IMG_8970

Mendoza – Day 1

When planning a trip to Mendoza, the first question to ask yourself is, “Plane or omnibus?” One significant detail led Margaret and I to choose flying from Córdoba to Mendoza; the one-hour flight is about 9 hours shorter than the bus ride and only costs about $100 more.

Eager for our first day in Argentina’s wine country, Margaret and I woke up at 6:00 am to make our way to the Córdoba International Airport and catch our plane to Mendoza. Spending $200 for a plane ticket –rather than around $90 on a bus–was worth saving 18 hours of travel time.

In Mendoza, we stayed at Hostel Suites, which coincidentally and conveniently was located right across from the Mercado Central. The market was already on my “Mendoza to-do list,” since it was one of many recommendation in my Argentina guidebook.

Our first Mendoza destination: the plazas.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 6.37.07 PM

Each of the green areas in this map are plazas. The largest plaza –Plaza Independencia– is located in the center. Plaza Chile, Plaza Italia, Plaza España, and Plaza San Martín surround Plaza Independencia.

IMG_8943

The fountain in Plaza Chile.

IMG_8927

I liked the lights in Plaza Independencia.

Second stop: Lunch.

After plaza-seeing, we were ready for some grub. However, since Argentina’s eating schedule is a bit different than what we’re used to at home, most of the restaurants were closed until 6:00 at night, making it a bit hard to find somewhere to eat. Luckily, we stumbled upon an adorable café –Petrona– while walking around. Here are some of the pictures from our lunch.

IMG_8953

IMG_2323

Tetera con detalles crochet. I want to learn how to make this, because it’s so adorable! IMG_2325

Tostadas con queso, berenjena y tomate. Delicious and would be so easy to make!

Third destination: The park.

After refueling our bodies during lunch, we made our way to Mendoza’s Parque General San Martín to see the famous Cerro de la Gloria, a monument in honor of the Cruce de los Andes by el Ejército de los Andes. It was quite a long journey to the monument (a couple of hours of walking) but most definitely worth it!

IMG_8970

Found possible future place of residence on the walk to the park. High five!IMG_8964

Thought the shape of this house we saw on the way to the park was cool and unique. IMG_8967

Love this VW van. Also love the Argentina license plate on the front.IMG_8969

Another view of possible future home.

IMG_8977 IMG_8976The entrance to Parque General San Martín.

IMG_8979After entering the gates to Parque General San Martín.

IMG_8987 IMG_8988Some other findings throughout our walk in el Parque.

IMG_9007Saw this parrot perched on the gate to el Zoológico de Mendoza located at the bottom of the paths up to Cerro de la Gloria.

IMG_9023View from the trek up los senderos. Note to self (and others): do not wear sandals. I slipped a couple of times.

IMG_9021 IMG_9029Some of the photos from our trek up the foothills of the Andes. The view became more beautiful with each step.

IMG_9040Cerro de la Gloria – finally made it to the monument!

IMG_9044Tired horses on one side of the statue representing how exhausted the men and horses of el Ejército de los Andes were after embarking on the Cruce de los Andes to free Chile and Peru.

IMG_9032More recognition of men involved in the war efforts.

IMG_9046

IMG_9058 IMG_9055In addition to Cerro de la Gloria, we saw this crazy monkey. Thinking (and hoping) he escaped from the nearby zoo. He’s too domesticated to be silvestre, I think.

Fourth stop: Mercado Central.

After spending hours in the wild, Margaret and I made our way back to town. Since the market had been closed from 1-5pm during “siesta time,” we decided to make a trip and check it out before dinner. The following are a few pictures from the market.

IMG_9067Meat and cheese vendor.

IMG_9068“Little claws.” Or chicken feet. IMG_9069Tuna and sea bass.

IMG_9070Various forms of calamari. IMG_9066IMG_9071

Purchased some grapes as a pre-dinner snack. I mean, that’s why we were in Mendoza, right? For the grapes.

IMG_8711

El día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia

As of 2006, March 24th became a national public holiday in Argentina, a day to remember los desaparecidos and other victims of the Dirty War. While todo el mundo recognizes victims of the war on this special holiday, many others reflect upon this historical event throughout the entirety of the year by visiting Córdoba’s Archivo Provincial de la Memoria, a former hidden detention center, which now serves as a museum. The museum provides visitors with the opportunity to reflect upon the everlasting effects of the Dirty War, as its walls display formerly-detained prisoner’s stories, and a mere walk through it’s labyrinth of hallways and glimpse of closet-sized cells –used to house four prisoners at a time– illustrate the truth of Argentina’s dark past.

I visited El Archivo Provincial de la Memoria during one of my March Spanish classes. Here are some of the photos that I took.

IMG_8712

The entrance to the museum.

IMG_8714IMG_8709

The names of algunos desaparecidos are written together to form the images of fingerprints on the walls outside of the museum. I love this.

We visited several salas, or display rooms, throughout the museum. In regards of the salas, there was a sign saying this:

“Estas salas relatan momentos, recuerdos, vidas, experiencias, amores… Cada álbum nos cuenta la historia de un desaparecido, de un ser humano con rostro, con nombre y apellido, historias, elecciones. Sus cortas pero intensas vidas, condensan sus deseos y luchas, sus pasiones y utopias. Certificados, fotos, documentos de identidad, cartas, poesías, ropas, pequeñas notas, libretas de ahorro o escolares, transmiten imágenes de mundos cotidianos, vividos, sufridos, disfrutados. Cada objeto refleja una energía social, recuperada en estas salas a través de las personas que produjeron cada álbum.”

In English, this would translate as, “These rooms recount moments, memories, lives, experiences, loves… Every collection tells us the story of a desaparecido (literally “a disappeared,” meaning a person who disappeared during the war), of a human being with a face, a first and last name, a story, decisions. Their short but intense lives are filled with their desires and struggles, their passions and utopias. Certifications, photos, identification documents, letters, poems, clothing, small notes, checkbooks and school notebooks all transmit images of everyday worlds, which were lived, suffered, and enjoyed. Every object reflects a social energy, recovered in these display rooms through the people that produced every collection.”

IMG_8722

IMG_8721

IMG_8720

The labyrinth layout of the prisoner ensured that captives could not orient themselves when inside. This wall has rugged edged because it wasn’t always an entryway – part of the original wall was removed to provide museum visitors with an easier way to navigate.

IMG_8715

Blue skies, a cool museum, and pictures. Happy day for me.

IMG_8730 IMG_8727 IMG_8726

Images from la “Sala de vidas para ser contadas: muestra permanente donde se recuperan las historias de vida de personas desaparecidas y asesinadas por el estado entre 1974 y 1983.”

IMG_8724

While I did not see the big march this past Monday (El Día de la Memoria), I witnessed a couple of small demonstrations. I never really understood what the crowd was chanting, but I enjoyed being amidst all of the energy on a holiday that is re importante para mis amigos argentinos. Here’s a picture I took!

IMG_2584

IMG_8534

Las sierras

One of my favorite “mini trips” during my time in Córdoba was a night with friends in Carlos Paz, a town located 1 hour west of Córdoba and on the western slope of las sierras chicas. As a Michigander, I love my time in aire libre. In other words, spending a day away from the noise of the city –mostly the people and cars who fill the streets in Córdoba– was a perfect escape. Rachel’s (another CFHI student) host family has a house along a river in the sierras and invited us to spend a night there para conocer more than just Nueva Córdoba. I tried my first asado, and it will probably be my last asado. I don’t like meat all that much, but I wanted to try an asado during my two months in Argentina, since it’s the country’s speciality.

Here are some pictures from my day in Carlos Paz.

IMG_8537 IMG_8535Amazing view from the backyard. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day because rain had been typical during the past few weeks.

IMG_8536The house and my friends. Bien argentino, ¿no?

IMG_8510Necessary picture, because this was EXACTLY how I had imagined Argentina before arriving. Rivers, wine, and horses.

IMG_8522 IMG_8523El asador haciendo asado!

IMG_8631

Villa General Belgrano & La Cumbrecita

Last weekend, Jake and I decided to take a trip to La Cumbrecita, a small pedestrian town in a valley of the sierras. We met at the bus terminal at 9:30AM to buy our bus tickets but encountered a small problem; there were not any buses that traveled directly to La Cumbrecita. That said, our what-we-thought-would-be-2-hour bus trip turned into a 5 hour ordeal. We had to take our first bus from Córdoba to Villa General Belgrano and the second from there to La Cumbrecita. When arriving in Villa General Belgrano, we learned that the next bus to La Cumbrecita would leave in 2 hours. 2 hours?! Ay.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day, and the 2-hour “layover” (if you can call it that) turned out to be a blessing. Villa General Belgrano happens to be a mini German town on the east side of the province of Córdoba. Some residents and friends had previously recommended that I travel to Villa General Belgrano, so it was nice to be able to spend 2 hours getting to know this little cordobese gem.

IMG_8577

Villa General Belgrano’s idea of a city sign? I dig.

IMG_8578

I appreciated the craftsmanship required for making these street signs.IMG_8567

Where’s Waldo? I mean Jake. Can you find him? I hope so. He’s One of 4 featured in this photo. I liked the flags that decorated this alleyway. And Jake, of course!
IMG_8574Restaurant sign that I liked.

After 2 hours of boludeando in Villa General Belgrano, Jake and I made our way back to the bus terminal and boarded a bus to La Cumbrecita. When we arrived, we reserved our bus for the ride back so that we would make it back to Villa General Belgrano in time to catch the last bus back to Córdoba. Good idea on our part because later there were a lot of sad travelers who didn’t know they had to make their reservations and couldn’t board the bus .

As I mentioned above, La Cumbrecita is a pedestrian town. Cars are prohibited and visitors enter the city by crossing a bridge by foot.

IMG_8583This is the view from the bridge that enters the town.

peatonalThis sign, meaning pedestrian (the adjective form), was placed at the end of the bridge. The noun form of pedestrian is “peatón.”

IMG_8604La Olla – A popular Argentine hangout on a sunny day.
IMG_8602The vista down the river taken at La Olla. IMG_8619A waterfall called “La Boca del Diablo.” Another popular hangout on a sunny day.
IMG_8645The wet climate provides good growing grounds for these hongos. Apparently they have hallucinogenic properties if prepared right. A local showed us a wikipedia page about them on her phone, but I didn’t take note of the name.IMG_8652

This is the view of the La Cumbrecita from the highest point in the town.IMG_8648 IMG_8647 IMG_8649Loved escaping the city for a day to be surrounded by the sun and by all of these colors.IMG_8670Magical moss-covered escaleras.

iglesia–plazasanmartin

Sunny Day Stroll

A couple weekends back, Rachel and I walked through Nueva Córdoba to take some pictures, enjoy the fresh air, and get some sun. We started out near Paseo del Buen Pastor, made our way to Plaza San Martín, and ended up near el Colegio de Monserrat. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day. Here are some pictures to prove it!

angstystatue

Statue in el Paseo del Buen Pastor that needed to calm down.handstand–buenpastor

Handstands at Paseo del Buen Pastor!

capuchino2

This is the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón – Padres Capuchinos (Iglesia de los Capuchinos). My personal favorite of all the churches I have seen in Córdoba.

capuchino1

This is another view of the front of the church.

iglesia–plazasanmartin

After spending time near el Paseo de Buen Pastor and Iglesia de los Capuchinos (the two sites are side-by-side), we made our way to Iglesia Catedral de Córdoba (above). gate–iglesiaSM

The gates to the church.foto–por–keyhole

Tried to take an artistic photo through the key hole of the door below. Didn’t turn out nearly as cool as I’d hoped.door3I love these doors.

lion-door–smClose-up of the lion on the front door.

latern–sm–iglesiaI love how intricate this chandelier is.

ceiling–smLove this church ceiling.

Church in sidewalkSeveral weeks after my visit to la Iglesia Catedral de Córdoba with Rachel, my Spanish profa showed us that the white bricks in the sidewalk in front of the church compose an image; a reflection of the church. Can you see it? Take a minute to admire how well it lines up with the shadow as well. I took this foto from the neighboring building, el Centro Cultural Cabildo Histórico.

arches–sanmartinOne view of Cabildo.

arches-front–smAnother view. Love the repetitive structure and Argentine flags.

geraniumsLoved the contrast of these bright-red geraniums and the dull, white edificio. This was taken between el Cabildo and la Iglesia Catedral on Pasaje Santa Catalina.

plazasanmartin–alleyThe view down Pasaje Santa Catalina.

After visiting the church and cultural center, we made our way into Plaza San Martín.

plazasanmartin-statueThis is the statue in the middle of the plaza. The plaza is located one minute from ICC (the school where I take Spanish classes). We have two 20-minute breaks during our 4-hour classes, so Plaza San Martín is always a good place to enjoy some fresh air.

indep-streetsignI love how this street sign was made of multiple tiles and placed onto a building. A nice change from reflective green signs with white lettering.

banderaargentinaLast stop of the day: Colegio Nacional de Monserrat. “Colegio” is equivalent to “high school.” This tends to be confusing for English-speakers, since the word is so similar to “college.”

door-famosaThe famous door of el Colegio de Monserrat. I love this door.

door2Another beautiful door del Colegio.

colegio–ladoA different view of el Colegio de Monserrat.

IMG_8460

Paseo de las artes

My favorite part of Córdoba? El paseo de las artes. What is El paseo de las artes? It’s basically a weekly arts market (every Saturday and Sunday) filled with cordobese artists who make anything from hand-bound journals and glass blown elephant pendants to ceramic mugs and ornately-carved mates de calabaza. The market is relatively large, as vendors post up along streets between la cañada and la calle Belgrano. I could easily spend hours wandering in and out of the alleyways that reveal hidden tiendas full of handcrafted gems, but money and suitcase space limit how much I can purchase. I can proudly say I’ve visited El paseo nearly every weekend that I’ve been in Córdoba, and I cannot wait to show my friend Margaret this Argentine gem when she arrives in Córdoba this Sunday!

Here are some fotos from mis paseos por el paseo:

IMG_8452

IMG_8453

Jake was súper contento with his cake purchase. Rightfully so. He let me have some, and it truly was delish.

IMG_8454 - Version 2This adorable woman sells baked goods in El paseo. I have seen her at the market every time I have visited, and her treats seem to be very popular with the locals. There is always a line of people who are waiting to buy her tortas caseras (homemade cakes) and other delicious treats!

IMG_8457 IMG_8458

This craft is one of the most memorable from all of my visits to the Paseo. The vendor takes the tool shown in the top center of the above picture to carve away parts of coins from around the world and turn them into beautiful pendants. I purchased a pendant made from a $10 (ARG peso) coin that is no longer in circulation.

IMG_8459 IMG_8477

IMG_8479

IMG_8476

There are always kittens and puppies available for (free) adoption in the Paseo.IMG_8466I’m not sure what it is, but I am obsessed with succulents and other adorable little plants. I would buy this whole arrangement if it weren’t impossible to transport back to los EEUU.

Entrada de la estancia

Alta Gracia

Several Fridays back, Jake suggested we inquire about bus passes at the “Centro de turismo” located in the bus terminal we passed through on our route home from the hospital. After several minutes of speaking with one of the guides, we had planned a weekend full of fun. A visit to the house where Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna lived as a child and a walk through a beautiful, 400ish-year-old estancia jesuítica in a small town about an hour away from Córdoba? Count me in.

The student group –6 of us– traveled to Alta Gracia in colectivo, a large bus that cost around $3 (USD) roundtrip. The ride was not exceptionally scenic, but it was also only about an hour in duration, so no complaints.

When arriving in Alta Gracia, we first visited the Estancia jesuítica – Casa  del Virrey Liniers. The following are some of the pictures I took during our tour.

Entrada 2 Estancia

After the Estancia, we visited “El museo del Che,” also known as “Villanydia.”  Ernestito’s family moved into the house in Alta Gracia as a “remedy” for his asma, hoping that life in the midst of fresh air and nature would ease his enfermedad.

The following are some fotos I took throughout our tour in “El museo del Che.” The entrance fee was around $9 (USD), which seemed a little pricey. Regardless, I am happy that I can add this experience to my list of adventures in Argentina!

Museo del Che

The view of the front of the house.

La moto 2

La poderosa. This is a lot more exciting if you a) know a thing or two about Che or b) have seen the film The Motorcycle Diaries/Los diarios de motocicleta.

La moto

The other motobicicleta from Che’s travels.

VillanydiaThe name of the house.

After our tour of the museum, we walked around Alta Gracia a bit and tried to find a bus stop. It was near the end of the day, so the sun was looking real pretty and we could even see the sierras in the distance. Here’s a picture I took at the end of our day.

Tarde en AG

 

IMG_8331

Museo Anatómico Pedro Ara

In the middle of February, the student group took a trip to Museo Anatómica Pedro Ara (Pedro Ara Museum of Anatomy) en el Hospital Nacional de Clínicas. Who is Pedro Ara? Pedro Ara was a Spanish anatomist who perfected the art of parafinización, or the embedding of a tissue sample in paraffin wax, near the beginning of the 20th century. While he paraffinized many subjects throughout his 82 years of life, he is most famous for paraffinizing the body of María Eva Duarte de Perón, aka Evita, between 1952 and 1953.

According to the official website, Museo Anatómico Pedro Ara is home to 1101 specimen. Although there are many photos of the artifacts online, I took some pictures for the memories. Here they are!

Museo anatómico pedro ara

Sign when entering the museum.

IMG_8300

Writing on one of the skulls.

IMG_8299

With the black and red markings, these seemed so artistic. Hard to really wrap my head around the fact that they were at one point living people.

IMG_8297

A different view.

IMG_8333

I don’t remember what this was (I’m not a med student yet)!

IMG_8331

My favorite picture of the day! One of many specimen included in the kidney display.

IMG_8319

I loved the illustration juxtaposed with the real version.

IMG_8310 IMG_8308

The precision that went into paraffinizing this little body amazes me.

IMG_8305

¡Esqueleto!

IMG_8340

“El viejo.” Ara’s second most famous work, after Evita. This man was homeless and requested that his body be preserved for the museum.

banderaargentina

Hola, Córdoba

Finally, after spending three weeks in Argentina’s second-largest city, I’m getting to my first post. What have I been up to? What are my first impressions? Here are a few words to answer those questions.

Córdoba: Both a city and a province, home to many Argentine universities/facultades, located in the geographic center of Argentina, and filled with somewhere near 1.3 million friendly, mate-drinking locals who speak as if they were singing. I have never lived in a city before, so spending time in the middle of taxi-filled streets and crowded sidewalks is a new experience for me. I am also living on the fourth floor of an apartment in the center of town with a host mom of 41 years, her 14-year-old daughter, and her 19-year-old niece who is in her second year of medical school (more on the difference between US and Argentine school systems later). Also a new experience, since I have previously only lived in smaller apartments in Ann Arbor and my house in Rockford, MI. Regardless of being in a city quite different from home, my Argentine host family is very welcoming, and it’s great to be able to practice my Spanish on a daily basis. Here’s a glimpse of what I see when stepping out onto the balcony at my homestay!

Vista del balcón

vista con sol

Sunnier view.

plantas del balcón

I love this wall of plants.

silla para sentar y leerPeaceful place to sit and read.  

During my first two weeks in Córdoba, I went to Hospital San Roque. I spent one week in the quirófano (OR) and one week with the residents of medicina interna.

Here is a picture of the student group (LR: me, Katy, Will, Rachel, Jake, Jake). Photo cred: Rachel Giesey’s instagram.

Hospital San RoqueHere is a picture of Rachel and I with two of the internal medicine residents (LR: me, Melisa, Rachel, Melina). Las dos eran super amables y nos enseñaron mucho sobre cómo se tomó la anamnesis de un(a) paciente.

San Roque – Medicina Interna

Over the course of the first two weeks, I had 30 hours of Spanish class with Intercambio Cultural. Since classes were from 4-7 (or as they say here, 16-19), I often walked around or got dinner at night. Here are some of the first photos I took when strolling around town. Both are from the manzana jesuítica (Jesuit block).

manzanajesuita IMG_2090

I couldn’t help but admire how ornate this door was.

IMG_6803

Mis últimas aventuras con Zoe

Since I had a flight delay in DF, I wrote a couple of final Puerto posts while waiting for my flight.  So here they are, 10 days late.  But hey, better late than never.

The second month of my program was an absolute blast, thanks to the fact that Zoe came to Mexico.  We spent all of our time out of class and the clinics adventuring the town and finding the gems of Puerto.  Even up to our last couple of days, we continued discovering new things.  But that doesn’t mean our touring of Puerto is over; the adventure is on hold for now since we’re returning to the states, but it’s just the beginning.

Zoe’s “mom” Queta ran a restaurant in the front of her house.  She had a lot of customers, and she also provided all of the food for the employees in the Puerto airport.  Here’s Zoe eating a traditional Mexican lunch.

Zoe doesn’t like nopales, so I got her salad.  Win.  Nopales are a type of cactus.  It’s really gooey (maybe slimy is a better word) and different than any other kind of food I’ve ever tried.

View from the restaurant to the patio in Zoe’s homestay.

You can’t see it too well, but I’m wearing an interesting headband I bought with worry dolls glued to the top.

On the wall at the Santa Fe hotel.

Checking out the art in the Santa Fe hotel shop.

“Buy art, not cocaine.”  Zoe found this, took this picture, asked, “¿Cuántos cuesta?” and found out it wasn’t for sale.  We need to find this somewhere else because I like it too.

How cute is she?  Rockin’ her mochila de cuero that she bought from Kushbu.

Interesting-looking things in a sitting area near the pool.  I think they have something to do with growing coffee, because the hotel sold Finca Las Nieves coffee and offered tours of a coffee plantation two hours away from Puerto.  We wanted to go, but were told that the roads to the plantation were blocked after the hurricane.

Walking up to the restaurant.  Check out those stairs.

Holes and dirt give Vans character.

Staying at this hotel for at least a night when I come back to Puerto (I say only a night because, if possible, I’d want to rent from the same host family again).

Lazy Sunday: books + frappé with Bailey’s.

Black coffee + blog-updating.

View from the restaurant.  So close to the ocean.  Also note how close that helicopter is to the beach.  Not sure who they were or what they were doing.

Vegetable soup.

We thought this sign was cool.

Walking back home on the carretera.

There are people everywhere selling drinks and food from push-carts.  I love this picture because it captures something that is so typical of the daily life in Puerto Escondido; walking by these carts and hearing, “¡Amiga! Jugo, tacos, paletas, helado,” and anything of the sort.

Our favorite color!  Needless to say, we couldn’t walk past this door without at least taking a picture.

We found this arrangement of stickers on an old VW Bug and thought it was super chido.

Walking out of the ocean after 2 hours of surf.  I wanted to go but had Spanish class.  Jealous.

Get it gurl.

Zoe’s family threw her a despedida (going away party), and they hung up balloons all over the patio.

Estelle big chillin’.

Kelly + Zoe.

Zoe and her host mom Queta.

Mojito at Mangoes.

 

IMG_1547

Clases de Inglés

Since I lived with the owners of the Surf & Language school, I had the opportunity to help out with English classes a couple of times on Saturday afternoons.  Although it was a bit difficult to try and control a group of 4- and 5-year-olds who had a very limited English vocabulary and short attention span, I had fun.  The kids were adorable, and I even learned Spanish through helping them with their English.

María Paz, Josue, and Zoe working on some coloring.

Isabel, Josue, María Paz, and Zoe.

My turn for a picture!

I drove the truck back home!  I miss driving.

Looking a little uncomfortable because the seat was super far back and I couldn’t figure out how to move it forward…

IMG_1572

El Hospital

Confession:  During the first 5 weeks of the program in Puerto, I was having doubts about the whole medical thing.  I would go to the clinics for 4 hours in the morning, and sit there and listen to “consultas” about basic sicknesses like the flu or the cold, diabetes, hypertension, and other things that I am not really too interested in.  In all honesty, I was counting down the minutes until clinic was over, I was out of Spanish class, and I was at the beach taking a surf lesson.  Meanwhile, the other students would come to class and say things like, “Wow!  I learned so much in the clinic today.  It was great.  I got to hear all about diabetes, and learn about the sicknesses in the tropical community of Puerto Escondido.”  Then I would unenthusiastically add, “No había nada.  Fue un pocito aburrido para mi,” conveying my lack of amusement with los Centros de Salud.  I really wanted to be interested in what I was doing, but the truth was that I was not nearly as excited as my fellow students.  How were they so excited?  Why wasn’t I?  This actually made me nervous, because I started questioning whether or not I should still be pre-med… then the next question was, “If not pre-med, then what?”

Luckily my doubts were settled towards the end of my program.  At the beginning of my 6th week in Puerto Escondido, I got assigned to the local hospital, La Parota.  When talking to the hospital’s director, I expressed my interest in becoming a surgeon (well, I’d never actually seen a surgery… but blood, stitches, and fixing people always sounded cool).  After our conversation, he took me to get a uniform to enter the quirófano, aka surgery room.  When I walked in, the anesthesiologist, surgeons, and nurses introduced themselves.  ”Vamos a operar.  Una cesaria,”  said the anesthesiologist.  Cesarian?  Whoa.  Seeing the shocked look on my face, he asked, “You’ve seen surgeries before, right?  A lot of blood.”  ”Umm…nope.”  After I said no, I interpreted his facial expression to mean something along the lines of: “¡Mierda!  This girl’s going to pass out, we’re trying to deliver a baby, not good.”  Then they added that if I felt bad, I should leave.  Yikes.

I moved to the back of the room, where I could see everything that was going on.

“Knife, skin, whoa knife on skin, stomach, cut, that scar won’t look good in a bikini, blood, oh my goodness this is real life, fat, more blood, some muscle, more blood, blood, I’m adopting, blood, hair?  Hair in the…stomach?  Baby’s head!  Neck, whoa whole baby, it’s kind of purple? Crying baby, good that means it’s alive, purple baby must be normal, more blood, umbilical cord, more blood, blood, giant weird looking thing, oh so that’s a placenta, more blood, more crying, mom smiles, more blood, this is cool, I just watched that, I’m smiling, I can’t stop smiling, I must look funny because I can’t stop smiling, good thing I have a cubreboca over my mouth to cover this obnoxious grin that I cannot get rid of, medicine is cool.”

My mind was racing a mile a minute, and I was in awe after the short operation.  I never once felt uncomfortable or scared seeing the blood and surgical tools, and I was relieved that I was finally genuinely interested in what I was watching.  After spending my 6th week in Puerto in the hospital, I asked to spend my 7th and 8th there as well.  Luckily the director agreed to my proposal, and I was able to see a variety of operations dealing with problems related to hernias, prostate tumors, bone fractures, appendicitis, etc.  I was intrigued by all of the surgeries I got to watch, and I am less panicky about my future since I know that I still have an interest in becoming a surgeon.

The following are several pictures from my time at the hospital.  Some of them are graphic, so if you’re not good with blood and all that good stuff…well you should overcome your fear starting now because it’s pretty cool.

Meds and liquids and other things that I haven’t actually learned about in school, so I don’t know what they are yet.

Sutures!

Super inflamed appendix.  They suspected a tumor, so they sent it to get biopsied once removed.

Appendix (and other stuff?) once removed.

Listening to the baby’s heartbeat with some sort of very retro-style device. I’m unsure of its technical name.

You’re looking at a future surgeon (hopefully).

IMG_6813

Cita de Helado

Since 5-year-old María Pancha from my host family loves sweets, Zoe and I promised to take her on an ice cream date.  We ended up going to a gelatería down the road from my house.  It was owned by an Italian, who we became friends with during our stay in Puerto since we would talk with him on our way to and from Spanish class on a daily basis.  Here are some pictures of our “date,” and let me just add that María Paz is the most adorable child ever.

Zoe + María Paz: Gelatería bound.

María Paz with her chocolate gelato.  She lost a tooth earlier the same day and was excited to get money from the…well according to the tale here it’s a ratón (big rat) and not a tooth fairy that pays the visit.

The gelatería.

Guest appearance:  Hormiga!  One of our good friends from Carrizalillo.

We’re going to miss him!

The best dessert I have ever had in my entire life.  Affogato.  Why didn’t I know of its existence long ago?  Espresso over gelato.  Whoever decided to combine two of the greatest things on this earth to create one dessert knew what was up.  We ordered this one with pistachio gelato.

Well aren’t they just too cute?

And they get even cuter.

My little sister for two months.

Puerto besties.  Bonded over world travels, Spanish, and medical endeavors.

María Paz took my camera and had a mini photo shoot with our Italian friend.  This is one of about 15.

The crew.

Piggy-back home.

IMG_7047

Mezcalería

When first arriving in Mexico, “¿Has probado mezcal?” was an almost-daily question.  ”Tried mezcal?  I don’t even know what that is…” I’d replied (en español of course).  Turns out, mezcal is alcohol that is made from fermented agave and it’s all the rage in Mexico.  Who would have guessed?  On my last Monday of class, the student group made a trip to the local mezcalería to see the production process.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see anything because the hurricane left the fábrica in rough shape.  Regardless, I took pictures, so here they are.

“You are welcomed to your mescal factory.”

Bottles of mezcal at the fábrica.  These were to sample before purchasing (no thanks).

Another bottle that I thought looked cool.

Want: wooden ladder with a plant growing up it.

Handstanding > mezcal.  And I’m wearing my bikini under that dress, so I didn’t flash anyone driving by…no worries.

These chairs were arranged so oddly that it almost looked intentional.

Traditional kitchen.

On the wall in the mezcalería.  This image is everywhere though: in the taxis hanging from the mirror, on the walls of buildings, in homes, etc.

Luna + sol en el mezcalería.

The popular saying about mescal.  ”For everything bad…mescal.  For everything good…as well.  And as a remedy, a liter and a half.”

When walking in the Adoquín, we came across a store with an assortment of food/beverages that are traditional to Oaxaca.  Just as we passed by, the owners were beginning a 30-minute sampling session of mescal and a couple of other Oaxacan culinary staples.  Needless to say, it was Kelly’s lucky day.  Here is a picture of her sampling one of the many types of mescal.

Through the lips and over the gums, look out stomach here it comes… yeah, I ate chapulines aka grasshoppers.  Not bad, not bad.

Bate, bate, chocolaté!  Making chocolate oaxaqueña, which is more or less the traditional hot chocolate of Oaxaca.  It is usually paired with pan dulce, or sweet bread, which only costs about $3 (pesos) for quite a large piece.

Hand-painted bottles of mescal.

Crema de mescal.  Kind of like Bailey’s but mescal style.

Making chocolate oaxaqueña continues.

Mezcal + scorpion.

The front of the bottle.

Zoe and I sampling mescal.  Although I didn’t like the taste, I tried a variety of flavors because I think it’s important to be adventurous with food and drinks when traveling.  In addition to people, architecture, music, and whatever else we decided to explore, we couldn’t fully experience the culture of the state of Oaxaca without trying Oaxacan food and drinks like mescal, tlayudas, pozole, etc. The food is delicious, but I’ll leave the alcohol for someone else. On another note, I wish I had a picture of my face after drinking the contents of that cup because it would be much more entertaining than this one.

IMG_1433

Kushbu Boutique

Although I haven’t purchased too many things during my two months in Puerto Escondido, I found an adorable boutique in Zica where I spent a sufficient amount of money.  Most of the selection was handmade, super detailed, and from Chiapas (a state in the south of Mexico).  Here are some of the things I fell in love with and had to buy.

My new leather purse.  This looks similar to a Gucci bag I saw (and wanted, obviously) in Vogue awhile ago.  But I think $65 is more reasonable than $3,000.

My new wool backpack.

Closer view of my backpack.  Made by hand.

As soon as I saw this pillowcase, I knew I was going to buy it.  Although it cost around $130 (the most expensive thing I’ve purchased while here), it is completely made by hand.  I can’t wait to put it on my bed at home.

Close-up view of the detail.

Love the middle of the pillow.

Above are some pictures of the boutique itself.

IMG_6918

Partera Part II

During our last week of class, the other students and I made another visit to the local partera (midwife).  She wasn’t home the last time we went, but this time we lucked out and got to meet her.  Here are some more pictures of her, where she lives, and where she attends to her “patients.”

The partera gives medicinal plants to the mothers and their newborns.  All of the plants are grown in her yard, completely organic.

The partera overlooking the river behind her house.

This was the wall of one of the neighbor’s houses.  How this survived Hurricane Carlotta, I’m not entirely sure.

Students with the partera.

Following the partera and listening (well, trying to understand) everything she was saying about her plants and yerbas.

Check out that hair.  She would twist it and set it on top of her head when we were sitting and listening about her experiences as the only partera in Puerto Escondido.

Obtain medical plants: mission accomplished.

IMG_6890

La Vida Tranquila

One of my favorite words to use to describe the lifestyle in Puerto is “tranquila.”  It is more or less equivalent to the adjective “chill” in English.  In celebration of my last Friday in Puerto, I skipped going to the hospital and went to the beach (oops).  Sleeping on the sand, taking a break from the beach to eat fresh mahi mahi, and speaking Spanish with my local friends who hang at Carrizalillo daily; how much more tranquila does it get than that?  Here are some more pictures of Playa Carrizalillo, aka my second home during these past 2 months.

No sun and still beautiful (there was sun today, but this picture is from last weekend).

90 degrees and on the beach?  I would wear a sweatshirt too.

I’m going to miss having this 5 minutes from my house.

Las palapas.

Oh you know, just walking back to my towel from el mar.

Durrr.  Feelin’ good, lovin’ life.

IMG_6657

Mantelería

Mexican textiles:  something that grabbed my attention as soon as I arrived in Puerto.  Tablecloths, curtains, placemats to name a few.  Where do they come from?  How are they made?  Luckily, my friend Zoe found the source of these staple pieces of home decor:  Mantelería Santo Domingo.

The outside of the mantelería.  Mantel means tablecloth, and a mantelería is a place where tablecloths are made/sold.

The sign outside the mantelería.

So many options.

Muchas servilletas (placemats).

Zoe and I with our manteles.  I watched the employees hand stitch the detail around the edge of the tablecloth.  There were about 4 people surrounding it, and each person executed a slightly different stitch, completing the blanket in an “assembly line” manner.

In love.

This is the “machine” that is used to make the fabric.  It’s human-powered, not electric.

Ready to fight.  This kid started hitting me with his little toy truck.

Mantel-making in action.

Beautiful!

Lovin’ it.

Close-up of an unfinished tablecloth.

Crazy thought: my tablecloth started out looking like this.

IMG_6634

Le Café du Marché

Since I visit Cafecito almost daily, I decided it was time to spice up my Puerto coffee drinking experience and find a new cafe.  While visiting the Benito Juarez market to buy fruit with Zoe earlier this past week, we noticed a cafe settled between pastelerías towards the right and juguerías on the left.  Curious and surprised to see such an adorable Euro-style cafe in a traditional Mexican market, we walked over to check out what the menu had to offer.

The menu had a minimalistic, professional style.  We were also given a glass of water when we sat down.  Something that seems so standard in the states, but this is the first time I have been given complementary water with a meal during my stay in Puerto.

Adorable chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  $10 (pesos) each.

A view of the cafe.  Zoe and I loved the colorful candles with skeletons in the top left corner of the photo.  We asked where we could purchase some but learned they’re only sold around November for El Día de Los Muertos (el 2 de noviembre).

Zoe started her day with this adorable (and delicious… she let me try a bite) cupcake.

My espresso…mmm.

The cafe owner making some more cupcakes.  She said she opened the business a year ago, and it has been a huge success.  She is from Montreal, and we witnessed her speak 3 languages in our hour there.  She had a conversation in French with one customer, she told Zoe and I about her cafe in Spanish, and she chatted with an Australian in English.

While we were drinking espresso and eating cupcakes, two men from the policia walked up and looked at the menu.  After a couple minutes of pretending like they were going to buy coffee (real suave, chicos), they asked Zoe and I to take a picture with them.  Clearly the espresso helped me wake up.  Kidding, this is just a bad picture.  However, it’s the only one I have with my new friend Alberto, so I can’t leave it out.

Group photo!  Julio y Alberto de la policia federal.  This photo is just as bad as the previous, but once again, too funny to leave out.

IMG_6625

Café de México

Since I am an extreme lover of coffee, I felt that it was a necessity to find a local store that specializes in coffee to buy some beans to bring back to Michigan.  About a block from el mercado, I found this cafetería called “La Casita” and bought un kilo y media de café por $59 (pesos).

 

I can’t wait to try the café that I bought: from right here in Oaxaca!

Freshly ground coffee beans.

La Casita only sold miel (honey) and café (coffee).

The owner weighing the coffee.  I asked him where it was from, and he responded, “De la región de Pluma.  3 horas de aquí” (from the Pluma region, three hours from here).  I love purchasing from locals (no matter if I’m in México or the US) who know where their goods come from.

IMG_6533

La pesadilla que es Huracán Carlotta

My latest adventure in the wonderful town of Puerto Escondido?  Storm chasing.  Okay, that’s not really true because the last storm to hit the town was a category two hurricane:  Hurricane Carlotta.  So I actually did the exact opposite of chase:  I listened to music in the fetal position in the corner of my room that was farthest away from windows and other objects susceptible to hurricane powers.  Luckily Zoe decided to spend the night at Sol and Roger’s house with me, so we talked, listened to Bassnectar, lit velas, and invited Eli (another student) to come hang with us for a bit.  Earlier that day, Zoe and I bought an ice cream cake to put in the freezer.  So when the power went out at about 8PM, we thought, “Ice cream cake, power out, no freezer… problem.”  The solution?  Eat the entire ice cream cake between the two of us?  Claro que sí.  Couldn’t let that go to waste.

Chillin’ with las velas después de la luz se fue.  We were going to tell scary stories, but then realized we didn’t know any.

The day after the storm, we walked the city to see the destruction.  Here are some of the photos I took:

Leaves, sticks, branches… everywhere.

The roof of this hostel didn’t take the wind very well.

This photo was taken from a bridge above the river.  The people on the left were bending over and picking things up.  Treasure hunting after the storm?  That was our first thought.  But after asking and taking a closer look, we realized that these Puerto Escondidians were picking up little fish that had somehow ended up on land and throwing them back into the river.  Qué bonita gente.

This fence near the entrance of Zicatela got ripped out of the cement wall because of the wind.

Hurricane: 1, Palapa: 0.

Lost puppy the day after the storm.  And he was shaking like crazy with fear.

More palapa ruins.

Well this was a lifeguard hangout…

Pobre playa.

This guy told us he worked for a magazine based in London.  He showed us a picture of the bodies of two girls who had died in the storm.

Collecting tesoros en la playa.

Eyes peeled for gems.

Zoe inspecting the damage in Zicatela.

Yet another palapa destruida.

Pobre perros de Puerto, they’re so helpless.  But they have always looked like this: both before and after the storm.

Zoe in front of an artistic-looking wall that survived the storm.  Also important to note:  always adventuring con agua mineralizada en mano.

What was beach is now river.  Demasiada lluvia.

Checking out the water that was draining into the ocean after all of the rain.

Tengo un idea.  Found this light bulb in the mess of debris in Playa Marinero.

Proof that coconuts are capable of growing coconut trees.

Our new friend Remo who lives right by the ocean.  He invited us back to his restaurant for cervezas another day.

Don’t throw trash on the beach.

Even after all the storm damage, there were still beautiful things to be found in Puerto… such as this plant?

“Puerto Escondido plays clean.  Don’t litter.”  I thought this would make a good desktop photo.

Mucha lluvia = mucha agua = escaleras, waterpark style.

Now that a week has passed since the storm hit, the town is looking a lot better.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done.  Luckily nothing happened to the house where I live, minus the fact that we lost power for a couple of days.  Now the issue is that something (not very descriptive, sorry.  But in all honestly, I don’t actually know the details of the problem) happened with the water supply and it won’t be fixed for about a month.  We haven’t run out of water yet, but when we do… quien sabe.  Just another experience to spice up my adventures in Mexico, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6442

Pescadores

On Saturday, the other students and I went for a fishing trip en una lancha (boat).  We had to wake up at 6:30AM to head out on the water and try to catch some lunch.  It was an amazing experience, and I realized how much I miss boats.

So early, so tired.  But ready to go.

Cool art on one of the boats.

We found this fish near shore before leaving.

Coolest fish ever.

The crew all aboard la lancha.

Reeling in our first fish.

¡Átun! (Tuna)

Yes, he jumped on/captured this sea turtle.

Turtle wrestling.

Juan: 1, Sea turtle: 0.

Real life: I was 1 foot away from a sea turtle.

And I embraced it too.

Decided to swim with it.  We saw a bunch of little jellyfish in the water, so I was a little scared at first.  But then I thought about how mad I would be at myself if I didn’t jump in.  Because how often do I get the chance to swim with sea turtles?  It was a good choice because we managed to make it out of the water with only one jellyfish sting each.  Our fishermen friends referred to it as “mal agua,” meaning bad water.

Snuggin’ in the front of the boat because there was no sun and it was 8AM, so I was a little chilly.

Cool view of one of the other lanchas.

Hanging out with the catch of the day.

Couldn’t wait for our fish taco lunch feast.

Juan: surfer, fisherman, sea turtle slayer, and chef.  The coolest!

One step closer to lunch.

There we go.

Watching in awe.  I still couldn’t believe I was going to eat fresh fish tacos with fish that we caught ourselves.

I’m only including this picture because I laugh every time I look at it.

Chef Juan preparing the fish.

Oscar, wonderful pescado chef #2.

Oh so beautiful.

Zoe preppin’ the taco toppings.  We also had freshly made corn tortillas.

We tried some of the tuna sushi-style.  It was delicious.

Fresh limes, straight off the tree in front of the house.

Árbol de limón.

Just eating some lechuga.

Estaba platicando con los chefs.

IMG_6306

Mirador de Sueños

Although I’ve been in Puerto for 5 weeks, I never discovered this magical mirador until now.  It is a long pathway of stairs that weave in and out of rocks right next to the ocean, starting near Playa Manzanillo and ending at Playa Principal.  With a view this cool, you would think it would be crowded with people.  Luckily it’s not.  In fact, I only ran into maybe 2 or 3 other people in my entire half-hour walk on the mirador.  Here are a few of the obnoxious amount of photos I took.

This was a house right next to the beginning of the mirador.  Can I have that pool?

View of the ocean from the beginning of the mirador.

Exploring the mirador.

Backpack was a bad choice because it was definitely over 100°F out.

Lovin’ me some mirador.

My friend Zoe showed me the mirador.  She discovered it on her adventures the day before, but I was in class.

Bajando las escaleras and looking cute.

We had the best view of the ocean.

 

Hands4

Marinero to Zica with the Student Crew

Walking home from class along Boulevard Benito Juarez while loving how dark the sky was.

All of the taxis and colectivos in Puerto look like the car in this picture.

Estelle!  We weren’t sure what type of tree this was, but the flowers were beautiful enough to require a picture.

These odd-looking flowers were growing on the bark of this tree.  Not only are they super ugly… they smell horrible too.

This is where I buy my magazines:  Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire.  ¡Todos en español!

Eli and Estelle in the colectivo on our way to Zica.

Zoe and I in the colectivo on the way to Zica.

Out the back of the colectivo.

Near a restaurant in Playa Marinero.

Walking down Playa Marinero and enjoying la puesta del sol (sunset).

The crew walking down Playa Marinero.

We saw some fútbol action en la playa.

The locals love their fútbol.

My friend Zoe loving some Playa Marinero.

Zoe and I at Playa Marinero.

Estelle in Playa Marinero.

This is getting a bit repetitive, but here’s Eli at Playa Marinero.

Sign at Zica with the rules of the beach.

I was trying to climb the rocks to get a picture with the hands in Zicatela.

Rock climbing attempt = success.

I was having too much fun with this.

Fun fact:  I managed to make it down the rocks without falling.

Running to catch up with the crew and avoid getting my shoes wet from another wave.

Adorable restaurant called Sativa in Zicatela.  So far I’ve only been here for drinks, but the food looks delicious so Zoe and I decided we are going to go back for dinner soon.

Zoe and I at Sativa.

Estelle and Zoe with their mojito and martini, ¡salud!

My drink: té de manzanilla.  How fun am I?  Oh well, there’s nothing better than ending the day with a nice tea.

 

 

IMG_1399

La Barra de Colotepec

I spent the past two weeks in a Centro de Salud that is only about 20 minutes from my house by colectivo.  Here are some pictures from my time in La Barra.

Riding in the colectivo on the way home from el Centro de Salud.

A view of el río from the bridge between La Barra de Navidad and La Barra de Colotepec.

Nurse Ami, Doctora Antonia Vasquez, and I.

La doctora y yo.

Mojarra a la diabla.  Caught only hours before we ate it (never frozen) and purchased from the market.  ”Mojarra” is the type of fish, and it was prepared “a la diabla” meaning spicy.

El Centro de Salud.

Another view of the Centro de Salud.

Standing in front of el Centro de Salud.

The waiting area for the patients.

This is a middle school I passed by on my walk to el Centro.

View of outside from inside the Centro.

This is where all of the patient records are kept.

Supplies were kept here.

Monday1

Good Start to Semana 5

No matter where you are in the world, Mondays are still the worst day of the week.  Luckily yesterday was not too rough, minus the fact that I realized my stay in Mexico is more than halfway over.  I started my day with some breakfast, which is provided by my host family every morning.  Pictured above is my favorite breakfast so far: omelette con tomaté y aguacate.  After eating, I went to el Centro de Salud in La Barra de Colotepec for four hours and later purchased Ángeles y Demonios to read and try to learn more Spanish.  I ended the day by going to the beach with the other students and speaking in Spanish, quickly studied some words I didn’t recognize while reading Angels and Demons, and drank two cafés at Cafecito with Zoe in Zicatela.

Adorable dish, seashell tray, and colorful towel to keep the flies away from my food until I woke up.  Normally I eat a bowl of cornflakes and a piece of fruit for breakfast.

When the other students went to Puerto Angelito after class, I decided to meet them there.  This is a picture from my walk.

Sat on the beach and spoke Spanish while surrounded by lanchas.

View of Playa Manzanillo from Puerto Angelito.

I need to go on a boat tour soon, but I have yet to check into pricing.  I’m pretty cheap when it comes to touristy things, because I’d rather  adventure without a guide.

I thought this was a nice shot of my future house.

IMG_6093

Exploring with my New Friends

After about a month of adventuring Puerto sola (not complaining), there are now other students for me to spend time with; three more girls and one guy.  When they got here (Saturday), we ate dinner with Sol and Roger (my host family), headed to Adoquin to peruse the artsy street vendors, and ended the night at Casa Babylon (so fun) and Barfly (let down).  On Sunday night, we walked from my house to Zicatela and took a bunch of photos.  Another bonus to new friends:  I have multiple photographers, which means I can be in my pictures.

Destination: Las playas.  Big drop to the right, but you cannot see it in this photo.

We were lovin’ the colors of the wall.

Dragon light… this doesn’t strike me as being traditional Mexican decor.

Look at how happy Mexico makes me.  Still enjoying every second.

Reflection in puddle: so artistic.

Walking along Playa Principal.

On top of the world.

Sand, endless colors, and sun; couldn’t ask for more.

My friend Zoe (one of the other students) from San Francisco.  Rocked her first surf class, so we got pictures with the sign.

Classic handstand on the beach pics (there are about 100 more where this came from).

So much fun.

Trying to avoid being consumed by the Zicatela current.

Making it out of Puerto’s most dangerous beach in one piece (but let’s be honest I was only knee-deep).

New friend Eli in deep thought about the sun.

Cool entrance to one of the restaurants in Zica.

On Saturday night, we spent a couple of hours at Casa Babylon getting to know each other while drinking mojitos (my new favorite).  We attempted conversation in Spanish, but quickly realized our vocabulary is limited, and switched to English.

Unintentional head tilt AKA wasn’t ready for this photo.  Regardless, the background is too cool to leave it out of this post.

We were all about this shade of…turquoise?  We made Eli take at least 15 pictures.

“Yo Eli, stand in front of those waves.”

I would love this on one of the walls in my room.

Handstanding on clases de surf.

And the handstand shenanigans continue.

Street art!

More street art.

Moremarket2

My Obsession with the Market Continues

Since it’s only about 8 blocks away from my house, I frequent the Benito Juarez Market.  There are endless amounts of fruits and vegetables to choose from, juguerías to buy freshly-made juice, other vendors that sell handmade goods, pescadores that sell fish caught less than 24 hours ago, and so much more.  Pictured above is the first whole papaya I have ever purchased.  And yes, it was just as delicious as it looks.

My purchases from a Saturday morning trip to the market:  tomatoes, bananas, a red pepper, a yellow pepper, jalapeños peppers, habañero peppers, an onion, avocados, cantaloupe, papaya, mangoes, cilantro, an apple, and peaches.

On my way to the market, I thought this old, bright-blue car was oddly adorable.  Adorable enough for a picture.

Umm, you spelled Michigan wrong…

Trying a rambutan. It looked more like a deflated, maroon blowfish than a fruit…but when the vendor cut it open for me to try, it was surprisingly delicious.

Bought una bolsa de mango y piña at the mercado for a snack.  Fruits are eaten with a mixture of chile and salt here in Mexico.  I liked the chile aspect, but there was way too much salt mixed in with the chile powder.  This was definitely the first time in my life that eating fruit has made me thirsty.

Nommin’ on my fruits.

So many peppers!

My mango + pineapple + chile combination.

Piles of piña.

Eating frutas under an awning that says frutas.

Decided to take a picture with this camel at a nearby hostel because the painting was cool.

Cafe4

Cafecito: My Puerto Starbucks

When arriving in Mexico, my Starbucks habit died hard.  Since there isn’t a Starbucks anywhere near where I’m at, it’s been a month since I’ve gotten that Caramel Frappuchino or Americano fix.  Luckily, I’ve been able to find some great cafes in Puerto.  At first, I found a cafe called Casa Choc, but with my luck they closed indefinitely as soon as I got addicted.  Not to worry, because I discovered Cafecito which is actually even better.  There’s nothing like an afternoon of drinking coffee or tea, eating an ensalada de fruta, attempting to read in Spanish, and updating my blog with my recent adventures.  Pictured above are some of the pastries and breads sold at Cafecito.

Sippin’ on té helado de manzana y canela (iced apple cinnamon tea) while updating my blog.

Café y fruta: my two favorite things.

In case you were wondering what the logo looks like, here it is.

Puerto Angelito

Perusing the Beaches

Since I go to Carri every day, I thought it would be nice to mix it up and see what other beach options I have.  I walked to Puerto Angelito and Playa Manzanillo to evaluate the situation, but it seemed like there was less room to lay out and less young people chillin’ in these spots.  So basically I ended up deciding that Carri is where it’s at and I should just keep spending every day there.  Pictured above is Puerto Angelito.

Another view of Puerto Angelito.

I was up on a hill when I took pictures of Playa Manzanillo and Puerto Angelito.  This…hmm well I don’t exactly know what it is…but this thing was right next to me.  Inside, there were several crosses and a burning candle.  Kind of strange.

Playa Manzanillo.  Can I live in that house?

Carri1

Carri Lovin’

Monday through Friday, I spend my mornings in los Centros de Salud and my afternoons in mis clases de español.  What do I do after?  Beach beach and more beach.  Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I eat copious amounts of tropical fruits (they’re so cheap and delicious), and then I usually sleep some more [tropical fruit induced food coma].  I also like to read Vogue and Elle in Spanish to try to improve my vocabulary, but that usually just results in me being more sleepy and I really only learn one new word…if I’m lucky.  Since Playa Carrizalillo is directly between my house and the language school, I make a trip there usually at least once a day.  There are 100 stairs to climb up on the way home, but Carri is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to so it’s 100% worth the minor asthma attacks.  Above is the view of Carri from the top of the stairs.

Ran into this here cangrejo on the way down the stairs.  Only missing one toe, no worries.

Storms a brewin’ (I think the dark clouds were behind me…)

This was my attempt at getting a picture of the rain.  Conclusion: the  iPhone 5 better have a nicer camera.

Pouring and sunny.  Another attempt to capture a beautiful moment, killed by the iPhone.

Fresh mango and piña.  The BEST ensalada de fruta.

Partera1

Visita a la Partera

After Spanish class, the other students and I made a visit to the partera to hear about her lifestyle and job.  Parteras, meaning midwives, are used by some 30% of the people in Mexico and nearly 100% of the people in indigenous communities.  The ideal place for childbirth with a partera is in the house of the partera.  In her own home, the partera maintains a clean area for births, provides natural pain remedies (hierbas), and takes care of a mother and her baby after the birth.  Why do women use parteras instead of trained doctors?  Sometimes women don’t trust the Centros de Salud, other times the costs are too high, and often religious beliefs of indigenous communities prevent women from seeking medical care.  Here in Puerto, we spent 15 minutes driving to Barra de Colotepec to meet the local partera.  Unfortuntely, she wasn’t in her home but we are going to make another trip later this week.  Regardless, I tried to snag some photos of the setup while I was there.  Shown above is the bed where women give birth.  Nothing more than a couple of sábanas (sheets) and a petate (grass mat).

The outside of the hut where the partera delivers the babies.  Also pictured:  mi madre/Spanish teacher Sol and my roommate Rachel.

Kind of blurry, but here’s another view of the inside.

Hopefully I’ll have more information about parteras in Mexico after speaking with the partera herself.  The information from this post was provided in my Spanish class, but I am more excited to hear about the career firsthand later this week.

 

Walk to Zicatela

There is no better way to end my day than going for a walk with my iPod or my camera or both… y nada más.  Here are some photos from my walk starting at my house and ending at the beginning of Zicatela, the famous beach of Puerto Escondido.

In love with the colors here:  clothing, building, ads… everything.

So far away from home, but I can still find that maize and blue.  Another thing that slipped my mind until now:  the first day I arrived to Puerto [during my first surf lesson] there was a fisherman about 15 feet away from me wearing a Umich jersey.  I’m in a small, middle-of-nowhere surf town and see a Umich shirt the first day I get here?  Crazy.

I love paintings, boats, and oceans.  Clearly I’m in the right place.

Más lanchas (boats).  I have yet to go on a tour, but the plan is to go to Mazunte this Thursday to see some tortugas with my friend Julia from Germany.

Hand-painted cerveza ad on the side of a restaurant.

Lanchas, lanchas, y más lanchas.

Dedicated to the fishermen lost at sea.

View of la Playa Principal.

Not really sure what this is.  Some sort of bridge that looked mysterious, so I decided it would make a good photo.

I want the orange bike for shenanigans back in Michigan.  I miss my tandem.

Una sirena.  I love mermaids, but I think it’s partially due to my obsession with Starbucks.  As much as I miss my venti Americanos with an inch of extra hot steamed soy and sugar-free cinnamon dolce, it’s been nice not spending so much money on coffee. The lifestyle here has been so refreshing:   it’s all about meeting and getting inspired by new people, learning about other cultures, and learning español.

Why yes, I do indeed like boats (that’s why they’re in just about every photo).

View from la Playa Marinero.

The rocks between Marinero and Zicatela.

More colors and hand-painted walls.  Plus the sand and the ocean.  Four great things in one picture.

This interesting (well I don’t know what to call it so we’re going to go with hut) hut is between Marinero and Zicatela.  Does someone live here?  Honestly, I have no idea but would like to know the answer to that question.

The beginning of Zicatela, coming from Playa Marinero.

Walking up el Mirador to get a better view (and picture) of Zicatela.

View of la Playa Principal from el Mirador.

View of Zicatela from el Mirador.

I swear the waves look bigger than 2 inches when you see them in person.

 

IMG_1244

Doctora Tortilla

After spending nearly three weeks in medical clinics, what have I learned?  Well, in addition to learning the basic procedure such as weighing patients and taking pressure, I have learned to make tortillas.  What?  Handmade tortillas?  Sí, hecho de mano.  Here in Mexico, the doctors take long breaks for mealtime.  At around 9:30AM every morning in Copala, we headed to a traditional Mexican home where the doctor would eat anything from grasshoppers to pescado (fish).  Since the comal (traditional Mexican oven) was only feet away from the table we sat at, I was able to watch every day this past week.  I even got to test my tortilla-making skills.  So here are some photos from my try at Mexican cooking.

Here is la masa (basically dough made from maíz aka corn) sitting on the metate.

La tortilladora.  This is used to turn a ball of masa into a properly-shaped tortilla.

Aww yeah someone nailed the tortilla smashing first try (okay, I’ll admit that part is easy and I don’t think there’s any possible way to mess up).  Also, I don’t think the proper name for this process is “tortilla smashing.”

Removing the tortilla from the tortilladora: not an easy task.

So nervous, deep in thought.  The “oven” pictured here is called a comal and is used for cooking in traditional Mexican homes.

Please note:  Very poorly shaped and burnt tortilla that is already on the comal.  That was my first attempt (like I said, not easy).

Second attempt: success.

Ay, ¡muy caliente!  Y estoy feliz porque estuvo bien.

 

Copala27

Week in Copala

As of today, it has been three weeks since my arrival to Puerto Escondido.  Where did the time go?  Only 5 more weeks, and I wish I had so much more time to explore.  My typical day consists of waking up around 6:30AM to eat breakfast, catching a colectivo to the clinic, observing the doctor for the morning, returning home, going to Spanish class, then siesta (aka nap).  And the occasional fiesta of course.  This week, my assigned Centro de Salud was located in a pueblo about an hour from Puerto Escondido.  The ride there included weaving back and forth through mountains on bumpy roads when it was about 100°F+ outside.  In other words, I never felt the greatest after the trip to or from Copala.

José, Dr. Rolando, and I walked down to the river to see if there were any mosquito larva.  Dengue and malaria are a threat to the locals. Although malaria is somewhat rare, dengue is common during the temporada de lluvia (rainy season).

Another view of the water we were inspecting.

Dr. Rolando walking towards El Centro de Salud.

Another view of el Centro de Salud.

The people of Copala live in houses like this.

Palm leaf roof.

There are animals wandering EVERYWHERE.  Pollitos, roosters, and some of the ugliest dogs I’ve ever seen…

Thank god there are mango trees everywhere.  My favorite fruit is so cheap (and often free) here.

Anillo (ring) – This is where the bullfights are held during los días de festivo (holidays).

We went to the cemetery to drain the water that was in flower pots that people had left near the graves.  We removed the water to prevent mosquitos from reproducing there and eventually causing Dengue fever.

I am still so in love with colorful pottery.

One of the consultorios.

Another consultorio.

 

market2

Mercado – First Trip

After spending a couple weeks in Puerto, my roommate Rachel and I decided it was finally time to figure out where the market was.  After spending about 30 minutes trying to catch a colectivo (basically a taxi but cheaper) we made it.  When wandering around the Benito Juarez Mercado we saw anything from varieties of meat and fish, to clothes, to pottery, to freshly squeezed juice, to produce.  The meat smelled awful, since it had been out all day in the near 100°F weather.  We also noticed that there were about at least 100 flies buzzing around it (gross).  Needless to say, when it was time to start purchasing, we skipped out on the meat and stuck to the fruits and vegetables.  Peaches, cantaloupe, and mangoes were only few among the many I purchased.  Not only are all of the fruits at the market fresh and delicious, but they are also extremely cheap.  Here in Mexico, I can buy 2 mangoes for $6 (pesos, of course).  That is equivalent to $0.43.  I’m going to have a hard time spending over $2 per mango at Whole Foods when I get back to Ann Arbor…

View of the market as we entered.

Vendor I bought most of my produce from.

Where I spent most of my money (note sarcasm).

I love all things handmade and colorful.

The juguería.  Tons of freshly-squeezed juices.

Freshly cut fruits.

 

Kinder Eggs Never Get Old

[Note:  This post should have actually been before "First Night in Puerto" hahahah OOPS]

Since I had a 24-hour layover in Mexico City, I stayed in the Hilton Hotel inside the airport.  Luckily there was a Starbucks right at the bottom of the hotel, so I could get some caffeine to keep me awake.  I ordered a grande caramel frappuccino light with sugar free caramel (frozen drink) and ending up actually getting a caramel macchiato (hot drink).  Clearly I’m really good at Spanish.  Anyways, since I’m always nervous I’m going to be late, I left my hotel around 10 for a 1 o’clock flight.  Needless to say, I was about 2 hours early to the terminal even though I had to take a 20-minute shuttle to get there, make it through security, and try to find my way around the airport only speaking Spanish.

Another note on security:  when passing through security my second day at the Mexico City airport (they check your bags when you leave and when you enter), they found my giant pair of scissors from school in my backpack.  I had no idea they were in there, but I made it through 2 previous security checks without being caught.  Nice job America…letting me carry weapons on the plane.

When you’re two hours early for your flight, what are you going to do?  Well I just buy Kinder Eggs and a Mexican Vogue of course.  And after that, try to study up on some Spanish Starbucks lingo so that I don’t botch up my order again.  For those of you who don’t know what Kinder Eggs are, I will bring you one because you need to know.  Basically, it’s a chocolate egg with a toy on the inside.  Might sound lame, but I promise it’s exciting.  Well…they’re getting a little less exciting than they used to be, but I like to think that’s because the toys are getting worse and not because I’m getting older.

The toy I got in Mexico City was pretty pathetic.  A green piece of paper?  No… it’s actually a blow-up frog.  What am I supposed to do with this?!

After killing 2 hours doing nothing, I got on the plane.  There were 6 of us total.  So many empty seats!  On the flight to Puerto, I saw my first volcano.

I also made my first friends from Australia!  A couple from Perth… their names are Terri and Rhys.

 

IMG_5889

First Night in Puerto

I arrived in Puerto around 3 yesterday.  Since my program did not start until today, I spent the night in a hostel/hotel called the Mayflower.  My room was on the top floor and had a beautiful view of the ocean.  It took me about an hour to settle into my room, and then I decided to take surf lessons since my host dad is the instructor!  That was my first time surfing, and I will definitely be doing a lot more of it.  I was able to stand up and surf the wave to shore a couple of times, but we mostly just practiced paddling and making it through the sets we didn’t want to surf.  There were two other girls taking lessons, and their names were Amanda (from Oregon) and Alicia (from Russia).  After surfing, we headed back to where the two were staying and ate watermelon and bananas and swam in their pool.  Later on, we met up with Angelo (one of the surf instructors) and we also met his friends.  They’re awesome and I cannot wait to spend more time with the people here.  I love it!

This is the view of the ocean from my room at the Mayflower.

Here’s a shot of my room.  I love the color and detail of the painting on the wall.

Closer view of the painting.

I felt an odd necessity to take a picture of the ceiling.  Not normal.

The desk in my room was right next to the window with a perfect view of the ocean.  Would have been perfect to relax and read my Vogue de México de Mayo but I was too busy surfing and making friends.

RHCP

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Road trip:  the best way to celebrate the end of Sophomore year.  What makes it even better?  The fact that the destination involved seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers live.  I always had a feeling that they were my favorite band.  But now, all suspicions are confirmed:  They are indeed número uno on my list.  From Californication to Sir Psycho Sexy and eventually the encore Give it Away, their energy and talent didn’t cease to blow my mind.  Now the question is, to see them again or not to see them again.  Lolla 2012?  Sounds like a wise investment to me.