Year THREE in Zacango here we come...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A little over a week ago we had our MCC Mexico team meetings in the state of Chihuahua. The purpose of our trip to Chihuahua was twofold – to meet for team business and to learn about the Low German speaking Mennonites who emigrated from Southern Manitoba to Mexico in the 1920s and 30s. It was somewhat of a dream come true for me to see the colonies as I had heard much about them growing up as a kid in Altona and had friends whose families had come back to Southern Manitoba from Mexico in the 1970s and 80s.
Here are some pictures of Zam, Hizee, and Ziko in Chihuahua with their MCC pals: Micah, Isabel and Ayesha.
Hizee got her puppy fix at the puppy has come home with us yet. We are trying to wait till we get to our new home.
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Visiting the Mennonite Colonies here in Mexico was like visiting home! Surrounded by Low German speakers and vast agricultural fields of green (scratch out the mountains), together with eating foods such as keilke, vereniki, rollkuchen, and borscht was like visiting an old familiar world witin an entirely new world!
From top to bottom:
Ziko with green field in background; an Old Colony school; Zam points to cheese during our visit to a Mennonite cheese factory ("queso Mennonita" is very popular in Mexico); Hizee with Steinrich (sp?)Mennonite Bible school in background.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

It finally worked to post some video -- below is a video of Hizee and two girls from Olinala (Dioselin and Emecimeila) having some fun shortly before we left Olinala (during our vist a couple of weeks ago). And the video above this post is a video of the event we went to with our host family (description further down).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last week we went with our host family's sister and family to watch their son Kevin play the "jarana" (spelling not known -- a special small guitar originating from Veracruz) at a local art cafe. It was a lively, festive, and surreal experience! (I have some video of the event but haven't been able to post any videos from here.) The guitar is strummed at an incredibly fast pace and is accompanied by singing and a type of stomping dance (which reminded me of jigging). What a great (and late) time we had! One of the highlights for the kids was just getting to the event (a reoccuring theme for Zam); they loved being all sandwiched together in the back of the family's jeep. Ziko is particuarly fond of Peter (Brian and Kevin`s dad).
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The Bean gets his first ever haircut!! When we met people on the street and they wanted to interact with Ziko they whould always question "Nina o Nino?" So one day we were walking past this small hairdressing shop and I asked Ziko if he wanted to get his haircut; "otay" he said...and, boy, did she ever chop hair off his little bean. All the way home he kept saying "like Daddy, like Daddy."
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Cuernavaca is a beautiful and historic city. Here the kids are exploring the town center -- Cathedral de Cuernavaca, Palacio de Cortez and one other cathedral that I do not know the name of. Sorry for the lack of historical information, promise to post more details about these places in the future.
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Zam and Hizee are getting lots of time to bond these days. This picture was taken in Olinala. Zam is teaching Hizee how to play chess. I think she cared little about the chess but a lot about all the undivided attention she was getting from her big brother.
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Our language study in Cuernavaca (about one hour south of Mexico City) is phenomenal! Not only are we learning how to say more than “hola” and “gracias” we are staying with this amazing family who are the number one reason for the richness of our experience. Our host family (who live a two-minute walk from the language school) consists of Mirna, her daughter Arantza (12 years), and Mirna’s mother. Just down the hill from Mirna and family (within the same yard) are Mirna’s sister Irma, her husband Peter, and their sons Kevin (16 years) and Bryan (12 years). They also have a very friendly dog named Lukas who is a gentle Boxer/Rotweiler cross. We all have a lot of fun together…we have our own private apartment-like area in the upstairs of Mirna’s house come downstairs to have meals with the family. Arantza really enjoys Zam, Hizee and Ziko and they spend a lot of time together. The language school has a pool so every day when our language study has ended and Arantza is done school, we all go swimming together. We also play a lot of basketball together with Arantza, Brian, and Kevin (a highlight for Zam.) Mirna, our host “mom,” is very understanding of the kids needs and loves to hug, kiss, and tease Ziko! Ziko sometimes puts up a fight but secretly enjoys every minute of it of course!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hi folks,
Below you will find a little slide show of our semi-recent trip to our future home of Olinala. (I don’t think it really works properly so you may have to click on the view images icon to take you to another window.) As it turns out, most of the pics in the slide show are of the neighbouring villages that we visited. I typed descriptions of the pics into the slide show program but somehow they didn’t make it into the show…such is technology when I’m in charge of trying to figure it out, oh well!
We really enjoyed our trip to Olinala! Some of the highlights were:
- the all night bus ride to Olinala in which the bus broke down and we had to wait two hours for another bus to come (this is Zam’s highlight…somehow he thought this was very cool!)
- Hizee got to see oodles and oodles of animals and even got bit by a chicken on her lip (this wasn’t a highlight at the time, but she’s quite proud of this now and tells everyone about it!)
- Ziko was little Mr. Spanish while we were in Olinala…he trotted down the street waving his hand and shouting “HOLA!” at everyone we passed.
- I was impressed by the sheer vibrancy and liveliness of the bustling town of Olinala (which I now realize I don’t really have any first pics of…market, tiny shops sandwiched together painted in a rainbow of colours). People we met were very friendly and very forgiving about the fact that we speak basically zero Spanish!
- Bruce liked all the basketball courts and had a few games with some “ninos.” The kids we met were generally quite shy, however, right before we were about to leave we managed to eek out a few Spanish words (phrase book in hand) and get a few games going.
- And an obvious highlight for Bruce and I (as can be seen by the pics we took) were the smaller communities surrounding Olinala. It is breathtaking country…rolling hills and lush green vegetation (only in rainy season we are told)…we were blown away! We also checked out some housing possibilities.
The only bad thing about the visit to Olinala was that it was a real teaser…we would love to be there right now, settling in to out new home!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Here's a few random shots from around Olinala with Isaiah and Micah, MCC kids who've been living in Olinala for the past 2 years.

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After a few days in Mexico City we asked the kids if they wanted to start having school (like it was optional!). After living out of a suitcase with minimal routine for two months, they thought that starting school was a pretty cool idea. It took us a while to get through the first day or so of material as our schedule was still all over the place. We would do 15 minutes of school here, half an hour there...whenever we had a few minutes.
The kids are really enjoying the homeschooling material that we got from Alberta Learning; and Hizee and Ziko are right in there with Zam. During the past week that we just spent in Cuernavaca, we actually had a bit of time in one place which lent itself to finally getting into a routine. Part of that routine involved Zam and Hizee taking Spanish classes at the same school where Bruce and I are doing our language study. They have a fantastic teacher named Natalia who is fun and energetic! They have mastered their colours and numbers (1-10) and are learning the names of all kinds of people, places, and things (aka nouns). All of this through games, singing, art, etc. We hadn't intended for the kids to attend Spanish classes (we thought they could just pick up Spanish through playing with kids in Olinala, which will still probably be their best way of learning the language) however, I think that the language classes have been a big confidance boaster for them, and most importantly they are having fun! They will continue to go to the classes every other day during the next portion of our language study later this month. They are the only two kids in their class.
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Monday, September 8, 2008

Hi Folks
Sorry for the lack of updates and pictures. We are currently without our computer and on the road. Hope to post this coming weekend when we head back to Mexico City. Hope that you are all well. We had an amazing and eventful trip to Olinala to see our new home. We are now settled into Cuernavaca and loving it here...we have an amazing host family and we have decided to come back here for the first six weeks of language study after our MCC team meetings in Chihuahua! Will post more soon. Jaime