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Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Trip Begins!!

I have been in Guadalajara since Sunday, and I finally have a chance to sit down and write a blog. What a busy week! I am having a fabulous time and learning a lot, at school and at home. I am living with a host family, and they are so nice and generous. I have been eating delicious food, although I haven't had a chance to try tortas ahogadas (the signature dish of Guadalajara) or any street food, because I eat all my meals at home.

I take the bus to school and here's something anyone who rides public transit in the US would like--the driver gives you change! Also every bus looks a little bit different. One I rode a couple days ago had all of the seats take out on one side, which was surprising but turned out to be refreshing becuase I caught a breeze from the window while standing. In order to catch the bus, one needs to flag it down, other wise it won't stop for you, but there is usually another one coming in the next 5 minutes. It's quite convenient.

While I'm on the bus, interesting things happen, for instance yesterday a friend of the bus driver who works as a window washer hopped on the front of the bus and cleaned the windshield at a stoplight. That definitely never happens in Seattle! There is a big problem with people selling things in the street here (it's illegal), and at stop lights, people try to do tricks for some change. Today I saw a group of young kids, probably 9 years old, juggling limes in traffic during a stop light. It made me so sad to think that that's what they do all day instead of going to school! I don't know how the police work here and if they would try to get those kids to a school or social services, but I'm guessing that's not one of their main concerns because it's a pretty common practice.

My school is located right next to the historical downtown area, and every Wednesday the school takes the class outside for a tour. However, yesterday was Dia de Muertos so we had an event at school and our tour was shortened. For Dia de Muertos, a tradition that only Mexicans celebrate, it is common to create an altar to dedicate to a deceased loved one. At school, we made an altar dedicated to Pancho Villa, and every Spanish student got to read a bit about the symbolism of putting things like candles, water, and food on the altar while we put it together. For instance, the candles are to guide the soul of the person to the altar, the water is so they can wash and drink after their long journey, and their favorite foods are to eat.

You can rotate my photos using the buttons below them.

After the celebration we went on a tour of the historical area, and we got to see the cathedral, the plaza, a tianguis (a covered market), and I took so many pictures! Here are just some. I can't stop taking pictures of the buildings here, they are so striking and I absolutely love the mix of colonial buildings with the relatively new (and usually pretty unattractive) construction. It is a really neat contrast, and also the varied and bright house colors are something I look forward to seeing every time I leave my house.

The tianguis

The cathedral and the area around my school

This place is a hole in the wall that's next to a 7-11 near my bus stop, and I walked into it and it's a little open patio! Very cool.

I will update more later on the walk of roses (like Pigs or Cows on Parade, but with roses) and pictures of my neighborhood. In the meantime, I will continue trying to speak Spanish without offending anyone and trying so hard to be understood. Manners and niceities are so important here and they are hard to incorporate when I'm trying to get the right conjugation! I miss you all and am very excited for my journey to continue!

Julia (Yoolie, as my host family calls me)


  1. Great! What a different world from Seattle in so many ways. Seeing this makes such a difference for me. I miss you but keep going and keep up the great workx0x0x0

  2. Great pictures! It looks fascinating!