Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of second week - filler

The second week ended with a trip to Parque Nacional Cimitario - an extinct (hopefully) volcano just outside of Queretaro. The park was well-maintained, with a gate, trails, bathrooms and camping sites. The only thing missing was a telephone, which made the return trip home more difficult after arriving by taxi. Mostly mesquite forest interspersed with nopale cactus, although there were many patches of eucalyptus plantation from previous shortsighted attempts at reforestation (eucalyptus is an Australian tree species - non-native and much different than shorter, pricklier, native vegetation). We saw a few neat birds, including vermilion flycatchers and phainopeplas. There were many unrecognizable hummingbirds - always a tough family to identify. All in all, a place worth visiting again.

The second week is over and somehow I am already three weeks late writing this blog. Quite an accomplishment. The second week was pretty uneventful; mostly Spanish classes and other informational sessions. So, rather than tell other stories from the week, here are a few thoughts on adjusting to Mexico (they all might sound negative, but I am having fun, I just need some venting):

The sun doesn't rise until almost 8am here. It feels like January in Buffalo... I hate January in Buffalo.

We don't eat lunch, or "comida", until 2:30. The locals eat lunch even later. It's a long time between 7:30 breakfast and comida. And, unfortunately, there is no siesta in this part of Mexico.

When Mexicans travel to the US, we expect the Mexicans to speak English. When Americans travel to Mexico, we expect Mexicans to speak English.

There is no such thing as "the pedestrian has the right-of-way" in Mexico. Crossing the road on foot, especially the intersection near my house, makes me question why I'm in the "Peace" Corps.

It's hard to communicate with my host family - I asked my host mother if Ana and I should cook for ourselves on Sundays so that she can rest. She said yes, that would be nice. Turns out, she thought I told her that I wanted to cook her entire extended family dinner the following Sunday. So, the following Sunday, we had a family party and we ate pizza.

And finally, "Tuna" is a very popular food here, but it's not what you think. Tuna is actually the fruit of a cactus (or, more appropriately, the seeds of a cactus with a little fruit too). There are many types of tuna, with scientific names like red and green and orange. It's served with almost every meal, sometimes as the meal. I don't like tuna, but its not because of the flavor (watermelony), the excess seeds, or the strange name. I cringe a little every time I hear the word "tuna". It reminds me of something painful from my past, but it was a while before I knew what. Finally, I was watching an NFL football game, saw Bill Parcells' name, and remembered that he is the "Big Tuna". I hate Bill Parcells. Bills fans know why - sad how that lingers and impacts me subconsciously, but those were my formative years.

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