's a stop right by our house that goes just where you want to go!" and it's the same bus they can take to school. So now we only have to take one bus to and from school instead of two! That saves me $1.20 per day!  And it's nice because it always seems to come on time (about 6:30), picks us up closer to our house than the old bus, and just drops off a little further away from the school than the other bus. Plus there are always empty seats!  Usually the other bus is suuuuuper full. Sometimes so full it doesn't even stop because there's no more standing room, and then we're late for school. VIVA COPO! 


When we got home, Jill went to get a drink and I walked into our bedroom, looked out the window, and saw two giant machetes on the back patio table!!!!  So we proceeded to make ninja masks out of black t-shirts and take a million pictures of us with the machetes :D  It was so fun, and when Carmita saw us she got a huge kick out of it :)  It was awesome!  


After playing ninja for a while, I took a nap and it was impossible to wake up!  I kept wanting to be asleep.  I don't know if I've ever been this tired in my life.

Lunch was yummy!  I have the ingredients written down... I'll try and post it when I get the recipe all typed up and everything. It was a bean soup with hamburger-type meat on the side and you eat it like a taco. Yum!  I ate lunch with Ariana because Jill wasn't hungry, and boy, is that girl crazy.  She begged for food but then she wouldn't eat it.  Carmita finally lost her patience with her (Ari is one of the most un-disciplined girls on the planet) and spanked her, which at first made Ari cry and eat her lunch, but then she called Carmita a rude name (I couldn't understand it) and when Carmita god upset with her, she started laughing at her.  Dang. If Ari were my child, I would say, "Oh, you're not hungry? Okay, you don't have to eat, but you won't get any food until the next meal unless it's leftovers from lunch."  She totally needs to be more disciplined. She does not respect Carmita or her mother in the slightest.



After lunch I went to work on my papers.  I took a longer nap than I planned, so i had less time than I planned for my papers, but oh well.  One of them was due today, but all but two people thought it was due so she said we can turn it in tomorrow.  A bunch of people from our group wanted to go to this cultural dance in the Centro tonight for FHE, but because Jill and I both have to finish our papers and therefore don't really have time for that, we decided as a group that we would have a short spiritual thought at our house and then whoever wanted to go to the dance would.  That way people who can go can still go, and the people who can't go don't miss out on FHE.  It worked out pretty well. Jill did the spiritual thought about how being on a study abroad is like being alive (being on a study abroad away from Heavenly Father) and that Heavenly Father will make our weaknesses strengths if we work hard and trust in him.  it was a good lesson. We chit-chatted for a while, and then everyone left, some for the Centro and some for home.  It was nice b/c we got to still participate and have a brief respite but still get some work done afterwards.

Yuck. It's 1:30 in the morning. Every time I work on this paper I either purposely distract myself or fall asleep. This is driving me crazy. I'm going to bed. I'll get up at 4:30 or something to finish. I'm done with one and only need about one more double-spaced page for the other. Not too shabby.



Well, off to bed. Exhausted.

Dear Germany,

Thanks for visiting my blog! I like your pancakes and my husband speaks some of your language. :)

Love,
alisonmj

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arrises."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday: Los Vampiros

Sorry, I know these posts are a long time coming :)

Wow. This morning, class was so hard.  I was pretty much asleep the entire time! I always feel bad when I do that, but I tried so hard!

After school my sunburn was bothering me so I came home and put on my swim shorts and a t-shirt and sat in the pool while I listened to The Hiding Place on my computer.  I don't know if it helped at all, but it sure felt great while I was in the water!  It was the perfect temperature.

After sitting in the pool for a while, I took a nap :) It was really nice :)  Jill and I were super hungry, and Carmita made this super yummy soup! It had a tomato-based broth and had squash and carrots and stuff in it, plus pork ribs.  The ribs were pretty fatty, which was a little difficult, but overall I liked it!  Because Carmita's father-in-law died on Sunday, she's been gone a lot during the week and we've been eating out a lot.  I was thinking about it yesterday, though, and I've really missed her cooking.  It's simpler and lighter than the food we've been eating, and I was really happy to get to eat her food today :)  Oh yeah - the soup also had lentils in it, which I'd never had before, but I really liked them a lot!  They help fill you up without adding a weird flavor or texture to the soup.  I decided I'll have to cook with the more often cuando yo regrese.

Today there was a group of people going to the zoo, but they left at 1:00 and we didn't eat lunch until close to 1:45, so we didn't go.  We both felt fine with it, though.  We decided we'd rather go to the zoo with Bryce and his group instead.  Hopefully we'll go sometime next week. Guess what - the zoo is free!

After lunch I worked on updating my journal.  I feel like I'm never going to get caught up!  It's fun to think about all the fun things we've done lately, though :)

So I was talking to Barroz on skype and he mentioned a free play going on in the Centro tonight called "Los Vampiros" that I decided it'd be fun to go to :)  Only a small group of us went, but it was actually kind of exciting! We were going to see a French play from 1915 about gangsters called Vampires in a Mexican international cinema!  When we first got there we couldn't find the theater at first because it only had the cross streets and not exactly where the building was, but we finally found it... and it turned out to be completely different than we thought!  It was not, in fact, an awesome play about vampires, but a French silent film from 1915 about gangsters that went by the name Los Vampiros! with classical music in the background.  jajaja, we were the only people in the theater!  :D  We stayed for an hour (each episode was an hour long, and it was super boring, I thought), but then we decided to leave.  Brianne's roommates had left to make a copy of something, so we waited for them for a while.

Background story: Last week, somehow Brianne ended up in the Centro at night by herself and met this weird man, which led to her having a weird and potentially dangerous encounter with drug guy from northern Mexico.  Anyway, so Brianne's roommates grounded her from ever being in the Centro by herself (because she doesn't really know how to get to or from the Centro, also).

So anyway, because of that whole story, we had to wait for her roommates to come back so we could leave the theater. It took them like, an hour! We almost just left because we thought maybe we'd misunderstood something they'd said and they'd gone home instead.  We found out there was a free concert going on in the modern museum, and we went to go check it out, but eventually decided we weren't really in the mood to go. Actually, I was super in the mood to go home... buuuuut we decided to get some ice cream first :) Michelle and Adrienne told me about a place other than Colon in the Centro that had really tasty ice cream and that was cheaper than Colón, so we decided to check it out.  They have grape ice cream at this place! It was super bright purple and the most delicious ice cream ever! I loved it! I got a little cup of chocolate almond and then grape on top, and it was sooo yummy.  And way cheaper than Colón. While eating our ice cream, we walked over to the rest of the group, only to find them playing the saw! It was so awesome!

**So, there's this man who sits on the sidewalk by Colón and plays "Over the Rainbow" and a couple of other songs on the saw. And there's a little boy who hangs out with him. Apparently, someone from the group had asked if they could play it and the man had said yes and then gone to the bathroom or something, because when we got there, the little boy was sitting there occasionally giving help to people who were playing the saw, and we all got to take a turn! I was largely unsuccessful, but it was still really cool!  And waaaaay harder than it looks!  After a while, Adrienne, Michelle and I decided to go home, so they got off the bus at my stop and walked me home so I wouldn't have to go by myself in the dark, which was really nice of them.  And then I went to bed after an awesome night of silent vampire gangs, grape ice cream, and saw music :) Goodnight!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday: el 19 de mayo

Hola, todos :) So for some reason I didn't write hardly anything about today; no sé por qué.  But just in case you wondered,...

School was so hard today! I could not stay awake! Yuck.
When we got home, I worked on my journal and then ate lunch of carne de res and lettuce coleslaw something that was actually a little hard to eat... It wasn't nasty, but I just didn't love it.

Hasta luego, when I remember other stuff we did today! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday: Photo scavenger hunt!

our church - crazy, huh!
Got up at 4:00 to finish my paper, but finish it I did AND I stayed awake during class today! :)

Our presentation went really well! Nate did an awesome job with the video and I was really happy about how I did talking during the presentation.  I felt like the information I had prepared was relevant and went really well with the rest of the presentation. We don't know our grade, but our professor said afterwards that he liked it!

Oh yeah, I forgot - it was funny, Carmita overslept today and didn't get anything ready for breakfast so we came home to a delicious chicken + vegetable soup lunch! She was so apologetic and said, "Since I didn't do anything for breakfast, I decided to do something really good for lunch!"  It was funny that she was so apologetic, actually :) but she was right - lunch was delicious!  We joked with her and said that she could skip breakfast everyday if we could have that delicious of food for lunch everyday :)

After lunch I worked in my journal for a while and then while Jill went running, I sat in the pool for a while, which was really nice because there was some sun over the pool.  I love our pool - it always has the perfect temperature of water.  It's so great for after school!  So after I was in for a while, I decided to lay out on my towel on the ground and dry off... but I was attacked by billions of ants so I moved to a chair. :)



Tonight we had a church activity, but Jill and I went a little early so I could practice my piano song for Sunday before it started.  I'm so thankful Joel sent me the music - it's so perfect!  It's exactly what I wanted to play.   The activity tonight was a photo scavenger hunt, planned by Stephen.  People were talking about how popular of an activity it is at BYU, but I honestly can't remember the last time I did one. It was so fun!  Instead of having a list of things we had to do, we had three pages of ideas and each idea was given a certain number of points and you got points for the things you did.  My group was super fun! We had Nate, Bryce, Brittany, Cat, Jessica, Beto (from the ward), and me.  It was hilarious because I guess Mexicans don't really do antics in public like Americans do, I realized, because Beto got the biggest kick out of so many things we did and a few things that seemed normal he was super embarrassed to do.  It was so funny!

Some of the stuff we did: lay down to form a word, pose with a statue, hug a stranger, get an aerobics class from someone in the group, dance the macarena (Beto just about died doing this!), propose to someone, pose with someone famous (a video store that had tons of posters in the window!), everyone buy the same drink and take a picture drinking it, buy a cookie using all $1 peso coins, chase another group, play Duck, Duck, Goose!, in a parking lot.  It was so fun!  We totally won :)  We actually never compared points, but if we had, we totally would've won!



When we got back to the church we got surprise-attacked by water balloons! After a little water balloon fiesta, we kind of just stood around awkwardly until we decided to go home :) Some people played different things, like volleyball.  I thought about playing basketball but I wasn't wearing good shoes for it - they were all slippery from the water fight.  So after a little bit, Jen, Michelle, and Cat walked me home because they live fairly close.  


When I got back, I took a shower and got to have a skype date with Joel!  It was really fun :)  I love that man!


Oh yeah. And my camera broke tonight :(  It worked before church - Jill and I took pictures of the outside of the chapel because it looks so different - but when it was time to use it during the activity, it started doing weird things. I'm not sure what happened to it. I think I just kept it with me until it was time to use it. The only thing I can think of is that, when I turned it on to take a picture, I spun the dial around a few notches to get it to nighttime, but faster than I usually do, and that's when it started freaking out. I hope I didn't break it :P It might be moisture or humidity or something, I guess. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday: La playa otra vez!

School.

Home + nap

After we napped, we went to the playa!  It was really fun - we got there and just meandered our way down the street, stopping in some shops and looking at stuff.  We found this really neat shop called Bolom Balam that, supposedly, is a non-profit, all proceeds go to Maya children, store.  It was weird, though, because when we got there there was a Mexican boy who wanted to tell us about the items and asked us if we spoke Spanish.  We said yes.  A couple minutes, this big white man came out and asked, "Where are y'all from?"  That's right - a huge Southern accent.  The owner was from Pensacola, Florida!  He told us that he's been living here for 23 (28?) years helping the Maya and finally decided to start this store.  I didn't really believe a lot of what he said because people here always tell you what they think you want to hear, but he did have newspaper articles with his picture in them hanging up all over, so I'm not quite sure what to believe. His store had some neat stuff, though! I got a bracelet and I found a purse (finally!) that I LOVE!  It's probably machine-made, but I really love the bright colors and the style of it.  I also got a couple of "headbands" (the kind that are cloth and have some elastic in them)! One is yellow and the other is multicolored in bright, pretty colors.

After we finished at the store, we went looking for a restaurant to eat lunch.  Because Carmita's father-in-law died on Saturday night, she's been gone a lot, so we took care of our own lunch yesterday and decided we would today, too.  We found this cool place right facing the shore called Las Henequenes and it was so tasty!  I ordered salmon with a balsamic sauce and it was delicious.  The salmon was so dense - it was like eating a steak instead of a piece of fish! My food also came with some vegetables and rice.  I took a picture, but it makes it look pretty nasty.  When I get it from Jill I'll post it up. :)


While we were eating at the restaurant, Brittany Ralph came over and decided to sit with us and talk while we ate b/c she was a little tired of the beach.  A bunch of people came up to us with sob stories trying to sell us stuff....

*the "schizophrenic" man without medicine who needed to sell us paper airplanes
*the man selling pirated copies of DVD's, including the fourth Pirates movie, which, by the way, JUST came out in theaters :)
*the man who was starving, didn't have anything to eat, and needed to sell us something else weird.

Haha, with that last guy, Jill was like, "Do you want some food?" "No, I don't want to take your food" Me: "Well, if you're hungry, then it's food you need, right? Not food." "No, I need money" Jill: "Do you want some of my rice?" Then we gave him a bunch of tortillas that we weren't going to eat and a little bit of food to put inside them.  And then he stole the restaurant's plate.

Brittany told us about some cool and cheap stores, so after we finished eating, we walked up the street with her to find them.  They have these stores called "Everything for..." and then, depending on what city and what part of the city you're in, it has a different price in the blank. Some are $3.50, some are $5.90, some are $4.something... This one was a $3.50, which translates to about 30 cents USD.  A lot of what they had there was weird, but they did have some cool bracelets! I got three of them and will probably go back to get some more for people at home.


When we finally got to the beach, we only had about an hour before we needed to leave for home, so I decided just to relax in the sand. The wind was blowing pretty consistently, so I got some sand in the face, but overall it was very relaxing and nice :)

We left the beach at 6:30 because at 8:00, our friend Thommy from the ward was going to open his mission call.  We came home and changed into real clothes and then ran over to the church.  We got there a couple of minutes late, but we needn't have rushed.  Oh, Mexicans and their time :)  Just kidding, we actually have hardly run into any incidents like that, but it was still funny.  We started at probably... 8:30 or so, and it was really interesting.  At home when someone opens their call, a group of people comes, they open it, everyone records it and cheers when they hear where they're going.  Then people mill around for a while and leave.  Here, it happened in the chapel.   We had an opening prayer, song and spiritual thought.  Then Thommy asked (on the spot) about eight people who had served missions come up and tell about a missionary experience.  Thommy bore his testimony, opened his call, no one cheered, and then he gave his "reaction" - bearing his testimony and talking about being excited.  Then we had a closing prayer and ate cake.  Interesting, no? Btw :) He's going to Guadalajara :)

After that, a group of us went to a place to buy Argentinian ice cream!  It's a dairy-based gelato-type ice cream that is really tasty!  I went over with Laurel and Beto, but a lot of other people were there.  I got a kind of ice cream called "Sky" or something like that, and it was super good. I couldn't figure out what it tasted like. A lot of people who'd tried it said it was frosting-flavored, but I don't think I like the taste of frosting well enough to eat a cup of it, yknow?  Anyway.  So after ice cream, Jill, Tony and Markz were going to go get food.  I had a headache, but the group was starting to dissipate and i wasn't sure how I would get home if I didn't go with them, so I went.  We ended up not getting anything but just driving around looking for someplace, eventually stopping at Oxxo and going home.  It was a fun night :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday: FHE at the Laraways'!

School, school, school. Why do you start at 7:00?  


This morning we found our own breakfast - Carmita's father-in-law died last night (he was 96) so she and her husband have been in Motul taking care of things since last night - and had some delicious yogurt and granola. That's one of my favorite things for breakfast here because it tastes light but also fills me up.


After school we went to the bank and then headed home.  Because Carmita was going to be out of town, we didn't want her to have to worry about lunch for us, so we told her we'd just find somewhere to eat out. Instead of taking the second bus home, we walked that street so we could see our options... but forgot that this is Mexico, not the U.S., and that everything was closed.  Today we really wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant, not just a fast food Mexican place, but unfortunately all those places were closed. It was kind of funny because it seemed like the longer we walked, the later places opened. At the beginning, when it was 9:30, they opened at 10.  But as we walked, the restaurants we found opened at 11, 12, 1:00.  We even found a place that doesn't open until 7:00pm!  So that was kind of silly. We got home, dropped off our backpacks, and headed over to Montejo (a pretty main street) to look for someplace. We found a place that looked realllllly good, but it was closed still, but the man setting up tables recommended we go over to Charlie's, across the street.  We looked across the street and saw.... Carl's Jr.  :) I don't know why they call it Charlie's!  It was funny, though.  By that point, we were deliriously hungry, so we went to Charlie's since it was nearby and open :)


Oh, Charlie's. You were a great taste of home today. We were starving and ordered too much food, but included in the deliciousness were French toast sticks (best French toast of my life!), a barbecue chicken tortilla thing, French fries, and real dairy-based chocolate ice cream!  It was all so delicious!  There was also air conditioning, a nice worker who brought us our food and picked up our trash, and DDR (although we didn't play... today) :)  It was so nice. It was funny because I went to the bathroom at the end and when I was walking back to the table, I noticed that I wasn't wet (with sweat) and that was the first time we noticed there was air conditioning. Heavenly.


After Charlie's, we came home. I napped, then relaxed in the pool for a while, laid out for like, ten minutes, and worked on updating my journal. I also read a little bit of my journal from when Joel and I got engaged, which was fun :) I got to chat with Brooke and video chat with Mom for a few minutes, too.  Then at 6:50ish, we headed out for FHE.  


Every week, the Laraways' (our coordinator and his family) have a different family over for FHE and tonight was our night. We went over for a lesson, pizza and pop, and swimming! It was really fun :) Plus they have this "rule" that his house is like the embassy, so we're allowed to speak English while we're there. It really helps people build relationships, I think, when they are able to relax and actually talk to each other sometimes. We played Name That Tune: Underwater, had front- and backflip contests, and just generally hung out. I loved it! His family is so nice. Sometimes I feel like Profe shouldn't be cool because he's the teacher and he must be older because he has gray hair... but that's not the way it is at all! He's really cool, I don't think he's actually old, and his whole family is very fun.  He reminds me of someone I would be friends with if we were the same age (or knew each other outside of the teacher-student relationship).  His wife is also great and their children are hilarious! It was a great night.


When we got home, I got ready for bed and chatted with Joel for a while, and now I'm writing this!  I'm going to go to bed, though, because it's still decently early and now I'll have a chance to be awake for my classes tomorrow :) Maybe to the beach tomorrow with the Profe's family! Buenas noches!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday: Pachanguita

Today I played the piano in church!  The first couple of weeks here were super fun, but I also had some stressful and some trying experiences and realized in those weeks (for the billionth time in my life!) how much I love playing the piano because I really was missing it.  I asked Joel last week to email me the music for a song I love to play in church - it's an arrangement of "I Feel My Savior's Love" - and decided I wanted to play it in church so I could share my testimony of all the help and love Heavenly Father gives us.  Last Sunday I asked the bishop if I could play this week, and last night I invited Carmita to come if she wanted to. I didn't know if she would or not, but she told me this morning that she would! I was so excited!  We were told not to proselyte here but that we could answer questions and such if people had them, and I didn't know how many opportunities there would be to share the gospel, but so far I have had some very meaningful discussions with our family and looked forward to this being good for Carmita, too.  It did make me way more nervous than normal, though! :)


When we got to church I kept feeling like I should check with the bishop to make sure I was on the program but I was too afraid... so I didn't. And when he announced three speakers and no musical numbers, I was so scared I'd been forgotten and that Carmita would wonder why I invited her or something!  I proceeded to spend the rest of the meeting praying he would look at me and remember or something, but it turns out I shouldn't have worried - all three speakers gave very short talks and I went after them. I should've still asked, though - I probably could've had a much more enjoyable meeting! :)  


When it was my turn, I had decided I wanted to share my testimony and at least the title of the song before playing it because my experiences here are the reason I chose to play it in the first place.  I decided this morning, though (and give the credit to Heavenly Father for letting me think of it early enough!), that since Carmita was coming and didn't know the words to the song, I wanted to read them as part of my testimony. So this morning I got on lds.org, found the song in Spanish, and wrote down the words for the three verses and chorus so I could share them, and I'm so glad I did.  In my testimony I didn't say very much - I just wanted it to be a brief introduction - but I told the name of the song, that I love it, and that I had had some trials since coming that made the song that much closer to my heart.  It was amazing - maybe this is what the gift of tongues feels like - but I can't remember a time where I've had an easier time speaking Spanish. Jill commented on it, too, when I sat down. She said that what I said was perfectly great for introducing the song, but she also said that I had conjugated everything and said everything correctly.  I'll be honest, it was a pretty amazing feeling speaking like that without having doubts about what I was saying or anything!  


The actual playing of the song also went well.  Because I had been so nervous and just thinking about getting up there, it was harder to focus on the Spirit while I was playing - I was still trying to get rid of my jitters! - but it went really well.  I'm very happy with how everything went :)  Carmita really liked it, too, so that was cool. Jill sat by her at church, which was good - she did a great job at explaining things to her and talking to her beforehand and everything, at making her feel welcome there.  Also, there are only four seats per row and the fourth/epmty seat in our row was by Carmita.  I kept hoping someone would sit by her and help her feel welcome there, and a few minutes before church, Laurel did.  She's a very nice and good person; I look up to her a lot.  I was really thankful she sat there :)  


After church, one of our friends from the ward took us home and I took a nap! It was great.  We had lunch - Chinese food! - and it was actually pretty good! Last week or so Jill and I tried a sample of food from a Chinese place and it was super nasty, so I was a little worried, but I really liked it.  It tasted just like American Chinese food :) While we were eating I thought about something that happened in our first few days here. We were talking to someone about the kinds of food we'd been eating and when I told her that we'd been eating really normal food, similar to what we eat in the states when we imitate Mexican food (as in fajitas, not as in Taco Bueno :) she said, "Oh, I'm sorry!" and I didn't really know why because I love the food we've been eating!  I was thinking about that today during dinner - some people in our group might've been disappointed to eat Chinese food for lunch in Mexico. They might think it's a waste of being here, but to me, I thought it was perfect.  I love that our family treats us like their family.  They don't go out of their way to cook a ridiculous amount of food for "the guests," they didn't throw a crazy party to meet the entire family or make sure they always make authentic Mayan food or Yucatecan food for us.  They eat like a normal family eats and live like a normal family lives and invite us to do the same.  Normal families eat Chinese sometimes; normal families order pizza sometimes when they don't want to cook; normal families sometimes eat similar things a few days in a row; normal families have cereal for breakfast; normal moms occasionally oversleep and don't cook breakfast for their kids (that happened one time last week).  I love that about our family.  I couldn't have asked for a better family during this whole experience.  


I got to talk to Kelli, Rachel and Mom today! That was fun.  I was sad I didn't get to talk to Dad, but he had to work today :(  I showed them the dishes I bought yesterday and told them about our trip to Chichén Itzá, and when Carmita came in to tell us she was going to mass, Mom yelled "Hola, Carmita!" in a super-gringa way, which was super funny :)  And Grandma got Skype today so I'll be able to talk to her now!  I've been wanting to call her but didn't have a way to do it, so this will be fun.  


Tonight we had a fun party! We invited everyone in the group plus people we know from the ward, and quite a few people came! Not everyone, but it was really fun. We played Jenga, Uno, Egyptian Ratslap, Settlers of Katan (sp?) (yuck - I just watched that one for a minute), Nertz, and Jenga "Extreme" - we played where we had to play blind and it was so fun!  Ariana also had a blast playing with us. People loved her :)  Emma told me about a bus we might be able to take that goes from our house to school and we'd only need one bus! I want to try it on the way home tomorrow and see how it goes. If it works out, that would save us a LOT of money!  It would actually save a lot of money for the majority of our group.  They live right by the school and it's the bus they took to our house tonight. My only question is if it runs early in the morning.  It'll be fun to see...


Also tonight I got to know Alee better.  She's in the ward and is only 19, so she just recently started going to YSA activities.  Actually, I think the first one we went to a couple Wednesdays ago was also her first one.  As a result, she also doesn't really know anyone.  I decided I wanted to be friends with her so I spent some time with her tonight.  She's really fun! We were a team in Nerts. (nertz?)  It took her a while to get a hang of the game, but it was good.  She also likes a lot of the same stuff that I like.  And her birthday is in two weeks!  I decided it'd be fun to have a little party for her, like maybe a few of us go see a movie or swim at her house b/c she has a pool, get ice cream, something like that.  Also I got to know Tracee better, too, which was fun.  I haven't spent a lot of time with her this trip, but we all three were tired towards the end so we weren't playing Scrum with everyone else and just talked about different stuff - what we like to do and stuff.  Tracee likes to go to concerts - isn't that so fun!  She seems really cool.


Well, we have class at 7 tomorrow and I should probably already be in bed, so I guess I'd better go :)  Have a good night, all!  Buenas noches! 

something you might not know about me

I love watching people + listening to other people's conversations. Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm shy, hesitant to enter conversations, or that I just never have anything to say, but really I just enjoy watching so much!  People, out the window, and sometimes just thinking while I look at stuff.  So if you ever think that it's awkward that we're sitting next to each other and I'm looking out the window, or if you think I'm always shy (which with some people comes across as stuck up), or if you think that I don't actually know how to speak because I "never" do it, know that I'm probably looking at something, listening to someone, or just enjoying the silence while I watch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

post-dating

Haha, I just figured out that I can date these make-up posts to look like they were posted the day they actually happened :)  Cool - now I can put everything in the right place!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday: Las entrevistas

School.

Home. We had delicious Italian food for lunch! It tasted like American-style Italian food = delicious! Boiled "macaroni" noodles and the sauce (which was more of a noodle coating, if you know what I mean) was of oil, garlic, maybe onion, and oregano.  Yum!

We were glad lunch was pretty early in the day and cooked quickly because we have a big project due tomorrow that we had to work on with Nate.  So for our culture class, everyone has to, at some point in the term, do a group presentation that lasts 20+ minutes.  Jill, Nate and I formed a group when we found out about the project and started talking about what we wanted to do last week.  We all had been thinking about generally the same thing, which was great, so today we did it! Our teacher said we could use pictures, movies, we talk to people, we could do a ppt, we could do whatever we wanted, basically. And it just had to be about something we'd talked about during the term that interested us.  So all of us wanted to do a video and ask people in the Centro general questions about being Mayan.  We split it up - Nate wrote questions about the language, Jill wrote questions about possible discrimination, and I wrote questions about the general culture (what's your favorite part about it? what's something you think people should know about it?, etc).  So today we went to the Centro!



Oh. My. Goodness. It was so scary!  I didn't think it would be that scary until we got there. I realized that all my questions needed to be asked to Maya people and I couldn't figure out how to find them and ask them without seeming racist.  Also I was terrified to talk to people by myself. Thankfully, Nate talked to the first man and we kind of got a feel for how to start a conversation. He initiated conversation with the second person, but I talked to her. Aaaaaaaand failed. I totally forgot how to speak Spanish like a regular person, plus I quickly realized that my questions were not the questions I should've had.  It was a yucky experience. As the day went by, though, I gained a little more confidence and did better.  They all had really interesting answers.  


t the end of the interviews, we decided to go into the mercado (market where there's a lot of cool shops all put together) and buy some juice.  Funny story... We initially went in there b/c there's a member of the church who owns a juice stand and if you tell him you're a member, you get free juice. Unfortunately, his stand was closed, but there was one right next to it. I got agua de guanábana, which is one of my favorite flavors here.  I really wanted the orange juice, but his gigantic ladle had fallen inside the vat and he didn't have another one :)  When we were walking away after paying, this woman at the neighboring booth said something to Nate and they both started cracking up, but Jill and I had no idea what was going on! Nate told us when we went outside, though - So apparently while Jill and I were picking our juice (and apparently oblivious to everything else going on!) a little girl had come up and patted Nate's back pocket a couple of times. When he reached down to feel for his wallet, he found that it wasn't there! He turned around and started chasing after her dad because he didn't see her, grabbed the dad's shoulder and turned him around and asked where his wallet was. The man didn't know what he was talking about (Nate said that because he was so worried his Spanish was super-garbled), and then Nate looked over and realized he was holding his wallet in his other hand!  hahahaha :)  So he thought quickly on his feet and pointed at the closed juice shop next door and asked what time it closed.  Hilarious! And the woman who talked to him as we were leaving told him what had happened - the girl had asked her dad for a popsicle and he'd said no, so she was patting Nate to see if he would buy one for her.  Jajajajajaj :D


So after the juice incident, we came back to our house to put the project together. I felt kind of useless, which is weird - usually I feel like I do everything when it comes to group projects, but this time I didn't know what to do. We didn't take any of the video on my camera and Jill doesn't have a camera cord, so I couldn't put her videos on my comp to edit them. I don't have Powerpoint, so when we thought about doing a slideshow I didn't have the program to make it.  I don't know how to use iMovie, so I couldn't help Nate put the video together. I felt so silly :P  So we were helping Nate choose video segments to include when Sergio got home and talked to me for a long time... I kept trying to put my attention back to the homework but he kept asking questions and stuff. I sure didn't feel like a very good project partner!  At 8:30 Nate had to leave for dinner and finished the video at home. I hope he didn't work on it all night :P  He sent us a link tonight, though, to the video on youtube, and it is awesome!  For those who can speak Spanish: El Mundo Maya!  Nate did a great job.


Oh yeah - and I got to try guaya today! Nate bought some from one of the women we interviewed and showed us how to eat it when we got back. It is WEIRD. It feels like you have a little baby hamster in your mouth. (They're pretty small - maybe a little bigger than those giant seeded red grapes.) They're like, furry.  The taste is okay but the ones we had were a little sour. I would definitely eat one again, but just know if you ever try one - be prepared for a crazy texture!




So at 9:00ish tonight, I got to skype with Brooke for her birthday! I actually think we might've used gmail video chat, but still. It was really fun :) I haven't gotten to talk to her much since being here, so it was really fun. She showed me her house, which is really cool! Lofts look fun to live in.  And Ariana was in my room for part of the time and stayed in there until I showed Brooke the picture Ariana drew for me. She also told Brooke the English words she knows - mother, father, cheese, fish, apple... It was cute  :)





After chatting with Brooke for about an hour, I had to write a paper for class in the morning. I'm writing it on the disappearance of the Maya language because I've done quite a bit of research on language loss, so I know pretty well what I'm talking about, it interests me, and I know I can fill up the amount of pages talking about it.  Also, we have some questions about that in our video, so it will give me something to talk about during the presentation. Hopefully I'll feel a little better about my contributions to the group after having something substantial to present about :)  Our presentation is supposed to be at least 20 minutes long and our video is only 8, so I feel good knowing that I have something to talk about.

(Update on the paper: I ended up staying "awake" until 1:00 working on the paper and then getting up at 4:00 to finish it up, but I got it done!  We got it back a couple of days ago, too, and I think my teacher liked it! He also loved our presentation.) 

Thursday

I'm writing this a few days late and as a result, I literally have no idea what we did on Thursday for the most part.  I do, however, remember what we did Thursday night, so I'll just fill you in on that :)

On Thursday we decided to take a siesta and then go to Institute because we were super-tired and didn't have enough time to go to the temple before institute.  Jill came down with something and has been feeling super sick today, so right after school we went to the pharmacy so she could buy some medicine.  I feel bad because from what she's been saying, it sounds like she has what I had when we came... yuck.  Anyway, so when we got home, we took naps.  Later we went to the Institute class that starts at 6:00.  It's been kind of funny - I always just love going to church here!

Institute was good; it was the last class of the section so it was about the end of Moroni.  It was really good, but - I kind of felt bad - it went over, I think, and at the time it was supposed to end, my brain totally shut off and it was hard for me to sit still and pay attention!  Before that it was good, though :)  Cool - there were two visitors who aren't members of the church! And at the beginning of class, our teacher asked if someone would explain to them what the Book of Mormon was, and I got to tell them! I was kind of nervous because I don't know all of the church vocabulary super well, but it was still really cool :)  I love the members of the church here.  I noticed tonight at institute and I've noticed before at church - the people here are all so welcoming to visitors and non-members.  I wonder if it's because they're all recent converts and so they still remember how helpful (or hurtful) members of the church can be.  The two girls who came tonight came with friends who (I'm assuming) invited them.

In Institute, we talked about the difference between faith and hope, and it was really interesting.  People have always told me that faith needs to be centered on Jesus Christ, and I thought I always knew what they meant, but the way this teacher taught it showed me that I never really knew what it meant because now I do.  :)  He used the example of going to visit someone (maybe home/visiting teaching or something).  He said, When you call them to set up the appointment, what part of the situation is faith?  People said things like "that they'll let you come," "that they'll like your message," etc, but he said no, the faith part is centered on what Christ will do.  He told us that what we would have faith in in that situation is that Christ would make their hearts soft to allow us to come over.  We have hope that they'll like the message, but we have faith that Christ will help them understand, etc.  It was a really interesting discussion. We also talked about being charitable and Christ-like.  It was a really good lesson.

After Institute, Jill was feeling sick and said she was going to go home and I wanted to go to the Serenatas again, so Jessica Simpson, Mari Roney (I think), Brittany Ralph and I went and met Nate and Lars at the park to watch.  It was so awesome!  Instead of there being a singer this time, there was a band called Los Juglares that played and sang.  I have never seen anyone play the guitar like that before! There was one man that was crazy, he was so good!  It was unbelievable.  Also, it was pretty cool because there were a lot of important dignitaries at the show.  The Cuban ambassador, an ex-President of the PRI political party, and a bunch of others.  It was neat :) Everyone was wanting to take pictures of them and stuff.  After the Serenatas, we went and waited (for a long time!) for the buses to come and then Nate and Lars walked me home so I wouldn't have to walk from the bus stop by myself.  We decided we're all going to go to a sweet discoteca here sometime :D  There's one down the street called VIP Club that I really want to go to :)

Well, we didn't get home until 11:30 and now it's later so I'd better be off to bed... Buenas noches! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday: La corrida de los toros

WARNING: As of a couple days ago, my camera is now broken :(  Which is sad for me because I can't take pictures, but not horribly sad since Jill takes approx. 1,000,000/day.  It is sad for you, however, because I have less easy-access to her pictures and thus, my posts from here on out will be text-heavy and photo-light.  If you're a patient reader, though, you might still like them :)

Tony took us to school today and lent us his flash drive so we could print our papers out for class... but all the printing places were closed! Sad. Luckily, they were also closed for everyone else, so he told us we could email him our papers after class.  Btw - I was so happy about how I did my paper - I felt like I was the only one who didn't finish at like, 2:30 this morning.  The first hour of class was spent talking about our papers, which I really liked. It was interesting to hear about other people's papers and to also hear a little of what my teacher had to say about my topic. I feel pretty good about it.  Plus having some discussion made class go way faster :)


After our class, Nate, Jill and I decided to go to the prepa to buy some clothes!  Background: The students here wear uniforms, including many people at the university, and Jill and I thought it would be really to buy one of the shirts as a souvenir.  They're not just skirts and plaid - there are a lot of different styles. Well, last week when we were on the bus, Nate saw this boy's shirt and we all really liked the style of it so I sat next to him to find out where we could buy a shirt for ourselves. He told us you could get them at the prepa but he wasn't sure if that particular style would be there.  Prepa is short for Preparatória; it's the same age as our high school but it's kind of like community college - it's where you prepare to go to the university, take more general classes, and decide what field you want to study later.  


So we went to the prepa!  We found some t-shirts we really liked that cost $100MEX. I'll have to put up a picture one of these days. It's a really good-looking shirt.  It was funny - we went to try one on and when I came back, Nate was surrounded by all these little girls who were at the prepa :)  (they must also have an elementary section) helping them open their drinks for lunch. It was so cute - it always makes me laugh how much people here love Americans :)


After the prepa, we decided to go to Walmart because they're practically next door and I'd been wanting to buy some granola bars.  I found out that they sell Neopolitan oreos here!  I bought a box of Oreos and two of granola bars. Yum :)  The Oreo boxes are interesting here - they're boxes instead of those plastic wrappers and every six cookies are in their own individual package. I think it's so they don't get all soft from the humidity. Or so they can stay protected from the hormigas...


Guess what! At 4:30 we left to go to Komchén to see... a bullfight!  Isn't that awesome!  I've been excited about it all day! Not everyone from the whole group went, but a lot of people did. I sat by Jen on the way there and we had a fun chat. She's a lot of fun.


When we got to Komchén, we walked to this restaurant place. It looked like someone's front yard. I thought we were going to eat there, but we didn't. We just mostly hung out in the front (where there were a million biting ants!). After a while we walked down the street with our guide (who was less than half as awesome as Guillermo) and got to look at a little town cemetery. It was absolutely beautiful. I felt insensitive because most people were very solemn and some people even cried, but I couldn't help but feel happy there it was so beautiful. All the tombstones are shaped kind of like churches or houses and are painted very bright colors. Also they all have beautiful decorations - flowers, necklaces, even sometimes Coke bottles and stuff.  You can really tell how much the people love their family. That was the sad part for me, seeing how obviously the families missed the person who'd died.  That and seeing tombstones for people who died young. That always gets me. But really, though, I want my tombstone to be as lively as theirs were. I really appreciate that about Mexican culture, their respect for and "celebration" (is that the right word?) of death and the person who died. There's not the fear and taboo around it that exist in our culture.  It was great.  Also, I learned something new about Mexican cemeteries - two or three years after the person died and has a chance to decompose, their bones are taken out of the casket. In some pueblos they wash the bones every single year after that. "How did you learn that?" you might ask.

taken from Nate's blog

"That's how," I would respond.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, at several of the tombstones there were boxes attached that were full of said bones.  We even found a skull that still had hair! That was a little creepy.

After all of this, I was INCREDIBLY THIRSTY but I left my water bottle on the bus because they told us to leave big things on there.  Thankfully, Adrienne let me drink some of hers even though I was sick, which was very nice of her.

By the way, I forgot to tell you - there were drunk men everywhere whose attention a big group of white people really grabbed... I think someone took a movie of the sounds they were making if I can get it and figure out how to post it :)

After the cemetery we went back to the bullfight ring and waited for it to start. We got to take pictures in there! Without any bulls, of course, although Bryce did us the honor of acting like one for pictures :)

The bullfight was different than I expected. I was a little nervous because they usually kill a bull at this festival and I wasn't really excited for that, but they never did. At least, not while we were there. It went until like, 11:30, and we left much earlier than that.  The bullfighters looked like kids! Except for this one man wearing hot pink tights; he looked at least 40.  It was interesting, though, because the bulls were nowhere near as aggravated as I've always seen in videos (most of the time - there were a few really exciting parts!).  The "men" :) would hold up their curtain deal and sometimes the bull wouldn't even run towards it... but sometimes it was super exciting! There were these walls for the men to hide behind if the bull didn't stop chasing them. One time the man fell down and I thought it was going to get crazy! He managed to get up right in time, though, to run behind a wall and stay safe.  Also after round, some cowboys would come out and get the bull back inside the pin. I hate to say it... but they weren't very good lasso-ers. Yikes - I hope none of them read my blog! :)  It was a very exciting bullfight, though. Also I got an excellent back rub from Bryce because he likes giving them (I guess) and when he asked if anyone wanted one, I said yes first!  Afterwards I had to give him one, but it turned out good.

After the bullfight we just came home, didn't do anything productive, and now are going to bed. It was a great night! And I still can't believe I got to go to a bullfight! I love Mexico! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday: Mass

This morning was church... I've been thinking that I really want to do a musical number in church, and Joel sent me the music for it this week, so after sacrament meeting today I asked the bishop if I could play something next week.  He was a little confused at first because it's not a song from the hymn book, but it all worked out.  I'm pretty excited.  I want to invite Carmita, Carmita, and Sergio because I think they would think that was fun. :)


After church, we came home to lunch, nap (church was pretty hard today - I was so tired!), and I had to work on my paper that's due tomorrow that I couldn't finish last night.  Speaking of last night, I'm feeling good today!  I still have cold symptoms, but my flu feelings are all gone.  I am so thankful for the priesthood!  Also, it was a really nice blessing today that I was able to focus on my paper and work hard on it while still maintaining the feeling of the Sabbath in my heart.  That's one of the reasons I don't like doing homework on Sundays - it's difficult for me to keep the feeling of the Sabbath when I'm reading a textbook or something - so it was good today. :)


A little before 6, we left with Carmita to go to mass with her! I was really excited! I'm pretty curious about other religions and don't really know much about them, so it was a really neat experience to get to mass with her.  For some reason I thought everything (at least the music) would be in Latin, but nothing was!  In fact, when I told Sergio that, he kind of laughed at me for thinking that. :)  Everything was in Spanish, though.  Oh yeah, I forgot to say, one of the reasons Carmita invited us to go was because Carmita plays the guitar to accompany the choir and is also the choir director, Sergio sings in the choir and also plays a percussion instrument, and they were singing in mass today.  I was really impressed!  They were good! and also tiny - the choir only had like, six people in it.  They were really good, though.  And the music was fun - it reminded me of Christian music you'd hear on the radio.  


Speaking of things being different than I expected - mass was completely different than I thought it would be! As was the church. I wish I'd taken a picture, but that would've been awkward since it was people's actual church service. Instead of looking like the stereotypical Catholic cathedral, it instead looked like a big gray contemporary building and the inside was all white with hardly any statues, paintings, or stained glass.  When you walk in, instead of being in the chapel part like cathedrals I've been in, you're in a hallway where you can pick up a program and stuff.  Also, Carmita showed us afterwards, down the hall from there are a bunch of boxes in the wall that contain people's ashes.  I wasn't really sure how I felt about that.


When the service first started, I'll be honest, I felt a little creeped out by everything.  Well, when it first first started, I thought it was cool, but after a couple of minutes I started to feel a little creeped out.  It was all so different from what I'm used to.  As time went by, though, I was able to appreciate how they worship.  You can tell that the people like Carmita really believe the gospel and are trying to be the best they can be, and if they know an imperfect way to do that, well, at least you can tell that they're doing all they know how to do to be worship God.  After taking communion there's a part where you can unfold your little knee bench and pray (kind of like how people ponder after the sacrament in our church), which Carmita did, and my heart was touched at that part as I realized that some people just don't know the best way yet, but that doesn't mean that what they're doing is creepy or that it can't help them get closer to Heavenly Father.  Anyway. Those are my thoughts on the mass :)


When we got home, we were home for the night.  I finished up my paper by 11 and then just got finished having a hilarious conversation on our group's page on fb :)  It's things like that that make me wish sometimes that we could speak English to each other - I feel like I would be way better friends with some people if I spoke English instead of Spanish with them, but oh well - I'm here to improve my Spanish and am still friends with people, so it's okay :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday: Celestún

Today we had an excursion to Celestún, which is a beach town.  We left at 9:00 and about two hours later, we arrived!  The bus pulled up to a restaurant that we walked through to get to the beach directly behind it... where boats were waiting to take us on a fun boat tour!  In my boat were Adrienne, Emma, Jen, Cassy, Christina, and Michelle.  It took a little bit to get started, but once we did it was so cool!  All day i kept thinking, "Is this real?!"  We rode around the coast and stopped at different points to see things.  When we first got started, I saw a dolphin jump out of the ocean!  I couldn't believe it, it was so awesome!  It was super fast, so most people didn't even see it - I felt really lucky!




One of the places we stopped at: Our guide called it a resting spot for birds.  It's just a little jutting-out of land where a bunch of birds (including pelicans! how cool!) were standing around.


Another part we stopped at: There were a bunch of poles sticking out of the water that they all were standing on. This is like a dream!



Our guide told us that the place we were at was where the river empties into the ocean, so right before the birds on poles we started leaving the ocean and going up the river.


WE SAW A WILD FLAMINGOS!  People had told me that there were flamingos here but not very many during this time of year, so it was my "goal" to see a flamingo while we were in Celestún and then I did!  We didn't get to get very close because of the boats, but I couldn't believe how awesome it all was!


At one point our guide made this kind of sharp turn and then we went back into this river thing that wandered through these cool trees!  It was like we were in a forest from National Geographic or something!  He also told us that sometimes you could see crocodiles in there.... yikes!



We got out of the forest and went up the river a little more before we stopped at this dock thing... where our guide told us we could get out and swim in a little pool that was in the forest.  One of the girls said, "I thought you said there were crocodiles in there," and he said, "I told them to leave."  Yikes!  It took a long time before I was brave enough to get in!  Plus the other people who there (there were families and stuff) all looked freezing cold and it wasn't that hot outside.  Also the water was really nasty.  Well. Not as nasty as that nasty pond we swam in that one time in Iowa - I always compare nasty ponds to that one.  Anyway, Jen didn't want to get in, either, so we just jumped in at the same time.  The temperature was perfect!  But it was gross water.  I kept my sandals on because I didn't want to touch the ground in there...


After swimming we rode back to the restaurant where they had showers to clean off with!  It was soooooo nice.  After we showered off, we ate lunch/dinner.  First they gave us an appetizer - each person got a plate of tuna that looked just like out-of-a-can :) and the table got a few baskets of chips that tasted exactly like extra thick Fritos to eat with it.  It wasn't bad!  For dinner you could either choose chicken or fish, and normally I would choose chicken, but this place is famous for having excellent fish, so i decided to try it.  It was amazing!  The densest, least-fishy fish I've ever had!  It was delicous. It also came with some rice, a little bit of mashed potatoes, and some steamed vegetables. Delish!



For dessert I had peaches and cream (interesante: the canned peaches here are firmer than in the U.S. but have a very similar flavor) and then it was back out to the beach! I didn't swim, though; I wasn't in the mood to be wet for the bus ride home.  Instead I walked down the beach to a pier and looked for shells, and I found a really cool, perfect conch shell!  Just sitting on top of the sand!  It was so awesome.  When we got to the pier we walked around a little but it was kind of gross - that's where they fish and there were a bunch of dead fish all over and I didn't have sandalias.  Yuck!  I decided to walk back to the restaurant and look to see if there were any other cool ones, and I found a crab claw or part of something's jaw - I can't tell if it's just spine-things or teeth on it.  AND another perfect conch shell!  that I LITERALLY tripped over!  It was so cool :) This girl named Christine was walking with me and didn't find any of them, so I let her have one.  She picked the prettier one, but oh well - the one i have is the one I tripped over :)

Well, it turned out to be perfect timing because when I got back to the restaurant, it was more or less time to leave.  So back on the bus we got for a couple hours and came home.  A man from the ward named David had invited us to go to his house and swim and eat pizza for dinner but ended up getting postponed, so we just came home.  After a while Jill decided to go see a movie with some friends but I stayed home because...

So I woke up feeling weird this morning - swollen lymph nodes, hurty throat, etc.  And I thought, "That's kind of weird - this is not usually part of my normal cold progression. Oh well, it must just be because I just woke up and things are sometimes worse when I wake up."  As the day went by, the symptoms did not get better (although sometimes I didn't notice them so much because I was busy being distracted by the beauty that was Celestún:) and on the bus ride home, I zonked out.  I knew I wanted to rest so when I sat down I decided to try and take a nap... and was OUT for an hour and a half.  And for the last half hour I kept my eyes closed except every once in a while so I could see where we were.  Yeah. It was terrible.  My throat was swollen; I couldn't breathe without coughing and every single breath was an effort; my skin hurt to touch; I could tell i had a fever and cold chills; I was so tired I felt like I was melting into the chair and that my upper eyelids were becoming one with my lower ones.  Every part of my body screamed "FLU!"  So I decided to stay home when Jill went out tonight and sleep some more.



As I was sleeping on the bus, I was made more acutely aware of each symptom as there was nothing to distract me from them anymore and became a little overwhelmed.  I didn't want to be sick in Mexico, but especially not when I had to finish an 8-10 page paper before Sunday started and had a presentation and paper to prepare for Wednesday, too.  So I decided while I was half-asleep that maybe I would ask for a blessing. I was thinking about how I could invite Carmita to listen and felt the Spirit at that point, so I decided it would be good. When I got home, Jill got right in the shower and I called Joel and cried to him about overwhelmed, frustrated, and sick I was feeling - have I ever mentioned that I have the best husband in the world? - and then sent an email to my friends to see if they were available to come give me a blessing.  


They had to eat dinner and stuff so I basically just zoned out/listened to church music/went in and out of consciousness :) until they came.  It was kind of cool because Carmita was going to go out and buy dinner but for whatever reason decided to buy delivery, which she has never done before since we've been here, so she was here and wanted to listen in.  One explained to her what blessings are, about the oil and the priesthood, etc., and the other did the blessing part.  


I am so thankful for the priesthood and for blessings.  Some twenty minutes after they left, my fever - which had been raging, mind you - was gone. I didn't have to cough at all during the blessing so I got to hear it all.  Carmita made me this random "natural medicine" concoction of lime, honey and water to drink. She said it helps close my throat? or something, I'm not sure. And then told me to make sure I take warm showers until I get better.  It was actually really funny - she said, "You use cold showers when you shower" "Yeah, usually," "No, you always do" "Yeah, that's true - it helps me feel cleaner"  ... HOW DID SHE KNOW THAT?  Weird.


I was kind of stressing tonight about finishing my paper, but I prayed/thought towards Heavenly Father my concerns because I had to do homework last Sunday and didn't want to again, but I felt like He said it would be fine and the important thing was that I go to sleep.  So I thankfully am going to sleep.  Carmita doesn't want me to take the bus to church tomorrow because :) if I walk outside in the heat and get sweaty then I'll get worse, so she said that if I decide to go to church tomorrow then she'll take us.  She also told me I should go to church because if I don't, I won't have as much of a chance to think about what they said in my blessing. Wow!  How cool, huh!  It was a really amazing missionary experience, that blessing was. A while after they left, I was drinking my drink and eating cena (pizza that tasted like real pizza!) and she asked me a question clarifying that "only men can have the little container of oil" and I got to explain to her about that, about how you also can get blessings for emotional help in addition to health, and about how they're special because it's like, a special way to receive the word of God as it concerns you.  And it was neat, also, because the boys told her that anyone can receive blessings so if she ever needs one, to feel free to ask.  Isn't that great?  Wouldn't that be a great missionary experience if she asked for one while we were here sometime?  That would be so amazing - I always feel the Spirit so strongly during blessings.

Anyway, I guess I should get to bed - I am getting over being sick, after all!  Have a good night all; I'll talk to you tomorrow :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday: Yaxcopoil

Hola! No school! Yay!  Instead, a group of us decided to go to Uman and the hacienda Yaxcopoil.  It was so cool!  I have been really excited to go to an hacienda, so it was really neat.  For those of you who don't know, an hacienda is basically like the Mexican version of a plantation - a giant farm where the owners are rich and live in a huge and beautiful house and have slaves or practically-slaves work everything.  There is usually a tiny town next door where the workers lived.  For this trip, we met at Sanjuanistas Park and then walked over to take a bus to the Centro.  On the way up, I got brave enough to sit by a native person even when there were other open seats!  :) His name was José.  We talked about music and how great it is (he plays the piano and the organ... and maybe the flute? I can't remember), and then we talked about how great talents are, how they're gifts from God and we need to not be ashamed to share them with others.  Turns out he works as a masseur and he gave me a sweet hand/forearm massage on the way to the centro! To answer your question, yes, it was a little weird at first. He was like 50. But once he started it felt soooo good and it wasn't weird anymore :) At the end of the bus ride he was going to give me his name and phone number in case I need help with anything while I'm here, but my pen wasn't working so he couldn't. Que triste... :)  

On the second bus I also sat by someone I didn't know! His name was Jesús.  So it's kind of hard for me sometimes to hear people on the bus because it's so noisy, and that happened with Jesús today.  As a result, he thought I didn't really speak Spanish, which is always a little frustrating.  Oh well.  It was fun anyway!  


combi!
Uman is a pretty small city and that's where we caught the next bus to the hacienda... only we got to take a combi!  (It functions essentially like a bus but it's the size of a van so it doesn't hold as many people.  They also cost a little more - two pesos.) They always drive around but I kind of thought you had to be in a special group to take them. Turns out you don't!  It was exciting :) 


the "front door" of the hacienda
After 15-20 minutes in the combi we got to Yaxcopoil, which is the hacienda we were going to.  Right next to it was this tiiiiny little pueblo that I took some pictures of :) The hacienda was cool!  The insides of the buildings were decorated with furniture from the time (17th century) and the outside was kind of taken care of but also there were plants growing all over.  I spent the first little while walking around the buildings and taking pictures - Cassy and I decided it would be a good set for a horror movie with all the old stuff :) - and then it was nice to just be able to walk around by myself.  


I love the colors in Mexico!
I walked all around the hacienda and found an old-looking functioning pump thing, some horses, some cows, and an iguana!  It was really pretty there.  Joel, you would've loved the cows... except they were so skinny I thought they were goats at first!  


poor skinny cows.
That was a little weird. I found a man who worked there and asked if the hacienda still functioned in any way, because why else would there be cows and places that looked like functioning gardens?  I must not have said it right because he answered a "what are the cows for?" question. :)  That's the part that didn't make sense, though - he told me they kept the cows to fatten for meat... but those were the skinniest cows in the world!  Maybe they're on a diet :)


me and the hacienda!
When we back to Uman, we saw the missionaries!  It's so exciting to see them here; this was my second time.  Then everyone bought these weird-looking banana ice things and I bought a tasty cantaloupe popsicle from a vendor in the park and we all split up for an hour.  


These tricycle-taxis are everywhere in Uman!
My group went to get some lunch at a place called La Margarita and I ordered two tamales.  They only cost $10 each!  (less than $2US total)  Normally I don't love tamale masa but I decided to try some authentic tamales and they were pretty good. Decent.  I didn't love or finish them, but I'll say this - the masa is different here! Or at least, it was there. Instead of being kind of grainy and corny, it was closer to a gelatinous texture (but was not gelatinous).  It's kind of hard to explain.  I would never order them again from that place, but they were alright.  I didn't take a picture because I wasn't in the mood until I was full and then I didn't even want to look at them anymore :)  Not bad for $1.70US!  

When we got back to the centro, a couple of us went to the market but weren't really in the mood to stay so we headed home after not too long. I was so ready to rest! And was super-thirsty.  I took my big 1.5L bottle almost full and drank it all. 

We have a paper due on Monday 8-10 pages.  Yuck!  Instead of going to the hacienda, Jill decided to go to the school and use the library to focus on her homework better, but I decided to just stay home Friday night and do it.  I was really curious and excited about the hacienda, so I didn't mind staying home Friday night instead of going out.  I didn't get as much done as I would've liked, but it was still pretty good.  I was going to work on/finish my paper and then watch the Hannah Montana movie (it's the only movie I have on my computer and Netflix doesn't work here :) but I ran out of time for the movie. Maybe tomorrow after Celestún!