Year THREE in Zacango here we come...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Off to Zacongo! The picture above Zam is a view of Zacongo's "skyline."

Four months after leaving our home in Yellowknife we are finally off to our new home in Zacongo! For those of you who may remember former blog entries, or know details of our soon-to-be life from other sources, the spelling of our new community may look a little off. Originally we were going to live in the town of Olinala – a community of about 5,000 people in the state of Guerrero. Olinala is where the MCC Guerrero office is located and is also the town where another MCC family (the Dyrsts) and two single MCCers (Meridith and Kiara) are living. However, most of the work that MCC does in Guerrero state takes place in the smaller communities surrounding Olinala. When we visited Olinala soon after arriving in Mexico (back in September), our fellow MCCers mentioned the option of living in one of the smaller communities where MCC works. Bruce and I thought this was a beyond-great option for us and, thus, we will be living in the small village of Zacongo (500 or so people) which is only about a 10-15 min. drive from Olinala.
To say that we are excited about getting to our new home would a pretty huge understatement! While we have enjoyed our journey from Yellowknife, to Manitoba, to Mexico/Cuernavaca (and are truly thankful for all the kindness and hospitality we experienced along the way) we are very ready to go home to Zacongo!
The other day when Zam was getting ready for bed he said: “Well mom, we’ve almost done it…only one more week and we’ve completed our big trip.” Yes, Zammer, we’re almost there!
A couple of weekends ago we visted the a very famous pyramid site called Xiochicalco (a Unesco World Heritage site). It was breath-taking!
We went to Xiochicalco with Sam (Samantha), a fellow MCC SALT volunteer who is working here in Cuernavaca. The kids adore Sam!

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Walking around Cuernavaca

Ziko enjoying the daily King-like treatment he has become accustom to recieving. Here our host mom Mirna and her sister Irma are feeding him yogurt.

Gato Hizee admiring the fish at Parque Chapoltapec -- a nearby ecological park
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hey Lukster....this one is JUST FOR YOU from ZAM!!!!

Zam and Hizee had their last day of Spanish class today. Here they are with their amazing teacher Natalia. See videos and more details below.
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Here are Zam and Hizee with all the work they produced during their Spanish classes with Natalia!

By the look of our blog it probably seems like we are here in Mexico having a big vacation! And to some extant this is true! Every weekend we have had the opportunity to explore the many astoundingly beautiful and historic sites here in the state of Morelos. However, during the week we are actually hard at work trying to learn Spanish. Our schedule is something like this:
8:00-11:00 am Bruce or Jaime goes to Spanish class (we switch mornings and afternoons every other week)
8:00-11:00 am Zam has school at home with the parent who is not in Spanish class
11:00-1:00pm on Mon., Wed., Fri. Zam and Hizee go to Spanish school
11:00-2:00pm every day the parent who stayed home in the morning teaching Zam (and Hizee and Ziko!) goes to Spanish class
After 3:00 we usually go swimming here at the Spanish school (yes, they have a pool…we are really spoiled!)
This schedule has been working great for us and we’ve really been able to get into a routine here in Cuernavaca.
Many of you have asked how the Spanish is going. To use a much used cliché around here (the language school) I will say that each day is “poco a poco” (little by little). Bruce and I can get by on the street and with our host family fully knowing that we sound like two-year-olds and being quite content with that. Some days feel euphoric (like you can take on the whole Spanish speaking world in an in depth and intellectual conversation) and other days feel more than frustrating (like “hola” and “gracias” are the only words you can muster for the day). However, when we look back on the progress we have made (from zero to two-year-old Spanish speakers in 6 weeks) we feel encouraged!
The kids seem to be learning Spanish on a scale that is quite “rapido!” It helps that they have an incredible fun and kid-friendly Spanish teacher named Natalia who does all kinds of games and songs with them. They love her and they have her all to themselves! Zam has even started to intersperse some Spanish words into his English writing at home-school and Hizee toodles around the house singing her Spanish songs and telling us about all the animal names she knows in Spanish. It’s so great to see the kids having FUN learning Spanish!
This is our last week at Spanish school after which we will be heading to our new home (more details to come)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This slide show consists of pics taken last weekend: the ex-hacienda of Cortez; a waterfall near our host family's house with amazing rock formations;dinner at our host family's sister's house; and an ex-hacienda turned water park in Temexco (with about 20 pools of all shapes and sizes)! The water park was an astounding facility with many of the pools built right into the exsisting historic structures.

Zammy Boy turns SEVEN!!!
Here is a picture that Zam requested to have taken the night before his birthday: “Mom, come take a picture of me on my last day as a six-year-old!”

Last week we celebrated Zam’s birthday together with our host family and some fellow MCCers! Zam was so excited leading up to his party and did a daily countdown during the entire two weeks leading up to his special day. The day began with opening a few presents from family in Canada (thank you guys), as well as receiving a basketball on his breakfast plate from our host family.
We gave Zam the day-off from home school and had his “fiesta” in the afternoon at our host family’s home. Our family helped us with a lot of the preparations, and this was truly a gift! For while our Spanish skills are slowly improving it was nice to have their help with ordering the cake, calling for pizza, setting up the party, etc.
I guess you could say that the party was a combination of Mexican and Canadian traditions. At various points, I’ll admit to having very little idea what was going on or what we were “supposed to do” next (i.e. the singing -- apparently there are hundreds of birthday songs, we heard/sang three of them). For the Canadian portion, Bruce designed one of his famous treasure hunts for the kids – this year a Lucha Libre theme. The piñata was another essential part of the party, and Zam had told Ziko that he could chose the piñata – that was easy for Ziko, who is currently obsessed with all things Kung Fu Panda. Also essential to the piñata was having Isabel there to hit it and, of course, just to have her at the party in general! (Isabel is the daughter of the MCC country representatives in Mexico and she and her parents live in Mexico City.) Zam is very fond of Isabel and loves to care for her. A couple of weeks before the party he mentioned how “cute” it would be to see Isabel hitting the piñata, and that he really hoped that she could make it to the party. We are sure glad she could make it!
In all, it was a great time and Zam has deemed it his “best party ever!” The evening ended late with the kids playing in Zam’s room with his new toys.

Zam and his buddies, Kevin and Brian, during a "jam session" at Zam's birthday party. These jam sessions have become a nightly tradition, and Hizee often joins in by dancing (will post video later). It's quite a beautiful sight! However, Hizee refused to join in during the party, saying that dancing was for the night.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This past weekend we visited a quaint little town near Cuernavaca known to be a "mystical centre" and somewhat of a former (or current) "hippie hang-out." It is said that their is a certain "artistic energy" in the town. It seems like Bruce and the boys picked up on that energy and turned into Luchadores (I guess that's if you consider wrestling an artform). The town is also known for it's nearby pyramid, Tepozteco, which can be reached via a 2 km footpath up rugid and breathtaking terrain! (I actually wrote that sentence all by myself and didn't copy it out of a travel guide description this time. However, that's where my creativity ends...I forget most of the fascinating facts about Tepozteco/Tepoztlan, so if you'd like to know more you can google it if you like...sorry!) One interesting fact that I do remember is that there is one particular spot on the pyramid, that a fellow pyramid goer told us, has a profound amount of energy. We found this out when Zam wanted a picture of all of the kids feet in this one spot and the man (mentioned above) told the kids to move to the center spot because that is where the energy is. Later when we were climbing down from the pyramid, I mentioned that I was tired to Hizee. She responded. "I'm not tired mom, because I have 'the energy.' I know that you're tired because you never received 'the energy' at the top of the pyramid!"
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The whole time we were climbing the staggeringly rugid path up to the pyramid at Tepoztlan, Mr. "Chatty-Super-Climber" Zam went on and on about how "awesome" it was and how he just "loves a good challenge!" On our way down the mountain, he kept saying how much he prefered climbing up to climbing down. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for those of us who've been living off tortillas and other yummy Mexican food for the past month and are feeling it around the belly region!

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We reach the top and are rewarded with yet another (mini) climb up this mystical pyramid, and a breath-taking view of Tepoztlan!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

For those of you who know about Bruce's love of wrestling it isn't too hard to imagine how incredibly pumped he is about Mexico's Luche Libre!!! Everywhere you turn there is mucha Luche Libre merchandise and Bruce and the boys splurged at the market in Tepoztlan last weekend. They are having a lot of fun being luchadores!

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

The kids are having such a great time with the kids from our host family. They talk a lot about missing Yellowknife and missing their friends there. However, living together with this family has truely helped to make things easier for the kids and we are so thankful for that. Playing daily with the kids from our host family has really helped Zam, Hizee, and Ziko with the huge transition they have made from Yellowknife to Mexico.
When we came back to Cuernavaca from our MCC meetings in Chihuahua, Ziko began the following dialogue with Bruce as they were walking from the language school back to the house: ¨We happy Daddy?" Bruce responded, "Yes, we´re happy Ziko" Ziko continued, "We home Daddy?" and Bruce replied: "Yes, we´re home Ziko."

With Arantza at a nearby baseball complex where we went to run around one Friday morning; and exploring Pasillo de la Barranca -- a walkway that follows a deep gorge here within the city of Cuernavaca. Ziko seems to have exploded with goofiness as of late - as his vocabulary increases, so does his sense of humour!

The kids are becoming particularly attached to Arantza, their host sister.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We are having a great time exploring Cuernavaca during our free time.

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Last weekend we went to see some small Aztec temple base remains right here in Cuernavaca! The site is called Teopanzolco. Here is a brief description of Teopanzolco from the Lonely Planet Mexico guide:
"There are actually two pyramids, one inside the other, on this small archaeological site. You can climb on the outer base to see the older pyramid within, with a double staircase leading up to the remains of a pair of temples. Tlahuicas built the older pyramid over 800 years ago; the outside one was under construction by the Aztecs when Cortés arrived, and was never completed.
The name Teopanzolco means 'Place of the Old Temple', and may relate to an ancient construction to the west of the current pyramid, where artifacts dating from around 7000 BC have been found, as well as others with an Olmec influence.
Several other smaller platform structures surround the double pyramid. Near the rectangular platform to the west, a tomb was discovered, containing the remains of 92 men, women and children mixed with ceramic pieces. They are believed to be victims of human sacrifice in which decapitation and dismemberment were practised."

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