Sunday, May 9, 2010

5-9-10, home


i finally am posting the photos! my computor wasn't working so well when i got home, and then i wasn't working so well :) as always, i put off things like this because i know it will keep me from my garden and cat. for a writer i have an unhealthy aversion to being stuck indoors with a computor.

two things cross my mind as i write this; 1. what was popular in guanajuato and 2. all of my window photos.

first i need to jot down the styles so i don't forget . . . young men with hair sticking straight up with phenomenal amounts of hair gooh (reminds me of the 50's in california), girls with skin tight jeans and boots, cigarette smoking (even in restaurants where it's illegal), draping oneself with linens and arranging your legs on the sidewalk to appear broken while begging, playing a musical instrument for money, little-little children selling chiclets, dressing up in wedding clothes and painting your face like a skeleton, old men glaring at you like you are a thief if you don't give them money after a particularly horrible song, hanging out at starbucks or cafe tal, ten teenagers in a small car, roasted peanuts, ice cream, churros, lay chips with hot sauce, micholadas (beer, hot sauce, lime), internet, kited DVD's, and the strangest of all is how many people wore shirts that said 'hollister, california' on them . . . do they realize that hollister is little cow town in the middle of nowhere . . . they act like it's 'guess jeans' or 'new york city'!

i'm addicted to taking photos of windows with animals or people in them. here's a series of photos over the years:

guanajuato, mexico

cinque terre, italia

guanajuato, mexico

antigua, guatamala
antigua, guatamala

well, i'm signing out until our next trip. just remember, if you want to comment you can always email me if you can't figure out how to blog on this site.

hugs and kisses, heidi

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4-22-10, end of Guanajuato


we are leaving this crazy, charming city in 3 days. we have a lot to do before we leave so this will probably be the last note from here (until i get home). we have definately established which wine bar is our favorite. 'cocha de baca' has very nice wine and each glass is the same price. it's a bit expensive for here, but 4.50 for a large glass of wine is cheap in cali! i like it because i can choose the wine i like the best, without feeling extravagent. last night we took hermalinda and deanna (our host family) out to dinner to cocha de baca and had chicken pesto with penne pasta. yummy. hermalinda and i had one glass each and her daughter teases us calling us borrachas (female drunks). it makes hermalinda and i laugh because hermalinda is a very prim and proper lady.

yesterday we decided to visit the family we stayed with 3 years ago, but they weren't home, so we continued on past their house for a walk. 30 minutes later, uphill, we'd discovered a beautiful park. this park is more wild than is normal for a mexican garden (usually they are extremely manicured). we sat on a bench and rested. i broke out the map and saw a square marked 'presa la olla' directly uphill from our bench. we looked and saw a barrier of sorts and we wondered what a 'presa' was. so off we went to explore further uphill. presa = dam! it was a dam for an empty lake. above the empty lake was another dam for another empty lake. between the two 'lakes' is a short river/creek that has been designed to resemble a tropical prehistoric garden. an enormous mosaic snake slithers away from an equally gigantic crocadile through heavy tropical plants. of course the creek is dry, but i can imagine how beautiful this place must be during the wet season!

we had our visit on the way back home with our old family. they were impressed with our progress (or so they said) with spanish. the conversation turned to the besso negro at cafe tal and then to chocolate in general. this led to them giving us their prized stash of chocolate as a gift. as i'm sure you know, you can't refuse gifts like that. it is delicous and i can't wait to get home and make a mocha with it :)

i have an incredible amount of homework to do. we have a new teacher and she is super hard. she expects us to pronounce everything correctly . . . can you imagine that? how mean! i also have to be able to conjugate the super-irregular preterites without a cheat-sheet. i don't understand why . . . won't i have my cheat-sheet with me when i talk to people? this all seems unnecessarily cruel.

talk to ya soon, heidi

Monday, April 19, 2010

4-19-10, Guanajuato, MX


i'm in a pensive mood . . . my thoughts are whirling like one of the little dust devils one occasionally sees here. this will probably seem disjointed to you, but i need to write down a few short stories for my own sake. later i can refer to them for book writing purposes.

i was in a shop on a busy street (foot traffic, no cars) when i heard dogs barking and some shouting. out of rude curiosity i stepped out on to the sidewalk to see what was happening. a man, who had been sitting on the sidewalk next to his little table of chiclets-for-sale, had his arms wrapped around a backpack. a young
backpacker was also holding onto the same bag. both were repeatedly shouting "¡es mio!" or "it's mine". another young man joined the fray and tried to pry the old man's hands off of the bag. this was all taking place in slow motion, as though the youths didn't want to hurt the old guy. the crowd grew larger. another dog joined in the barking. finally the three grapplers lost their balance and slowly toppled to the ground. it was the strangest site, because it lacked the sense of it being a fight. it was simply a battle over the backpack. as the old man, still wrapped around the bag, rolled toward me on the ground, i recognized him. he was the blind man who walks around town with a red tipped cane and a sign around his neck saying "i'm blind, help me". the police arrived and pried everyones hands off of the coveted backpack and seperated them to get a their stories. much care was taken with the blind man. as they helped him back to his sidewalk spot he said "he took my bag". the officer then gently placed his hand on the bag that was still next to his table. "oh i'm so sorry, i thought he had mine." "it's okay, i understand." and all was well.

it can get so hot here! i have started dreaming about water. i miss swimming laps at home. the other day our room mate (who i now think is a cutie-pie), said "we went to the pool today". what? what pool? he smiled and said it's a secret pool that no one knows about. so saturday we went with them to the secret pool. it's at a 4 star hotel ten minutes out of town. we all jumped into taxi's (6 of us) with
our swimsuits and towels. when we got there i thought 'oh no, this isn't going to work'. a bunch of scruffy foreigners, toting towels and swimsuits, walking through the massive marble entry area . . . but we weren't sneaking in! they greeted us as though we were honored guests and pointed to the back doors. we followed our fellow students out to an enormous pool area. the pool was about 25 meters long, plus a childrens wading area. a rock wall at the other end proved to have a slide winding through the rocks into the pool. there were 4 guests besides us. they brought us our beverages and big beach towels. it was fantastic and free . . . other than the 3 dollar taxi ride and beverages. this has got to be the best kept secret in guanajuato!

i love coffee. everyone who knows me knows this fact. there are tons of coffee shops here with frappaccinos, mochas, coffee etc. recently a lot of various observations coalesced, and the light came on. first i noticed a yummy smell emitting from a dumpy looking corner cafe. i also noted a popular tattoo here: a cat on top of a coffee cup. then i realized that this tattoo is the logo on said yummy smelling cafe. i thought this was taking coffee love a little too far! at about
the same time, the daughter at our house told me to go to 'cafe tal' and try the beso negro . . . the black kiss. ah hah! the corner cafe is cafe tal! a student in class showed up with the tatoo. what is happening here? i must try this beso negro! so off we went to explore the cult of cafe tal. i ordered a beso negro and checked out the pictures pasted all over the walls while i waited. 30 or 40 of them were pictures of people with black smudged mouths. just picture my 6 year old friend, calab, after eating a dark chocolate truffle. i recieved the most awesome tiny cup of melted, liquid dark chocolate. unbelievably delicous. the only thing that could be better would be if it had caffiene. the next day i ordered a chocolada (or something like that). it was a shot of espresso and the melted dark chocolate. definately not a drink for laughing and talking unless you want everyone to see your brown teeth :) as it turns out the tattoos are henna and they grant you free coffee until it wears off. it costs 35 pesos . . . i think i will get one. admit it dan lynch, you'd get it too! the coffee is perfect. i think i'll put it on my shoulder. we'll see. right now i am sipping on the best frappe mocha i've ever had.

well i gotta go and eat lunch at home. lots of love, heidi

Friday, April 16, 2010

4-16-10, Guanajuato


this has been an interesting week. i feel i have overcome some road blocks regarding my spanish, especially when speaking in past tense. spanish has several ways to describe the past, and in mexico the past is part of the present. the conversation constantly flows back and forth through time.

as i walk through this city i also find myself stepping in and out of the present. streets of stone surrounded by towering walls of painted cement or stone blocks are the home to university students on the go. the people here are extremely purpose driven, as were their ancestors. when this city was founded (on the discovery of silver) 500 years ago, it was a serious mining town governed by spain and produced about a third of the world's silver. now it produces artists, musicians, authors and actors.

the main plaza, union square, is the heart of this community. the large wedge shaped park is covered in beautiful stone tile. the center of the wedge is filled with plants and flowers, in the center of the garden is the gazebo. last night the gazebo held a full orchestra for an hour, then they left and the normal routine resumed . . . children playing on the gazebo, mariachi bands wandering back and forth amongst the shaded outdoor restuarants, many of which have their own musicians wooing their guests. surprisingly it works! if you like one group, you simply sit on a bench nearby and enjoy. as the sun sets the walkway skirting the garden is filled with people, young and old, taking their pre-dinner stroll. at about 8 or 9 o'clock people begin to settle into their restuarant of choice or go home to eat.

i don't feel like my day is complete without a stroll around union square at night. we are trying different restaurants, but we almost always get a scowl of disapproval from the mother of our house, hermalinda. hermalinda takes her job very seriously and is quite protective. she sterilizes all the food before she prepares it, and she knows (or thinks she does) which restaurants follow her rules. she purses her lips slightly and slowly shakes her head back and forth when we tell her where we ate :) as of this writing, we have not recieved the stamp of approval for any of our choices.

i bought my obligatory cross yesterday from a sidewalk store. the guy who owns it is an absolute doll. he gets so animated when he sees us, and he has invited us to meet him and his girlfriend in acapulco for a scuba diving trip as soon as he gets scuba certified. they will set up the whole trip for us! needless to say we are excited. anyway, i digress, i bought a hand etched (with black ink) cross with the traditional mexican story . . . the tree of life, the puebla, musicians, etc.

i look forward to the day i can figure out how to download my photos for this blog. my descriptions cannot tell it all, nor can a photo tell it all. for example right now as i sit here in the open air internet room i can hear rain crashing down around me. two hours ago i was sitting up on the terrace in the sun. mother nature seems to be pretty ticked off lately. normally it never rains here in april. change is hard to photograph.

con muchisimo bessos y amor, heidi

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

4-13-10, Guanajuato, Mx

hola chicos,

a lot has happened since i last wrote. last friday we went to san miguel de allende. it's a about an hour and a half away by bus. our hotel was a twenty minute walk from el centro. hotel is probably a bit of a stretch, it´s more like a co-op minature apartment complex. each room had a bed, desk, and closet, but no bathroom or kitchen. you had to leave your room and cross a beautiful courtyard to the two bathrooms (complete with showers), and the communal kitchen. we only made coffee in the kitchen, but others prepared meals.

san miguel itself has an interesting history. it is the home of the some of the most important events leading up to mexico's independence (as is guanajuato). much later,
in the early 1900's it became an artist colony that for some reason invited american GI´s to come and study art. as a result there is a long history of american ex-pats living here and intermarrying with locals. now it is a hotspot for snowbirds (retired people who come only for the winter). unfortunately there seems to be no real 'culture' to me. its sort of all mixed together. its also more expensive. however, i have to say we had our best meal in weeks at a texas steakhouse :) i would highly recommend it to someone who wants to visit an artistic community here in mexico, but be able to speak english (aunt judy, pop's side).

on another note, school is killing me this week. i am struggling with pronouns. what makes sense to me in english is complete gobbly-gook in spanish. i hate it that i'm so competitive, because i felt like i was holding up the whole class with my questions. it turns out that most of us don´t get it, but i'm the one who has the guts to ask the questions! i have increased my alcohol intake to two glasses of wine, and i've even purchased a bottle of liquer of membrillo (quince). a little tiny cup at night is excellent.

the homework involves a lot of writing this time. i find that it is stumping my writing in english because i am switching back and forth in my mind. plus the style of writing for class is more structured and formal like highschool english. i'm more accustomed to creative writing.

last night we went to dinner with all of the new students. there was about 15-20 of us. i was proud of our end of the table because we spoke only spanish all night. i'm not saying it was good spanish, but we did it anyway. one young man, who is studying
to be a doctor, talks with hands so much that he is our main source of entertainment! another young lady from canada is very shy, but has an interesting job working for the entertainment industry--specifically with bands. we have two new students, one is an older man who is blind in one eye and wears hearing aides. he is from australia. he doesn't always understand when asked a question in spanish, but he is a wiz at writing spanish. the other lady is a teacher in canada. she's just plain smart . . . i don't think i like her :) but seriously, she and i laughed when we admitted we thought both we might be in the wrong class!

joe and i are still the main bullshit artists in the group. we talk so fast and so often that everyone thinks we're fluent. the teachers aren't fooled a bit, unfortunately.

it rained hard yesterday, but today is sunny and dry. yesterday was the first day back to school for college and regular school. it was miserable trying to walk with thousands of students who all get out of school at the same time. the streets were slick and the puddles dirty. a car passing by took on a whole new meaning when we'd get drenched with dirty water.

it's time for lunch. i'll talk to you all later.


Friday, April 9, 2010

4-9-10, Guanajuato

ohmygosh! life is way too fast here. this town never seems to sleep. i feel like i'm in vegas without the bright lights! there is a huge medievial festival in the stadium across the street from our house. the constant noise of drums, cheering, clapping, and music is deafening at first, but after awhile it all becomes white noise. at night though, it is too much even for me. i had to wear my earplugs last night. as i sit here on the upstairs balcony of our school i can hear talking, walking, cars driving over loose tiles making a melodous clacking sound, a dog barking, birds screeching (they don´t sing here), car radios, other keyboards clicking, and a metal door being rolled up . . . simultaniosly.

last night when we came home at about 9:00, people were heading the other way towards el centro! yesterday a medievial procession stopped us in our tracks as we all scrambled for the tiny sidewalks to let them pass, horses and all. later we climbed a callejon (narrow alley) up to a italian resturant and had a negra modelo for 20 pesos (about $1.50). we didn't eat there though. we like this one outdoor cafe called 'el cafe'. it is directly in front of the teatro juarez. teatro juarez is THE hot spot for people watching. they usually have a mime or clown performing for the people sitting on the steps. we like to sit and watch the show while we eat. a couple of nights ago we ate at a restuarant at that same corner and had a romantic window seat. it was so nice and the food was delicious.

our home is peaceful and the lady is lovely . . . very professional. she cooks good too. our mornings have fallen into a routine of eating mango, bananas, papaya, apples and yogurt with a sprinkle of muesli on top with freshly squeezed orange juice. lunch varies, but usually includes soup, salad, fried meat, rice or mashed potatoes. dinner we´re on our own.

our home has another student from our school. he´s from holland. he´s a giant and he is 18 years old. a little young for a trip like this, but he's maturing rather quickly. he spends most of his time partying with the kids from the university. he´s been here for 8 weeks and has 4 more to go. i hope he´ll make it. he seems to dislike america and frequently brings up how the rest of the world views us from his young point of view. i'm not sure, but it may be his sense of humor.

this weekend we will be going to san migeul de allende. it´s an artist colony with lots of shops. it is supposed to be quiet and mellow. we rented a little bungalow that shares a kitchen with 5 other bungalows. i´m sure i´ll tell you all about it next week. so, until then via con dios and we love you.

heidi and joe

Thursday, April 8, 2010

4-3-10, delayed post from L.A.

hello everyone!

the last computer in mexico wouldn't let me access my e-mail to tell you i had blogged, i had about 30 seconds on the day i sent my blog address out. hence the error :) now i am sitting at an outdoor computer kiosk in LA. this peice of junk won't let me blog! plus it has half the keys worn off the key board. that's okay, i will perservere.

yesterday we left mexico with the base camp truck to cross over the border in a small caravan with the two church buses full of kids. they made all of the kids get out and walk over the border with their passports. then the patrol searched the buses. they got off easy! joe and i got sent over to the 'special' line where the guard politely told us to unload the truck . . . yeah, unload the truck!!! joe and i. we got out and started pulling out what took us 4 guys and 5 hours to pack. first items off were the sleeping bags and pillows which is about the back third of the truck. right when we got to the heavy stuff, God must've whispered in the guards ear, and the guard said "that's enough". . . then they sent the police dog into the truck.

we met the group at dana point for ultimate frisbee, then we went to good friday services at bethany bible church. the music was unfamiliar (old hyms) to our group, but they listened and tried to join in. finally they came to 'amazing grace' and it brought our 40 kids to their feet as they poured out their love though singing with hands up. later the pastor came up and told us how much it touched his heart to hear us sing and then see us standing spontaniously in worship.

last night we came here . . . 'the backpackers paradise and hostel'. hmmm. i've never, ever been to a place quite like this. my first thought was 'oh crud, we're
doomed', but the lady upgraded us for some unknown reason and we stayed in an adorable cottage with a kitchenette. the cottages must have been built in the early 1900's. the bed was so soft and comfortable that we slept for 9 hours! this morning is even wierder than last night though. i feel like we are in europe. everyone is speaking a different language and there are tons of people who look like they slept last night on the beach with their surfboards.

i don't have time for spellcheck.

we are leaving for mexico tonight at midnight. red-eye flights always seem like such a good idea when you are paying for them . . . but not so great when you're boarding the plane :)

lots of love, heidi

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


hola amigos,

so much has happened, i don´t know where to begin! i should probably clarify the situation with mexicali. firstly, we did experience a small quake in the middle of the night last tuesday (i think). joe and i didn´t feel it, but others in our group did. we left on friday and the major quake hit on sunday. as of yet, we have no information regarding our friends in mexicali. i am curious if the high-rise hotel we were staying in is still standing?

we spent a relaxing day in santa monica before we flew to leon, mexico on saturday night. i slept about 1-2 hours that night and therefore arrived exhausted. we found our home and had to wait for an hour to have access to our room. i promtply fell asleep on the couch for several hours. that night we overslept and almost missed school. we arrived on time and out of breath. after our test we were placed in the same class . . . thanks be to God.

we have already hit all of our favorite cafes and bars, and discovered a few new ones to add to our list :) the roads are even steeper than i remember them. i´m positive it´s uphill both directions!
the few roads that permit cars are so congested with autos and buses it should be dangerous, but somehow it isn´t. everyone walks in the streets and on the 2 foot wide sidewalk, and listens for motors. motorcycles weave through the crowd, volkswagons squeeze throught the narrow path given them, trucks get people up on the sidewalk (if possible),while buses rule the road. when one hears a bus motor, it is understood that you must make room for everyone to get up onto the sidewalk with you (recall 2 foot wide sidewalks) which can be done if everyone stops for a moment. the problem occurs at the corners where the sidewalk narrows to one foot wide with the middle of the bus taking several inches of that space for the turn. needless to say, you don´t want to be on a corner when it´s crowded and a bus is coming!

sunday night we sat at an outdoor restaurant typical for this spanish town. i had a nice glass of merlot from chili and joe had a negra modelo (or two). the town square comes alive at dusk with young people, either couples or working on it. crowds of young ladies stroll by holding eachothers hands. equally large numbers of young men lounge against the wrought iron rails and ogle the girls. the couples take over the numerous benchs (two to a bench) and wrap themselves around eachother like pretzels. since most families live together until they marry, privacy is almost impossible. privacy while dating is also forbidden amongst christian families. there are always watchful eyes.

our classes are hard, but i´ve already learned a lot. ramon is funny and he speaks extremely clear. rebecca is more serious and has a softer voice. she also talks with her back to me when she´s writing on the board. that simply doesn´t work for me. i need to see the person´s face to truly understand what they are saying.

well that´s it for now. we need to get back to our house because hermelinda is preparing a large lunch for us. she makes very healthy food. i had mango, bananas, avacado, yogurt,and muesli for breakfast. yummy!

we love you all, dios le bendiga,

heidi and pepe

Monday, April 5, 2010

4-5-10,regarding mexicali

we are safe! we had already left mexicali when the quake hit. i don´t have time to write right now because we are leading a casual tour of guanajauto for several of our classmates. they need to know where to get cold beer cheap! just kidding. i´ll write later. i just wanted you to know we´re safe.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

4-1-10, Mexicali


as usual, this has been a crazy trip. tonight is the first night i could send out an e-mail before the computor shut me down and kicked me off the internet :) our week is actually done here. the seniors left this morning, and we stayed at basecamp to help break down the camp. unfortunately, it rained really hard and turned the entire campsite into a field of muddy gooh. then the sun came out and dried the dirt into crunchy footprints.

we worked at the elderly orphanage for 3 days and in that time we accomplished amazing stuff. we went through 21 gallons of paint for the exterior, and tore off and replaced the leaking roof. i even had the honor of changing ancient francesca's wet britches (she walked up to me and handed me a diaper).

this year had some truly amazing young people. these kids worked hard to be able to come here and they took their time seriously.
trust me, they had a lot of fun too, but they were a little deeper than usual. many of the teens and twenty-somethings had never experienced a relationship with a grandparent, or a parent for that matter. when they hung out with our group they really opened up their hearts to us. tonight we had a baked potato bar and one young man, who'd basically raised himself on the streets, asked me to help him. he'd never made one before. he didn't want anyone to know. i had to show him how to put the butter down in the potato to get it to melt . . . why didn't he have a mommy to teach him that? he's 21 years old.

tomorrow we drive our big overloaded truck out of mexico and head off to LA, where we'll hang out at the beach for the day. we'll go to good friday services together (100 of us). saturday night we fly out of LA to leon, and then take a taxi to guanajuato. once we get settled into the school and our home i'll email you again . . . God willing :)

se amo mucho, heidi y jose

Saturday, March 27, 2010

3-27-10 Mexicali

hello friends and family,

as always, i ask for your patience as i familiarize myself with a new keyboard! at this point i have no access to my yahoo e-mail account, so i can-t even tell you i am writing this :) just to get this keyboard to do the @ sign i have to hold down the alt button and enter 6 and 4. imagine the spanish i had to speak to figure that one out!

we left thursday morning with the church rental truck. it was packed so full of suitcases, sleeping bags, food, and stuff that we could barely shut the rolldown door. when we finally made it to the border on friday they wanted to see in the back . . . maybe smuggling americans across the border? we could barely get the door up 2 feet. fortunately the guard changed his mind. joe had to stand on the handle and hop up and down to get the door back down. we were told we were at the wrong border gate, this was for trucks. hmmm. we went to the other gate, but it was wrong too . . . you guessed it, this was for cars, not trucks! finally they, out of the kindness of their hearts, let us pass:)

we somehow found the campsite. our directions were from the other gate. once there we unloaded the truck and i spent the rest of the afternoon in the holy business of papering over the teens windows (to prevent naughty peek-a-boos), blowing up balloons, and making welcome signs. we went all the way to the main road tying up balloons, and taping up signs to guide the caravan of missionaries to the campsite. at the main road we put up 9 balloons with the sign. before joe and pastor mark could get back into the jeep, 2 of the balloons were acquisitioned by mommies for their 2 children. i wish i had a picture of them hustling up to the balloons as soon as the guys turned their backs.

last night we went to la lucerna for dinner. we shared a delicious meal of chicken stuffed with greyere (spelling?), parmesian, riccota and wrapped in a light pastry. i had a glass of argentinian wine and joe drank a bohemian. then we walked back to our hotel and stopped along the way at a local night crafts market.

well adios for now, we love you all!
heidi and joe