Hola from Mexico!
It’s been a week since I arrived in Mexico. The first four days we spent on retreat outside of Queretaro at a site called Kibbutz. It was a beautiful site that reminded me of the many retreats I went on with Life Teen. There are 19 of us future volunteers and the retreat gave us a chance to get to know each other, the Peace Corps staff and our language facilitators. Everyone is extremely nice and support, which I am not surprised, to volunteer for and/or work for the Peace Corps you almost have to be inherently good and have a heart for service. Its nice to be in an environment where everyone has a smile on their face and is going out of their way to help you succeed.
I met my host family on Sat. Mi madre’s name is Teresa and I was instantly in love with her. She reminds me a lot of my mama Linda in San Jose. Short, cute and extremely friendly. Teresa and her daughter Terry picked me up and drove me to my home for the next three months. It’s a small very cute house. My mama lives by herself so its just her and I. It turns out that a lot of widows or older retired couples participate in this program to help supplement their income. It’s a good way for them to bring in money and it’s an excellent way for us to be immersed in the language and culture. The host families are located all over Queretaro and I am about a 15 minutes walk from the Peace Corps office in one direction and 15mins from the centre of town in another direction. My madre is a simple woman with no internet, cable or washing machine (other volunteers have some if not all of the above). Its really not that much of a hardship…I use the internet at school or the Peace Corps office, I watch local TV (novellas and news) and take my laundry to a lavaderia.
Training is intense. Most days I have 5 hours of language training, I wish I could say I feel confident about my skills but I don’t. The only plus is that none of the other volunteers are very confident either. That plus doesn’t help much though. There are good sessions and there are sessions where I am wondering what the hell I am doing. The staff is extremely (almost insanely) supportive though, they keep telling us to hang in there, smile don’t worry and be patient. This doesn’t really soothe any of us high over achievers of course.
The rest of the time is spent learning about the Peace Corps, Mexico, Mexican culture and the Technology Transfer program. Unfortunately due to security issues several changes had to be made in regards to our final placement so we haven’t learned where we are going or what we are going to be doing yet. This is only slightly frustrating, of course we are all anxious to know where we are going to end up, but at the same time it doesn’t really matter…what’s another 3 weeks? We will be where we will be. The Peace Corps stresses only a couple of things and flexibility is one of them… we are all flexible and willing to wait. I do know that I will be working on CONCYT which is a national research company with 28 locations around Mexico. What I will be doing is still a mystery and from what I understand it will stay ever changing until I leave. We are here to serve.
As for safety…this is something the PC takes very seriously. As I mentioned they had to do some rearranging of our final assignments but they also had to pull some volunteers out of a few regions. They are constantly reviewing the situation and checking in with the State Dept. Unfortunately one of the areas off limits is the state that Acopocu is in L I guess I will have to go to Veracruz or the Yucatan for a beach (isn’t like hard)! The PC isn’t really well known here but we have gotten some interesting comments. The best one was…”We don’t need Peace here…we need it in Juarez!” As much as I agree with that statement we are not here to end cartels.
So how am I feeling? What am I missing? I am really good but according to the PC this is temporary. As you know I travel a lot so I think my brain is still thinking this is temporary. About the third week mark I might start getting homesick or I might not. I will keep you updated on that 😉 The last time I was homesick was when I got stuck in Taiwan. I was supposed to be there for a week and ended up being there for over 3 and I was mostly homesick for different clothes and Mexican food. So far I am good on clothes and I am not sick of Mexican food yet. Speaking of food, that’s something different here. Here in Mexico their schedule is different. I definitely have breakfast every morning because lunch (comida) isn’t till 2:00 and it’s HUGE…tons of meats, veggies, beans and rice. We eat a huge late lunch and a very small dinner (cena) in the late evening. Some Mexicans don’t even eat cena…I am getting close to that. I really don’t like eating too late (7:30-8:30) so I try to eat enough at comida to last me for a while and then a small snack if necessary…another thing I will have to update you on. What’s funny is that all of us volunteers want to lose a little weight but with all the food they are feeding us not sure that’s going to be possible even with all the walking we are doing. Then again, right now food is provided…wait till we end up on our own! Like I said I am not tired of the food yet but its because we have something different everyday. Breakfast for usually includes fruit, queso, eggs, meat, yogurt and juice (some days enchiladas or hot cakes). Dinner is usually quesadilla (small corn tortillas), fruit, agua fresco, small amount of meat etc…nothing too complicated. There are a couple different types of restaurants around though if I start to crave something different. I am still searching for a Pho place tho!! (thankfully its not cold enough to really crave it)
Well not sure what else you would like to know. I am doing well so far…my only fear is not learning enough Spanish but it’s a work in progress and the PC knows what they are doing. For those of you that know me, I am not reading as much as I would like so I miss that but I am going to move to Spanish books after I finish the latest James Patterson J I definitely won’t read them as fast as I do now. We are in town this weekend but I think next weekend are going on a road trip! Looking forward to Holy week here also. We have Thrs and Friday off for “independent study” so I am looking forward to going to the church services!
Please keep in touch! Let me know what you want to know more of…