Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Taxi Drivers

It's been an interesting ride in Xalapa...

Since we live out so far we have had to take quite a few taxi's. So far we've had taxi drivers that were:

1. Former gang members in Chicago
2. A guy that used to work in Thompson, GA for 4 years. He saved $20,000 and returned to Mexico to buy a house and a taxi.
3. A guy who I'm pretty sure was only 12.
4. An agronimist
5. A taxi with a flat tire
6. A driver that really enjoyed loud spanish poetry.
7. several drivers that didn't know where we lived.

Well that's just a quick preview of what we've been seeing and hearing about for a week now.
I really should have been writing more of this down...

Hacienda El Lencero

On Sunday we visited the Hacienda del Lencero. Its first owner was Juan Lencero, a soldier of Hernán Cortés. In the 19th century is was the property of Antonio López de Santa Anna. Today, it is a museum in which you can see furniture and personal effects dating from the 19th century. It also has a chapel and spacious gardens surrounding the property which include a sculpture by Gabriela Mistral who spent time here while in exile.

I didn't even know that Santa Ana was from Xalapa. The tour was pretty cool and the Hacienda was amazing.

I can't find my pictures right now.. but when i do I'll upload some.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More Random Pics

Group shot from the orphanage we visited. We realized that we haven't been taking pictures of ourselves very much, but we'll change that this coming week :)

Food Guide Pyramid anyone? I guess the new one hasn't made it to Mexico yet.

This is Phil and RJ. They're taking notes about the tomato growing practices

of one of the places we visited this week.

Coyopalan, Veracruz, Mexico

I finally have a chance to sit down and write. However I don't think it will last long. This computer I am typing on sucks and the space bar is broken. Today we had a little of a break from the hectic schedule we've been keeping this week. The business is good because it makes the time go by fast but it gets tiring.

Apparently we brought the heat with us to Xalapa. It's been pretty hot yesterday and today. That contributes to your exhaustion as well. Well I'm sitting in a internet cafe not too far from where I am staying. It's pretty funny because not only is it an internet cafe but they also have X-boxes and stuff that you can pay to play by the hour. It's the old x-box though. But there are two little boys over there playing it and they are pretty excited about it. It costs 8 pesos to use the internet for an hour, that equals about $.80. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

We've really done and seen alot this week. Usually every day we have a lecture of some sort about Mexico and Veracruz. Most of these have been from professors from the University of Verecruzana and they are directly related to the outreach functions of the university. We've basically heard about their own Cooperative Extension, even though that's not what they call it. One night this week (Monday or Tuesday) we heard from a professor that is responsible for setting up places of knowledge exchange throughout the state of Veracruz. We visited one, names 'Casa de Coyopalan'. This 'casa' or house is basically in a village that is way up in the mountains. It is a place that the community can come and receive help and research based information and best practices on anything from health to food safety. They have a woman from the community that has been trained in best practices for health and food safety and she has three program assistants from the community that help her to educate the people around there. OK. They didn't call them program assistants, but that's what they were. People from the community educating their peers to prevent disease and encourage best practices with food... sound familiar anyone?

We also visited a school in the community. It was a multigrade school and the only school in the community. 1st - 6th grade I believe. Two teachers and about 40 something students. It was guite the interesting set up. They had a smartboard and a computer in the classroom too. I was pretty shocked to even see internet access way out where we were. The Casa also had a computer lab, but no internet. They allow the children to come there in the afternoon and use the computer to learn to read and so forth. They were in there yesterday while we were visiting. This is an opportunity that they never would have had if the University of Verecruzana had not brought their resources and knowledge to this town.

This is Rafael. He went to University, graduated and returned to his home to reach the people of Coyopalan. And he's pretty passionate about what he does too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Coyopalan - A visit to the mountains

Yes, there really is snow in Mexico.

This was a multigrade school we visited this morning. I'm pretty sure we were the first Americans they had ever seen.

They even have computers... this was really interesting. Most of the children couldn't even read before they started the school. More on this later. I just wanted to put some pictures up.

And seeing yourself in a camera for the first time is always a fun experience...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday's Agenda

Today we went to a composting and mushroom factory... very interesting. Who knew it took such effort to grow those scrumptious white mushrooms that I love to grill out with so much?
We saw the composting process and then how they innoculate the barley to put in the compost to grow the mushrooms. Pictures will follow.

Compost pile = Hay, lime (or plaster I think is what they called it), and chicken litter...

Mushrooms growing on the compost medium.
Spanish class is going ok. We conjugated our first verbs today, Ser and Estar. I think everyone is hanging in there with the language. Most of us are understanding more than we can speak, so we don't feel so lost and confused all the time...
We also stopped by a queso shop to stop in and see how they were pasteurizing the cheese and making fresh queso and mozzarella. Please don't tell Judy about all of the flies in there :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pictures from Monday

Can anyone figure out what these are and if they are nutricious? I should have take a picture of the nutrition label.

Bamboo Farm

Developing Country Checklist

We've been here almost 24 hours. Let's run through a few things that are standard when traveling to developing countries.

1. Roosters - Of all of the places I've been I'm starting to believe that I pack the roosters in my bags. They were crowing this morning at the crack of dawn. Luckily I have a wise friend who told me to bring earplugs.

2. Crazy driving with no rules - Lines mean little in places like this, however they do obey the traffic lights. But be careful crossing the street.

3. Bars on windows - You just can´t capture the overall charm of bars on windows and doors on film. It´s something you must experience.

4. Water - As is the case in most of the world, don´t drink water from the tap... not even to brush your teeth.

5. Gracious hosts - I´m sure the first thing I will notice when I return is how unfriendly most Americans can be (and that probably applies to me too). Our hosts have been wonderful and the food has been great. Well I guess the best part is that I haven´t had to eat rice and beans... yet.


6. Taxi Drivers - They hoot for no apparent reason and the universal signal for turning is to wave your arm up and down out the window.

7. OK - It truly is the most universal word in the world. Ok can get you a long way... but nodding and saying ok may lead you into trouble:)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tennis Bulldog from Xalapa, Mexico

The news aggregator just pulled up this article.

Men's tennis tops Pepperdine, faces Ole Miss in quarterfinals - Sports

Check it out - Senior Luis Flores is from Xalapa, Mexico. The Dawgs beat Pepperdine to move to the round of 8 in the men's NCAA tennis tourney.

Go Dawgs!!

Leaving on a jet plane...

So I think I'm done packing. I have to weigh my bags one more time. Everything fit and I still have room, I just don't want to pay for any overage on the weight of my bags.

I'm a little nervous about telling people that I'm going to blog. There's actually pressure to write something and to write it well. I hope I can live up to the expectations.

Here's the link to the UGA ISPO site that will give you some more info about our trip to Xalapa.

We flight out tomorrow from ATL about 3. Hopefully I'll be able to check in to the internets on Monday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

One week left and counting...

I think I'm now about 6 days away from departure and I still need a few shots and to get some medicine. Hmm. This trip really snuck up on me. I've got some reading to do and I need to get a Spanish phrase book. Well at least I can tell people where I'm from and ask for the bathroom.
Needless to say it's another crazy week at work and a busy weekend again.
I'm also taking names of volunteers who want to help me pack.
I hate packing. I hate packing alot. This one time I was moving from Uganda back to America and I couldn't even deal with packing so my awesome room mate basically did it for me. I hate packing.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

So I'm heading South of the Border...

I'm off to Mexico in a few weeks... So much to do and so little time. How does that always happen right before you leave the country?
Stay tuned here for updates. I'm going to be using this site as a journal for my travel experiences and personal reflections of our cross cultural studies in Xalapa, Verecruz, Mexico.