Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Chickens

Generally I try to stick to my own photos and experiences as I write this blog. However, when Kris told several of us about this, I begged him to send me the photos and let me blog it. We all decided that it was "so Mexico."

In case it is not clear, this is a photo of a man in a chicken costume tied to the front of a car.

I spent some time reflecting about why we all felt that this method of promotion is Mexican in nature. My ideas are in no particular order.

1. Anthropomorphism as Promotion - There are chicken restaurants everywhere and the chickens are always smiling and happy. I always think to myself, "Don't you know what is going to happen to you? Run for your life!" (Yes, I know that I need to get out more.)

2. Pervasive Advertising - Advertising is everywhere here. Cars drive around all day with loudspeakers blaring their various wares and promotions. To be noticed, advertising needs to be out of the ordinary.

3. Risk Aversion, or Lack Thereof - Let's just say that Chiapas (and possibly the rest of Mexico) is not a very risk-conscious society. Driving down Belisario Dominguez, the busiest street in Tuxtla with only a couple of cords holding you to a car seems a little optimistic to me. Colectivos, taxis and other vehicles routinely drive at speeds exceeding the measuring capacity of the speedometer.

4. The Element of Surprise - Just when you think that you have seen everything here in Chiapas, that nothing more could astound or bewilder you, a gigantic, smiling chicken drives by strapped to a car.

There may be more reasons buried in my subconscious, but I will stop here for now.

PS: Thanks, Kris for sharing your photos. If any of the teachers can think of another reason why seeing this brave chicken is a uniquely Mexican experience, email me and I will add your reason to my list.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beach House in Puerto Arista

This past weekend I went with two friends to Puerto Arista. This time the accommodations were a step or two up (actually about twenty). A family of one of my students offered me the use of their beach house. Another family had a standing offer of a vehicle which I finally got the nerve up to request.

The second picture doesn't show the ocean very well due to the back lighting, but it is there. The gentle roar of the breaking waves never stops and I can't think of a more relaxing sound. We were also blessed with some spectacular weather including a lot of rain and lightning. Having lots of room outdoors to play under the covered part of the house, I didn't mind the rain at all. In fact I spent very little time inside despite the allure of the air conditioning.


This shot is of the crab that somehow ended up in the pool. He did not seem to be able to scale the steps and might have been there a long time. People always tell me animals don't think, but I figure he must have seriously wondered what was wrong with the water. We rescued him. I suspect the crab had quite a story to tell.

Everything about the beach house is gorgeous, but my favourite thing about the house is the way the house is built around this tree.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Humor, once again

As we approach the end of the school year, my students know me very well. Of course, I know them better than they realize. Everything just seems funnier now.

This story took place in a recent math lesson. My students are not allowed to speak Spanish in my class at all, but they frequently have to ask what words are. I was asking my students how to subtract some numbers and Nicolas raised his hand. He asked me, "How do I say prestar?" (This is the word for borrow and my students are always asking me this when they need pencils and erasers - a frequent situation.) I was in a goofy mood from too much caffeine or not enough sleep or both, so I threw him an eraser without knowing if that's what he needed. He said no, so I threw him a pencil, a pencil sharpener, a stapler, my water bottle and eventually everything else I had in reach. The students were howling at the spectacle of it, but Nicolas really brought the house down when I finally asked what he wanted to borrow. He was answering my question and wanted to borrow from the tens column. Everyone understood what he'd said and we all lost it.

Their written work often contains nuggets of humor to get me through the boring hours of marking. Here are two recent examples:

In an attempt to write a sentence using the word genius, Carlos wrote, "I is a genius." It brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. Carlos is pictured on the right.

Another recent gem came up three times by three different students. In response to a question about which church the Queen is the head of, three students wrote, "The crutch of England." Although it wasn't always spelled correctly, it was still a striking coincidence especially given that the described the church has sometimes been described as a crutch.