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.