Monday, January 31, 2011

Our First Weekend

Our posada in downtown Guadalajara
I'm sitting cross-legged on our middle double bed, savoring my mug of coffee.  That was one of our purchases of necessity made last night (along with some chocolate cookies).  Apparently, most Mexicans don't miss their morning coffee...or afternoon coffee...or evening coffee.  It's pretty bad when the place recommended to us for a cup of "cafe americano" is McDonald's.  Recognizing our reliance on so much material comfort, Chris and I tried to make do with Nescafe Instant. If you have ever tried instant coffee you'd understand our mission last night....

Fortunately, we remembered a store that had a few coffeemakers in the window, and last night we determinedly made our way back to this store!!  On the way, Chris confessed that he did not know the word for a coffeemaker in Spanish, but was confident he could learn the word if he could explain the process of making coffee.  Once again, humor presents itself in every interaction...
Chris (in Spanish):  How do you say "to make coffee"? (meant to say "the thing that makes coffee")
Girl: To make coffee.
Chris: Oh, you just say 'to make coffee'?
Girl: Yes.
Chris: Good.  We would like to see the 'to make coffee' over there.
By the time we walked out of the store with our cafetera (the correct word) we had all had a pretty good laugh.

We spent most of our weekend walking around the streets of Guadalajara, trying to bring some sense to our mixed-up mental map.  Taco joints and Chinese restaurants abound, along with so many shoes stores!!  I have an affinity to shoes, so you can imagine my excitement.  I laughed at Chris' reaction, "So this is why you wanted to move to do women have this intuition?"

We've enjoyed good eating out...mostly tacos.  I'm learning most Mexican cuisine consists of meat, corn tortillas, and a variety of sauces arranged just a little differently.  However, there is variety in the sauces and the way the meat is prepared....and it is excellent!  So savory with a nice hint of picante spice!

Worship at El Rey de Reyes
We were encouraged to find a presbyterian church yesterday - El Rey de Reyes Iglesia Presbiteriano.  We navigated the bus system, paid our pesos for the bus ride and managed to get off at the right stop.  After a bit of walking through the neighborhood, we stumbled upon a large group of well dressed Mexicans pouring out onto the street with bibles in was a welcome sight!  There were probably close to 200 people at the service we attended and we felt very privileged at the opportunity to worship together with them.  Although I have a very limited amount of Spanish (nada), the praise songs were familiar and the body of Christ is able to connect regardless of language barriers.   We're looking forward to next Sunday already!

This brings us back to the coffeemaker.   One thing we overlooked in our desperation to get some good coffee, was the less than ideal electrical situation in our hotel room.  With the TV, alarm clock, lamp, and cord for our laptop using up all the available outlets, we had no place to plug in the machine!!  No worries, the coffeemaker had to replace the alarm clock....and the aroma of coffee woke us up to face a new adventure this morning!  Ahh.....

Friday, January 28, 2011

From PA to MX

At my parents before we left for the airport
Hey everybody!  Welcome to our blog.  Thanks so much for taking an interest in our lives.  Please pray for us when you think about it and let us know how we can pray for you.  We are going to do our best to record all the highlights of our time here.  I hope you enjoy it...

It is hard to believe that as I sit here in sunny Guadalajara that it was only yesterday that I was frantically shoveling over a foot of snow so that we could make it out of the driveway and to the airport on time.  As it turned out, the biggest snowstorm of the year occurred the night before Julia and I planned to fly out.  But thanks to the heroic efforts of my dad (who woke up early in the morning and cleared a half-mile lane of over a foot of snow) we made it to the airport on time and caught our flight to Mexico.  

In one of Guadalajara's many plazas 
We touched down in Guadalajara around 8:00 last night and proceeded through immigration.  I think it was probably the easiest entry into a country I have ever experienced.  The immigration official looked at our passports, mumbled some things in Spanish that I couldn't understand, stamped a bunch of papers and sent us on our way.  The whole process took about 15 seconds.  Customs was a different story, however.  

As we approached the customs official with our mountain of baggage on the trolley, he stepped aside and beckoned me to push a red button.  Not sure if this would result in the vaporization of myself or the baggage or some other catastrophic effect (too many sci-fi movies I suppose), I tentatively depressed the button.  As I did this, a red light appeared above me highlighting an image of a man looking through an open bag.  "Really?"  I thought to myself.  Apparently this is the Mexican way of randomly selecting individuals for baggage screening, and yes, we were chosen.  

We set our bags on the table in front of 3 very young looking customs officials, one man flanked by two attractive women.   They all seemed to be more interested in flirting with each other then with investigating the contents of our bags - which I had no problem with whatsoever.  Ironically, the only question that they had about anything in our bags was about a few packs of Giant brand taco seasoning that Julia had packed.  "What is this?" one of them asked with a strong accent.  I could hardly keep from laughing as I tried to explain to him that this is how Americans make tacos.  I don't think they understood.

The view outside of our hotel room.
Our door is on the left
Once through customs, we were able to make it out of the airport and find a cab.  Our cab driver was very friendly and enjoyed the opportunity to speak English with us.  Of course, I wanted to practice my Spanish so we went back and forth from English to Spanish and back again.  I was doing really well with my Spanish until I turned the conversation to politics.  Trying to show off my knowledge of Mexican politics, I asked him what he thought of president Calderon and his tough stance against Mexico's drug traffickers since this has resulted in so much violence.  I was not aware that this would lead him into a long series of abstract political principles and conspiracy theories which I had no chance of understanding in Spanish.  I heard the name Michael Moore, the Bilderberg Group, and the Obama Deception and thats about all I got out of it.  Fortunately we were almost at the hotel and I was able to save the conversation by asking how much it rained in Guadalajara.  Not much, he replied.  I understood that.

2 of our 3 double beds!
We are currently staying at the Posada San Pablo in downtown Guadalajara.  We will be here until I earn my TEFL certification after which I will be able to find work and move into a more permanent apartment.  The hotel is over 100 years old and has a lot of character.  It also has hot water (though the pressure is pretty low) and pretty shoddy electrical work.  But I think this is the norm for Mexico.  We feel very secure in our room and we are blessed to have a strong wireless connection!!  Thats all for now...