Madeline Osman
Personal and professional blog of Madeline Osman
April 2, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 8 – The Pyramids and Mexico City

  • Breakfast – Quesadillas, fruit
  • Lunch – leftover quesadillas
  • Dinner – Goat for some… quesadillas with chorizo and soup for me (are you starting to see a pattern?)
The group

Some of the group in front of the bigger pyramid

We packed up and waited for our buses downstairs at the Cruz Azul. It was hard knowing we were going to leave the place we called home this week and the many amazing people we met. The first bus took half the group to Mexico City, but I went on the bus that stopped at the Pyramids, first.

The Other Pyramid

The other pyramid

We got on shortly after the first bus left and said goodbye to the Xicotepec Rotarians. Then we were off! We had to stop because one of our members forgot his backpack, then we were off for real. We were given de-worming pills and told to take them in three months for maximum efficiency. I ended up taking mine about a week after coming back, because I didn’t want to forget. On the bus, I tried sleeping a big, but it was way too bumpy. It wasn’t long before we got there, however.

They were a beautiful sight to see as we pulled up. We were told to be cautious of the pushy vendors. A few rules:

  1. You touch it, its yours
  2. Politely say “no gracias”
  3. Don’t make eye contact – use peripherals
  4. My favorite – prices were made to be bargained with
Making a wish

Making a wish at the top

But we decided that climbing the large pyramid was the highest priority and started with that. The stairs were steep and we took them carefully. Apparently if you touch the middle-top and make a wish, it will come true, so that was our goal. On the way down, one of the Pharmacy students, Brian, tripped and sprained his ankle – right after we started questioning the safety aspects. Whoops. We helped him go the rest of the way down and he was a trooper, electing to walk out of the way to see the museum. The museum had tons of ancient artifacts and a scale model of the pyramids and the surrounding city from ancient times.

The shops were fun. I got a jaguar whistle, a pretty blanket, a necklace for Darya, a Mayan calendar wall ornament, and a sun and moon ceramic piece as per Dez’s request. We did good.

Model of the city

Model of the ancient city in the museum

We left around three and ate quesadillas on the bus. Mexico City was less than an hour away. We got to our hotel rooms and went downstairs after dropping off our stuff. Jim took us to the Artisan Market that had staff after stall of amazing crafts. Unfortunately, the ATM screwed me over so I couldn’t buy much. It gave me a 500 peso bill that was near impossible to break and actually unusable thanks to a rip. So I got one thing after a friend spotted me. Definitely a let down, but maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t spend anymore money.

I had some time to shower and get my bearings before dinner. For dinner, we went to a place down the street, close to the hotel that serves goat. I got quesadillas with chorizo because I don’t like weird meat. We had a great talk with some of the head honchos of the project. I’m definitely wanting to join Rotary International if at all possible. It was a great wrap up to an amazing project, so I’m glad I stayed out with them.

Goat

Preparing the goat

I gained so much knowledge, experience, and made so many new friends. It’s amazing how one week can become a life-changing experience. I’d love to return if at all possible – maybe next time as an even better translator.

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April 2, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 7 – “We will miss you!”

  • Breakfast – leftovers – pizza, gorditos, pancakes, and starfruit
  • Lunch – lots of traditional Mexican food – 3x that day
  • Dinner – finger foods. My favorite was a hard tortilla that encased beans and cheese
The boys

They gave me this heart that they made with paint they made themselves :)

We got up early for breakfast as usual and drove to Ojo de Agua for the last time. Carlos brought us with the dentist students because we had a lot of supplies to drop off for the kids. When we arrived at the school, we played with the kids for a bit, then were presented with gifts. One of my favorite little girls brought me a necklace and matching earrings. I put them on right then and there, because she really wanted me to wear them. As if that weren’t enough, we got tons of adorable pictures, some made with paint they made by hand. We also received some beautiful embroidery made by their moms. It all was overwhelmingly sweet. The moms served us food and we began the first of three lunches that day. One of the better translators in the Rotary group gave a speech to the parents and teachers, then we presented the principal with a gift and thank you card. After the formalities, we taught the whole group the Interlude (its a dance some students at UNI came up with) and the Cha Cha Slide. The kids ate it up.

Hombre de Chicle

We call him "Hombre de Chicle" because he always gives us gum.

We spent the rest of the morning taking pictures and playing trompos with the kids until the heartbreaking moment when we had to leave them for the last time. They all started hugging us tightly saying “No te vayas!” (Don’t leave). It was everything I could not to cry.

Eduardo

We asked which food was his favorite? His response "todo." No wonder the kids call him gordito (little fat boy) haha. So mean. But we love him :)

Carlos then took us to the Rotary primary school for their end of the week celebration for our group. They had the kids doing some modern dances, traditional dances, songs, and speeches. It was adorable and fun to watch. Afterwards, we had our second lunch of the day and were told to pace ourselves – there would be more. We continued to improve our trompos skills there and I was finally successful in getting that darn thing to spin.

The girls

Them: Don't leave! Us: "Come home with us in our backpacks" Them: What? No!

We left soon after for the technical college that invited us for another celebration. We walked in during the middle of some sort of commencement ceremony which turned into a 10 year anniversary thank you to Iowa Rotary for the Xicotepec Project. Jim was recognized and given a plaque, pictures were taken, and we were led to a large covered area for lunch number three.

Thankfully, our final lunch was more appetizer food set up in a format where you could pick what you want. There were many different foods that were typical of the region and Mexico as a whole – desserts, seafood, tamales – you name it, it was probably there. We watched a guy make a bird out of an apple and make shapes out of caramelized sugar. It was so good, but we were bursting with food by the end.

Aztec Dance

An Aztec dance put on by some of the chicas at the Rotary school.

We were driven back to the Cruz Azul and wanted to nap, but had some final business to take care of. Jostna and I set out to find a working ATM, honey, and a few other souvenirs. We went to a store where the woman let you try the alcohol before you buy it… so I tried three different kinds. I settled on a bottle of Crema de Cafe (like Bailey’s) for my best friend Nikky.

We came back to the Cruz Azul with more than we had intended to and got ourselves organized to leave the following morning. I tried and successfully napped for all of about 20 minutes. Afterwards, the Rotarians held an end of the week fiesta for us.

Most of CLA

Most of the CLA group at the Rotary school.

We were treated to the dancing styles of an award-winning dance troupe in Mexico. They did an Aztec dance, dances typical to certain regions, and a final group dance. It was incredible. Afterwards, the Xicotepec Rotarians gave awards to several of the Iowa Rotarians. Then finger foods were served.

The night ended with a lot of group dancing. We had a blast getting it all out before we left. It was an excellent way to wrap up an amazing trip.

Nate’s Day 7 Video.

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March 29, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 6

It would be hard to imagine a world without marketing.”

-Stanton, Etzel, and Walker

  • Breakfast – Tostadas, pineapple, pan dulce, and eggs with hotdog
  • Lunch – Carnitas with rice and the best tortilla chips, ever
  • Dinner – Pizza with pineapple, ham, onions, and cheese (it was a great day for food)
Marketing

Mercadotecnia - Marketing

I’d like to preface this post by saying it was probably my favorite day of the Xicotepec trip.

We started the day early as usual, ate our breakfast, and left for the Rotary elementary school. Although it seemed like we all finally got a full night’s sleep, the week was starting to take its toll on us. Luckily, today wasn’t work intensive.
We walked with almost everyone to the Rotary school. Today was the Carnival parade and the kids had made masks with the theater group. They were so intricate and beautiful. We didn’t get to stay for the whole parade, but we saw the kids off.

Shortly after, some ambassadors in the Marketing program came to pick us up in an old fashioned school bus. We sat one CLA student to each Marketing student on the bus. We chatted all the way to their school, about 15 minutes away.

A couple of the kids at Carnival

A couple of the kids at Carnival

When we got to the school, they showed us a couple of the administrative buildings. One was the admissions office that provided information on all the majors. Apparently Veterinary Science is big there. Then we were invited to the inauguration of the new auditorium. We saw the mayor of Xicotepec once more and learned some of the history of the school. There were probably six speakers in total. After the formalities, the students put on three short plays by Miguel Cervantes (like Shakespeare, but Mexican). It was difficult to understand, but I got the gist.

My "boyfriend"

A high schooler wanted my picture after we talked for a bit. The bus driver tried to get me to give him a "beso." I guess that means he's my trip boyfriend

After the play, we went to the campus restaurant to eat. We had some pretty delicious food and swapped culture with the Mexican students. Favorite questions:
Do you watch Jersey Shore? (yes)
What curse words do you know? (no comment)
What are your favorite alcoholic beverages (Cerveza)
Hey, we’re college students, after all.
After lunch, we went to a lecture with the students’ Marketing professor. He talked about how Marketing can help local businesses and some projects the students have been working on. As a Marketing major myself, I was eating it up. After the lecture, they presented us with shirts they made with the logos of the school and a graphic one of them made for Xicotepec. We played trompos outside (its not just for little kids) and I still hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it.
Virgin statue

Virgen de Guadalupe statue - the symbol of Xicotepec

Shortly after, we left to see the huge Virgin of Guadalupe statue that some would consider to be the symbol of Xicotepec. The students came with us and took lots of pictures. We were pleasantly surprised to run into some of our favorite hombres from Ojo de Agua, too!

They dropped us off at Cruz Azul and we made plans to meet up later. We recapped with Stacy, then split up – everyone having a task to accomplish. We went into town, and went through the market that happens twice a week. Unfortunately, it was mostly over.

I did the wrap-up interview for Nate’s video tonight (below). We checked emails and wrote thank you’s to present to the people who helped us throughout the week. We also checked Facebook – some of our new friends already added us!

The whole group

The whole group - Iowa and Xicotepec

Unfortunately, when we got back to the Cruz Azul, we were told that we couldn’t go out with our new friends. I understand that we were in a strange place with people that they didn’t know very well, but I wish one or a few of the older people would’ve opted to come with us. Regardless, I’m friends with most of them on Facebook now and it’s good Spanish practice to communicate.


Nate’s Day 6 video.

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March 27, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 5 – “Trompos”

  • Breakfast – Circular bread-like food with red sauce and chicken, fruit
  • Lunch – Chicken, fajita filling beans, macaroni salad, pudding
  • Dinner – Burritos and tostadas
Jump rope

Jumping rope.

We walked to the school today and set out to do the impossible – a final coat of paint in our first room; whitewashing with two coats of paint in our second room. I honestly wasn’t convinced we’d get it done. In between painting, we jumped rope with the kids, played tag, and trompos (spinning tops). By some stroke of luck, we had everything but the second coat of paint done before lunch. It was pretty incredible.

We walked back to the Cruz Azul with Dez’s parent’s in tow. They decided to make a day trip out to Xicotepec to see what exactly we were up to. She went with them to lunch and the rest of us ate and hit up our favorite internet cafe. Jostna wasn’t feeling too well, but she was a trooper and worked through it. It’s also worth noting that our team MVP was Audri, who never seemed to take a break and did a lot of the less than desirable work without complaint. We probably could not have gotten our job done without her.

Some of the boys

Some of the boys goofing off.

When we got back to Ojo de Agua, we starting putting things back in the first classroom. We cleaned off all of the desks with the help of the kids, and arranged them in our freshly painted class. In between work, we had fun teaching the kids the Cha-Cha slide and the “Fist Pump.” They couldn’t get enough of it (and we are surely corrupting them). While the others were finishing the last of the painting, we worked to fashion a bookshelf for all the books that we had taken out of the first classroom. We had so much fun playing games with the kids – it was hard to say goodbye when Felix picked us up. We got lots of kisses and hugs and the kids ran after us and waved as we drove away. Awwwwwwwwwww.
Cleaning up

The kids help us wash off the desks

Felix dropped us off downtown and we went to a restaurant Stacey claimed was notorious for its delicious hot chocolate. She wasn’t wrong. We recapped there and relaxed after a long day of hard work. We’re done! We made plans to return to the school on Friday, because the principal wanted to formally thank us. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was glad it wouldn’t be the last time we saw the kids.

We shopped a little bit before dinner, and I finally got a chance to check out an accessory store I spotted earlier. I would compare it to Forever 21 in terms of price and selection. I got 6 things for 92 pesos – Under $10 American. Nice.

Ready to learn!

The kids are ready to learn in their clean and beautiful classroom :)

We came back to eat dinner than Jostna, Audri, and I went out for a bit. We dropped of Audri at the internet cafe a block away from the Cruz Azul. Jostna needed some Nyquil, so I offered to go with and help translate/navigate. We found a pharmacist and had a nice chat with her and she made some recommendations. Its amazing how many people you can meet in a week – so many of the shop owners knew us by the end of the trip.


Nate’s Day 5 video.

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March 26, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 4 – “Soccer is an Everyday Sport”

  • Breakfast – Tostadas, tortilla salad, fruit
  • Lunch – Sopa, cactus salad, beans, potatoes, gelatin with vanilla sauce
  • Dinner – Burritos

Decided to use my ear plugs last night - definitely one of the most valuable extras I brought with me. Showers were once again warm, and the food was good, so the morning was off to a good start. We left the Cruz Azul early to get some work done.

One of my favorites

One of my favorite little girls from Ojo de Agua

When we got to the school, our first order of business was to finish the last coat of paint on the outside. Afterwards, we turned our attention to our first classroom, and got our first coat of paint down. The workers were still in the other classroom, so unfortunately we still weren’t able to do anything there.

The kids and their puppets

The kids and the puppets they made (I'm in the back)

The fun and challenging part of the day for me was helping the dentistry group with their project. They wanted me to lead the kids in an art project while they did dental screenings in the back of the class with each kid. So basically, I had to effectively explain the activity and help the kids with each step. They choose either a tooth or toothbrush drawing, colored it, cut it, and taped it to a tongue depressor stick. They kids were really fast, so most made more than one. It was cute when some kids tried to exactly match the colors of the examples the dentistry team made. I chatted with the kids a little bit after they were done, then it was time to move on to the next class.

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough drawings for the kids to make more than one with our next group. So I had to come up with some more distraction techniques. Working with the other class gave me the idea to teach the kids the English words for whatever Spanish word they wanted to know. That took up a good chunk of time – all the kids had a bunch of words they were curious about. I filled up the rest of the time answering the kids questions – mostly about my family. My favorite was “What is your grandmas name?”

Picking out crayons

The kids pick out their crayons

After helping the dentistry team, I helped paint and clean again. We got a ride back to the Cruz Azul for lunch thanks to Felix. There were the Mexican equivalent of pop-up shops in from of the Cruz Azul. I got my mom an hand-beaded necklace in exchange for the one she had given me for the trip. I got my dad some pimiento stuff for cooking with (which unfortunately didn’t survive the trip back). Lunch was good as usual, and we were granted a small siesta to relax.

Going back to the Cruz Azul, we brought with us two people from the theater group. They helped us finish up for the day and drew the Iowa Tigerhawk on the front of the school building. The kids loved it. The rest of the work went very fast. Once we were done, we had time to play with the kids

Tigerhawk

The Iowa Tigerhawk!

who stayed after school. They drew us pictures – including their interpretations of the Tigerhawk. Too cute.

Baby poodles

The cutest baby poodles, ever.

We had some time to go to the square before dinner, so we did a little bit more shopping. I got Matt a Juventus jersey. We saw the cutest, smallest baby poodles – It was all I could do not to steal one. We luckily had time to shower before dinner again, then recapped with Stacey. Afterwards, Dez and I decided to see what the other groups were up to at night, since ours wasn’t interested in going out. Unfortunately, although Dez is Mexican drink legal, Rotary clearly stated that anyone in violation of the under-21 American drinking law would be sent home. But we still had fun playing pool and visited a restaurant with the Rotary seal on its doors. It was fun getting to know some of the other group members we hadn’t previously been able to talk to.

Nate’s Day 3 video.

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March 25, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 3 – “We’re on Mexican Time”

  • Breakfast – Eggs, beans, tortillas, papaya, tea
  • Lunch – Chicken with mole, mexican rice, lettuce, beans, rice pudding
  • Dinner – Quesadillas, bananas, pico de gallo

The first night trying to sleep was the worst. In the girls dorm, there was a lot of snoring, some weird bell ringing, and some very loud chickens that got up before the crack of dawn. On top of that, people kept randomly getting up to use the bathroom or shower – right next to where I was sleeping. Luckily, when I got out of bed, the showers were warm (people showering the night before did not have such luck).

Our first breakfast was delicious and led me to a new favorite – pan dulce (sweet rolls). I ended up eating them every day for the rest of the week. I also tried papaya – not so much a fan. Jim (one of the head honchos) brought out some fungus tacos. I politely declined – one new thing at a time.

Cute Kids

The adorable "doctors" and "nurses" of Cruz Rojo

We wandered around downtown until 9am, when we met Ted at a well known coffee chain – Cafe Bunte. Ted led us to the Cruz Rojo (Red Cross) instead of our original plan to go to Ojo de Agua. We waited around for a bit and observed our surroundings. There was to be a speech to benefit local service clubs – the Lions, Red Cross, and Rotary. The mayor of Xicotepec led the festivites, and after the speech, we were hustled for money by adorable children dressed as doctors and nurses. A check was also given to Rotary.

Mayor of Xicotepec

With the mayor of Xicotepec!

Shortly after, a kind man named Felix picked us up in his truck to take us to Ojo de Agua. The drive may have been the scariest I’ve ever experienced, if not for car rides later that day and week. We piled into the back and hoped for the best as we quickly drove down steep hills and off-roaded for a bit.

When we got to the school, it was time for me to shine. With the group, I had prepared a list of questions to ask the principal and translated them. I introduced myself and our group to him and he gave us the breakdown of what we were and weren’t allowed to do.

Helpful Kids

So helpful!

After some formal conversation with the principal, we introduced ourselves to the kids who shook our hands and said, “Buenas dias!” to all of us. Then we got to work figuring out the best way to handle our project. We could only work on one room of the school that day, because some workers were putting in plaster in the other room. Our room was filled with junk. We started taking it out, but it didn’t take long. The kids rushed in, eager to help. We had what could have taken an hour done in 15 minutes.

The workers in the other classroom helped us mix whitewash and we got started with that while Nate, Chelsea, and Stacy went to get our painting supplies. The kids wanted to help again, but we had to shoo them away so they wouldn’t get their uniforms dirty. We also discovered that distraction techniques were very effective at keeping the kids away from our work area. Distraction techniques involve anything from school yard games to soccer. After we finished whitewashing, we all played with the kids until the rest of our group returned. I taught them how to play Duck Duck Goose.

A couple other groups were at Ojo de Agua that day. The dentist team came mostly to set up their projects for the rest of the week. I talked to their leader Julie about helping them in whatever way I could over fresh fruit given to us by the moms. Although we were warned not to eat cut fruit (it could be washed in unclean water), we were told it was ok to eat. We played with the kids some more, than were brought back to the Cruz Azul for lunch.

Trompos

The kids show us their "trompos." More on that soon.

Dez and I went to the market with the high school kids for some better cleaning supplies. We got a little lost on the way back and took the long way. We chatted with a bunch of people – a kid, an older woman (who doubled as a landmark for Dez), and some more kids. We heard a couple of them call out “Gringos!” (considered a term of endearment for North Americans) as we descended the path to Ojo de Agua. We were starting to get tired thanks to the extra walking, but Felix found us on his way down and we jumped in his truck.

We got back to Ojo de Agua to discover that our paint was locked up and inaccessible. Fortunately, we stayed on schedule by getting started with another project the principal requested we do. We had accessible paint for the outside of the buildings and started working on that.

Some of the little kids hung around after school was out and gave us drawings they made for us. We talked to them while taking breaks and learned more about them. Like the kids at the orphanage, they love taking pictures. We also “interviewed” them on Nate’s iPad.

We managed to finish the outside of both buildings (save for a second coat of paint) and Felix drove us back to the Cruz Azul. We showered the paint off, then played C-A-B-A-L-L-O (horse) with some of the local Rotarian’s kids for a bit before dinner.

After dinner, we debriefed again and Stacy complimented us on our flexibility. Today could’ve gone a whole different way if not for our adaptability. We went to the internet cafe again after dinner, and it was straight to bed when we got back.

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March 24, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 2 – “Suitcase Children”

First, the food:

  • Breakfast – fruit, croissants, hot dogs and eggs
  • Lunch – mystery meatloaf, beans, flowers (?!), pasta, and rice pudding
  • Dinner – bread with beans, cheese and ham, mangos, mini bananas, pan dulce (sweet bread)

The view from the bus

We got up early, because the buses were leaving for Xicotepec at 9am. Audri and I went to breakfast where we were greeted with some strange concoction of eggs and hot dogs – they don’t often do that in America. We ate up, since we weren’t sure when we were going to eat next. We had a chance to talk to some people we hadn’t met through our class – including a recent graduate who went to Xicotepec in previous years as a student.

Soon after, we packed our group into two charter buses. We had a three hour ride ahead of us, so many of us got busy doing homework, sleeping, or chatting. There was so much beautiful scenery… I could easily have filled up an album with the pictures I took on our way there. The deeper we got into the mountains, the bumpier the ride got. We stopped halfway through at the Mexican version of a truck stop, and people loaded up on snacks.

Our dorm!

The girls dorm at the Cruz Azul

It was about noon when we made it to our final destination – the Cruz Azul. We had plenty of time to move in and get settled, then did some exploring with the Career Leadership Academy group. We walked the route that was soon to become familiar – the way to Ojo de Agua. Ojo de Agua is the indigenous school where the bulk of our project was spent. Ted (one of the head honchos of the Xicotepec project) acted as our guide and led us down the steepest hills I’ve ever scaled. He explained how just a year ago they weren’t paved. Rotary International really is amazing in that they make small changes that inspire the government to

Ojo de Agua

Ojo de Agua - the school we worked at during the week

step in and make even more.

We got a good look at the school and adjusted our expectations for the week as necessary after seeing how big the buildings looked. On our way back to the Cruz Azul, we went through the market that gets set up on Sundays and Thursdays in the square. It had everything you could ever want – cheese, meat, vegetables, fruit, and non-food items like clothes, toys, school supplies, and various other knick-knacks. After the market, we stopped by one of Ted’s favorite bakeries (that became mine, too). Everything was two pesos (well under a dollar). Mexican bakeries make their pastries for the afternoon, so they were hot and fresh. Afterwards, we returned to the Cruz Azul for our first meal there, which didn’t disappoint.

Delicious Bakery

Bakery by Ojo de Agua

We had some free time after lunch to get a better feel for the town. Our group returned to the market to make some purchases (mine was a change purse, because I had forgotten one). Dez also bought some school supplies for the orphanage we visited later that day. We checked out another couple of stores, including a fully-stocked candy store, then

The Market

The market in town

came back to the Cruz Azul and hopped on a bus to the orphanage.

Perhaps 30 minutes later, we got off the bus and introduced ourselves to the kids. We started a game of soccer, which wouldn’t be the last of the week. After thoroughly exhausting myself running with the ball, I met an adorable little girl named Esmeralda. Esmeralda is a budding photog who demanded our cameras and took many great photos. After our batteries died, Esmeralda entertained us by demanding our participation in whatever game came to mind. We had way too much fun.

Esmeralda the Photographer

Esmeralda - the official photographer of the orphanage we visited

It started raining, so we went inside. The pharmacy and nursing students were doing physicals, deworming, and giving fluoride to the kids. We helped keep the waiting kids entertained by coloring with them. I got two pictures – one from my favorite (Esmeralda) and another from adorable little boy named Adrian.

After the pharmacy and nursing projects were done, we were lucky to be able to participate in a yearly ceremony where the Rotarians give the children shoes that they previously picked out. They are probably the only new shoes they get in the year, so it’s quite an emotional process. Completely by accident, I was given Esmeralda’s box. It made me so

Shoes

Giving Esmeralda her shoes!

happy to be the one to give her shoes to her.

What is a “Suitcase Child”? Esmeralda definitely was one. Basically, a Suitcase Child is one you’d love to bring home via your suitcase. I think everyone had one in mind that day.

We got back to the Cruz Azul later at night at dinner and had a fun time chatting with more Rotarians. Afterwards, our CLA group recapped our day with Stacy and planned for our first work day. A couple of us sought out an internet cafe afterwards for a much needed link back home.

A final thought – One thing I really learned from today was that talking with Spanish-speaking children is the best practice. They don’t understand broken Spanish so well, so you have to get what you want to say down in order to communicate.

Here’s a video Nate made for our first day in Xicotepec.

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March 24, 2012 by admin

Xicotepec Project Day 1 – The Journey Begins

First, the food:

  • Breakfast – Lots of baked goods
  • Lunch – Two sandwiches at the airport. One bought, one on the plane
  • Dinner – Enchiladas with spicy chocolate mole

The day started bright and early – the first of a week’s worth of early days. We got on the bus for what would be a three hour bus ride. I sat next to Nate and Bryan and we played UNO and Phase 10. I kicked their butts at UNO, but Bryan dominated both of us at Phase 10. Soon enough, we made it to the airport, got our boarding passes and made it through security. We played Garbage (card game) while waiting to board the plane, the finally got on. Most of the flight for me was spent reading up on Consumer Behavior and sleeping.

I was so excited when we finally touched down in Mexico. I had to go through customs twice since I checked the wrong item on my form (oops). I got to interact with my first Spanish speakers while waiting, though. On the other side, Dezi’s mom was waiting for us with water, gatorade, snacks, and toilet paper as well as a sign “Bienvenidos Hawkeyes!”

Bienvenidos!

I was put in charge of getting us to the Hotel. It wasn’t too hard — just relaying the address to the driver and making sure he understood. But I wanted to get more practice time with a Spanish speaker before heading down to Xicotepec. The bus driver (Horatio) and I talked about the art, culture, and music of Mexico City. We soon got to the hotel, where I was rooming with Audrey. She made it to Mexico City a day early. After we got settled in, we adventured out to the streets of Mexico City in search of food. We found a restaurant that the Rotarians frequent during their stays in Mexico City and I was given another chance to interact with a native Spanish speaker. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand me as well as the other people I had talked to so far. Regardless, we ate delicious food and had a great first night in Mexico City.

Mexico City

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