After a year in Chiapas, I have grown to love many things (and dread a few). I thought I would include a list of things that I will miss.
Things I Will Miss About Chiapas
The students and their families. My students worked hard and learned a lot of English. We shared a lot of laughs and some tears. And we did a lot of workbook pages (AMCO). I was welcomed into many families' homes and given many beautiful gifts. I will never forget the generosity of my students and their parents.
My friends Juan, Yeysi, Antonio, Francisco, Sixto, Abram, to name a few. In each case, I will miss them, but I will also miss joking around with them. Juan and Yeysi - giving them a bad time as a customer in their restaurant. Antonio and Francisco - hanging around their produce shop teaching them English slang and names of produce in English (The latter always sent them into hysterics, but I never knew why.) Sixto - Trying to get him to repaint the school in pink or electrocute my students with the electric fence. Abram - locking him out or getting locked out or trying to get him to supply the school with draft beer rather than purified water.
My neighbourhood, Colonia Teran (pictured above).
Dr. Simi, a well meaning, impossibly energetic pharmacy mascot who straddles the fine line of creepy and friendly. He is often posted outside local pharmacies and is usually engaged in subtly brainwashing young children into becoming consumers of the Similares health food products and medicines by giving them lollipops (laced with who knows what mind-altering chemicals).
The food, although I won't really be missing it that much as I will be recreating it at home. Some of my favourite dishes and drinks include:
Pollo con Mole, Enchiladas en Salsa Verde, Quesadillas con Carne Asada, Gringas (not American women), Empanadas con Pollo, Chile Rellenos, Tostadas, Ceviche de Camarones (even though it gave me salmonella once), Sincronizadas, Tacos de Pastor (made with real pastors?), Tescalate, Horchata de Coco, Carne Asado con Nopal and much, much more.
Marimba Park - the heart and soul of Tuxtla. For a couple of days I was so inspired by Marimba Park that I was contemplating taking Marimba lessons. This was short lived as I realized four of my handicaps would be in effect simultaneously:
1 - NO rhythm (a big one)
2 - Difficulty following verbal directions
3 - A hearing impairment when there is background noise (dance instructions stated over music)
4 - Trying to understand Spanish (very early in my stay there)
Colectivos - These are sort of like a poor man's roller coaster that transports you to your destination. See my post in August for more detail (It is called, La Vida en Tuxtla - scroll down).
Haircuts for 25 pesos or $2.50 CAN. Movies in a theatre for 31 pesos or $3.10 CAN. Enough said.
Things I Have Learned in Chiapas.
Today, while I was looking for a recipe, I found an old post with the above title. I thought I would repost it and add a few other things I have learned since then.
Things I Have Learned in Chiapas
1. All definite plans are tentative (unless it's a deadline I am facing).
2. Start times are similarly indefinite.
3. Read the label of food you are buying.*
4. If it can be put into a blender it can be turned into a refreshing drink.**
5. If edible, it comes with tortillas (even soup).
6. Similarly, if edible, it can be served with chiles (even popsicles).
7. If a vehicle can go faster, it will.***
* I thought I was buying marinated vegetables at Exporganicos. It turned out that I bought pickled quail eggs with vegetables (they looked like mushrooms). All's well that ends well. They were quite delicious even if it was weird to think that I was eating eggs from the strangest birds in the Blenkinsop Valley.
** See previous post about strange beverages: Strange Things I Have Eaten III
*** You would rather not know the details of this revelation (or series thereof).
Other Things I Have Learned in Chiapas
8. Volume is controlled by a button, not a dial (meaning the sound is always full volume).
9. The term "simple task" is an oxymoron* in Chiapas.
10. Nearly every problem is viewed as unsolvable**.
But the most important one probably is . . .
11. Look BOTH ways before crossing a one-way street. OR Rules are a little more flexible in Chiapas.
* Case in point: Ordering supplies at the American school. You simply fill out a form and turn it in by Thursday with the list of supplies. It will take between four and five weeks to get basic materials such as white board pens. (You will be told they ran out even though Office Depot and other large chains have enough to supply the school for several years.) If you try to order something unusual, meticulous detail in Spanish will will not be enough to get you the correct materials. You will need to remind the people in charge of your order between six and ten times. Eventually your students will offer to buy the materials for you (true story).
** You will probably be told, "Nimodo" which is an expression that means something like, "Well, what can be done?" (implying nothing).
Looking back on the year, there were many highlights. Ultimately though, I chose to return to Canada after only one year. From a teaching point of view, I was required to teach a curriculum that required only two skills: rote memorization and copying. I could no longer pretend that I was teaching. The wonderful children I taught, the friendships I have, the richness of the culture, the incredible beaches, nature reserves and ruins all worked to convince me to stay. Unfortunately, the frustration of not being able to teach, the noise, the pollution and garbage, the difficulties of living in a foreign country and other things overwhelmed me and I decided that one year was enough. I feel that my time in Chiapas has enlightened me and I hope that my blog may have done the same for you on some level.
Thanks for reading.
PS: I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the following email: