Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter vacation

As time will do, this week flew. After visiting DF on Monday, I spent Tuesday at a water park with friends from my church. It's a large place with many interconnected pools, slides, rope swings, playground equipment, and grassy areas. It also has the pervasive odor of rotten egg because the pools are filled from natural hot springs. All of us who swam also ended up smelling like rotten eggs, but we had fun!

Midmorning Wednesday I took the four-hour bus trip to Oaxaca to spend a few days with a friend I'd met at Spiritual Emphasis Camp a few weeks ago. She met me at the bus station, and we drove about 40 minutes to the place where she works as a nurse. It's a compound, run by Foundation for His Ministry, where 46 children live, because their parents can't take care of them. The place is pleasant and beautifully tended. The biggest drawback to the house where Jennifer lives is the howling shower. Both hot and cold faucets howl, in different keys mind you, as soon as they're turned on. Moderately amusing but a bit disturbing when the howling commences at five in the morning when the earliest risers shower...

Wednesday evening we walked around the nearby town of Tlacolula. It's not a very big place, so after we'd eaten, we went to wait...and wait...and wait for the bus to take us back by the compound. Unfortunately, we slightly overshot our stop, so we had to walk in the pitch black night along the side of the rather busy road, trying to avoid acacia bushes that grew in abundance.

After helping in the kitchen all Thursday morning, we caught a ride with another missionary over to Mitla to see the ruins there. In Mitla there is also an artisans' market, and we spent quite awhile looking at the lovely handicrafts available for purchase.

A visiting couple had made small tables and decorated four of the five with mosaic. Jennifer asked to do the fifth table, so she and I spent several hours on Friday laying out the tile and cementing it in. Once that was setting, we caught the bus for a long ride back to Oaxaca City to explore. During most of the ride, we were entertained by a musician who somehow managed to play his guitar, sing, and sort of dance while standing in the aisle of the moving bus. I would have enjoyed the performance more perhaps if he hadn't been jammed up against my seat and shoulder.
Once in the city, we saw more artisans' markets, browsed in a bookstore, went into a couple cathedrals and poked around various shops. In the evening the children from the home came to the zocalo, and Jennifer and I spent the rest __________________of the time watching clowns with one of the kids.

On Saturday we passed the morning putting grout on the table, and Jennifer also showed me the rest of the compound. In the early afternoon a missionary couple drove us to Oaxaca and dropped me off at the bus station. Unfortunately, although I had arrived at 1, the next bus with room didn't leave until 4:30. I wheeled my suitcase behind me, exploring the neighborhood surrounding the station, but since I didn't want to get lost, I didn't go far. Soon I returned to read and pace around the station until the time had passed.

Without meaning to, I had bought a ticket in the Gran Lujo line - apparently better than first class. The good thing is, the ticket didn't cost much more than regular transport. The bad thing is, I prefer regular, because on the ordinary buses, once it gets dark, passengers can turn on reading lights. For some reason, Gran Lujo doesn't have that option. Since I couldn't read after the first two hours on the bus, I decided to watch the movie, but...the headphone jack didn't work. That left me with the exciting option of staring out into the dark for the next two hours. I was very glad when we reached Puebla!

The Capu station where we arrived is very large and kind of confusing. I followed a 'salida' sign and did indeed end up outside. However, instead of coming out into the parking lot where I could catch a city bus home, I exited to the area where the bus drivers' restaurants and altars to the Virgin Mary are. Deciding that following the outside of the building would eventually take me where I wanted, I continued. A bus driver hailed me, asked where I was going, and directed me in the direction I was going anyway, then told me to hurry. Well, I had been hurrying until he stopped me! Anyway, eventually I found the right parking lot, and after that I had no more "adventures."

Monday, March 24, 2008

pictures from DF (Mexico City)

Prayers of the faithful which apparently should have been extinguished if the sign was to be believed.

I was holding the camera straight up and down. Can you see how the building leans and wobbles? The results of building on a drained lake and of earthquakes. Many buildings are like this.

I spent the day in DF with Bethany and Zach. Too bad we didn't know ahead of time that most of the museums aren't open on Monday and that many things close at 4:30. However, we did get to see the Ashes and Snow museum (extremely crowded), and we did explore around town and see lots of cathedrals.

"To talk with God, it is not necessary to use a cell phone. Please turn it off."

This is one of the many cathedrals we saw. It's St. Francis of Assisi.

___________________Mexico City traffic that we encountered as we headed back to Puebla on the bus.

Friday, March 21, 2008

He is risen!

Today is a quiet Good Friday. I attended Dios es Amor's communion service last night and will probably go to tonight's Seven Last Word of Jesus service as well. Yesterday during the last part of school, the 3rd and 4th grade class joined my class for a Seder meal. Cooking the lamb the night before made my apartment smell like a slaughter house through the night and the next day. I think the caramel pecan rolls that I just baked for Dios es Amor's Easter morning potluck may chase out the final stench of blood.

By the way, is the caramel supposed to be hard? I wasn't picturing it that way when I thought about making the rolls, but my caramel is definitely hard. Perhaps I'll keep this batch and make non-caramel rolls for Sunday. I'll get my roommate's opinion when she comes back from wherever she is.

Earlier today I was half-heartedly poking through ideas for lesson plans for when we return to school March 31st. It's too far away to want to think about but too close to ignore, because I won't be home most of Easter break.

Soon after the kids return to school, the eggs we've had in incubators should hatch. - if they're going too. Is it wrong to pray that eggs will hatch? The kids are so excited that even though I warned them we might not have a successful hatch, they'd be very disappointed if not one chick appeared from the five eggs I've been faithfully turning 2 - 7 times a day. Actually, I'd be disappointed too.

Speaking of eggs, on Wednesday I took my kids over to my apartment to dye eggs with onion skins. The results are impressive, but let me advise that if you're going to dye eggs this way with young children, you use panty hose rather than having the kids rubber band the onion skins onto the eggs as some instructions suggested. It's frustrating for the kids - and even for me - to get the rubber bands to stay in place, and we had two broken eggs as a result of some inopportune rubber band slippage.

On Sunday Dios es Amor has a sunrise service. That means Janelle and I will leave home at 5:20 in order to arrive at church to help set up for the 6 (very a.m.) service. After the service will come the afore-mentioned potluck to which I may or may not contribute my rolls with the hard caramel. Once we've eaten, the church will have an 11 o'clock service, although Pastor Manuel said it would be shorter than the normal 11 o'clock services.

At whatever time we get home, we'll go to the Oglesby's house (they are Ruth's parents/Manuel's in-laws) for lunch. A PCS teacher lives in a house in the same yard as the Oglesby's house, which is convenient, because at 5, most of the PCS staff will be getting together for a meal there.

On Monday several PCS people will be going to the Mexico City Zocalo to see Gregory Colbert's show there. I'm excited to see his work, since I've only seen a few of his photos in some magazines. Once we've seen the show, we'll explore some of Mexico City. I'm not sure exactly what places, since there's a lot to see there.

On Wednesday I'll leave late morning for Oaxaca to visit a friend that I met at the elementary camp two weeks ago. I've heard there's plenty to see in Oaxaca, so I'll be doing some looking around there before I return to Puebla Saturday morning.

God bless and happy Easter!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

night time in the Puebla Zocalo

I didn't sleep well last night due to some sort of stomach bug and woke up far earlier than I wanted to. You'd think I would have completed lesson planning and taxes by early in the morning, but not so. Sluggishness set in, and I didn't get to finishing taxes or lesson planning until noon. Not that I hadn't already been at school. I went there just after getting up because of my "babies." On Thursday, much to the excitement of my students, I started two chicken eggs in a incubator. There's another incubator with three eggs in our apartment. I dearly hope at least one egg will successfully hatch. Until time for them to hatch, I have to make sure they're turned; one instruction booklet says 2 times a day, the other says 5 - 7 times. So I turn them when I think about it.

Anyhow, after finishing both taxes and lesson planning, I did most of my cleaning at the apartment, and then Janelle and I set out to look for a new teacher supply store downtown. It was closed, but El Balcon, a restaurant with very good and inexpensive food, was open, so we stopped there for dinner.

The evening was so mild and there were people everywhere downtown, so we decided to explore. We found a block full of craft and cloth stores, useful to know about for teaching supplies. Continuing to the Zocalo, we earnestly tried to figure out what some 15 or so modern art metal sculptures were, then gave that up in favor of seeing the inside of the governor's palace which neither of us had seen open before.

Finally at about 8:30 we concluded it was time to wind up the exploring and head back home before it got too late. We stopped a few times, once to take pictures of a beautiful cathedral along the street home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


On Tuesday I played hooky (as did my youngest student. He, his parents, and his younger brothers are "in charge" of the visiting work team) and went with a group visiting from Canada, eh, to see the pyramids of the sun and moon in Teotihuacan. I had very mixed feelings about it - on the one hand it was absolutely fascinating to see the complex structures the pre-Aztec people had planned and built. They laid out the city in such a way that it took more than one life time to build. At the height of their civilization, the city was comparable to ancient Rome in size and population. Quite thoroughly amazing.

On the other hand, it was a society that craved blood. They worshiped the sun, moon, Quetalcoatl (god of the wind), and other gods. These gods required human sacrifice, the type where the victim's heart was taken, still beating, from their chest and held up to heaven. At times the sacrifices were so plentiful that blood ran out of the stone mouths of creatures carved lower on the pyramid.

Whether the dark, evil practices of thousands of years ago still affect the place, I don't know, but I did wonder just how much I should appreciate the architecture and designs of these places of sacrifice.

Trudging up the first set of (very steep) stairs on the pyramid of the sun

--------------- Crawling out of a water tunnel

At the top of the Sun pyramid

----------------- Two Rachels taking a rest on ancient ruins
I'm the one in the white shirt halfway up the temple stairs

------------------ The stairs really were that steep. Caleb keeps a firm grip on my student Seth's hand as they go down.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

my first visitor

Have you misplaced your head? Try looking in the Zocala Cathedral for it. You might discover it there.

Last week on Wednesday afternoon I took the bus to the Mexico City airport to pick up Mary who flew in from the US for a brief visit. She receives the prize of being my first visitor in Puebla. Due to heavy Mexico City traffic, we didn't return to Puebla until 9:30pm, so we stayed at the apartment instead of trying to catch a bus to the house I was house-sitting in Cholula.

Thursday morning I gave Mary the grand tour of PCS. It probably took 15 minutes for her to see the whole school. Once we'd finished that, we caught a bus downtown to see my favorite talavera shop,
El Parian, the Zocalo, and several cathedrals. We enjoyed lunch at El Balcon, a restaurant I hadn't been to except for once my first week here when four of us went in the middle of a storm and left puddles all over the floor. Now the rainy season is long over - in fact we've had very dry, cold winds the last few days - so Mary and I didn't leave a muddy mess.

After walking all over town, we bused back to the apartment. Janelle joined us for dinner at the local Suprema Salsa, and then she drove us out to Cholula.

After a lazy Friday morning, Mary and I walked to the Cholula pyramid which has the largest base of any pyramid in the world. Typical of the 14th century Spaniard Catholics, there is a cathedral built on top of the pyramid. We took the stairs up to see it. Scary stairs! Some are short and steep, and many are worn smooth by the passage of thousands of feet. On the way down, I slipped on one and landed on my elbow. I'm still waiting for visible evidence of the way the elbow feels...

We paid to go through the underground excavations archeologists have made. Quite
fascinating, but unfortunately since I hadn't really visited the pyramid before, I didn't know until today we missed a whole bunch of the other excavations that have been made on the other side of the pyramid. Oh well. Once we'd seen the part of the pyramid I knew about, we explored downtown Cholula, including a modern art show.

In the early afternoon we returned by bus to Puebla, took care of some small errands, then caught a bus to Dios es Amor. I discovered that there are two different 28 buses, a phenomenon I'd somehow never encountered before in spite of many bus trips to the church. It took having a visitor with me to bring out the wrong 28 bus. When it turned on the wrong street I thought, "This is strange," but because the window signs were all correct I decided there were probably repairs on the right street so the bus had to divert.

That is, until the driver stopped at the end of his route and asked where we had wanted to go. Incidentally, his route ended in the infamous Libertad, a place I've been told it's good to stay out of. When I'd explained, he said I wanted the other 28, and kindly paid a 76 driver our fare to take us back out to where we could catch the right 28.

Our adventures hadn't quite ended. We caught the right 28 after waiting a good long time. This 28 however, also turned on the wrong street but near enough to the church that we could get off and walk.
Janelle later explained that some 28's have a sign in their window, and those are the ones that turn whereas the ones without the yellow sign continue straight. Good to know.

At Dios es Amor, Mary met lots of church friends, because after the classes ended, a group from another church brought fresh corn and soup to share, so people hung around munching corn and talking. Corn with lime juice and salt is really tasty by the way.
We had to leave early afternoon to get to Mexico City on Saturday so Mary could catch her flight on time. As far as I know she had no problems catching her plane. I had no problems on the return to Puebla. Tomorrow school begins again, although I'll be gone Tuesday with a group from Canada that's visiting the Sun and Moon pyramids near Mexico City.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I didn't post anything Friday, because I didn't really have anything to post. It was a quiet week. On Saturday afternoon I drove to camp to help with registration for elementary kids from home school, PCS, Oaxaca Christian School, and Mexico City Christian Academy. The little ones had camp from Saturday afternoon through Tuesday morning. Although there were some very young children - my youngest student who turned 6 in November was one of them - there were no tears. The kids all appeared to have a rip roarin' good time. I stayed through Monday night and then returned again Tuesday afternoon to help register the junior high and high schoolers for their turn at camp.

My major project this morning is to call a bunch of universities in Southern California to see if they are offering a special education class at a graduate level this summer. I have three classes that I need to take before June 2009 in order to renew my credential. If that class is offered this summer, and certain details work out for the other two, then I can return to PCS next year (also if funding continues to be available). Please pray with me that God's will is done in this case. I know I want to come back next year, but perhaps He has other plans.

This afternoon I'll be taking a bus to the Mexico City airport to pick up a friend who's visiting from the States for a few days. Her timing is perfect, because this week there is no school due to camp. She and I will go to the Cholula pyramid and see some of downtown Puebla.