19 de Febrero 2007

The mountain

Note: If you would like to see the pictures on this blog they are at www.crystinaclauson.com.

So. Here is a picture of me. Don’t like pictures of me. Especially when I look crappy. That’s why this is one of the FEW on my website. I wanted a picture for posterity sake. Because what I’m about to tell you... I don’t know that I can believe. You see that road in the right hand side of the picture? There’s a huge white building and about two to three blocks to the right is a very large road. If you follow that road it looks like it ends at the foot of a mountain. It doesn’t do that. It curves to a bus station. We walked from that bus station and up the mountain. This is Tepoztlán. It’s not a walking path. it is rocks and boulders. It was the most strenuous thing I have ever done. It was pretty intense. I am exhausted after the fact but, looking at this picture... I’m kind of proud of myself. I knew going into it that it would be horrendous. And it was. But look at the view! So we went up the mountain on Saturday.
On Sunday we went to Taxco. Taxco is a silver city in the mountains in the next state. Unfortunately; IT’S IN THE MOUNTAINS. I could hardly move after Saturday but it was great. I got some cool pictures. Carneval (Carnival) started on Saturday. They had a party in Tepoztlán but we were too tired and there was too much drama within the group to stay. It’s ok though; Carneval is coming to Cuernavaca on Wednesday. Whoo-Hoo! I’ll take pics then. It kind of reminds me of the State Fair; lots of food, lots of people. But you can buy hollowed out eggs with confetti in them and smash them on the heads of your friends. They also have big puppet costumes on and dance. It was pretty neat.
So, on the bus to and from Taxco there were scary travel movies on. One was “Deep Impact? and the other was “Wrong Turn.? Both involve gruesome deaths because, well, you see... the people used a car and a boat. I thought it was one of two things; two reasons why they were watching them. One is that if you take alternative transportation you could get axed by a hillbilly or get “drank? by a sea monster. OR the other, funnier reason is that sometimes it’s fun to watch those annoying Americans die in thrasher movies. Subtle, huh?
Anyways. So there has been a little drama in the Ohio group. They’ve been together for a month and a half and they are all driving each other a little nuts. I’m noticing some attitudes they have that might be causing them a little angst where there need, really, not be any. So the girls are scared; and especially after the incident with my roommate who can blame them? Now they’ve started talking about what is “right? and “wrong? where I’ve just figured were cultural differences. It’s “wrong? that men whistle at them; it’s “wrong? that girls live in houses without men, etc. I see no good coming because my roommate Amber and our friend Maria were making a list of the things that are wrong with Mexico and are going to talk to their director about it. I recognize that their perceptions are based on their culture. Every thought that a normal person has about “wrong? and “right? are culturally developed. Ergo, if you are from America; your standards or “right? and “wrong? no longer apply to the people that you are dealing with except other Americans because their perceptions of “right? and “wrong? are shaped in a different culture than ours. And since we’re in that culture their “wrongs? and “rights? are the only ones that apply. I understand that they are concerned and I feel bad that they are scared of some situations. I think the USA tinted sunglasses need to be used a little less often though. Of course, that is just an opinion and I hope that this opinion lets me adapt a little better into the culture.
Anyways. I’m sore. I need to take some Advil and go to sleep. I love you and I will hopefully have more pics later this week.

Yep

NOTE: This is from last Thursday. Didn't have time to pull it over to this blog.

I feel the need to do a blog post but I don’t know what about. This might be a little rambley. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Yep. Bet that you might have known that. My roommate and i got chocolates for our host madre. She gave me a really cool beaded bracelet. I took a pic of it for you. Along with our room which you haven’t seen. She was a little borracha. You’ll either have too infer or google that one. Anyways. At dinner she talked and talked about her life and money. I feel a little awkward because she just put a garden in. She told my roommate and I it was because of us. That was a little awkward. Our host families get paid biweekly for letting us stay with them. That was a tad odd.
I really like the boyfriend of our host madre even though I’ve never met him before. On Friday night she told him that they weren’t going out because she didn’t feel like it. He came over at 11 and serenaded her. She went out with him til 6 or 7 in the morning. It was really cute. And yesterday she went out to lunch with a bunch of friends. She was kind of playing hard to get. He found out where she was, brought her a present and a bouquet of flowers and bought a bottle of wine for her and her friends. Cute? Controlling? You decide.
Today I went with my intercambio partner (my spanish chatting buddy, Zetel) to The Robert Brady Museum. Robert Brady was an American Artist who collected a lot of art from a lot of different artists and parts of the world. He owned a house right next to the Cathedral. He was from Iowa. When you see the pictures just remember that. Bleak Iowa.
So. Ramble-y. There is a lot A LOT of trash in Cuernavaca. There is garbage shoved into the branches of trees and in the street and even in the crevices in the rocks around the Palace of Cortez. It’s crazy. I know I’ve only shown you all pics that are nice and colorful and bright. I’m thinking about making a short documentary of my walk to the bus stop so you can see what I’m talking about. It’s pretty ridiculous. Also... there are holes in the sidewalks. Well, and cobblestone and huge cracks from trees. I sprained my ankle on one of those. But the thing about the holes that scares me is that the sidewalks are like an inch thick and the holes under them are like 2 feet deep. It’s crazy. One day I think I might have a baby Jessica issue. Like fall down a hole. More like an Alice in Wonderland kind of way. Yeah. Alice in Wonderland. More romantic. Anyways; the pic that I gave you today is of the flowers in the cobblestone. These trees with orange flowers are everywhere. If you look closely you can see the seeds from the pic that I took yesterday. I’ve split up my pic pages so that they don’t take so long to download. I have a “freshly shot? page of new pics and a kind of “best of? page with the best pics f/ Mexico so far. I’ll change it back to random pics when I get home but this way you guys will know what’s going on now. It’s like 9:30 at night and the teacher college across the gorge is having a freaking party or something. There’s music and some dork with a microphone. Dunno. He’s talking about Coca-cola. Dude. Well, I’m tired and I need to try to get some sleep so I can get up early and study. Hasta Luego!!!

14 de Febrero 2007

¡¡¡Mí Corazón!!!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day! I’ve been a little down in the mouth lately because I am sucking at Spanish and i feel like I’m not talking enough in Spanish. The thing is, people are like “Oh, make some friends? and others are like, “Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with anyone.? Geez. It’s hard. Then I was walking to school yesterday and a little purple flower fell from a tree at my feet. I think it was a sign to lighten up.

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8 de Febrero 2007

Us by Them

So, I have found that there are two different ways of looking at Americans in Mexico. And of those two different ways there are generally three opinions of Americans.

People in Mexico generally look at Americans as either a nationality or classify us by race, though generally, typical Americans are thought of as white people.

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6 de Febrero 2007

life as an adventure

Wow!! Didn’t realize I didn’t do a blog post at all this week. Kinda felt like I did because I didn’t publish the last one until Tuesday. Sorry!

Ok. This week on Tuesday we were supposed to go salsa dancing but for some mysterious reason the club was closed. Dunno why. We’re going to go dancing next Thursday. It’ll be fun because more people are going then. Not so much about dancing but when in Rome, right?

Started my history class on Tuesday. Our professor is really cool. She’s an anthropologist that worked at the University of Mexico. She’s retired and works part time in Cuernavaca at a university and at our school. I really want to explore some ruins when we have spring break which is in three weeks (?). Open invitation to anyone who wants to go explore!!!

I met my intercambio partner on Thursday. Her name is Zetel. She’s 19, studied in Atlanta for a semester and she’s really nice. We talked and walked around for three hours. She’s pretty cool. We were talking about Robert Brady who was an American artist and has a museum in Cuernavaca. He was from Iowa. I was telling Zetel how Iowa is full of corn. She says she likes the corn from Iowa better than the corn here because it’s yellow and sweet while the corn here is white and has little taste. Our history teacher said that the land is tired here because they never rotated the crops.

We visited a brand new museum that had a huge butterfly. It’s awesome!!! It’s on the pics page. I deleted some of the older pictures and will progressively do so to try and keep downloading times to a minimum. I did add some pics because my mom put in a formal request. It had a watermark and a wax seal on it so I couldn’t refuse. : )

On Sunday we went to Mexico City. I LOVE Mexico City. We were going to go to the Palace of the Government but it was closed because Monday is the Day of the Constitution. My host madre said it’s an important holiday but not as important as Independence Day. We did see the Templo Mejor. For all the boring information that I would normally exponentially babble about but to save you all the torture, I have included it on the handy dandy "boring history page on my website: www.crystinaclauson.com

After the Templo Mejor we went to the Cathedral and the Palace of Bellas Artes. I have included many pictures on the pic page for that as well. After that we drove to the Museum of Anthropology. Again, many pics. I finally got to see a Colossal Olmec Head. It was about 8 or 9 feet tall.

Since Monday was a holiday we didn’t have school so some of us decided to go on an adventure. In the packet of information that we got when we came here there was information about a spring. This is what the packet said: “Agua Hedionda - 53 km; natural springs of mineral water. In Cuautla, take Estrella Roja bus.? So we decided to decide where we were going at that last minute. I realize a lapse in judgement, but it was an adventure. We took a taxi to the Estrella Roja station near the mercado. The three guys working the ticket counter thought we were hilarious. It was a little shack on the sidewalk of the market between a paper stand and a candy stand. We thought they were hilarious. So we took this bus; not asking which type of bus it was. DURN!!! We forgot that in Mexico there are express first class buses that take you pretty much to your destination and there are economy class buses that stop EVERYWHERE in between. So, we got on the economy bus because that was all the choice we were given and we stopped every 2 or 3 kilometros. It was interesting to see the suburbs of Cuernavaca. Really desperate housing situations. So we got nearer and nearer to our destination and I asked the fee collector boy if he could tell us when we got to Cuautla. He said sure. We got closer and closer and closer and no on said anything. We decided just to get off and try our luck in the city. So I’ve mentioned Rutas in Cuernavaca. In Cuautla they’re Volkswagon buses. Pretty funny. We happened across a ruta going to our place. So we were thinking it would be a place in the middle of the woods with a rock pool or something. So the ruta is going down a street and we see floaties and goggles. We don’t think a whole lot of it. We pay to get into to the place. We walk in and there is a huge freaking pool. Yep. Could smell the sulfur. So what that meant was it was a freaking water park but they didn’t have to pay for the water. It was comical and we all kept saying that it beat walking across the Washington Ave Bridge in Minnesota. On the way back we took a first class bus that had air conditioning and a movie. It was pretty relaxing. That’s about all from here. Hope you all are well and please email often.

29 de Enero 2007

Esta fin de Semana (this weekend)

So, this weekend has been fun so far. Not much on the learning the culture of the country front. Well, actually, maybe a little.

Friday we went out until 2 in the morning. Pretty American college. I’ll spare you the details.

Thanks to our super late night we slept in til super late. Again, I’m sure you can gather why.

So Amber and I went to “The Mega? Saturday. The Mega is like a Walmart except Mexican. There’s also a Walmart and a mall here too, though. So I spent 900 pesos today at the Mega. That’s about $9 US. I bought a pair of scissors, two bottles of water and some hair product. In the US that would have costed slightly more, I think. So my roommate and I were talking about how much a living wage is here and how it’s different than the US. If things cost as much how can people be living at a lower level?

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26 de Enero 2007

El Mercado

Happy Birthday Mom!!!! I hope your day was good!!!

Today we visited a mercado(market) near the Palace de Cortez. Amber and I went there after school because our host Madre was in Mexico City for an auction to sell some of her art.

We went to “El Centro;? the center of the city. There are restaurants and shops and markets near or in the center of the city. There are a lot of street vendors who try to sell you different things. The things that they sell are gorgeous. I am definitely bringing some pottery home with me. Definitely.

So today I feel better. I don’t feel as caged up. Next week I start History class that starts at 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday. I think I’m going to take full advantage, stay over comida and explore on those days. No siesta for this chicky. I still think that I might try and join the service learning group; I think it might be more of what I’m looking for in Mexico; the “have-nots.? We’ll see though.

So, in going through the markets I was struck by how many of the people working in the markets were women who were pregnant or had small children There were only a few men and two old-er women. It was a little desperate. Ok. sorry... feminist rant...

These women didn’t seem to have a choice. There were some that seemed defeated and others that seemed completely exhausted by their situations. There were children hanging all over them and their eyes were empty. I almost wanted to buy things just because I felt genuinely bad about their situations. True. I don’t know what their situations were in full. I do know, though, that they exuded an almost desperation or hopelessness.

I took a feminism class right after I started going back to college. I didn’t understand how choice played into that and now I understand. I’m not making value judgments about anyone in any situation but I think that I understand why this is something that is important to global feminists.

Alright... I think that’s enough thinking for one day...

The Gap

I want to start out this blog by saying that I found out today that Mexico has the largest gap between the rich and the poor of any country in the world. That means that if Mexico is a 2nd world country that many people are living in object poverty. My roommate Amber is doing volunteer work with a group called “Vamos.? They feed and teach and medicate children that are poor. She went today and she was talking about how little these children have. Because some of them could, possibly, not have homes they pick them up from markets. She was talking about how dirty they are and it made me realize that many might not have running water even if they have homes. Also, in Mexico, having hot water is a luxury....

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23 de Enero 2007

Mexico!!!

I’m here!!! I was worried about coming but I think everything is going to be bueno! So I thought that I wouldn’t have a roommate but it ends up that I just don’t have a roommate from the “U.? Her name is Amber and she goes to Ohio State. She’s pretty cool. She’ll be here for 2 more months. Let me tell you, it is really awesome to have someone else here.

Coming to Mexico was interesting. I found a couple of the people that were also coming from the UofM and we traveled together. It was a relief to not have to travel by myself.

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25 de Noviembre 2006

So it begins.....

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. " - Helen Keller

It's official! I'm studying in Mexico for spring semester.....

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