Ahhhhh!!!

Life is like a roller coaster. Sometimes you have to just put up your hands and yell when things go topsy-turvy!

This is what is going on (please sympathize):

1). I’ve been sick the last two days–therefore I haven’t been with my monsters precious students. Today was a mixture of happiness (to see them again) and relief (for a two week break).

2). I found a house (hooray!). In an effort to boss organize everyone, I’ve put myself in a sticky situation. I also am determined that my roommate will help me clean up before we leave. I should let it be–but the last thing I want is gossip at school about the state of the house…

3). I don’t have many things to move. However, I’m moving them in my suitcase. I need to figure out the order of things before Monday. My suitcase is going with me to Tennessee.

4). Voy a Estados Unidos lunes. I am coming home. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten fifteen thousand souvenirs. I am afraid I’ll forget my important papers (passport, visa, etc).

5). We are leaving for Colta at 5:00 in the morning to go to Special Meeting. Our special meeting is tomorrow night AND on Sunday! Let’s hope I can understand something I can share with you!

6). I tend to worry about how everyone else feels. This is a problem when you have fifteen different people to coordinate. My Mexican says, “Don’t worry about me! I’m happy if you’re happy!” That tends to make me worry more–because now I have more of a reason to make someone happy. Sigh.

Where is that stupid Choice Theory book?

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Sick as a Dog

I’m sick.

Being sick in Mexico is not good. I had a fever all night, and this morning. I just lay in bed and moan–wishing my Mama was here.

The best thing about being sick, is I can get good meds. Ibuprofen is sold in these huge 800 mg tablets, but unfortunately they only work for four hours.

I’ve been drinking a lot of water and tea, as I hear Mom’s voice in my head. “Only sip it.” “Drink more.” “You don’t want to be dehydrated.”

Ugh. Victor tells me to put my feet in hot water. This is some Indian remedy, and while I want to trust them, I’m miserable. On the other hand, it would be good for my indian feet as they look horrible. Oh, to return to the U.S.! To good pedicures with razors! To my Mama! To biscuits and gravy! (I miss my favorite food…)

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House Hunting Woes

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I. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore.

I have been all over creation looking for a place to live. I have things I will compromise on and things that I won’t.

I Can Live Without:

Hot Water Mexico stays pretty hot. We haven’t had gas for a week, and I really only squeal a little in the shower. We have a boiler anyway that you light when you need hot water–so it was only turned on once a day to begin with.

Paved Roads As we walked around this weekend in search of available places, I found that the further away from the city the less frequent are paved roads. Before all you Tennessee people start scoffing, know that dust IS a major problem. Because it is hot, we have to leave doors and windows open. To say I can live without paved roads is saying I will mop and dust frequently…

Air Conditioning Anyone who knows me is probably fainting. I hate being hot. I am content with the two fans I have blowing on me at night. For some reason, hot in Mexico is expected. I’m not going from hot day outside to cool day inside. Everything is hot.

Washers and Dryers I have a Mexican man who not only does my laundry sometimes, but shows me how to do it correctly. Apparently if you don’t rub fabric to fabric you are just cleaning the sink… The lavanderia (laundry lady’s business) isn’t that far away either. I feel pretty good supporting small honest businesses.

Things I Can’t Compromise On:

A Kitchen Maybe it is because I like food. Maybe it is because I like cold drinks. Maybe it is because I enjoy cooking. In any case, I need a kitchen! I can’t rent just a room somewhere, because I want to be able to eat something other than tacos from the taco stand!

Privacy I will go ahead and blame this on Daddy. I think we get it from him anyway. It is the reason (one of many) that I have a problem living with a roommate. I like my privacy. I like being able to close my door and not see you or hear you.

Internet I know I’m a little spoiled. It is so nice to blog and talk to my family at home in bed. I hated going to Starbucks everyday to use the sometimes functional Internet. I want to connect when I want to connect.

Please can I find a house soon? I’m not asking too much, eh?

Give Me a Heart

We had a great meeting today–and a nice surprise: two sister workers visiting from their fields in Central America.

I had a nice conversation with my brother last week about my little meeting here. He said, “Jania, if you don’t go, 25% of your meeting is missing.” It’s true. There are four of us that take part–and it was so nice to have extra help today!

Jean is a couple (okay, three…) years younger than me. She labors in Costa Rica–and she explained today that most of the people here are related to her. She lived in the United States and Canada, and speaks lovely English! Jean was at Knoxville convention in 2007–it makes me wish I wasn’t so wrapped up in myself that year. She’s a beautiful girl, with a heart to match. She also cooked from an English cookbook, and she would ask, “What is this? Dijon mustard? Celery seed?”

We are looking forward to special meetings next week in Tapachula. It is the next closest meeting–merely a six hour trip away. It is also where we will have convention. I. Can’t. Wait.

I don’t feel like I can add more right now: just a desire to have a heart more like Jesus’s–willing to give my best for others. We sang the Spanish version of 215 today. “Give me a heart, Lord, tender and full of love. A heart free from evil. Always said and done in faith…”

Spring Shower

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Sometimes I wake up and wonder what I will tell you about that day. Something always comes along…

Last night we took the convey to San Crostobal. Conveys are a little scary because they drive so fast–but they are so much quicker! On the way we listened to some good country music I downloaded the other day: Dolly Parton (of course), Johnny Cash, and more! Victor wanted to hear country, and I refuse to play the new stuff with the exception of just a couple artists.

I played Seven Spanish Angels, and was reminded of us singing it when we were younger. It is a lot more fun when you have someone singing, “Well, well, well…” in the background. It is also a lot more fun when you are ignorant of the years of Mexican bloodshed.

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I came to San Cris solely to buy souvenirs for everyone at home. On the way, my friend told me about a man named Marcos. Click here to read about him. He was the Robin Hood of Chiapas: robbing the rich to give to the poor. He is also the leader of the Zapatista movement for indigenous rights here in Chiapas. They sell ninja looking, masked men in the market. I bought a wooden top–because I am a sucker for anyone who helps the needy.

We went back to the hotel to collect our bags, when suddenly the sky opened up. The air grew chilly down-right cold, and it began to hail. We decided to wait it out instead of walking to the bus station in the rain. True to my last name, I fell asleep on the couch. When I was awakened a short time later, I decided it would be better to wade through the water barefoot to the bus station. This was a good call.

I’ve heard “the rainy season” mentioned with dread–and that doesn’t come until July or August. Tiempo de Aguas Time of Water gave me a little taste of what is in store. There is a reason why the sidewalks are two feet above the street. It was like a river through the town! Abandoned mango and candy stands threatened to wash away, as Mexicans crowded in doorways just out of the rain.

While I received plenty of strange looks (A white girl walking barefoot? What?!), I will tell you this much: I was able to put on dry shoes when I was safely inside… <

The Emiliano

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Ricardo and Emiliano

It’s funny to add those tags at the same time: “love” and “education.” I didn’t think I’d ever see the day again…

Today was one of those days. Right of the bat one of my favorite kids gave me a chocolate and a heart lollipop. I was in a hurry this morning and missed breakfast, so I had the chocolate. You’re allowed to eat chocolate for breakfast in Chiapas.

Then during writing one of the sweetest little girls gave me a note that said, “Te amo.” I wrote her back and said, “Me too.” She turned the paper over and wrote, “Yo y tu.” Then in English she said, “Me and you.” Aww.

Next my autistic kid came over for his daily kisses and hugs. You’re allowed to kiss and hug in Mexico. He will stick his face right in front of mine and say, “Te qiero.” Then he kisses my cheek. He will say he wants a hug, and he will repeat “Mas! Mas!” as I hug him tighter and tighter. I think he likes the pressure more than my hugs. In any case, when people hug me it makes me want to say, “Mas! Mas!”

I’ve saved the best for last: I have these three boys who are always together. They are tiny, and I suspect younger than the majority of the kids. I also suspect they are more Mexican (down to earth…) I fuss at them all the time–as they speak little English, and are ALWAYS getting into trouble. I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but trust me when I say it is sooo hard.

This is why: Abraham has these big eyes. When he gets in trouble he just looks up at you, and melting occurs. When he is finally allowed to play, he hugs me and says, “Thank you, Miss Jania.”

Ricardo is darker than the other kids. He also is always in motion. He reminds me of my nephews. He always throws his arm around kids, and lets me hug on him. He is always getting into a pickle–as he is always in the middle of something. He lost some teeth recently–which only makes him more adorable…

Last, we have Emiliano. His family has a ranch–he tells me about going to the ranch. He speaks no English, and told me one time, “My mom wants me to learn English, but I don’t understand.” I always say, “Quiero ayudarte, pero necesito me preguntar!” I want to help you, but you have to ask me! Today he asked!

Then when I asked him to throw away a broken ball, I look up to see him wearing it on his head. I mean, I know I shouldn’t encourage that behavior, but I had to take a photo.

Then, he wrote on the board, “I love Miss Jania. The Emiliano.” Do I need more examples on why he’s so adorable?

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Because We’re in Chiapas…

Because we’re in Chiapas, we save everything. Really. I’m turning into Mamaw here.

The other day, I noticed that my roommate ate my yogurt (that’s another story). I also noticed that she didn’t save the amazing plastic container it comes in. I am not at all ashamed to admit that I went through the trash that was already tied up outside to rescue not one, but two fantastic-plastic-containers!

I also save old jars. When we finish mayo or jelly, I clean out the jars and use them for all kinds of good things! One is holding homemade bar-b-que sauce. The other is holding sweetened condensed milk for the rare times that I make myself an iced Thai coffee.

When I made curry yesterday, I didn’t want to ruin my plastic containers with smelly yellow curry (which was super spicy, by the way–thanks to this great roasted pepper paste I found). I used the old yogurt containers for the curry, and put the rice inside the old sour cream container. The sour cream container was already useful a couple weeks for some fresh cream I found at the bodega.

I crossed a new line on Sunday though. We went to the mall to eat. Instead of throwing away the coffee cup and plastic utensils we brought them back to my house. I was a little apprehensive, but I thought, “Well, why not?” I used the coffee cup to carry coffee one morning. Score. I used the utensils in my lunch bag. Double score.

I also have anything that comes with a lid. One waterbottle is holding my liquid laundry detergent (it’s cheaper if you buy the refills). Two waterbottles were used this weekend to store my roommate’s kool-aide. Doesn’t she know that she will destroy my tea container with gross kool-aide? Another glass bottle is holding the honey I bought from the farmers roadside stand.

Seriously, this is so much better than buying things to use. I have a bread bag hanging out for another day. I don’t use aluminum foil here, but I’m pretty sure that if I did, I would wipe it off, fold it up, and tuck it away for another day. Just like Mamaw.

Mayan Predictions Coming True

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This weekend when we visited Southern Chiapas, we were warned multiple times to be careful on Tuesday (today). My friend explained that the indigenous people were expecting an earthquake today. Again and again we were reminded to stay in safe places, and to tell the rest of the family here. I was assured that they were superstitious…

Last week we were told that today was a nation wide earthquake drill. Mexico has been worried because we’ve had an abundance of tremors. This drill was planned for around noon today, and so in the true spirit of the school, we practiced. The drill begins with a normal alarm (though not as loud and piercing as the alarms at home), and we line up in the classroom. When the cow bell sounds (true story), we make our way down to the small soccer field in the middle of the school grounds.

I was telling one of my co-teachers all about the weekend, and how according to the Mayans, we were doomed. All of a sudden, I felt like I was dizzy. The children, who were sitting on the ground, began murmuring and some jumped to their feet.

It happened. The Mayans do know what they’re talking about…

Jaltenango, Chiapas

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On Friday morning bright dark and early (3 am) we hopped on a bus for a trip to Victor’s parent’s house. I’ve been saying for a week that I’m going to media-de-la-nada the middle of nowhere. It’s true!

The best part about traveling at night is you can sleep for hours. When I woke up, I found up there were still hours to go. I also realized that I left my phone at the house–and in turn, my camera!!!! I am so sad I don’t have pictures to share with you.

Victor spent some time in Why-oming, and kept saying, “Welcome to Wyoming!” We passed these gorgeous little ranches with the funniest looking cows I’ve ever seen. We passed corn (in season here) and fields of beans. We passed other cute towns, and soon we arrived in Jaltenango de la Paz.

It was such a good trip! We went to the river to swim both days. The Indians were down there washing clothes the first day. The second day there was heavy equipment taking sand and rocks from the river bed. The sand is used to build these concrete houses we live in. The river was oh-so-refreshing on these hot Mexico days.

We also ate the most delicious food–chicken one day in this tomato sauce. The next day, beef roasted on a fire with fresh salsa. Yuuuummm! I got a lesson in tortilla making. It is a lot like how Mamaw used to make biscuits. She knew the size of dough that fit her hand, and they all turned out looking the same. My tortillas were a failure. Mainly because my fingers aren’t tough, and I couldn’t flip them over. Mami, they call their mom, cooks outside. They built a stove of brick with a metal sheet on top. She feeds the fire and adjusts the wood to control the heat.

After two days of battling mosquitos (they love me), we went to find the bus bound for Tuxtla. It had left two hours past–so we walked around searching for a taxi. The taxis go from town to town, and carry as many people as they can. Once we had three in the back and three in the front. We made it back to Tuxtla much quicker–to be greeted by the heat and noise of the city. How I would love more of those country nights with skies full of stars and only the chickens making noise…

My Indian Feet

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The last pedicure I had was last May–maybe before that. In June I had my ankle surgery, and pedicures weren’t possible.

So, I finally asked one of the moms at school for a recommendation for a pedicure.

So today, I walked through the Sears outside to find this pedicure place. I knew when I walked in that it was different, but I thought it would still be good to follow through. I wad led through a hallway to a small room where a footbath of steaming hot water was waiting.

While I soaked my Indian feet, the lady put an oxygen mask on my face. A few minutes later she returned with a hot heat pad for my neck. She sprayed a towel with lavender, and left me in the leather recliner in the dark to relax.

When she began working on my feet it was embarrassing. Imagine what almost a year of no pedicures will do to you… She spread some goo on my feet then wrapped them in plastic wrap. Meanwhile she took care of my overgrowth of toenail skin hangnails. Owwwww! I said more than once!

She went to work on the layers of hard skin on my feet. It would suffice to tell you that the poor lady was sweating when she finished. She didn’t use razor blades (which are quick and effective). Instead my pedicure was like everything else in Mexico: slow.