Montessori in Mexico

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In San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico, we find a Montessori school–a compound of buildings and gardens and play areas sequestered in a jungle setting, hidden from the highway by a row of car and tire repair shops, and backed by an abandoned abandoned bull ring.

We step out of the car and hear roosters crowing. I feel like I’m in Mali.

In this hide-a-way spot, we see the kindergarten class washing their lunch dishes and brushing their teeth. We hear the laughter of kids playing and gathering vegetables from their garden to prepare for their lunch.

One of the teachers shows the Munchkin his classroom.

“We have this,” says the Munchkin who is in grade 2 Montessori in Canada. “And we have this, and this, and this.” I think she’d like to go to school here.

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The sounds that live in us

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What is it about sounds that seep into our soul? And, why is it that the sounds of night lodge most deeply and forever in our psyche?

Saskatchewan: The cramping solitude and loneliness of the Canadian prairies captured in the mournful tones of the train whistle—reverberations that carry for miles across the hard packed snow, sounds that haunt me still; that cause an ache in my heart for all the things lost. An ache that brings tears to my eyes all these years later.

Alberta: The squeal of crotch rockets roaring down the boulevard near our house—I shivered then and shiver again now as I cannot shake the image of bodies sprawled on the tarmac seeping blood onto the road and bikes, marooned some yards away, reclining on their sides, wheels spinning crazily, denying any connection to their riders.

Mali: The crowing of roosters—not just at dawn. Roosters crow whenever they damn well please and they please to crow all night long. Donkeys don’t sleep at night either. Instead, they bray on the other side of the mud brick wall sending us jumping a few feet into the air each time we hear the grating and drawn out love song of their heehaws. Heartbroken and heartbreaking commentaries on life.

Mexico: More roosters—these ones crowing day and night. And which clown thought it would be funny to set my cell ringtone to “rooster?” Add the whine and squeal of a semi’s brakes as the drivers realize they really should slow down for the red lights of the town. And, from time to time, the sound of metal crunching against metal followed by the wail of sirens.

British Columbia: The mournful tones of cruise ship and ferry fog horns and we’ve come full circle. Not trains, but once again, at night we hear, those drawn out echoes rolling over the water, sounds that render us vulnerable to bouts of loneliness and even despair.

Good or bad, sleep or no, could we live without the sounds that anchor us to our environment, to life?

 

Tacos de camarón

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Hungry? Time for tacos de camarón (served with hot sauce, or for us northerners, mild tomatito sauce) at our favorite seedy bar in Mexico. Yes, it’s seedy with lots of drinking and dart games and drinking and eating and drinking … but, we’re not about to let that stop us. We take the munchkin and go early enough to beat the crowd, chat with the staff who’ve already placed our order–they saw us coming–and enjoy our tacos (and beer) in peace.

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Around the corner and down the street

in small town Mexico, we find little delights.

Walking home from the beach, we often see people out for a trail ride. The horses live just off main street a few blocks away.

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Off for dinner in the next town (a few minute drive away) we find the main street blocked off for the Spring parade, the floats all manned by the kindergarten classes of the area.

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Then we see a charming painted wall on a street leading to the beach. I want to live in one of these houses, if only they were real.

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The best kid’s birthday party ever

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The munchkin beating on what’s left of her Peppa Pig piñata.

The best kid’s birthday party

Happens in the street. Yes, the street. In Mexico, that is. And it’s the party our munchkin has chosen for her birthday.

Tables are set up for the cake and food and gifts. Chairs line the sidewalk and curb. The piñata is strung up over the street. Everyone comes—kids, parents, grandparents.

Chicken or pasta salad is served on tostadas, agua de jamaica (made from hibiscus petals) is the favored drink.

The kids play, everyone eats, and then it’s time to sing as the children from youngest to oldest take turns trying to break the piñata. Usually it’s up to one of the teens in the crowd to administer the final blow so the kids can scramble for the candy that tumbles out.

Group photos are taken and candles lit, Feliz Cumpleanos sung to the birthday child, and cake served.

Several hours later, replete and happy, the kids go home with their parents, toting their goodie bags.

 

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Liverpool – not England, but Mexico

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Liverpool, first called The Cloth Case, was founded in 1847 by Jean Baptiste Ebrard, a Frenchman who sold clothes from cases in downtown Mexico City.

In 1872, he began importing products from Europe. Much of the merchandise was shipped via Liverpool, England, prompting Ebrard to adopt the name Liverpool for his store.

In 1862 he opened a second store and since then it has not stopped growing. Now, Liverpool is a mid-to-high end retailer and the largest chain of department stores in Mexico, operating 17 shopping and 73 stores under the Liverpool name, 22 stores under the Fábricas de Francia name, 6 Duty Free stores, and 27 specialized boutiques.

And inside –

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From Cuernavaca to the Beach

And it’s hot, hot, hot. 36⁰C (96.8⁰F) Real feel 41⁰C (105.8) Humidity 92%.

We’re dripping as we head into town wearing the skimpiest dresses we own—the ones we got especially for this trip knowing, from experience, what we’d encounter. And it’s not just us sweltering. The residents comment on the heat too, clearly finding it difficult to deal with daily.

But, this morning we’re determined to check out the market.

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During the winter, the town square is swarming with tourists eyeing and buying—tapestries, fabrics, jewelry. The artisans travel from town to town hoping to make enough money to carry them through the summer months.

Now the square is empty, but the stalls stretching for several blocks down the street are bustling with locals buying household goods, home remedies, spices, socks and underwear, toys, pirated DVDs, tools, and parts for almost anything you could think of—from blenders to stoves, to …

Vendors trundle their carts and wheelbarrows over the cobblestones hawking their wares—peanuts, candies, drinks, and fruit. Others carry their products such as carpets and toys on their backs.

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And those clothes that you donate for poor countries? Yes, they are for sale too, along with new items in a multitude of colors and sizes.

How many of these vendors make sales? Will they have a profit today? Or tomorrow, in the next town? Or the day after that in yet another town?

In an attempt to escape from the heat, we try the ocean after a siesta. The water is as warm as a bath. We retreat to the shady corner of the pool. This water is even hotter, so it’s back inside to sit under the fans.

Why are we here at one of the worst times of the year temperature wise? Because the opportunity to see our friends and family again is worth the discomfort.

Cuernavaca – the menu

“We’re definitely in Mexico now,’ says the Munchkin as our bus makes its way out of Mexico City headed for Cuernavaca. “How do you know?” I ask. “Because there are stands instead of stores, and old buildings, and bumpy roads.” The munchkin is right (although there are stores, of course), but she neglected to mention the food, which is quite different in Cuernavaca than in our little beach town. IMG_20150622_102721572 We arrive in the early afternoon and our Mexican relatives take us to a little market where we indulge in blue-corn gorditas. Mine is filled with beans and cheese. I sample the salsas and choose one that is not too picante. With that, we enjoy a licuado de mamay–a sort of smoothie made from the mamay fruit. Delicious. The next day we are treated to tacos al pastor, the meat cooked on a vertical spit. IMG_20150621_164706585 “Do we like it?” our relatives ask. To which we reply, “Can we come back tomorrow?”And let’s not forget the stuffed chicken breast served with Oaxaca cheese and cactus, and the flan, and the Pinguinos, and the coffee and …   PS:  I broke my rule of not being invasive with my camera to take these two pictures for you.