Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Humour and a kitten

My camera has decided to stop talking to my computer. So I will post a picture of this cute kitten I saw one day on the way to school because everyone loves a picture of a cute kitten. I had other pics in mind, but the camera refuses to give them up.

My father arrives today and I may not have a lot of time to post new entries. Not that I have done so very often recently anyway, but it could become even more sporadic.
Consider yourself warned.

If I wrote only about the funny things that happen here, I could easily have enough material for this blog. I laugh a lot here.

While marking books I am often amused by the things the kids write. The children had to finish a sentence about the bluebird of happiness. One sentence came out this way:

The bluebird of happiness flew from [his] nest to eat Mr. Glenn.

Getting eaten by the bluebird of happiness does seem like something that would happen to me. What surprises me the most is that I didn't think my students understand irony, but this one must.

Better yet was this sentence about Plains Indians:

Running Bear was pleased because he had helped to father the whole tribe.

The funniest thing I saw this week was the cap worn by my timid student Maria Eugenia (Maru). Maru's cap read:

Mi mujer está de buen humor. (My woman is in a good mood.)

I was amused by this statement but almost fell over laughing later when I saw what was written on the back of the hat:


The kids in my ESL group all wanted me to explain what was so funny. I declined.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Creatures in Puerto Arrista

I know my posts have become infrequent as of late. I have good excuses. I have been bogged down with the exam/report card process. I have been sick. I have had an overactive social life lately. And lastly I am still a workaholic. This latter excuse on its own would be enough.

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Mexico. I went with a friend to Puerto Arrista for a few days of relaxation with seafood and cervezas. Like my previous visit, Puerto Arrista did not disappoint.

We spent a lot of time in the water, mostly body surfing, of course (after a day or two, I stopped finding sand in my ears and water stopped pouring out of my nose when I put my head down). I suspect that I consumed my body weight in shrimp ceviche. Besides the usual activities though, there was something about the weekend that made it different. Creatures! It all started with an extremely low (roughly 0.000001 %) vacancy rate that resulted in the first day's stay being in a prison-like "cabaña rústica" (rustic cabin). I had never really thought of rustic as a selling point before. The very first visitor of note was a scorpion! I was rather disappointed that he didn't stick around long enough for a photo. My friend - not so much. There were cockroaches (cabaña rústica), geckos, lizards, ants and more. Almost as exciting as the scorpion were the marine animals. The beach was brought to a near standstill at one point as dolphins played in the waves. Pelicans coasted gracefully in formation over the waves looking for fish. Later, I spotted a shark's dorsal fin. Sadly, no one vanished leaving behind a dark pool of blood. That would have been exciting!

In case you are curious, after one night we were able to find clean, critter-free accomodations in a hospedaje right next to the beach. It wasn't an adventure, but air conditioning is nice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Darling If You Truly Love Me II

The last blog described a crazy game we play in my grade three classroom. I said I would post a video of it if I could figure out how. Rick, one of my three faithful readers, responded the next day telling me how. Rick also reminded me that it brought back memories of us playing the game at camp. I had forgotten that the first time I played the game was at camp twenty-two years prior. In fact it had been at a camp staff reunion. It brought a flood of memories back for me too. The reunion was around Halloween and we were in costume. It happened that Rick was dressed as a priest (this is funnier if you know Rick) and the staff member who he had a crush on was dressed as a nun. I can still picture Rick on one knee pleading with her to smile for him.

It gets better. I had just received the email from Rick and a few minutes later went down for our weekly flag ceremony. With the memory fresh in my head I kept starting to snicker. My not very well suppressed laughter caught the attention of one of my students who proceeded to give me my own signal for calming down (a first). The fact of being shushed by one of my own students was funnier than the memory and her signal had the opposite effect. I had a very difficult time trying to be serious after that.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Darling If You Treely Love Me . . .

A few weeks ago I introduced my students to a game I thought they'd like. I couldn't have guessed how wildly popular it would be. The game is called DARLING IF YOU TRULY LOVE ME . . . . The students go up to another student and say, "Darling if you truly love me won't you please, please smile." (or some variation of this) The student who is being propositioned must not crack a smile or laugh and needs to respond with the words, "Darling I truly love you, but I just can't smile." The variations that the kids come up with (both on purpose and by mistake) are endless and hysterical.

Daniela pronounced the word truly as 'treely' and won by cracking up her victim. Soon everyone was saying treely. I am afraid they will forget the word is supposed to be truly. Gilberto began by referring to his victim as 'dolphin' instead of darling and that was comedy gold as well. I have a video of Gilberto leaping through the air to land on his knees and slide up to his victim who immediately burst into laughter. I will post it if it can be done.

Other moments of humor

On a recent vocabulary exam I marked, one girl had drawn a line from the word 'vibrate' to an unexpected answer: 'to make a person feel better.' Although I am a literalist, I marked it wrong.

On a science page my students were being asked which two civilizations discovered magnets - 'the Geeks and the Chinese.' As an answer, this seemed quite plausible as I could easily imagine some guy with his glasses taped together saying, "Hey did you notice that this rock is sticking to things?"

In other news . . .

In other news, I am planning to return to Canada this summer. My contract expires in July and although I love many things about living here, I need to teach in an environment where the curriculum I use contains only the concepts I am required to teach. I need the freedom to teach creatively and spontaneously. My philosophy of teaching (and a lot of the research out there) doesn't support the idea of regular exams and daily homework in grade three. I have benefited richly from the time I have spent in Chiapas and at the American School, but expect to be on my way home in the summer. But you never know. I keep watching for a dream job somewhere else in Latin America.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Las Ruinas en Tabasco

I spent the weekend with my friends Juan and Yeysi in a small town on the border of Chiapas and Tabasco. Juan's parent's town is called Herradura. As you may have guessed, we also visited some ruins. The ruins at Malpasito belonged to the Olmec civilization.

Although the ruins were not extensive, they included two stadiums (one of which I am about to land in - Juan's idea). Clearly sports were important to the Olmecs. Not much has changed.

The following photo shows the first stadium and the stairs/seats overlooking it. The hut in the background is actually a bath house or steam room, presumably for the athletes.

The bath house has two rooms, but the far wall has a chamber behind it in which a fire would be lit. This would make the wall very hot and water could be thrown onto the wall to produce steam. I assume that the bath house had some form of cover. the present cover is probably just to keep rain from filling the bath house.

The last picture is one of Juan and Yeysi. Her name is actually pronounced 'Jaysee' but that spelling would produce a strange name in Spanish. They also have a restaurant a few blocks from my place in Teran. I am a regular customer. Like myself, they are passionate about food and we are always discussing (and often consuming) our favorite foods.