Monday, September 26, 2011

Daily life is finally pretty normal...but here are some highlights

Hi everyone! Sorry it has taken so long to fill you all in on what I've been up to here in Querétaro. Some crazy things have happened, but the problem is that everything is becoming so normal. Before, I wanted to tell every story and give you a play by play because it was so radically different from what we consider to be normal or acceptable. Now, what happens on a daily basis is pretty typical...which is a really weird experience, especially as I go back and read my journals from the first couple weeks. So...I think I'm just going to to post pictures of some highlights to catch you all up, and tell the story of each photo as they come to mind. It will be less of a play by play, but you'll still get some pretty great laughs out of it all. :)

Another picture of Carmen and I. This just showed up from the first week we were here. 
Yep...that's a dog on the roof. It's the Mexican approach to birth control. When the dog is in heat, they put it on the roof so it doesn't have puppies. We all thought this was hilarious, so we took a picture. There are dogs on the roof almost everywhere we go. 

I stole these pictures from google image search, but they are pictures of the club we went to one night. At one point, the roof opened up and we were dancing under the stars. There were choreographed fire guns inside and out, and the fountains all danced to the music. It was really impressive. When I pictured Mexican clubs, I never pictured something that would fit in alongside any club in Vegas. Granted, this one was the most expensive one in the city (as we later figured out), but the others are still pretty nice. They just don't have the stunning view of the city and the dancing fire. Over the past couple of weeks, we have made several Mexican friends, and they all know someone who can get is un without having to pay a cover, which is nice. We've learned just to follow them because they know how to do things. It's just like the saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans..." truer words have never been spoken. Surprisingly, only 5 or 6 of us have caught on to this, so the rest of the group kind of watches Mexican culture from a distance. We just kind of dive in and it always works out better. Trust me...our stories are way more interesting. 

Contrary to popular belief, I do go to school here too. In this picture, our professor from Westmont (who kind of sucks the fun out of everything) has her face covered by a mask that we made of her face. We all had to use the same material that they make casts out of, put it on our face, and let it dry. For some reason, our art professor thought buying regular masks was insufficient. It was super fun...just a little sticky, and my clothes are still covered in remnants of plaster. After we all made our masks, we got to decorate them using all sorts of beans, dried peppers, and colorful things. I don't really know what we learned from the experience, but it beats sitting in a classroom memorizing dates for Art History...and I'm getting the same credit here for making masks (like a second grader) that i would in Art History at Westmont. Reason number 1001 why I love study abroad. 

These two pictures that look like a palace are actually of the courtyard that is inside the history museum in Querétaro. It is a gorgeous building. Unfortunately...the contents of the museum are a little boring. Ok, they're really boring. Our history professor decided to have class there one day...but it all looked like a bunch of stone figures and boring paragraphs explaining the history to me. So what did I learn from the experience? Not much, but the buildings are all really pretty. This one is right in the Centro, and almost all of the buildings are built with this 16th century Spanish architecture. What we all picture as Mexico, the run down concrete huts and dirt roads, are very common outside of the city. But where we are, it's gorgeous. The streets are all cobblestone (more than 500 years old), and the buildings are colorful and very pretty. 

One day, we went to the house of a former Westmont professor for Comida. Unfortunately, she made paella, which none of us were really keen on. The shrim and shellfish inside still had eyes...and it was super gnarly. Very traditional, and people get really excited about it, but it was awful. Never again will I eat paella. It was a really nice house though. And we made some friends that we go out with a bunch, so that was fun. It was nice to get to meet people who are our age.

Yep...that's a pyramid. And it's only 10 minutes outside of the Centro. We went one day for our art class, and it was super interesting to learn about the history behind it. They actually just realized that there was a pyramid about 30 years ago because the hills had grown over it, and the Spanish built a house on top of it. So it's still in the process of being excavated and restored on the other three sides. It was really interesting to see something so ancient and giant that had just been discovered. I could give you a big history lesson about it all, but basically they think this pyramid was built by the Toltecs, who were here before the Aztecs were in power. Bottom's really old. We all thought it was enormous, but apparently it pales in comparison to the pyramids in the Yucatan (of the Mayas) and they pyramids that we will get to see just outside of Mexico City. If this one is small, I can't wait to see a giant one. 

There are some train tracks by our house, and one day a train was we climbed it and took a picture. Then it started we rode it for about a half a mile. And then we jumped off the ladder on the side...while it was still moving...that hurt a little. But what a great story!'s super interesting because there are Guatemalans on the freight trains hitching rides through Mexico to arrive in the US. Totally illegal...but it's super interesting that they are able to get through that way. They always wave at us when a train passes and we're by the tracks. Mexicans don't like them at all, so it's a really interesting social dynamic. Hopefully, we can get Laura to tell us some more about it in the near future. Thus far, it's only been dropped in conversation. 

Last week, we went to a bullfight. Going into the event, I was kind of morally opposed to the idea of a bullfight because the bull always dies, but it was definitely a cultural experience that would be dumb to pass up while we are here in Mexico. It isn't bullfighting season, but they had this one because it was the week of Independence. It reminded me a lot of ice-skating. The matadors wear sparkly costumes, and there is a very set list of steps that are followed in the process. After each bull (there were 6) the sand is replaced, and the lines are repainted. It was a little bit bloody, but it wasn't just gory for the sake of blood. There was an artistry to it that none of us expected before we arrived. It was also interesting because the people that attend the bullfights are from a very small upper class. They looked like the people you would expect to find at a polo match, or a horse race. We made friends with one guy in front of us and he explained what was going on to us. It was nice because we were able to start to understand the way the scoring system works, and why people cheered only at certain times. 
One of the bars that we like to go to had an open mic session, and Matt (on bass) and Jordan (on drums) made friends with the band, so they let them play for a while. It was a Wednesday night, and we had no intention of going out, but who can turn down an open mic night?

Ok, well that about does it for the catch up. Last week was Independencia, and I have a bunch of quality pictures and stories to share from that. So I'll put it in a separate post. ¡Hasta luego!

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