The Last Buying of Gifts

I’ve been thinking about what I need to take with me next week when I leave. Basically, it boils down to this: Regalos. My gifts for my family.

It’s interesting, I haven’t gone crazy shopping this trip. I know that I will be back (Lord willing…) in December, so I don’t feel as pressured as some of my co-workers do to buy! buy! buy! I also haven’t been to a couple of places that I would have loved to visit, such as Palenque (the Mayan Ruins) or Puerto Arista (the beach). I mean, the Mayan ruins have been there a long time–I don’t think they’re going anywhere any time soon (unless, of course, they were right…). And the beach–well, I can wait for that.

Victor went to San Cristóbal yesterday to check out paperwork and such. He is also planning on moving there when I leave, so he has to find a job/accommodations. I sent him with a list of my nieces and nephews and their ages. He had loose orders: Buy gifts. Don’t spend too much. I am oh-so-glad that he went. If I were shopping for the kids, I would still be there deliberating: what to get for this one? Would they fight over that? Will she like this–or am I wasting my money?

Not Victor.

He came back and handed me 11 almost identical gifts. Score. No fighting will be taking place at the receiving of regalos.

Now, here is where he messed up: I wanted him to buy a beautiful, handmade, dainty dress for my friend’s new baby. I even drew a picture of it on my list of things to buy. They are gorgeous–white with hand embroidered flowers. I didn’t give too many instructions, as I didn’t want to frustrate him while he was doing me a favor.

He brought me overalls.

Ugly overalls.

They are handmade as well–made from woven material that the indians make. But, man! They are ugly! My little sister MIGHT go for them, but it will really be a toss-up. I should save them until I have a baby. Maybe then he will see how atrocious they are. sigh. It’s still worth it for the other 11 presents…

The biggest items are my mom’s hammock chairs that I bought before spring break. I am hoping those will fit in my suitcase, along with my election propaganda umbrella that has El Guero’s face plastered on the side. I figure if the hammocks were deemed unsafe to carry on, then the damage I could do with him would be tremendous.

I guess the thing is, I plan on coming back. So the same attitude I have about seeing things is transferred to gifts. I will hopefully be making enough money when I return to buy the nice leather bags that I can’t afford now (but would make perfect bible cases). I can buy dresses and shirts for my sisters and nieces. I can take orders for hammocks–and make sure my suitcase is large enough.

Emo Jania

I’m becoming a bad blogger as my time here winds down. I feel like such a mixed bag of emotions.

I really excited to go home. I credit this to my family being in town when I arrive. Mama and Daddy’s house will be turn into a zoo, with children sleeping all over. People will be piled into the living room, and if I’m lucky, some kids will still be awake (probably Jacob–he’s a night owl).

Then reality will hit. This is when I get a little anxious (just thinking about it doesn’t help…) I will attempt to secure a job as quickly as possible. I will send resumes and letters to everyone around, and hopefully land something before school starts. But if I don’t, you will have one frazzled teacher on your hands. Again.

Lastly, I’m sad to leave my life here. I love Mexico and my friends and new family that I have. To think of leaving them behind makes me a pretty mopey 28-year-old.

Breath in, breath out, Jania! Trust the future to the father’s hands he knows and plans your way!

Mexican Election Propaganda

I’ve been sighing over the blatant propaganda thrown around here in Mexico as election day approaches.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but do you remember when I shared the pictures of the “Go Verde” and “Let’s go, Women” painted on the side of the road?  That was six months ago (almost).

Since then, it has only multiplied.

I, an outsider, can totally spot it.  I’ve asked some of the Mexicans about it–but they brush it off.  “Everyone does it,” they say.  But it isn’t true.

In this country of corruption from the top, the people who seem the most trustworthy are the people who are being put on display.  And for one party to advertise this much–it says to me that they have a lot of money backing them up.  Which means they will probably win.  I want to share this foreigner’s observations.

In Chiapas, we have a man running who has blue eyes.

He is the one that had all the advertisements way back when.  Even in remote towns in the middle of nowhere walls are painted.  I thought that Mexico was attempting to live a “greener” lifestyle.  Turns out that is just the political party.  So when I saw signs that said, “Tuxtla Go Green in 2012” it was really a political party spreading poison.

What has really been getting me though, is what has happened the last month or so.  Posters have popped up all over the place.  This very white man with blue eyes getting friendly with the natives.  The darker natives.  All of them are dark.

I mentioned this.  I was told, “You just associate Mexicans with being dark.  Quite a few are light-skinned.” Well, yes, I do.  This is because until I moved to Mexico, every Mexican I met was dark.  This is beside the point.  Actually, this should be saved for a different day–because I have a lot to say about the air of prejudice that has me begging for a human rights revolution…

You can’t fight with the facts though.  And here they are.  This guy, hangs his posters of him in friendly positions with various dark people.  He has posters for grandmas.  Posters that actually say, “My promise is with Grandmothers, and with all of Chiapas.” Posters are hanging for single mothers.  There are posters with children.  Posters displaying athletes.  And every single “other” is dark.

If you still aren’t convinced, they’ve started painting new signs.  Vote for the White Man.  Not kidding.  Guero is a word that is used to describe anyone here that is lacking pigment.  And the signs are calling him “The Guero.”  I am sorry–who said that this wasn’t a display of color?  And someone explain to me why all the polititians are light?

I’ve also determined on my own that they rely on the ignorance of the poorer populations to win.  The small towns in the middle of nowhere have the same signs painted.  The people have also been given free t-shirts–how generous!  gag.  I am betting that they are relying on the most popular name–as we were even given propaganda today with the other parties’ candidates missing.  This was an example that showed us how to vote.

Of course you should vote for him–because like all the posters say, “Because the people want him.” And we know who “the People” are.

Feliz Dia de Los Padres!

This past week was the first time I’ve ever had a class with whom I can make Father’s Day cards. In the five years I’ve been teaching, there have been countless absentee dads–and ever year I’m reminded how lucky I am.

I mean, let’s be honest: it could have played out differently. My parents knew each a short three months before they eloped. I guess they knew they better say “I do” and stick it out. They were young. They were broke. And they started our family a year(ish) later. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.

When I was three (so I am told), my Daddy gave me a nickname that I was always proud of. I must have been bossing someone around, because he called me a Little General. I’ve since learned to use my ways more subtlely, but occasionally the Little General in me resurfaces. Victor and I talked about who the boss was shortly after we started dating. He started quoting the bible, so I gave in. But recently, when I said, “Well, you’re the boss.” He said, “But I’m not the big boss, am I?” I even had an ex whose famous last lines (as our ship went down) were, “Jania, I don’t know why you ask me–we all know you are going to do what you want anyway. ”

A few weeks ago, I almost wrote a blog about how to succeed in a relationship. My key is to be like your Mama and date your Daddy. Then I realized that a lot of people might not understand that–but it’s true. And perhaps that’s the highest compliment that I can give my Daddy. Victor is strangely like him. (He even saves his coffee cup for repeat use–something I’ve fussed about for ten years or so…). He has worked hard his whole life for his family. He eats anything I fix–and even compliments the gross things. (Once I made garlic mashed potatoes–before they were popular. My whole family refused to eat them. Except Daddy.) Sometimes, all I think he is missing is an old bathrobe to hang around in the house.

Today I was thinking about how we used to always sneak down to Mama and Daddy’s room when we had nightmares. I was banned to the floor. Apparently I kick in my sleep. All I could think was, Well, at least I didn’t pee on your head…. My sister did that. Why wasn’t she banned to the floor?

I could let it bother me, except I know a secret. I know who Daddy’s favorite is. Feliz Dia de Los Padres, Papacito!

What Kind of Relationship Do You Have?

At school we often sit around talking about our experiences in other schools. The foreign staff is diverse(ish)–at least if we look at the places that we’ve taught. As soon as they start school bashing (or student bashing) I speak up. At least I used to–now they pretty much know where I stand…

I always say the same thing: This is nothing. I’ve had worse.

Recently, a foreign teacher that I really enjoy being around said, “You know what–you were in an abusive relationship before. That’s why you’re happy with anything better.” I can’t seem to get that analogy out of my mind–as it is true! Jobs are so much like relationships!

The First Love
You think this will last. After all, it is the first time you’ve had the perfect mate with no flaws! People try to tell you to shop around, but you know better. You were made for each other–and as soon as they realize it, you can plan your future. This will not end well. Your heart us broken–your dreams shattered. You will be more careful next time.

The Needy One
A relationship where someone needs to be with you all the time is so unhealthy. You end up feeling smothered–and tend to forget all the things you enjoyed about them in the first place. You usually are hesitant to leave. After all, how can they survive without you?

The Selfish One
This isn’t too different then a needy relationship. It is all about what you can do for them. No concern on the place of the other party exists for what you need to be happy. Your time is their time. And heaven forbid if you dare think of something else that makes you happy. You may not spend any energy or time with that endeavor.

The Abusive One
While I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship, I have been in relationships where I ended up feeling unworthy. That’s emotionally abusive! The abusive one builds you up to tear you down. It tears you down to make you feel small. Once you’re small, you are easier to control… It doesn’t compliment you or care how you feel–not genuinely. The only time you get to hear the good things about you is when they hurt you. And when you leave–you have to sneak away, run fast, and never look back. Unfortunately, just when you think you’re safe, they find a way to exert power over you…

The Summer Romance
You only are allowed one or two of these. Naivety is a must–and you can’t become jaded. My Minnesota experience was a summer romance. We both knew it wasn’t going to last–although we tried to keep it going longer. It was exciting, new, and full of surprise. When it was over, we promised to keep in touch. I think of my summer romance with fondness and longing for the same spirit of carefreeness.

The Fling
This is where you try out a new taste. It’s not going to last. You know it from the beginning. You don’t even think of introducing your family and friends to this one. Most likely, something is a little off anyway…

The Rebound
You know this won’t last too, but your friends say, “Just have fun! You just got out of a realtionship! You don’t need anything serious!” It is different than what you’ve had. You’ve intentionally looked for something different to give yourself a break. You might flirt with the idea that it is lasting, but you probably will just use it to compare with the Ex. After all, look what you have now!

The Fixer-Upper
This is the one where you knowingly enter an unbalanced relationship. You know that what you have to offer is going to make the other party better off in the long run. You willingly give advice and support, but more than likely, it won’t be accepted. Fixer-uppers need more than what you can give. They need to believe in themselves–not have a savior.

The Keeper
This is what everyone wants. It’s a partnership of give and take. In this relationship, someone is trying to please you. You are special and valued. In return, you are more than willing to please them. Your visions and values are enough alike, a future is easy to imagine. The Keeper is one you hang onto–you can’t let this one get away.

Another One Bites The Dust


Well, it has begun. Again…

I’ve been applying for jobs in Virginia and Tennessee in my valid effort to come back. I was so excited when I got word that a school wanted to interview me via Skype. This is mainly because my efforts to attract the attention of schools in East Tennessee are falling flat.

Well, not just Tennessee.

I am again preparing myself for an onslaught of rejection. Not having jobs that are not a good fit for me–that I can handle. Being rejected is a bit harder.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I was feeling a bit spotty about the whole situation to begin with. I would have loved being with my friend (and an amazing teacher) again. The population is the one I want. The opportunities are endless.

But it leads down the career path. (You Virginia-ers know what I mean, right?)

I think I’m looking for a smaller community. The kind I can teach in for years. The kind I’d like my children to grow up in.

And still… Rejection is not an easy pill to swallow. I need a shot of faith to help it go down.

Summertime Blues


They’re right, you know… There ain’t no cure for the blues I’ve got. Well, there is a cure, but it won’t be here for another month. Sigh.

I was walking to school last week with our sixth grade teacher–and a super interesting man. He is a second career teacher–and an expatriot who resides (usually) in Canada. We were discussing the energy, lack of focus, and all around atnosphere of our school right now. Mr. Steve said, “It doesn’t matter where your school is–when you get to this time of year, everyone has a hard time.” If only (like schools in the States and Canada) we would be getting out some day soon…

It’s one thing that is pretty appealing about teaching in Tennessee. Their school year is over now–I know, I know: they start in August. But let’s be honest: I do too! And I work until the end of June.

Mexico’s calendar is super funky. We start in August–but get two weeks for spring break. We don’t officially end our school year until July 6th!!! My kids are bouncing off the walls!

I’ve started my summer-is-almost-here projects, but they are combating with summer-has-been-here-since-march attitudes. There’s no pulling the wool over these Mexican eyes…

Stop Buggin’ Me!

Chiapas has a special little insect.  I have been getting to know him pretty well this week.  Apparently, this is the time of year that the nucú comes out.

My first clue was the one that I snapped a picture of several weeks ago.  It was the biggest ant-looking creature I had ever seen.  A child a school caught it–and we were all fascinated.  This was before I found out that people eat these guys.  Then I REALLY became fascinated.

At the ball park (soccer stadium) across the street–we were infested with flying ants.  Victor pointed them out–and told me that people eat them when they get big.  They put hot sauce on them and eat them with a cold Corona.  A girl at work said that people fry them, put lemon and salt on them and eat them in tacos.  The little guys have these fragile wings that brush off with the merest friction.  The big guys…well, they’re big.  I’ve hunted down some pictures for you–but rest assured, my kids will provide me with plenty of opportunities for more shots this week.

On my way to work two days ago, I saw this older man and woman walking along the road picking something up.  I couldn’t really see what was going on until I got closer.  They were snagging all the little nucú insects that had for some reason accumulated through the night.  They didn’t pay me much attention, so I kept walking.

The last two days as school these pesky friends have really been the rage.  It started when I saw that the students had turned paper water cones into holding envelopes.  They fit nicely inside their pockets.  Then the problem grew when I noticed that several boys were making their way to Oscar’s desk throughout the day.  He had turned his pencil-case into a cage of sorts.  The next class period, a girl came in with her lunch-container-turned-viewing-center.  I couldn’t bear that she didn’t seem to know about the need for living things to have oxygen–so perhaps I encouraged her by poking holes in the top for air flow.

I must have encouraged someone, because today I literally had to check pockets and pencil cases to make sure my class was nucú free.  Boys came back from lunch with boxes they had added grass and sticks to for a natural environment.  I told Pablo that he needed to do something with my pet–and the next thing I know, he zipped it up into his backpack.

I’ve been complaining about losing my kids to summer lately–but it just hit me: maybe I need to use these guys to my advantage.  I will have to do a lesson on insects and creepy crawlies.  I also need a taste of one.  I have to see what all the rage is about…


Photos from and

Thinking of Tomorrow

It’s strange.  I know I like to plan.  This has gotten me into trouble in relationships in the past–as everyone doesn’t like to think of what the next step might be.  It has gotten me into trouble with my friends–as everyone doesn’t understand that my plans are ever-changing.  It has gotten me into trouble with me–as I struggle to find balance between planning and faith.

I am thinking of July.

This is settled:  I can’t stay in Mexico right now.  I haven’t been able to get enough pesos to pay my school loans here.  I have to go home and pay those off so that I can get groove on in Mexico again.  Therefore, the decision has been made to head north of the border.  Back to chaos and confusion.  sigh.

I started applying for jobs in both Tennessee and Virginia.  I have two homes in the United States–and I am unsure of where I belong there.  Now that Daddy has a job in Virginia, I know that I have the capabilities of staying with one of my parents to save on rent money while I strive to get rid of college debt.  It’s a really normal thing in Mexico–living with your parents.  I’ve decided that it doesn’t bother me anymore, as my way of thinking has become more Mexican.

Today I received an email I have been wanting.  I have an interview!  Woo hoo!  I continue to pray for guidance.  I will work hard to keep the right attitude:  if it is meant to be…

Tied Up With a Bow


I have been known to make blanket statements in a snap-judgement manner a time or two. Especially when it comes to the rearing of my children. No, I do not have children. Yes, I consider myself a professional when it comes to kids–kids are my business. I also have been known to eat my words a time or two…

The past several years I’ve made a lot of decisions with the following starter: When I have children, they will never _________.

You can fill in the blank with many different items. Watch television at home (You have more brain activity staring at a blank wall). Play with toys with batteries (the research says they shouldn’t do this until they are four). Be loud in church (I don’t have the solution to this–I just know that other kids can be quiet so mine can too). Eat bad food (I feel better when I eat MY veggies, won’t they? Plus, then when they poop it won’t take forever…). Wear big bows and flowers in their hair (Obviously this pertains to my girls).


When we were younger, my oldest friend wore bows with every outfit. Big bows, little bows, hair bows made of balloons, etc. I used to love looking at all the options where they hung in the bathroom. In recent years, I’ve seen these AWFUL baby pictures though, where Mamas put bows on their babies heads with elastic bands (hairless babies). Or even worse is when the flowers (they also attach with elastic) take over the entire baby because they are so large. I’ve seen this done tastefully–but as a rule of thumb, if the flower is bigger than the face, don’t use it…


Well, I am afraid I will have to change my decision of hairbows, based on the cuties I’ve seen at school this week. We wear school uniforms, so for the most part, all the kids look the same. We were walking around the track for morning exercise, and all I saw was a sea of brightly colored bows and flowers. The next day, one of my cutest girls came to school with her hair in two pigtails with huge bright green flowers adorning the sides of her head. They matched her bright green shirt perfectly.

I can’t wait for my cute little Mexican girls to sport some BIG bows in their hair. After all, what’s a little girl without a little something to spice up a boring old ponytail?