Sarah, Hopefully

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

You and me on a bird flying away

There is some crazy techo music playing in here. Veeeery strange. It makes me feel like I´m at a rave instead of a computer place. Haha.

I guess "very strange" defines how I´ve been feeling the last few days. I don´t really know what is going on in any aspect of my life. Katie has been laughing at me pretty much nonstop for three days, which is always fun... I feel pretty stupid, too. Today I feel a little more in control. As much fun as nonstop idiocy can be, I´m definitely glad to be past that, even if it´s only temporary.

Argh... the thing that frustrates me about the keyboards here is that while they are all different from US keyboards, they´re not all the SAME different. For example, on this one the apostrophe key isn´t next to the P like it is on most of the other ones... it´s approximately where the semicolon is on american keyboards. I keep having the backwards apostrophe, which I know is annoying to you guys. Argh. I just get used to something, and then it´s all screwed up again! Story of my life, I swear.

Anywho... this week is shaping up much better than last week. I got my test back from yesterday. 99 baby, oh yeah! I rock. Plus, this level is some SERIOUS review. It´s actually a bit boring, but I like the people in my class and the teachers and stuff... and I´m not about to whine about having an easy class or two. Or all of them... heh.

Other good things about this week:

Yesterday was fun... I met up with my friend Mateo at the Plaza Galerias after working (read: sitting around for two hours doing nothing) at Heidi y Pedro. We wound up going to see The Terminal, which was a pretty cute movie. I missed it in the US, but everything gets here a few months late. The current new releases are Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (already on DVD in the US, unless I´m mistaken!), A Cinderella Story, and Jersey Girl. Hahaha. Anyway... it was a good movie, and the theater is soooooo nice... it still amazes me. The theaters have stadium seating, but they are ENORMOUS, with tons of leg room and the kind of arm rests that you can put up... very classy. And either they clean really well between movies or everyone is more respectful of theaters here, because they´re always extremely clean. Anyway... after the movie we ate some McDonalds (I know, I know!! But it was just because it was the fastest food there was) and then Mateo had to run and catch the bus before it stopped running at 10. It was a nice evening, I got to find out some more about him, and since I didn´t have any homework due to having tests and presentations yesterday, I didn´t miss out on anything at home. Good times.

Today is actually a really nice day... it´s not overcast or raining! It will probably rain tonight, but I´ll take what I can get. As long as I don´t get caught in it, I don´t mind. I´ve schooled myself to just always take my umbrella and/or raincoat with me when I go out, no matter how nice it looks. If you are gone long enough, it WILL rain. Guaranteed. I´m glad I´m not trying to impress anyone here. I´m sure the wet and bedraggled look is REALLY attractive. I´m really getting sick of my clothes, though. I have about two weeks worth, if I wear each pair of pants twice... I think I would be happy if I just had a few more shirts or something. Maybe I can work on that when I got to Mexico City the weekend of the 22nd of October. I´m really looking forward to that trip. It will be rather educational since it´s run through the Intercambio department, but it´ll be really safe. (Mexico City is the largest city in the world, yikes!) Katie isn´t going, because she has been to Mexico D.F. a ton of times before, but some of my other friends are, so it will be good.

This Friday is another "excursión" (field trip) with the Spanish department. Instead of Tequila, we are going toTonolá, where they make a lot of things... they have lots of markets and stuff. We are supposed to visit factories or something. I still need to go in and pay my 30 pesos, but yeah... It´ll be nice to have a day off from classes.

I don´t have to go back to Heidi y Pedro until next Monday, which is kind of cool... basically the lady I was supposed to work with finally admitted that she didn´t have anything for me to do and passed me off to this guy named Julio, who the other IPSL girl, Chara, has been working with. We´re going to work on this project... they´re putting together a brochure thing that they can give to potential sponsors to let them know about the Refugio. Chara has been conducting interviews with some of the kids who have lived at HyP for a long time... I´m going to type them on the computer, we´ll pick some photos to go with, put it all together, send it to a printer... it should be cool. Chara only goes in on Monday and Tuesday, though, and I have to wait for her to finish something before I can get started with my part, so I won´t be going back until next week. I´m not sure what I will do with myself all week! Haha.

Funny story that I don´t think I related yesterday... I was talking to this Korean girl Isobel (not her real name, her Mexican name) about her weekend, and she said that she had to go shopping with her host mother because the maid in their house stole 800 pesos from her... and ALL OF HER UNDERWEAR. All her bras, all her underwear, everything! I mean... money, I can understand. But underwear? I guess the maid had been fired, but they left her alone in the house on her last day (not smart) and she took advantage. Creepy!

Okay, the guy is making me switch computers, so I am going to wrap this up. Adios, y´all.

Monday, September 27, 2004

¿Cómo te va?

Hola, mis queridos amigos Americanos!

Happy Monday. (I know, I know.) Hope it´s treating everybody well. I don´t know why I am writing another post so soon after my last one. It´s not like I have a whole lot to say. Haha. Oh well. Eagerly soak up every word I generously bestow upon you infidels!

Yesterday, after being on the internet for two hours (oops!), Katie and I went to the Mega store. We bought a boom box. Haha. A CD/Tape/Radio. It cost about 400 pesos, or 40 dollars, and we split it. Our plan is to leave it here as a gift to our host family and/or whoever lives in our room next. Katie is thrilled to be able to listen to the radio. She´s one of those girls who always goes around singing whatever song happens to be in her head. It drives me a little crazy, but maybe if I can hear the songs, too, it won´t be that bad. Maybe. We´ll see. ;) I also bought some nifty athletic pants, in case I wind up playing tennis with Mateo on Wednesday. I do NOT feel inclined to go around in shorts here, and that´s the only thing I brought that´s suitable for exercise. Ugh... I can just imagine what would happen if I got on the bus in athletic shorts. The shaaaaaaaaaaame!

This morning 5 buses passed us. That´s right. Not just one or two. FIVE. We got to the bus stop at the normal time, but didn´t get on a bus until 30 minutes later. It´s so aggravating. Sometimes the buses will do this psych-out thing where they will start slowing down and pulling over, so you think they´re stopping, and then they speed up and drive by. And the bus is half empty. I think the bus drivers do it just to get their jollies. Grr. Anyway, we didn´t get to school until 8:30- half an hour after class started- so I didn´t go to my mexican society class. Instead I sat out and studied for my test and got ready for my presentation.

My grammer test was EASY. I was the first person done. Piece of caaaaaaaaaake. This is what good comes from paying attention in high school spanish!! Then in Conversation I had to do a presentation, and of course I got to go first. All of the other students had pages of notes and things written out, but I just went up there and talked. We were supposed to talk about something relating to our vocabulary, and one of our lists was about social problems, so I just talked about working at Heidi y Pedro and what they do there, and what kinds of kids are there, and why there is such a need for agencies like that. It went rather marvelously, if I do say so myself.

Annoying girl Jennifer in my class was, yet again, annoying... she was trying to be my mother and tell me what to do, and was telling me not to be a "Bad Bunny" (except she pronounced it bone-y). Whaaaaaaaaat? She started to talk to me after class, and I was like... "DON´T talk to me." She just laughed. She thinks I´m a hilarious little kid. Why? Why? Argh.

Bueno... I don´t have a lot more to say. Just thought I´d tell you about my monday. I´m basically just killing time in the computer lab, if you couldn´t tell. Yeah, like that´s unusual... ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Chivas! Atlas! Goooooooooool!

Woo hoo... so yesterday I went to a futbol (soccer) game in the biggest stadium I have ever seen in my LIFE. 60,000 people fit in this thing, and it was pretty dang near full. The teams playing were the Chivas and Atlas, both native teams to Guadalajara. It was like FS vs LHS or KU vs KState. Only... futbol and Mexicans?
It was a lot of fun. I went with a big group of people... Katie and her boyfriend, a couple of girls who are roommates, this girl from Oklahoma who was drunk, Tim who I hung out with in Mazetlan who also got drunk, Mateo who I mentioned in the last entry who apparently is only 25, not 30something... yeah. If there´s one thing I have learned about myself in Mexico, it´s that I am a HORRIBLE judge of age. Honestly.

Anyway...everyone was cheering for the Chivas, but Mateo got me to cheer for Atlas with him, which rocked because Atlas won, 3 to 1. Woo woo! After the game there were 60,000 people leaving the stadium, so it was kind of hectic sticking together, but we managed to do it, and we even managed to squeeze onto a bus together. The first bus that came! We ruled. We went out to eat at this taco place that was pretty good. After that we hung out a while, then 6 of us (Katie, Alfonso, Kristy (the drunk girl), Tim, Mateo, and I) went to Alfonso´s apartment to hang out. Alfonso actually salsa danced with Katie, even though in Mazetlan he was poopy and pretended like he couldn´t. She was SO happy. She was practically glowing as he whirled her around in circles! Hehe. I definitely can NOT dance like that. Woo.

So, yeah... yesterday was fun. I think Mateo is becoming a friend... it´s cool because we can talk in either Spanish or English and have intelligent conversations, ha. It seems weird because he´s so much older than me, but I really need to stop being bothered by that. Basically everyone here IS at least 3 years older than me, and often times more... but I forget that after a certain point, 3 or 5 or 7 years of age difference doesn´t really make that big of a difference. A 20 year old dating a 26 year old isn´t anything like an 18 year old dating a 12 year old. I´m still the youngest one in my class, but people treat me generally like a peer and an equal. I think I just exaggerate things in my head, you know?

I think I´m just kind of emotionally... weird right now. I´m right in the middle of my time here in Mexico... I´m moving into adulthood, I´m seperating from my life before, I´m anticipating my life ahead, but I´m trying to live my life now. Does any of that make sense? Haha... I don´t know.

Anyway... hope you guys are having a good weekend, too. Today Katie and I are going to go do some shopping... pretty low-key. I may play tennis with Mateo on Wednesday, even though I have 0 tennis skills. I have two tests tomorrow that I need to study for, whee... just another week in Mexico, I guess!

If you´d like a more detailed account of a mexican futbol game or my adventures therin, feel free to write me at shgarlow@yahoo.com *end shameless plug*

Friday, September 24, 2004

Gracios a Dios que es Viernes.

Yeah, TGIF is a saying, even in Spanish. Woo hoo.

Today has been weird. I went to stupidclass this morning and he was all weird about me not having my test... we are supposed to have a meeting at some point. Martha from Intercambio gave me some stuff on Mexican History, though, so maybe I can do the test this weekend. It`s dumb that I should require outside resources to complete it, though. It`s not supposed to be that kind of test. It`s supposed to be over what we`ve learned in class- if we all have to look at things OUTSIDE of our class materials to understand it, then there is something wrong. Anyway.

The annoying girl in my spanish class sat next to me again today, meaning that we got paired up for everything. She doesn`t know anything, I swear. She seemed to realize that there was something absurd about our being paired, though, because she kept apologizing for being so stupid and asking if I was mad at her.

I went out to lunch at Vips with Katie and her boyfriend Alfonso and this guy named Mateo today. Mateo was born in Peru, then moved to the US. I don`t know how old he is, but I think he`s 30 something. He told me that I speak Spanish really well, which was a nice complement. This afternoon when i went to my service, Julio, a guy who works at Heidi y Pedro, told me I look like a girl from Jalisco (the state where Guadalajara is.) So, lots of complements today.


I`m in a wierd mood. I can`t explain it. Blah.

Tomorrow we are going to a Chivas game. That`s like the pro-soccer team here. Cool times. Hopefully it will be fun.

I`m gonna go. It`s dark outside already and this keyboard sucks. Later.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Les sugiero que no traten de hacer esto en casa.

Word. My life is boring. Um... howsabout I just post some little bullets about goings-on instead of attempting to form a coherent post. That sounds like a good plan.

  • I have definitely been eating too much McDonalds. If only it weren´t so darn good!
  • Katie was getting on my case for not doing my takehometest for the mexican history class. Um, if I don´t even understand enough to BS my way through it, then no, it´s NOT better that I just try to throw something together for the sake of turning something in. Besides, it is my grade, not hers.
  • I went to my service today, but the door was shut and locked. Literally! I couldn´t get in. So I wasted 7 pesos in bus money and an hour of my life traveling there and back for no reason. Thanks!
  • I can´t believe Murl broke his elbow. Crazy!
  • This crazy girl in my class has latched herself onto me... she never, ever speaks in Spanish, she sings weird songs about her bunnies, and she told me that I was 12 years old. And yet, she wants to copy off of me or have me teach her Spanish or something. I`m like... you are 24! Get a life! Aaaah.
  • I have eaten at least 2 varieties of green soup here. And you know what? They were both pretty good. Go figure.
  • I seem to be cursed with small, annoying children this week. Every time I go somewhere or get on a bus, there are loud, crying, energetic, annoying children in close proximity. It´s yucky.
  • I really, really love getting e-mails from you guys. Your comments get emailed to me, too, so comments are also good. If you would like to and have a few minutes to spare, write me at shgarlow@yahoo.com and tell me the mundane details of your life. I will cherish them, I promise!
  • I am done spamming for mail and wasting your time now.
  • Bye.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Huzzah

Hump day! A better day than the first two of this week, thank GOD. I got an extra hour of sleep this morning which was veeeery appreciated... yup yup. My spanish classes went well... in my Conversation class we went to talk to the Level 6 English class. I was in a group of 3 with one Mexican girl and another American girl. The American didn´t want to speak Spanish and the Mexican didn´t want to speak English. It was amusing.

After classes I went over to the Intercambio office to talk to Martha about my dumb Institutions in Mexican Society class. I basically just told her how, even though I go to class every single day that class is held and take notes and read all of the assignments from the book, I am absolutely clueless. I would be glad to learn about the history of Mexico, but the system so far is not working for me. I think she already had some doubts about my professor´s teaching style, so she is supposedly going to talk to him. In the meantime, she had some ideas for extra materials or books that she could recommend to me to help me understand what we are learning about. Hopefully that will do the trick. At least now I feel like I´ve spoken up and tried to do something, you know?

Ooh! When I walked into the office, the secretary told me that I had mail. I had completely forgotten that my sister had sent me a card! It was so awesome. It totally made my day. :) It took a couple of weeks to get here, which is why I spaced it... it was a very good surprise, though. Murl has been trying to send me something, too, so that will be very nice. I enjoy mail. It makes me feel loved! Hehe.

So... yeah. What else? Um... I have become insanely addicted to McDonalds. Seriously. I go there just about every day. It´s like... "¡Papas a la francesa medianos, una coca-cola mediano, y un pay de manzana, por favor!" Yesterday sucked because they were all out of pay de manzana. How is that possible? You don´t just run out of pay de manzana!!! (I think I just like the apple pies because it´s spelled "pay". Heehee. Plus, an apple pie is better than a pay de piña or a pay de queso. Who wants pineapple or cheese pies? Ew!) Yeah. Pretty soon they are going to start recognizing me. I´ve already made friends with the ladies who wait at my bus stop when I go down to Heidi y Pedro in the afternoons. And the guys here at the computer place... I still get huge discounts every time. Yesterday I came in for like... 10 minutes and I didn´t even have to pay. The guy just waved me out the door, haha. Oh, the benefits of being an American!

Right now I am just killing some time here... I dropped my laundry off to be washed. I didn´t feel like washing it myself, and the place is still having water problems, and really it only costs 20 or 30 pesos more... I can pick it up tomorrow. I used up most of my clothes in Mazetlan, haha. I need to find someplace cheap to buy clothes. I am really getting sick of wearing the same stuff over and over! All of the women´s clothes here are designed to be supersmall and supertight, though. The women here... geeze. It´s all tight pants and shirts and impossibly high heeled shoes. I´m like... if I am going to be sweating and riding a bus every single day, there is no way! Plus, I do so much walking, my feet would fall off in shoes like that. Oops, sorry, I got off subject. Anyway... yeah. I dropped off clothes, I´m chilling here, and then I am going to go to the mall to use the ATM, then across the street from the mall to Mega (which is like WalMart) to buy some essential items, and then quite possibly back to the mall to eat at McDonalds. Yup. I am pathetic.

Okay... I think that´s all for now... tomorrow I get to sleep in again, which will be nice. I think I was just behind on my sleep from the weekend and it was making everything seem a lot worse. I hope everyone is having a good week and enjoying the first day of fall! I´m sad to be missing out on the autumn leaves and everything. It will be weird to go from Mexico weather to Kansas in December! Hehe. Love y´all!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Poopy.

This week royally sucks. A lot. It´s full of lots of people basically telling me that my feelings are stupid and that I should stop having them. Thank you, people. I appreciate it. I would really like to drop one of my classes because it is POINTLESS, but apparantly I am stupid for feeling that I am not learning anything (even though I´m not). Apparently, I overthink things. I put too much pressure on myself. I try harder than everybody else. Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

I just feel so... mad. I was so happy this weekend that I made some friends, but even they joy from that has been rather spoiled.

I just wish that this week were over so I could get some sleep and not have to deal with all of this stupidity anymore.

By the way- congratulations to Courtney on getting rid of her NBK status. Very smooth! I knew it would happen once you got to college, I just never imagined that you would move so fast! ;) Hehe.

Also, curses on Blogger because it always takes about 10 minutes for the "create new post" window to load. Why???? By the time I can actually write an entry, I´m so frustrated that they all turn out... angry. Like this one. But I was angry before this, too, so today it doesn´t make a huge difference.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Mazetlan, Mazetlan!

Hola, mis queridos amigos!

Here is the long anticipated entry... the summary of my Mazetlan adventures. (William was right- Mazetlan DOES sound a lot like Mazeltov!) I´ll try to be thorough without rambling on about every single minute detail.

Wednesday I went to my first couple of classes, then skipped out on the last half of Spanish so I could go home and get my big duffle bag. Luckily, the Señora of my house was there and offered to drive me back to the school in her car. I was very glad not to have to haul my duffle onto the bus and walk from the bus stop in to the school! Anyway... I got back to school and eventually met up with the two people I was traveling with, James and Alyssa (pronounced a-lisa, not like Becca´s sister.) We got a taxi to the bus station and were on our way!

Let me say that riding in a bus for 8 or 9 hours is not very much fun. We camped out on seats in the back so we had more space, but still. All we had to eat was junk food, and it got kind of boring. Alyssa and I almost got stuck in Tepic because we got off the bus at a rest stop to use the bathroom and get some food and then we forgot our bus number and it almost left without us... James saved the day, though, and told the bus driver to go back. Hooray! The bus driver played great movies such as Baby´s Day Out, Daredevil, and an illegal version of Shrek 2. They were all dubbed in Spanish, but since I had seen them before it was okay.

I guess I´ll tell you a little about James and Alyssa... James is about 22 and is from Arkansas. He goes to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He´s black, a very strong Christian, kind of quiet at first but with a good sense of humor. He was our hero and bodyguard all weekend long. He went everywhere with us to make sure that the "young ladies" in his company didn´t get harassed by any crazy Mexican guys. I would definitely describe him as a gentleman. I really appreciated him because he also doesn´t believe in drinking or going out clubbing, so I had someone to hang out with. Alyssa is I think 23 and from New York. She already graduated college and is living down here with her sister while her sister attends medical school. They have an apartment near campus which they share with Alyssa´s ENORMOUS dog. Yeah, she brought her dog to Mexico. Alyssa is very laid back and fun. We were in the same hotel room along with another girl... yeah. So now you know a little more about these people I will keep talking about.

Okay... so we got to Mazetlan at about 11 o´clock. We went to the hotel and found that the other group of people (who had gotten to Mazetlan that morning) were out, and there was some confusion with the hotel rooms... we had a key to one room, but it was full of stuff from other people in our group. We decided not to worry about it then and went to go eat. Our hotel was right along the main strip, which is right along the ocean. Our rooms were on the 10th (top) floor, and we had little balconies with this amaaaaaaazing view of the ocean. Very, very cool. Anyway... we wandered down the strip and finally asked this group of teenagers where a good place to eat was. This guy walked us down to a restaurant. I think he was pretty drunk, but he was nice and the food was good, so it turned out okay. After that we just chilled on the "boardwalk" I guess you would say (the big sidewalk above the beach) for a while. We still had problems with the rooms and didn´t wind up getting into our proper rooms and into bed until nearly 4 am, which sucked... but it worked out okay.

Thursday I got up around 9:45. The bigger group of people were going on this boat tour thing, but I didn´t have a ticket and didn´t really feel like going. Alyssa, James, and I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant (AMAZING french toast!) and then decided to go horseback riding with this guy named Tim who is from St. Louis. Tim went to Mazetlan a few weeks ago, so he already knew where things were and stuff, which was nice. Anyway... it was kind of a rainy morning, but we took a taxi and a boat over to the Isla de las Piedras (Island of Stones) and went horseback riding. My horse was OLD (grey, beard, ready to keel over, OLD) and NOT a comfortable ride at all. I have bruises on my butt, literally, from when he was trotting, as well as bruises on my legs from the saddle, which the people made no effort to adjust to my body or height. Yeuch. Anyway... it was a pretty ride. We rode down the beach and then rode back through some trees and this little town, where our guide pointed out different kinds of fruit trees. After that we decided to go swimming, but silly me, I thought we were going horseback riding so I didn´t bring my swimsuit. I wound up buying one off of this vendor guy who was wandering up and down the beach. It´s the ugliest swimsuit EVER, I swear, and I probably paid too much for it, but oh well... the swimming was nice. The waves were HUGE. I think it was partly from the hurricanes in the pacific, but also I think that the water is just generally like that in Mazetlan.

Anyway... the four of us got back to our hotel about 4 o´clock and then went next door to this little place to eat. I had THE COLDEST COCA-COLA I HAVE HAD SINCE COMING TO MEXICO. It was AMAZING. Sooooooo good. It was like... this glass bottle that must have been sitting in ice water for hours on end, and then a glass tumbler filled to the top with ice, and it gave off cold steam and everything... oooooooh amazing. Yeah. :) I didn´t actually wind up doing that much more that evening... James wandered off on a walk by himself for a few hours, and Alyssa and Tim started playing some pool downstairs in the hotel bar, but I was so exhausted that I was asleep by 11 o´clock. People kept wandering in and out of our room, though, which was annoying... I think they were all drunk.

Friday! Got up about 9:30, went downstairs with Alyssa to eat breakfast... just as we were finishing these annoying other girls from our group came and sat with us (uninvited) and acted like they were STILL drunk (because they drank so much the night before that there was no way they could have that much energy if they were hung over- they had to still be drunk) so we left... I went up and knocked on James´door. He had just gotten out of the shower and everything, so I went back downstairs with him while he ate his breakfast, and wound up eating a second breakfast myself. I was hungry! Then we went and sat out at a table by the awesome hotel pool... it had waterfalls and stuff, it was really cool. Alyssa came to tell us that she was going with some people to go snorkeling (they didn´t wind up snorkeling, but they did leave for a few hours). James and I realized that we were falling asleep, so we went up to our rooms to take a nap... but when we got up there I realized that both of my roommates had left and I didn´t have a room key. We went into james´ room and each lay down on one of the double beds and watched some TV until we both fell asleep. We slept for like... 3 hours until Tim came back and was banging the door open and stuff.

After waking up from my nap, I went down to the hotel restaurant and ate a sandwich. Then James and I walked down the beach to meet up with Tim and Alyssa and some other people who had gone out wading. The waves were even crazier than at the Isla de las Piedras, so I only walked in a bit. We stayed there for maybe 30 minutes, then went back to the hotel to shower and stuff. At about 8 o´clock James, Alyssa, me, and this girl named Jessie went to see The Village. It was a good movie... we got kinda mad that they put an intermission RIGHT in the middle of the scene where these two people are hooking up. It was annoying. The movie wasn´t THAT long! After the movie we went to dinner, and then James and I walked with Alyssa to this salsa club where she was meeting up with the bigger group of people. We had some trouble finding it, but we finally did... Alyssa and I were definitely glad that James was there to protect us, though. Back to the hotel, sleep.

Saturday I woke up about 9 o´clock, VERY tired... packed up my things, then went to eat breakfast. Checkout time at the hotel was noon, but the bus tickets for Alyssa, James, and I were open, so we could leave whenever we wanted. We checked out and left our bags at the front desk and then went to the marketplace of Mazetlan near the cathedral. Very busy and smelly and stuff... didn´t buy anything. Alyssa and James bought weird pizza with hot dogs on it, ew. We picked up our bags and left on a bus at 2:30-3ish. They played the movie Thirteen Ghosts, which I REALLY did not like... I couldn´t get away from it, though, because there were tv screens everywhere and speakers right over my head and all. Bleh. Anyway... we stopped at this little bus stop and all these people started getting on the bus. Tons of people! It wound up with James sitting near the front of the bus and Alyssa and I in the same row in the back, but on opposite sides by the windows. There were more people on the bus than there were seats. I thought it was hilarious. I mean, what could be more sterotypically Mexican than being on a bus with too many people? Anyway... They played us Pirates of the Carribbean (dubbed), which was cool... I was sooooo tired, but I couldn´t fall asleep. This baby in the back of the bus kept crying, too, so NOBODY could sleep, really.

I got into a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. He was part of a men´s volleyball team... his entire team was on the bus! They had been at a week-long tournament and were returning to their home (I don´t remember where that was, though.) The guy was nice, even if I couldn´t understand him half of the time... heh. I gave him some Oreos because all of the money for their trip was on their coach´s credit card, which hadn´t been working, so they had to spend their own personal money to get any food all week. Anyway... it was good to have the practice of conversing in Spanish. We pulled into Guadalajara at 1am, and I was home and in bed by 2:10. Whew! Looooooong trip.

It was so good, though. I got to RELAX and sleep and I made FRIENDS! That was the best part... making friends that I could hang out with and have private jokes with and everything. It definitely made the trip worthwhile for me. Mazetlan was so gorgeous... I felt like I was in a movie where the protagonist takes a tropical vacation, you know? I didn´t buy any souveniers, unless you count the ugly swimsuit, but that´s okay. There will be other opportunities for souveniers. I made James a thank you card for being the big brother/chaperone all weekend. It was definitely appreciated, by me AND my mom! ;)

Today hasn´t been the greatest day... I was supposed to do this take home test for my Institutions in Mexican Society class over the weekend, but even when I sat down with my notes and my book and tried re-reading the stuff and putting it together, I had no clue what it was talking about. How sad is that? I have attended every single class session, 3 days a week, for five weeks now, and I haven´t learned ANYTHING. I skipped class this morning... tomorrow I think I am going to go talk to the woman in the Intercambio office who is in charge of the IPSL program here. Seriously... it´s just bad. I´d like to just drop that class if I can... it´s not serving for anything. Really, all of the aspects of my being here that are the IPSL aspects have been disappointing thus far. Our journaling class is useless, this other class is useless, and I am useless in my service. I am really nothing more than a student of Spanish here. Argh. Anyway... yeah. I´m going to try to get that sorted out... It´s just hard because I´m so tired and frustrated and all.

Yup yup... that´s the basic rundown of my weekend. Katie thought I was crazy for not getting the volleyball player´s e-mail address or something, but unlike her, I don´t want a Mexican boyfriend. That´s right- Katie got the hookup in Mazetlan with a guy named Alfonso. I didn´t hear about it until Friday night, and I was like, WHAAAAAAAT? Yeah... I guess they were making out all Wednesday night. Geeze. Who knew? :P Oh well.

Okay, time for me to skeedaddle. Write me fun e-mails at shgarlow@yahoo.com to keep me cheerful through the week! :)

Love you all!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Layers

I know everyone wants an entry about my adventures in Mazetlan, but I am going to save that one for tomorrow. For now, here´s some fun. If you read carefully, you may actually get clues about my adventures! ;)


LAYER ONE:
Name: Sarah Hope Garlow (because I think it´s all in my profile anyway)
Birthplace: Lawrence, Kansas
Birthdate: May 12, 1986
Current location: Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico
Eye Color: Green
Hair Color: Light brown
Height: 5 foot 9, about
Righty or Lefty: Righty
Zodiac sign: Taurus

LAYER TWO
Your heritage: German
The shoes you wore today: My $4 Payless sandals that have definitely given me my money´s worth
Your weakness: I have many.
Your fears: Being unwanted, being purposeless
Your perfect pizza: Pepperoni and black olives
Goals you would like to achieve: Going to college, getting married, being happy

LAYER THREE
Your most overused phrase on AIM: haha or lol, probably
Your thoughts first waking up: I had better get in the shower so Katie can get dressed.
Your bedtime: Usually by 10 or 11. We get up early here!
Your most missed memory: All things American, all of my friends from high school... belonging.

LAYER FOUR
Pepsi or Coke: Coke, and not just because Pepsi is almost nonexistent in Mexico
McDonalds or Burger King: McDonalds. In fact, I just ate there! Mm, french fries and pay de manzana
Single or group dates: Group dates when you don´t know each other, single once it gets serious
Adidas or Nike: No preference. I rarely buy either. I think my tennis shoes now are Adidas, though.
Ice tea or Nestea: Ew, neither
Chocolate or Vanilla: Vanilla
Cappuccino or Coffee: Ew, neither.

LAYER FIVE
Smoke:no
Cuss: sometimes
Sing: Yes... I wish I could sing more here, though
Take a shower every day: yes
Have a crush: yes
Do you think you´ve been in love: yes
Want to go to college: yes, please
Like(d) high school: Yes, for the most part... I miss it, which says something.
Want to get married: Yes
Believe in yourself: Not very much since coming here...
Get motion sickness: never
Think you´re attractive: occasionally. Apparently the Mexicans think I am, though
Think you´re a health freak: Ha! Hahahahahaha.... ha. No.
Get along with your parents: Yes, very well
Like thunderstorms: I love the sound of rain on the roof, unless it´s leaking
Play an instrument: my voice, but other than that... I can plink on the piano.

LAYER SIX
In the past month...
Drank alcohol: Yes, tequila
Smoked: no
Done a drug: no
Had sex: no
Made out: noo
Gone on a date: noo
Gone to the mall: yes, this afternoon, in fact. McDonalds is there.
Eaten an entire box of Oreos: Sadly, yes. Last night I gave this guy volleyball player a package of oreos because he was starving on the bus.
Eaten sushi: nope
Been on stage: no
Been dumped: no
Gone skating: no
Made homemade cookies: I haven´t cooked since arriving in Mexico
Gone skinny dipping: nope. I almost swam in my clothes, but then I bought a swimsuit from a vendor on the beach
Dyed your hair: Never!
Stolen anything: nope

LAYER SEVEN
Ever...
Played a game that required the removal of clothing: he, yes
Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: nope
Been caught "doing something": not... really...
Been called a tease: no
Been beaten up: no
Shoplifted: no
Changed who you were to fit in: Ugh. I seem to do that a lot since being here, also.

LAYER EIGHT
Age you hope to be married: By the age of 26
Numbers and Names of Children: 2, maybe 3... I´d like to use family names, but I don´t know what.
Describe your dream wedding: Formal, with lots of friends and family, very gorgeous... with partying afterwards
How do you want to die: Without knowing that I am dying. In my sleep, or a crash where I die instantly or something
Where do you want to go to college: Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California
What do you want to be when you grow up: A woman like my mother
What country would you most like to visit: Right now? The good old US of A!

LAYER NINE
In a guy/girl...
Best eye color: Any
Best hair color: Any
Short or long hair: Nothing weird
Height: Taller than me
Best weight: Any
Best articles of clothing: Looking good... not dumpy or sloppy or ripped or anything
Best first date location: Someplace where there is enough going on that there´s not awkward silence, but that it´s quiet enough to be able to talk and get to know each other.

LAYER TEN
# of drugs taken illegally: none, that I can think of
# of people I could trust with my life: a few
# of CD´s that I own: between 50 and 100
# of piercings: none
# of tattoos: 1. Just kidding! haha. None.
# of scars on my body: Not many. Maybe one or two.
# of past things that I regret: A lot.

Okay. I promise, tales from Mazetlan tomorrow. Just know that I had fun, I made friends, I relaxed, and I am home safe. :) ¡Hasta mañana!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

It´s practically the weekend

For me, anyway. Haha. Tomorrow I am coming home early to get my stuff and then I am off to Mazetlan. Woo woo. Tonight I will be doing a lot of packing. I was supposed to go by the laundromat this afternoon to see if Katie´s clothes were done early, but I am trapped here right now with no umbrella while it pours outside. Niiiice.
They did wind up dividing our Spanish class. I´m no longer with the cool people I had class with in Level 4, which sucks, but I have my favorite Level 4 teacher again, except this time for Grammer, so that kind of makes up for it. Plus they gave me my book for less than 5 dollars, which is better than the 13 dollars they cost in the bookstore.

Yesterday I went to McDonalds and it was amazing. I had gone to my service place to work, but the lady wasn´t there AGAIN so I was just like, "Forget it" and turned right around and left. I got off the bus at the mall and had french fries and a coke and a "pay de manzana" (because pie is spelled pay here) and they were soooo good. I wanted to go back today, but I came here first and now it is pouring rain and I still have to walk to see if Katie´s laundry is ready and of course yesterday I took the rainjacket that has been in my bag for two weeks OUT of my bag so I am going to get very wet. I am tired of using punctuation, can you tell?

I guess I am in a better mood today. Just tired... last night I got up at 1 to take some sinus medication and then I had some SERIOUSLY weird dreams. Oh yeah... after I went to McDonalds yesterday I went to wash my clothes. Remember how sunday there was no water? Yesterday they had water... but they had to get it from a hose. So the used a garden hose to fill the washing machines and then added water from this big barrel. Is that nutso or what? Oh well. I have clean clothes now, so it´s all good.

Not much more to say... just thought I should leave a brief update before I go on my trip. My next chance to write will be Sunday or Monday, so I will catch up with y´all then. Feel free to write me an e-mail in the meantime, if you so desire. Happy Mexican Independence Day!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Monday Blahs

I am in a rather crummy mood today. I don´t know what´s wrong with me. I apologize in advance if this post is just a list of complaints.

There is this girl sitting near me wearing this bright pink hooded shirt/dress thing over pants and a biiiiiiig white ribbon bow around her head like a headband. Her hair is dyed this fakey red/orange color. She keeps talking to someone near her VERY LOUDLY. Like she´s yelling at the entire room. Go pinky-orange girl, go.

My new Spanish classes aren´t very fun. Both of my teachers (one man, one woman) seem a lot more strict and less fun than my old teachers. Plus, now that all the japanese students are gone they smushed all of the remaining people from the 3 classes of level 4 into ONE class of level 5. That meant that twenty of us were crowded into this tiny classroom. I think tomorrow they are going to split the classes up, and I am praying I get different teachers. There´s a rumor that one of them may be Mary, the teacher I really liked from level 4. That would be awesome. There are a lot of girls in my class that I don´t like. They´re all friends and americans and loud and they only speak in Spanish when forced to, so of course they speak it really horribly. Pronounce everything wrong, etc. I hope that I get moved out of their class. People like that piss me off. You´re in freaking MEXICO to learn SPANISH and yet what do you do? Make friends with all Americans, speak to your Mexican friends in English, don´t come to class or pay attention or try to improve at all. And then whine about how it´s so easy to never speak Spanish here. It´s just as easy to only speak Spanish if you´d just TRY. Geeze.

I´m kind of pissed at Katie. I don´t know. It just seems so disrespectful to me that she got home after 4 both nights this weekend. She didn´t set her alarm right this morning, and she slept through mine, too, so she didn´t have time to take a shower. Speaking of showers, she´s been using my towels. That´s right. I read before I came how we should bring our own towels, but she apparently didn´t. I´m okay with her using the hand towel I put on the rack. I can even make myself be okay with her using my washcloth every single day in the shower. But the day that she used my freshly washed bath towel, I spoke up. Why yes, Katie, I DID bring towels, in case it wasn´t obvious that I took them to the laundromat every single time while you just hand your dirty towel to our house mother to wash. I hate when people are so unobservant!

Speaking of the laundromat, we went there yesterday to wash clothes and they were OUT OF WATER. How does that WORK? So strange. Anyway... today I am going to have to rush around after my service and try to get my clothes washed before the place closes at 8:30. That´s better than just dropping them off to be washed, like Katie has to do, because that costs at least twice as much. I´d rather not pay that much. I´ll just sit for two hours and wait for my laundry myself, thanks.

The bank here only gives out money in 50´s and 200´s, both of which are rather on the huge side for everyday spending. Considering the bus costs 3.5 pesos and a snack maybe 16, it´s hard to break a 200 unless you buy something big. I don´t want to buy big stuff this week because I´m trying to save some money for Mazetlan, but I don´t really want to take a bunch of 200´s with me and then have problems spending them. After Katie´s weekend, my doubts are renewed about my trip, also. If it´s just going to be a bunch of going to bars and staying out until freakish hours of the night/morning, I don´t know how much fun I am going to have.

I´m pretty disappointed in this program overall. It´s really not what I expected it to be, and not what I think I was led to believe it would be. The classes I take for the Partnership program are pretty much worthless. I don´t have any classes with Mexican students. My service isn´t tying into my classes the way I think it´s supposed to. I really feel pretty useless there. I´m only there about 6 hours each week, and all I do is hang out watching Smallville or playing basketball or putting labels on 35 jars of beads.

In some ways I´m just depressed... by taking finals last week and ending a level of Spanish, it made it feel like things were wrapping up- like this was almost over. Now it´s time to start all over again, and I realize that I have to do 3 more levels of Spanish before I come home. Is this even worth it?

I miss Starbursts and Reese´s peanut butter cups and arby´s cherry turnovers. I feel guilty if I ever go eat McDonalds french fries, because that´s just like America. I would talk to Mexicans if I had more chances, but I think my family will get tired of having long conversations with me after a while, and the kids at Heidi y Pedro aren´t always very talkative.

I just want to grow up. I feel like a stupid kid here, and I just want to grow up.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Conversational

Woo woo... today is a gorgeous day in Guadalajara. Kind of cool out, bright blue skies, sunny, light breeze.

It´s been a good weekend. Pretty uneventful... my finals went well on Friday, and then we had that party thing... it was crazy. There were thousands of people there! All these different schools... and they ran out of food, so I didn´t get much to eat. Oh well. There was music and stuff... it could have been worse. No one I know won anything. They were giving away things like trips to iceland to see figure skating and cell phones that are totally covered by a phone company. Nutso.

Friday night Katie decided to go out to a bar with some friends... that´s not really my scene, so I stayed home. At dinner our house mother made this traditional mexican drink that goes with tamales. Apparently it´s like "hamburgers and coca cola"- you drink this drink when you eat tamales. Anyway... it was this hot drink that was white and sweet and really good. I liked it. Katie missed out! ;) I also got into a really nice conversation with my host father about how I´m taking a year off before going to college and what Lawrence is like and things like that. I´ve been having a lot more conversations in spanish this week. It´s good for me. ;)

So, guess what time Katie got home on Friday night? Really, guess. 4:45am. I kid you not. I remember waking up and looking at my clock and being like, "What the heck?" and going back to sleep. Surprisingly enough, she got up earlier than I did yesterday, though. Katie went to Chapala, this lake kinda near here, with a big group of people and I stayed home. I wound up going to the mall with Geni, the younger daughter in the family, and we sat at McDonalds and ate french fries and talked for about an hour. Last night Katie got home a little earlier- only 4am. Is that not crazy? It makes me really glad I didn´t go with her. I would have been miserable if I got that little sleep! Speaking of little sleep... M.G., the older daughter in our house, is in her second semester of Medical School at the University of Guadalajara, and she hasn´t slept a full night since school started two weeks ago. Usually she sleeps from 10 to midnight and then gets up to do homework. Yeah. I would DIE. Seriously.

Today I really need to do some laundry! I think that´s what Katie and I are going to do after lunch. That way I will have some clean clothes for Mazetlan. I´m not sure what I am going to pack my stuff in... the only suitcases I have are the huuuuuge one and then the duffle bag Julia lent me, which is also rather large... but at least that one would take up less room if I didn´t fill it all the way. We´ll see.

Man, there are a bunch of little kids in here today. Very strange.

I guess this isn´t a whole lot more interesting than when I was writing every single day. Oh well. Someday I will have fascinating adventures to tell you about.

I´ve been thinking more about next semester... how weird it will be to go home and not have Jenny or Courtney there. Their families have moved away... they can come for visits, but it won´t be the same. It will be weird not to be going to school while Murl and everyone is busy with classes and papers and stuff. I´m going to get a job, but I don´t have any idea what I will do. Just work and save money for next year... I may go to California for a preview weekend at Azusa Pacific in January, and my sister talked about taking a sistah-sistah road trip over spring break or something. We´ll see. I´m sure it will work out... I just really feel like I´m in limbo. Not a high school student, but not really in college yet, either. Woo.

Okay, that´s all for today.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Package Time!!!

FINALLY! I got my package! Uh... the one my parents sent me, that is. Wipe those dirty thoughts from your minds! The customs people stole the Doritos and Starbursts from it... dang them... I guess you aren`t allowed to mail food, or else they were hungry. Anyways... there were a couple of books, a couple of magazines, a dozen hair scrunchies (?), and the video of Sense and Sensibility. Katie was SO excited when I told her that. We saw 5 minutes of it on TV the other day, but it was dubbed over in Spanish. Like 3/4 of our channels... we`ve gotten hooked on watching certain shows like the O.C. and this show called Wonderfalls that plays on Fox. Oh, and Friends. Lots of Friends.

Tomorrow I have a final! Yup, that`s right... tomorrow is my last day of Level 4 Spanish. I got 100% on my presentation today, woo, even though I had to follow the totally kickass presentation by the German guy. He has some serious Spanish skeelz. I don`t know why he`s in Level 4... he has gotten 100% on every test so far. Maybe he`s never learned it before but is just crazy good at studying. That`s always possible.

I read about the situation at Courtney`s school... dang. Very surreal, I`m sure... and scary and sad and just... psycho. Man.

So... what else? Not a whole lot left to say. Right now I`m at the "head" computer at the hole in the wall place. The computer they gave me was the crappy one I had a couple of days ago that doesn`t like cookies or javascript or the AOL website... so the guy working here traded me. I think he`s fixing it right now, or at least playing around with it. I`m afraid I`m going to hit the wrong button or something and screw this all up! There`s music playing on the speakers from this computer... Something by "Big Youth" right now.

I swear, my typing skills are going to be totally screwed by the time I get back to the US. I am actually getting used to the quotation marks being above the number 2, the "at" symbol being on the letter Q, and the apostrophe being backwards and to the right of the letter P. Also, instead of the semicolon there is the ñ button (the semicolon is down next to the M, on the same button as the comma. To the right of that is the period and the colon.) I`m sure none of that made sense... but just imagine having to reach over one key farther to hit Enter every time, having to delete the extra apostrophe every time because it doesn`t show up until you type the next letter, and having to hunt for things that used to be so easy to find! I`ll finally get used to this and then go home and be totally screwed. Oh well. Thus is life.

Anywho... I think I will sign off for now. Sorry my week hasn`t been more interesting. I promise next week will be better, ok? After all, I am taking a 4 day vacation to Mazetlan, woo! Good times. I hope. :) I`ll talk to y`all later this weekend.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Itchy Itchy

I got eaten up by bugs at the Jardín Botánico the other day, and now my legs are ITCHY. Make it stoooop!

I don´t have much to report. This week is a lot less crazy than last week was. It´s the final week of this level of Spanish class, so it just feels like things are winding down. Tomorrow I give my presentation on the Mexican state of Aguascalientes (Hot Springs), and Friday I have my final in Grammer. I got a 96 on my Grammer test yesterday. I really should just learn not to freak out after tests, because I always freak out and I always do okay. But if I didn´t freak out I wouldn´t be me, would I?

On Friday there is some sort of big Welcome party to all the students in the Spanish program. That, or it´s a party for all the students at UAG, period. I wasn´t really clear on that. Food, music, and prizes were mentioned. If they feed me and give me the chance to win something free, I´m all for it! I think that´s a typical college student mentality. ;)

I´ve been online so much this week that I am forgetting what I´ve written about before. Have I talked about going to Mazetlan next week? The Mexican Día de Independencia is on Thursday, and we have no class Thursday (and essentially friday, because nobody is going to show up, teachers included, or so I am told.) Anyway... it´s an 8 hour bus ride that I will take on Wednesday (I think after classes) with 3 other people, not all of whom I know (or even know their names yet!). However, Katie and her friends Nicole and Bebe (who are really nice) will already be there when I get there (they leave tuesday night at midnight; the night bus is cheaper and they´ll have all of wednesday in Mazetlan. The downside is that they miss an extra day of class.) It should be a good experience... I´ll get to see how Mexico celebrates its independence firsthand! I´ll be sure to take lots of pictures.

Sorry my life isn´t more interesting. Um... yeah. Yesterday I went to work at Heidi y Pedro... Jahell had me labeling jars full of beads for making necklaces and bracelets and things. Two of these little boys were fighting- one of them was Mario, who I think has some mental disability. He´s really hard to understand when he speaks, but he´s generally a really sweet kid. This other boy was picking on him- picking up the stamps he was putting in a book, ripping them up, throwing them out in the rain, kicking him... it wasn´t fun. Oh well. It wasn´t that big of a deal, really. I don´t have to go back today... I´m going to work on my poster for my presentation tomorrow and practice what I´ll say. Hopefully I will be a little more smooth and entertaining than some of the people who presented today... *wince* You know how sometimes when people are speaking you get physically uncomfortable because they pause for so long or make weird mistakes? Yeah.

Okay. Please, write me, post in your blogs, take 5 minutes to update me on your life! I am desperate for any tidbits of news you have for me. ;) shgarlow@yahoo.com

Oh yeah... the package from my parents STILL isn´t here. It´s to the point where all I have to do is show up in the door of the Intercambio office and the secretary says, "Nope." Grrrr. Supposedly FedEx delivered it on Monday at 2:15. Delivered it where??? Not to me. Aaaaaaah. Dumb FedEx Mexico Delivery Stupid People!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ready.

You know what the problem with being able to use the computer 3 times within 24 hours is? Nobody has written anything new for me to read, so there´s not really anyting to do.

Today has been a weird day. I forgot to turn on my alarm last night, so I woke up out of a weird dream when Katie opened our bedroom door when she came back from her shower. That´s okay, though, because that´s when I normally get out of bed. It was just strange that that was the first time I was waking up. We were on time to our bus stop, but two buses that had tons of empty space passed us by. That meant that when the third bus finally stopped it was jammed full of people. And it smelled like pee. Really, really gross. Also, we were running late because we had to wait so long. Joy! Katie wanted to go to the doctor because she´s been feeling sick and she somehow strained a muscle under one eye (don´t ask me how), so I wound up walking most of the way from the gate of the university to my first class alone. It´s really a beautiful morning here in Guadalajara... blue skies, sunshine, not hot yet.

I was thinking as I walked... I feel ready for college. Maybe it´s just this morning or this week... but I could picture myself walking across a real campus, having my own college experience, going to classes, having a major... Sometimes being here feels really half-assed. It´s like... I´m in college, but I´m not in college. I´m taking college classes, but they´re not REALLY college classes. I am a student at this school, but it´s a really weird school that doesn´t even have on-campus housing. I´m tired of playing dress-up. I want to be the REAL thing!

I took a test this morning... I felt really good about it beforehand. I studied, I knew the stuff, I was ready. Then she handed out the test and I got all mixed up... there were some things there I wasn´t expecting and didn´t really know how to deal with. I don´t know at this point how well I did. I know I´m one of those people who always panics and thinks they did horribly on tests afterwards... but seriously. I´m not sure about this one. I need to get a good grade on this test and on my final on Friday so I can move on to Level 5. If I have to retake this level, I will scream! I only need an 80% in Spanish to move up. I think I can do it. I hope I can. I just feel... discouraged.

I feel so DUMB here. The entire world around me is in on all of these big secrets, and I´m clueless. The secrets of how these people think and speak and behave... the history, the reasons why, the cultural stigma... I am out of the loop. I try to make these conjectures or draw conclusions about the people around me or my experiences, but I wind up seeming contrived, clueless, and juevenile. I feel stupid for being here because I don´t really care. I don´t have any great motivations or higher callings. I don´t feel particularly drawn to the service, I don´t need the credits to graduate... I´m just here. I feel like I´m in limbo.

I keep reading about everyone´s experiences at college... Courtney´s adventures at GA Tech, Jenny´s first days at Knox, William´s integration into choir at Willamette, Murl´s tales of living on the 9th floor at KU... Even just reading what my sister has to say about John Brown. I wish I were in college now. I wish I didn´t have to wait until next year to have those experiences... none of you are going to care when I´m stressing about typical freshmen things next fall. You´ll all be sophomores- experienced, confident, knowledgable. Bleh. I envy you people!

Maybe I´m feeling kind of homesick again. I don´t know. Not especially... it´s just hard to be missing out on things. My dad´s side of the family had a get-together on Saturday for Labor Day weekend, and I didn´t get to be there... everyone was there! My parents, my sister... they went to visit my grandpa in the hospital and took pictures of him with all of the "great-grandchild" generation, which is growing bigger all the time. I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden in a car since being here. Some days you just get really tired of bouncing around on hot, smelly, crowded buses. I´m tired of Spanish and trying to memorize all of the rules. I wish I could just find something to drink that doesn´t leave a disgusting, sugary, almost diet-flavored aftertaste in my mouth. I wish that the dumb package my parents sent me would GET HERE already so I didn´t have to feel like an idiot for going into the Intercambio office EVERY DAY and asking the SAME QUESTION.

Really, I just want a hug. A hug from my mom, or from one of my close friends... I don´t think people do hugs here. Or if they do, it´s not the same... it´s social, like the kisses on the cheek are social. It´s so tiring to always be on the outside. It´s so tiring to never feel like you belong or fit in.

Sorry, this post is kind of a bummer.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Nuevos Amigos

I know it´s strange, but I´m writing two posts in one day. Get over it.

Today I made new friends. I went down to my service agency to work, but the people I work for in the office weren´t there... so instead I hung out with the kids who stay at Heidi y Pedro. Charra, the other girl from IPSL, was there, too. It was difficult to communicate the difference between the names "Sarah" and "Charra" to people. Pronounced the "spanish way", they sound pretty similar. Charra just has an H in it.

First I played basketball with Charra and a guy named Miguel. Keep in mind that I wore a skirt today (silly me) and sandals. We didn´t play real basketball... basically we just played "take turns shooting from this spot until someone makes more than 20 points." I won the first time, despite Charra protesting that I shoot the ball funny. Excuse me for never playing sports in my LIFE outside of gym class! It was really funny that I beat her when I apparantly shoot all wrong. Ha on you, prissy Charra! The second game was just Miguel and me. He beat me, but barely. We were tied at 20 points and he made the shot. It was good for his ego, though. ;)

I made a new friend today. Her name is Claudia. She´s 14- her birthday is really soon, though- and lives at Heidi y Pedro with her 8 year old brother. It made me really happy when she told me, "Me caes bien," which basically translates to, "I like you. I think you´re cool." She, Charra, and I had a conversation about what it`s like to live there or to be a kid on the street. All of the adults in Claudia´s life have died or gone away... she has a lot of other brothers and sisters, but she hardly has any contact with them. It was so heartbreaking to hear her say how much she wants a new family that loves her, but she knows that she doesn´t really have a chance because she is too old. She really wants a new family for her brother, who is still young enough to need a mother and a chance to be a kid. But, she told us, being at Heidi y Pedro makes her really happy.

I think about the US and am amazed at the contrast. Yeah, there are people living in poverty in the US, but how many kids actually live on the streets? With no one trying to help them? There are millions of kids without parents, without money, without homes, and without help here. Millions! There aren´t the same government programs for keeping kids in schools and foster homes here. Kids can live in filth and people just look the other way.

This really impacted me today. We Americans are so damn fortunate, and we don´t even care. We have so many freedoms... we whine about the corruption of our government, but the government here RUNS on corruption. If the system weren´t corrupt, it would collapse. Police officers are paid minimum wage because they are expected to earn their REAL money accepting bribes from people. No wonder no one trusts or looks up to the police here! President Vicente Fox is the first Mexican president to NOT be from the PRI (political party) in over a hundred years. Can you imagine? A three party political system that doesn´t really count for anything because each president can just appoint his successor- after all, the other parties never win.

I changed the title of my diary for a time... I think I spend more time recounting my adventures here than reflecting on things. This post being an exception, of course.

Send me one: shgarlow@yahoo.com

Jardín Botánico

Woo woo... Happy Monday, everybody. I hope that all of you who are still residing in the US of A are enjoying your day off... I had school today. Poopy.

So... my weekend! Saturday Katie went downtown to watch the mariachi festival. I didn´t feel like doing that, so I went to the mall. Yay! Las Galerias is a veeeeeeeeeeery nice mall. I went into all the stores, but I didn´t buy anything. Then I went to WalMart and spent about thirty dollars. I bought lotsa food to snack on, shampoo, conditioner, and the only magazine I could find that was in English. Yes, I am now the proud owner of an issue of Modern Bride magazine. I told Julia I´ve got lots of ideas for her wedding. ;)

Yesterday Katie wanted to go to the mall and look for a radio. All we found was this clunky huge ugly thing at Radio Shack that for some insane reason cost $40 US. Uh, no. Then I went to Zara and bought a cute shirt for about $20 US. Hooray! :) I´m wearing it today. It´s green. Big surprise.

I don´t have lots to say... Oh, the title. Every day after we walk in through the gates of the University, we pass this botanical garden that looks really cool. Today my Conversation class took a mini field trip to visit the garden. It was cool, but now I feel kind of itchy and sticky and gross. Oh well. At some point I´ll go back there with a camera or something. (Just what I need: more pictures of plants!)

Tomorrow I have a test... Thursday I make a presentation... and Friday I have a final. That´s right! Friday is the last day of my first unit of Spanish. Hopefully next week I will start Level 5. If all goes well I will complete Level 7 by the time I come home. I´m thinking about taking a couple of general ed classes at JCCC next semester... if I do that and a job, maybe i won´t sit around being a bum for 9 months. Heh. That made me sound like I´m pregnant. Noooooooope... that´s just the amount of time I will have at home after Mexico and before I go to college. Have I mentioned how I don´t think I´m going to come back for semester 2? I don´t know what I would study, I don´t really like this enough to do it a second semester, and if I can save $9000 for college, that´s definitely a bonus. Plus I could get a job at home and save money from that. So, yeah. December 4, I´m home for good! Or... for a really rediculously long time.

Today is exactly 1 month of me being in Mexico. Woo! I only have to do this about 3 more times. Super Duper.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Tequila!!

Yesterday I was in the middle of writing this MONSTROUS post to my blog, but it was stormy here and the power blinked off. Bye bye, blog! :( It was very sad. So today I will try to recapture some of what I was saying, although it probably won´t be as great.

This has been a crazy, busy week. After finding out about the Visa To-Do List from Hell on Tuesday, I was rushing around trying to get that stuff done, on top of it being my first real week of working at Heidi y Pedro.

Wednesday I didn´t have to go to the agency, so I decided to knock a few of the items off of my list. Right after classes I went to the Intercambio office and the secretary, Alejandra, helped me to fill out the 10,000 forms and told me what I needed to do to finish the other stuff. Then I went to the bank branch on campus and paid the 537 peso fee. Bleeeh. Then I ran into Katie, who had been searching all over for me. Oops! Heehee.

As Katie and I were leaving campus to get some lunch, we ran into this guy from her Spanish class, "Señor Juan". He´s Korean. They ask a lot of the Asian students to pick Mexican names so it´s easier for their teachers, etc. Not all of them did it- most of the Japanese girls didn´t (My conversation teacher still can´t keep Megumi, Kazuyo, Yukali, Mayu, Naomi, and Yuka straight!) but the Korean guys were pretty good about it. Anyway, this guy is in his 30´s and married, but his family isn´t here yet and he´s still looking for a house to rent for the next couple of years while he´s here. I think he gets pretty lonely. He has to eat every meal out. Anyway, the three of us were talking and he invited Katie and I to go eat with him- he would pay. Who can argue against free food? We went to a place called Toks right across the street from the University. It was good food, and the guy was really nice. He gave Katie and I presents before we left. Seriously! The guy invites us to lunch, pays for our food, and gave us gifts. Korea must be a very nice place. Thank you, Señor Juan!

After that lunch, I went back to the University to do some more stuff... I took my 7 pictures at the photo lab, made the millions of photocopies of my passport and visa stuff, and bought the posterboard I need for my Conversation final. Then I went home and collapsed. Phew!

Thursday after classes all of us IPSL undergrads had a lunch meeting with John Russeau, the guy from the New York office who is in charge of our program. We went next door to Vips, which is basically Mexico´s idea of Perkins. We got to talk about what we thought of the program, our experiences, and give suggestions. The two main things we talked about were getting more information before arrival in Mexico (the first couple of weeks were extremely lacking in the information department) and doing something to restructure one of our classes. We have to read this book and keep a journal about our experiences and then turn the journals in every week, but the class period is only spent talking about the book we read and not about our reactions to it or our experiences, which is what we think it should be. The book is supposed to make us think about our own experiences in Mexico and be a jumping off point... we´re not studying the book. You know?

Anyway... I went back to Heidi y Pedro on Thursday. They had me writing questionnaires (which I can´t spell, even if Spanish weren´t shooting all of my spelling skills to crap) for a couple of positions they were going to interview for yesterday. I guess they trust my skills? Hahaha... I don´t know why! Jahell, the woman I mainly work with, seemed pleased with my work, though, so I guess that´s a good sign. Maybe she was going to change it all later, but if so, I don´t know about it. ;) When I left it was POURING rain. I had my rain jacket, but I was wading through about 6 inches of water to get to the bus. My jeans were all rolled up to near my knees, my legs were soaked, my bag was dripping... Hello, Guadalajara´s rainy season! :) Oh well.

Yesterday was the field trip to Tequila with all of the students in the Spanish program... basically, all the international students. So about 100 Korean, Japanese, German, and American students piled onto these four buses and rode an hour and a half to Tequila. It was fun... Katie and I sat by her friend from class, Nicole, and Nicole´s roommate BeBe. They´re really nice. First we went to the place where they grow the agave plants. (Tequila comes from agave plants.) We watched this really corny video that reminded me of a political advertisement or something... then we got to walk around and see the actual plants, how they plant them, how they´re harvested, etc. They cut off all of the leaves and then use the piña, or heart of the plant, to make the tequila. They call it the piña because it actually looks like a pineapple. If pineapples weighed 50kilos. I don´t know how to convert that. Anyway, the things are huge. Like two human heads.

After seeing where the stuff is grown, we got to go try some Tequila. Before any of you freak out and think I´ve started drinking now and will soon be going to clubs every week, wait a second. I did drink some Tequila, yes, but it was a cultural experience. I didn´t get drunk or anything like that. :) We drove for about 10 minutes and then they let us off the buses. We walked up this dirty little street that smelled like sewage, turned left and went through a gate in the wall, and stepped into another world. Trees that had to be over 100 years old loomed overhead. Manicured lawn, flowers, bushes, sculptures and fountains. A beautiful old building that looked like an old hacienda. We were each given a shot of straight Tequila in a little brown clay mug with the company name on it and a mixed tequila drink. We got to sit at tables, drink our Tequila, and eat our lunches while looking out on the beautiful garden. I took the shot of Tequila with the other girls- someone took our picture, I´m sure it´ll be fun to look at later :P. That stuff was STRONG. It buuuurned your throat and your face felt hot for 20 minutes after it. I took a sip of the mixed drink, but it was seriously gross. Instead I drank my bottled water while eating the 2 ham and cheese sandwiches our house mom packed for me. They had a gift shop place where you could buy bottles of tequila, shot glasses or mugs, T-shirts with the company name on them, and lots of other crap. I didn´t wind up buying anything... I looked, but I realized that none of my friends drink. My dad drinks beer sometimes, but not tequila. I promise I will buy you guys things down here, but I´d rather it be something you will really use. ;) Ooh, but I got to keep my little brown shot mug. It´s sitting on the shelf in our closet right now. :)

On the bus ride back home I fell asleep... you can only watch the Japanese girls take pictures of the people making out for so long, you know. Once we got back to UAG I turned in all of the stuff for my visa. I should be able to pick up my visa and passport next week. Hooray, I´m not getting deported! I´m sure you´re all very relieved, even if you are a little sad that I won´t be returning to America to grace you with my presence until December.

Have you guys been keeping up on all of the crazy stuff going on in the world this week? Not just the hurricanes in Florida, but the hostage situation at the Russian middle school and the complete shutdown of Los Angeles Int´l Airport today. Geeze! It´s nutso. We watch CNN every morning while we get ready for school. We caught the tail end of President Bush´s speech at the Republican Nat´l convention the other night, too. I´m still not sure where I stand in that... I feel like all the candidates have done thus far is mudsling. I´d like to hear what they´re actually going to DO.

I guess it´s Labor Day weekend in the good ol´US of A. I hope you enjoy your Monday off... I don´t have that luxury, sadly. Katie is going downtown with Nicole and Bebe this afternoon. I think I am going to go to the mall and to wal-mart. Maybe get the McDonald´s french fries I´ve been craving, mm! This mall has everything, seriously... McD´s, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin´Donuts (did you know that those two are the same company? They are always paired together down here), Chili´s, Applebee´s... It´s really cool. Maybe I´ll go see a movie or something! Heehee. I don´t know. I´m in the mood to indulge myself this weekend. I deserve it, after this crazy week!

Hope y´all enjoy your holiday weekend. Drink some real Coca-Cola for me... I miss it!!! All of the drinks down here taste like the nasty sugar they use. And they apparantly don´t believe in real fruit juice. It´s just juice with the FLAVOR of orange (which looks like Tang) or juice with the FLAVOR of apple. Aaaaaaaaaaah.