Friday, January 22, 2010


After three days of involvement in the Mexican educational system, a few things are apparent:
  1. It's hard work being a parent. I mean like, hard homework. So far, we've had to build a diorama of the tundra, think up a story exploring a value like "liberty," "truth," "virtue," etc. (A. has decided on "The Fox Who Cried 'Boy'"), cut out and laminate parts of a game exploring the life cycle of six animals, and attend a meeting on the organization of a parade for the kids. On top of this D. has been running around to every papeleria (stationery shop) in the city tracking down the many and varied implements of learning required by school. There are many, many papelerias in Zacatecas.
  2. It's really important to be on time picking up and dropping off your children. It's mainly important because so few people are.
  3. You should really keep yer kid clean. With a real bath, hot water and all.  Scrub them down. If you don't, they'll probably smell and other kids won't want to have anything to do with them. I mean, come on.
  4. If you're good, there is a chance you will get a star.

In other news, Skype is very cool (as is google chat). It's even cooler if you have a webcam on your computer. It is pretty much like what you were promised by science fiction. So, if you know us and want to talk, by all means set up Skype on your computer. It is easy and free. If you are a gmailer, there is video chat which works quite well, too. Just fire up a chat and install it. I discovered this today buggin' one of my fav nieces. This info is particularly important for certain Grandmamas, who shall remain anonymous.

Also, today I got my first welcome-to-Mexico-gringo-you're-too-tall greeting, in the form of a low-slung canopy support smack in the middle of my brow/sunglasses. It didn't put me on the mat, but it was a near thing. I usually average 1 to 3 of these a month. Since I can still see, I'm looking forward to the next occasion...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

El Patromonio Cultural de la Humanidad

Yesterday, we spent the day as tourists, showing Daddy some of the must sees in the city before his departure. We had a wonderful day wandering the city. The weather has warmed considerably and it was a glorious mid-winter day. We visited the Mina El Eden, a silver mine founded in the 1580s. They have a great tour, where you ride a mine car in and then walk through various levels before taking an elevator to the top. A. is a veteran mine-tourer, and she loved it.

From there we rode the teleferico (aerial tram) up to the top of La Bufa, the peak which sits above the city. The views from the teleferico and La Bufa are incredible. Pearched on the top is a chapel which houses Nuestra Senora de Zacatecas, an observatory, and the Museo de La Toma de Zacatecas. The museum details an important battle during the revolution, wherein Pancho Villa and his rebel associates defeated 15,000 federales on the slopes of the peak and secured access to Mexico City. Of course, Zacatecanos feel special pride in hosting Villa in this capacity. But then Zacatecanos feel pride in just about everything...
We ended the walking (at times almost crawling) tour with a stop at the Museo Rafael Coronel, which houses Mexico's most extensive collection of masks, as well as a bunch of other stuff. I think the most incredible part of the Museum is the setting. The Ex-Convento de San Francisco served as a staging ground for all of the missionary expeditions into the great northern unknown. De Anza, Coronado, Kino, Escalante, all them passed through here. The convent has been restored to a state of arrested ruin. It is an amazing piece of architecture--you can see the inside of walls, layers of paint, roofless cathedrals. The interior is a garden with agave, bougainvillea, palms, and flowers growing over, through, and around walls, doors, and ceilings...

The entire Centro of Zacatecas is a dense maze of colonial buildings and winding streets and walk-ways all pitched across steep hillsides. Every time I come back, I'm surprised at its beauty...

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We left the coast on Friday (I think it was Friday?) and set out with hopes of making it to Zacatecas before dark. Alas, wind-ey roads, missed turns, oxxo stops resulted in a layover in Aguascalientes. It was not easy leaving Sayulita and its charms. I think the weather helped us along because on the day of departure we awoke to clouds and rain. We had a strange drive in the cold and rain. I was ok with the night in Aguascalientes, because the next morning we walked up to the Museo de la Muerte, which is a new museum documenting this country's fascination with death. Growing up in a fairly death-phobic culture, I have always been intrigued by the way that death is placed in unexpected, familiar, playful settings in Mexican popular culture. You wouldn't think that a museum about death would be existentially refreshing, but it was for me. YMMV. A. really seemed to enjoy it. So much amazing art:

We did finally make it back to Zacatecas. The city kinda feels like a home away from home. Coming back this time was a little bit different than before. There are now quite a few memories accumulated here--people, places, etc. Traffic is the same, as is the guerra de estacionamiento. I nearly blacked out from the stress of driving narrow cobble street gridlock for an hour. As Daddy observed, "Henry Ford didn't do these folks any favors."

It is cold up here on the altiplano. Well, it isn't really all that cold for Nevada gringos, but Mexicans are fairly freaked by the sub-freezing temps. It is the big news down here. Everyone is decked out in heavy coats, hats, scarves, gloves, blankets, etc. A., of course, doesn't want to wear any warm clothes at all. So, when we go out walking, and she's in shirt sleeves, people look at us like we are child abusers. I find myself wanting her to please put a coat on, not because I care if she freezes, just because I don't want to look like a monster. No matter. There are huge, beautiful blue skies overhead and tomorrow, we will continue our reconnoiter--settling on housing, finding a good Catholic school for A., and visiting the university.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Save the Sea Turtles!

Today, we were ambitious and headed about 10 kms up the coast to the little village of San Francisco, aka San Pancho. San Pancho is a low-key, non-surf-focused version of Sayulita. It has an absolutely stunning palm-lined beach and very, very few people out enjoying it. We ate lunch at a strange beach resort to get pool privileges and A. found a playmate for the day (and we enjoyed the company of her family, who are from the Bay Area).

Highlight of the day had to be the discovery of newly hatched sea turtles, who were feebly waddling down the beach, out to the breakers. A. offered assistance to see them on their way. Too cool...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sea Snake!

As we collected shells on the beach today, we happened upon a washed up sea snake which looked exactly like this:

Thinking that the snake was dead, I gave it a tentative lift, only to find that it was alive and well. He was quite docile, mainly because he was trying to swallow some horrendously large meal. He is also quite poisonous. When we left him to wash back out to sea, A. said that she "will have a lot to tell Ruby about when we get back home."

Monday, January 11, 2010

bienvenidos gringos

Well, the stress and exhaustion has just about worn off, washed away by soft tropical air, good food, sand, sun, surf. We're in Sayulita, Nayarit. All is well. I just fell asleep in the hammock and woke up thinking of the beginning of Apocalypse Now, for some reason (Sayulita. Sh-t, I'm still in Sayulita...).

We left Reno on New Years Day and drove to Las Vegas for a few days and then on to Tucson. Along the way we had vanagon headaches, days of preparations (play for Ava), and a million little details to attend to. Daddy and I headed across the border at Nogales on Thursday. The customs check on the US side was so encouraging. After we explained ourselves sufficiently, the guy says, "Be real careful. They're killing people down there every night." Seriously. Other than having a hard time explaining to Mexican customs why two grown men were traveling with boxes and boxes of women's and childrens clothes, we had very few hassles on the way down. We've mostly been in Gringolandia the whole way. Though some have told us otherwise, swine flu, cartel violence, and the economy don't seem to have deterred the tourist masses.

After picking up D. and A. at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, we've spent a couple of days poking around the coast. Tonight, we are in a great little bungalow hotel in an ex-fishing-village-turned-international-laid-back-surf-town. This part of Mexico is so beautiful. There really is no way to describe the strangeness of driving from the snow to the tropics over the course of a week. Jungle, flowers, humidity, warm ocean, iguanas in the palms, geckos on the ceiling.

I was telling A. that it has only been ten days since she was at home in her bed, but of course it feels like a lot longer. It was hard leaving home. We had so many great goodbyes and so-longs. Thanks to all of you who helped see us off. Anyhow, I'm not sure how diligent I'll be updating the blog, but it seems like a much easier way to keep everyone up on the wayward Boehm Jackson conjunto. So, check back and see what we're up to...