It has been just over three weeks since I arrived in Queretaro and its been going so fast! In the last two weeks I have been to Leon, Guanajuto and Bernal. I’ve seen the Mexican Beatles – Los Tigres del Norte in concert and a bull fight. I have ran all over Queretaro, attended Zumba classes and hung out with current trainees and past volunteers who were in town for training. Its been exhausting and today (Sunday April 10) was the first day that I have done absolutely nothing since I got here (except for 3hrs of homework of course).
As you can imagine the dynamics of the group has changed. Cliques have been formed, feelings have been hurt and friendships established. I had really hoped that we would all stay close like my cohort did during grad school but I guess its just not that possible with a group of our size. Once again I am reminded of how blessed I was during grad school. For the most part I do my best to remain friendly with everyone and when it gets difficult I remind myself that this is only temporary. We are only together for three months before we separate to different sites around Mexico. Speaking of which I still haven’t heard officially but through the rumor mill I have heard that I am staying in Queretaro! This is good news for several reasons, Queretaro is beautiful and there are tons of things to do, its safe and best of all I don’t have to live with another host family. I will get to move out as soon as we are sworn in. I LOVE my host mother but it will be nice to live on my own again! I will miss having someone to chat with after work though – we are communicating better now that my Spanish is improving. She is great at helping me practice and correcting me. I plan on keeping in touch with her and stopping by to visit often since I will be in the area. I am considering even staying in this colonia. Its not close to work but its close to centro. I think that’s going to be the hardest part of training – trying to figure out where to live…close to work or close to everything else? I will start looking and asking around once I hear officially that I will be placed here.
Like I mentioned my Spanish is getting better and I can mange to communicate but I am not exactly speaking in complete sentences or in tenses. If its not about me and in the present I don’t know how to say it! That and I don’t really know that many verbs…I am working on it though and everyone is saying that I am improving (my facilitator and mama). We had our language evaluations this week and I did better than I thought. Apparently I am moving right along. I did do something funny during my oral evaluation though. Time was running out so I felt pressured, she was asking me for directions from one place to another and I couldn’t remember how to say face to street so I said “face”. She said “face” I said si face…she said Facebook…I said si Facebook – message amigo hablar espanol por directions. I think I got extra points for imaginacion. Well at least I am keeping my personality J
Besides Spanish training includes learning about Mexico and its culture. We have a passport cultura which lists 32 suggested things to do which includes learning to danzon, visite cities, wineries, and other sites, attend holy week activities and watch sports events (soccer, wrestling, bullfights). Well my family and I have gotten totally into this. My hermana Terry read through it and is helping me. One entry was to listen to a group called Los Tigres del notre and try to determine the lyrics. Well it just so happened that Los Tigres was in town for a concert at the state fair so we all went. It was quite the experience! The next week we as a group went to Leon and Guanajuto to visit future work sites and when I returned Terry took us to a winery and a small city named Bernal. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep that week but I had an awesome time. I am really blessed to be matched with such a great family. I will describe all my passport experiences in another section to keep my weekly updates manageable.
So how am I doing after 3+ weeks? I am still good! The hardest part has been language training, I just don’t have much patience with myself. I want to work harder but its hard with everything else going on and I am exhausted almost all of the time. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to be sworn in if I didn’t learn the language (I have to increase 2 levels) but luckily I was talking to a current volunteer and they mentioned that I will be sworn in regardless but if I don’t meet the requirements I may have to have further tutoring (paid for by PC). This makes me feel better – I won’t stop working hard but at least the pressure is less than it was. All of the current volunteers stress the importance of learning Spanish even after training.
Other than language training I am good. I still don’t miss much as far as food – although I did have pizza the other day. I was thinking I would miss Vietnamese noodle soups (Pho) but its been so hot here that I really don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. We do have sopa everyday for comida which fills my soup needs. I think I mostly liked going to have pho with mi amigos. I was missing Dr Pepper the other day which was strange since I didn’t really drink it often. I miss ice tea but all the agua fresco helps (ice would make it even better). I am drinking way more diet coke than I would like to admit but its all that’s actually really cold.
Another thing I am missing is reading. I can’t really read as much as I would want. Partly because they suggest that I don’t read too much English but mostly because I am so exhausted that I can’t read for more than 10-15 minutes a night. Its taking me a week to read 83 pages and most of that was today! I was trying to read Harry Potter in Spanish but it was extremely difficult. I am reading childrens books with my mother instead…out loud of course L
I know there is something else that I miss but I can’t remember and I am getting sleepy so I need to run. This week is another crazy one, we leave Thursday afternoon to visit other PC volunteers around Mexico. It will be the first time I travel alone to a non touristy location. I am excited but nervous at the same time. Of course I miss all of you but I try not to think about it cuz it will make me cry. Please keep in touch the best you can!