Friday, December 26, 2008

Cabin for Rent in Sequim, WA

I have been emailing Gordon in Oaxaca. He works for Tierraventura, an ecotourism company, and it looks pretty cool. Check out the links.

Anyway, Gordon has a neat cabin for rent near Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It is listed on Craigslist. Pictures and the ad info follow:

Charming off-the-grid hand-built home in the woods. The 12 volt electrical system can be charged by solar panels or generator. There is garden space and well water. Stable neighborhood. Quiet and beautiful location. Wood and propane heat. The house is mostly furnished and there is an upright piano. The 5 acre parcel is shared with 1 neighbor. First & last month's rent and a $500 deposit.

If you are interested you can contact Gordon at gordon.maul@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Iglesia de San Fernando

Bliss came over to our apt just after 8pm last night, visiting with Mike and Sitka before the short walk to the church. I have walked around the entire perimeter of Iglesia de San Fernando many times, yet until last night I had not stepped over the threshold.

For Christmas Eve Mass the church was beautifully decorated with poinsettias, greens and a multitude of candles. Bliss went right to the choir area where Lolita was already in place at the organ. The choir members all wore red shawls or scarves and looked very festive. The priests were smiling, the incense was wafting, and there were many families as well as solo visitors to the church.

The service began and even though I didn’t understand the language or the Catholic traditions, I enjoyed the sense of community and love exuding from the people surrounding me. The choir sang many familiar carols and I found myself singing along in English.

After Mass Bliss and I wandered out to look at the Nativity set up in the newly constructed grotto in the church’s courtyard. When I went back today to take pictures the gate was locked so I could only get a shot of the rear of the grotto.And this shot of the steeple that can be seen from many vistas in Guaymas.Notice the CLOUDS??Very unusual for Guaymas, but perfect for a quiet Christmas at home. Happy Holidays to you and your families!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Guaymas

It is sunny and 72F here in Guaymas today and earlier I had on shorts, a t-shirt and sandals.

But I have changed into hardly ever worn LONG PANTS and a light sweater as Mike and I were very happy to join Lolita and her large family for their big Christmas Eve feast this afternoon. On a sad note, Lolita’s housekeeper’s father passed away on Monday evening…leaving Lolita to do all the cooking! See Lolita with her daughter, Lolita, below.
But cook she did and it was wonderful. My favorite dish was roasted chilies with onions in a dreamy, creamy sauce. It had “heat,” but not so much that I could not take another bite. And another bite. And one more bite…oh, and then there was the homemade carrot cake!

I am not Catholic, but tonight I will go to the 9:00 Mass at Iglesia de San Fernando (Lolita’s church just 2 blocks away.) Both Lolita and Bliss will be singing in the choir tonight and I have wanted to hear them for quite some time!

Mike, unfortunately, is not feeling too good today and I doubt that he’ll make it to Mass. He has been fighting a bad cold and cough for over 3 weeks. That, combined with the wacky anti-seizure meds he takes every 8 hours, has wiped him out. He’s not eating much and he has lost a lot of weight. It may be time for a trip to the US to get another opinion on his medical situation.

But for today, we are together and quietly enjoying the day with Sitka!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adios mi amigo Richard...


Well, today was a sad day. Richard from Scotland accepted a teaching position with Colegio Americano here in Guaymas and he will begin on 1/5. Coincidentally, Crystal from Maine has done the same.

Colegio Americano offers teachers apartments at no charge and this morning Mike and I helped Richard move from the “Lolita compound” to the new apartment. Crystal moved in to her own new apartment (same building) a couple of days ago and she and her friend Raul (another former employee of Colegio Navarrete) came over to welcome Richard to his new casa.

We’ll still see Richard (and Crystal), but it won’t be the same as having him right next door. Good luck Richard and we’ll miss you more than you know!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sitka Update


We can not say THANK YOU enough to everyone who has posted, emailed or called about Sitka. The support has been overwhelming and we appreciate it so deeply.

Sitka is doing okay. She is back on her thyroid medication, the fish oil supplement to keep her coat healthy, and her supplement to keep her hips limber. She is still quite weak and her hind legs are having a tough time supporting her. But she is getting out in the yard (on her leash!) to “do her business” without any problems.

We also wanted to provide a little more info about David, the man who called me about Sitka last Thursday. David was the guy that had tied a rope to Sitka’s collar and Mike had seen him walking Sitka right past our driveway (see post.) But David had given Sitka to some guy who responded to David’s radio announcement as the guy claimed to be Sitka’s owner. When David saw our newly posted flyer in Centro, he went back to the lying guy and got Sitka. Then he brought her over to our apt.

David is an unemployed athletic trainer and when I invited him into our apt, he said the reward ($5000 pesos, about $500 US dollars) was not necessary. We insisted he take it and he said we could not imagine how valuable this money would be to his family. We all hugged and cried. It was the perfect ending for both of our families.

Sooo, the next time you are faced with a BIG PROBLEM, don’t give up hope. Listen to everyone’s suggestions. Take action. Be brave, but be ready to be disappointed. We had several calls, text message and an actual visit from a family – all of whom said they had Sitka, yet not one of them could produce her. You can imagine how I felt when David called…another false lead. But it wasn’t! And we could not be happier.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sitka Post

On November 7, 2008 our German shepherd, Sitka, ran out of our apartment in el Centro Guaymas after a street cat and she was GONE…

Today, on December 18, 2008, Sitka was returned to us (again – her first escape was in late October – after living here since June!)

A man named David called me at 2:10 today and said he had found her, but that he had given her to a man who claimed she was his. (He had used the Guaymas radio announcement forum to advise that he had found a German shepherd.) David had seen our recently posted flyers in el Centro with her picture and he knew that was Sitka!

Long story short, David met me at Hotel Ana this afternoon and had Sitka in his van. I knew in a heartbeat that it was her. I grabbed her and began to weep. And then I grabbed David and we both wept. He knew he found Sitka’s mom and I knew I had found Sitka.

I never really thought we would find her (again.) And I will get a new dog tag made with our Guaymas contact info ASAP. It is so weird. After that long. Our Christmas came a whole week early! FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pastorela

It has been a crazy couple of weeks at school. Tomorrow St. Mary’s Preschool students (even the 2 year olds,) along with the Primaria and Secundaria students from Colegio Navarrete, will perform the annual Pastorela event at the Civic Auditorium here in Guaymas (5:00 if you’re interested!)

The preparation for Pastorela has been intense! Rehearsal after rehearsal, measuring the kids and having costumes created, creating props and decorations – and more rehearsals! I never know when the Music or Physical Education teachers will come into one of my classes and take my kids away for rehearsal. I have heard the songs so many times that I find myself humming them at home or when driving around town.

And yesterday the Colegio Navarrete students did a full rehearsal on the St. Mary’s Preschool outdoor stage. Wow. I guess I hadn’t realized how BIG this event is! Plus, I just found out that the teachers will be on stage, singing and dancing to the final song. Yipee! I love the stage.

Three more days of teaching, posados (Christmas parties) for the students and the teachers on Wednesday, and then VACATION until Jan 5. I am soooo ready for that. I just finished my Lesson Plans for that first week in January and I have almost made it through the toughest part of the school year.

On another note, I have created new posters and increased the reward amount for Sitka. On a suggestion from the San Carlos Forum, I added “No questions asked” to the flyer and I plan to hand them out to Guaymas police tomorrow and plead for their help. On a suggestion from the parents of one of my students, I plan to put ads in 2 newspapers, El Impartial and La Voz del Puerto. She’s been gone for 5 weeks now, but I have not given up hope of finding her. If you have any info, please call me at 622.111.7973.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ten Year Anniversary

Ten years ago today Mike and I were married in a chapel in Seattle. It was a very small wedding and we all went out to dinner at Las Margaritas Restaurant in downtown Seattle to celebrate after the ceremony. My parents videotaped the ceremony and the dinner and all the shots of tequila. The next day Mike and I flew to Maui for our honeymoon. It was heavenly!

Today I made Mike a lei from construction paper at work and he’s wearing it now! And he had roses delivered to our apartment and they are just beautiful! We are going to hunker down tonight – and watch that videotape – and enjoy a night together without any other concerns.

If anyone had told me we’d be living in Mexico ten years ago I would have laughed. How serendipitous that we picked Las Margaritas Restaurant to celebrate our wedding all those years ago…

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kickin' It At 53!

Yesterday I turned 53 years old. And I have to say that this is the first year that I feel OLD. Those little kids are taking their toll on me!

But they were so cute yesterday. At about 1:00 someone came to my class and said we all had to go up to the Music Room on some ruse…we went and all the other kids, teachers and staff were there with my crown and a birthday cake. A crown is traditional for birthdays at St. Mary’s Preschool. Of course, I wore it for the rest of the day!
When I got home Richard and Francisco (Lolita’s grandson) had just hauled a small filing cabinet into our apartment. This was something that I had been looking for (for all these Lesson Plans I’m creating) and Mike had little Lolita pick one up at a flea market. I was so surprised!

Mike had invited a few friends over and we had chips and adult beverages…it was quite nice! Plus, I got a couple of great bottles of wine and a lovely pair of slacks. Here are teachers Richard and Crystal.
And it was back to school early this morning. But check out this sunrise from our front door. Paradise…

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 Toys Run

Thursday through Sunday the 2008 Toys Run was held in San Carlos and Guaymas. This annual event brings a variety of motorcycles and motorcycle riders to our area. The bikers come to town representing different bike clubs while working together to provide Christmas gifts for some of the less fortunate children in our area.

But the bikers also have their fun with live music, a parade through nearby Empalme, a parade through Guaymas, a bikini contest, a wet t-shirt contest, table dance night and of course, the requisite Motorcycles Washing (it seems that washing all vehicles is a sort of pastime in Mexico.)

Today was the parade to Guaymas and the delivering of the toys to the children on the malecon. Being former Harley Davidson owners we had to go! We hooked up with teacher Richard from Scotland and enjoyed the festivities. Here’s Richard with Mike.
There weren’t as many Harleys as we had expected, but there were lots of cool bikes.
Notice the guy doing the wheely?
This is John from Alaska. That box on the back of his bike holds his doggie who rides with him.
I think this is the President of Guaymas – the guy shaking hands.
These are police acrobats…although I don’t know when they have time to practice while patrolling Guaymas.
And yes, the Segway is alive and well in Guaymas!
Mike had a good day…even with Rice Rockets in the background…

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We woke up this morning and watched a bit of CBS’ The Morning Show. It was hard to watch – nothing but food we will not have today – or possibly ever again. Canned sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, turkey, tofurky (well, this wasn’t on TV, but it sounds good,) cranberries, and of course black olives to stick on the ends of your fingers.

Ah, but alas, we are in our little apartment and we are together. It’s a new Thanksgiving for us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

If You Could Have Seen Me...

…driving a mini-van in downtown Guaymas, filled with six little Mexican children and one of the Spanish teachers from school! If you know me, you’ll understand how contrary that scene was...

We were headed to the Guaymas Civic Auditorium where the St. Mary’s Preschool students practiced for the annual Pastorela Navidena “gala” to be held on Sunday, Dec 14. I was impressed when we entered the Auditorium and walked down the stairs that lead to the stage. And the stage is HUGE! With layers and layers of stage curtains…

The Spanish, Music and Physical Education teachers have been working with the children on the Pastorela and today the whole bunch of them combined their efforts and did a run-through at the Auditorium. It was so funny to see a couple of the more subdued children “let loose” on stage, grabbing a microphone and belting out a number! I can only imagine how much pride the parents will embrace after seeing their babies up on that big stage.

On the big night my role will be that of a support person, helping to keep track of the children and get them ready for their part. Initially I was not so excited about “working” on a Sunday and setting up on the Saturday the day before Pastorela, but after seeing those children and the other teachers I realize this is my contribution and I want to be a part of it.

On another note, I slept in this morning. And it was a good sleep knowing that the Parent/Teacher Conferences are done! PLUS, I completed my Lesson Plans on Thursday evening!! The only thing that would make this morning perfect would be to have Sitka panting at my feet right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Report Cards

I guess I really am a teacher now! This week I completed 3 sets of Report Cards for my 3, 4 and 5 year olds.

And today we had the Parent/Teacher Conferences for the 3 year olds. The Spanish teacher, my Principal and I all met with parents (in the classroom for the 3 year olds) at the end of the school day.

Most of the conversation was in Spanish and I got bits and pieces. My Principal translated my info to the parents in English. All went well.

Tomorrow will be tougher. We will let the kids go home at noon and start the Conferences for the ten 4 year olds. Hopefully we'll be done around 3:00. Friday will be the longest day with Conferences for twelve 5 year olds. Again, we'll let the kids go home at noon.

But guess what? I'm following through with my idea of creating my Lesson Plans and Homework BEFORE the weekend. I'm almost done and should have them completed by tomorrow night!

I smell a BEACH PARTY this weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Beach

First of all – we haven’t found Sitka yet. We hear so many dogs barking at night and we wonder if one of them is her. We only hope that she found a nice family that is taking good care of her. That’s all I can write without breaking down.

Secondly, we had a three-day weekend as Mexico celebrated Revolution Day yesterday (with the actual date being Nov 20.) Mexico has recently instigated the three-day weekend policy and I’m happy about that! I had completed my Lesson Plans last Friday night so I had THREE WHOLE DAYS that I didn’t even think about school!! Not that I don’t like it…it just is a lot of work.

Thirdly, there are just some things that we cannot find here in Guaymas. One is a replacement bulb for my desk lamp at home. I probably went to six stores looking for a replacement and there is not one in Guaymas. So Saturday morning we gassed up the truck and drove 85 miles to Hermosillo – the closest big city. I knew there was a Home Depot there and I found my replacement bulb! I was so excited I bought a “three pack.” Then we went to a Mega store that has just about everything. I almost cried when I found TOFU there! I’ll be making a stir fry later this evening…

Lastly, one reason Mike and I moved to Mexico was to enjoy the beach! And we haven’t done that lately. So Sunday we packed up the truck with our cooler, tuna sandwiches and apples, beach chairs, towels, teacher Richard from Scotland and teacher Crystal from Maine. We headed past San Carlos to Las Algodones (about 15 miles from here) – a beautiful white sand beach with very few people on it. We got in the water several times. The water wasn’t as warm as it was in the summer, but it was clean and it felt great!

So I am on a new mission to complete my Lesson Plans on weeknights waaaayyy before they are due. That way I can have my weekends to goof off. That said, I need to begin on my Lesson Plans for the week of Dec 1. More beach stories to follow…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks

Thank you to everyone who has emailed and posted about Sitka - again.

We haven't heard a thing about her. But today our neighbor found her original collar with US tags. It was missing when she was returned to us the first time. I bought her a second collar and it has no tags.

But how weird is that? Finding her original collar two and a half weeks after she first went missing?

I look at it as a sign. A positive sign. A sign of hope. That's all we have.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The Good News: On Friday St. Mary’s Preschool went on a field trip to the Guaymas Marina. Teachers, staff and parents helped to shuttle the kids from the Preschool to the Marina early that morning and we went on a walking tour of the Marina with the Harbormaster providing lots of information. (I was with an English speaking parent who runs a marina in San Carlos so he translated a lot of the info for me.)

After the tour we all boarded a large party boat and headed into the Sea of Cortez. I hadn’t seen Guaymas from the water yet and it was something! See the church steeples – the Marina is just to the right of them and our apartment is just a couple of blocks back from the water. I love that picture!Here is the new dock for the cruise ships (the first cruise ship came to Guaymas October 16) and see the battered (and sinking) shrimp boats in the following picture.The last pic is of the Resguardo Maritimo – the Mexican version of the US Coast Guard, I believe.The kids had a great time and behaved well. For privacy reasons I am not including any pictures of them, but if you could have seen them in the life jackets…the life jackets were adult size and the kids looked like little orange snowmen bumping into each other.

More Good News: For several months I have been emailing with a couple from Bothell, Washington (close to our former home), Roxanne and Ron. They have been preparing for their retirement move to Puerto Escondido and on Thursday they passed through Guaymas. We met them at their motel and spent several hours with them…come to find out Roxanne, Mike and I all worked for AT&T Wireless, at the same time, on the same campus! We really enjoyed seeing these people “in real life.” Best of luck in Puerto Escondido, Roxanne and Ron!
More Good News: When Sitka was missing, Alejandra and Ulisses, here in Guaymas, helped by putting out the word about Sitka and hanging flyers with her picture on them. We had never met them, but only knew of them via our friend Bliss in San Carlos. Yesterday Ale and Ulisses had Bliss, Brenda and us over to their home for a shrimp buffet. And what a buffet! Several varieties of shrimp prepared in very different ways. YUMMM!!! It was great to finally meet them. Thank you for your hospitality, Ale and Ulisses!
The Bad News: Friday morning Sitka ran out of our apartment and we have not seen her since. Mike was here, putting his shoes on to take Sitka out for a walk, a cat (the same little, white street cat that has been hanging around) poked her head in our door, the gate was not shut, Sitka bolted out toward the cat and ran so fast Mike could not catch her.

A full-blown search was instigated with Lolita’s son, Raphael, driving up and down every street with Mike. And with Lolita’s grandson, Francisco, searching on foot. Not too long after she initially ran, Mike had returned home and he saw a man walking with Sitka with a rope tied to her collar. Mike and Francisco ran after them, but they disappeared into who knows where.

When I got home on Friday afternoon I called a Guaymas policeman that I know, Martin…he rides a Segway in el Centro and he has met Sitka. He promised to keep an eye out for her and to ask around. Mike thought the man with Sitka on the rope looked like law enforcement or military – short sleeved navy t-shirt, navy pants tucked into boots. Martin had told us that local law enforcement is interested in a K-9 unit so maybe someone in law enforcement has Sitka.

It is sad. But for some reason I feel differently than last time she was missing. I am not as worried and I believe that 1) she will come home or 2) she is in a home with people that will take good care of her. But if you see her…please call 622.111.7973.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One Year Blogging Anniversary

I can’t sleep tonight. How weird. I usually have no problem falling out as soon as I hit the proverbial hay.

My week was very stressful – worrying about Sitka, finding Sitka, getting behind on my Lesson Plans, needing to complete my end of month reports, worrying about Mike’s health, wondering how much more we have lost in our 401(k) and IRA accounts, guessing at the US Presidential election outcome (we sent our ballots in in October.) Even while in laid back Mexico there are many things to consider.

So here I am listening to Mike’s snoring and the barking street dogs.

We have been here in Guaymas since mid-June. We have celebrated the Fourth o’ July, Mexican Independence Day, Mike’s birthday, United Nations Day, Dia de los Muertos (no kids came to our door trick or treating) and we’re wondering what Thanksgiving will entail.

I started this blog one year ago, November 1, 2007. I just read some of the older posts. What a trip! How much more drama can there be? I hope our story has been interesting. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sitka is Home!!!


Sitka was returned to us today!

She was hungry and a little dirty, but seems to be just fine. A guy in our neighborhood saw one of our flyers at the little grocery store on our street and he knew where the Americanos lived so he just drove over with Sitka in the back seat of his car.

Luckily Mike was here and he took Sitka inside. When I got home from school I tried to get her to take a shower with me, but she said, “not today.” I never got the whole story on how, or where, this guy found her, but it doesn’t matter. She’s home!!! And I could not be more relieved.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who posted a comment, or emailed, or helped look for her, or offered support, or used their own blog to spread the word about her missing. (Including Steve Cotton – in Salem, Oregon USA!) We have had more than one situation in which I reached out to the blogging community – mostly people I have never met, yet I feel like I know so well – and again I cannot believe how strangers are willing to help other bloggers!

And out of all of this, I finally got out and met my neighbors. It had been so hot and humid that I had barely walked around our neighborhood (we moved here in June) until these past few days. Every merchant I spoke with agreed that I could hang a poster at their business. Every person out on the street listened to my story. Many people had suggestions about where to look. And keep in mind that my Spanish is minimal, yet people worked hard to make the communication successful. I feel so lucky right now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lost Dog in Guaymas


Late Friday night Mike took Sitka out to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, she was not leashed. She saw a cat and ran after it. And kept going.

We have not seen her since. She takes a thyroid medication twice a day and she is not a street dog that knows how to fend for herself.

We have walked and driven and walked and driven our neighborhood. Lolita's (our landlady) housekeeper, Maria Elaina, got a notice out on the local radio. I put posters with Sitka's picture in our neighborhood, offering a reward, and asking for help. I have been to the local police station 5 times. They have her picture. My friend, Brenda, was kind enough to accompany me - with her Mexican national landlady - to the police station to clarify the information they were providing to me. I am beside myself.

I never had children and Sitka was the closest thing I ever had to a child. We drove 5,000 miles to get to Guaymas and were always careful to keep Sitka closeby. And after all that, I lost her here in Guaymas? It just doesn't seem right.

If you know anyone in Guaymas, please tell them we are looking for Sitka. And if you have any other ideas, please let me know. My cell phone is 622.111.7973. Gracias.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hello

Hello, how are you?
I am fine, thank you. How are you?

It’s so simple. Just twelve words. Dialogue English speakers use everyday without blinking an eye (or without really meaning it!) But today it meant a lot more to me.

For all of my classes I have been using a poster about different greetings – “Hello” in English v. “Hola” in Spanish v. “Aloha” in Hawaiian v. “Bonjour” in French…

And I always extend my hand for a handshake while I say, “Hello, how are you?” My goal is to have them all respond, “I am fine, thank you. How are you?” You would probably be surprised at how little my students actually speak English around me. I’m lucky to have a couple of them know what to say – and I think it’s the handshake that cues their response.

However, this morning I was greeting one of the 4 year old boys and I said, “Good morning, how are you?” I could not believe I heard his little voice squeak out, “Fine, thank you.” There was no handshake, no drill…it was just me and one little kid with no one else nearby. And he knew what I was asking him! AND he knew how to reply in English!!

Small steps...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cruisin’ Into Guaymas

We have been watching the electronic “countdown monitor” at the Plaza de los Tres Presidentes and today was the day the first cruise ship anchored for the day in Guaymas.

As I have mentioned, the city has been sprucing up and I had recently noticed vendors setting up in the Plaza and surrounding area. So when I headed out for school this morning, I took a different route – I drove through the downtown core, el Centro. And this morning I realized this was a really big event for Guaymas – as it should be!

The ship was scheduled in at 8am and I was driving at 6:50am….the buses were shiny, the streets were being swept, there was strong police presence, vendors were prepping for sales…it was very exciting! And I wish I could have been at the dock to welcome that first boat…

Nevertheless, the Preschool teachers ascended the Preschool amphitheater steps and from there we could see the cruise ship in the distance. (See the big white sorta blurry thing sitting in the water smack dab in the middle of this first pic - double click to enlarge.) It was really something to see that huge ship in our port. From this next pic you can see part of the school and the ship.And from this last pic you can see the school grounds with the ship in the distance. It made me cry.
After school Mike and I went to the malecon and the Plaza de los Tres Presidentes where so many Guaymas families had gathered, bands were playing, dancers were dancing, and vendors were selling. It was way MORE that the Independence Day celebration!!!

All day I had this unusual feeling about how much I care about Guaymas and how lucky I feel to be part of this big day. I’m not sure I want Guaymas to become “touristy,” yet at the same time I believe this could really help our economy.

Bottom line – I felt very proud to live in Guaymas today and I am happy that I can be a part of the future of this great city!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Know Why the Chicken Didn't Cross the Road - SITKA!

I laughed so hard this morning!

I let Sitka out to “do her business” before I left for school and, as usual, she headed toward our “back yard” area without a leash. Once she was done we went back toward the apt and just as we were about to step up over the threshold, she turned her head and STARED out at the street, not budging. I looked and about 50 feet away I saw a BIG chicken walking down the sidewalk – in el Centro Guaymas!

Luckily, I was able to grab Sitka’s collar and get her into the apt. I don’t think she would hurt the BIG chicken, but it’s a busy street at 7am and I didn’t want her running into traffic.

But I was so curious that I grabbed my camera and here’s what I saw (the gated parking lot is for Hotel Ana; double click this pic for the BIG chicken and the truck curiously loaded with oranges):

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Murphy's Law

For four months I have been hot, sticky and wondering why the heck I moved to the desert by the sea. And I finally figured out that if I could get my hair off my neck, it would probably be more comfortable.

So yesterday I got my first Mexican haircut. And I’d venture to say that I have the shortest hair of any woman in Guaymas. Or maybe in Mexico. Most women have long hair that they pull back and off their necks.

And what happened after the haircut? Well, that’s where Murphy’s Law comes into the picture. There was a distinct change in the weather yesterday evening…no rain or wind from Hurricane Norbert…just a balmy 30C (86F) with only 26% humidity. I LOVE IT!!! I was able to walk Sitka this morning at 8:30 – something I could never tolerate until today. We actually slept WITHOUT air conditioning last night and we still have every window open with a gentle breeze sweeping through the apartment.

My first set of Lesson Plans is complete and I’m headed outside! Now if I could just figure out how to surprise the kids tomorrow at school with my new look…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Teaching Highlights

We're still searching for a teacher at Colegio Navarrete (of which St. Mary's Preschool is a part); however, it was a good week for me at the Preschool!

I did two activities that were a hit so I thought I'd share them. Plus, if you've been reading since school started, you probably remember that little 3 year old boy who for a few weeks cried every time he saw me...more about him in a moment.

The two hits were
1) Sense of taste tasting
2) Science: hard boiled v. raw eggs

We started the year's curriculum with the "At School" theme in which we learned all about school, related vocab, the park, and some simple verbs that go along with all that. We have now moved into the 2nd theme, "All About Us" in which we are learning names of body parts, feelings, taste, family - that sort of stuff.

So for my 4 year olds I did a really cool activity teaching them about taste and the fact that our tongues detect 4 tastes - salty, bitter, sour and sweet. I brought in seasoned chips, orange peel, chocolates wrapped in gold foil (like coins) and limes. I put some chips on 2 plates (while the children were drooling, but careful not to take anything yet), I very dramatically peeled pieces of the orange peel onto the 2 plates, I had a small cutting board and knife and I carefully cut the limes in half and put them onto the 2 plates, and then I pulled out the "gold coins" (which they already knew were filled with chocolate) and put them on the 2 plates.

By now those 10 little faces were so anxious, that they were listening to every word I said. And then we began to taste each item, one by one, with me describing salty, bitter, sour and sweet. It was great. They loved it. And I loved it.

The second activity that went really well was with my 5 year olds and we did it yesterday. I called it a Science activity and showed them the difference between hard boiled and raw eggs. (Did you know you can spin an egg and it will quickly tell you if it is hard boiled or raw?)

I brought in a dozen raw eggs and 6 hard boiled eggs. I pulled out one raw and one hard boiled and spun them on the table that all the children were sitting around. One spins fast and one spins slow. And right off the bat the raw one hit the floor and broke on the tile. That was funny. No problem. I got out another raw one and spun it. By now the children were sorta confused and I'm not sure they realized that some of the eggs were cooked and they would not break. So...I took one that was hard boiled (they spin faster!) and cracked it on the table...I could see them wondering why I was going to break another egg onto the floor...hahahaha...if you could have seen their faces when they saw it was hard boiled! We went through this several times.

And then I poked a hole in each end of a raw egg and blew the contents into a cup. You know - the way we did it around Easter to make hollowed eggs to decorate. THEY WERE SCREAMING AND LAUGHING SO HARD - especially when the yolk broke through! They could not believe all of the egg could come out of that little hole. I let a couple of them try blowing an egg and we ended up with 3 more broken eggs on the floor. They loved it. And I loved it.

And the 3 year old cry baby? We had a big Columbus Day celebration yesterday which included a movie and popcorn served by our Principal, and her staff, to the students and the teachers. We sat on the floor in the music room to watch the movie and it was about half-way through the movie that I realized the little one next to me that was now leaning up against me was the cry baby. And I gave him a spontaneous hug. He looked up at me with the biggest smile, stayed still, and kept eating popcorn and watching the movie. Can you believe that?!

CORRECTION: Sat night...I'm making dinner...I inadvertently discover that is RAW eggs that spin faster...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

English Teacher Needed in Guaymas

Help!

One of the English teachers at Colegio Navarrete has left the school and we need a temporary (3-4 weeks)replacement until the position is filled. It is teaching English to 2nd and 4th graders, from 6:45am-3:00pm Monday through Friday at Colegio Navarrete in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.

For more information, please email me at chizillin@att.net.

Thanks!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Roses Are RED!



I'm the luckiest girl in the world! I am healthy, I am safe, I enjoy freedom, I have a great dog, I work for a wonderful, caring Principal (doing something I have never done before), and I have everything I need.

But most importantly, my friend, my partner, my other half - Mike - loves me and spoils me. On this Friday afternoon not only did I come home to a sparkling apt, with our clothes hanging on the clothes line, but I came home to roses. There was no special reason...just beautiful roses from my baby.

It sure puts things in perspective...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guaymas Marina

Yesterday I put the Lesson Plans on hold and actually went out exploring Guaymas again with Mike. He has been so patient when I come home from school and immediately log onto my laptop and start working. But I must say I love my teaching hours, 7am-3pm, with my actual classes from 8-1:45.

I’ve always been a morning person and now I get up at 5am to walk with Sitka (although I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the crickets early in the morning. They keep hitting my legs, arms, or FACE in the Plaza. Is it cricket breeding season or what??), have coffee and watch the TV news with Mike at 6, and leave the apt at 6:50 to be on campus by 7. If I am totally organized for the next day I occasionally leave right at 3 and am home by 3:15. Not bad, huh?

Anyway, my friend here in Guaymas, Brenda, had another great post – this one is about a Pirate Ship that is visiting Guaymas. So yesterday we went down to the Guaymas Marina to check it out. The Marina is about a half mile from our apt, but we had never been there. I don’t know the history of the Marina, but it is being developed and I think the whole area will be really nice when it is complete. Right now there is just one dock and that is where the Pirate Ship is tied up. It is on the far right.
And here is another picture of it, blocked by the large, white boat. Unfortunately, the dock was secured and we couldn’t walk down there to check it out. And see the church steeples in this next pic? Our apt is just two blocks from the church.

The Marina area is all brand new – even this lighthouse looks new.There is a nice commercial development that has/will have a coffee shop, café and shops (nothing was open yesterday when we went.) It is all shiny steel (or something industrial-like) and glass and very modern. If I didn’t know I was in Guaymas I could have thought I was in Seattle.

Guaymas is sprucing up for the cruise ships that will begin stopping here in about 3 weeks although we can’t figure out where they will pull up. And I'm not sure what the cruisers will think of our laid-back, non-touristy town.

The last thing we noticed was the shrimp boats right next to the bright, new, gleaming Marina. An interesting juxtaposition for the visitor to Guaymas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teaching is HARD!

As I have written previously, I loved going to school. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Tooley when I was in the fourth grade at Cedar Valley Elementary in Lynnwood, Washington. I'm not sure why I remember her as my favorite teacher, but I think she challenged me to be good (meaning good behavior v. good grades.) And if there is any reader out there that knows, or remembers, Mrs. Tooley I would love to hear from you.

During week four of my teaching career, I either came home crying to Mike or so excited and happy that I could not stop talking! The crying may be attributed to inexperience and frustration. The excitement and happiness may be attributed to those cute, little children that are learning from me.

Back to Mrs. Tooley - I see some children in my classes that are ME many, many years ago. Out of control. Not necessarily bad, but disruptive. Smart enough, but using their energy is such negative ways.

Sometimes I have to laugh when I reflect back on my school days. More often, I wonder how in the heck am I going to get the wild ones in my classes on track. I have great support, with both Mike and my principal, Elsa. But what about the children that are so busy acting up that they may not be learning any English?

If you know a teacher, give him or her a nod this week. Help them believe that their work is good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Three Weeks of Teaching

I just completed my first Self-Evaluation and individual Evaluations for each of my 24 students. Whewwww! Luckily, I am a fast typer because there was a lot to write. But I like this kind of stuff. It will be fun to re-read these at the end of the year and reflect back on how it went.

The Self-Evaluation helped me to remember what has worked and what has not worked. Some of my activities just flopped - especially with the 3 year olds.

Luckily we have a new volunteer Teacher Assistant who is bilingual and she is now part of my class with the 4 year olds. Her role is to provide my instructions in Spanish. This is very helpful because these children don't seem to understand or care what I am saying to them.

The 5 year olds are my favorites and it feels like I am really teaching them. With the younger ones, I'm not sure they are learning much English. I've discussed this with Elsa and she reminds me that just being exposed to English helps them to learn English.

Overall, I'm satisfied with myself, although I am surprised at how much time is required to be a teacher.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mike's Birthday Party


“I had the greatest time last night…” That’s what Mike just said to me.

We pulled it off! He was so surprised when he and Richard came back to our apt and he saw our friends sitting in our living room when he thought we were heading out to his birthday dinner!

I had a tricky time sneaking snacks and his birthday cake into the apt before Richard came over with his “broken laptop” ruse. But it all came together and Sitka didn’t even bark (she stayed outside) when everyone came over!

And look at that hat! He he's a good lookin' cowboy, huh?
THANK YOU everyone for all of the good wishes for his birthday!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shhhh...it's Mike's Birthday!

And I am going to try and pull off a surprise party this evening.

Mike thinks he and I are going out to dinner to celebrate his 52nd...but the plan is to have Richard from Scotland come over and get Mike around 6:30. Richard has been having problems with his laptop so he is going to ask Mike to come over to his casita to see if he can help with the laptop.

Little does Mike know, I have invited a few friends and neighbors to show up at 7:00...and when Mike comes back to the apt, "SURPRISE!!!"

He's still sleeping, but I'm about to wake him up before I leave for work. I almost lost Mike back in March when he was hospitalized in Mexico City. This year his birthday means more to me than any in the past.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mexican Independence Day

Yesterday in Guaymas we celebrated the Mexican-Spanish War of Independence. We had special activities at the Preschool and almost every one of the children dressed in traditional Mexican garb. We made Mexican crafts - my favorite were the maracas made from decorated Coke cans filled with pinto beans. The 3 years olds loved it!

After school Richard from Scotland had friends over for a snack including a seafood rice dish and around 8:00 we all headed over to the Plaza de los Tres Presidentes (about 3 blocks from our apt) where everyone was gathering. Except Mike didn't go - he wasn't feeling well yesterday.

The streets had been closed and were flooded with families. There was more Mexican garb and many stands selling Mexican flags and trinkets. There were two large bandstands and Mariachi bands in traditional charro, or cowboy, outfits. It was still very hot outside and I was amazed at their energy in the heavy clothing.

I wandered home alone and Mike was feeling better. We pulled our beach chairs out to our parking lot and watched the late-comers racing to the Plaza. The President of Guaymas was scheduled to speak at about 11:00 and we wanted to see the fireworks after his speech.

Well, we had PERFECT seats right outside out front door...it was as if the fireworks were going to fall right onto us. And eventually they did!!! We were seeing the embers getting closer and closer to us and then when we heard them hitting the tile roofs of the houses around us, we jumped up. We didn't get hit, but it was close!

This morning I took Sitka for her walk and there were people cleaning everywhere! The parade is supposed to start around 8:00am and we'll have a nice, fresh start on this holiday.

¡Happy Independence Day, Mexico!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Workin' It

I'm happy to say that creating Lesson Plans is getting a bit easier. Today I finished my 3 sets of Lesson Plans for the week of Sept 22 at 1:00! And that included 2 sets of homework (for the 5 and 4 year olds) and special Lesson Plans for a student who will be in Colorado until the 26th.

Thanks to everyone who has provided ideas for lessons! And even more thanks to everyone who continues to support me and tell me I CAN DO IT!!

We bought our Mexican flags yesterday and now that my Lesson Plans are complete, I am ready to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week Two

Wow. We're watching TV news and the coverage about Hurricane Ike and what's happening in the Houston area. It is very bad - the winds reached 110 mph. And it makes us thankful that we only had rain here this week and although the kids didn't go to school on Thursday they were back in class yesterday.

The teachers went to school on Thursday and we had a training on the Teacher's Manual and Discipline Positivo - the discipline approach preferred at St. Mary's Preschool and Colegio Navarrete. It was nice to have a day to interact with the teachers and Principal without the children there!

At the end of Week Two I felt a lot more relaxed and confident that I will be a successful teacher. The 5 and 4 year olds both had English homework assignments this week and almost everyone got 100%! So they are learning English from me.

The highlight of my week was yesterday with the 5 year olds. I taught them how to do the Hokey Pokey. And they loved that! It was good to burn off some of their energy, plus they were learning the names of body parts without even realizing it. October's Theme Unit is Our Body so I have a feeling we'll be doing the Hokey Pokey a lot.

Next Tuesday, September 16, is Mexican Independence Day and it is a national holiday that is celebrated beginning on the 15th. We are decorating the classrooms and will have many activities on Monday to teach the children about Independence Day. Plus, we are having a special lunch with all the classes combined to enjoy some Mexican specialities. More about this next week.!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Lost My Friend

Back in May I posted about "seizing the day" when I found that my real estate mentor had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Unfortunately, this great man and friend lost his life on Friday, September 5, 2008.

So if you have something on your mind, something that you have been thinking or dreaming about doing, take the steps to accomplish that goal or dream. We never know when our time will come.

Carpe Diem.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The First Week is Over

Halleluiah. This week I went through a test of sorts. And I think I passed. But I am beat.

I don’t think the children realized that yesterday was Friday – do they really understand time at that age? Do they know that for the next two days they will not go to school? The 5 and 4 year olds had a high energy level and I was counting the minutes until each class finished. Seriously. I had to go back to my August 12 post about time - HA. Time does matter to me after all.

Surprisingly, the 3 year olds have settled in over the five days…the little boy did not cry once and the 2 girls were finally peaceful with me. We had a great art project using water colors to paint the letter C on a piece of colored construction paper. And then we sprinkled kosher salt on the letter to make it sparkle. It was a little messy, but it kept them busy for quite a while.

Overall, I enjoyed the week. I sorta like having a schedule in my life again. However, I have to be honest and say that if we didn’t need the income I would not work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day Four - My Best so Far!

If someone had told me on Monday that today would go as smoothly as it did, I would not have believed it. I had a very good and satisfying day at the Preschool.

I think it began with my morning power walk with Sitka. I have always preferred to exercise early in the morning and with the heat and humidity here in Guaymas that seems to be the only time I can attempt to exercise. And now it is so dark on the malecon at 5am that I've been walking the perimeter of the Tres Presidentes Plaza. It is less isolated, it has better lighting, and there is a taxi stand and newspaper seller in clear site. I feel safe with Sitka because I think people think she’s a lobo (wolf) and they don’t even want to get close to us! Plus, I tend to call her Lobo when we’re out early just in case someone is wondering.

We don’t have our hot water heater turned on yet because the tap/shower water is never cold, but rather a lukewarm temp. And when I come in from the morning walk it is so refreshing to have a cool shower. I understand that when the heat diminishes we’ll want the water heater on or I’ll never see Mike take a shower again (he likes HOT showers.)

Anyway, my 5 year olds were as attentive as ever and the 4 year olds were kept so busy with their little projects that they didn’t have time to cause any problems. (Yesterday one of the boys kicked one of the other boys and that required me to complete a Report about the incident and the "kicker" had a long "time out.") My babies, the 3 year olds, are coming around…the little boy was quiet when I first got to the class, but NO CRYING when he saw me! That was a first. The two girls even shared their lunch fruit with me and by the end of the class they were all laughing and hugging me and almost saying, “See you tomorrow.”

The “crème de la crème” was walking into the apt today and seeing that Mike still had the mop out. He had cleaned the whole apt and already had cut up the fixins for a shrimp salad. How could a teacher have it any better???

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day Three - I had a "moment"

The 3 year olds are still the most challenging class I have. And the little boy has still been crying over the last 3 days. And that is anytime he sees me! His Spanish teacher has stayed in class with us everyday because that's the only way he won't try to escape from me.

I had "guard duty" this morning which means escorting the Preschool students from the parking lot (where they are dropped off by their parents) to the outdoor hall that leads to the classrooms. By virtue of being the teacher greeting the parents and students this morning I managed to get the little boy crying before school even started!!!

However, I also had a chance to speak to the little boy's mom. She was upset that her little boy was upset and then, of course, I got upset. The mom was very nice to me and I tried to comfort her and tell her that he'll get over it...(like I would know...)

The "moment" part of this post happened around 2:00 today. I also had "guard duty" from 1:45-2:15 when the parents come to pick up their kids. Out of the blue, the little boy walked up to me and GAVE ME A BIG HUG and a smile. The first smile I'd seen from him. And when his mom showed up, he was still smiling and he actually kissed me on the cheek before running to his mom.

I can't explain why he changed so dramatically in the two hours since I had left his class. I just hope he loves me in the morning...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day Two - Ladybug, Ladybug Nursery Rhyme

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that's little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

Can you believe that most of us were probably taught that rhyme as children? Have you read it recently? I just did as I was searching the internet for lesson plan ideas. I think I'll skip the Ladybug rhyme in my classes.

Day Two at Mary's Preschool went a lot smoother than Day One! The 5 year olds are the ones I like the best because they listen and for the most part they do what I ask them to do. The 3 year olds are still struggling with me, but none escaped from the classroom today. And the 4 year olds come in to my class after 15 minutes of playing on the playground. Water is the most important thing for them! I've already learned to not even attempt to start a project until they all get some water out of the water cooler.

So my six hours in class and the extra two hours of planning (including a teacher meeting held every Tuesday) flew by again today. But now I'm tasked with creating Lesson Plans for next week, plus a homework assignment (HOMEWORK?? They're gonna hate me!) for the 5 and 4 year olds - all due TOMORROW.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day One - Is it Over Yet???

My body hurts. Hurts in a good way. But I have not been bending, squatting, reaching, or sitting on floor mats much at this point in my life...until today! Until almost 6 hours worth of classroom time with a total of 23 (minus 1 or 2 that I may have misplaced today) hyperactive, Mexican kids that know little or next to none English. CARAMBA!

The thing I learned most quickly is that I need more activities planned to keep them busy. But I also saw that some of them were scared/uncomfortable and they didn't want to be there. They wanted their mommies. But I was very satisfied that one of the 5 year olds (my first class of the day) started crying right after her dad left my classroom, but I was somehow able to console her, remember her name all morning (names is a whole other post), and help her get through Day One.

My second class was with the 3 year olds. And even though there were only 3 of them, this was the toughest class. The little boy could not stop crying - although he was happy for the first 2 hours with his Spanish teacher! And then the 2 little girls kept "escaping" to the playground area! I was so happy to see their Spanish teacher come back to help me out. In fact, everyone was helping me with these 3 rascals. I think the language barrier is most difficult for these little ones.

My third class is with the 4 year olds - about 10 of them. Now these characters have a mind of their own and they know just enough English to be dangerous. It was difficult for me to get ALL of them going on the same activity. So I let them do activities in 2 groups. Hey, as long as there was no crying I was happy.

The day quickly came to an end and then I had an hour on campus to rework my Lesson Plans for tomorrow! I'll work from home after I eat Mike's delicious tuna and egg salad and try to get a good night's rest for Day Two.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No Rain!

But no school for the children - only the teachers. Teachers and support staff reported to school today and will do so again tomorrow. And on Monday we will have a second "First Day of School" - with the teachers and the children.

We are using this extra time to finish classroom "decorations" and Lesson Plans. The Spanish teachers each have a set classroom, while I will rotate through the 3 classrooms thoroughout the day. The Spanish teachers have done a wonderful job setting up their classrooms.

They each have the Spanish alphabet taped to the wall, letter by letter, using a specific font we teach to the children. They also have identified many classroom items like table, chair, pencil, calendar, computer, Science Center, Art Center, Library, etc. with a little sign in Spanish next to the item/area. (At least I'll learn the Spanish word for classroom items since I'll be looking at the Spanish words everyday!)

So today I added the English alphabet to the opposite wall in each classroom. And I taped up signs with the English word next to many of the Spanish words already on the walls. The classrooms now have a nice, bilingual feel to them!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rain Day #3

Geez. No school again.

But I have been using the time at home to find numerous classroom ideas on the internet. We have a curriculum with specifics to cover, yet we have the creative freedom to teach the specifics however we like.

We haven't had any additional leaks in our apt, but we have the towels and mop ready.

I've enjoyed lazing around with Mike after a full week at school last week for Orientation/Training. I'm going to miss him A LOT the day I actually drive off for school again!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rain Day #2

My friend, Brenda, here in Guaymas wrote a very descriptive post about our rain and flood situation due Tropical Storm Julio...check it out. And in case you're wondering, yes, school was suspended again today. Dang. The teaching delay is frustrating!

Unfortunately, our front window and the ceiling in our bedroom closet leaked. Leaked a lot. Leaked so much we could barely keep up with wringing out towels and mopping up the water.

Early on we moved all boxes from their hiding places (under the bed, under the couch, stacked in the closet) and got them up and on a piece furniture to keep them from getting wet.

For a few hours all we did was wring and mop. I still didn't know if school would be suspended or not so I went to sleep. Mike stayed up and mopped as needed. I got up at 5am and took my turn mopping. At around 6:30 I read on the Guaymas website that school was suspended. I confirmed with Elsa and finished wringing out towels.

Mike and I took a drive through town and were really surprised by what we saw. It's amazing what devestation water can cause. We're home now and it's coming down pretty hard. Our hearts go out to those here who are faced with evacuation and loss of property.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rain Day!

Today was the first day of school at St. Mary’s Preschool in Guaymas. However, it rained heavily last night…in fact, there was so much rain that I decided not to walk Sitka on the malecon and I slept an extra hour instead. But Mike got up, I had coffee and I excitedly got ready for work. It is just a 5-10 minute drive to the school and I was there right at 7:00am.

Some of the children began to arrive and I went to the Preprimary (age 5) classroom which is where my first English class of the day is held. I already knew Maria Paula (her mom is the Preschool Principal, Elsa, and her dad is the Colegio Navarrete Principal, Gerardo) and I remember some of the other children from the Open House last week. Class doesn’t start until 8:00 so we used this time to introduce each other and practice saying our names. Many of the children went to St. Mary’s last year so they are familiar with the classrooms and where to hang up their backpacks.

The rain kept falling and right before 8:00 Elsa came to say that school had been suspended for the day due to the rain. Due to the rain?! HA As a native Seattleite (where it rains a lot), all I could do was laugh. But in Guaymas we see flooding and large pools of water because there are no drains in the streets and the ground is not able to soak up the water.

The parents came back to pick up the children they had just dropped off and the other parents were notified that school was suspended. The few children that stayed included Elsa’s three children, one of the Spanish teacher’s daughter, and two sisters that were going to stay for the day. As it happens, they had all gathered in the Preprimary classroom and we spent time drawing, practicing handwriting and looking at pictures of snow and Sitka on my laptop. Then we had our little lunch snacks. Next they all gathered umbrellas and went outside to run around in the rain. The wind picked up and so did their energy! I let them blow off their steam and then we came back inside.

They got out building blocks and entertained themselves while I began working on next week’s Lesson Plans. I was a little disappointed, but I know I’ll have plenty of teaching opportunity in the upcoming months.

Meanwhile, Elsa’s phone was ringing off the hook about how the storm has just begun and at around 1:00 we vacated the Preschool – except Elsa stayed for a book delivery. Hopefully, we'll be back tomorrow and have a genuine First Day of School!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Open House at St. Mary’s Preschool

Yesterday we had our annual Open House for the parents and children of St. Mary’s Preschool in Guaymas, Sonora. It was held from 6-8 in the evening, at the Preschool, with activities for the children, info for the parents, food for everyone and fun for all. One idea behind the Open House is to introduce the children to the school and teachers in a fun way so that come Monday morning they will look forward to school and lessen their separation anxiety (from their parents.) I would say the Open House was a rousing success!

At 6pm it is still quite warm (and humid) on an August night in Guaymas. So while the playground area was open to the children we also had activities inside the air conditioned classrooms. My activity was fishing in the fish pond and it was set up outside. I had a pool filled with water and little fishing poles with lines that had magnetic tips. The pool was stocked with various magnetic fishies – sharks, puffers, rays, dolphins…you dip the line in the water and snag a fish.

Our guests began arriving right at 6 which is a bit surprising… after all we are in Mexico! And before long the preschool was brimming with little kids playing on the outdoor toys and rushing in an out of the 4 classrooms. How they have that energy in the heat is beyond me. Soon enough the fish pond was the place to be and I was meeting most of the children right there. The students had nametags and it was a good way for me to introduce myself and talk to them. What I noticed right off the bat is how quiet their little voices are. It was a strain to hear some of them, and if they had a name I wasn’t familiar with I had to ask them to repeat and repeat and repeat until I got it. They probably thought I was hard of hearing.

I had little stickers to put on the children as they successfully “caught” a fish and the stickers were the motivation to catch another and another. Most of them called me, “Maestra” (teacher) and it hit me that I really am (almost anyway) a teacher. While a few of the children were quite outgoing, some were very shy and some even had an older sibling to help interpret what I was saying. I was struck by how kind the older ones were to their younger family members. There was also lots of hugging and kissing among the children. It’s a very touchy, feely environment – even in the sticky heat.

Later I sat through our Principal, Elsa’s, presentation to the parents and at the end I was introduced as the new English teacher. I said a few words to the parents and then Elsa interpreted what I said for them. I was welcomed and I felt very comfortable although I was the proverbial “fish out of water.” Snacks followed and the fishing continued…we left around 9 and I was so ready for a shower.

When I rolled into our apt I was pleasantly surprised by Mike. He had cleaned the whole apt (even mopping!) and all I had to do was relax. I think I am going to enjoy this role reversal…

Today I left school with lots of stuff to consider while finalizing my Lesson Plans for the first week of school. But like I said a few days ago, I love school!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lesson Plans

I spent most of my day working on Lesson Plans - reviewing the templates used for the Primary grades and then creating my own version for the Pre-School. I will have three 1.75 hour classes a day. The 8:00 class will be with the 5 year olds, the 10:00 class with the 4s, and the 12:00 class with the 3s.

That means there are a lot of Lesson Plans to create! I've got lots of ideas swimming around my head. I just have no idea what a 3 year old is going to understand in a language the child doesn't know. And what if they start crying for their mammas? And what if they get into a spat with another child? Worst of all, what if my teaching is so bad that they fall asleep???

If anyone has some good, simple, worthy teaching ideas for pre-schoolers, please let me know!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Antonio Banderas & Eddie Vedder

I'm working on lesson plans and Mike is watching Desparado - a movie based in Mexico starring that Spanish beauty, ANTONIO BANDERAS!!!

Now anyone who knows me well knows I have been an ardent Pearl Jam fan since 1991 and I have been in love with lead singer, Eddie Vedder, since 1991.

As I watched pieces of the movie all I could see in Antonio was Eddie! In fact, I got so distracted that I spent/wasted waaaaay too much time looking for pics of them on the web. Check it out...Antonio and Eddie. Don't they look alike???And yes, I know this has nothing to do with school or moving to Mexico or anything like that. But sometimes a girl just has to dream about dreamy men.

p.s. The movie is actually pretty good - although it is a little corny.
p.p.s.s. Mike and I both felt fine today. I guess we had the short version of the problem...yippee!

First Day of Work

Well, the day started out just fine...Sitka and I got up at 5:30 and took a power walk along the malecon. She's the power. I'm the walker. We have done this on occasion, but I'd like to make it a morning habit.

Richard and I got in the truck and headed to the school. We met the other teachers in the Primary area where Richard will be teaching and then I was asked to go to the Pre-School to meet with the Principal and the Spanish teachers for the Pre-School.

I was met with open arms by Elsa, the Principal, and 4 young(er) Mexican Spanish teachers. The Spanish teachers know little English and since I know little Spanish we struggled a bit, but we did have Elsa to interpret. A couple of times Elsa had to leave the room and we worked to understand each other. I have a feeling my Spanish will improve quite quickly in this environment!

We worked on ideas for the Pre-School's Open House this Thursday. The teachers will have activities for the kids and Elsa will meet with the parents. Then we'll all come together for snacks.

We also stocked the 4 classrooms with all kinds of "tools" for teaching. I am amazed at the wonderful resources available to us.

Around noon the Spanish teachers went with Elsa to review some required governmental info while I stayed in one of the classrooms to begin reviewing the cirriculum and thinking of lesson plan ideas. That's when it hit me.

My stomach started gurgling and I guess I had Montezuma's revenge, also known as traveler's diarrhea. Luckily a bathroom was closeby and I used it multiple times. Soon enough it was time to go home and I crawled into bed and stayed there until 6:30 this morning. No power walk today.

The weird thing is that I hadn't eaten anything unusual and we always drink purified water. But Mike also was also having the same symptoms. ???

Oh well, I'm sure I'll remember my First Day of Work for a long time! And this morning I feel pretty good.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Old Farts

It finally hit me yesterday - Mike and I are getting OLD.

We met up with Richard, Gregorio and Crystal (English teacher who just arrived in Guaymas from Maine) yesterday and they came over to look at the casita Lolita has for rent. Richard decided to take it (yeah!) and then we all went over to Lolita's to make the arrangements. This means Richard will be living about 30 feet from our apt on the Lolita "compound" that includes Lolita, Lolita's daughter, Lolita's 2 sons, Lolita's 2 grandsons and Hotel Ana. One big(er) happy family!

After all that we made plans to rendezvous at the hotel to go to San Carlos for a night out. All that sounds good, except for one part. And this is where Old Farts comes into the story. They all agreed to meet at TEN PM!!!

Now Mike and I are just in our early 50s, but we are usually in our nice, cool bed by 9:00 and often asleep by 10:00. I guess it comes from years in the corporate world when we had to get up soooo early to make it into the office for a long day of work.

And you might think that since we've been in Mexico almost 3 months that we would have adapted the Mexican day...sleep in late...eat a late breakfast...walk to the store...take a siesta...say hi to neighbors...eat a snack...sit outside and enjoy the cool evening...and then go out and party like rock stars.

But no. We're old now.

Anyway, we did meet at the hotel at 10:00 and there were more teachers there that will teach at the same school. We all ended up going into the hotel resaurant and Mike and I were home before midnight.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Richard from Scotland

Last night Mike and I greeted Richard from Scotland at the bus station and gave him a hearty welcome to Guaymas! He traveled from Glasgow to Newark to Phoenix by plane and then from Phoenix to Guaymas by bus.
We were also met by Gregorio, another teacher from our school. We got Richard settled into his hotel room and then Gregorio took us all to Poncho Villa's for some live Mexican music on a late Thursday night. It was after 11:00 and I was surprised to see that people were coming in for dinner at that time of the night! (Especially considering that Mike and I are usually dead asleep at that time.)
It was great to finally meet Richard who has been exchanging emails with me for the past couple of months. He's got that crazy Scottish accent. A Scot speaking Spanish was very interesting.This morning Richard goes apartment hunting with Gregoria and another teacher who is staying at the same hotel. And this afternoon we are all hooking up to take a trip over to San Carlos. Only 3 more days of FREEDOM!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wireless Phone

Mike worked for Cellular One which was acquired by AT&T, which spun off a separate company called AT&T Wireless, which was acquired by Cingular Wireless, which was acquired by AT&T. (And I joined the crazy wireless world in 1995 when it was AT&T Wireless.)

During that time we both enjoyed the benefit of wireless phones with either free or reduced usage fees and equipment prices. Once we made the decision to move to Mexico we cancelled Mike's service and just kept my phone active.

About a month and a half ago we got a new phone with Telcel here in Mexico. We've been telling people our new phone number and that we would eventually cancel our AT&T service.

Well, today the AT&T service was cancelled. The number I had for so long is no longer active. Wow. For some reason when I looked at my AT&T phone and it said "No Service" it really hit me that this move to Mexico is permanent. I got all emotional. Over a phone!

So if you need/want our new number send me an email at chizillin@att.net.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Time

I woke up again last night at 2am. And I almost got up to write a post, but it was just so nice and cool in the bed...

Anyway, I've been thinking about time. When Mike and I both had corporate jobs our lives were run by the clock. Had to get up at a certain time, had to get into the office, had to have meetings and conference calls, had to complete deadlines, had to work overtime, had to make time to spend good time together.

And look at that crazy sentence and see all the references to TIME.

Since we got to Guaymas it seems like we never even consider time. For several weeks after leaving Seattle I was never really sure what day of the week it was, let alone the date. No kidding. I quit wearing a watch and without the constant of my desk with a calendar and the clock on my laptop I lost track. And it really hasn't mattered.

But yesterday morning around 8:30am I headed out to Hermosillo (about 1.5 hours away) to do some shopping, with the goal of being home by 4:30 when Bliss was coming over. I made good time getting to Hermosillo and my first stop was at Sears. After Sears I went to Home Depot. My last stop was Wal-Mart. While sitting in the truck, I noticed the clock said 1:15. Since I needed to be on the road home by 3:00 I thought no problem.

However, I grabbed my cell phone to call Mike and I noticed the phone clock said 1:45. For a half a second I thought the cell phone clock was fast by half an hour. I kept thinking about it and finally realized that the cell phone was correct and the truck clock somehow was late by half an hour.

In my Guaymas life a half an hour amounts to virtually nothing, but just knowing my "time" had been cut by half an hour sent me into a shopping frenzy! There were so many things I wanted to buy at Wal-Mart. (Yes, I know that sounds so crazy since I had never, ever even been in a Wal-Mart until our first visit to Mexico City in March...) I was panicked and I rushed through that store. I drove home safely at a nice clip (80mph/128kph.) I walked into our apt at 4:29 and Bliss came over minutes later.

I write about this because a fundemental piece of Cynthia has changed significantly. And I like this pace...I like being lazy...I like not knowing what time it is...I know it'll all change with school starting next week...but right now it's 5:00 somewhere...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Playa Algondones

I recently "met" MS and GB after reading their blog SV Gallant Fox. They are from the Seattle area and they live and travel on their sailboat. MS suggested that we find Playa Algondones - a beautiful beach just north of San Carlos. (About 20 miles from Guaymas)

So yesterday morning we packed our beach gear and headed out. We have been to San Carlos a few times, but never to any beaches. The drive into San Carlos features Tetakawi Peak. This is popularly known as Tetakawi, or "goat tits" - imagine the pic turned upside down and you'll get the drift...














From here you can see the Guaymas beach in the distance.














And here is an anchorage with many of the boats quietly bobbing up and down.














Finally, Mike is set up on the beach...there were less than 100 people there - much different than the hundreds of family members we usually encounter on the beach in Guaymas.














The sand is white and HOT! But so clean and beautiful. The water was warm and no sign of stinging jelly fish!














There were just a few vendors on the beach - jet skiis, clams and a guy with his wheelbarrow full of treats like nuts and candies. We also saw several fishing/clamming boats hit the shore and unload their bounties.














We love this beach - thank you MS! And we recommend it to anyone who is in the area.