April 20, 2004
Hi there friends and family,
Well, time is definitely flying by very fast. We are just finishing
our week here and we only have five weeks left to teach before we
leave San Miguel. Things are going very well here and we will all
be pretty sad when we have to leave this great place.
Two weeks ago, we made the journey to Mexico City to renew our
visas. It took all morning to do and cost $20 for each of us –
a small price to pay and very convenient compared to what it takes
for a Mexican to enter the US. The weekend was filled with interesting
encounters of other foreigners in Mexico. We were staying with our
friend/mom, Alyce Tidball, who works in the American Embassy, and
so through her, we met a few members of the Foreign Service and
the South African ambassador (imagine my smile when we found out
that we were having dinner with him!). We also went to a few museums
and galleries. I really enjoyed going to Frida Kahlo’s old
house and seeing many of her paintings.
After three days in the big city, we picked up my mom, dad, and
sister and headed out the pyramids at Teotihuacan and then off to
the beach. We spent three days on the beach in Veracruz, sufficient
time to burn us whities and see a lot more ruins. We went to see
the ancient city of El Tajin (The Thunder) in the jungle foothills
and it was amazing. Pyramids, houses, ball courts with stone etching
depicting ritual sacrifice, and a lot of ancient walls dating back
to the third century all with a mountainous, jungle backdrop. The
family then got lost driving back because, yes, my father rented
a car and drove around this crazy country. We stopped to ask directions
more than four times a day and also stopped to ask where we were
because we were never sure. Something that you all should take advantage
of in the States is reliable street signs and road signs!
We came up to San Miguel where the fam got to meet my family, friends
and students here. Ester cooked up a few feasts, we hiked, swam
in the river, and taught them the ways of the indigenous people
here. They were blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of
the people here, as they should have been. My sister said that what
she loved the most was hanging out in the bar with my friends and
speaking Spanish. So, the Wixson family at last took a vacation
together that didn’t involve ski lifts and got a real look
at what it means to be Mexican.
After the eventful week, Rachel and I spent the a day in Puebla
spending more donated money, this time from a high school band in
Montana. It was really exciting to buy a bass drum, proper crash
cymbals (we had been using a high hat, which sounds really really
bad), more reeds, music theory books in Spanish, and some Mexican
folk music. This was a successful trip, but it was sad to note that
there aren’t music publishers here in Mexico, there aren’t
band instrument makers here in Mexico and basically all that we
bought was imported from the States. With such a band tradition
here, we thought that for sure there would be something! But no,
it is all just stuff from the States.
We are getting the band ready right now for a Cinco de Mayo concert,
which is just three weeks away. We arranged the state of Puebla
flag song and made our own Mexican folksong medley, making our program
at most ten minutes long. Not bad for a two month old ensemble.
The students are very excited for the performance and ask about
it all the time. We will video tape the concert and show it off
many times when we get back of course!
I am still doing a lot of reading. I had been reading a first hand
account of the Cortes expedition/conquering, but am taking a break
from the depressing slaughter of indigenous folks to reading Harry
Potter #3 and #4 in Spanish – a lot more uplifting and better
for my language skills. I think that one day, it might actually
not rain and I am looking forward to that day – it has been
pretty wet and humid around here. My poor clarinet is getting moldy
and my reeds have all gone bad, but oh well, that is the price you
pay for living in a beautiful jungle.
Anyway, hope that everyone back home had a good spring break and
that things are going well for you.
Talk to you soon,
P.S. new pictures posted at http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=fqyvc1l.5g8f54h&x=0&y=-14s7do