We just finished another delicious breakfast of fruit (bananas, cantelope, and pineapple, all fresh!) and cereal, and now I am sitting in my lovely room enjoying the gorgeous view (big mountains!!) and the sounds of the city: cars, people, and “gallos” (roosters). Seriously. Every morning. A little bit annoying, but hey, when will I ever again have the opportunity to have an obnoxious rooster wake me up at 7 am? Seize the day.
So much has happened in the past few days. The play that we went to on Saturday night was wonderful. I didn’t understand every single joke, but I did understand most, and ultimately I found myself very connected to it. I appreciate how appreciative the Xalapeno people are of theater; the entire theater was full, and the response to the final bow was overwhelming!
One of my professors is a director at the University of Veracruz, and he and his students are in the thick of ensayos (rehearsals), a few of which I hope to attend in the next few weeks to continue to broaden my experience of Mexican theater.
Perros Calientes were in order after our theater outing, and the vendors near the callejon (an alley that works kind of like a mini flea market) on Xalapenos Ilustres (one of the central streets) were happy to provide. Hot dog, bun, ketchup, mayonnaise, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, onions, and grilled/melted whole milk cheese to glue it all together. Ohhhhhh, it was glorious.
My Sunday morning was spent in Coatepec at a collection of soccer fields where my new friend Alfred had a game. Alfred is one of the Mexican students who lives in the same house as myself and two other SMU students. He has already become like a younger brother to me, teasing and silliness included! He is an excellent player and it was great fun to watch. On our way back to Xalapa we packed seven of us into one cab! Ummmmm … really fun and a little bit cramped? Yes.
Sunday night was a smorgasbord of fun things. We walked around the center of town for a bit, and somehow I found myself, the very tall, white American Girl, dancing the cumbia in the middle of a very very large crowd of observant Xalapenos. Let me explain: a live band was playing just outside the cathedral for Junio Musical, and Claudia and Maira, the two other SMU girls I live with, and I spent a good while watching the band and the hundreds of people looking on, while only three or four people were dancing.
Claudia led us into the thick of it and we made our way to the rather empty space in the middle and began doing our version of the all-female-cumbia-outside-the-cathedral dance. Only after we began dancing did several other Xalapenos join in! Three who asked myself, Claudia and Maira to dance. Now, I cannot say why it took the estudiantes extranjeros to get everybody involved, but I can say, with pride, “We started it!”
We walked around el Parque Juarez and the plaza, and bought the most delicious churros I have ever tasted. Covered in chocolate, carmel, strawberry, and other flavors of your desire, these churros are sure to induce irrevocable infatuation with the deliciousness that is fried bread soaked in lots of cinnamon and sugar. Wow, yummy.
Then we went to church! Churros and Church. Kind of has a ring to it, no? The cathedral is one of the center points of the city, and it is stunning. The architecture is gorgeous and the interior design perhaps even more so. Mass was difficult to understand because the band was still playing the cumbia just outside, and the microphone was a bit fuzzy, oh AND it was in Spanish. Go figure.
But I still very much enjoyed it. Catholicism is a huge part of the Mexican culture, and although I am a Protestant, I have in the past year enjoyed learning more about the Catholic church and its structure of service. It is an honor to share my faith with the people in Xalapa.
Yesterday was our first day of classes. I am taking a Civilization and Culture class with professor Veronica Leon of SMU and The Latin American Short Story with a professor from the University of Veracruz. From what I can tell, both classes are going to keep me very busy, especially my literature class, but with work that is well worth my while, and which I am very excited to do in order to expand my knowledge of the Latin American world. What can I say, I like school
Last night was the Bienvenida, or the welcome ceremony for all of the foreign students studying in Xalapa this summer as well as their families and cultural assistants. After a few formal introductions the stage was turned over to the musicians and dancers who presented an incredible performance of Folkloric Mexican dance. It reminded me of Irish dancing, or extreme tap dancing with a very particular, colorful Mexican flavor. I was amazed!
During some of the dances the women conduct incredible footwork while balancing glasses or bottles full of water on their heads! The men were equally stunning with strong steps and their footwork-courtship of the women. Oh my gosh, it was so much fun! And truly an incredible performance.
Today I have more classes, and it’s very likely that more spontaneous adventures lie waiting for me to stumble upon them. I might just have to stumble upon another hot dog, or another churro … Hey, the rooster told me to. How can I refuse?