Friday, February 25, 2011

Random Happenings

It has been an interesting week. Not particularly eventful, but it seems now as I look back that a lot happened. I once again have failed with the whole pictures area, but I do have some sources of where to find some great pictures.

I pulled a first in my Skyping career and played a card game with my friends at Purdue. I just played the first round but totally won. It was pretty epic. I haven't lost the heat!

I will most definitely be posting more as soon as I can repossess some pictures from the dark archive corners that they are hiding in.

On a side note, Mom and Dad are planning on coming down to visit. They plan on arriving a little before noon on Tuesday. It should be a great week!

Another side note, I think the phrase "Random Happenings" is the name of a someone's Facebook albums. I'm thinking Ti's.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday Adventures with Jay. Ep 2

I must apologize to all of you. I really haven't been doing as good of a job posting as before. In a way, that is a good thing, it means that I am busy and have no time to post. Or it means that I have nothing to post about because I am not busy enough. I'll let you guys think about that for a minute.

The second reason why I must apologize is a complete lack of photo documentation for this post and for others that may come. I try to carry my camera as much as possible, but sometimes I just don't want to have something else in my pockets. I don't always wear cargo shorts.

This Friday, I did not have my 7:00 class. Thank goodness. Because we had the field trip last Saturday that took up our personal time, the professor gave us a gift of Friday freedom. I think it is probably in the rules of the school, we are only supposed to spend so much time in class.

So Friday, I went with Carla to her school and waited for Paco to drop off Paulina. I then went with Paco to work.

We went to a workshop, picked up tools, picked up another guy, Cristobal, picked up a 3 liter of coke, and set off. The building Paco is working in is a 5 story building in a new residential area to the north of Queretaro (judging by the location of the sun). It is the first building of a large project that includes a gymnasium and other cool stuff. Paco got the contract to do the kitchen cabinets, doors, closets, and assorted other wood work.

I spent the day learning how to install doors into completely cement/stucco door openings. Needless to say, it included a masonry bit on a hammer drill. We put in a bar and fixed some other small issues.

In one apartment, the flooring wasn't done very well and we had to take all the doors down. That was a pain. It turns out that there is no need to worry about a door coming down. I think we got done early so we headed into town (there currently are no stores or taco stands in the residential area) to get some food. We ate tacos. They were delicious.
This is a candy shop in Mexico City. I had to take a picture of it for proof that is was closed. Otherwise, there would have been a family revolt against Pablo because he didn't stop.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dia de Amor y Amistad

So in Mexico, Valentines Day is similar but not quite the same as in the states. While we put so much attention and importance on being in a relationship, being in love, and buying really expensive jewels and meals for the one we love, Mexicans have extended the holiday to include friendship.

Throughout the day, you give candy, chocolate, whatever small gift you desire, to all of your friends. Granted, this only includes your friends of the opposite sex. If you try to give a gift to a friend of the same sex, they look at you very funny. I find the inclusion of friendship a very welcome addition. Instead of singles awareness day, those without an amorous counterpart may still partake in the candy giving, receiving, and celebrating their ability to have really good friends.

I wish I would have taken a picture and I actually thought about taking a picture but didn't of all the booths set up selling crap to give to your friends. It was almost as bad as the street fair. Only picture that all the booths are actually tables, all the food was a lot cheaper, and their was a whole lot more peer pressure (each student group had their own table of wares and pressured everyone to partake of their goods). In the midst of all the fanfare, I was goaded into buying a paleta de hielo (icicle), and then was pressured into taking the above photo.

I think I was taken advantage of because I'm foreign. But at least now I have a great picture of me as Barbie. I wish they would have told me to tilt my head. They have a lot to learn about taking these types of photos.

The below photo was taken of one of my fellow Salsa class peers in the middle of the carnival fanfare. I think he was a little surprised. I feel like this photo really captures the essence of the day and I highly doubt he will ever find out that his picture is on my blog unless Ale knows him and uses it as a leverage technique to get something from him in some circumstance in the future. I really don't know this kid at all. Therefore, if he knew, he would probably be freaked out. The beauty of being foreign!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Field Trip

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with my Biorrecursos class. Translated, it is simply Bio Resources. It is about the soil, nutrients, things like that. I will mention that with this opportunity came opportunity cost. I lost the opportunity to go on fun trips outside of Queretaro that were planned by the international programs office. (That's the economist in me. Thanks Dr. Dooley.) This trip was mandatory.

We made a trek out of the city to the south and I believe we ended up either in the state of Mexico or very close. The trip only took an hour and we were in a very comfortable bus (it was only 15 of us in an entire charter bus--awesome!

We ended up at a testing ground for crops. The idea is to demonstrate to producers that modern techniques work better than old ones and they actually save money, time, and resources. He talked our ears off about everything that was going on and then we all got to take soil samples for moisture and use a tool (I forget it's name) to see the resistance to penetration. The idea is to see how compacted the soil is at different depths.

The picture of the hole is to illustrate what kind of topsoil they are dealing with the see what kind of water retention they have and how much room the roots have to grow. Looks like this stuff is a little rough to me. The professor was out off sorts as well when they bought the parcel for experimentation. He has since adopted the thought process that if it works in really bad ground, it should work better in good ground. I would agree to a point. But I won't tell him that, I want to pass the class.

I took some pictures of some gated pipe for the benefit of my Nebraskan brethren. I doubt they read my blog but I thought it was cool.

We hopped back in the bus, stopped at a super market (a really small gas station) to buy coke and pistachios, and eventually arrived at Tec. I then made the journey home, ate some street tacos de barbacoa (a special way to cook lamb), and finally made it home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday Adventures with Jay

As most of you probably know, I only have one class on Fridays. The rest of the day, I have time to explore. So far, I have only explored on one Friday (the Cerrito blog).

The bus back home goes past 3 or 4 things that I have wanted to stop at and check out. As of yet, I haven't had the guts to hop out, check it out, and then seek another bus to return home in.

I had finally decided to stop at the aqueduct to take pictures. However, as we were driving past the aqueduct, I chickened out. If it wasn't for an unavoidable stop that the bus made and I decided I might as well hop out, I wouldn't have seen any of this stuff on Friday.

First was the aqueduct. I took two pictures and the batteries in my camera died. I chatted with a very nice couple with a very small store about whether or not they had batteries and where I could get some. I really didn't need to ask, I should have known that they would direct me to an Oxxo. I bought a water and asked for the cheapest batteries they had. This started a discussion in more or less English about how much things cost. The lady knew quite a bit.

I then bought some delicious breakfast tacos from a lady set up right outside the store. I then walked the bus route, and found this awesome fountain in the middle of a round about that I have been wanting to photograph. I then proceeded further and found the huge park that I have been wanting to check out.

Within this park, I found these sweet stores set up. You walk through them and it feels like you're in a jungle. The statues of the man and woman depict for me how Mexico should be. Men playing love songs on their guitars for beautiful women. I am thinking about buying a guitar.

I then waited for my bus. I took another one that I knew would eventually get me back home. It took longer than the other bus, but I finally did make it.

Good day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Part 3

After Teotihuacan, we hopped back into the Tahoe, and headed to the center of Mexico City. It was great, Pablo's opinion was that we could cover more ground and I could see more things from the passenger seat in the car. Well, I definitely saw a lot, that's for sure. I was snapping pictures out the window the entire time and Pablo kept on explaining things to me.

They told me that it was empty. Monday was a holiday and only some people worked. Knowing that all the shops weren't open, apparently less people were walking around than usual. For me, it was still more people than I usually see on Purdue campus. I decided to take a picture of "empty".

I snapped enough pictures for Pablo to tell me that it was almost as bad as if I were Japanese.

We went through the poor part of town, the center of town, many streets with shops on them, etc. Apparently the center of Mexico City is the place to go to buy things cheap. Every street has a different niche market. There is a street just for engine parts, for ice cream, for anything dealing with lights, and there are a lot of streets.

All the buildings in the center are leaning in one way or another. It is like the Tower of Pisa but hundreds of buildings over. Mexico City was a large lake back in Aztec days. They built canals and other such drainage devices to drain the lake. Then they built things on top. To correct the leaning buildings, they have to inject concrete beneath the buildings to raise them up. Very interesting.

We ended up going to a taco place in the upscale part of town. As Pablo told me, we were going to eat "nice" tacos. It was really nice and they tasted great. After that culinary experience, we returned to Pablo's house. Franco and I played Guitar Hero on Wii (I sang on expert), and then we had to leave. We got back to Queretaro somewhere around 8-9:00. And that was the weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Part 2

From eating trucha...

We all got into different vehicles and went back home. Not directly of course, we needed chips and coke for the Super Bowl party. We made it back just in time to see the Steelers score just before half-time. The cousins were there until after half time. They really weren't interested in watching the game and to be honest, I wasn't too impressed with the half-time show. The light up suits and people dancing where awesome.

We went to bed and woke up early to get a good start on the day. We ended up leaving just a little before 9. I'm assuming we were supposed to leave earlier. Regardless, we drove to Teotihuacan to check out the pyramids. We arrived but were informed that we were going to have to wait to enter. Apparently the President was making a visit and we weren't allowed to enter for security reasons. We were continually sent to different gates, being told that they were actually open. We ended up spending some time in some shops, and a lot of time listening to music from various iPods.

The President took off in some white SUVs and ended up flying over in his helicopter. I took a picture. Even after he left, we had to wait for a completely inordinate amount of time for all the soldiers to leave. Once again, I took a picture.

We finally made it inside. Ale, Elisa, Franco, and I all climbed up the Pyramid of the Sun (its the biggest one). I took a photo for an Asian couple at the top, took some of our own photos, and generally looked at the surrounding area. There are a bunch of ruins and it is really impressive. There is another big pyramid, the Pyramid of the Moon, but it is still in restoration and can't be climbed to the top. We climbed down, checked out some of the shops on the site, and headed off for the rest of our journey.

More to come...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mexico City: Part 1

I have had quite the weekend. On Friday, you clearly saw that I had a very productive day, what with hanging out with archeological site security guards, taking photos of pyramids, etc. The madness continued on Saturday. I woke up late, ate some breakfast, generally chilled, and waited for Ale to return from a field trip. Upon her return, we all went to a really nice restaurant for Claudia's birthday. I ate too well, and we convinced Franco to come to Mexico City with us.

We purchased bus tickets, hopped on the bus, and headed south at about 7:00. We arrived in Mexico somewhere around 9:00 and Pablo picked us up from the bus station. On the way back, we stopped at the main convent in Mexico City and I took pictures of the cathedral. It was really pretty and my pictures don't do it much justice. Apparently if the outside impresses you, wait until you go inside. Apparently everything is covered in gold and very elaborate. (I didn't go inside.)

Upon our arrival to Pablo's house, we spent time with them as well as some of their cousins from the other side. The following day, we went out to eat in a little restaurant somewhere in the mountains after driving for a very long time on rutty, bumpy, dirt roads. It was sweet. I think we got lost but they claimed they just wanted me to see the terrain. It was super cool.

The restaurant was awesome! It was really open, had motorcycles and four-wheelers parked out front (there was a motorcycle track that we passed equipped with an ambulance--they were serious). I was told that the sopes and quesadillas were good so I ordered a sope and a quesadilla. I got two sopes instead. I ate those, ordered a quesadilla, ate that, etc. When I first looked at the menu, there was something called trucha. I asked Ale about it and all I got was that it was some type of animal. That sounded kind of suspect so I opted out. Trucha ended up being entire cooked fish. Head, tail, fins, everything. I ate about a third of the mom's on the other side (the tail third). It was delicious. Had I known it was going to be that good, I would have went with trucha off the start. Way to blow it Ale.

Too be continued...

Friday, February 4, 2011

El Cerrito

I'm sure I have told most of you, but I live right next to a pyramid. It isn't anything to fancy, I doubt that Gru or Vector have ever thought about stealing it. However, it is something to call my own.

With that being said, I finally made it over to check it out. To my great disappointment, I will not be able to climb this pyramid while I'm here. (I had grand Rocky-like visions of running up the pyramid and watching the sunset as I drank an ice-cold Coke out of a glass bottle.) Alas, these dreams will not come to fruition (on this pyramid).

With my Tec ID, I can get into any museum, archeological site, etc. for free. It is pretty nifty. After being whistled at and directed in the correct direction by some construction workers (it wasn't sexual, they were just trying to get me attention to tell me where to go). Apparently I look a little lost everywhere I go. Go figure.

There was only one guide and he was off giving a tour when I arrived. I therefore read some of the literature available about the site and proceeded to the next bench over from the security guard in the shade. He was a good ol' boy, most like 60+ years old and was a great time to talk to. I didn't talk to him at all in English and I don't know if he spoke any. I asked him a lot of questions about plants, liquor, etc. (It makes sense actually, the plants are used to make the liquor.) The Maguey is in the agave family. It is the extremely large plant to the left of the one with yellow stripes. What you do is cut off the stem that is going to bloom, wait for sugar water to collect in the basin that is left, scoop it out, allow it to ferment naturally, and then drink it. It is called pulque. It is a poor man's drink and is quickly dying out as a common drink. We had a great time talking.

A couple from north of Boston showed up and it was fun talking to them too. We went on the tour, saw the sights, and chatted.

Amy, I did what you told me. Do I look goofy enough?

I threw in a picture of an Aztec pyramid sculpted from the finest of Alabama's sands. We got it pretty close if I dare say so.

Bernal Part 2

This guy was awesome. I think he was selling stuff at the base of the rock but somehow decided it was a good idea to follow all of the foreign college kids to the top. He performed many songs, most sounded the same, but we loved every one. There was no small amount of peer pressure to have him continue. I think you can see Martino in this video. I don't know if he decided to buy himself a drum or not. Look out Italy, this may be coming to an area near you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Domingo Comida

Here in Mexico, the main meal of the day is some time between 2 and 4 o-clock in the afternoon. This meal is called Comida and it literally means "food". Domingo means Sunday.

Knowing that it was my birthday, Carla told me I could invite some friends over and we could all eat Comida together in honor of my birthday.

She made invitations, maps, and the food. All I had to do was to invite people. I haven't changed that much since coming to Mexico. I didn't get people invited until Saturday (the party was Sunday). I know, you are saying that I am so spoiled and I need to learn how to plan my life. I will tell you that you are right. However, contrary to popular belief, I do have what could seem to be a plan. It is more of a point in the future that I can see and I really don't care how I get there.

I went to Lalo and Silvia's house for a Bible study before the party. They are a couple with ties to Apostolics and are doing a lot in the form of reaching out to people about Christ in Queretaro. I was going to return home on the bus but ended up waiting for one of the people I had invited for a while before waiting for the bus. We then waited for the bus for an extraordinarily long time and then rode the bus for another hour.

Never in this process did I think that I should have taken the taxi until I got to the house (the bus is so cheap). I ended up being over an hour late for my own party.

I forgot to take pictures (once again--proof that I haven't changed much). Therefore, I have found some pictures on Google to help illustrate my point.

Carla prepared enchiladas with black mole for us. It was way too delicious. I had leftovers last night and it was like I was reliving a dream. My guests ended up being two guys from Michigan (Seth and Eric), Jirka (featured in the Bernal post), and a girl from Australia named Melissa. Melissa's roommates were also invited but did homework instead of coming to comida. After Melissa's return home and her exuberant praises about the food, they immediately regretted their decisions.

Seth, Eric, and Jirka bought and presented me a birthday gift! Because I so needed them, they purchased me some adult diapers! This was clearly a plan hatched by Eric. However, it has been reported that Jirka was on the way over to talk to employees about where to find adult diapers before the other guys had a chance to finish telling him their plan.

It was hilarious and a great time! I of course tried on a pair (over my clothes) and modeled them for my friends. I do believe that picture will end up being used is some nefarious plot against me some day. If I had it, I wouldn't be too far from posting it myself. Hopefully I can get it and we'll save it for a rainy day.