Heneghans Abroad

Corrie, Mary, and Mike are living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wookin' Pa Nub...in Reverse

Howdy all,

One workday for this teacher:

3:23pm A group of us teachers meet weekly to work on classroom management issues. Nerd alert!

2:50pm Yep, school's over. Mark, our tech guy and good friend, "helps" me with "my" camera.
11:39am Lunchtime. Sometimes it's off campus we go, but today, it's at our outdoor cafeteria. Pretty great lunch for 3 or 4 bucks.

9:06am My 9th graders. Another English teacher and I swapped 9th grades at the semester break, so these guys are pretty new to me.

Little before 8am: The kids are here and scrambling to get to class. Lockers are outside and never locked. Ever. Never heard of one theft.

7:35am: Josiah--friend, teacher, school counselor-- hobnobs with Maricela, queen of the charming senoritas in our cafe.

7:07am: Head into school. Still dark.

6:58am: Meet my friends and coworkers Meredith and Kylie outside for a ride to school.

6:40 am: Breakfast

Hope everyone is healthy and happy,

Mike, Corrie, and the Bear

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas in Guadalajara

This is a Torta Ahogada, a specialty in Guadalaja. Sourdough type bread, filled with porky, side of onions and lime, then drenched in a tomato chicken broth. It is supposed to be THE hangover cure. You need this sort of thing living in Mexico.

The Heneghans took off for Guadalajara with our friend Brett for a couple days between Christmas and New Years. Guadalajara is the big city in these parts, with close to 5 million people. We are in mountain country in Vallarta, and Guadalajara is all the way up at the top, so it's quite a bit cooler. Drier too.

3 days with a little chill, basically eating and walking among a lot of great art and history. Dig it.

The main Cathedral and square in Guadalajara. I'm sure there's a reason, but every square I've seen in Mexico has a gazebo in the middle of it.

Above is part of a set of really fantastic, modern murals done by a Mexican artist named Jose Clemente Orozco. The building they are housed in is the Hospice Cabanas, which is a sprawling structure. What I thought was interesting, in addition to these murals from the 1940s, was that this place was built to be an orphanage. Guess they knew how to build em back then. It housed over 300 kids at one time. That's a lot of poo-poo.If you look closely in the pic above, you can see huge patterns of blueish-green below us. That is mezcal growing, the plant used to make tequila. Tequila, not unlike champagne (and this is the ONLY way they're alike. Well, that and the fall down go boom), can only be made in Jalisco, the state where we live.
Kickass central market in Guadalajara. Sprawled for blocks and blocks. Sold everything under the sun (most of it is indoors, though).
Part of Plaza Tapatia, where we strolled for much of our time. The Cathedral sits on one end, the Hospice Cabanas at the other. Mare Bear and balloons in between.
Horsey ride with Mary, Brett, and the nice man who didn't overcharge us too much.

Peace in the New Year,

Mike, Corrie, and the Bear

Friday, January 1, 2010

Greetings. From Mexico.

I think it was after we’d been here for three or four weeks. Corrie, Mary, and I were strolling through the mall, admiring all the charms of the Mexican mall—smoking!—when we ran into one of my new co-workers from school. I introduced Corrie and Mary, as they had never met her. I’m not sure how it all went down, but a brief awkwardness ensued during introductions. My new friend from school was then kind enough to explain to us that in Mexico people greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek. Or rather, as I was to find out through practice, a kind of air-kiss where your cheeks touch and that’s about it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve lived abroad, and I know that different cultures do things differently: I’ve seen “Gung ho”, “Dances with Wolves”, and “European Vacation”. But I was pretty young in Saudi Arabia, and frankly, we were pretty much sequestered away from the whole Saudi culture while we were there. I do know that men and women didn’t have a lot of contact with one another. They sure as hell weren’t kissing in public.

In Poland, as a twentysomething, they shook hands as a greeting just as we do in the U.S. The main difference was the frequency. I used to play weekly basketball with about 15 guys and every week as each of us arrived, you had to go around to each guy and shake his hand, very firmly. We were usually crammed into a small closet-turned-locker room too, with all of us in various states of undress, so this always led to the slightly uncomfortable shaking of the hand while making sure your pants are on. The only out of the ordinary greeter in Poland was my boss, Adam. He would frequently give big bear hugs and real kisses on both cheeks. He would often serve vodka in the middle of the day too, so I think it was just his way. Very jolly, that Adam.

So the kiss on the cheek thing has been an ongoing adjustment for me. Thankfully, I have a few friends who are naturals at it and almost always seem to instigate it. I keep waiting for someone to flinch back and say something like, “But Mike, you’re a married man!”

I also am wary about starting this practice with women who I’ve, to this point, never done it to before. For example, there are some people from work that I’ve started this practice with and it seems all very good and kosher. I’ve even side-kissed one of my superiors and it’s gone swimmingly; however, I cannot imagine the horror I might inflict on some of the other ladies. “What the F are you doing, Mike?” Sometimes, there’s a brief moment of eye contact, and I wonder if they’re thinking, “Wait a sec. He’s leaning in? What is he…oh my God! Does he think he’s going to kiss me?”

In contrast, I was a quick study when it came to greeting other men. It’s not a lot different than back home, but it’s novel enough. Simple and the same for everyone: a hand slap followed by a fist pound. Works for the bus driver, your boss, or your students. It’s like Mexican men got together as a country, decided on it, and there you have it.

Easy, and kinda cool.

Love and such,

Mike, Corrie, and the Bear