Archive for August, 2008

goings on at the U

August 31, 2008

School has started and my students are getting settled in, and just when I thought it was going to be smooth sailing – the university is having a bit of an internal power struggle and we just might have 2 Rectors.

I’ve been buying the newspaper almost everyday and on Friday, Adolfo and I listened to the radio almost all day long as they broadcast the meeting of the Consejo General Universitario (like a University Board of Trustees).  The two sides of this struggle have been trading insults for a while now and we knew exciting things were going to happen on Friday.

So on Friday, the Consejo and the Rector of the University argued for about 3 hours about the agenda for the meeting.  Finally, the Rector decided to put the agenda to a vote, when his agenda was soundly defeated, he announced the end of the meeting, got up, and left.

The Consejo decided that this was a grave error and in his absence, dismissed him and elected a new Rector of the University.  The other Rector held a press conference and declared himself to still be Rector because once the meeting is declared to be over, no binding decisions can be made.

Meanwhile, the new Rector happens to be the Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, where all my students take their classes.  So a so-called student group, which is famously not composed of many students, took over the campus of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, kicked everyone out and blocked the doors.

Luckily, my students are new to town and had no idea what was going on.  The only one that was on campus on Friday afternoon was studying in the library.  She was told to leave, but she just thought that the library closed very early on Fridays!

Today, I bought the paper again and the first Rector was giving a press conference when he broke down in tears.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow and if the students are able to go to class.

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Veracruz

August 22, 2008

I’m in Xalapa, Veracruz, and enjoying a break from the city life. I’m here for work, but have managed to see some new things and even managed to buy some local organic coffee. Today we (my boss, a student, a professor and I) had lunch in a small town called Coatepec. Coatepec is a Pueblo Mágico (like Tapalpa) and is very picturesque and only about 30 minutes from Xalapa. We had lunch at a restaurant, which specialized in fish, which is not uncommon in Veracruz. The interesting thing was the particular fish in which they specialized was trout. I hadn’t had trout since I left the states and it was rather good covered in a guajillo chile sauce.

After lunch, we wandered around the pueblo and the others had some local ice cream (flavors of guanábana, macadamia nut and mamey) and stopped in a panaderia, which specialized in wood fired bread. It smelled fantastic. Later we wandered into a store advertising “productos ecologicos” and I bought a half-kilo of organic coffee. I am really excited about trying out the coffee.

I still have on my list a return to La Sopa to stuff myself with enfrijoladas. It’s good to have goals.

good thing I didn’t buy a new pot

August 11, 2008

We just had another hail storm. Hail storms are oddly common here. Just ask my parents who witnessed two hail storms in one week. Of course the hail is no bigger than peas and they melt within seconds, but it’s hail all the same. This evening the hail storm took the top off one of my tomatoes, which immediately solved a problem I was having.

I had an extra tomato seedling. I have 3 pots and I planted 4 tomatoes (more or less) and instead of one failing to come up, everything sprouted. Which only made me want to buy another pot. But, we have a pot-buying moratorium going on right now. So, I was just waiting around for the moratorium to be lifted, to find an abandoned pot (that never happens here), or to suddenly need another tomato plant for some reason. And, now I do!

Next, I need to pull up the lettuce which has started to bolt.

Las olimpiadas

August 9, 2008

So, we are watching the Olympics and a couple things are striking to me.

I’m seeing sports on TV here that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.  Last night, Adolfo asked me what they were showing, he was in the kitchen, and I didn’t know the name of the sport!  I said, it looks kind of like basketball mixed with hockey and soccer.  He responded, “???” and then took a look at the TV and said, “oh, that’s handball.”  Who knew.

I’m not seeing as much of the US as I am of Brazil, Mexico and Spain.

The commentators are the same the world over.  Inane comments and bizzare “facts” are interspersed throughout the commentary.  The parade of nations at the opening ceremonies was particularly strange.  But, I did love the interview with the Mexican tourists who had shirts made which said in Chinese characters, “We’re from Mexico!” They said the Chinese were stopping in their tracks to read their shirts – hysterical.

Also, so far, there are no athlete sob stories.  No specials, no hallmark hour, just sports.

But, the best part of the Olympics, so far, is that there are hardly any commercials!  It seems like there are maybe 3 ads every half hour or so.  It’s excellent!

Pitahaya

August 2, 2008

I made new discoveries at the abastos market this morning. My friend and I parked in a new place and I spotted a little market place, which looked kind of interesting. As we got closer, I realized it was very interesting indeed – they had baby bok choy! And, there were Chinese people buying vegetables.

I spotted some Asian eggplant and looked over the bok choy and other Asian cabbages. After we went through our regular market place and returned to the car, I spotted one other interesting item – the illusive Pitahaya! I bought one and when we returned to my apartment we split it open and ate the whole thing. It was super-tasty with a sweet melon-y/strawberry-y flavor and also similar to the pitaya and other cactus fruits in texture.

Space

August 1, 2008

There are several green tomatoes now on the tomato plant and I’m in desperate need for more and bigger pots.  I have another tomato seedling that is ready to plant; it was to be my back up if the others didn’t sprout.  And, I would really like to plant it but I have no more pots.  Adolfo and I are on a spending moratorium and I have been cut off from my nursery habit.

I thought I was going to plant some dill in where the radishes were previously planted, but I read on the packet that each plant needs quite a bit of space and my gardening books say I should plant them 10-15 inches apart – my pot is about 8 inches across.

So, to get more bang for my buck/space, I planted a couple onion seeds where the radishes were.  I’m planning to eat them as green onions and I’m not really interested in them becoming bulbs – as they are rather cheap at the market, but green onions are hard to come by.  Which is also convenient, since I don’t have the space for them to become bulbs anyway.

While I was watering my plants this afternoon, I decided to throw another cup of dirt on the bougainvillea plant.  When I reached my hand down into my bag of dirt, I came dangerously close to an encounter with a very large spider.  Large, large, large!  I yelped and jumped back 10 feet, where I watched the spider calmly crawl further down into the bag.  So, there will be no new dirt for anyone.  Now what do I do?

What I really need is an actual garden plot of dirt.

And, I’m trying to get pictures, but every time the sun comes out and the garden looks great, Adolfo has taken off with the camera.