Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday was orientation

Well I’m behind. I’ve been a very busy MexiCAN.

I think I last wrote Thursday. The next morning was Friday and orientation at the University, as well as a placement test to find out what level we would be in. It started at nine…

…but I have to tell you about my homestay sister first! Her name is Ageliki, a fine Greek name, a part-native girl from Canada. We went and picked her up from the airport, Guille, Lore and I, and got good and lost in the area nearby. But we decided we didn’t get lost, we were just getting to know the city better, and it was nice! They called it a bad part of town, but to me it was beautiful – after dark, who knows. And everyone there was so kind – Guille asked several people, just random people in the car next to us or on the sidewalk, if they would tell us how to get to the airport and everyone was so willing to help. One truck driver told us just to follow him for a ways! We got there JUST in time to find which door she’d be coming out of and hold up the sign. We’ve become fast friends – she’s a brave traveler with a great sense of humor and a really kind heart.

Bueno. So that’s Kiki, and we were both going to take the bus from our part of town to the school… but when we woke up for breakfast Mom said she’d be driving us to school that day. So sweet! So she drove us in like a precious mother hen and gave us hugs and kisses goodbye. We got there and met up with the boy from my school who had nothing good to say about his mom, so we just went on and on about how ours is this perfect loving angel and he got a little jealous, natch.

Some guy talked first. I’m sure he was important because he kicked it all off in this nice suit, but I can’t remember his name or position. He told us about a few things in Mexico – that we have to be super cautious crossing the street since it’s basically a big game of Frogger here and the cars get points for hitting us or something. He told the women to get ready to ignore lots of whistles and comments, then talked about diarrhea for a while before cautioning us against heavy drinking. He got done and we had to listen to a few more people prattle on about the same things, we watched this video about the history of la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and all its dozen or more campuses… man. Can you tell I was bored?

One thing I perked up for was an American doctor from Texas talking about this new pill he is testing. Ours will be the last group to be tested before the pill is taken to the FDA for approval. Already there exist pills that help with the diarrhea once you get it – this one will be a preventative pill that the traveler takes for two weeks when first traveling to a developing country. Half the group, he said, will get the pill and half will get placebo, but all will get paid minimum $80 and maybe $100 or more depending on whether you get sick and how many times. That’s American money, by the way, so you know I signed up. I have to keep this diary about what time I eat, what time I take these pills, then answer all these questions about my daily movements and how they came out.

Just to skip ahead a little, today, Monday, I decided I’m definitely in the placebo group. Somebody ain’t altogether well in the belly right now.
So after all the talking and the video and talks about future trips and stuff, we were paraded across campus to take the placement test – out of nine levels, I tested into level five. Not too bad, I reckon. I tried to study the afternoon before but I just fell asleep. By the way, I have really fallen comfortably into the schedule of eating and sleeping here. It’s a breakfast, normal like we do (although I hear some eat beans or chilaquiles or different things, more savory things for breakfast, but my mom makes cereal and fruit and juice and coffee), you head out early (for me – it’s like 8AM or so), get back by sometime around one until three PM, have a big honkin lunch and take a nap, then wake back up to do things and have a late late light dinner, like any time from eight until ten.

So after our tests, we went to get student IDs and then were told we were free. Kiki and I and another student from Washington state named Daniel went looking for the music school because they wanted to take guitar lessons and I wanted to take the bus back with Kiki to show her how it goes more or less. We found it by wandering around more or less, and these two precious tiny old men were inside with a couple or so students. The viejito at the door started asking what they wanted to play and then asked me what I play – I said banjo and piano even though I had no intention of taking any lessons, and he pointed to the other viejito and said that he was the piano teacher. He called him over and introduced us, and I was pretty much told to go play something. I apologized, saying I hadn’t taken lessons in years and hadn’t played much for months, but picked out a Beethoven tune and then a Regina Spektor tune. I was then pretty much told I would be signing up for lessons.

You know what? I’m actually really excited about it. I haven’t taken lessons in years and the guy is a classical piano teacher, and that’s what I really like to play. He picked out some Bach, some Mozart, some Beethoven and they all sounded like songs I would really enjoy playing.

When Kiki and I finally made it back to the house, our mom was so worried! She said that if we had taken another half hour to get home she was about to call the university looking for us and then drive over to find us. Her genuine caring about us is so… just … awesome. Really I wish she was my real mom. She reminds me of my real mom a lot, mostly in the hair and a little in the face and the laugh, only she’s much nicer and I actually feel like she loves me. It’s bizarre. I’m never leaving this house. Okay, of course I am, but I really intend to keep in touch with this family for a while.

It’s crazy – the kids get home and sit on the couch watching television together and cuddle, the mom is just full of real genuine caring for everyone… It makes the house feel like such a warm, positive energy filled HOME. I’m so happy here it’s ridiculous.

So that was Friday. Mom had made this delicious meat in this sauce with a gorgeous red rice on the side and I chowed DOWN. Ate two servings for lunch, took my nap, woke up and hung out with the fam a bit and then had another serving for dinner. If she keeps cooking food this good, I’ma be a big ole fatty when I come home, y’all.

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