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, 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


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.


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...