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


  1. I think you're missing the part about "american stereotypes even i don't understand". But at least you posted one. Hurray!

  2. Jenny this all sounds super amazing. I'm glad you are enjoying yourself! I miss you bunches!!