Friday, December 15, 2006

For those who don't know...

...I will be home in Florida on Sunday! I leave GDL bright and early and arrive around 3:30 p.m. in Orlando.
My last week with my kids was fine. Not good. Not bad. They've definitely had the pre-holiday jitters for quite some time, and I am thankful that we both get a break from each other. I really need some refreshing and rejuvination. I pray that I can go back with an eagerness to teach.

Anyways... I will possibly see you soon!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Playa Sayulita

What do you do when you have a ton of grading to do, you really need to be planning for next week, and you are going to leave in 2 hours to go for coffee with friends? Why.. you write in your blog, of course. !

I realize it has been a while since I've last written. After the first trip to the beach I felt like I had a lot of work to catch up on that I didn't get done that weekend.
Since then, the weather here has been COLD! It went from normal to freezing pretty much overnight... I think due to a hurricane off the coast. One morning the computer said it was 38 degrees! I definitely did not pack for such cold weather. AND our house has no heat of course and is all tile. Heat doesn't stay inside.

So, as a perfect escape from the bitter cold and talkative students, a group of us teachers went to the beach last weekend (There was no school on Friday) We were so fortunate because we got to ride with two other teachers who have cars here, saving time and money. We went to a beach north of Vallarta called Sayluta, about 4 hours away from GDL. It was a very cute town, albeit quite touristy. We stayed in a cheap, hippie-commune type place. Some of the group stayed in bungalows (walls, a curtain, a bed and a hammock), but a few of us wanted to have a bathroom, so we rented an actual room with a bathroom. None of these accommodations, however, had locks, or doors that shut. It was hippie-style, glorified camping. Super fun. (Except we did end up having a rat or mouse get into our food both nights. Yuck!

The waves at Sayulita were very big. There were a lot of surfers. Our first day there we swam and layed out for hours. But, because of the rough water, another beach was recommended to us that was calmer-better for swimmers. So on Saturday we walked to another beach, called Playa de los Muertos (The beach of the dead...)
Ironicly, at this "safer" beach, 2 of our groupmates fell victim to pretty bad injuries, and another girl (not with us) broke her collar bone and we cared for her while her brother ran to get a car.

On Sunday, we got breakfast at a little cafe and then drove 30 minutes north to another beach to spend the afternoon before heading back to the city. This beach was called Los Ayala and was more pretty and way less touristy. In Sayulita there was the craziest assortment of foreigners... just weird looking people from all over. In Los Ayala there were pretty much purely Mexicans. Who doesn't love a really authentic place. Once again at this beach we walked across some land to get to a more secluded beach. And once there, we swam around a small rock jetty to get to another beach. It was so beautiful.
I had so much fun, and I loved hanging out with these girls! I can't wait to go on another trip!

This is part of our "hotel" on the beach.

Playa Sayulita

The group walking through the jungle-like woods with a cemetary to get to Playa de los Muertos.

Charla and I on a big rock on the beach.

Some natives playing on the rocks.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Playa Manzanillo

Last weekend (sorry... I've been lax on posting lately) Jenny, Rebecca and I went to a beach called Manzanillo with a group from a church here in Guadalajara. Manzanillo is south of Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coat.
We learned about the trip because we are friends with some of the people who attend the church-the Iglesia Biblica de Guadalajara. This church has a Thursday night bible study a lot like the one we do on Fridays (but bigger and in Spanish). I would like to go, but I haven't yet because it is totally across town and it goes until late. We teachers have early bedtimes. Anyways... the beach.

It was more of a retreat than just a weekend at the beach. They had flown in a speaker from Guatemala. The theme was El Arca (the arc) and they talked a lot about faith. I was very excited because I really understood almost everything he said.
On Saturday, after our morning session, we had most of the day to just hang out at the beach. That evening at 5:00 we took a boat ride to an island. Both the ride and the island were really great. The beach was pretty, but not the most beautiful I've seen. Although I really liked the water. Even when it was around 15 feet deep we could still see the sandy bottom. I realized how much I've missed swimming.

We got back late on Sunday night, after a 4 hour ride in a very uncomfortable van... and I have sort of been recovering ever since.
Here are some photos!

Jenny and Quetzal

The judging of our sandcastle competition.
Rebecca, Jenny and I on the island.

A group on the island. The guy in the front-right is Higinio, who planned the trip.
This rock is supposed to be an elephant. Can you see it?
My sandcastle group. We made an arc... but you can't really see it in this picture.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Black Widows

This is from our front gate. Enough said.

Dia de los Muertos

Thursday, November 2nd, was the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We had no school because, even though our Christian school doesn't recognize the very pagan holiday, the public schools do. And we follow their calendar.
SO, halleluia for a break! We took advantage of it and 13 of the teachers went to Chapala, the town with the biggest lake in Mexico, and then to Ajijic, a neighboring town. It was really great to see some new sights. Ajijic had some awesome, colonialish Mexican streets and a plaza. It felt very authentic. And we saw some Day of the Dead alters. The people basically think that their dead loved ones come back on this day, so they make them an alter where they place flowers and the person's favorite food, and they light candles. Thinking, I guess, that the dead person will come back to eat. I don't know...
But we did get to go to an alter to Frida Kahlo, made by some art gallery owners, so that was neat to see.
The town Ajijic also had a lot of Americans and Canadians... apparently a big retirement place. It was exciting, though, that even with all of them it still retained lots of Mexican-ness. OH! but we did go to an American store, with all imported items that you can't get just anywhere. But holy cow was it expensive! For example: Kashi cereal $8-9.00. Natural Peanut Butter: $16.00!
So... I felt that I didn't miss anything enough to wipe out my funds.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Decades Dance Party

It was fun (I was 50s)!

And I forgot to set my clock back last night, so now I am up early and posting pictures.

Ten white girls and a mexican.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Field Trip!

On Wednesday the first, second, and third grade classes went on a field trip to the Bosque de los Ninos, a.k.a. The Children's Forest. It was planned as a celebration after the children's week of Spanish exams were over. It was a really really great place! Just my kind of trip--the owner stopped the busses before we drove up the mountains to their place and had all the kids get out. He then talked about the smog we could see over the city, versus the fresh air of the mountains. And ways we can help. It was great. When we got to the Bosque, there were about 10 counselors waiting for us. They totally took over, leaving the teachers free to roam, take pictures, and keep an eye on things. It was like summer camp for the kids. They were all grouped up with a leader, around 10 kids in a group. They had activities like planting plants, doing obsticle courses, starting a bonfire and roasting marshmallows, three legged races, etc. The kids came back totally filthy, but happy.
OH, and Soolim, my Korean student, kept telling me before the trip..."I have a surprise for you! Don't bring your lunch!" and she brought me homemade sushi! Two whole huge rolls of it. amazing!

Getting ready to leave

The kids getting prepped.

The obstacle course

Edgar getting soaked!

Some members of the green team: Soolim, Esli, Chloe

Thank you for our books!

That's Erick, holding the book. My student who used to say he hated reading, and now asks me when he can read!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm pretty impressed by the honesty of my students. Here are some examples from today.

At one point, during a bible 'sword drill' where the class races to find the bible verse and whoever finds it first and stands up may read it, there was a tie between two of my boys. Well, soon after about 6 of the kids were chanting the name of one boy. This made me pretty mad, and after I asked how they would like it to have the class rooting against them, I called the few whom I had certainly seen to turn their cards.
Well, I didn't notice all of the chanters, because soon I had a few students saying, "I did it too, Miss Peterson." "You forgot me". As they walked to turn their cards.... shame faced. Well, hopefully. :) It was hard to stay mad after that.

Ok, second example. This week the third graders had exams in Spanish class. Today was their History of Jalisco test, and from what I could tell by their anxiety, it would be hard. When I came back to the room after the test and asked how it went, most said pretty well. But one student, who is of my funniest boys but also the one who gets in the most trouble for talking/playing around, told me he things he got a zero. When I asked why he said, "Well, I was looking at Yuri's paper and Miss Charo saw me and told me I would not get all my points". and I asked, "Was it an accident, were you just looking around, or did you really look at her answers to copy them?" and he said, "No, I was really looking at her answers."
tear. He didn't seem to have a great deal of remorse... but he was certainly honest about it. (He assured me he would never cheat in my class.... I'll be seeing about that..)

Oh.... Even though it has been a super crazy, tiring, weird week... I love my kids a lot today. And that makes up for it all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


So, today was a very exciting day! I will start with the most exciting part. This afternoon when I went next door to see some of the girls, I noticed a quite large package sitting on the table. "Someone is lucky!" I thought.... until I read the label and realized it was for ME! My friend Kristi from our Friday night bible study, who is a medical student here in GDL, went home to Miami for a week and offered for me to have some things sent to her. When she told me, I had just been dismayed over the lack of age and reading level-appropriate literature at our school for my kids. SO, I began researching good third grade books, and I talked to my mom about it.
Thanks to her and the AMAZING, GeNerOUs, WonderFul people who donated books, my class will now have a very good selection of chapter books for their reading pleasure. There are some especially interesting looking books for my super picky boys!
I'm pretty ecstatic! There was also other great things that I've been missing, like my big NIV study bible, and venus razors! Plus more. More! woohoo!
(A big thanks goes to Kristi who had to bring back an extra suitcase to fit it all--oops)

Another exciting thing that happened today: I left school at 8:30 this morning with two of the other new teachers downtown to get our FM3s (we are going in small groups). This is a passport looking document (with yet another awful picture of myself...blah), which allows me to work in the country. It also means I can get a bank account and will no longer need to rush to the bank before it closes at 4 on paydays and stand in a huge line!
I must say I felt pretty cool, in a foreign governmental office, getting Mexican papers.
The downside was that we got back late and I rushed into my class 10 minutes after they were done with lunch/recess. Fortunately Joy had seen what happened and brought them in for D.E.A.R. time and stood in the hall to supervise both classes while I was gone.
Ohh... the things that would never happen in America....

p.s. Libros means books.

Friday, October 13, 2006

a couple pics from today

I took a couple pictures of my boys today.

Seth, Oscar, Carlos, Pablo

Oscar, Gustavo, Pablo, Edgar (and Victor in the front)

They're all so cute. Well.... most of the time.

The DVD player

Last night, while Megan, Joy, Jenny and I were watching what was pretty much the climax of Mission Impossible 3, the movie decided to freeze. So, after trying and failing to fix it with the remote, I got up to try turning the DVD player off and back on again. Well, as soon as my hand touched the button it made this loud bang noise like a car backfiring! So, needless to say with four girls and loud, scary electronics, we screamed and jumped across the room. Then it did it again! So, we unplugged the cord from the wall, which fortunately was no tooo close to the freaky player.
However, we began smelling yucky burnt electrical smells. After a short break, someone decided to try and plug it back in to attempt to get the DVD out (it was from Blockbuster). However, that resulted in another loud bang, this time accompanied by smoke billowing out of the side. So, we stopped that. Eventually, we resorted in taking apart the possessed thing to remove the movie. Megan did a good job, exibiting some signs of Hulk-like stregth ;) , and we finally got it open, and the DVD out....not without a huge scratch, however. But it is our theory that it came like that (as many of them do) and was the cause of the DVD player's corruption.

Megan starting the destruction process...

Pieces that fell out when we shook it....

Success! Well, for the DVD I guess... not the player.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday pictures!

So, today was a lot of fun! I found some really cool things, and now I have an idea of all the stuff out there, so I can shop more seriously later on. Check out the pictures! (I also added pictures of Tlaquepaque to the previous post... look at those, too.)

Some scenery from el centro. There was some kind of indian ceremony going on. Check out the sweet baby!

Shopping in San Juan de Dios....

Oh no... Tara found birds!!!

Looking for a job, anyone?

Free Hugs!

A very talented waiter at a restaurant with the Guiness World Record for the fastest service.

No School!

Today we have a day off! (I think it's for Columbus Day,... but it's also the Virgin of Zapopan day as well, so who knows) It was originally marked on our school calendar there was no school, but the Mexican education people like to change things alot. So, for a few weeks we were told that we WOULD be having school on the 12th. Then, less than a week before, it was announced that we would not have school, but that could change at any moment. Well, it didn't change and today I slept in! hooray!
Today six of us girls are going on an outing with a fellow teacher named Rebekkah. SHe's pretty amazing.... she's American but she grew up here, so she's basically more Mexican than anything else. And she has a second-grade daughter who's the same way. Anyway, she is going to take us around to cool places around town where we can get some authentic Mexican handicrafts. We may not be purchasing today, but the plan is to see what our options are when it comes time to buy Christmas gifts (wink wink).
Speaking of's not too far off. I can't believe it's nearly mid-October! It is pumpkin carving time! crazy!

And speaking of school closing.... the Kinder ( where the preschool through pre-first aged kids attend) part of Lincoln, which is located across the street from the main school, has been closed down by... the government I think. I don't know all the details... but apparently people in the neighborhood have not been happy with it for some reason, in addition to issues that we probably are not privvy to. And the result is that last friday the school was told they needed to produce some kind of paperwork by 8:00 that night or there could not be school on Monday. Well, they couldn't, so the Kinder was closed (they have this tape across the door and anyone who enters would go to jail!). This whole week they haven't been able to get in. Tues,Wed, and Friday of this week classes are taking turns holding class in the chapel at the main campus. Then, next week the entire Kinder will be on our main campus.... which, frankly, will be nuts. They will be in the library, the chapel, a teacher's lounge, and an unused classroom. So... this situation needs prayer. I don't know what is going to happen, but it's not a good thing. So, remember the school in your prayers.

ok, I'm off to shop!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tacos and Tlaquepaque

Friday-The day of tacos.

I bet when you hear the word taco, the first image that comes to your mind is like a cruchy shell taco, with ground beef, lettuce, maybe some tomatoes and cheese on top. Well, I haven't seen anything remotely like that here. The real tacos, from the real taco stands (which I ate at twice on Friday), are tiny little corn tortillas, maybe 4-5 inches in diameter, flat on your plate with a spoonfull of carne asada (a beef with seasoning...but not ground beef.. I don't know how to explain it really) on top. Then you add your salsas, onions, and fresh cilantro (they're big about that here).
They're good.

Ok, enough about food.

Saturday- The day of spending my paycheck.

In the morning I went to the market down the street and bought a few bags full of fruits and veggies-delish! I even got some Jicama, which is this really watery root vegetable which I'm looking forward to snacking on.
Then some of us went to breakfast down the street at this cute place with art, but it ended up being disappointing because EvEryOne was smoking so that took the fun (and flavor) out of eating.
Later, Megan and I went to the Mall and shopped a little bit. I was on a hunt for new shoes, but I didn't find anything. I did get a tank top made out of organically grown cotton, though!
But the really exciting event of saturday was after we shopped, we went to the movies at the mall. But not just any theatre-the VIP theatre! It is like a dinner theatre, but with these huge, cushy, reclining chairs. Before the movie, a waiter comes around and takes your order and types it into a little computer which sends it to the kitchen. Our food came out before the movie started--ahhh, what service! I watched a movie, with my feet up, eating sushi and caramel popcorn (yea, the theatres here serve Caramel popcorn!!)
It was amazing.

Oh, and Saturday, another teacher at the school named Rebecca met Megan and I at the theatre, and Megan drove home. You see, our friend Jacque has a friend visiting and wondered if Rebecca would let her use her car on Sunday to see some of the sights. Generously, and bravely, Rebecca said sure. So, after dropping Rebecca off at her house, Megan drove us home late Saturday night! It was her first time driving in Mexico, but she's aggressive and adventurous and lived up to it wonderfully! The only scary moment (besides the insane potholes) was when a cop pulled out behind us with his lights on. But he turned--we were fine. :)


Megan, Jacque, and Jacque's friend DeeDee went to a Baptist church . It was the first church in a real church building that I've been to here..with pews and everything. It was also the earlist sevice I've gone to--it started at 9:30. Most start around 11:30 or so. Anyways, after we drove to Tlaquepaque--the cute artisan pueblo that Jenny and I had gone to before with Quetzal, but it was especially wonderful yesterday! It was a sunny, beautiful day... and strolling through the plaza, around cathedrals, on car-free cobblestone streets with amazing furniture, art, and jewelry stores was just perfect. We ate lunch in a restaurant with a huge, beautiful, shady garden and fountains. I loved it!
Whoever wants to visit me will certainly be going there! It is my current favorite!

When we got back home on Sunday afternoon we were pretty worn out, but after a short rest a few of us went with Rebecca and her amazing daughter to the shoe mall. Yes, it's a whole mall of shoe stores. I was in desperate need of some more shoes for teaching. It's crazy how fast they wear out here, with the water and the walking. Especially the water. Rain + canvas and rope-bottomed shoes= disaster.

Anyway, it was a fun, albeit expensive, weekend. but well worth it.

Megan and I outside of a really fun sculpture gallery and store.

The Tlaquepaque centro area, with a man selling sugar cane-yum!

The beautiful place where we ate lunch.

This is how Jacque feels when Megan is driving. (just kidding, she's really good!)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fuentes... aka fountains.

This is right down the street from our house.

This one is in the middle of town.

There are fountains everywhere here!