Thursday, June 25, 2009

Week Two

I know. No post in over a week? How can I call myself a blogger? I can tell you, quite honestly, that I've lost very little sleep over it.

Last Monday (the 15th) I attended my first cooking class, and let me tell you, it was AWESOME. I have the recipes, and as soon as I translate them, I hope to post them here. After meeting at the Plaza de la Paz, we took a 20 minute bus ride to our cooking teachers house just outside the city. She had a gorgeous home and an even more beautiful chocolate lab. He was the sweetest dog, and made me miss buddy (our beagle back home).

The next day after class, my friend Tiereney and I went to the market, where I successfully completed most of my souvenir purchases. We waded through booths and got lost in the maze that each little stand contributes to, until it started to get dark. The only people I have yet to buy for are my grandmother, and Alex. Pretty good, if you ask me.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were quiet, rainy days and I mostly stayed in with the family, watching the storms.

Saturday was busy, Busy, BUSY! We left at 9AM for what we thought was going to be a wine tasting, but what ended up being a visit to the final resting place of some famous Mexican singer. The graveyard was like nothing I'd ever seen. The monuments were colorful, and many of them had religious effigies on them. There were many people all around the cemetery, but they were far from quiet. There was laughing, and kids running and music playing. It was quite a happy place. After that we took a long and curvy drive to Dolores Hidalgo, the home of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest that led the Mexican war for independence. After seeing his house and various other historical sites, it was back into the van and on to San Miguel.

In San Miguel we started exploring the enchanting little city. after seeing the church, the center garden and the local scenery we had a FABULOUS luxurious lunch in this restaurant courtyard complete with fountains. After walking through San Miguel some more, we were taken to the top of the city to get a good view of the entire thing. It was AMAZING. It's no wonder there are so many retired Americans living in San Miguel.

After an eventful trip, I took a quick nap and got ready to head out for a night on the town. Guanajuato has everything. We sang kareoke, we danced at 3 separate clubs, my favorite being "El Bar" the salsa club, and we had a lot of fun.

well, i need to go and study (ew), but i will write soon! lots of love!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Guanajuato Week One

A lot has happened this week. I will have to try to keep better record or I will forget some things.

Class has started, and I am learning quite a bit. I am in the beginning class, with 4 other students. 2 professors, named Carl and Ruth, a boy from Ghana named Elvis (yes, Elvis- as in the king), and a girl named Teireny that I am starting to be good friends with. We are taking 3 classes- Conversacion, gramatica, and lectura, or in english- conversation, grammar, and reading. Our teachers are all very nice. They are patient with my total ignorance of the spanish language, and are always quick to point out improvement.

My schedule most weekdays is breakfast, school, and lunch. then on tuesdays i have cooking class, thursdays i have salsa dancing class, we're trying to put together a social activity with the students... maybe on wednesdays. mondays i'm going to go to museums with Teireny, after spending an evening out or at a class, dinner here is at 9PM.

This week I have done a lot of sight seeing. I spent two afternoons exploring the city, and this weekend I saw even more. Saturday a group of students and I went to see Christo Rey and one of the larger silver mines in town. The drive to christo rey was almost as beautiful as the view from the top. it was very scenic, and i barely noticed the time passing away. At christo rey i was surprised and slightly dismayed to see that the brand new display explaining why abortion was the devil's way of wiping out catholics was much MUCH bigger than all of the displays explaining the monuments culture and history.

After Christo Rey, we went to the silver mines. The mines in Guanajuato are the whole reason the city was built by the spanish. We all had to wear hard hats inside and a tour guide took us on a short tour. the highlight of the tour was definitely the mummy that was still half buried in the rock of the mine. The composition of the soil in guanajuato is such that bodies don't naturally decompose in this dirt here. I will write more about this after I see the mummy museum tomorrow. :D

After heading back to the house and having a big lunch, I started to get ready to go to THE RUSSIAN BALLET!!! They were in town, and there was no WAY i could pass up an opportunity like that. They were performing "La Bella Durmiente" or, "Sleeping Beauty", by Piotr I. Tchaikovsky. The ballet was simply stunning. I was sitting in the VERY front row, on the seat at the end. From my seat, I could see every facial expression, every last detail of their costumes, and I've never seen anything like it. It was flawlessly performed, and even with the flashes of cameras everywhere (it is not at all unusual for cameras to be allowed inside theatre. The Teatro Juarez charges 30 pesos per camera) I was completely captivated by the dancers and their story.

After the ballet, I found my host family outside at the street festival taking place 2 minutes from our front door. There was laughing, shouting, dancing, eating, drinking, and singing. After staying to look around I went back to the house ready to go to bed and relax on sunday morning...

Alas, that was not to be. After fireworks woke me for the second morning in a row at 6AM, I struggled to grab a few more hours of sleep. After family breakfast at 11, we all got ready for the day and headed out to celebrate the "feista de san antonio". Now, I'm really not 100% clear, but from what I can tell, this festival is a saint day that is celebrated by families with the name "Antonio", the religious, and by certain neighborhoods in the city. Ours included.

We went to a parade that had about 10 marching bands, right in a row. The marching bands are not like the ones we have at home, but are really drumlines and trumpets. The marchers are of all ages, but are generally all male. The drum majors carry not batons, but a trumpet in each hand that they use to signal with. Also in the parade were a bunch of different groups of indian dancers. Some wore white and had flowers built into their headdresses. Some were fierce indeed, painted with black and white facepaint, wearing bright feathers in their headdresses and doing different dances involving hitting each others machetes in time with the huge drums that the old men carried behind them.

One piece of the parade that you had to see to believe was men dressed as characters. Men dressed as death, with a hood, matadors, bulls, old men... and women. Some of the best drag queens I've ever seen were in that parade today. I can't tell you why they were in costumes. All explainations from Pepe, one of the men in my host family were muddled, and the one point he got across was that the guys in dresses were "gay".

After a busy day, busy weekend, busy week, I am ready to go off to bed. I'll try to keep better track of my written thoughts.

Love, Jenn

For Josh

My brother Josh is back home in Kansas City. He is very interested in all of my misadventures, and would like me to keep a very detailed, constantly updated blog. Now, I promised to have one up this weekend, and I plan on telling all about my first week of class, seeing christo rey, the silver mines, my trip to see the russian ballet, seeing a religious day parade, american stereotypes even i don't understand and other things i've learned this week.

all of this tonight, i promise.

patience, josh (aka jo-pet)

love, jenn

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day One

Today I stepped into the unknown, searching for adventure. I climbed out of bed at an ungodly hour, and hopped into the car. I drove with my parents, taking in their presence like a perfume, loving every second of it.

Alex came to meet me at the airport. He wrapped me in his arms one last time, and kissed me goodbye. I didn’t realize until today how much that goodbye kiss means to me. I will miss him this summer more than I ever expected.

After two rather uneventful flights (the only exceptions being the flamboyantly gay flight attendant on the second flight that spoke less English than I do. He basically played charades with the passengers the entire time). I landed in Leon, Guanajuato. Passing through customs in a foreign language is no fun, but I survived. And I went to meet my host family.

Gilberto Rodriguez and his son Brian met me outside the gate. Gilberto is a jolly man, he is kind and courteous and always laughing. He owns an adorable café close to the university, and loves to practice his English with the students.

His son, Brian, shares his love of English. Brian is always asking me questions in Spanish, and trying to teach me words. I don’t have to the heart to keep repeating “no entiendo” so I’ve just started saying “si, si, si” over and over again. I don’t think he’s fooled though, because he keeps repeating himself. Brian’s sister, Jessica, is much more laid back than her brother, but she is helpful and always smiling.

Gilberto’s wife, Rita, is truly the center of this family. She is always laughing, and telling stories. I can’t wait for the day I can understand them. :D She took me on a tour with her children this evening and as much as my feet hurt, the views she showed me were GORGEOUS. We rode a rickety old tram to the top of a mountain and looked down on the entire city.

The city is built close together, which is unsurprising, considering how close knit this community is. Everyone on the street greets each other and says hello. It was a bit of fresh air to come into their home, and see neighbors leaning out of balconies, chatting and listening to “Temperature” by Sean Paul and "December" by Linkin Park. Almost feels like home.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Off, off, and away!

Now it's time to go. My bags have been packed. I have procured a new camera, numerous odds and ends, brand new purse, I have my flight confirmed and I have my passport ready to go. And I will miss everyone here at home.

I will miss my mom, who has spent the past week making sure I will have everything that I could ever need with me... and that it fits in my one checked bag. I love you.

I will miss my dad who has helped me keep my sense of humor throughout the entire preparation time. I love you.

I will miss my siblings who have run errands with me, helped me sneak away for a bit of relaxation and have generally put up with my frantic behavior like champs. I want to thank Jessica for putting together my special "goodbye" lunch. You are incredible. I love you.

I will miss my friends. I will miss Jessica T, Quinn, Julia, Michael, Kinuko, Justin, Francesca, Alex, 27, Jon, Crissy, Chrystal, Holly, Rachel, and Andy. You guys have been great, making sure that you have wished me luck and given me every piece of advice that I could ever need. When I get home, I promise, we will throw a huge party, and I will thank you all properly. I love you.

I will miss my Grandma Carol, who was always there with words of wisdom, love and jokes. She even had gifts for me. She is an incredible woman, and I hope to have half of her patience, understanding, and compassion during my travels. I love you.

I will miss everyone who has wished me a safe journey. There are too many to name. I love you.

If you would like mail from Mexico, just shoot me an email with your address-

If you would like to send me mail, this is going to be my address.

Jenn Peterson c/o Sr. Gilberto Rodriguez
Cerrada Contrapresa del Venado No. 51
Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Thursday, June 4, 2009

To provide proof of evil in this world, I give you exhibit A: Packing

How long can it possibly take to pack a suitcase? In my case, it takes a number of weeks to get motivated, days to get lists made and preliminary piles started all around the house and hours to actually sit down and start assembling my actual bag. Without my mom's help, I would be like a blind kid putting together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle: that is utterly useless (unless, by some chance i'm that blind kid that uses echo location to somehow dominate at mortal combat... which would be extremely cool).

When I'm not packing, I'm running to various stores, calling numerous institutions, and generally driving myself completely crazy thinking about all the work I have yet to accomplish. That is, when I'm not FREAKING OUT about my inability to speak the language of the place I intend to call home for the next several weeks. i'm sure i'll be fine... i've gotten some great advice, but i'd love more. so, show me some loving, and tell me what to do!!

That's it for tonight. i'm exhausted. i'll be sure to write once more before i leave.

<3 jenn

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And in the beginning, there was nothing... and then Jenn said, "Let there be blogging."

Every good story is a reflection the story teller. Mine tend to be muddled, re-created from my own poor memory and a bit lazy. I have never been very good at keeping any sort of diary, journal or any sort of daily writing exercise going for very long. Unless you count a mis-guided (and admittedly hysterical and embarrasing) stretch of time when I religiously updated my xanga page. I always wished that I were more disciplined... That I would have a written record to remember my thoughts and actions. That I could more vividly remember my adventures. 

This summer, I have given myself one more chance to redeem myself as a writer, and write extensively about my summer trip to Guanajuato, Mexico. 

I decided to go on this trip in March, and have been preparing ever since. After an excruciating amount of time when the school threatened to cancel my trip due to the poorly timed swine flu "epidemic"(Kansas City has seen more cases than Guanajuato has), I was finally cleared for travel on May 14th. I will be leaving Kansas City on June 6th, fly back into Las Vegas to celebrate my 21st Birthday with my family on July 31st, and then come back to Kansas City on August 6th. While I am in Guanajuato, I will be taking 8 weeks of extensive spanish classes, taking in as much culture the city can offer, taking weekend excursions to other parts of the Mexican country-side, making friends with locals and other travellers, staying with a host family, spending as much time as possible out in the sun, hitting as many dance clubs/karaoke bars as humanly possible and (hopefully) updating this, my blog, every day. 

I'm already starting to feel the deep pits of my stomach lurch as i switch from being  excited and nervous what seems like every 10 minutes. I am ready to see a different country, to learn new things, meet new people and have some real adventure... but I'm scared too. I'm worried that as I learn and change in my new environment, my friends and family will leave me behind in my old environment. Things constantly change, all the time... but if I'm not here when things change, I'm afraid I'll never catch up. 

I'm sure I'm worrying over nothing. When I was in Pennsylvania for 2 months, things were perfectly fine when I got back home. I think this is just a small nagging fear that must be set aside, and so I will write about it, get it out of my system and prepare for all the great things heading my way.