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:

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Today was Saturday, and it was one of my best days yet. The weather was great, we had no school, and we had a nice walk around town. After a small lunch we went to pay the cable bill (we didn't know that my dad had already paid it). After that we paid the gas bill. We then went to the cultural center of Ensenada and just looked around. They had some art to look at and some books. We also found out about some free concerts that they have. We then walked to a small store that sold handmade crafts created out of aluminum. The artist showed us how he made them and let us help him with one, which he then gave to us. We ended up buying a cool picture frame. By then it was about 2:00 pm so we rented a movie for the night and went to try a new taco stand. It was amazing. It was the best one we've ever been to, and that's saying something. We then got some paletas. These are like popsicles but a million times better. And now it is now and we can only hope the day gets better from here.

Us at the cultural center.

The best Tacos in the whole world. The other kid goes to our school.

There were two cruise ships in today and it got me thinking, Papa you need to have a take-your-grandkids-to-work day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The end of the month has finally passed! September was the hardest and slowest month of my life. October has come and things will be much easier now that I have suffered through September. I have gotten to know people in my class better which is going to help tons. Every day at recess I play tag with my two best friends (who are both named Marco) and other people. I am starting to get used to my new school. We have discovered that the food served at school is way too expensive. You can buy two pancakes and nothing else for a dollar fifty. If you want some fruit that's another dollar and if you would like a drink that is another dollar. (get what I'm saying?). So now I usually bring my lunch. Also there are no computers or projectors or screens in the classrooms. There are no hallways. All of the classrooms open up on a courtyard. The classrooms are small and the floors are concrete and filthy. There are no novels to read, only textbooks (even in the library!) But, the teachers are nice and learning still goes on. With only one hundred thirty students in the school every thing is smaller. Every Monday we have to salute the flag and sing the national anthem. I just mouth "watermelon, watermelon, watermelon" over and over again. Every day in the morning we have to say prayers and I mouth "watermelon, watermelon" some more. I do still try to learn the words but it is all too fast for me to get. I am glad it is finally October! (Happy birthday papa!)