Today I laid in bed until pretty late–don’t ask me how considering the fact that it might be more comfortable on the tile floor… After skyping a bit, I decided to brave the town. So, armed with bravado, my Spanish-English dictionary, and pesos galore I was on my way.
The school left a Mexican cell phone at the front desk for me. Have you seen something so simple it is difficult? That’s this phone. I received some info telling me to take the phone to the Mexican version of 711 to buy minutes. The guy was probably sad to see me walk through the door…as last night we had an issue with me not bringing enough pesos.
I handed him my phone and nodded to whatever he said to me. Pointing at the screen I could see a list of minutes, ranging from 20 to 200. I went ahead and bought 200 minutes (it only charges me when I call people–I can receive calls with no cost). Then, he asked the million dollar question…what my number was. I, of course, laughed and said, “Un momento…” When I tried to call one of the school employees pre-programed into the phone, all I heard was a string of Spanish. Sigh. Of course I heard Spanish. I am in Mexico after all! I smiled at the clerk and said, “No comprende espanol, y ella decir in espanol. No se.” I haven’t been able to check myself, but he got the idea: I don’t speak Spanish.
I decided to go to a place there were sure to be some Americans lurking around: McDonalds. Just as I walked in the door I heard English. Score! I asked for some help, and began to explain my story. The man said, “Are you Jania?” Seriously, what are the odds that I would run into my principal in this city? He helped me figure out my phone number (in my phone under “Me.”. Duh…) and offered his help when I explained my plans for the day (Explore via city bus…)
Before I set off, I decided to grab a bite at this cute roadside restaurant. Okay, imagine if your house was on the road and you just made the porch into a restaurant. The front was painted bright pink, and the porch had red Coca-Cola tables sitting in front. As I began to order the man said in soft English, “Where are you from.” He was a sweetheart, and allowed me to practice saying words and asking questions. I ordered chilaquiles con carne asada.
Yum! Basically, it’s cut up tortillas (corn) with some kind of sauce and funky cheese. As I got a quarter of the way through my lemonade, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Will this make me sick?” “Did they use bottled water?” “Where did this ice come from?” I haven’t gotten sick yet, so I guess the water was safe!
I appreciated my principal’s offer as I set off on my adventure. Oh! I also am pretty sure I was yelled at in Spanish as the bus driver made me get off the bus again and board correctly through the front door. Oops. I used my new phrase of the day, “Lo siento!” It wasn’t long before the area looked more desolate, and I crossed the bridge to reboard a bus headed in the opposite direction. It sounds like New York City as the taxis and little bus-vans honk their horns. I’ve learned this is how they communicate with the people waiting on the street. It means, “Do you need me? I can take you where you want to go!” If you want a ride, you throw up your arm. If you don’t, you ignore them.
I rode through downtown. Imagine China Town minus meat carcasses everywhere. The store fronts are tiny rooms like that–with bags, shirts, clothes. Before long, we were again out of civilization. That was my clue to again hop off the bus to head back to the American part of town where my school wisely boards their new teachers.
(I didn’t make it back to the bus before I saw a man casually carrying his machete, a teenage girl rotund with a baby, and a man hold his daughter over a grate to pee.)