Salsa, Exploration and Graduation

May was fast and furious!  I can’t believe it is June already.  The year is coming to a close here at the American School Foundation of Mexico City – just 11 days left.  I have really enjoyed my time at the school.  I’ve been teaching seniors and sophomores this semester and overall the kids have been really fun to work with.

Soon I fly back to the US to the gorgeous state of Oregon for the summer to finish my masters in Geography Education at the University of Oregon.  It will be good to have an MS to join my MA behind my name.  🙂

But let me recap a few fun events that happened in May.  First salsa dancing!  So much fun.  So very hard.  And here I thought I was a pretty decent dancer.  Well, if you don’t know the steps or the correct way the hips are supposed to sway with those steps then the whole thing is a disaster. I understand all the twisting and turning as I love to Swing dance, but salsa has specific steps that you must know.  I have gone a few times now and it is an absolute fact that I need a class.  This last Saturday I went with some friends to a salsa bar I hadn’t been to yet.  It was full of people with silver hair.  Great I thought, slower music, maybe I’ll get it a bit better.  But no, they are so comfortable with years of dancing salsa that the subtleties of their touch and sway made it nearly impossible for me to connect at all.  Yet they were so kind to me and kept trying, but it was helpless.  I am a person who needs to understand the concept.  Once I have it, I’m good to go.  But I obviously am missing the vital steps.  [here is a little taste of what one can do if you are really good! AMAZING LATIN DANCE!]

I also took a weekend off from working on my graduate project to do a bit of sightseeing which I have not done much of.  I went up into the mountains (about 9,000ft / 2800m) into thick forests of evergreens, pines and oddly enough palms.  The smells, the clean air, the quiet, all were so enveloping.  I am definitely meant to live in the mountains, not the city.  I just instantly felt more alive, more me, able to think and I couldn’t help smiling.  I think the friend I went with got a bit tired of hearing how happy I was.

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IMG_3108We visited a small town that has been declared a “Puebla Magica” which basically means that the government has given the town money to invest in sprucing up the town with new roads, paint on buildings, adding handcraft markets etc.  And this little town of Mineral del Chico did a fine job.  It is just charming.  We even found a house for sale – perfect weekend getaway.

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Then we headed over to Real del Monte which is a park with a big lake.  They have a zip line from atop one of the hills down and across the lake.  I was going to do it but was chickening out when a few others decided to try it as well, which was starting to give me the courage again – at least I wouldn’t be the only one to die.  But by then the operator couldn’t be found and we were out of luck (or was it good luck?).

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See the line above my head? That was the zip line.

From there, our little group headed over to an old silver mine.  Real del Monte mines have produced over 6% of the silver mined over the last 500 years.  There was a tour, but it was in rapid-fire Spanish so my friend and I decided to wander about.  We found ourselves all alone in the tunnels of a mine.  It was cool, literally, and drippy.  We went deep inside and just as we were getting to the end of one branch all the lights went out.  Yikes.  But the little opening, way, way down there was still in sight.  And then we remembered our iPhones have a flashlight mode – phew.  If I hadn’t been with my friend, all my old scary memories of when my brother used to scare me in dark places would have reared their ugly heads.  But instead we giggled and made our way quickly back out.

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IMG_3124Just as the big thunder clouds began to roll in we headed back to Mexico City.  Quick day trip, but good to be out of the City for a day.

This last weekend was graduation for our seniors.  There are 186 in this class.  I taught 55 of them.  All upper school teachers are required to attend and march in gowns and caps.  It was actually kind of fun.  The ceremony was really beautiful and the speeches were top notch.  Although I don’t know the kids that well, it was really fun to see them graduate.  Such a big moment in life.

ASF Grad CollageThen yesterday we had a “fun day” for what is left of upper school: 9th – 11th graders.  There was food, of course, and three legged races, watermelon eating contest, ‘pie a teacher’, and sumo wrestling.  Silly and fun 2 hours.

ASF Fun Day CollageSo with my seniors gone I only have two sections of sophomores left, which means my days are quite easy now and I am more focused on getting it done and moving on.

In my short 5.5 months, I have enjoyed my time here.  Mexico City is not very daunting as it seems like it should be considering there are over 22 million people living here.  It has beautiful sections and extremely poor sections and everything in-between.   There is always something to do.

But I am ready to get out of the city and away from the pollution.

Off to beautiful Oregon in 14 days!

Have a great week!

Gretchen

 

3 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Education, Mexico

3 responses to “Salsa, Exploration and Graduation

  1. Donna

    Can’t wait to see you!!

  2. sandylanderson

    Wonderful adventure. And hey, I’d like to see you too. Sandy

  3. moppy barr

    hope to see you this summer!

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