Friday, September 23, 2005

Tepotzotlán and Cookin - Mexican Style

hey there, troops...

back for more

This past week has been busy with school, homework and a few side trips to places like Tepotzotlán...pronounced teh-po-tzot-lan. The origin of Tepotzotlán begain around 1580 when a group of Jesuit priests arrived with the intent of converting the locals. We arrived at the city around 330 with the intent to see the church but needed to scoot because the pyramid on top of the mountain closes about 1.5 hours before sundown.

One of the things that I really like about small towns like Tepotzotlán are the narrow streets, the market where you can buy just about anything, the streets make of stone and the general feeling that everything slows down here. JP and Marcos in Tepotzotlan We stopped at the market to get a little something to eat and then made our way to the base of the mountain. One of the things that I do not like is the amount of stray dogs that wonder along the street looking for food. I like pets and I like dogs, but these animals are something that I am afraid of and want no part of. And of course, they followed us for quite some time because Annetta had a little bit of food in her back pack and the dogs wanted us to share. And of course there was someone in our group that wanted to give them some food. The name of that person has been changed...We shall call him Hectór.

The mountain ascent was a workout, in no time our clothes dripped of sweat and our lungs and legs were not ready for the initial pace. We took frequent breaks and lots of pictures. Hector forgot his camera so I was the designated camera errr...guy. One of the cool things about digital cameras is that you can retake pictures if you mess up and there is no cost of film. HOWEVER...taking over 100 pictures during a three hour hike is a bit much. I was tired of being the camera errr...guy. But its all cool now. The rocky road to the top was ummm, well, rocky and pretty steep.rocky road Annetta said in her British accent "I am not in form for this trek." We were worried a little bit about her because she said she was gonna stop and turn around, but she decided a little later to continue the trek up the mountain. It took about an hour and 20 minutes to climb the path to the top. The last 100 yards to the top was incredibly steep. The path zig zaged like a mountain switchback after a near vertical climb up some not-so-sturdy stairs. some pretty steep stepsWe all made it and could not believe some of the people we saw climbing this thing. There were people who looked more dressed for church then they were for a hike. We saw a coupla dresses and three or four women in heels! yaowza. Tepotzotlan Pyramid
The top of the pyramid was a great! We relaxed and enjoyed the view of the city below for about an hour. We met a coupla people from chicago and talked with them for a while and then met some people who were into Ben Harper a little too much. To each his own. The hike down was much quicker than the ascent and it was nice to be one of the last people on the trail because traffic makes climbing difficult. We all arrived at the base safe and sound and were welcomed by another stray dog that wanted a free dinner. Hector really wanted to feed him. I suggested taking him home and giving him a bath but comments from the peanut gallery were not being accepted.

I look forward to more mountain climbing expeditions in the future. One of which is my trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I needed to pay my deposit yesterday and it took about 1.5 hours to send a hundred bucks via western union. This was my first experience with Western Union and I really didnt get a warm fuzzy from this legal form of loan sharking. Why loan sharking, because it cost 25 dollars to send 100 dollars. all i hope for is to get my spot reserved for my Inca Trail hike.

Now Were Cookin! One thing that I did do this week was attend a cooking class sponsored by our school. Students prepared a cheese stuffed chile that was dipped in a batter and was cooked in oil and served with spanish rice, beans, and salsa. This stuff hit the spot and is pretty simple to make. I have a copy of the recipe and look forward to learning how to cook some more mexica dishes. One of the things that I will definitely buy on this trip is a flanería. A flanería is a metal dish with a sealed top that is used to make flan. Flan is kinda like jello minus the gelatin. It is very rich and hits the spot. I look forward to making it for my friends when I return home. Like the commercial says "There is always room for flan" oh, wait...that is dont matter because this stuff is that great!

Well, im gettin hungry and my contacts are drying up after staring at this screen while writing this blong entry.

Drop me a message and lemme know how you are all doing. And say a little prayer for my sister and her family. They had to evacuate Houston yesterday...Hopefully the Hurricane Rita will be a waste of time will not take any lives.

Have a great day!

for more pictures of whats been going on you can click on the link on the right side of the blog that says "Spankin New Photos" - jp

Friday, September 16, 2005

more interesting stories from south of the border

jp here...back to tell you more about the wild and crazy times south of the border.

but first the academic stuff. school has been going well. the small classes make speaking spanish the only option, hiding in the back of the class is pretty tough when there are only two students in the class. my brain has bonked a coupla times and i feel much like a person who has never spoke spanish. the classes are six hours a day and five days a week. the day is divided into six periods: three for grammar and the rest for conversation. much of the grammar class has been review and housekeeping, since my brain is a little bit dusty from not speaking spanish for a while it is a great help. conversation class is a little more difficult because we are required to bring articles in from different magazines and explain them to the class. this is where the rubber meets the road because alot of it is vocab recall and stringing sentences together on the spot. it is a pain sometimes but just like many other things; the more you do it the better you become at it. funny how that works.

now for the fun stuff.

so my buddy jesse taught me how to juggle and got me started on the devil sticks. the devil sticks are three sticks: one for each hand that are the same length and diameter with a rubber grip to lift the third stick. The third stick is much bigger than the hand sticks and the stick diameter decreases as you move toward the middle. to make the devil stick dance you lift the third stick with you hand sticks and then you can make it do all types of cool stuff. my devil sticks have been a pretty handy way to meet people. for example, last night some classmates and i went out to La Plazuela and actually met a guy who was excellent at the devil sticks. Axle had actually manufactured his own devil stick torches and i was very impressed at the tricks he knew. alot of people don't realize how much time it takes to learn some these tricks and ya gotta give the guy alot of credit with the tricks he knew. that's my first devil stick story, the second has to do with actually giving a performance for a crowd of people. the cool thing about El Centro is that it is a huge commons area for families to take their kids to get something to eat or buy something from the well-established black market nearby. there is also lots of space for street performers. street clowns giving a heck of a performance
on fri sat and sun there are clowns that perform for quite a few people. these clowns are pretty darn good at what they do and have a great stage presence. you can understand what is happening even though you cannot understand everything they are saying. after talking with a few of the clowns and introducing them to the devil sticks they invited me to actually perform in front of the crowd. i was a little nervous to say the least but gave it my best effort as i performed the six tricks i know with the devil sticks. hey, everybody has got to start somewhere.

the people i have met here so far have been pretty genuine and nice to talk to. tonight i hope to take it easy since i was out pretty late last night and enjoyed a few...errr...sodas...i think i might just go do that after i get done with this blog entry.

catcha on the flip side!


Monday, September 12, 2005

greetings from cuernavaca...take two

ok, back.

as i was saying in my last entry the weather here is great. nobody in the city has air conditioning because the humidity is so low and the weather is around 75 or 80 in the afternoon year round. i only wish omaha had weather like this year round. this weather is much better for us big guys who sweat a lot and have a hard time cooling off.

things here in cuernavaca are a little bit different than they are in omaha. for example, streets. the streets here are not as block-like as they are in omaha, everything is laid out in confusing pattern circles and winding streets that wrap around buildings and gardens. ya gotta be careful cause some of these jokers htink that this is gran turismo and drive pretty darn very fast. there are not a lot of suvs here because space is so precious, almost all the cars here are nissan sentras, vw jettas or similar four cylinder cars. oh, and there are lots of motorcycles. money is saved through fuel efficiency. and rust. there is none. there are dirty cars here but there are no cars that have rust. cool.

power...ya gotta have power. many of the internet cafes here in cuernavca are vulnerable to blackouts or brownouts. i have already experienced the joy of typing an email and having the power flicker off for a coupla minutes and then resume. the computers in the cyber cafes are hit and miss. yesterday i was on a decent box that made email alright, today i am on a machine that uses windows 95 and a blazing intel pentium chip. i guess not everything can be as nice as PKI. The keyboards take some getting used to because there are alot more symbols than i am accustomed to.

the food so far has been great! i think some of the so called mexican restaurants in omaha should take a trip to cuernavaca and try some of mama vazquez's tomales and enchiladas. the food my host family makes really hits the spot. i have asked my host family to teach me how to make some of the great tomales. it will definitely take some time before i am as good a cook as my host mother. however, i hope to wow my host family with my apple crisp making abilities.

i have already made some friends on the street. i met two jugglers on the street that performed while the traffic light was red and asked them if i could juggle a bit. we exchanged the secret jugglers handshake and it was all cool. i brought my devil sticks with me and taught them how to stick a bit and then passed clubs with them. see how juggling can bring the world closer. im doing my part. solid.

when i find a computer that has usb ports on it i will include some photos in my blog. until then, i guess you will hafta use your imagination.

well, it is about that time to practice some spanish. the classes here are a mix of grammar and a mix of conversation. the biggest thing that i need to do right now is improve my vocab and verb conjugation abilities. after that i think i just need to practice practice and practice. guess i better find a mexican girlfriend to practice my spanish with. just to practice my spanish...

until next big game james

greetings from cuernavaca

ok, gang

this is gonna be a short one because im between classes and oops, the bell just rang

things here are great and the weather cant be better. it is like early summer temps here



Tuesday, September 06, 2005

big day is coming up

ohhh boy...the day is coming up and I think i am ready. Yesterday was kinda a shock because my parents gave me the news: "James, you have two weeks to move out when you get back!" Holy Smokers! That day is coming up, too.

So i spent the weekend sorting and tossing away stuff so it's not such a headache when i come back. now my entire room is filled with apple boxes of school work, clothes, and other things that will adorn my future home. i guess peter pan has gotta grow up one of these months plus two weeks and counting, ahhhh!

a coupla more things came in the mail today. it's the last of my online ebay purchases. my pacsafe paddle locks and xD memory cards showed up. joy!

ok...time for senior matias tacos! yeee haaa