Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don Quixote

I am done reading Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.  It was not on my list of books I need to read someday, but after I arrived here in Guanajuato visited the museum about the classic story it seemed like a good idea.  There is a Cervantes library here with lots of copies of the many languages including English.  So reading the book became a goal, which I completed yesterday.  This version is long-940 pages-but the newest English translation in the library here.  It took a long time (over 16 hours), and I do not think I would have persevered in reading it if I had been in the States.  I wanted to know why it is so famous, and am not sure I know.  Don Quixote is the main character, and his companion in his exploits is Sancho Panza.  Anyone reading it would quickly come to the conclusion that the two of them are obviously crazy.  There adventures are at times entertaining, and there are stories within the story.  But parts of the book are just plain long-Quixote is fond of talking a lot, much of it lunacy.  Thankfully, once part 2 started, it seemed to get better, and move along more quickly.  Maybe because of the length of the book, or being distracted by reading such a long book, sometimes I could not keep all the characters straight.  Have you read the book?  It might be worth reading, but sometime when you have lots of extra time and are feeling diligent.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Saturday I went to an outdoor swimming park.  I was not planning on it.  My Mexican friend invited me to go to Balneario de Comanjilla via e-mail.  I asked her (also by e-mail) where it was, and she replied that it was before the exit to León.  Since I had never been there, I wanted to go.  I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see another community in Mexico.  On Saturday I met her at the central bus station as planned.  I had some money, water bottle, and my camera.  When she got there, she asked if I had my things for swimming.  I explained that I did not know that we were going swimming.  She said she had told me. And she had, in a roundabout way, since balneario indicates it is a place where there are pools. The funny thing is that the day before I had told several other Mexican friends where I was going.  None of them mentioned to me or referred to the reason people go to this place.  I thought about going home, but my friend said she had brought extra swimsuits.  It turns out that there was a whole group from church going, we spent the day at the place and everyone had brought food to share.  Thankfully, they were more than willing to share their food as well as an extra towel and sunscreen.
It turns out to be something to laugh about, but also a good lesson.  My Spanish speaking friends thought I would know what the place would be since I know a fair amount of Spanish.  I never asked what was at Balneario de Comanjilla or if I needed to bring anything special.  I need to remember to ask for more details, and I think my friend will remember to be more specific.  The good thing about this lesson is was funny instead of difficult, like some lessons tend to be.  

Friday, April 24, 2015


 The last couple weeks I have been keeping busy with several different things.  I started an art class.  Above is my first complete drawing.  If you look closely, the dog part of the picture was inspired by a page in one of my favorite books for children...Dog Loves Books.  Itis good to be learning and practicing my Spanish while (hopefully) improving my drawing skills.
I have also been trying to use my time well in studying Spanish.  I finally made some flashcards for vocabulary.  Learning grammar was very helpful at the beginning of my studies, now I spend a lot of time talking with others, reading, and learning new words.  It is easy to see that I have learned plenty since August.  Now that time is getting shorter for my studies, I am more devoted to utilizing the opportunity I have here. 
The last thing that has been taking up my time is reading Don Quixote.  There is an English copy in the library which I cannot check out, so have been spendt a fair amount of time reading there.  Progress is slow, but I may be able to finish it by the end of next week.

Monday, April 13, 2015

out and about

Last week I was able to get out of town a couple of times as well as explore a bit more of Guanajuato.  The first excursion was to Dolores Hidalgo, which is significant in Mexican history.   I visited two museums and the church, looked at a lot of ceramics, and tried a few different kinds of nieve (ice cream or frozen flavored ice).  The city is known for it's unique flavors of nieve, and I tried the avocado (creamy) and alfalfa (icy).  The alfalfa tasted pretty good and reminded me of the farm, the avocado was not anything special.  If I get back to Dolores Hidalgo, I will have to try some more of the unique flavors.

Thursday, I went with a Mexican friend who was in search of some flower pots.  We walked through one of  Guanajuato's underground tunnels, saw where my friend lived over thirty years ago, walked up to a mine where we could see some old walls and out over the city, ate tacos at the home of one of her friends and had ice cream.  A note on Mexican tacos, your food is called tacos if you put it in a corn tortilla, so it could be meat, vegetables, beans, or a combination of  those ingredients, but it rarely, if ever, includes cheese.
At end the week, I took a bus to see the Cristo Rey monument.   It looks big in is enormous when you see it in person.  It was good to get out of the city, and the hours I spent on the bus (one hour each way for Dolores Hidalgo and Cristo Rey) allowed me to see the countryside...something I miss a lot here.  

The countryside reminds me some of what a person sees in parts of the Central Valley of California.

It was good to see a few new things, but I am glad that vacation is over and school is back in session.  Two weeks does not seem like a long time for a break in Minnesota, but it seemed long here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry is my most recent read.  It was required reading for me 20 years ago when a college student, this time I picked it up because I found it for a dollar at Goodwill and wanted to bring some decent books with me to read while in Mexico. 
Jonas, the main character, is an eleven year old living in a utopian community.  At the age of twelve, each child is assigned a career.  Jonas wonders what his assignment will be and is quite surprise to get the job of receiver.   His life is altered in a manner he never could have imagined.
Lowry has done an excellent job at telling this story, but it is too bad it is classified as children's literature,  as some people would not pick it up to read.  The content is more mature than some elementary students would grasp and I would not recommend it for all children.  I do think adults should read it, though.  It would be worth  discussing with a book club or a group of teens.  I  am curious about the movie based on the book, which came out last year.  Have your read the book or seen the movie?

Friday, April 3, 2015


This week I have been doing some sightseeing because my school is closed.  On Monday I went to Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel.  It felt like I was out of the city and I enjoyed walking around in the gardens.   None of the gardens were very big, but they each had a different theme.  There were old buildings, old walls, and lots of rock, but not a lot of people, which was a nice change from the center of Guanajuato.
Tuesday I went to the Don Quixote Museum.  Wednesday I walked to two parks I have never been to and the Fuentas Ranas of Guanajuato.  The word Guanajuato means place of frogs, though I have not seen any live ones yet.  My guess is at the founding of the city there was probably more water here and plenty of frogs.  I also went to the Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato.  It is an art museum, with one part dedicated to miniatures.  One of the temporary exhibits there was called Imagine.  It was interesting because the artists took a bunch of weapons and used them to make musical instruments.
The last couple of days I have been sticking close to home.  Guanajuato is a tourist attraction for Mexicans and foreigners alike, and with it being Semana Santa, it is full.  On Thursday, the people walk from church to church.  Today (from a distance) I saw part of a reenactment of Jesus' walk to Golgotha.