Sunday, November 25, 2007

vacation ends

Who knew that one week filled with absolutely no plans could go so quickly? School errands took up most of Monday and Tuesday, and then Tuesday night I attended Bible study at the Basiles'. Because I didn't have to be at work the next day, when the study ended at close to 10, I went with some other Bible study people to the home of four Bible study people. There we stayed and talked until close to midnight.

On Wednesday I did quite a bit of baking. Every week the PCS seniors sell hot dogs, nachos, and dessert to raise money for their trip, and every week someone brings a ton of dessert so they can sell it. This coming week is my turn, so I decided to get that finished while I had time. Now there are several dozen chocolate chunk cookies (it's basically impossible to get chocolate chips here, so the best method is to chop up candy bars) and a pan of pumpkin cheesecake bars in the freezer.

Thursday Janelle returned from church to pick me and another PCS teacher up to go to Ruth and Manuel's house for comida. All the traditional Thanksgiving spread was available - turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, 14 pies... One family from church came for their first Thanksgiving meal. In Mexico Thanksgiving doesn't exist.

After we'd eaten, helped clean up, and sat and chatted for awhile, Janelle took me over to the home of a PCS family that was gone for the week. They needed someone to take care of their dog and rabbits, and I was happy to have a quiet house far from the school. They live about 1/2 hour away from home.

For the first time since coming to Mexico I had time to paint. That's what I spent most of Friday and Saturday doing, in addition to hours of leisurely reading. It was incredibly relaxing.

Today at church one of the youth celebrated her quinceaƱos, so the service was devoted to her ceremony. There was a feast of rice, tortillas, pipian, and cake afterwards, and then it we cleaned up. The service was actually shorter than usual, so we returned home much earlier than I had anticipated. Now all that remains of vacation is one afternoon. Tomorrow, back to the alarm clock.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

vacation - Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah, a week of vacation. Not that I don't love my job, but just now a whole week off is such luxury. Last week was a blur of tiredness - the camping weekend, then back in time Sunday to rush a load of laundry and prepare food for the Thanksgiving potluck Monday night. Monday work, then the potluck with over 30 people. It was fun but certainly not restful. Tuesday evening I skipped Bible study to work on preparation for Pumpkin Day Thursday, but Wednesday night I still went to Oansa at Dios es Amor. Because of the weekend camping trip, I was behind on school preparations, so I had to get to school early Thursday morning and rush around getting ready for the excitement of Pumpkin Day with my little ones.

We started out with several pumpkin related activities. After recess, the kids came over to my apartment to make pumpkin tassies (basically small pies) and to weigh, measure, count seeds, and guess the float-ability of a pumpkin. If you've ever had 8 excited 1st and 2nd graders crowded in one apartment, you know how tiring that can be. If you've never tried it, let me advise you to get a solid night's sleep before you do.

I was counting the hours until school got out Friday, but still it wasn't time to rest yet. At 5 I caught a bus to Dios es Amor for Bible study. This Friday the young ladies didn't have actual Bible study because it was our turn to make the snack for the church. Janelle had the idea to make turkey cookies, so that's what we passed the time doing.

Saturday passed quickly with house cleaning, laundry, and classroom fish-tank cleaning, and Janelle and I spent most of today at church and then baking. Tomorrow I'll be lesson planning and organizing some things at school and having Spanish class with Abraham, but from then on, the week is an empty slate - except for Thursday when I'll be at my pastor's house. Bliss. I genuinely love doing most of the things I listed above, but there has to be time off once in awhile. Thank goodness PCS takes the whole week off for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

If I thought it was cold before...

Puebla city may be plenty cold at night, but it ain't got nothing on El Chico after the sun sets! This past weekend was the junior and senior high camping trip two states north of here (Hidalgo). El Chico is even higher altitude than Puebla city, so once the sun went down, oh man! - layer the coats, gloves, hats, and socks cuz folks, you're talking below freezing.

You can see in this picture people huddled around the campfire using thick clothing and body heat to try to thaw. I know, because I was one of the huddlers, that it was an only semi-successful method of warming frozen selves. Really, after the sun set, there was no way to be warm.

All that aside, I enjoyed the time immensely. We left school at noon Friday and drove about 4 hours north to the national park. Our campground was within sight of a lake and was surrounded by woods - mostly pine.
The air was clear, and when night came the stars were scattered with generous quantity across the sky. We saw several shooting stars too. We pitched most of our tents up a tiny hill, and then the middle level section was where the cooking pavilion, campfire, and volleyball were located. Downhill from there on the road and too near the lake was where we played soccer.

The campsite was beautiful, but it did lack running water and bathroom facilities. Any water you needed, you had to bring with you, and when nature called, well, it was off to the woods. I was so glad for a hot shower when we returned home Sunday evening!

After we'd set up camp Friday, some of us started a game of monkey-in-the-middle soccer. The only semi-level place large enough to play on was the scree-covered road. Just as night began to fall, one of the players kicked the ball with too much energy, and it soared into the lake, immediately floating away from the shore. Fortunately, there were paddle boats tied nearby, and once I'd assured them I'd take any blame for "stealing" the boat, two boys set out after the ball. The rudder didn't work too well, so one of the boys had to lean over the back of the boat and manually push it from side to side so they could stop peddling in a circle and actually get the ball. Hilarious!

After everyone had eaten their many and varied dinners, we gathered around the campfire for worship and a message from one of the fathers. By 10:30 we dispersed to our tents, supposedly to sleep. However, anyone who has been around a large group of teenagers knows that sleep is strictly optional for some of them, and they believe it's optional for the rest of us. By 1:30 the director's wife had to get up and tell the girls to quiet down because they had been loudly talking and laughing almost since we'd gone to bed.

At 4:30 it was the boys' turn to wake the campsite. Finding they were too cold to continue sleeping, one tentful of them decided to play cards. Not quiet cards, but loud, laughing, yelling cards. Oh mercy.

When I got up, layering on practically all the clothes I'd brought with me, I shivered my way outside and saw frost sparkling on all the plants. Preparing breakfast involved thawing the milk in a pan of boiling water since it had frozen through.

After devotions, some people left for rock climbing, but I stayed with the majority at the camp and played soccer again for a long time. The volleyball tournament was set for the afternoon, and I had originally planned to just watch since the last time I played volleyball was third grade. I should have gone with my original plans, but some perverse notion persuaded me to sign up with two of the youngest boys (the games were 3 on 3). If the games hadn't been rally scored, we wouldn't have gotten a single point since the three of us never got the ball across the net. As it was, we lost "only" 2 - 15. Watching and taking pictures of other players was much more fun.

After dinner, worship, and speaking that night, 23 of us drove up to a large field with woody areas at both ends for a game of capture the flag. The teachers went to guard the boundaries rather than play. Brr! The game ended close to 1 in the morning, and numb with cold, we piled the 23 of us back into the 15 passenger van, returned to our campsite and gathered around the fire. That was a mistake on my part, because after that, I felt too tired and dopey to move. People began to move off to their tents, until I and 3 tenth grade boys were the only ones still by the fire. Two of the boys lay down and soon fell asleep on the ground. Finally the fire fell so low that no warmth could reach us, so the two of us still awake woke the two sleepers and we all went to our tents. It was 3:15 by then.

On Sunday after we'd breakfasted, we spent the rest of the time packing and cleaning up. Our long trip home was interrupted only by a lunch stop at Burger King. You'd better believe almost everyone slept the drive away. I think everyone who had been on the camping trip passed the school day today in a fog. Only 4 more days until Thanksgiving vacation! We get a whole week off.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

things that explode in the night

I woke up with a sudden fright in the wee hours last night. Did something outside just blow up? I thought I'd heard a shattering, window-rattling bang. As the minutes stretched on, I lay wakeful. Had I just dreamed it?

Crash! The resounding sound repeated, making me jump. Not imagined then. What was going on? Did my roommate hear it too? She's said she is a sound sleeper, but honestly, how could she sleep through this?

I shifted the curtains aside and peered into the darkness outside. Nothing.

With the cold in the room, I decided there wasn't anything I could do anyway, and persuaded myself to stay in bed. Just as I drifted off, the explosive sound rattled the large windows by my bed again. Surely this time Janelle would wake up also. Maybe this sort of thing happened regularly, and she'd know what was going on. As more minutes passed, I heard no sound of her waking in the other room.

Again the warmth of my bed kept me from getting up, and again I started to fall asleep. Into the half-dream world the sound intruded once more. This pattern continued for quite some time. Scared, but tired and fuddled by sleep, I couldn't summon the gumption to actually get up and see whether this noise could be stopped or even if something was seriously wrong.

After quite a long time of this, a new thought occurred to me. What if one of us had left the stove on and gas was leaking out, and exploding from some source of flame. What about the water heater? The same thing could be happening there!

This idea did finally get me shivering out of bed. I cautiously opened the bedroom door. No smell of gas, but perhaps I'd become accustomed to it. I ventured into the kitchen where no burned wreckage met my eyes. What then was happening? I left our apartment and went next door where I saw the living room lights on although it was 4:15 in the morning. My neighbors must have heard the explosive sounds and were awake too. I knocked on their door. No answer; they had accidently left the lights on when they went to bed.

Now I was thoroughly puzzled. Why wasn't anyone else waking up? The mystery was soon solved. As I returned to my room, I noticed how much colder it was there than anywhere else in the apartment. Aha. When Abraham had come by earlier in the day, I had opened the window and leaned out to tell him I'd be right down. I hadn't properly latched the window, and now it was periodically slamming shut in the wind. Since the frames are metal, and the windows are right by my bed, the sound was loud enough and window-rattling enough to trick my sleep-confused brain into inventing explosions.

If only solving that simple problem hadn't cost me about an hour's uninterrupted sleep...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

sabor americano

Here is irrefutable evidence that we went for the "american" (and limited edition) pizza. Janelle asked the lady at the counter twice if the pizza came just as advertised. The lady assured us it did. She was right.

I'm enjoying a nice big bite of "american" pizza. So - um - interesting.

Janelle looks a bit scared to eat this special pizza. I can't think why that would be!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Welcome to the new blog!

With the unannounced end of iblog, I switched to here. I hope you saw all the previous postings from iblog because they are gone forever. Sigh. Such is technology.