Friday, March 21, 2014

Back by Popular Demand!

So I'm back, by popular demand, and by some loving (sometimes pushy) nudges from some dear friends. I'm looking at you M. Wimm and Cali Perez-Verdia Wofford...the last one just slipped out Cali...old habits die hard.

So sit back, lactate if that's what you're doing these days (you know who you are), and enjoy...

It's been a busy few weeks at Casa de Mason-Jezek. We had our friend Nick staying with us. I started my on-line class and my counseling job picked up all at the same time. Andy has been gigging at the preschools and had an awesome gig at The Tavern, a local bar owned by a South African man who we are convinced is a pirate. (Really, I think he might be. He just needs an eye-patch to seal the deal).

I was just feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to figure out a rhythm here, trying to figure out what felt "normal" (as normal as you can get in a foreign country where you know three souls and one of them is probably a pirate), and what felt right for me. I have to admit, it took me longer than I thought. Remember, Brave or Stupid? Yeah, I was totally feeling stupid. It was hard for me to get my head in a space where I felt "good." I didn't want to seem like an ungrateful brat for feeling uneasy and unsettled in my new home in Mexico. (Wah, poor me, I uprooted my life for fun and adventure with the man I love and now I am not feeling 100% sure about my decision. Boo-hoo!) Get over it, right?!

But after some serious thinking, many discussions with Andy, some tears, and serious soul searching, I realized that what I had done was, in fact, a major life change. A shift in my whole life story, my life time-line now has another major jag in it. I think I was a little too hard on myself, I think I shut off my emotions to it all because I didn't want to seem ungrateful, I shut off writing because I was afraid it would leak out onto the pages. I was afraid that I had made a major mistake. Once I realized this was my reality, not to be compared with anyone else's reality, I allowed myself (with some loving encouragement from Andy), to be freaked out. To be scared. To really think, "What the fuck have I done!?" After doing some vital sign checking I realized I was fine. I had taken a leap of faith...and I was fine. I just needed to process my feelings and figure out what I needed in order to feel okay here.

I needed to realize that we were not on some vacation; we are living here. This is our home for a year. I am working now, which honestly feels like the best thing. I have missed having a real purpose, not just to be witty and cook, but an actual purpose to my days. I should also mention that I was sick, off and on, for like three weeks. It's hard to feel "normal" or "okay" when you constantly feel like shit. And I have to say, I will not be taking normal bowel movements for granted any time soon. (TMI? Sorry, I only speak the truth!)

Also, having Nick here was a sort of blessing. He is such a laid back guy, who is really living his life, and just helped to make me feel more normal. We had a house guest. It was lovely. He brought such a positive spin to everything we did, that it really helped to pull me back. It was nice for Andy to have someone to chat with, to go out with, and to have someone who wasn't in mini-freak out mode to be around. We get to see him again soon for a footie match in Mexico City. I know we are both looking forward to that!

So, now that I feel like a normal human being again, I will really and truly try to make an effort to blog more often. I feel like I have found my groove with my class (HA! actually Black Board and people's utter lack of common sense might drive me to the brink of insanity, but here's to hoping it doesn't), and with my other I will schedule time in to keep you all posted on Mexico.

Here's a few pictures from our wanderings since I last blogged.

We went to Teotihuacan. We left early. Got there early. Were there alone with a French couple for about 20 minutes. A bucket list item was checked off for us all, but mostly for Andy. We are on top of the Pyramid of the Sun with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background. 

Lunch on top of the Pyramid of the Moon, you know, like you do.

We went to Oaxaca for a night and two days. This is their central cathedral. 

Due to tummy issues by some of us (not Andy) we spent the majority of our first day in Oaxaca at a museum that used to be a monastery. It was beautiful and informative and had nice, clean bathrooms with toilet paper. Yay! This is Nick and me looking out over the gardens. Like looking into the Sonoran Desert; strange and lovely.  

The pool at our lovely hostel HIGH in the hills of Oaxaca. I won't bore you with the tale of winding roads and the scrapes the poor car took on it's undercarriage on our way up to find this little gem.

Hammocks. My love. Finally learning to relax...

Andy and Nick and the largest tree in the world. Pretty amazing.

Monte Alban. A ruin site much older than Teotihuacan. 

Andy and I were invited by our neighbor, Nacho, and Pilly to go on a three hour "spiritual" outing. It ended up being 12 hours. Nick thought we were dead. We thought we might kill people. BUT we got really close to Popo (our friendly neighborhood volcano) and found some places to camp. We called it "Our 12 Hour Spiritual Journey from Hell." We survived and no one died. Now we know to ALWAYS take our own car.

Alright...that feels good. Get it all out there...and get back to blogging. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quick and Dirty: Ex-Hacienda

Before we get down to business with this edition of Quick and Dirty, I need to make a little announcement. Now, I know hearts will break with this one, and I'm sorry, but it's gotta be done. I'm not going to be able to maintain a daily account of our time here, my job, my household, my relationship, my Spanish learning, and my sanity. So...I will be updated the blog on the regs, just not every. single. day. Cali, I'm sorry...but I do have some awesome friends who have somehow found the magical balance and can blog every day...they can help you get through your feeding times. These ladies are some of my favorite people...AND their blogs are awesome too. (Everybody else check them out too!)

Little Things Are Big

Wyo Wolfpack

Okay, let's dry those tears, and move on.

Quick and Dirty: Ex-Hacienda de Chautla. We were invited by some new friends who own a language school here to join their excursion. Major thanks to Scott for driving us, inviting us, and teaching me the very important difference between peces and pescado.

This is the site you behold as soon as you enter the gates. 

Looks like a postcard doesn't it? (Guess who took this picture, Nina?)

Plants, they look similar to aloe vera, growing on a power line.

Pots inside what used to be used for the dining area. (I think)


A shelf and table that were "recreated" for the space, the originals got taken during a raid.

The building of a road.

Exposed wall of a tower.

Tower, part of a wall.

Ropes and outdoor team building course. They have camps for kids throughout the year. Very cool. (Kew, you would have LOVED it. They had two zip lines, a huge tarp slide down a hill to "clean" the kids off from the military muddy obstacle course).

Calla Lilies in the wild! (First time I had seen them outside a florist shop).

The greens were pretty spectacular.

It's kind of hard to see, but under the fish, there is a spring of water coming from Popo (our friendly neighborhood volcano).

Another lily...remember, I was excited.

Andy and one of the massive trees on the property. The guide said the tree was over 100 years old.

The Hacienda from the side...and three ducks. 

Los Patos (the ducks). Contrary to popular belief, and Duolingo, they were NOT drinking milk. (Los patos bebe leche...Doh!)

The back of the Hacienda.

Up close and personal with the Hacienda...we got to go on the roof. It was beautiful (and terrifying for me...damn you heights).

With love, from Mexico.

For more, actual, information on our trip...check this site out...think it's only in Spanish though.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Missed a day...Doh!

I guess I technically missed a day of blogging. Doh! I really, truly will get to writing about the Ex-Hacienda, but I was taken down by some sort of cold/fever thing. I spent the majority of the day in bed, only rising to see Andy and Nick home from their trip to Cholula, to send a few quick e-mails for work, and to make myself some chicken ramen. (Don't you judge, we have yet to find anything more than cream-of-corn or cream-of-pretty-much-anything-else soup in the stores here...and don't lie, sometimes you eat ramen and think about the days when it was all the sustained you...well, Ramen and cheap beer).

Anyway, I am feeling slightly better. Andy and Nick are at The Tavern, our favorite bar and restaurant so far. They are checking out a band from Argentina. The band didn't start until 11:00pm, that's late for me on a regular night, especially on a "I've been in and out of napping with a cold and fever all day" kinda night. So I stayed home. Hoping they are having a great time, I will wander back to bed, read, and await their return.

Sorry, this is late, and kinda lame, but I guess I didn't realize that when I made the "I'm gonna blog every day" pact with myself that there would be days when I was sick, days when I didn't really do much worthy of writing about, or days when I just didn't feel self-important enough (I'm also grappling with the idea that I feel like my life is so important that "of course people want to read all about my life!" What?! Maybe they don't...any way, it's late, I'm stuffy and I'm not thinking too clearly...I will write a real, good, full-of-pictures blog in the morning). Until then...¡Hasta Luego!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Picture of the Day

We had a wonderful day at Ex-Hacienda de Chautla. It was a full day. I'm exhausted. I will fill you in on all the nitty gritty tomorrow. Until then, here's the picture of the day.

Andy, Nick, and me at Ex-Hacienda de Chautla.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tres Postres

It has been a busy day at Casa de Mason-Jezek. We went for a run/walk/workout this morning. Something we've been doing since we've been here. It's a nice way to start the day...even for me who is still under the belief that running is really only necessary if someone is trying to actively kill you. But I really am actually enjoying it. (It should be noted that I only actually run for a few minutes and then walk, but it's progress.)

We then came home, I made a "big delicious breakfast that can't be beat" as Andy calls it. Then Andy played at his two preschools, I worked on paperwork and setting up evaluations for counseling work, Nick kept me company and brushed up on his Spanish with the easy-reader we have. I did laundry. I did a few evals while the boys (I know, I implied they are ready to collect their social security checks yesterday and now I'm calling them boys. I'm a rebel, what can I say?) went out for a stroll to keep confidentiality.

Then we walked to Él Centro and had Mega Cemas. Andy and I split one and Nick powered through a whole one on his own. (Despite being a sting bean, the man can eat. It's impressive.) Andy sang with the mariachi band again, sans guitar this time. We saw all the faithful Catholics leaving the multiple churches around Él Centro with ashes on their foreheads. (Side note, I have only ever seen the smudges of ashes as the sign of the cross, but here it looks as though they have a stamp or a stencil of some sort that actually shows a cross with the ashes.)

Then this happened:

Nick bought us tres postres. (Three desserts). We shared them all.

A caramel flan/cake sort of deliciousness.

A strawberry cake with a delightful icing.

A strawberry cheesecake sort of creation.

I have to apologize for the crappy pictures...the frames are all messed up...they are not artsy in any way shape or was take pretty pictures or stuff that goodness in my trap. You know which of those options I chose. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nuestro primer invitado

We have our first guest!! Andy's friend, Nick, from back in his school days...30 years ago. I won't call them old, 'cause that would be rude and I'm a lady (snort laugh). But I will mention that they met when I was still in diapers. I'll let you be the judge. ;)

But seriously, it has been wonderful to have a visitor. Nick has been traveling around Mexico and bits of Central America (just this trip). The man has traveled...I mean, all over the world. He's been on a six day jungle walk hacking his way with a machete. He's had a tarantula on his face. (just this trip) He is inspiring to say the least.

We are looking forward to having him for some time. I have really enjoyed getting to know him today and look forward to getting to know him better while he's here.

I've got more work to I'm gonna sign off for now and leave you with a picture of long-lasting friendship.

Nick and Andy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Busy with Banks and Work

I am busy trying to get my bank to reactivate my debit card. (Side note, I love my bank, it's actually a credit union, but they suck when I travel). They turn my card off every. single. time. I travel...and it's annoying...and I can't get money...and I'm annoyed (Read: really pretty pissed). So, I'm dealing with that today.

I'm also getting my on-class up and running as much as I can so that when the time comes it should pretty much run itself. (Note my optimism here). But that's taking up precious blogging time. Also, when I'm in the house working, I'm not really out and about doing really cool, adventurous things...just business as usual.

But I promised to blog every day...and damn it, I'm gonna do it! :)

I was able to stream the Oscars last night. I have loved Jared Leto since he was Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life. I know have rekindled that love after his acceptance speech last night. Here's a snippet from it. I will try and be a more interesting, funny, thoughtful little blogger tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Truchas and a UFO

Yesterday, as I mentioned last night, Andy and I went on a little road trip with our neighbor Nacho. Remember Nacho? He helped us get our wheel back. Anyway, we had him over for lunch a week or so ago to thank him for helping us in our time of despair. (Dramatic? Maybe.) As he was regaling us with his stories from his very interesting and full life, he mentioned that there is a place at the base of Popo (Our friendly neighborhood volcano) where water flows uphill. He made mention of mystical vibes, and then aliens. That was it. Andy was sold. Hook. Line. and Sinker. (We actually didn't get to see the water flowing uphill because Nacho forgot about it we'll have to go back and see for ourselves). Just to make sure I was sold on the idea, Nacho mentioned a restaurant by flowing water; an oasis. The man seemed to be playing us like two well-tuned fiddles...Aliens for Andy, food for me. We made tentative plans to go.

Nacho came down yesterday morning to make sure we were ready for our adventure and said we would meet at 1:00pm to leave. He told me, in English, "My friend Billy is coming with us." So I thought, "Umm...we don't know this guy Billy and although we like Nacho, I'm not too sure about getting in a car with some dude we don't know in a country I'm still getting used to." So, I did what any sensible (Read:irrationally crazy) person might do and I e-mailed our friend Rebecca to let her know that we were headed out of town...just so that someone here knew what was going on.

"Billy" turns out to be Pilly, short for Pilar.

She really looks like someone who would cause some serious bodily harm, right?! 

The ironic thing is, if Nacho had told me about his friend in Spanish, I would have known she was a woman. Amiga=female friend. Doh! Anyway, obviously I had nothing to worry about. (I never really did, it would have been fine regardless...but I'm a's what I do). 

So we headed out. Pilar explained about all of the towns and villages along the way. Nacho a bat out of hell. I seriously felt like 5 years were shaved from my life after we got home last night...but I digress. She mentioned the small town that is full of Italian descendants. Apparently they have some amazing Italian restaurants, and according to Nacho, the whole town is filled with, "White people, just like you!" (He's what we would call "a pill" and that's putting it mildly). *Side note, I will be returning for good Italian food. I'll bring friends...or go by myself, either way, I'm going. 

We arrived in Atlixco, which is an area known for it's ornamental plants. Seriously, you pull into town and you can feel that humidity has changed, there are greenhouses as far as the eye can see. We stopped at one of them where I got a lesson in colors in Spanish from Pilly. I didn't have the heart to tell her, until the end, that although I seem like a bumbling idiot with the Spanish language, I do know my colors. And how to tell her that ducks drink milk. *Thanks, Duolingo!

Pilly likes to take pictures...and she'll tell you where to stand and how to pose. (I obviously don't take direction well. Good thing that modeling thing never panned out-I kid, I kid).

As soon as we walked in to the greenhouse, it smelled like wet dirt...just like England. We loved it!

Nacho, aka Rico Suave. 


Not sure what these are...but I love the picture that Andy took.

We just made a pit stop in Atlixco, but I really would like to go back for the day, or a weekend. According to Pilly there is a nice hotel in an old Hacienda. The town is small and charming, from what I could see from the van. 

We drove up the hill from Atlixco and found this:

Andy is saying, "See Nina, I told you so!"

My artsy fartsy shot of graffiti on the Spaceship and Popo in the background. 

At this point in the day, I literally had no idea what we were doing or where we were going next. This is a god thing for me...sometimes it's good to just go with the flow and not know what to expect. 

We ended up at a fish farm. Random, I know. They had, I'm guestimating here, millions of fish. They were Truchas, Trout in English. It was nice that they took us there, as I felt like it was some odd sort of pride for Nacho and Pilly to show us this, and I think I hid my uneasiness about the whole thing pretty well. It's hard to describe, especially because I'm a carnivore and used to fish with my dad, but I felt like Sarah Palin in her helicopter with a machine gun getting ready to "hunt." Just lurking, waiting for these fish to be eaten. 

Since most to the fish were dark, I took a picture of the albino trout so you can see...again, it was weird all and all. 

Nacho and Pilly kept telling Andy, "you can pick a fish and take it home with you." I didn't believe him, but as we left Pilly asked what fish I wanted. I thought she was kidding, so I smart ass-ely answered, "The big albino one with the creepy eyes." She went to the counter and ordered what I can only imagine to be "the big albino one with the creepy eyes." Once I realized what I had done, I quickly told her that I was kidding, and that in fact, I did NOT want any fish. Phew...close call. *Note to self: don't be a smart ass when farm grown, creepy eyed fish are involved.

After our "tour" of the fish farm, we had a mojito (that would rival Mary Ayala's mojitos) at a little "tiki bar" by the restaurant near the fish farm. We ate at "Oasis" just below the fish farm in a small little pocket of paradise. It was lush green (we didn't get any pictures of the place, but we took some of lunch). 

Again, I understand the irony that I will eat beef and be disturbed by the fish farm. (I'm a strange bird folks...shocker, I know).

Andy's lunch. Truchas with almonds. The almonds were sticking up in rows of the fish. (As Andy took this picture he said, "Take THAT Langdon!" I think the "Food Porn: International Competition" gauntlet has just been thrown down.)

We ate by a stream, of clean water from Popo. Andy and I realized that it's the first clean, fresh water we've seen since being here. Makes me miss, and have a new found appreciation, for the rivers of my childhood from Wyoming and Colorado. 

After a lovely, slow lunch, we headed back home. But before we left, they wanted to show us the waterfall. We pulled into another small little valley, tucked into the base of Popo. There was a little "restaurant" a large tent and some tables and chairs and several stalls of people making drinks and food. 

The waterfall.

Pretty pumped...obviously. 

Nacho, Pilly, and me by the waterfall.

Then we hiked. And it was stunning. The iPad tried it's best to capture the beauty, and it did an alright job, but you just can't. But we tried. Here are our (Andy's) efforts.

The sun going down behind Popo.

The angle of the sun was pretty awesome.

The stream. (Not the one running uphill, that's for next time).

Another stream shot.

The fumarole coming out of Popo turned red as the sun went down. (It's not "lava red", it's "sunset red." No worries folks).

The final sunset shot. Breathtaking.