Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tourist Fun

We have family and friends visiting for vacation. In addition to enjoying holiday celebrations together (including Lisa's birthday), we have been having fun as tour guides for the bunch. Until now, we haven't spent too much time as tourists here -- our arrival was filled with intensive Spanish classes and setting up house and then we jumped into a very busy school and work schedule. For the past few days we have been tourists, enjoying everything from boat rides to wine tastings . . . and lots of taco tasting (perhaps our favorite activity).

Tomorrow our friends and Uncle Eric will head back "to the other side" (as our local friends call the U.S.) and my dad will join us on a road trip to Sonora, where we will be tourists for a few more days. Here our some photos of the tourist scene in Ensenada and the neighboring Valle de Guadalupe.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Santa Brought Skim Boards

Santa seems to have known that we were spending Christmas in a different climate zone. No snow boards this year for these Baja boys. Santa left skim boards under the tree! So, Nathan and Theo have been learning how to skim board with Rachel and Jessica, friends who are visiting from Massachusetts.

All four of them looked a bit out of place today on the beach in bathing suits. They played in the water for hours while their parents (and all of the locals) walked the beach in jackets. But, the weather was beautiful and the kids insisted that the water was warmer than the water off the Massachusetts shore in summer. I didn't check it out myself, but I do know that that these four have spent many days together playing in frigid ocean water and on snowy mountain tops. They had a great time.

Enjoy the photos of our December beach day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The reason none of us have blogged in a long time is because we went back to Denver for my grandmother's funeral. She died after a long and hard sickness of Alzheimer's. I really never knew her very well until after she was diagnosed with the disease. Alzheimer's is a disease when you begin to forget everything. From how to talk to how to eat. Partially I think that it's good that this happened because she had no life what so ever sitting around not being able to do anything. During the service I learned about my grandma and who she really was. I learned that she was a very fun person and she won awards and she loved to sing songs. While I was there I saw my family and I hung out with my cousins. I even got an early Christmas present of heelys.Besides the reason it was great to come back and visit. Or journey back wasn't so good though. After the plane from Colorado we took a trolley to the border. Then we walked across the border on foot (while it was pouring rain)to a bus station to take the bus back to Ensenada. Our trip was over.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

El Festival

Okay I'm sorry this post is late.
As you know last week there was a big talent show at our school. Not only that but it was a big religious festival called El Dia de Cristo Rey (The day of Christ the King). First there was this big mass. It was a very looooong mass. The choir sang songs, and students read passages, and it went on for quite awhile. After the mass we had to do these stupid dance things (rhythmic movements they called them), that we learned from our gym teacher who can't dance. Nobody was enthusiastic, therefore our classes "rhythmic movement" sucked pretty bad. After, we got food and there were games for everyone. I really just hung out with my class and other kids from a different school who had come over. Personally I thought the party had plenty for the kids to do but nothing for the parents. After all the socializing came the talent show.

All in all the talent show was pretty sick. Except for me only younger kids participated, but that was okay. Supposedly you had to demonstrate some trait in Catholicism (like honesty or generosity or something). Theo and I kind of skipped that part (which is one reason we didn't win). The whole show was also a fundraiser to raise money for an organization called Teleton. It is an organization that helps kids with disabilities. We donated money but apparently each team had to raise money separately which we didn't do (which is another reason we didn't win). Anyway my piece went really well and so did my brother's. Afterward I went to grab my backing track and two of the d.j.'s pulled me over and asked me to participate in this huge 80's music festival they organize every year. It's gonna be huge! with lights, and huge amps, I am officially psyched. Actually I'm just about to call and confirm.
Here's a video of my performance sorry about the sound quality, but I left my bigger amp in Denver:

Friday, November 28, 2008

The School Flag Ceremony

For quite a while now, Laura and the boys have been talking about the weekly flag ceremony, at which they watch a presentation of the colors (red, white, and green), recite the Mexican version of the Pledge of Allegiance (to the flag of the United States of Mexico), and sing the national anthem.

This is the version I witnessed on Monday, November 23. I am told that everything was fairly standard, with the exception that the recording of the national anthem wasn't working. So fortunately the second and third graders sang their little hearts out. Theo, as you will remember, was singing "watermelon watermelon watermelon," and Nathan...well, he wasn't singing much at all.

Have a look.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nathan's Classical Recital

Tonight Nathan gave his first classical recital in Ensenada. As is usual, the date was announced relatively far in advance, but the actual time of the recital was not communicated to us until 2 days ago. Five students of Nathan's teacher, César Marmolejo, performed. Here is a video of Nathan's performance.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Yesterday, there was an event at school, called the Dia de Cristo Rey. There were a lot of fun games and events, but the one I worked the hardest for was the talent show. I played piano, and the song I played was called "Agent X," which I played in two concerts before. There were probably a couple of hundred people in the audience, and I think it came out really well, even though I was so nervous before the concert.

My dad taped it on video. Here it is!


Today I was homeschooled by my dad for part of the day. He took me out of school and for two hours, and I studied Spanish intensely. My brother was jealous, but it was really just studying the whole time. I learned the future tense, the preterite, the present progressive, and another form of future. I think that it was a productive day in Spanish!


Today I am proud of myself for starting the fifth grade homework. Before I had been doing the easier fourth grade homework ( I attend fourth grade classes when the fifth graders are having English class). All of this means that just maybe, only maybe am I learning a tiny, tiny bit of Spanish!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Running on the Race Course

The biggest problem with running in residential areas of Ensenada is that I attract the attention of many dogs. Since crime is a problem here, people have dogs . . . big, vicious-sounding, mean-looking guard dogs. Most of these dogs are not on leashes. Some are locked behind the ornate fences of gated homes. But others run and chase freely. Since dogs can't tell the difference between innocent exercisers and "narco-traficantes," I have been chased by many furious furry beasts as they try to protect their turf.

After a bit of searching, and with help from Mark the Map Man, I found a workable running route from my apartment. (It is always possible to drive to the beach and run there, but I also wanted a place to run from home.) From my little condo in "Zona Centro" I can run 3 or 4 blocks east (away from the ocean) and into the hills. In just a few short minutes I can be off of the pavement and onto dirt roads in the dry hills that surround Ensenada. There are few homes in this area, thus few dogs. There are many off-road cyclists who love these dirt roads and paths, so I have enough company to feel safe and secure. I'm never really alone.

Yesterday, Mark accompanied me on my run. We noticed some police barricades near our route, so we inquired about getting through. After I asked in Spanish if we could continue up into the hills, the police officer responded in clear English, "Yes, just stay on the side." So, we did. We ran up and up and wondered what all the commotion was about. Finally, after a mile or so of dirt road, we ran into a man who wanted to make conversation. He pointed out a helicopter circling overhead and said that the helicopter was probably following a pack of cars, so we should see some action soon. . .

So, as it turns out, Mark and I were running on the actual race course of the Baja Mil. We had no idea that the racers were using MY running route yesterday. In fact, we thought that the Baja Mil was a race that started in Ensenada and ended in La Paz. But, apparently they change the route all the time. This year's course started and ended in Ensenada. So, we stopped to catch our breath, moved as far to the edge of the dirt road as possible, and waved to the motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, souped-up SUVs, and VW bugs that came careening by. Luckily, there wasn't really a pack at this point. So, we had plenty of time between cars to run down to the wider city streets.

It just seems awfully strange to me that we were allowed to run on the actual race course. The police officers never would have guessed that we didn't know the race was happening -- I don't think they were withholding information. They just assumed we were die-hard race fans who wanted to be the first to see the cars come out of the hills. But no, we were just oblivious foreigners living in a land where you run at your own risk.

We didn't have a camera with us to document our run on the race course, but we went home and got the boys and watched a few more cars from the safe sidewalk of our neighborhood. Here are a few photos:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baja Mil

Yesterday one of our friends took Theo and me downtown to see some off road vehicles that were getting ready to race in something called the Baja Mil. The Baja Mil is an 1000 mile off road race all around Baja California. It's been happening annually for about 35-40 years and is pretty big around here and with racing fans around the world, (there were many Gringos there). There are motorcycles, pickups with extra big shocks, and big off road vehicles with shocks so huge I could sit in between the wheel and the wheel well. Even though I'm not a racing fan of any sort I still had a good time.

Here's a picture I got off the internet of the race.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things Happen

Today was one of those days when you just want to go hide in a corner and be alone. The day started as a normal okay day, with my classes going great. I even got a big Hershey's dark chocolate candy bar in math for getting a good grade. The bad kicked in when I went to the fourth grade. I started to get a little off my good day when I needed to get a copy of my homework assignment sheet. I went in and everything was just fine except that the teachers were saying something about me and I didn't know what it was. That was just a small thing but things do get on your nerves sometimes. The next thing that happened that just got on my nerves was that I seemed to be saying a lot of things wrong today. People were laughing at the things I said wrong and not telling me what I said wrong just leaving me wondering. The thing that just finally pushed me past my breaking point was another small thing. It was when my class was practicing for a presentation when I had to say my line. All I had to say was a name ("Limantour"). I thought that I had said it completely wrong because everyone was laughing. I just couldn't control myself and I just sat down and cried. After I pulled myself together I thought how stupid it was to let that happen and I am writing this to try to feel better.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Water Woes

I must have angered Poseidon in a past life. And now he is getting back at me, not with a tidal wave of trouble, but rather with drips or droughts at the most inconvenient times. Right now there is no water at all coming out of the faucets, but there are soaked towels all over my kitchen floor because when I do have water it leaks from the pipes. Our running water "dries up" about every two weeks for a few hours and then magically returns. The water often stops running on Friday afternoons for some reason . . . I think it's because I often want to do laundry at that time. The leaking problems started with our boiler. It started leaking just before our first house guest arrived from Denver -- of course. We've had the boiler replaced, but the plumber who installed the "new" (used) one didn't seal the pipes well. The bottom line is a kitchen full of puddles and many befuddled telephone conversations with el plomero. We still have plenty of water to drink, since we buy that from a convenience store across the street. So, perhaps I only irritated Poseidon and didn't infuriate him. We'll see . . .

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Here in Ensenada I have no toys, not one and sometimes on the weekends I get bored with nothing to do. Recently I have found some "toys" to play with. One of them is not a toy it is called, cats. If you met these cats you would be amazed because they are the nicest cats in the world and I'm glad to finally have a pet. There are two of them, one is black and the other is white. Both of the cats like each other and like me.I'm not sure if they have owners or not but I never see them with any one so they are now mine. Having cats to play with is fun but not enough. So the answer is paper airplanes. My mom packed a paper airplane kit for her students because it had an article on flying. I realized it would be fun to use. Now it is the best thing ever. So far I think I have made twenty in two days. I've been experimenting with my own and using the book.. My Brother and I have been throwing them of the top floor of our apartment building. Since some of the airplanes are bad they ended up on peoples' balconies, and I now only have fifteen planes. I am glad I thought of paper air planes and met these awesome cats or else life would be quite boring on weekends. Here are some pictures of my new "toys" here in Ensenada.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, it's Halloween. Or Day of the Dead. Or both if you're in Ensenada.

Today different classes at the school made altars to the dead. They had to negotiate among themselves as to who would be honored by the altar. One class honored the husband of their teacher who died a year or so ago. Another honored the grandmother of one of the students who died last month. Another honored Walt Disney.

Theo is in fifth grade, and his class got into an argument that ended with the fifth grade being banned from participating. One girl suggested that they build the altar to her father, who died in a scuba diving accident when the girl was only ten months old. Several of the boys berated her for her suggestion, saying they never knew her father, and neither did she, so why suggest someone so silly. Of course the poor girl was beside herself in sadness, and cried, and the principal had to come in and tell the kids they were mean and hateful and did not deserve to participate. Some of the boys, especially, were non-plussed, though we are learning that a few (besides Theo) were more than a bit upset by the whole affair, thinking that these dominant, alpha-dog boys were really horrible.

But that was only a small glitch, in part because Theo swims between both fifth and fourth grade, and when he gets tired of one group, he can seek refuge in the other.

Tonight both boys were invited to Halloween parties. Nathan did not dress up for his (he's too mature now, of course, even though many of his classmates did put on costumes); Theo went to his party as a vampire.

So Laura and I had a few hours off. We asked the hosts of Nathan's party for a suggestion of where to go out for drinks and a light supper. They suggested a place called Ophelia', which was not too far away (though it took us a while to find it). Wonderful little restaurant. Ordered a nice bottle of wine from the local vineyards (we are living in the New Napa, after all). and an appetizer of scallop ceviche (wow) and an entrée of lasagna (comfort food). And a pear tart for dessert.

We had a very nice date. We talked about all manner of things, including how our lives are finally becoming more international in scope, what with Laura scheming about how to stay involved in this school even after she finishes the year, and what with my business probably expanding to serve clients in Hong Kong and South China.

Right now, I'm waiting for a parent to drop off Theo at the apartment; Nathan is still at his party, and Laura is drinking (more) wine with the parents at that party. It seems that every time the kids have parties, the parents hang out, too. So our social lives are pretty darned great down here. Everyone is über welcoming and friendly, and happy to pour the wine or open more beer.

Oh, and did I mention it was in the high 80s today? Delightful.

Here are some pics:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Best Weekend

Last weekend was probably my best weekend yet.
Friday we had a big book fair, and everyone in my class had presentations on either books or countries. Mine presentation was on Harry Potter 1, but the Spanish teacher says I was supposed to talk in English (ironic huh?). It was a little weird speaking English, but I thought I did well and I have passed Spanish. After that I went to my friend's birthday party until 8:00 and we all had lots of fun. When I got home my friend from Colorado was there, he had come to visit for the weekend during his fall break.
The first thing Michael (my friend) and I did was head down to our favorite taco stand, El Paisa for dinner. Of course Michael loved it and we all had a great night of eating and catching up on news. The next day we got up and walked down to the panaderia (pastry shop) to get breakfast for everyone. After we had our breakfast we all decided that we would all go to the beach to hang out. Of course we needed a lunch, so Michael and I walked down to El Paisa again. We got some delicious tortas (large sandwiches) to go and brought them home, got all our beach stuff ready, and left. Everyone had a great time at the beach and we boogie boarded and looked for sand dollars. While there we also found the best skipping stone in the world (which we named Dom). With this rock you could skip 13-15 times, easy. The waves weren't that amazing for boarding but we had fun and I worked on my technique with help from Michael (who's a surfer). After the beach we went home and relaxed for a while. After a long day we all went to a seafood restaurant for dinner and walked around the center of town. We relaxed more afterword.
On Sunday we had a very lazy morning. We pretty much just hung around until 12:00 talking, playing soccer, hacky-sacking, playing guitar, and fooling with Michael's fancy camera. Later we went downtown to explore and hang out. I got some pretty sick shoes, too. We all then went to a family friend's house, with some other friends of ours. It was a great night and we had lots of fun hanging out with all the kids. Everyone was very welcoming and we had lots of great food.
Monday I stayed home from school in the morning. We hung out and went and got our last tacos (they were mole, delicous!) and passed the time until we had to drive Michael to the bus station. His bus left at 9:30 and I had to go back to school.
Thus ended the best weekend ever.

Picture time:

Michael and me at the beach

Theo digging a hole

Theo in his hole

Some sealions we saw close to shore

Some of our friends (Scott the professor on the left, Luis the orthodontist on the right)

Berenice cooking amazing food

Everyone together Sunday night celebrating the birthday of Luis (white and maroon striped shirt). Sorry I blinked.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Security Breach

Today we had to be extra clean and organized. Why? Because we had our backpacks checked today. Yes, I’m serious. I felt like I was going through airport security. First they checked your pencil case, your cubby thing, your backpack, and then they kind of did the hand check all around your pockets and jacket. It was really weird. They checked your hair and your fingernails too. The principal thinks I need to cut my hair. Everything that does not have to do with school is taken away, small toys, discs, even books for pleasure reading!

Some kids hadn’t cleaned out their things beforehand so there were many attempts to hide things. One girl hid her things tucked in the waistband of her skirt. Another hid hers in a shelf in the corner of the classroom. Some of the guys took of their jackets, put their E.O.s (Expressive Objects) in them and sat on the jacket. One boy barely got away with his phone, they were patting all around him and they cane within an inch of where he had hidden it. Another boy had a very good idea. He had a broken chair, so he rigged up a secret compartment under the seat, it worked quite well. It was actually a good thing we cleaned out Theo’s backpack, because he had a two-week-old rotten banana in one of his side pockets. I can just picture my principal’s manicured nails reaching into his backpack, it would have been hilarious.

At school you’re not allowed to wear bracelets or paint your nails or anything. If girls are caught with these things they have to scrape of the polish and their bracelets are confiscated. If anyone is caught with any toys or keychains they’re confiscated also. They don’t allow any make up, lip gloss, or hand sanitizer. It’s insane.

This is one thing I don’t like about our school, there’s no freedom of expression. Everyone just looks the same and has the same school supplies with the same school logo on them. No one can wear jewelry or anything. Everything is so controlled; no one can make a statement or show who they truly are. I mean you wouldn’t want to express your personality at school! It only takes up more than half of your life! It’s a very frustrating thing.

Here are some random pictures of me and my fellow compañeros getting ready for our Monday flag salute: