Variations on a Theme


Occasionally I get too lazy to wash my laundry by hand. This has happened more and more frequently as the weather has gotten hotter and hotter. Not to mention we are now in the throes of wet season…which (surprise, this is NOT a misnomer!) is very wet.

Thus, I have gotten to know the laundry lady quite well. We would be on a first name basis by now, but one problem: she can’t remember my first name. She’s only written it at least 10 times. Even when I spell it for her, it comes out wrong.

Correct spelling: Joelle 

(Recommendation: Don’t have a French name in a Spanish speaking country).

Laundry lady spelling:





Joel (+2 for getting close!)

So, despite our tenuous first-name basis relationship, we’re okay on all other fronts. Meaning: she saves me a whole lot of sweating and cursing on a weekly basis. That, if anything, is the basis for a great friendship.

Vela time!


Flash Flood


I have been trying to be a consistent exerciser, which means when I get home from work I lace up my shoes and go for a run. Depending on my ambition level, I have a short route and a long route that I lap a few times before happily passing out under the shower.

Last night I started running my neighborhood loop and – surprise – the shower came to me. I still can’t figure out what they were doing – either emptying or filling some kind of water reserve / well – but it had FLOODED the whole back street and half of the one running perpendicular. The sidewalk had just barely escaped partaking in this gigantic-scale sprinkler.

The neighborhood kids and dogs were having a blast, while the parents were standing there scratching their heads. Since the last street isn’t paved yet, there was mud and pebbles flying around as fast as the kids could move.

Needless to say, I had to run a third route last night – that of “obstacle course: flooded back streets and kids, version 3.0″. Any takers for that reality show?

On a side note, there was one really magical, magical, magical moment when the sun was setting and the sunset reflected off the length of the flooded street – it looked like a mirrored book was slowly closing it’s pages.

“Lenguas” (Languages…or tongues?)


At the end of class the other day, my intermediate students (nosy as they are) asked me what I studied in college. I told them, “Spanish and English.”

They replied, “Teacher, but how can you study English if you already speak English?”

I said (in Spanish), “Estudié lenguas.” [I studied languages - the closest Mexican equivalent to my US major that I could think of.]

Cue the hilarious, uproarious laughter of my students. ‘Lengua’ in Spanish can also mean ‘tongue’ – just imagine where a class full of 18- to 20- year old guys went with that one. ‘Lengua’ can also refer to the edible cow tongue, which is commonly eaten in tacos here.

“Teacher, so you make really good tongue tacos?”

“Teacher, so you have a skilled tongue?”  (etc, etc, etc.)

Never a dull moment

“El calor está bueno…”


This morning I went to pick up my renewed visa (after almost TWO MONTHS – thank you, ever efficient Mexican government). It was seriously roasting outside, so on the way back to work I decided to take the (somewhat more efficient) colectivos (description HERE) instead of the bus.

I was lucky and got the last seat in the back of the car, so I didn’t have to sweat inside the heat box any longer than necessary. Regardless, I was still dripping sweat when my oh-so-couth neighbor says the following gems in quick succession:

1. “El calor está bueno, verdad?”

2. “Qué sabroso el día, no?”

3. “Está sabroso el calor.”

These all translate more or less to the same thing: “It’s a great, fu&%$ng hot day, right? 

All I could do was sit there and shake my head, trying not to hit this man, and keep wiping the sweat as it dripped from my face.  Great heat, all right.


New semester, new class dunces


We’re about three weeks into a new semester. I have a heavier load this semester, but the classes are a bit smaller. I am teaching one section of beginners, two sections of intermediate learners, and one section of advanced students.

The intermediate kids had their first quiz this week – descriptive adjectives. (I’m trying to increase the amount of vocabulary they know, so I hope to give weekly vocab quizzes based around themes). As part of the quiz, they had to describe famous people.

These were some of the prime examples:

  • James Bond is aggressive because he shoots too many people.  Thanks, Capt. Obvious. 
  • James Bond is disagreeable because no se quien es. (I don’t know who he is.) So your ignorance makes him disagreeable? 
  • Barack Obama is disagreeable because he is blackWhen I asked the student what she meant, she said, “Teacher, black people aren’t pretty.”
  • Snow White is considerate because she cares for little peopleWith a note in Spanish saying, “Teacher, I don’t know the word for ‘dwarves’.” 

This semester is shaping up to be anything but dull.

We have next week off for Easter vacation, so here’s to a good stretch of rest. I’m fleeing the return of the humid spring heat ASAP.