Tag Archives: Mexico

About to leave

We are getting ready to leave today after our two weeks in Mex’s home town. It is sad and happy at the same time. We are glad to go back to our home and work (scary I know) but we are sad to be leaving his family again knowing we won’t be back here for quite a few months. It is definitely a lot colder here in the mornings. I just love his dad in this blanket. He looks like the perfect picture of a little Mexican grandpa. He didn’t seem to smile as much during the time we were here. I’m not sure if the novelty of seeing Mex has worn off or if he isn’t feeling good and just doesn’t want to tell anyone. 

Today we packed and went around looking around his town some more taking pictures and buying some presents for his family in the states. We also went to the cemetery because I wanted to see where his mother was buried and also his sister Hilaria that died last December. They are both buried in the same grave. All those flowers are from December 9th when it was the 1st anniversary of her death. It was sad to go there but it was nice to see it. Mex’s mom’s name is no longer on the gravesite because the paint has worn off the cross (she died in Sept of 1991) but he asked his sisters if they could have it painted back on.
I don’t have time to write much more because we want to visit with his family some more.
Buenas noches everyone and we’ll hope for a safe journey back to Minnesota tomorrow. Dad told me it is -10. Gee, we can’t wait! =( 
 

 
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Filed under Family, Mexico, Tetelilla, Morelos

Lights and sparks… and more animal crackers

Yesterday we went to another posada celebration, actually two… the first one was the same as before but the second one was a little more exciting. They were going to hang piñatas up and someone thought it was a good idea to connect the rope to the roof on one side of the street and to an electric wire on the other side. A couple guys were playing with the rope in the middle trying to get ready to hang the piñata and I was taking a picture of a house on the corner with lights when all of a sudden there were sparks down the street. I thought it was fireworks but the everyone started screaming and running and Mex was yelling my name. It took me a second to figure out it was the electric wires. I figured it out quickly when the bulbs started flashing and then went out in all the houses on the street. It was quite hilarious after the initial fear of electrocution was over. Then we came back to Mex’s house and sat around eating our animal crackers and waiting for his sister Ely to come home from work.

Today is Christmas Eve but it doesn’t feel like it since it is warm and sunny and not cold and snowy. Kind of like the Christmas we spent in Florida. Just not quite right… Right now his sisters are preparing for the afternoon dinner. Mex and I made tuna noodle salad for them but I’m not sure what they will think of it. They have wireless internet and I was going to hook up to it so I could use Skype and talk to my parents but it needs a password and they don’t know what it is so I can’t connect. Oh well. Maybe his nephew will let us download Skype on his computer for two weeks so I can use it. We’ll see. it would be kind of fun for my family to see Mex’s and vice versa. Maybe they’ll figure out the password and I can use my computer. Anyway, we should go help cook if they will let us. Have a Merry Christmas everyone! We are thinking of you.

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Filed under Holidays and Celebrations, Mexico, Tetelilla, Morelos

Is there any truth in an infomercial?

I am a firm believer in NOT believing anything I see on an infomercial. Whether it is a super chopping knife or an ab roller or turbo ladder or magical age reversing make-up. I would never buy anything from QVC or by dialing an 800 number I saw on TV. It’s the same reason when someone calls me at the office claiming to be from the Fireman or Police something or other looking for donations I think it’s a scam (which news reports have found it highly likely to be one).

While those commercials are targeted at my wants and needs and are easier to resist by convincing myself they won’t work or I don’t need them, some of those 90-second to 30 minute segments are not so easy to ignore. Instead, I usually turn the channel out of skepticism or pure guilt. I’m thinking of the ones where “for the price of your daily cup of coffee you can make adopt a child” in Africa or Latin America. I have such a strong resistance to being sold something on TV but I never could stop wondering if that money would really make a difference and how much of it would actually reach the child.

Since returning from Mexico this spring I have been reading every book and article I can about the history of Mexico and about the current economic status. The facts about starvation and malnutrition are eye-opening and frightening. Studies estimate that almost 50% of the children in the country are malnourished (and almost as many adults). I’ve heard statistics about malnutrition in other countries but I’ve never really understood how far those effects stretch. There are disturbing pictures of indigenous school children from Mex’s state next to children in private schools in Cuernavaca. The children from rural Morelos (my husband’s state) are visibly shorter and frailer than the middle/upper class children. You can actually see the effects of having not enough food and that disturbed me a lot.

Unlike the US, schools to not provide any food or snacks to the children. When kids show up hungry, with no breakfast they have no energy. They fall asleep in class and don’t learn. If they don’t learn, they are put on the path of only finishing the US equivalent of junior high. In fact, that is all that is required in Mexico which surprised me.

I feel like someday I would like my mission to be finding out a way to make sure every kid that goes to school gets a good breakfast. Maybe by making sure that kids get at least one full meal a day, five days a week, it will give them enough energy to stay awake in class and study. For Mexico to rise in power, technology, and economical status in the world I really believe they need to start out with more focus on education. I tried to figure out the cost to provide each kid with eggs, tortillas, milk, and fruit and guess what it comes out to? The cost of a cup of coffee. I guess I’ve become a believer after all.

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Filed under Mexican culture, Mexico, Minnesotan/American culture

El Paso again

Finally at 4:45 we met up with mom and dad in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in El Paso. Mex got back to the hotel in Juarez about 11:30. So the 2 1/2 hours at the Consulate this morning was his shortest visit yet! In order to get his official visa we had to go to the border station about 12 miles west of Juarez in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It was about an hour drive and we got there at 1:30. It was nice because there were very few cars. The officer didn’t search us at all. I had to wait in the car outside the fence at the border station until 2:55 when I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go inside to check on him. I saw he was at the counter turning in his big pile of papers so I went back outside to wait. At exactly 3pm we hopped in the car!

Line at Santa Teresa border crossing west of Juarez

I just can’t resist sharing this one detail…. At the Consulate they gave Mex a huge stack of papers (all our 100 pages plus some more) in a manila envelope with just the corner cut off so you could barely see what was inside. There were instructions that it was to be opened only by the border agent, similar to his medical documents. On the outside there was a summary page stapled with his name and case number, etc. I was happily reading through it as we were driving towards our exit. I got to the occupation part and burst out laughing… It read “house husband.” I just about burst a gut and Mex was not very amused. I guess since he had to quit his job before leaving because of the length of time he is technically a “house husband.” He will be off like a shot once we get back to Minnesota to find a job for sure now!

On the "Right" side of the fence!

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

Waiting with the car packed!

Another day of waiting for me but the stress is removed so I really don´t mind. I just got the car rearranged with our souvenirs shifted around and a whole bag of shoes (of which we only wore three pairs) packed up in the backseat. We just need to throw in the suitcases and figure out how to get out of this town.

Those of you who know my husband will appreciate how sneaky he was yesterday… At about 12:40 there was a knock on the hotel room door and I opened it and Mex was standing there with his envelope and a COMPLETELY straight face. The maid was behind him with her cart. He looked at me and said ´the maid wants to know what time you want the room cleaned´still not smiling in the least. I grabbed his shoulders and said ¨I don´t care what time she cleans the room WHAT DID THEY SAY?¨ Still completely straight-faced he said “oh, it´s approved.” It took about three seconds for it to register since he wasn´t smiling… Then I literally screamed (really loud I´m afraid) and pulled him into the room where we all gave him hugs and after a few seconds he finally smiled. When he  opened the door to tell the maid we just needed some clean towels and that was it she said congratulations for whatever you are celebrating.

I don´t think the two of us stopped smiling all night. We did discuss how we were both wondering what would happen if they said no but we were too afraid to say it out loud to each other. Our attorney´s office had emailed us with the news that people had been given 6 to 8 month waits lately but she did also say that people were still getting answers the same day. We agreed that when my parents showed up it was a relief on many levels. Our initial reaction was that everything had to turn out all right because they were here to drive home with us. Then we did let the thought creep in our minds that if he had to wait, at least I wouldn´t have to drive back alone. We decided it was ok to have doubts as long as you keep talking in the positive. We never stopped talking about all the things we wanted to see in the US on the way home and never made any arrangements or looked into any prices for him to fly back to his town. I think, most importantly for me, my parents showing up finally made Mex realize how much they love HIM as well as me, and that he is TRULY a part of our family. That is as  important than his “yes”.

Because we have been married for more than two years, Mex is now a PERMANENT LEGAL RESIDENT. That means he does not have to renew any visa for 10 years! No more paperwork and no more fees (of which we paid more than $7000 in the past two years, not including the last two months of hotel stays, travel, and time off work). If we had been married less than two years at this time he would have gotten a TEMPORARY LEGAL RESIDENT visa which would need to be renewed either after two years or at our two year wedding anniversary, I´m not sure about that. In just three years he can become a US CITIZEN! That is assuming he passes the test and after another $1000+ in fees.

This is far from a cheap process. We sought a consultation with an attorney a full year before our wedding and 9 months before we were even engaged so we knew what we were up against from the beginning. Actually, at our initial consultation in January 2005, the attorney said he would need to be in Mexico for 9 to 18 months awaiting a decision. We saved money for more than three years in order to do this. It gives us both an understanding for how hard and incapacitating the process is for most people who try to change their status. It is a large sum of money and requires a serious change in lifestyle and is very difficult for those who come to the US with the sole intent of sending as much money home as they can and just keeping enough in the US to survive. Especially because the average wage is below $10 an hour.

My heart is open to the people of Mexico, more so than before, because we have seen some truly terrible living conditions in many different parts of the country… Horrible dry, hot weather… water shortages… lack of jobs… poor sanitation and piles of trash in places that could be so beautiful. It is heart-breaking to see the poverty but it has helped me understand the motivation of millions and millions of people who come to the US and all those people in line at the US Consulate day in and day out.

I will take pictures as we cross the border! My parents brought their computer so I can actually update my pictures soon. I´ve been dying to do it since the places we saw on the last half of the trip are so different from the first half. We did take notes on hotels and restaurants and roads and anything we could think of for all the towns we went to so if you ever want some travelling advice let us know. And DO NOT be afraid to drive in Mexico! It´s really not that bad. Just be defensive and look out for anyone with Distrito Federal (Mexico City) license plates because they truly are insane drivers!!

More photos soon! HAPPY DAY!

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Filed under Family, Immigration, Mexican culture, Mexico, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

And down comes the rain

Too bad it wasn´t in Mex’s town since the rain would have been a relief from the intense heat. We are in Zacatecas City and there is a major thunderstorm going on outside. Luckily we´ve gotten to enjoy some of the city already although not the silver mine (which Mex didn´t want to see anyway so he lucked out). At some points in the 18th Century, Zacatecas mined 20% of New Spain’s silver.

Last night we went tried to go to dinner at a place listed in my Lonely Planet guidebook (which I would totally recommend over Fodor´s because I have one of those also and we never, ever use it) but it wasn´t the same place anymore. Our taxi driver had advised us of this place called Dorado de la Villa which is a tiny restaurant where you have to knock on the door to get in. The inside is dimly lit, crowded with tables and an overabundance of decorations on the wall. It had really awesome food. We tried sopes with chicken in red mole and the sauce was fabulous. Neither of us like the chocolatey mole poblano at all so we weren´t expecting to like this but we did. Mex had pozole and I had poblano enchiladas. Both dishes were excellent. We were going to walk around the town but we were so stuffed we went back to the hotel instead since we had been driving all day and were exhausted.

Teleforico

This morning I must say we were very lazy and just dozed on and off until about 9:30ish. Tomorrow we have to get up early to start our 11 hour drive to Chihuahua city and then his interview is so close we won´t really be getting much sleep. It´s like there is a giant clock going ¨tick tock, tick tock¨all around us. Hard to imagine that more than two years of waiting is almost over for us.

Anyway, we did finally get out of the hotel about 11 and went to a cafe by the cathedral for lunch. We couldn´t really go inside the cathedral since there was a service going on but I did peek. It is a beautiful pink cathedral and the inside has enormous pink stone columns. We´re going to try to see more later. After a leisurely lunch we took the cable car to the top of the hill (that’s on “the list”) and enjoyed the view. As we were up there we saw rain clouds start to roll in so we hurried and got in line to go back down. We managed to get into the last car that was going down before the rain, wind, thunder and

roof top view from the teleforico

lightning started. Thank goodness because it´s been over an hour and it´s still raining so I don´t know how those people got down. We were going to try to walk around in the rain and find a cafe but everywhere is closed for the afternoon or for the rain… I don´t know which… so we came back to our hotel to enjoy a nice siesta and some TV in English and watch the lightning.

Zacatecas cathedral

Our hotel has a very nice internet lounge so I was optimistic I could put my pictures online from here but for some reason they have the picasa web album site blocked which stinks. oh well… I did put some of them on a CD so if i find an internet cafe that will let me post them I will… Otherwise you´ll all see them when I get back and have my dumb computer fixed. ugh!

Our free rock-hard chips, pickled veges and salsa

Enchiladas poblanos

NEWLY UPDATED AT 8:30 PM
Once the rain stopped this evening Mex and I hopped back in a taxi to go out to dinner. The place we wanted to go to was closed however, so we went to the same place as last night. We had to huff uphill to get there this time though since we got dropped off at the cathedral to go to the other restaurant. I say huff because at 8200 feet it doesn´t take much for us to huff. It is quite chilly here (although no snow) but we refused to wear jackets and decided to revel in our chance at being chilled since my parents informed me that the temperature in the El Paso area has been in the 90´s.
 A quick sidenote about food… don´t get sucked into ordering chips (totopos) and guacamole as an appetizer here. The chips are NOT the same as the US. They are usually oil soaked, rock hard or even slightly burnt. Sometimes you´ll get them free anyway… more so in the north than in the south in our experience. Also, malteados are NOT malts! They are slightly cool milk (I stress the slightly) with malt powder mixed in. Get corn when you see it (if you like corn that is) on the street and DO get the mayo even though your instincts may say not too (or I prefer crema- which is a thin sour cream- if available). I recommend the not-so-spicy chile or squeeze of lime, however, over the light-your-pants-on-fire chile. 

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Filed under Food, Mexico, Restaurant reviews, Travel Tips, Zacatecas State

Must-see Mexico

Great views from the overlook - first stop on the tour.

Mex and I both agree that if you are going to central Mexico, Guanajuato city (in Guanajuato state) is a must-see. We took a bus there yesterday from San Miguel de Allende and are so glad we did. It has a totally different feel than San Miguel. One thing that is unique is the tunnel system. Starting in the 60’s, they actually built roads under the city to relieve traffic and are still building more. They are great but I think they would make navigating the city a little tricky by car so taking the bus probably saved us from a day of marital issues.

We took a city tour like we have made a habit of and it really was the best one we’ve done so far. It was 4 hours long and we got to get off in a bunch of spots and went in to museums although those prices weren’t included in our ticket. Problem – the tour is only in Spanish. I’m sure it is possible to find an English tour somewhere. We just worked with one of the tour companies who was at the bus station.

This picture doesn't do the city justice! Wish I could capture those beautiful colors better!

Guanajuato was the richest city in Mexico in the 1500’s and 1600’s so there are lots of old mansions throughout town and the architecture of the downtown buildings is beautiful. We went up to this panoramic overlook of the city and the houses are painted  brilliant colors… bright blues and yellows and oranges and reds. It is so pretty!

Callejon de beso - or Alley of Kiss - the Romeo and Juliet scene in Guanajuato. Star-crossed lovers kissed from their balconies across the alley.

Some Guanajuato candy skeletons in the candy store our tour stopped at

One piece of advice we would give is to not buy round trip bus tickets ahead of time. There is no discount to do it and some bus companies are not flexible if you want to change the time. We ran into a little problem with that on our way back to San Miguel. We got back about 9:30 and went to the plaza to get some corn and it was full of people. I guess that’s what happens on Friday night. Totally packed and lots of fun, food vendors and many mariachi bands. I definitely recommend just going and people watching in the plaza if you are there on the weekend.

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Filed under Guanajuato State, Mexico, Travel Tips