Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Blues

We decided to go out for the first time in days today. I've been sick with a bad cold and spending my days alternating between the couch and the bed. I woke up in the afternoon today after a night of uncomfortable sleep from the cold medicine I took. I tried to take the first shower in the apartment now that we finally have a gas tank for the water heater, and I got about 50 seconds of hot water. It wasn't great to start the day with a cold shower and leftover grogginess from the medicine.

The Zocalo downtown is set up with winter activities and lights at night, and Jose has been dying to visit so we finally went today. It probably wasn't a great idea for me to go, but he was starting to go crazy in the house and I thought it would be a nice experience. Apparently the Zocalo "winter wonderland" is a very popular Christmas event in the city. There are stations for kids like snowball fights, snowmobiling, snowslides, and snow man making. The main attraction is an ice skating rink. Anyone can ice skate and it is totally free, so the lines get really long. We sat and watched for awhile, but it was mostly a line of people dragging themselves along the railing. Jose had never seen an ice rink before, so it was a good experience for him. He didn't want to skate because there were so many people, but it is definitely something we will have to try in the future. We had planned to stay until it got dark and the lights on the surrounding buildings turned on, but I was worn out and we left early. It was still nice to see something that is so popular and important here during the holidays.

The biggest bummer of the day was that Jose left our camera on the bus. We bought it on our honeymoon and it was our big splurge after the wedding, so its unfortunate that we only had it for a year. Jose realized he had left it on the bus less than a minute after we got off at the metro station. We started running to try to catch up with the bus, but it had already gone out of sight. We knew where the bus would go to start the next run, so we ran over there and tried to find it. We knew that the windshield had swatstikas, and we checked each bus. I talked to a young bus driver and told him what we were doing. He took us all around the station until we actually found the bus. We looked inside, but the camera was gone from the seat. We think the driver had it, because there were only two other passengers on the bus who wouldn't have passed our seats when they left. The young driver who came with us talked to the assisant of the swatstika bus and asked him to just give us back the camera, but he claimed he didn't have it. The young driver later told us that he would have asked any other driver to give us back the camera, but the driver we had was known for not caring about other people. We tried to get it back, and it feels better to know we tried to find the camera, but it is still annoying to have lost it. At least we had it for September and October when we got all our good travel pictures and pictures of Cholula as a puppy.

While going to the Zocalo wasn't worth losing the camera or even really getting out of bed, it was nice to see the Christmas festivities. I realize that Christmas Eve is tomorrow, but it could easily be 3 months away because I have no holiday spirit. I'd usually be thrilled about tomorrow and all the cooking I'd do, but I can't even get myself to make eggnog this year. Its going to be a very different Christmas than usual, but at least I can blame it on being sick.

I hope everyone enjoys a great Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


We cooked our first dinner last night at the apartment. Our kitchen has lots of counter space, a six burner stove, and endless storage. It is easy for both of us to cook without getting in each others way. It is also really pretty.

We had chicken tacos with manchego cheese and avacado. It was fun to cook, and it was really fun to eat with just the two of us. We don't have a kitchen table yet, so we ate in the living room. We had just gotten cable a few hours earlier, so I'm guessing we would have eaten there even with a table.

I was hesitant to get the TV so early, but it was definitely a good idea. Its nice to be able to just relax at night on the couch and watch some TV. We've been having lots of quality family time in the evenings on the couch playing with Cholula and watching movies.

Living here is more comfortable and we are much happier. It is amazing to be alone and not have to worry about being around other people or being in someone else's house. I haven't fallen out of bed again, and Jose is sleeping more each night, so we are finally getting rested. I'm even starting to look forward to Christmas, which until yesterday I thought was about a month away. I'm going to make some eggnog to get into the holiday spirit.

I hope the holidays are going well for everyone, and that you are all looking forward to a great Christmas!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Moved In

Jose and I spent our first night in the apartment last night. It was stressful, and honestly probably a mistake. We spent the entire day shopping, moving our stuff, and cleaning up. We bought a TV for Jose, and we are going to split cable with Sergio and Maribel, so Jose can watch the rest of the football season. Sergio and Maribel took us on another 4 hour department store shopping excursion yesterday evening. By the time we got back from that, we were worn out and cranky, but we did have a beautiful comforter for our bed. We washed dishes, put things away, and made the bed before finally going to sleep late. We were too tired to enjoy that we were finally in the apartment, and too cranky to ignore the piles of boxes and clothes everywhere.

To further celebrate the greatness of last night, I fell out of bed in the middle of the night. I don't remember falling at all, but for the rest of the night I could barely sleep because my foot hurt so badly. I thought I had broken it, but luckily it isn't that bad. It still hurts a lot today, and wasn't the best first night experience to be had, but I'm sure it will get better soon.

Right now I am sitting on the couch in the living room with Cholula playing at my feet, making couch covers from pretty sheets, and listening to rain and Jose setting up the range in the kitchen. It is the first time in a long time that I have really felt comfortable. I think I might even feel at home.

Hopefully our second night here goes better. Today feels much better than yesterday, and I think that we are going to do well here.


Monday, December 14, 2009


Exciting news! My lovely sister Anna has decided to give up school and work to live with us for about 6 months. She is excited to live in Mexico and use her Spanish more, and we are thrilled that she will be here to keep us company.

She thinks she will be coming around January 15th. By then the apartment should be done, so she can start living in a nice place. Since our apartment is only one bedroom, she is going to rent one room in an apartment across the patio from our apartment. It will only cost her 23 dollars a month. She will have her bedroom there, and we will share our kitchen and living room. Her bedroom is in almost perfect condition now. It is painted a vivid blue that would probably only look good in Mexico, and we are going to leave that so her room can look traditional.

It will be really nice for Jose and me to have her living with us. Since Anna loves to travel, speak Spanish, and learn about new cultures, I am sure she will make us do things we wouldn't usually do. I wouldn't be surprised if she makes us look at Mexico totally differently. We are getting used to life here, but it will be helpful to have someone who is actually excited about it.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Almost Done!

The apartment is almost done, and it is already spectacular. We the floor was put in a few days ago and all the painting is done. We have bought more furniture at the tiangis and bought the refrigerator and stove. It is a totally different space than we started with and we will be very comfortable there.

We have cockroaches, but Jose sprayed tonight and hopefully they won't come back. I think they were coming out of the drain in the bathroom, and we are going to keep that covered. I didn't know what they were and didn't think they were that bad, but everyone in Jose's family freaked out when they saw them. I guess because I haven't lived with them I don't know how bad they can be.

The floor is linoleum tile that looks kind of like fake oak. It was inexpensive and covered up the dirty floor. It was installed directly over the old cement floor, and there are a few cracks in the edges because the cement was even, but they aren't noticeable. Along with the paint, to apartment looks new and clean, and that is really all I ask for.

We were going to paint the bedroom purple, but changed plans immediately when we saw the paint on the wall. Jose described it as "Barbie purple," and I can't think of a better description. If we had been decorating a girlie girl's room it would have worked, but we would have hated seeing it. Instead, we bought a creamy yellow and painted the bottom half of the wall with that and the top half with the creamy white that is in the rest of the house. The room is bright and airy now. It will be a refreshing room to end the day and wake up in.

The tiangis has continued to provide us with great furniture. Today we bought two small wooden butcher blocks to put on both sides of the stove. It was less than 30 dollars for both handmade tables. They need some sanding, but they are exactly what we were looking for. One of our most exciting buys is a stainless steel counter with a shelf at the bottom. It is at least 6 feet long and looks like it was from a restaurant. From the tiangis we have bought a kitchen hutch, counter, two butcher block tables, a coffee table, and a bedframe for 90 dollars.

We had a hard time buying the stove because my bank wouldn't approve the charges. I called three times and everyone I talked to did the same thing and said it was fixed. I am about to give up on my credit card because almost every time I make a charge, I have to call the bank to confirm. I have a travel approval on the card, but it doesn't seem to work. It slowed us down a lot, but my godfather gave us an early Christmas present at just the right time, and we got to go back to the store today and easily buy the stove with cash. I am probably more excited about the stove than anything else, because I want to spend a lot of time cooking in my new kitchen.

Our refrigerator and stove will arrive in the next few days, and we are going to move furniture in tomorrow. We are also going to buy kitchen supplies and bedding tomorrow. If everything goes well, we may have our first night in the apartment tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Getting Busy

Working on the apartment has been really good for us. We are going to bed earlier and actually tired, getting up hours earlier, and working hard during the day. We have spent at least 6 hours painting each day. The first day was virtually a waste of time, material, and money, because the cheap white paint that we bought still hadn't covered the walls after 3 coats. We should have known that 8 dollars for 5 gallons of paint wouldn't work. This morning we bought quality paint and had all the walls completely white by the end of the day. Tomorrow we get to start painting the color and really see the apartment turn into what we are imagining. It already looks bigger and brighter and more comfortable.

I was really discouraged about decorating the apartment, because I couldn't figure out how to buy used furniture. I have loved thrift stores since I was young and spent hours searching different ones all over Sonoma County with my grandfather, but everyone I asked didn't even get the concept. We went to about 100 department stores will Maribel and Sergio, and it made me want to buy furniture less and less. Then, we walked through the flea market near our house and found a metal hutch for the kitchen for 11 dollars. The next day we found a painted black wood coffee table with flowers carved on the sides. If we are patient, we will find nice used furniture bit by bit and have a beautiful apartment. Not only do I now feel better about decorating, I am obsessed with the flea market and visit every day it is open. It is nice to have a low cost obsession that gets me out of the house and the apartment.

Our life has just been the apartment lately. It is making me feel really good, because I am doing something that is quickly showing the results of my productivity. And that productivity is going to benefit us so much in so little time that it is making everything seem more manageable. I hope it continues to get better as we get closer to having a home!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Starting the Apartment

We got up early this morning and started working on the apartment, after what felt like weeks of waiting. It was overwhelming when we first got there, and saw the large holes at the bottom of the wall that were previously hidden by Maribel and Sergio's stuff. All I could think about for the first half hour was how much I wished my parent's were there to help us. I wanted to get right to cleaning and then painting, but I had to be patient and get the holes patched.

We went to the paint store to get the wall cement, and were told to come back in an hour. We went back an hour later, and were told to come back in half an hour. We went back in half an hour, and no surprise, were told to come back in half an hour. By this time we had gotten the walls cleaned and we had nothing else to do but patch the holes, so we walked until we found an open hardware store. We got the cement and were quickly filling holes like professionals. We're lucky to have my dad who has taught us enough about construction that we can get right o fixing up the apartment on our own.

On the way back from the hardware store, we walked through the tiangis, which is like a flea market on the main street. Finally, I found used furniture. There was a beautiful wooden shelf, but by the time I had convinced myself to get it it was gone. I did find a metal hutch for the kitchen for only 12 dollars that will look nice in the kitchen when painted. Tomorrow we are going to go back and walk the entire 1.5 mile tiangis and see what else there is.

Our only major confusion today came from the primer we bought. We were expecting white primer like we use in the United States, but what we have is kind of like a putty. It turns out it needs to be mixed with a lot of water, and then it turns into white water. We painted it on anyways, and the walls now look like they have a coat of oil on them. It is more of a sealant, but that is what we need because the walls were so dirty.

Tomorrow we just need to put "primer" on a few big patches and then we are ready to paint. We are also going to order the floor tomorrow, and hopefully it will be installed a few days after. Its all starting to come together!


Friday, December 4, 2009

We're Home!

We are kind of home. At least, we now have a home in Mexico and can say "let's go home" instead of "let's go to your aunt's house." Oh my goodness, I can't wait for it all to be put together. But I'm going to have to, because that is going to take some work.

Our apartment is next door (shares a wall, actually) to Jose's aunt's house. The building has 6 apartments, but only Sergio and Maribel and Maribel's grandmother and cousin live in two of the apartments. Maribel's grandmother owns the building. The rent is only going to be 75 U.S. dollars a month. Our apartment is off a pretty nice patio, and will be off a beautiful patio when I get to fill it with plants. The apartment has one bedroom, a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. It is spacious and has lots of potential. Now, however, it doesn't go beyond that. It hasn't been lived in for years, the floor is dirty cement, and the paint is faded and dirty. We're on it though.

Today we went out and bought the paint, and hope to start painting on Sunday. The apartment can be a little dark, so our plan is to paint one wall in each room with color and use cream on the other walls. I am thinking about using some sort of chair rail to give some variety to each room. The bedroom will have purple, because I have always wanted a purple room and this is the perfect opportunity. The living room will be royal blue, and the kitchen will be green. With fresh paint and colors I love, the apartment should look a lot better.

Next week, when we are done painting, we are going to have floor put in. It will be a cheap, fake, light-colored wood linoleum. It is only 4 dollars per square meter, and includes free installation. It is easy, cheap, and might even end up looking nice.

I am eager to see the apartment with new paint and flooring. This is really going to be our apartment because we are starting with just a basic, dirty apartment. I am sure it will look totally different and clean when we have all the ugliness covered. We will have created a space for ourselves, and I think we will finally feel like we have a home away from home.

I am very excited about this project, and will be writing about it all the time. I am looking forward to having an apartment and getting to decorate it, but I think much of the excitement comes from what this means. It means we won't just be waiting anymore. We are accepting what has been given to us, and making it work the best we can. I really need that.

Good things are going to start happening!

I want clean and green

Last night I had a small meltdown, because I realized I don't have any idea when I last saw a tree. Or a garden. I am used to Healdsburg with trees everywhere, and now I don't even know where the nearest tree would be. I have always appreciated trees more than almost anything else in nature, and it is a huge loss to not have them here.

Besides not having trees, everything in our neighborhood is gray. Houses are made from cement, and it is rarely painted in this area. There is so much dust it can actually be seen blowing down the street like mist. Then it settles and gives everything a dull grayish brown tone.

I couldn't sleep until about 3 am last night, because every time I closed my eyes I saw images of Sonoma County. Mostly I saw my family's forest ranch in Healdsburg, and the clean streets and many trees of the town. It had forgotten how beautiful and different it is from here.

I had no idea how depressing it would be to live in a cement and dust world. I honestly feel like leaving Mexico City for a few days, just to find a town with trees and nature still surviving. Mexico City has a lot to offer, but our area of Chimaluacan doesn't have much going for it besides relative safety and family.

I was sure last night that I had to leave Mexico City. I was sure I could not live here, and I needed to find a clean town with trees. While that would be amazing, I don't think it is the best option. Giving up trees and cleanliness will be better than giving up family and everything there is to do in Mexico City. The same night I decided I couldn't live here, Jose decided he is going to start school here at UNAM in September. He has finally gotten excited about something, and I'm not going to take that away for trees.

Even though it is tough to live in Mexico City, it can be good. We are going to keep working on it until it is good and we are happy. I know that can happen.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

New approach

I have been thinking about the blog lately, and I don't think I have been going at this quite right. I write posts, but I don't really include how Jose and I are doing, what we are feeling, or what we are learning from this unexpected experience. All I have included in the past is what we are doing- where we are, the plans our attorneys have, and basic facts. I think a lot more could come from this blog if I went a little deeper.

This all started when my aunt was looking at my university application last week. I had written a personal statement about my year as an AmeriCorps member and how that helped develop my passion for social welfare. She mentioned that these months I have spent in Mexico would make a really strong personal statement, and recommended that I try writing a new one with that topic. I sat down, totally ready to write the personal statement, and realized that I couldn't. I knew it would be a good statement and would make my application better. I could vaguely visualize the statement and the message that I would include. But, still, I couldn't do it. As much as I wanted to and as hard as I tried, I wasn't capable of getting myself to open up. I am just going through this, without thinking about it or really letting it soak in. I am just trying to breeze through with as little damage as possible.

Eventually I gave up, and called my aunt to admit defeat. She said she wasn't surprised that I couldn't do it and said that it was fine. I submitted my application with the original statement, and almost no mention of being in Mexico. I don't know what that means for my application to one of the most impacted majors on the campus, but it was all I was able to do.

Feeling weak and confused, I spent the next few days thinking. Is it healthy for me to not think about where I am? While it feels like the easiest solution, it seems like a risky solution. A temporary solution that will blow up at any time. I need to understand how I am feeling, where I am, and what my future looks like. Without realizing, I turned my brain off to get through this with less pain. It has kept me from crying, but it has also kept me from starting a life. I set myself up to live these three years in a coma, and reemerge when they were over.

Much of me is still closed off, but at least I realize what is happening. At least now I know what I was doing to myself, before I lost time and happiness. I don't know how long it will be before I am honest and open with myself, but it is too important to give up on.

Hopefully, my efforts will show in the blog with greater insights into our new life as it turns into something with joy.


Monday, November 30, 2009


We hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We did without a doubt! I can honestly say that this was my favorite, and most memorable, Thanksgiving. Jose and I cooked all day long, and the result was a totally traditional and successful Thanksgiving dinner.

For under 100 dollars, we bought everything we needed. It took research and dedication, but we did find every ingredient. There were some variations between what we usually use in the United States and what we found here, but it all worked out.

We had a 15 pound turkey, walnut stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, biscuits, peas, salad, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and Haagan Dazs vanilla ice cream. Fresh cranberries are apparently not to be found in Mexico, but we made sauce from dried cranberries that turned out exactly the same as with fresh. We used a strange kind of pumpkin, but once cooked and blended, looked the same.

Everyone was really excited about Thanksgiving, because they knew nothing more about it than it involved a turkey. All day, people were visiting us in the kitchen asking about what the pie crust was for, how to cook the turkey, and why we were blending pumpkin. Cooking in the oven isn't very common in Mexico, so they were interested in us using it. The oven doesn't have degrees marked on it, only 1,2,3,4. We couldn't figure out what that meant, so we don't know what temperature we cooked anything at. Luckily, the turkey came out moist.

I was worried that they wouldn't like the food because it is so different than what they usually eat, but dinner was a huge success. Jose and I had to serve ourselves first, because they weren't sure how to serve the food. By the time we got to the table though, everyone looked like experts. They were mixing potato, turkey, and cranberry sauce like they had done it every year of their lives. Everyone agreed the food was different, but really good. They want us to teach them how to make everything we had at that dinner, and more of our favorite foods. It was so nice to see them really enjoying the food we made and loved.

Sergio asked us if we had to pray with this meal, and we said no, but didn't tell him about saying what we are grateful for. For that, we waited until everyone was comfortable at the table and then sprung it on them. To my surprise, no one was hesitant and everyone took it seriously. Maribel and Sergio, the newlyweds, both said they were thankful for their new families. I could tell they were excited to be able to say that. Rosy, Jose's cousin, said she was thankful for the good health that every member of her family has. Irene, Jose's aunt, said she is thankful for her family and the dinner, because it was exciting for her to try a new tradition. Jose and I both said that we were thankful for having them become our family, and for giving us a loving place to stay and spend the holiday.

Dessert was also a success. The pumpkin pie turned out more like pumpkin custard or pudding in a crust, but it was extremely popular. They like the apple pie also, but not nearly as much as the pumpkin. We told them Haagan Dazs ice cream is the best there is, but it had melted on the way home and refroze with ice crystals. I think that having that be the biggest disappointment of the dinner is nothing to complain about though.

Later, Cecilia the other daughter, her boyfriend, and her father came and ate. In total, we served 9 people, and everyone liked the dinner. We have pictures from the day on my Facebook account. This was one of my best days and experiences in Mexico.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Student Visa Update

Our attorney talked to the student visa attorney, but he doesn't know if Jose is eligible or not. He is in Uruguay until the end of November, and in the beginning of December, he is coming to Mexico. When he gets to Mexico, he is going to ask around at the consulate to find out if Jose can apply for the visa or not.

We were hoping for an answer sooner, so we could start working on the visa if we got good news. Cal Poly's winter quarter starts in the very beginning of January. If we are told in the beginning of December that Jose can apply for the visa, it might already be too late to get back in time for winter quarter. He would have to wait until the start of the Spring quarter, which means we wouldn't be able to go home until the beginning of March.

The form we got from Cal Poly for the visa wasn't the right one, and we have been waiting for a few days to get the new one, but it hasn't come yet. I suppose it isn't as big a rush as before, since we have to wait until December anyways, but it would be nice to know it was done.

My dad is getting ready for the Tuesday's appointment by getting as much information together as he can, so if he is told we can appeal, it will move as quickly as possible.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Attorneys, Still Trying

We are still in Mexico City, and Jose has gotten over his sickness. We haven't been doing very much, because we aren't in the mood for doing many touristy things. We would like to find productive things to do, but so far we haven't thought of anything. What are we supposed to do? I can't work, if Jose got a job I'd be left alone, and we can't go to school. I wish we could get jobs, even temporary, boring ones,because they would at least give us something to do and help pass the time. We spend all day thinking, and mix sleeping, playing with the dogs, and watching TV in with that. Its hard to actually have nothing to do and no responsibilities to take care of. We can't get out of this waiting game, and its dragging on for way too long.

We were trying to work on the student visa, but its going really slowly and questionably. We got the I-20 form that we needed from Cal Poly, but before we can submit it we need a letter from Jose's academic advisor. His advisor said he would write a letter for the waiver packet, and never did, and now he hasn't responded to our e-mail about the letter. All he has to do is say when he thinks Jose will graduate. It will take him 10 minutes to complete, and the entire packet is waiting on it.

I got an e-mail today from the woman at Cal Poly who is helping us with the form, saying that she thinks we might need a different version of it now, because Jose is in Mexico. She has never dealt with a situation like this, so she asked what our attorney thinks. Of course, our attorney doesn't know, and we are waiting for her to have a meeting with another attorney who knows about student visas. We started this first form, might need another, but can't find out quickly because we have to wait for our attorney to talk to another. Of course, even dealing with this form is all in hopes that the new attorney will say that Jose is even eligible for the student visa. We've gotten all excited about school again, with Jose planning out his classes to see when he would graduate, finding out that he could work part-time on campus, be eligible for scholarships, and even get inexpensive health care. It seems to me like we should have found out first whether Jose has a chance of getting the visa, before we start working on it and realize how amazing it would be.

My dad has an appointment on Tuesday with a really good attorney in San Francisco. I don't know the firm's name, but they have a really good reputation. My mom's friend used them when her and her husband were getting his citizenship and they had a good experience. He is a citizen now, and that's success enough for us. My dad is going to find out about appealing the three year bar. Apparently there is a time frame for appeals, and our time is running out, so we would need to start soon. It might be a long shot, but I really hope we can try.

For now, we just have to keep trying to get information, and hopefully there will be something we can do. Its starting to feel like options are slowly dropping off the list, and we are even more stuck than before.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday's Appointment

My dad had an appointment with the attorney on Tuesday to see what options are out there for us. While she is an excellent immigration attorney, and really wants to help us, she does not know much about what to do now that things went wrong.

She is going to talk to other attorneys that she knows who specialize in different areas. Our main options now are to appeal the decision in hopes of overturning the three year bar, or to apply for a student visa. Our attorney knows of another attorney who specializes in overturning immigration rulings, one that specializes in student visas, and another who knows about immigration to Canada, in case we run out of options and want to go up there. My dad and the attorney are planning a "multipronged attack," so that, hopefully, something will work out. Unfortunately, each option has some problems that we may not be able to get around.

We aren't sure how an appeal would go. It seems that immigration doesn't like to change their decisions, or admit anything that might mean they were wrong. We are looking into the appeal, in hopes that we may get the three year bar removed, and can move on with the next step in the process. If we were successful with that, Jose could be back in the United States with legal residence in less than three years. We are waiting for advice from the other attorney before starting an appeal.

A student visa might be the fastest way to get us back in the U.S., but we are not sure Jose is eligible. He would be required to prove that he has a life in Mexico that he would want to return to after graduation, including maintaining a residence in Mexico. We don't have the life here they want to see, and because Jose lived in the United States for 18 years, it would be clear that he has a life there. He has to show he wants to live in Mexico, but he already submitted his application to live in the U.S. permanently, so it would probably be hard for U.S. immigration to believe that Jose wouldn't overstay his visa. Also, he asked at the consulate the last time he was there, and he was told that the three year bar is meant to keep him out of the U.S., so a student visa would interfere with his three year bar and not be allowed. If we could get it, Jose would pay international fees at Cal Poly, which would increase his tuition from $6,000 a year to $17,000 a year. That would, of course, be totally worth it. We are just waiting to hear from the student visa attorney, and hoping for some good news, so we can start applying for the visa, and maybe be home in time for Winter quarter in January.

Another option, and our first choice if we can't be in the United States, is to live in Vancouver and go to school there. Tuition would be about $23,000 a year, but Jose might be able to get some scholarships to help. I loved Canada when I went, and I know I would be much happier there than in many other places. However, Canada just began requiring visas for Mexicans because there were too many immigrating illegally. We had been hearing for the last year or so that lots of undocumented workers in the U.S. left to Canada, because there were more jobs. Jose would need to be approved for a student visa, but also get another visa for living there, and the visa requirements look even more strict than in the United States. Again, he would have to prove that his life is in Mexico, but they also ask about other countries Jose has lived in. Since his school records come from the United States, but we don't have a copy of a visa to show Canada, it will be obvious he lived there illegally. That could really cause problems, because Canada is now serious about preventing Mexicans from living their illegally. It's really just a case of bad timing, because these visa requirements have only been in place since July.

I wish we could combine all the options that could almost work into one option that would definitely work. I do not want to live in Mexico for three years, and to be honest, I don't know if I could be happy. It has been a nice place to visit, after my culture shock wore off at least, but that doesn't mean it would be a nice place to live.

We will continue to hope for a good outcome.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Looking into Options

We are still in Mexico City, and Jose has gotten quite sick, so we are still working on recovering more than moving on. However, we are lucky enough to have a supportive family that is looking into our options for us.

My father has an appointment with our attorney on Tuesday to see what she can come up with. He has been doing a lot of research himself, and while there do appear to be possibilities, each has major drawbacks that appear almost impossible to overcome. We are waiting anxiously to see if the attorney can deliver some good news.

My godfather has discovered the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It looks amazing, and promising. I personally loved Canada both times I went, and have wanted to go back since. I think it could be a very comfortable place for us to stay for three years. We have a much better chance of creating a real life in Canada than Mexico. Plus, I love maple sugar candy, and a three year supply of it would be incredible!

Bit by bit, the world is starting to open up again and give us some room to move.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mexico City, again

We are back in Mexico City, and finally able to relax. We still do not feel great, but it is wonderful to be back with Joses`s family and Cholula. They are so loving and supportive, they usually make dealing with this easier. Sometimes, however, it is harder to be with them rather than in a hotel, because their house is so full of love. Being alone in a hotel is extremeley impersonal, and it is easier to not think about everything we are missing out on with our families in the U.S. The Baltazar`s include us in everything and are always kind, but it makes us think about our families and how much we want to go home even more.

We both woke up with sore throats today, but it doesn`t look like it is anything serious. We really don`t want to deal with physical weakness while trying to build our emotional strength back up, so we spent most of the day in bed. Hopefully our bodies will recover completely quickly, and we can put all our energy into feeling better about our situation.

I am so glad we are young. I can`t imagine how we would be feeling if we were ready to buy a house, start our careers, or, above all, have kids, and we suddenly had to put everything on hold. The only thing we are really missing out on is our family, and luckily we have many ways to stay close. We are in a much better situation than we would be if we were even just five years older.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

News and New Plans

Jose got the long-awaited news from the consulate today. It is much worse than we expected.

We won’t be able to go home for three years. Apparently, Jose was ineligible for the waiver the consulate approved him for in August. They approved him at his appointment, and we didn’t hear anything more, although they changed the decision on September 8th. While we traveled around Mexico (luckily having a great time,) thinking that we would be home soon, we were in fact no longer eligible for the waiver we were preparing. While three years is hard for us to accept, it could have been 10 years just as easily, so we appreciate that it is on the lighter end of the punishment spectrum.

The consulate kept Jose’s waiver packet until today, but we got a chance to look through it this afternoon. We are confident that it would have proved “extreme hardship,” which is what the consular officials look for when deciding the need for residency. Every letter sounds like we are the building blocks of our community and family, the medical records seem like many are in serious danger with us in Mexico, our school records show us both to be geniuses, and overall the packet proves that it is an outstanding life we are leaving in the United States. In my humble opinion, each of our claims is true and visa worthy.

The percentage of cases approved fluctuates, with no warning or explanation by the government. Our biggest concern about committing to this trip was being trapped here if the percentage changed for the worse. When we left the United States, 55 percent of all cases were being approved for the Pilot Program, which allows applicants to return to the United States with a visa less than a week after their second appointment. If we had gotten that, we would have been going home tomorrow. Instead, we got the news that we have to wait three years, before returning to start almost completely over with this whole process.

As we had feared may happen, fewer cases have been approved in the past month. Ruben told us that almost everyone he hosted in the months before we came were approved and returned to the U.S. legally within a few months. However, starting just a week or two after our first appointment (notice how this coincides nicely with Jose’s ineligibility,) Ruben saw an obvious change. Almost everyone he had at his house in September and October were given a minimum 15 month wait. In the past, we heard of the acceptance rate dropping to 20 percent, and it sounds like it is around that number again.

Needless to say, we have countless difficult emotions to deal with. I really thought we were going home. Because I truly believe we deserve to go home now, I got ahead of myself, and was already planning on celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with a newfound respect for my easy life in the United States and my endlessly supportive family. I don’t know what the holidays will be like this year, but I know that this has at least taught me to have greater respect for things as basic as just being alive.

Jose and I are doing okay. My mother says that we are strong and brave, but I’m not sure that we haven’t just been in survival mode. I am looking forward to leaving Ciudad Juarez tomorrow morning, and getting back to family and Cholula in Mexico City to regroup. I think our true strength will come out in the next week or so, when we have gotten back to Mexico City and can finally stop watching our backs all the time. It will be good to drop our guard enough to see what’s really happening inside our hearts and minds. Maybe we are just handling this with strength and bravery, and maybe we are feeling our true emotions, but I just can’t believe that I have that much strength in me. If it turns out that I really do, it is strength that I never knew existed.

We will be posting frequently in the near future with updates and plans. What will we do with these unexpected three open years? Mexico? Canada? Europe? Anything.

We have almost an entire world open to us!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Ciudad Juarez Security

We feel very safe, and comfortable, in our hotel. It was obvious from the moment we stepped in the room that it was the right choice. I can't think of how we would be at Ruben's house now. We really need our privacy and comfort.

Our hotel is three buildings from the consulate, on the same security-filled block. Security guards walk up and down the block. We don't walk more than 15 feet before we pass a guard with a huge gun. I can't believe its true, but I have actually gotten used to having huge guns just feet from me. Sometimes they are even pointed up a little too high, and I can see right in the barrel. How much has changed since I left the United States!

Our hotel is fenced in with many additional security guard, also with very large guns. The hotel has free transportation to major places in the city, including the DHL office where applicants pick up their immigration decisions. Last night at about 11, I had a headache and needed medicine, so we asked the security guards if there was somewhere close we could go. Of course, we were not going to walk around in the dark, even in this safe part, so we didn't expect to find any medicine. But, as soon as the security guard heard we don't have a car, he called over another security guard, took our order, and the guard was literally running to the nearest pharmacy. A few minutes later, Advil and a toothbrush we delivered to us in the lobby. We were so impressed, we gave a 60 peso tip for a 30 peso purchase, but the guard assured us that they will get whatever we need 24 hours a day. Since we will be here for another four days at least, that tip and the consequential eager availability may be very helpful.

How slow time is passing, waiting to learn what is going on. But, we continue to hope!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another trip to the Consulate

We still don't have any news. Jose spent 7 hours at the consulate yesterday, and another 4 hours today, just to be told to come back. He has spent very little time talking to the immigration officials. Almost all his waiting time has been spent sitting outside in the 48 degree weather, yesterday without even a sweater.

Unfortunately, the Consulate doesn't interview on Friday, and Monday is a Mexican holiday, so Jose can't go back until Tuesday. Hopefully on Tuesday they will actually tell him something.

We are staying in a hotel right next to the consulate, because Ruben's house didn't work out as well this time. His daughter is home for two weeks, and in the room we used last time, so we had to sleep on a futon in the living room. They also didn't give us food, and we wouldn't go out, so we were hungry too much of the time. When we got back from the consulate yesterday, they had removed the futon so we couldn't go to sleep, even though we were exhausted. About a half hour after we got back to his house, we decided we needed some privacy, and went to the hotel. It was definitely a good choice, because we have a heater, wireless internet, and lots of American TV channels.

Although we are worried, we are comfortable. In the hotel, we can't even tell we are in Juarez.

We continue to hope for good news.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Appointment News

For some reason, Jose has to return to the consulate tomorrow morning. We do not know what is going on. Hopefully it turns out to be okay, but it could be a problem.

Sorry for not posting earlier, we had a hard time getting comfortable with this unexpected turn of events. We will post again tomorrow.

We will continue to hope.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Appointment Tomorrow

Obviously, I slacked in the past few days, and did not fulfill my dedicated blogger requirements. I am sure that in the days leading up to the appointment, you would have liked to know how things were going. For leaving you in the dark, I apologize.

To be honest, we haven't been doing much. We got back from our hectic trip to La Manzanilla on Saturday afternoon, and then left for Juarez Tuesday afternoon. We mostly waited and wondered. Thank goodness we have Jose's wonderful family and our fantastic dog to keep us company, or I think we might have gone crazy with impatience. Cholula has entertained us and brought lots of innocent joy to the last two weeks. She, as well as Jose's family, are great support systems.

The wait for the appointment is almost over. We are excited about that, but of course, the minute the appointment is over, we are again waiting for the decision. Because this appointment is much more simple than the first, we are not as nervous, but it getting so close to the big decision.

Unfortunately, we have heard that fewer people have been approved in the last few weeks. Hopefully everything will turn out as we hope, but I can honestly say that if it doesn't, we both can see that we could survive here. It isn't home, but we can have a life no matter what happens. When we first came, we thought we wouldn't make it if we had to stay in Mexico, but that isn't true. It feels so much better to know that we can handle whatever happens.

Everything happens for a reason, right?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mexico City, Part 1

We were in Mexico City from Monday to Thursday of this week. We stayed with Jose's great aunt on the outskirt of the city. It still has a lot of people and buildings, but it is calm and more comfortable than the busy parts of the actual city. Jose's aunt, Irene, lives with her husband, two daughters (both in their 20's), and their two big dogs. Her eldest daughter, Maribel, and her husband, Sergio, whose wedding we went to a few weeks ago, live next door and have their dentist office at her parent's house. They spend many hours each day at the house, and we are becoming good friends with them. We are extremely happy and comfortable at Irene's house. We will be staying with them again from Saturday, when we get back from Tecoman and La Manzanilla, until we leave on Tuesday. Its going to be hard to leave the family and not see them for a long time.

We arrived at the Mexico City bus station late in the afternoon on Monday. Irene and her husband picked us up and drove us to their house. We went on a walk around the neighborhood with Irene. It is known as a poor area, and it is pretty apparent. Most of the streets are dirt, there is garbage everywhere, and usually about six stray dogs per block. Now that I have a dog, it is much harder for me to see so many dogs without homes. Jose even walked by a dead dog. All the dogs we have seen are friendly and well behaved. I always thought of stay dogs as aggressive and mean, but these ones aren't. When we took Cholula out for a walk, they would all sniff her, but they were always gentle.

On Tuesday, we took a microbus, one of the small, rickety local buses to the subway station. We took the subway to Chapultepec, to visit the National Museum of Anthropology. It was very interesting to ride the subway, especially when it got really full, but everything went well and we got there and back safely. We even saw the one stranger we talked to at Maribel and Sergio's wedding. When we got off the subway, we had to take another microbus to the Chapultepec park. It was clean, quiet, and mostly all forest. We spent more than 6 hours in the museum. Our favorite part was the top floor, that has an exhibition for each of the major modern day indigenous groups. One was even Jose's group, the Purepecha. It said that the Tarascans, as the Purepecha were known before, were very warlike. Today, people from Michoacan, the Purepecha area, are known for being hotheaded, and it must be in part from the Tarascans. The downstairs was artifacts from the ancient civilizations. We saw some great things, but most of it was very similar to what we saw in each site's museum. It got a little repetitious. We were disappointed to find that many of the pieces didn't have any information. I had wanted to see the museum for the last 2 years, and it was definitely worth the wait.

On Wednesday, we went to the historic downtown and saw plaza called the Zocalo. There is a lot to do there, including about 5 museums that we hope to visit. There was an international bookfare happening in the Zocalo, which we were excited about, but we didn't find anything worth buying. Unfortunately, our day was cut short by a massive protest about electricity. The National Museum of Art, our first stop, is next door to the senate house. The senate recently laid off 40,000 workers that worked with the city's electricity, while raising prices for all residents, so there are very few happy people. The protesters filled the streets, and blocked off the museum. We made it into the museum only half and hour before the museum had to be closed for the day. We saw some amazing art at the museum. It was definitely worth the trip into the city. I even got to see some paintings by Dr. Atl, who may be my all-time favorite artist. When we left the museum, we had to leave by a back door, to avoid the protest. It had gotten pretty hectic outside, and there were police officers with shields and all kind of protection lining every street, so we decided to go home.

On Thursday, we again went to the Zocalo. But, again, we had problems that cut our day short. The microbus we took into the city refused to take us all the way to the subway station, because there was too much traffic and the driver just wanted to turn around. So we had to walk through congested intersections to find the subway, and then all through the station to get to the correct platform. We were in foul moods by the time we were at the ticket booth, but we had already spent almost 2 hours getting to the subway, so we decided we had to keep going. We finally got to the Zocalo, and visited the National Palace, the White House of Mexico. We saw beautiful Diego Rivera murals, some important room, a garden, and admired the building. Our moods still hadn't gotten much better, I think partly because we were dreading the bus ride coming up in the evening, so we got some food and went back to the house. It was nice to spend time with the family and Cholula before we had to leave, anyways.

On Saturday morning we will be back in Mexico City for 4 more days. We we see as many of the remaining places we want to visit as we can fit in, which will definitely include Teotihuacan for the pyramids.


Second Appointment Update

My appointment is in less than a week. We are going to leave Mexico City on Tuesday evening and arrive in Ciudad Juarez at 8:30 pm. Ruben, who we stayed with before, is going to pick us up and we will again stay with his family.

The next morning, on Wednesday at 9:00, I have my appointment. It isn't an actual interview like the first appointment. This time I am only going to drop of the packet the attorney prepared, and collect my DHL tracking number, so we know when to pick up the Consulate's decision. My appointment is on Wednesday, and the decision is ready three to five days after, so we will probably find out between Monday and Wednesday of the following week. The attorney said that if I am allowed to go home, I have to fill out another paper to be sent my visa, so we may not be able to go home the same day. Still, we will be extremely happy if we are allowed to go home anytime in the near future.

The packet from the attorney contains all of the evidence we have to show that I need to return quickly, and my pardon asking forgiveness for entering the United States legally. The packet is huge, and the attorney says that we have a lot of good evidence. Hopefully good things will come of that!

We have gotten over our culture shock, which lasted throughout September and into October, but it still doesn't mean we want to stay here. We are able to actually enjoy many of the things we do here now, but we couldn't enjoy thirteen to fifteen more months.

The appointment will be here before we know it, and while we are very nervous, Emma insists that she can feel we will be going home soon. I hope she has good gut instinct.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

To Mexico City

Tomorrow morning, we are leaving Cholula, Puebla to go to Mexico City. We will stay with Jose's great aunt, and visit museums, parks, and other interesting attractions in the city. On Thursday, we will leave Cholula the dog in Mexico City for 2 nights. We will go to Tecoman, Colima for the day to visit Jose's father's uncle and son, who will be the first Mederos family members we have met. We will also have a short visit with Lucio, Jose's great uncle who we visited in September.

In the afternoon, we will leave Tecoman for La Manzanilla. We will arrive in Melaque, the nearby town, at about 6 pm, run to La Manzanilla and gather the things we had left there, and get back on a bus to Mexico City at 8 pm.

On Saturday morning, we will be back in Mexico City with Jose's aunt and Cholula, to wait for Tuesday, when we leave for Ciudad Juarez.

10 days until Jose's appointment!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cholula, Puebla for the dog

Our flight got into Puebla at 5:30, and we took a taxi straight to Cholula. We wanted to immediately get the dog, but as soon as we arrived, we realized that we did not want to leave the next morning. We went to a travel agency and asked about hotels that would accept dogs. We had already gotten permission to keep the dog for a night in the hotel we stayed at on the last trip, but we wanted to have another hotel available, so there wasn’t any pressure on the first hotel to let us stay longer.

Finally, we got to pick up the dog, whose name we decided last week would be Pax. When we arrived at the vets office, however, it turned out that our dog is actually a female. Pax would no longer be the name, but we immediately had the answer. Cholula. We had wanted to name the dog after the area, but we hadn’t been able to find any good boy names. I had tried to convince Jose before that we should name the male dog Cholula, but he said that wasn’t appropriate for a male. Luckily, we have a female, so her name is now and forever Cholula.

After getting Cholula and the supplies she needed immediately , we headed off to the new hotel to see if we could stay a few nights. We put Cholula on her leash, but she just sat on the sidewalk, so we carried her to the hotel. We were accepted at the hotel, and for only fifteen dollars a night, we decided to stay there instead of the hotel from last time. We are staying until Monday, so we have a few days to spent with Cholula and get her comfortable with us before she has to travel on a bus.

The first night with Cholula, on Thursday, was difficult. We didn’t pick her up until after 6 pm, and she has spent all three months of her life in a tiny cage, so she was very excited and full of energy. We played with her and took her on a long walk, but she didn’t go to sleep until 10:30. We are having her sleep in her carrying case with the door off to keep the hotel room clean. She has had a hard time adjusting to the carrying case, and I think it is because it is so similar to the cage she was trapped in before. She would cry if she couldn’t see us, so we put her on the bedside table facing us. The first night, Jose took care of her. She woke up every half hour and tried to get out of her carrying case.

Yesterday, we took her to a very professional and much more knowledgeable vet than the old man we bought her from. He gave her a complete check up, and said the only problem with her is that she has an under bite, so she will looking funny when she gets older. She is even at the perfect weight, which is surprising considering the unhealthy food she had been getting. We got medicine to keep her ears clean and toothpaste and a toothbrush. He looked over her vaccinations and deworming record, and told us what needed to be done in the future and what needed to be done now. He gave her the last vaccination she needed for now, and flea medicine. He is writing up a health certificate and medical record for her, so we have everything in a more official form for when we cross the border. He said that we should not have any problems getting her into the United States.

She is very well behaved. She only goes to the bathroom inside where she has gone before, so we have the shower of the hotel room set up, and that is working very well. She only barks at other dogs, and I think it is mostly because she was the only dog at the vet’s office, so she hasn’t had a chance to meet many dogs. She met a calm stray dog yesterday, and stopped barking as soon as she had a chance to smell her. Our main issue is that she is chewing on everything. Her favorite things to chew are our fingers and my hair. We got her some chew toys, but they are too big for her little mouth. We got chew sticks, and one was gone in a day, but she doesn’t seem to like the other flavors. We will definitely be excited when she stops chewing.

We walked her almost all day yesterday and she spent a lot of time playing with her toys. She has a lot of energy, but when we ate lunch yesterday, she sat under the table quietly the whole time. She went to sleep much earlier, and slept for a few hours at a time. She still tried to leave the carrying case to sleep with us on the bed each time she woke up, but she went right back to sleep in her bed with a little petting.

We are very excited to have her and be able to spend so much time with her. She takes a lot of energy, but it is energy that we have nothing else to do with. I think she is going to make the time until we go home pass much faster.

Only 11 days until Jose’s appointment!


Tulum, Quintana Roo

On Tuesday, we decided we had had enough with Cancun. The downtown area we stayed in was nice, but still basically aimed at the tourist. The beach area was nothing but tourist shops and activities, except the beach, which is amazing for everyone. We were tired of being bombarded with things to buy and so many people. We talked to someone at a travel agency about small towns on the coast, and he recommended Tulum, so we went back.

The ruins are on the outskirts of the town, and the beach is about a five minute taxi ride from the town. There are little cabins on a beach that are popular to rent, but it was hot and Jose was not willing to forgo air conditioning. We found an inexpensive hotel in town with air conditioning, then explored the town since it was too late to go to the beach.

There are many tours offered for different kinds of fishing and snorkeling, but it is overwhelmingly for the residents. There are some resorts on the beach, but they are far enough away that they don’t make up a part of the town. It was nice to be in a town that was actually for living, yet still have the Caribbean a few minutes away.

We ate dinner at a restaurant near our hotel whose owner lived in Santa Rosa for a long time. After he divorced, he moved back to Mexico, but his daughters now have families in Santa Rosa. He said that people from Sonoma County do not visit Tulum, and was excited that we had.

On Wednesday we took a taxi to the beach early and spent the whole day there. We rented lounge chairs, so whenever we felt like getting out of the water, we could gaze out at it, or take a nap, which our gazing easily turned into. There were less people, and the beach wasn’t lined by malls and hotels, so it was a lot quieter and more relaxing.

We left Tulum on Thursday morning to return to Cancun for our afternoon flight from Cancun to Puebla. When we got to the bus station, we were told that the 9 o’clock bus we were planning to take could arrive between 9 am and 1 pm. Luckily, it arrived at 8:45 and we were able to get to Cancun a few hours early. We ate lunch at Chili’s for some refreshing American food (there is really good corn on the cob there), but the bus to get us back downtown was extremely late, and then extremely slow, so we got stressed out about making it to the airport.

We got to the airport an hour early, like they ask, but their Express Check-In machines were broken, so we had to wait in line. The line was huge, and the service was poor, so it took almost an hour just to check in. We arrived at the gate just 2 minutes before the shuttle to the plane arrived. It was very stressful, but luckily it worked out and we got on the plane. We don’t plan on flying Mexicana again, though.


Monday, October 12, 2009

More Photos

We have lots of new pictures up on Facebook! They include Palenque, Oaxaca, Cancun, Tulum, and some more Cholula photos. If you don't have a Facebook, you can sign onto our fake account and see them. Go to and sign in. The username is and the password is mexico2009. Then click on Emma Mederos or Jose Mederos, or any photos you see, to view the photos on our real accounts.

We are leaving Cancun tomorrow and going down to Tulum for a few days on the Caribbean without so many people. Then we'll be off to Puebla to pick up the dog!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Cancun, Tulum, and Touristy Tours

We arrived in Cancun on Thursday evening, and found a hotel in the downtown for only 30 USD. We walked around for a few blocks, but it was really hot and my wasp stings were killing me, so we ate and headed back to our air conditioned room. On the way, we stopped at a tour company, and bought two tours. One was for Xel-ha, a "natural aquarium", and Tulum in the same day, and the other is for Chichen Itza with a visit to an indigenous Mayan village.

We went to Xel-ha and Tulum today. It was a 12 hour tour, and the first real tourist experience we have had. A bus picked us up in the morning and dropped us off, and we didn't need to do anything but pay. Xel-ha is a natural Caribbean inlet that they have turned into a water park. People float around in tubes, snorkel, and do other watery activities. It is all inclusive, so we ate and drank a lot, which was really nice, especially because there was food, like mashed potatoes, that we haven't seen in awhile. We floated in the tubes a little bit, but there is no current, so it was really slow and boring. There were more people than we are used to, since before this vacation we have primarily gone camping. We didn't spend much time in the water, although it was nice. The resort-like feel just wasn't for us. Even though it is natural, the way it is operated made it impossible for us to believe it wasn't a pool, and we didn't want to spend our time in a pool.

In the afternoon, we went to Tulum, about 15 minutes away. It was beautiful. Many of the buildings were in good condition, and the blue ocean below was incredible. It is a small site, so it didn't take long to see. One temple there is my favorite building I have seen so far in Mexico. There is still a mural in good condition in it, and it is covered in carvings. We walked down to the beach and stood in the Caribbean ocean for the first time. I cannot believe how blue the water is. It doesn't seem possible. We didn't have our swimsuits, and it will be awhile before I get over my disappointment of not swimming at Tulum. Tomorrow I will swim here in Cancun, though.

Cancun, so far, has been very nice. It is super cheap, calm, and quiet because of the season. The more we travel in the off season, the most convinced I become that I will always travel in the off season.

We were going to go to Chichen Itza tomorrow, but we are tired after the long day today. Instead we are going to relax on the beach tomorrow, and do the 12 and a half hour Chichen Itza trip on Sunday.

It looks like we will be leaving Cancun on Tuesday, and picking up Pax (we think that's the dog's name)then! It costs just as much to fly from Cancun to Puebla as it does to take the bus, so we are going to fly and save over 20 hours of bus travel.

Also, only 19 days until Jose's appointment!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Merida, Yucatan

We arrived in Merida at 5:30 am on Wednesday. We had spent the last two nights sleeping on buses, so we got a hotel room and slept until 11 am. We had planned to visit Chichen Itza, but we were not up for it. We spent most of the day watching TV and napping, because it was humid and over 100 degree Fahrenheit. My ankles were swollen from the wasp stings, bites from ants the size of wasps, and other unidentified insects, and felt horrible when we walked outside. At night we ate dinner and went on a horse drawn carriage ride. It took about an hour, and was pretty disappointing. This city does not have very much to offer.

Today we are leaving Merida and going to Cancun. It is over 10 degrees cooler there and not as humid. We will visit Cancun and the ruins in that area, Tulum, and then visit Chichen Itza in a day trip on the way back to Mexico City.


Palenque, Chiapas

On Tuesday we got off the bus from Oaxaca at 8 am after 15 hours, and immediately got on a tour bus to see the ruins of Palenque, and two different waterfalls. It was a 10 hour tour, but the next bus didn't leave until 9 pm, so it was a good way to fill up the time.

Chiapas shares a border with Guatemala. Palenque is in the jungle, and because of the time of year, it is warm and humid. While we have been in some very humid places, this was more of a choking humidity. While it wasn't comfortable, it definitely added to the jungle experience. We walked under dark green plants with huge leaves, next to thick vines that should be used by Tarzan, and saw and heard strange animals. We didn't see a toucan, but Jose heard lots of howler monkeys, which are one of his favorite animals.

Palenque is the first Mayan site we have visited. The architecture is more complex than we had seen before, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was better. The pyramids in front of mountains of jungle are really pretty to see, though. We walked around the palace, up pyramids, into temples, and through many residential homes. The regular houses are my favorite buildings to see, because that is where the majority of people lived, and where they spent their time. The pyramids are amazing, but the average person didn't spend their time at the temple. I like to see where they cooked, slept, and spent time with their families. They are so different than houses today, and so small. Some of the houses have shelves, tables, or what look like chimneys. It is such a strange feeling to know that I am standing in a house where people used to live and do many of the things I still do.

After the ruins, we went to the Mis-solha waterfall. It took about a half hour to get there, driving up steep mountains. It is a narrow, but powerful waterfall, that drops off a huge rock. People swim in the pool under the fall, but we didn't have our swimsuits. The coolest part of the visit was actually walking under the waterfall. I have wanted to walk under one since I was a little girl and saw it done so many times in Disney animated movies. It was about as cool as I imagined it to be when I was little, too. Everything was really green and the water was crystal clear. There was also a cave with a large creek running through it. It was pitch black, but we rented a flashlight and went in. Inside, there is another waterfall. We could really only see the waterfall with flash from cameras, but an underground waterfall is still pretty cool. Then too many people came in the cave and starting pushing us forward, so I got claustrophobic and had to get of their quickly.

The last place we went on the tour was to the Agua Azul cascades. They were also high up in the mountains. They were a pattern of wide, short cascades followed by a large pool, and then more cascades. The water was not quite as blue as it normally is, because it is still the rainy season, but they were impressive. The falls were graceful and all the rock was perfectly rounded by the water. Again, people swam, which we would have liked to do. Instead, we ate delicious fresh fish. Jose had a fried fish, and I had a garlic fillet.

The ruins were outstanding, like they all seem to be, and it was really nice to see something different with the waterfalls. We got back to town about 7 pm, ate dinner, and then got back on the bus to Merida, Yucatan.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oaxaca, Oaxaca

From Mexico City, we took a bus to Oaxaca, Oaxaca. We had heard that Oaxaca is beautiful, but we didn't know what else to expect. We arrived in the city of Oaxaca at 8 pm, found a hotel, and walked around the downtown. The center was full of people out having a good time. Many families were sitting with their children, and groups of friends and couples were strolling around. There were clowns performing, like there are in many popular centers, who cater to adults more than children. I don't know why, but the clowns attract huge crowds. The weather was warm, but not humid, and the downtown was beautiful. Eating dinner and walking around was a great way to spend the evening.

In the morning, we took a bus to Monte Alban, ancient ruins at the top of a mountain just outside of the city. There were many pyramids still standing and fully uncovered. The site was first occupied by the Olmec, and later by the Zapotecs. There is a plaza surrounded by pyramids with an astronomy observatory in the middle. The acoustics in the plaza are impressive- if you clap, it can be heard throughout the whole plaza. It was used for ceremonies and parties, so the acoustics were important. There are the remains of some luxury homes, tombs, and small pyramids scattered around the main plaza. At the site, the whole city of Oaxaca and many small towns can be seen in all directions from the top of the mountain. It is beautiful to look at now, and I can't imagine what it was like thousands of years ago, when it was a green, empty valley.

I got stung twice by wasps at Monte Alban, but luckily it was right near the end, so they didn't affect the visit.

After the ruins, we got on a bus to Palenque, Chiapas. We wanted to spend more time in Oaxaca, but Jose is really excited about seeing the Yucatan, so we started on our way.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Wedding in Acambay

On Saturday we went to Acambay, Queretaro, about 2 ½ hours northwest of Mexico City, for Jose’s great-cousin’s wedding. The bride is a daughter of Jose’s great aunt who visited us at the Mexico City airport during our layover to Ciudad Juarez in August. She is a 29 year old dentist, and the groom is also a dentist. They both live in Mexico City, but he is originally from Acambay. It was a nice enough town, but not somewhere we wanted to spend much time.

When we arrived at the Acambay bus station, we were supposed to call Jose’s great aunt so she could pick us up. Unfortunately, there was no cell phone reception, so we couldn’t get in touch with Jose’s aunt. We had no other phone numbers or names, so we were pretty sure we had spent 6 hours on a bus for nothing.

Luckily, the groom drove by the bus station and saw an American and Mexican together. He knew we were coming, and that I was American, so he circled the block and came to see if it was us. By the time he pulled into the station, however, Jose had gone to a pay phone, and I was sitting in front of the bus station alone. I tried to avoid eye contact with the tiny, beat up, bright yellow Volkswagon that pulled in the station with all three men in the car staring at me. When the men in the car got out a few feet away from me, still staring, I started thinking about my plan of action. Then the driver, who ended up being the groom, made me feel much better when he asked if I was Jose’s wife. I know Jose is a common name, but I figured a stranger wouldn’t just guess that I was married to a Jose. He then went to find Jose at the pay phone, and ten minutes later we were at his parent’s house, being treated like royalty. It was an hour before his wedding, but he introduced us to everyone, served us a full meal, and told us about the hotel room he had reserved for us (and that we were welcome at his uncle‘s house if the hotel didn‘t meet our standards.)

The wedding took place in the town’s Catholic church. We had never been to a Catholic wedding, and we were surprised by the praying and preaching that took place before they were actually married. Then they were married, and we kept waiting and waiting for them to kiss, but they never did. Later, at the reception, they had their civil marriage, where they did kiss at the end. They also signed their papers then, which included fingerprints and signatures from all four parents and their siblings.

There were about 200 people at the reception. We sat at a table with the bride’s two sisters, and her aunt and cousin from her father’s side. They were from Houston, Texas and said ya’ll frequently. Jose’s aunt was sitting at the table next to us with the bride and groom, and kept an eye on us the whole time.

We were extremely impressed with the groom. He was so kind to us, and didn’t seem rushed at all when speaking with us before the wedding. At the reception, he gave his full attention to his wife, and kept her laughing the whole night. We only said congratulations to the bride, but she also seemed nice. They are clearly in love and very happy together.

Twenty- five hours after we left Mexico City for the wedding, we arrived again this morning. We had learned of our invitation to the wedding two days before it happened, and had to do a lot of traveling to get there, but it was definitely worth going. We were the only family from Jose’s side to attend, and it obviously meant a lot to Jose’s aunt that we were there. We got to see a Mexican wedding, another area, and be a part of Jose’s family. Hopefully we will get to know everyone better when we spend time with Jose’s aunt when we visit Mexico City in a few weeks.

We are now in Oaxaca, Oaxaca, and again making our way over to the Yucatan.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Exciting News!

Today Emma and I decided to buy a three month old puppy we fell in love with. We first met him our second day in Cholula in a veterinarians office that also sells pets and pet supplies. He is a small blond curly-haired puppy. We asked the owner what type of dog he was and he responded with "french." We don't exactly know what that makes him, but from our research he appears to be some kind of poodle mix. He looks just like a Cockapoo, a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix. He is the one kind of dog that Emma has dreamed of having after overcoming her fear of dogs. I have always wanted a dog, and have never had a pet before, so I am very happy to finally have a puppy of my own.

Our new puppy currently does not have a name. Emma claims that the name that popped into her head for him the first day we saw him was Rodolfo. I am not a very big fan of very human sounding names for pets, especially dogs because you call to them so often, so we still under debate. Another name we are considering is Guerro, which in my opinion, sounds better. We both like Guerro, but are still looking into other names with some kind of Mexican touch. We figure that since he is from Mexico, we should give him a name that relates to the country.

We are still currently traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula so we payed the vet a few extra dollars to take care of him for an extra week until we were headed back to La Manzanilla. There we will get to spend some quality time with him. When we get back to the United States, hopefully in November, we will have a few months to spend a lot of time with him because we will not be in school or working.

We are very excited to finish our trip and take him home with us. We can't wait to get back to the United States so everyone can meet him.


Cholula, Puebla

We have been in Cholula, Puebla for 4 nights now after visiting for a planned day trip on Monday. We kept thinking we would write a blog post the next day, when we had finished with the exciting things, but they just haven't ended. I think we could actually live here, or at least stay for the month we have left, if we get to go home in November. It is the most comfortable place we have been in Mexico and it is exciting, too.

There is an amazing pyramid here, and so much culture and history. The Cholula pyramid is known as the largest pyramid in the world. It is not the tallest, but it is largest by volume. I studied the pyramid and ancient people in a class at Santa Rosa Junior College called "Mesoamerican Origins of Latino Culture." It sounded great in the class, but it is so much better in real life than I had even imagined.

This is one of the oldest continuously occupied towns in the world, and the oldest in Latin America. It's first inhabitants were the Chichimecas around 1700 BC, who were displaced by the Olmecas Xicalancas in the 4th century before Christ. The Chichimecas built the first level of the Cholula pyramid betweeen 200-100 BC. The first pyramid was made out of adobe brick, and the outlines of the bricks can still be seen in parts of the pyramid. They have turned into dirt, but the shape of each brick can still be seen as if they are still intact. In 1000 AD, the Toltecs dominated the region. Later, the Aztecs ruled, who were still in place when Cortez arrived in 1519.

In typical Mesoamerican fashion, the original pyramid was covered with later and larger structures. Altogether, there were four pyramids built. The last pyramid was huge. It was made of stone, and would have been covered with stucco. The flat top of the pyramid would have had temples built on top, likely out of wood. There is an exposed courtyard that has altars on three sides that we were able to walk through. We saw carved stones, rare murals with starfish, and the remains of many rooms and buildings. One part of the pyramid has a steep staircase from the last and largest pyramid, which we walked up. Those stairs are steep! I don't know how people used to walk up multiple flights of those stairs, especially without falling.

There are tunnels at the base of the pyramid excavated by archaeologists in the 1930's. We walked through about 800 feet of these narrow tunnels. Although it was scary, it really gave us a sense of how solid and impressive the pyramid is. It really is all brick on brick and unbelievably massive.

At some point, and for an unknown reason, the pyramid was covered with a mound of dirt. Because of this, the pyramid was lucky enough to survive the Conquistadors. When Cortez arrived, he built a church on top of the pyramid, thinking it was just a hill. The Catholic Church, built in 1594, still stands and is quite impressive itself.

This was the first ancient site we have visited, and we loved it. It was an intense feeling to be standing in ruins from so long ago, where people used to live and spend their time. We really wish we could see it as it was before, and meet the people and culture that used to be there.

As well as all the history, the town is clean and fun, and the people are great. We have had a great time here, and will definitely return whenever we visit Mexico.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Puebla, Puebla

We have been in Puebla, Puebla for 2 days. It is a city of detailed, old buildings. Our hotel is right in the down town, and every street we have been on is absolutely beautiful. Some are tiled, which I haven't seen much, some are dark brick, and some are painted in bright colors. They all have lots of detail and special touches. The Zocalo, or downtown plaza, is lined with small restaurants with patios. There is a huge church, built in 1575, on one side of the Zocalo. It is the most beautiful church I have ever seen, both inside and out. This is an amazing city, where we could easily spend much more time. It is the cleanest place in Mexico we have seen, everything is old and grand, and the people are extra friendly.

While at the Zocalo yesterday, we felt a few little raindrops, and suddenly the few hundred people there started sprinting through the downtown. It looked like an emergency, with everyone running in all directions. They knew what they were doing, though, because about 10 seconds later it started to pour intensely. Everyone was huddled under the restaurant patios, and it was packed. We worked our way through the crowd and drank hot chocolate until the rain calmed down, but we were soaked and cold.

We haven't done much in Puebla, because Jose and I have both gotten colds. We take a few walks a day, but we never get very far. Luckily, our hotel is downtown, so we do not have to walk far to see important parts of the city. We are thinking of spending some more time here on our way back from the Yucatan, but we will have to see. We don't have all that much time before Jose's next appointment!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bus Trip

We started a bus trip yesterday that we expect to take about 2 weeks. It will take us from La Manzanilla to the Yucatan Peninsula, so we will go from coast to coast.

We left La Manzanilla at 3:30 pm yesterday, and arrived in Puebla at 9:30 am. The bus from Barra de Navidad, a town near La Manzanilla, to Mexico City took 12 hours. I don´t think I can handle more than that, so we will stop every 12 hours at least on our way to the Yucatan.

We are currently in Puebla, Puebla. In a few days we will go to Oaxaca for a few nights, and then on to the Yucatan. We are going to visit many ruins in the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche.

On the way back, we are going to stay with our friend´s mother in Mexico City, and she is going to take us to the museums and gardens.

We will return to La Manzanilla two weeks before we leave to Ciudad Juarez for Jose´s next appointment. By then, the weather will be nicer and more people will have arrived.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

We are leaving Puerto Vallarta today to go back to La Manzanilla for Paul’s last night. We really like Puerto Vallarta, and want to spend more time here. It reminds me of a Mexican San Francisco. Of course, that means there are many differences between Puerto Vallarta and San Francisco, but for some reason, I think of San Francisco quite often.

Last night was Paul’s 21st birthday. Turns out we were staying in the Zona Romantica, also known as the gay zone, and ended up in gay bars. One was completely empty, and the second had five men in their 60’s. It wasn’t exactly a bumping scene for Paul’s birthday, but I enjoyed the second bar. The moment I walked in, the bartender looked me up and down and said “Do you have I.D.?” His tone of voice made it clear he did not expect I would. Jose and I ended up talking to him about our marriage for a long time, and he admitted he thought I was 15.

We then found a club with some young people in it. We first went in only to get dinner. It was Ladies Night, and the workers would not accept that I didn’t want to drink. Finally I ordered a margarita with ‘a little, little bit of alcohol.” I only got through about an eighth of it, but the servers stopped bothering me as soon as I had the “Free Bar” bracelet and a drink in front of me. We danced to American music, which I know is to be expected, but it was still disappointing. We had fun at the club, but went back home at about 12 am.

Last night was Paul’s first time being able to legally drink in the U.S., my first time ever being able to legally drink, and my first time in a bar or club. I liked the dancing, but the bar/alcohol part I would rather skip.

It has been so nice to be in Puerta Vallarta with Paul. We have done lots of walking, and found some really nice shops and vendors. Puerto Vallarta has turned out to be so much more than I expected. I feel more comfortable here than I have in almost all the other places we have been. It really is a beautiful and comfortable city.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Paul's Here!

Paul is here visiting us for 4 days. He flew into the Manzanillo airport, and we took a taxi to La Manzanilla. He liked the area, but did not enjoy the heat and humidity.

Luckily, Jose and I booked a hotel room on the beach in Puerto Vallarta for 2 nights. We stayed in La Manzanilla for one night, then took the 5 hour bus ride to Puerto Vallarta. The hotel room is nice, but most importantly for Jose and Paul, it is air conditioned. We have a nice balcony that overlooks the pool and the ocean, where I have been spending some nice reading time.

I love Puerto Vallarta. There is so much to do, the weather is good, and the area is pretty. Of course, this is not during tourist season, so no one is here. I doubt that I would like it very much when it is crowded, but now it means it is more comfortable and cheap.

Today is Paul’s 21st birthday, so we are going to go out and find some celebratory things to do.


Comala, Colima

We went to Comala, a small town 15 minutes from Colima, for two days. It is beautiful, quiet, and cool. We think this is our favorite place in Mexico so far. We met friendly people, stayed in a nice place, and had good food.

Jose was most excited about Comala’s food. He had read online that Botaneros, which are like restaurants, serve appetizers when you order a drink. I was skeptical, but the first day in Comala, we went to one, and our table miraculously filled with appetizers just a minute after we ordered drinks. There were ceviche, flautas, tostadas, and fried tacos. The flautas were our favorite. They had a delicious green sauce and Mexican crema on top. The second time we went back, we ordered three additional plates of the flautas and thought we were paying for them, but when we got our bill we were only charged for Jose’s margarita (he finally ordered an alcoholic beverage) and my agua fresca. We got four plates of flautas, ceviche, tacos, tostadas, and two drinks for under 8 USD. I don’t know how they can afford to give away so much food, but they are famous for it. Jose felt like he was stealing, so he left 50% tips every time.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast, which was a first for us. Since it still isn’t tourist season, there was only one other couple for one night. Our room was a studio apartment in a building separate from the house. It was a very nice room, but we were a little uncomfortable with the breakfast part. The other couple did not eat breakfast, so both days we ate alone. The couple who owns the bed and breakfast serve breakfast in their own dining room, and it was awkward to have them serve us in what was obviously their personal space. The food they served was good, though. There was fresh squeezed orange juice each day, and one day they served us thin tostadas with mashed avacado, grated parmesan cheese, tomato, and oregano. It was also only 50 dollars a night for the studio and breakfast.

There was a fight in the plaza one evening. A woman started punching a mother, while her two young daughters stood their screaming. Someone broke it up, the woman who started it got back in her car and drove away, and the mother was left bleeding in front of her kids. It was really scary to see, but we feel a little safer now, because the federal police arrived just a minute after the fight. They were kind to the children, took care of the mother, and then drove them to the hospital. I like knowing that if we were to have a problem, we would have that kind of service available.

We didn’t have a chance to see the volcanoes, or the nearby town with a wooden mask maker. We liked the town so much, though, and spent so little time there, we are pretty sure we are going to go back.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Leaving Colima

Tonight is our last night in the city of Colima. We have had a very relaxed stay and it has been exactly what we needed.

Yesterday, the 15th of September at 11 pm, Mexico celebrated their independence from Spain. Today the 16th is the actual day of Independence but we found out that president Porfidio Diaz changed the day to the 15th in order to celebrate both Mexico's independence and his birthday. There were celebrations going on in the downtown area but they all started around 10, an hour before the President presents the celebratory "Grito de independencia," or independence yell. Basically everyone yells as loud as they can and says "viva Mexico." We didn't go downtown at that hour, it was a little late for little Emma and I was way too comfortable in the hotel room. I did get to see some of the fireworks from outside of the hotel. Plus, it is mostly a drinking, partying sort of event, which is not our scene. It was nice to be here for Independence Day, and see the excitment.

Tomorrow we will be leaving Colima for Comala, a small town 15 minutes north of Colima. This town is know for its beauty and history. Its surrounded by two volcanoes and a few lakes. There are many artisan studios and strong native roots, along with Spanish influence. There is a 19th century church that we are very excited to see. There are also museums dedicated to Alberto Isaac, Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo, and a cultural center.

We will be staying in a beautiful bed in breakfast in downtown Comala for two nights. We are, ok me more than Emma, very excited about all the appetizers the town is known for giving while having any type of local drink or plate in any downtown restaurant...can't wait.


Monday, September 14, 2009


Photos of Ciudad Juarez and La Manzanilla are posted on Jose's Facebook.

We are working on putting more up, and trying to find somewhere else to post them.


In Colima, Colima

Update (12/30/11): Home for six months, which feels like six weeks in Mexico. Time flies when we're having fun. Rereading this post now, we need to add....

We had had a precariously balanced sense of comfort at Lucio's house in Tecoman, but when his daughter showed up unexpectedly with her husband and baby and one eyed, drug dealing mother and acted like we were intruders, we were ready to flee. Jose told his uncle we were going to visit Colima for a week with vague promises to return (which didn't happen.) The Colima hotel was low quality and miles from downtown. The bed was hard and the room was freezing, because Jose set the thermostat to 50 degrees after living in humid heat for weeks before. I was miserable in Colima. No matter how much I slept, I couldn't get rested. All the food was terrible. I felt sad, mad, lonely, and desperate; one night I cried so intensely that Jose heard the cleaning staff asking if they should see if I was ok. That was embarassing enough that I wanted to leave the room even less, and we so we went to stay in Comala, a small town outside of Colima, soon after. Colima was definitely one of the lowest points of our two months of travel.


We are having a great time in Colima, but so far it has involved very little of the city. We are thrilled to have air conditioning and the luxury of a hotel. It is almost like we are somewhere in the United States. We have not felt this kind of comfort since we left the US, so we have been taking full advantage.

The weather here is so much better. It was warm today, but it was not humid, which makes all the difference. We have taken our first hot showers in Mexico. When I got out of my first shower here, I thought we had amazing soap, because I was so soft, but then I remembered that that's how skin is supposed to be. I was just so used to being sticky from the humidity, I'd forgotten how great clean skin feels.

Jose keeps our room freezing cold. I have needed to use an extra blanket at night, but being cool puts him in a great mood, so I don't mind. There is cable TV in the room, and sports have been taking much of Jose's time. He has been switching between football, tennis, and golf. I swear there is more NFL football in Mexico than in the United States, and Jose has watched every game. I even woke up to an NFL rerun this morning of the game he had watched the night before. Plus, the U.S. Open was on. I did get pretty into that.

We have been eating better since we got here. We ate at the hotel restaurant the first night, and I had some delicious shrimp. For our other meals, we have been eating at restaurants within a block or two of the hotel. Last night, we had flan for dessert, our first in Mexico. Besides lunch this afternoon, we have not eaten at any taquerias. It has been very nice to have a break from tacos, and to eat at places that are a little more quiet and relaxing.

We ventured out this afternoon towards downtown, but then we ate too much at lunch and I had to come home for a nap. The streets were nice and pretty. We are excited about making it all the way downtown tomorrow. It is supposed to have a good center. We found a bus stop less than a block from our hotel that goes straight downtown, which greatly improves the chances of me making it down there!

Tomorrow, on the 15th of September, most of the Independence Day celebrations happen. In the last week or so many cars have donned flags, and there are stands selling flags all over the place. Jose is really excited about seeing the celebrations. Hopefully we will see some interesting things.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Colima, Colima

Jose and I are leaving tomorrow to Colima, Colima. It is a city of 600,000 inhabitants. Its beautiful, colonial, safe, with cooler weather. We will take the bus from Tecoman to Colima tomorrow, which takes about an hour. We will be there from Saturday to Thursday. We will be staying in a inexpensive hotel that Jose found.

We will be there for Mexican Independence Day. Jose is excited about being in a city for that, and apparently in the Colima downtown they have a big celebration.

On Thursday, we will come back to Tecoman until Saturday. On Saturday, Paul is arriving in Manzanillo. We will take the bus from Tecoman to Manzanillo, meet Paul, and head back up to La Manzanilla.

Experiencing Tecoman

We have been walking around in the colony where Joses uncle lives. A colony is like a little town, or maybe a neighborhood, outside of the downtown of the city. The streets are dirt, or loosely lined with large stones. The streets with stones are very hard to walk down. Most people have small houses, but some families have large tents that are covered with little additions made out of wood scraps. There are taco stands, taquerias, and shops everywhere. Joses great uncle, Lucio, has one of the nicest houses we have seen. His house is shaped like an L, and the inside of the L is a nice courtyard in the back. The ground is all covered in brick and very clean, there is a big tree in the middle, and it is closed off from the neighbors by a tall brick fence. Lucio has a hamock tied to the tree that he spends most of his time in. There is also a bed outside under an eave that he naps on during the day, which I think is a wonderful idea. I hope to have my own outside daybed someday.

Yesterday we went downtown on the bus, and were not very impressed. It was busy and crowded. It was our first time walking around in a city in Mexico, and we were annoyed that pedestrians have no rights. There are no crosswalks. Pedestrians cross wherever they get the chance. There were so many cars that we had to wait awhile before we could cross, and then if a car came while we were crossing, they felt no need to slow down, because we were in their way. It was a stressful experience.

The downtown did not offer much. There are mostly shops, and we do not want to shop, so there was not anything for us to do. We stopped at a grocery store on the way home, and spent forever, but finally found enough food for a few gluten free meals. Last night, we cooked refried beans, Mexican rice, enchiladas, and arroz con leche (rice pudding). It was our first complete, home-cooked mean in Mexico. It was so nice to finally have a dinner that was not almost pure meat. Everywhere we have gone in Mexico, taquerias and food stands only offer tacos with two choices of meat, and sometimes quesadillas. Even Jose has gotten sick of meat tacos. I have gotten good at not thinking about the meat, and being able to eat it like a meat eater. I do not plan on continuing to eat it when we get back to the United States. I think I have already eaten enough meat for the rest of my life. It was so nice to spend a few hours in a kitchen, though. We want to do more cooking, but we have not been able to find the ingredients for many gluten free meals.

There is a family next door to us with 6 children. They make donuts and sell them. Jose told Alejandra Yolanda, the 1st grader, that he wanted to buy some, and later that night we heard "pst, pst" in the dark, and looked up to see Alejandra Yolanda on the fence with a bag of donuts. The young kids have blonde hair. They look like beach bums with tan skin and blonde hair. Alejandra Yolanda loves to talk about school. We hear her over the fence telling her mother all the things the teacher taught her that day. All of the kids have fallen in love with Jose. When we left this morning to use the internet, one of the boys said to Jose, "Youre not leaving yet, are you?" He broke into a huge smile when Jose said no. There are many little boys on the street who have all decided that Jose is very cool, and they spend most of their time sitting in front of Lucios fence.

We have to admit it: we are ready to go home. Mexico is just not for us.