Monday, January 31, 2011

Bernal

Readers, its seems like it has been a little while since I last posted. There is obviously more than one interpretation as to why. Maybe I got hooked on a new website that shows me random sites that I am interested in. Or maybe I have simply had a full plate and didn't have the time to post.

On Saturday, I went on a trip with a group of students from Tec (many many foreign exchange students), to the 3rd largest rock in the world. It is only an hour north of Queretaro. At the base of the rock, there is a town. Obviously, the town was there before the rock. No wait, that the other way around. I was thinking about someone from Bernal giving someone directions to their place--"Just go north until you see the big rock, you can't miss it." How handy.

Obviously we were at the site of the world's 3rd largest rock. The only logical thing to do is to climb it. Ismael and myself were the first to reach the first point that we stopped at. Give it up for team America! (I should have taken the French guys up on their bet.)

Obviously, we weren't going to simply stop, we had to push the limits a bit. If you look in this picture, you can see Jirka (half human from Czeck Republic, half mountain goat). This picture gives you some perspective of how much higher this rock is. I decided to live to die another day and just chilled for a bit.

We got back down, walked into town, and ate black corn gorditas. A gordita is kind of like a tortilla in the shape of a pita bread. They are hollow and then you put whatever you want inside. They were way to delicious. I could have stayed and continued eating gorditas, but service was a little slow and I wanted to see the rest of the town.

We walked around and there was a cool church, a really cool garden, and some cool shops. I have some pictures and actually thought I had uploaded at least one. Looks like I failed. After we got done, we hopped on the bus and headed back home. Bernal conquered!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 26th






My plan is to have these pictures in more or less chronological order. I have progressed in my blogging skills to maybe being able to get this done.

I started out the day by sleeping in a little late. I stayed up late so I got around 9 hours of sleep. I ate some cheerios, had a banana, etc. We got to school at around 11:20 and I worked on some stuff/talked with some people until a 12:15 meeting with a professor.

After I got done with that, I decided to go for a stroll outside of the Tec de Monterrey perimeter. The whole idea was to look for tacos but I didn't really find what I wanted. The street tacos are usually the best at night. I kept walking around, got slightly disoriented, self-corrected, talked with a couple cashiers at a Super Q about whether or not I am still young, etc.

I made it back to school in plenty of time for my 4:00 class. After class got over, I went with a couple friends to a local taco stand. It was awesome. We parted ways and I bought myself a coke. My plan was to try to catch a bus back to the house for the first time. I asked a security guard where to wait for the bus I needed. He told me one place so I went their. I kept asking people which bus they were waiting for but they were never waiting for the same one. I was directed to a couple of other bus stops before finding a guy headed somewhat in the same direction. I ended up taking his bus, riding until the end of the route, and being (I found out later) very far from home.

I didn't exactly have any idea of where buses would be and I didn't really want to pay for a taxi, so against all the wishes of everyone who has told me about Mexico, I began to walk home. I would walk in a direction for a while, ask someone if they knew where I was going, get new directions, do that for a while, ask again, etc. By the end, I found a road I was familiar with and made it back. The whole fiasco of getting home took close to an hour and a half. Next time I am getting on the correct bus. That is, if I figure out where it stops.

I made it back home and I found this banner on my mirror, and this little cake on my dresser. I proceeded to get ready for bed, slightly sad that my day was going to end. However, I got into a Facebook chat with some of my friends, which turned into a Skype chat. I couldn't always here what they were saying but via Skype, hand motions, head shakes, and yet more Facebook chat, I feel like we had a decent conversation. I ended up ending my day less than a half hour short of 12:00. I am now a little tired but it was definitely worth it.

Thanks everybody and I look forward to getting late birthday hugs from all of you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birthday Party

I'm not entirely sure what day's I'm dealing with here. I believe that these pictures are from Saturday evening. Anyway, it is the day following the first go-kart adventure. I threw in some new go-kart footage for viewing pleasure.

Bottom line, all of us ended up in the house again. Carla's sisters Gina and Claudia, and this time her brother came up from Mexico (the state but also the city) with his family to celebrate birthdays and collect their dog. Yes, Pixi is now gone from this household and has returned to live with her true owners.

We all kind of chilled for a while until someone decided it was time to dig into the deserts. Franco was really pushing hard to get something done because he wanted to go karting again. The candle on my cake says "veinte y tantos". This just means twenty and some. It is a joke to be used on much older people but I like it.

I more or less got my face pushed into the cake. But only marred a small piece of it. I ate the marred piece even though someone had taken a bite out of it. I threw in a picture of the flan as well. It was delicious too.

I share my birthday with Paulina. We put in her candle for her picture but put them both in to blow out the candles. We each only had one candle so it was much easier to put out than any sort of spacing of 21 candles. Even a 21 candle torch would have been much harder to put out than my one candle. My wish should be coming true this year. Finally!

After we got done karting, Ale told me that I'm the "Peor". That is to say that I am the worst. My interpretation is that I am actually the best and she is simply awed by my dominance on the go-kart track.

I met two more cousins, Elisa and Estafania. I was coming up behind Elisa on the track and she promptly tried to ramp the tire wall out of the track. It must have really been cramping her style and she simply wanted some freedom by driving in the parking lot. She didn't make it that far. (For those of you who are pointing fingers, I didn't touch her kart at all.)
video

My Characticture


Last night we went to a small restaurant and I ate one of Queretaro's specialties, Enchiladas Queretanos. They were very good. I had some the first week but they had a much more bitter taste. I am definitely a fan.

Ale was tired and was venting by being silly. Her and Hugo got into a huge drawing battle and it was actually really impressive. (I was in the corner drawing misshaped cubes.)

One of the products of this madness was a characticture (I am not sure if this is a word) representing my life in Queretaro. It is actually quite impressive the amount of subtle details that went into this picture. On the left side of the picture, you see me saying that I'm a ninja. I do so enjoy speaking very bad Spanish every now and then to get a reaction so I've become a "Merican". Say it to yourself in a southern accent. Soy Merican.

You may notice three girls peaking out from behind my head (they must be back some distance). The overall reaction is extremely positive to my appearance from the girls.

On the left side of the picture by my legs, I have been labeled as "El Coqueton". The flirt.

Obviously this is the artists interpretation of my life.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Skype


Due to the fact that I have no idea what it would cost to call home with my loaned Mexican sell phone, and having the information that Skype is completely free, I have been getting more and more familiar and comfortable with talking with my loved ones via Skype.

This is a screen shot of what I believe was last Saturday morning. This has to rank in my top ten for good communication (I am a very poor communicator). I have since forgotten how to take a screen shot. If anyone wants to chat via Skype, just look for Jay Fiechter, I believe I'm the only one. Give me a call if you catch me on. This goes for everyone except for my stalkers--you know who you are.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Night out with Cousins

I had just gotten back from school last night and was very tired. I was actually supposed to be sleeping but I hadn't quite gotten there yet. Carla's sister showed up with her kids and so I went down to see what was up.

I was promptly invited to go go-karting. Like a good American, I accepted the invitation. How could I refuse go-karting?

After waiting a while to leave (and talking with the family on Skype while supposedly getting my wallet, we headed out. We had to go to Claudia's house to change. Her kids were still in their school uniforms. After a while, we finally made it to the karts.

In the first picture, you can see most of the crew. Paulina was still driving in this picture. The girl in front of Franco is Miriam, Paulina's friend. This was the first time that Paulina was big enough to drive a kart by herself. Miriam was too small and they thought Giancarlo would drive too crazy.

Carlo rode with me and Miriam rode with Franco. Oh, Franco thought it was important that I had a hat so I borrowed one from him. He has hundreds. I introduced the family to almost 21-year-old-male-American go-karting.

Before leaving to go karting, I had asked Franco if we were allowed to bump. He said that we weren't technically allowed to (frowned upon). Needless to say, I may have gotten a little too bumpy on the track. I came up behind Paulina (in first) and Franco (in second) and was trying to pass Franco. I tapped him in a corner and he proceeded to crush Paulina into the corner. She hit the wall of tires hard enough to move half of the track. It was hilarious!

Everyone thought it was funny except for the track owners. Carlo loved going fast. We got done and he ran back onto the track and hopped into another kart. It was a riot.

We proceeded to go to a night market and I sampled some of Mexico's delicacies. Everything was fried and sugared heavily. How can you go wrong?

Friday, January 21, 2011

You have to love Mariachi

So. Last Friday, the International Programs office hosted a big welcome lunch. We did have to buy tickets but they were only 20 pesos. I ate a lot more than 20 pesos worth.

They had been telling us that there was going to be a big surprise for us if we went. We were pretty much done eating when low and behold, in comes a complete Mariachi band!

It was awesome. There may be a video of us all dancing on stage instead of this picture. We'll save that for a later post.


video
Chad, they are singing Guadalajara in this clip. I had to stop filming to join the massive train that is getting started in the end of this clip. After the train, we all got on stage and danced (pictured above).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Laundry Day



So, I thought long and hard about this post. I was trying to decide whether or not I should do it. The funny thing is, this is my blog, I'm willing to share, and if I lose any readership over the controversy, they didn't belong among my readers. Anyone who knows me at all should be okay with this post...I think.

I did not get my delicates in with the main bulk of my laundry. Carla did all the laundry on Saturday. I didn't know what batch to throw them down in and therefore, my delicates stayed dirty.

Today, I threw them in the washer and did things myself. After they were washed, I hung them on the laundry line. (Carla doesn't have a dryer but her sister does. She took all the clothes washed on Saturday to her sisters to dry.) I was amazed at how much space they took up on the line. This is clearly indication of the size of a certain nether region of my body.

I was taking them down when I realized how funny a picture of them hanging there would be. I went and grabbed my camera, put my clothing back on the line, and took a picture.

For those of you who didn't know before, I am clearly a boxer-brief kind of guy. I threw in a picture of my socks to show the difference in line space used. Everything felt very crispy coming off the line but they loosened up pretty well as I folded them.

Amy, I didn't think about a picture with me in it until just now. I thought about taking another picture and loading it but decided it wasn't worth it.

For any of you who are now emotionally scarred, tough.

A Day in Kindergarten



I had no picture for the subject of this post. Thus said, I chose a picture of my fellow exchange students. This is by far and large not near all of them. However, you can see the confusion, excitement, comradeship, and food that I share with these people. We have people from all over the world. Australia, France, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Italy, Canada, US, Argentina, Colombia, etc. They are great fun.

On to the subject of this post. On Tuesdays, I have only one class. That class happens to be at 7:00 in the morning. There are people who question my judgement when it comes to a 7:00 in the morning class. Believe me when I say that I have reasons for taking the class but when it comes to getting up to go to school, I have a hard time remembering them.

Regardless, I have the class and then I have all day to do whatever. Today, I went to school with Carla (my host mom). She is the coordinator for all the English taught in a bilingual school. It is considered a Kindergarten but encompasses 2-4/5 year olds. We walked into every classroom and Carla introduced me as her friend from the United States that wants to learn Spanish. She would then proceed to ask them if they thought they could help me. It was quite comical.

Every classroom played a song in English and sang it for me. I don't think I have ever had that many people sing for me in one day. The energy of young children is amazing. It is also amazing how shy they can become for no apparent reason. I probably need to realize that I am most likely bigger than most of their dads and that could be somewhat intimidating.

I walked into one class (most likely 3 year olds) and was immediately greeted by a little girl that blurted out "Que quapo!". For those of you who don't speak Spanish, that means "how handsome". I was asked about my favorite colors, movies, Indiana, the cold, etc. It is hilarious to hear what is important to children. In one classroom, 6 kids wanted to be astronauts, 5 wanted to be doctors, there was a policeman, a teacher, a ballerina, and Justin Bieber. They have big dreams.

Oh, and a kid invited me to his house to eat with him and his parents. I didn't go but I wasn't opposed. He was pretty cool.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Football Flag

A few of you (probably just Mom and Dad) know that I was invited to play flag football with Ale's uncle Paco this Sunday. I feel like I am a poor representation of American's in the fact that I'm not super good and I don't know every player on every team. Regardless, I was excited to play. On the way, I was really hoping that we weren't going to be playing on just bare dirt, I really didn't want to run around in the dust. I walked over a small rise to get to the field and this is what I saw...

Probably the nicest field I have ever played on! I don't believe I have ever had the opportunity to play on astro turf. Go figure, I would find some in Mexico.
This is Ale's uncle Paco (I think his real name is Federico--don't ask me). Our team name is the Pandas Gigantes. Paco said it is because everyone on the team has a big belly.
I borrowed some gloves from Franco (Paco's son). He is in the top photo, along with Spikey, the dog.
And here's the team. Funny thing, I'm not sure if we won or lost. There were a lot of maybe they scored, oh wait, something else happened, that went on. I played right linebacker. It was zone except for one play that we played mano y mano. I was on my guy like white on rice.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

La Casa

Once again, my pictures are in a very peculiar order. However, I will make do with what I have. Pictured above is a site that has been started since I have been here. Until this week, it was just a built up plateau of new dirt. They must have been letting it sit to settle. I'm thinking that it has been sitting for a while. This crew looks like they know what they are doing and everything looks very ship shape. (Check out their bathroom.)
This area is what you see when you first come through the gates. It is a large triangle of grass with a swing set etc. in the middle. It is surrounded on two sides by houses and on the third, a large concrete--yet pretty--wall. The concrete squares you see in the grass are for parking cars. It must be cheaper than pouring a full patio. I think that these parking spots are event parking.
This beautiful villa is attached to one that is currently being worked on. Directly to its right is the new lot from the first picture. To the left--actually attached--is current construction that is actually progressing. This feels very Mexico.
This is the new construction that is progressing. Notice the red brick house to its right? The second story walls were not up when I got here. I just walked through this house and it is very Mexican construction. Nothing pretty about it. (Check out their bathroom.)
Lastly, this is the house (casita) that I live in. It is set up like a duplex, attached to a house that looks identical. It is very comfortable, is always cool (so far) and is very modern. This entire community is gated in. I have a picture of the gate but I didn't have room in the upload page and I feel like I overloaded you guys with pictures of Tec. (Check out the palm tree right outside my window.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tec de Monterrey


I took a bunch of pictures of the campus so you guys could see what I am dealing with. I don't know where the pictures will end up but whatever. There is a picture of some bleachers, a statue of a ram and building 9. Building 9 is the gym, the bleachers are for taking group pictures, and I think our mascot is a Silver Ram.

There is another picture with the letters "ongresos." This is the cyber cafe area. It is open air, has picnic tables, and outlets everywhere. It is covered by a steel tent type thing and is really nice to work under.

One of these pictures shows a gate. The entire campus is fenced off and security guards stand by the gates 24/7 watching people go in and out. I still haven't figured out the system. Sometimes you just wave at the guy and other times he wants to see your id. I don't know whats going on.

The rest of the pictures are either self explanatory or a mystery to even me. I just thought they were cool.







Friday, January 14, 2011

Tacos!

video

There is something so beautiful about going to a taco stand. Kristen, I don't know how well those tacos would ship but I hope this tides you over for a while. He threw in some fancy knife-work just for you guys.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

En el Centro

I think it was Saturday that we went to the center of the city and walked around. The city is beautiful. Downtown has a very European feel about it (Churches, cobblestone or brick streets, etc).
Hugo has been very involved in Queretaro since he was born. Directly across from this building is where his Grandpa's watch making shop was. It is across a plaza/garden. There is a clock on the smaller second tower if you can see it. Hugo's Grandpa was the watch maker that the government contracted to make the clock. Hugo and his cousin's were in charge of rewinding the clock once a week. He said they would take their friends up there right before the bell rang just to mess with them. He also said that one of his cousins has a picture of himself hanging off of the cross at the top of the tall tower.
Listed in order of visibility (of their backs) Ale, Carla, Hugo. This is a garden in the middle of the Gran Hotel. It was awesome.
This too was taken by a fountain in the garden at the hotel. Way to beautiful!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I am most definitely not sure how to operate the blog creating program. Pictures are a pain in the butt. I can't get them in order, they take forever to put up, etc. But that's ok.

Last Wednesday night, Carla's (my host mom) sister Claudia came over with her two kids. We all wrote down what we wanted on small pieces of paper, tied them to helium-filled balloons and released them into the atmosphere, to be picked up by the 3 Wise Men.

Thursday morning, we all received gifts from the Wise Men. The day is called Dia de los Reyes or Day of the Kings (Wise Men). It is surprising how well the balloon messenger service worked. The US government should disband snail mail and sublease to the geniuses behind the balloon service.

I got a sweet new sweater--pictured somewhere--I wore it to school and felt very Mexican.

One of the pictures around here shows Hugo (my host dad) and Giuancarlo (Juan-Carlo). Carlito is the kid of one of Carla's sisters. He is a riot. He got a toy guitar and he gets very serious when playing it.

Oh, Pixi is pictured in the picture of my new sweater. She is a Taco Bell dog and belongs to one of Ale's cousins.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So...this photo was taken hastily out the back of the van (camioneta). Therefore, it is not that great of picture. Once I get a better picture, I want to put it up top like the pictures of the girls on Treasures. Amy, I might need some help.

This is a bit of a soft opening, I am not exactly set on the name yet but I needed to do something. I have a bunch of pictures to post and a bunch of stories to tell (I know...you're asking yourself how I could have so many stories in such little time.) The people may move slow here in Mexico but the time seems to go faster.

On to the subject of the post. The name. All lives have their defining moments--reasons why people are who they are, do what they do--my life is no different.

This may be a bit of a stretch and may be more corny than any metaphor or simile ever told me, but I am going to equate life to an aqueduct. The aqueduct must have pillars to stand on. Most of the aqueducts I have seen have been supported by pillars that are part of an arch. This is what holds them up and what allows them to do what they do.

So whether or not living in Mexico for 5 months is one pillar, a full arch, or a set of arches, I expect it to define me as a person and help me to carry whatever message I am to carry or support whatever needs supported.

Por eso, presento Los Arcos de Vida.