Guerrero, Mexico

The girls taking the public transportation to the swimming pool with their cousins. (February 2015)

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Erika picking out pan dulce at our favorite panaderia. (January 2015)

Bend, Oregon, United States

Our family photo taken in Drake Park with all three of my daughters (October 2014)

San Francisco, California, United States

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top of Twin Peaks (July 2015)

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Exploring the ruins of Palenque during our Great Mexican Road Trip. (May 2014)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Life in Mexico

Hello my name is Erika. I am 11 years old and I am going to tell you about my Mexico life. Mexico is not what I thought it would be. It is easier than I thought. But there are a few hard things.The hard things are flushing the toilet with a bucket of water, getting sick a lot, not understanding what everybody says, seeing all the poor dogs on the street, and this is the hardest missing my family and friends. I like Mexico so far it has been fun seeing all the new things and learning Spanish. I don't have any friends here except for my cousins because I am not allowed out of the metal gate in front of their yard unless I am with an adult because I could get hurt or stolen.My cousins names if you were wondering are Ilse 20 years old, Fernanda 16 years old, and Lalo 14 years old and that's it. I have been here for a month and it has been super fun. My mom got me the coolest bed it is a work place at the bottom and a bed at the top. We painted it green and blue it looks really pretty. My mom bought me and my sister Mia each a glass fuzzy pig mine is brown with a white stripe down the middle. Mia's is orangish pink with dark orange ears. We put them on our tables under our bed. They are so cute. I have two dogs named Boi and Rocket they are doing fine except they keep biting my cousin's dog Terry. There is a graveyard we go to because my aunt Isabel's husband died because he had diabetes. I have to be really careful when I get water from the cement box were we keep our water because if my hands are dirty I could get everybody in the house sick and if my hands are soapy and I get it in the bucket I could kill everybody and that would not be good. There are also lots of flies and spiders one night while my mom was on her computer a spider walked across her face. On Sundays we go to the market to buy fruit and veggies like apples, oranges lots of oranges to make orange juice, we also buy bananas sometimes I find two bananas in one peel its really funny. We buy lots of other fruit like pineapple, watermelon and much more. Well that's it for my life in Mexico until next week. BYE. There are a few pictures of my bed and double bananas.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday is Market Day

Now that I'm "retired", I don't really pay attention to the days of the week as they all tend to run together, all except Sunday that is. On Sundays, you load up into the car and you drive to the mercado (market) to buy all of your fruits and vegetables for the week. I will try to describe it to the best of my abilities but you really have to be there to get the full blast of smells and colors and textures of thousands of people crowded under stretched tarps hawking their wares while you squeeze through people trying to find the best value for your peso. I will calculate the weight in standard and metric and use a current exchange rate of 13.23 pesos to the dollar as that is what I got when I pulled cash out of the ATM yesterday.
All the traffic trying to fit into the one lane into the mercado
Since you are only shopping once a week, you have to plan your menu and buy enough to last. If you run out of something, you can always walk to the corner market or supermarket but chances are you're going to pay twice as much as that is a luxury for most people. We usually spend about 500 pesos at the mercado which is $37.79 this week. Mexico runs on the metric system where a kilo equals 2.2 pounds so I'm constantly calculating in my head if it's a good price based on my US shopping experience and I need to stop that but it's habit!

Refrigeration does not exist in the mercado 
Today we bought:
  • 6kg/13.25lb of loose bananas for 48MXP/$3.62USD
  • 3kg/6.6lb of medium avocados for 45MXP/$3.40USD
  • 6kg/13.25lb of red potatoes for 50MXP/$3.77USD
  • 4kg/8.8lb of roma tomatoes for 20MXP/$1.51USD
  • 2kg/4.4lb of tomatillos for 10MXP/$0.75USD
  • 3kg/6.6lb of carrots for 10MXP/$.075USD
  • 1.5kg/3.3lb of small avocados for 15MXP/$1.13USD
  • 1kg/2.2lb of strawberries for 20MXP/$1.51USD
  • 4kg/8.8lb of yellow apples for 50MPX/$3.77USD
  • 72 oranges for 40MXP/$3.02USD
  • 1kg/2.2lb of black beans for 14MXP/$1.06USD
  • Small pineapple for 10MXP/$0.75USD
  • 2kg/4.4lb of green beans for 10MXP/$0.75USD
  • 2kg/4.4lb of cucumbers for 12MXP/$0.91USD
  • 3kg/6.6lb of mandarins for 15MXP/$1.13USD
  • 8kg watermelon for 43MXP/$3.25USD
  • 2kg/4.4lb of mangoes for 15MXP/$1.13USD
  • 4kg/8.8lb of jicama for 20MXP/$1.51USD
  • 2kg/4.4lb of grapefruit for 15MXP/$1.13USD
  • 3kg/6.6lb of mandarins for 20MXP/$1.51USD
  • 1 papaya for 13MXP/$0.98USD
  • Total expenses for fresh produce 546.50MXP/$41.31USD
    Shopping carts don't exist in the mercado, you carry everything.
    Tables are loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables for the picking.
    The mercado isn't just full of fruits and vegetables though, You can find just about anything you want there from woven baskets to drill bits to fresh cut flowers. There is not just one entrance to the market either, it covers thousands of feet and just flows in and out of every spare inch available. It starts early in the morning and lasts until the lights go out. And then everything disappears (with a lot of hard work) and it turns into an empty parking lot until next Sunday.
    Fresh plucked chicken anyone?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 42: 6 Weeks in Exile

In the beginning, I thought I would have all of this free time and I'd write in my journal every day and keep track of every little thing that happened on this journey of ours. Right now I don't even know where I placed my damn journal and I'm weeks behind. I hope you'll bear with me as this first post has got to be the hardest post. I'm a scrapbooker so I have taken a thousand pictures along the way so that is how I'll share the journey down here until I get some kind of groove going on.

On the outside, I look calm, cool, and collected. I've had 40 years to perfect the image so if I don't have it down pat by now, chances are it will never happen. Inside, I'm a roller coaster that goes from panic attacks where I'm hugging concrete walls in tears to relaxing on my bed beside my husband and I feel content. You just can't predict this life and I'm not going to try. Don't sweat the small stuff, right? After leaving the snow in Central Oregon, all I've been doing is sweating here!

First off, I do not want anyone's pity for our situation. My husband was NOT deported, we left voluntarily. If you are just joining my story, I'll give you the cliff notes. I served my country for 9 years, 9 months, and 22 days in the Oregon Army National Guard. I left behind my infant 4 month old daughter to serve in Iraq for a year in 2003. I sacrificed for my country and never asked why. I was patriotic and I wanted to serve and protect my family. Fast forward 10 years and I am still suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Loud noises like firecrackers and backfires give me panic attacks, I fight depression and suicide by trying to be a positive person and travel the world and scrapbook; these are my forms of personal therapy because the VA drugs scare me. I use them but I don't want to be dependent on them for the rest of my life. I have been blessed with three very beautiful daughters who mean the world to me (all mothers say that right? I hope so!) My oldest daughter has stayed behind in Oregon with my family as she is now a grown adult who will be 21 years in just a few weeks. I am accompanied here by my daughter Erika 11 and our daughter Mia 6. I met my husband Jose in 2006, we married in 2009, and began this immigration journey in 2010. I'll explain more about our legal journey as we go along.

My husband Jose left the United States on Monday January 6th and flew to Ciudad Juarez so he could attend his consular appointment on January 9th, 2014. He has a 10 year immigration ban due to current immigration law but he is eligible to apply for the I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Once this waiver has been submitted and the $585 fee is paid, it is a waiting game for approximately 6-8 months while you wait in limbo to find out if you will get to go home or not. I sacrificed one year of my life without my family in Iraq, I won't do it again. There is no way to go back and make up for all that missed time. I don't judge those who aren't able to accompany their spouses because we are all on our own journey. So I quit my nice cushy state job that I really liked, gave up the security we had, packed up the house and stored everything in the garage, and found family to house-sit while we are gone.

So here I find myself, sitting beside my husband while he watches fútbol on the TV and the girls play on their Kindles while I surf around on Facebook. On the surface, it feels just like home. Except in the background you can hear the sounds of the four other people you live with now, your internet creeps at a snail's pace and costs you twice as much as back home, your floor is a rough concrete slab, and the neighbors behind you are holding band practice again, just like every night this week. You're together though and that is all that matters.


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