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)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life in Mexico: Part 4 (Xochimilco)

On Saturday March 22, we went to Xochimilco ( so-chi-mil-co ) for a boat ride. It was awesome. We went on it to go to the Island of the Dolls. We had to take a two hour car ride to get to the boats. When we got on the boats, we had to be on the boat for five hours. I am going to tell you about the boat ride. When we got on, Mia and I looked at the water and it was really deep and had a lot of seaweed in it. There was not a bathroom on the boat but the guy who steered it stopped for the bathroom on the way. The guy who steered the boat had to use a long stick to push us along. We grabbed stuff like seaweed, sticks, and leaves.

 I grabbed a big stick and started paddling too like the guy with the big stick
My mom made potato salad for lunch and it was yummy. The people that went on the boat were my Aunt Maria, Jesus, Leticia, Uncle Victor, Jose, my Mom, Grandma Sara, Concha, Adriana, Mia, me, Martin, Victor Jose, Angel, and Gael. I had so much fun on the boat. We got to see lots of cool stuff on the ride to the Island of the Dolls.
My aunt paid 100 pesos for different people in boats to play music
Everyone was dancing on the front of the trajinera
When we were almost done, there was a thing that made you go over a brick wall. We got to go up but we did not get to go over, we had to get off and then go around and then get back on to keep going.
The boat lift
Isla de las Muñecas
On the way, we saw a little version of Island of the Dolls. It was not all dolls, it had stuffed animals too at the little version of Island of the Dolls. Mia and I sat on the part that goes up the whole time almost. My aunt liked to take lots of pictures to put on Facebook. She even took a few pictures of four kids in a boat that were catching fish. They only had three fish. We finally got to the Island of the Dolls and it was kinda scary because there were dolls hanging in trees and in the bushes and hanging from the house. CREEPY! My mom did not let us go inside because it was expensive. So we ate lunch in the boat and we also gave the boat guy some food and drinks. We headed back to where we started. We got to the beginning and I was sad because I did not want to get off because it was so much fun. Bye! There are pictures at the bottom of the page. Adios!
On the way back, there was a guy selling plants so Mia and I each got a little plant. It was so cute. 
I got to do an art project about the boat. I made it with popsicle sticks, markers, hot glue, Elmer's glue, and craft foam. It is really cool there will be a picture of it at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Xochimilco, Trajineras, y La Isla de las Muñecas

You can find my complete blog post over at Xochimilco and la Isla de las Muñecas

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fútbol Game Etiquette

So last night was my first experience going to a major league fútbol (soccer) here in México. I went to see Cruz Azul play against the Portland Timberwolves while Erika was still in my tummy, about 12 years ago. Then again in March 2012, José and I drove down to San Francisco to see México play against Paraguay. That was my first experience with flying objects. Latinos are very passionate about their fútbol, it flows in their blood. Even the city kids grow up playing fútbol on any square of dirt that can be found. At the game in California, they were throwing empty soda cups and rolls of toilet paper but it is still nervewracking as hell for flying objects to come flying down from the upper bleachers. I was really worried about what was going to happen at a game right in Mexico. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the only things that were hurtled around were obscenities. Erika and Mia are still learning Spanish and I have taught them a lot of the curse words because I don't want them to make a mistake and use any in mixed company, etc. When the goalie for the opposing team kicks the ball out of his zone, the whole stadium shouts out in unison, "PUTO." This is a slang curse word for whore or slut, a derivative of prostituto or prostitute. This lasted the whole game without fail. José can't explain why they do it, just that it is done at every stadium and every game across Mexico. Funny how you miss out on these quaint little details while watching on your big flatscreen TV. The lady sitting in the row directly behind me also expanded my profanity vocabulary by using a combination of choice words that I hadn't heard put together in quite that way before. It is my belief that profanity does not have the same shock value in Mexico as children grow up hearing it from birth. I like to think that I walk the middle road as often as possible. I've never been comfortable with the F word. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, there are so many other words out there to choose from and the F word is completely overused in today's society. Erika and Mia have decided to use the word "cacahuate" when they are mad or frustrated at someone because they like the way the word rolls off their tongue. It means peanut, literally.

The next part of my education about Mexican fútbol surrounds the stadium and its systems. First off, the average worker in Mexico makes in the ballpark of 100 pesos a day ($8) depending on what part of the country they live in. For our sake, let's translate that out to $100/day. are you going to spend two days salary to attend a fútbol game? Trying to get tickets for this game was probably the biggest joke of the century. Ticket sales don't open until 7-10 days before the game, usually on a Monday. Since we live 3 hours from the stadium, we sent money to his sister to go pick up the tickets for us. On Ticketmaster, they charge you an additional 39$ pesos for every ticket so that adds us quickly when you're buying 6 tickets. It already costs about 180$ pesos for each ticket which is just about two days wages. Maria goes down to the stadium to find out that there is no ticket booth anymore for the Cruz Azul games. Everything is being sold through Ticketmaster. So someone high up in the organization has some kind of personal interest in Ticketmaster and is fattening their pockets at the cost of the common people. So she had to go to the local supermarket and find a Ticketmaster booth so that we could pay an additional 234$ pesos for our tickets, more than two days wages for a service that is not needed. The ticket agent told her that we were getting great seats down below so we told ourselves that the extra money was worth it.

When we arrived, we were lucky enough to find parking in the street just outside the stadium for only 100$ pesos, another day's wages. The streets leading up to the stadium were lined with police in full riot gear. I don't think I have ever seen so many law enforcement officials in one area before in my life. There were another dozen officers located at each entrance. Inside the stadium, we find out that we actually bought tickets for the nosebleed section...
We hadn't bought a ticket for our BIL Victor who drove us out there so we sent him to buy one off a street vendor and he paid 200$ as opposed to our 219$ and he got a seat down on the VERY BOTTOM where he could see everything. There are no concession stands inside the stadium either. You take your seat and there is a Coke and beer vendor within an arm's throw from any seat. 70$ pesos for two bottles of beer poured into a Coke cup or 25$ for a can of Coke. I noticed that the beer hawkers were pouring one Tecate and one Tecate Light into the cups that they were taking around to sell. Jose thinks they did this because very few people drink the light and the distributor needs to get rid of it. I thought they did this maybe to lower the blood alcohol content in the spectators. If someone came up to order a beer personally, they used two of the regular Tecate beers. The rows are literally back to back and there is no room to walk down the row except for this 3 inch wide lip so you're depending on excellent balance or the kindness of strangers to hold your hand as you maneuver into place.
Food vendors literally come to you, over and over again offering a range of snacks from potato chips (30$) to paletas/popsicles (20$) to hot dogs (45$). We settled for two Cokes and Chicken Cup of Soups (25$) for the girls. I could see the cotton candy vendor working his way through the lower sections but he never made it up to the nosebleed section.

There is an official section for the team fans called the "porra". They bring their drums and noisemakers and balloons and what have you not and they sit at the far end of the stadium. The entire walkway from top to bottom and along the sides is lined with police in riot gear. These fans are the ones known to get out of control and wreak havor depending on how the game goes or how the arbitro is calling the game. Several of them took off their shirts to wave around when they weren't hopping up and down chanting something. I would like to think that we are fans but not to that extent. While we were heading into the stadium, we did indulge the kids and get them lots of fan gear like a cushion seat for 10$, new playeras (jerseys) for $150, rabbit ears for 10$ since that is the team mascot, and tattoos on their cheek for 5$ and a small flag to wave around for 10$. Cruz Azul won 2-1 against the Tijuana Xolos so we went home a happy family.

We'll be going back on Wednesday to see them play against Kansas City. Rumor is that it's all general seating for 50$ so we'll see how that goes!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Life in Mexico: Part 3

The 5 Senses
I am doing the five senses because there were a few questions about them and it will explain a lot about Mexico so that is why I am doing the five senses.

Sight: Well I see a lot of  cactus and garbage. It is kinda dirty. There are also a lot of stray dogs but it is also pretty in some parts and sometimes in Tlaxcala I see people who speak English and it is pretty cool. I see ice cream stands all over we get one once a month because it is expensive it is called Ricas Nieves [ Good Ice Cream] and it is really good.

Sound: It is noisy sometimes because there are these cars that go by selling and they have loud speakers that say what they are selling and it is annoying. There is also loud music that is playing sometimes.  When we take walks it sounds like jibber jabber because I have no idea what they are saying here are also a lot of barks from dogs and sometimes I hear fireworks and it scares me because it is loud.

Smell: Well it smells like fried food all the time like Tacos, Chicken, and all sorts of other meat. When I take a walk it smells like the sewer and garbage all over the street. It smells like chiles that burns my throat and eyes. And at market it smells like fruit and it smells really good.

Taste: The food here is pretty good I like the Tinga and the Quesadillas the most. My mom still makes American foods every Thursday. YUMMY! At breakfast they eat enchiladas and heavy foods and I usually eat  a bowl of cereal and when I see them I think how can they eat that. And it is the same with  lunch they eat something heavy and I eat a peanut-butter and jelly but we all eat the same stuff for dinner.

Touch:  Some things feel different like when you touch the grass it feels different because it is now not as earthy it is dry. When you pick something up to weigh it is different because you weigh it with kilos not pounds. My clothes feel different when they come off the drying line because they feel crumbly and dry but after a while they feel regular.

                                       That is all for the five senses    Bye   Adios

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homesick and Children

This post wasn't planned but the idea has been carried with me for several years now. My children don't know what it's like to be homesick. They've never been away from their home for more than a week or two while we were on vacation or off camping. We've been gone for two months now and although we are settling in and adjusting to this new lifestyle, it is still hard on the girls. It's easy during the day to mask the loneliness and homesickness but nighttime seems to bring it back in full force.

Erika and Mia share a full size bed on top of their fancy new hideaway but they only sleep there if they are together. Neither one of my girls will sleep alone if there is any other breathing soul available in the house. Sometimes one of them will slip off to sleep with one of their cousins, usually Erika, which leaves Mia to creep into bed with José and I. And I have absolutely no problem sharing my bed with my children. I am all about attachment parenting before they even had a name for it. This last weekend, Erika was going to sleep with her cousins, as they share a bed too, but she crept back into our room just after midnight because she was scared. Ilse and Fernanda had already fallen asleep and she still lie awake with a million thoughts running through her 11 year old mind and she couldn't fall asleep out there.

Tonight Mia fell asleep early on our bed and José moved her up into their bed just before midnight, this is no easy feat as she is easily 60 pounds now and the bed is our height. Erika came back to our room soon afterwards and climbed up into bed after getting her kisses and hug. She is afraid that she won't want to return to Mexico after we go home for the summer. Of course, staying behind isn't an option for me. I left behind my country to keep my family together, not divide ourselves. She started crying softly into her pillow and it breaks my heart. I know that I'm doing the right thing but it's hard to see the big picture from a child's point of view. Erika only knows that we've left behind everything that was near and dear to her and thrust her into an unknown world that can be frightening at times. As Americans that speak English, I have to be sure she is always in my sight and try to not draw attention to ourselves. We live in a relatively safe area but I have a very beautiful young lady on my hands and she is almost ripe pickings in these parts. The teenage boys in the market are already making eyes at her and I can't carry a shotgun here!

She is stuck in this age between a child and a preteen and it's hard on her. She loves all your comments on Facebook and Blogger when she writes her blog posts so please keep them coming. I am doing a combination of homeschool and unschool with the girls so her weekly blog posts are a part of her English grammar and composition class. Feel free to ask her any kind of questions as it helps her develop themes and topics and plan out her next writings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life in Mexico: Part 2

Well I am going to talk about what I do in the day. I usually play with my Lego's then eat breakfast I usually eat Choco Krispies. Then we go shopping and I do not like it we have to do it most every day. UGG! On Sundays we go to market to buy fruit. I like market though. Then we come back and eat lunch we usually have peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Then I play for a few hours. Some things I play are Lego's, American Girl dolls, Barbies because my sister likes them,and we play with our dogs and and that's about it. Then we eat dinner and on Thursday it is our day to make food and this Thursday we are making shepherds pie it is not actually pie. Then after dinner we walk to the panaderia which I am going to tell you about. We go at about nine o-clock I really like the conchas but I also like to try new ones but all of them that I get are yummy. I am going to talk about walking to the panaderia. Well it is dark and scary we have to walk a few blocks. We bring our dogs but we have to be careful not to get them near other dogs because they might get fleas and that would not be good. But when we get to the panaderia they are usually making it smells really good in there. YUM! We get ten pieces for 35 pesos then we go home and eat them. And that is about it for what I do in the day until next time. GOODBYE or ADIOS in Spanish.


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