Ensenada Adventures

Movie theatre in Ensenada. $4 for a ticket!

Well the language studies have been continuing had a good pace. Today we learned the imperitive or command form, which is very good for handling a room full of hormonal adolescents. Sientente (sit down)! Trabaje (work)! Afternoon activities have been slightly robotic in drills, but I guess I need the practice.

My "social" life outside of class has certainly been worthy of quotation marks. I´m on my own, just here for a week, so making friends or going on outings with others hasn´t happened. Today the school went to the winery, but alcohol isn´t my thing, so I skipped on that and conjugated irregular verbs in the preterite and imperfect for 90 minutes. What fun!

I did make a point of walking 1.5 miles to the cinema to watch "Hancock". Just my luck, the movie started 5 minutes before I arrived. It was in English with Spanish subtitles, so I got a little reading practice while I mostly just enjoyed listening to the dialogue. During the movie, this woman´s cell phone kept going off and she had no problem chatting away during the movie. I almost turned around and gave her the evil eye, but then I realized that she´s just reading the subtitles and doesn´t need to hear the English because she and the other watchers may not understand it anyway. I chalked it up to another cultural moment, laughed, and read the subtitles along with her.

Tomorrow`s my last day of class, then I retire to my favorite local hostel for a day of r&r from my mostly relaxing week. Just a way to kill time cheaply before I go to San Deigo for my AVID conference.


Ensenada Un Otra Vez!

Staying with a Mexican family for a week in Ensenada to study Spanish in an immersion environment. My first impression is that I´m getting a lot of walking done. I live like a mile from the school, and my host mother and sister have given me walking directions to all the places I´m asking about: post office (2.5 miles), tourist district to get post cards (.5 miles), getting exercise and a feel for how most citizens get around here every day (priceless).

Classes are 6 hours a day, four being conversation and grammar exploration, 2 being activities like games and guided discussion. As a language teacher myself, I´m being quite scrutinous of how we´re learning as well as what. But I also realize that being too picky will taint my experience too. So mostly I´m just going with the flow. Unlike Russian, French, Jamaican Creole, or Japanese, my Spanish learning experience has little immersion to cement chunked phrases into memory. I realize that I have to really think about all the conditions for using the preterite or imperfective, ser or estar, este or whatever before using it. The result has been increased shyness for speaking in public. Either that or its been a general trend in the past two years for me to be more reserved instead of wrecklessly talking to perfect strangers on the street.

I have the afternoons to explore and practice conversation. Today I went on an adventure to the post office, asking directions, changing large bills, and inquiring about tickets to San Felipe along the way. I stopped in McDonald`s for an ice cream and to write some postcards while I relaxed in the cool air conditioning. I`ve come 180 degrees from my 22-year-old position on patronizing establishments of American commercial imperialism. At first I was totally against it, thinking it would ruin my immersion experience and support the tainting of local culture. Now I just see it as a refuge of comfort from a tiresome day that I take every once in a while. I´m not going there because McD´s is the only food I want to eat, far from it. Its just a public place where I don´t have to spend much money to rest for a while on my journey between immersion experiences. Sort of like a ¨pause^in the game.

I´ll be here for the rest of the week, then come up to San Diego on Sunday for a teachers` conference. Hopefully I can post an entry about a trip to La Bufadora, the blow hole!


Coming into the Closet

As a child, my walk-in closet was a refuge for idle thoughts and possessions. It was the largest closet among my siblings and the only one with a window. Even though I would cloister myself in it for hours on end, I could still look out on the street and have a connection to the world. I can imagine myself around age 11, going through old letters (almost every one I’ve kept) and trinkets kept from an even earlier childhood. As the realm of current clothing and after thoughts, organizers and can’t-figure-what-to-do-with-its, my childhood closet was full of present needs and past memories.

After a few years of unscrupulous hoarding, the closet’s manila particleboard and aluminum-braced shelves where hammocked under the weight of misorganized models and pitiful pinchpots that I somehow couldn’t bear to liberate from neglect. In a clandestine raid of guerilla goodness, my parents hired professionals to redesign and reorganize the closets of my older sister, younger brother, and myself while we were away at summer camp. Gone were the sad, saggy shelves; in their places were sleek white spaces with hanging crates for undies and laundry, drawers for everyday clothes, and dowels for the stiff suits and sweaters that I’d have to wear to Grandma’s.

My closet could be organized to the hilt on days right after my usually messy mom threw down the cleaning hammer. But most other times it was cluttered with my daydream escapades into yesteryear’s trophies and treasures. There was the green and grey fighter jet I made out of chunky 2x2 wood blocks at camp. It only collected dust in its hangar shelf until I finally sent it on one last mission to the trash bin. As a lover of maps, I kept shoeboxes full of exotic locations like Madagascar and USSR from National Geographic, as well as rest stop freebies of the Midwest highways and backwater towns that my family would visit on weekend trips in our 1989 Ford conversion van. The closet was mission control for a weekend afternoon of mental voyages outside of the actually shy childhood that I led.

In my high school years, I’d won my bout with nostalgia and excised a great deal of the cumbersome wood funny awards and the paper trees of old tests and essays. Now thrift store corduroys and an Illinoisans’ idea of Aloha shirts hung from the racks – further evidence that the closet was the only safe place for my kind of fashion. It was also the last time when all siblings would be living at home. As a fully equipped a fallout shelter, the closet could sustain me against a sister-and-brother tickle raid. I could hole up there for minutes with a stashed soda pop and Doritos until brother scrounged up a Q-tip to pick the locking mechanism on the door. No closet is impenetrable.

Eventually we all have to come out of the closet that is our childhood and face a world that scoffs at daydreamers and story collectors. But there’s nothing to keep us from coming into the closet for a memory or a moment to rekindles that place of safety.

Countries I have visited

Where I've been in the USA